This is a Call to Action for a Non-Hierarchical Occupation of Monsanto Everywhere
Whether you like it or not, chances are Monsanto contaminated the food you ate today with chemicals and unlabeled GMOs. Monsanto controls much of the world's food supply at the expense of food democracy worldwide. This site is dedicated to empowering citizens of the world to take action against Monsanto & it's enablers like the FDA, USDA, EPA, GMA, BIO, and the processed food companies that use Monsanto's products.
Activists to Prepare & Share “Stone Soup” to Protest
FDA’s Antiquated Policies on Genetically Engineered (GMO) Foods
COLLEGE PARK, MD – Alarmed by the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) outdated and pro-biotechnology industry policies concerning the labeling & safety of GMO foods sold in America, safe food activists will hold the largest protest to date at the FDA to demand immediate policy changes. On Monday, April 8, concerned citizens traveling as far away as the Midwest will descend on the FDA for a day-long “Eat-In” outside the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition located at 5100 Paint Branch Parkway, College Park, MD 20740. Organic farmers and backyard gardeners will bring organically-grown vegetables from their region that will be combined in a huge cooking pot to make a special, GMO-free “Stone Soup” that will be eaten in protest as a picnic-style event outside of the FDA.
WHAT: “Eat-In” at the FDA for GMO Food Labeling and Food Democracy.
WHERE: Sidewalk outside of the Food And Drug Administration’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, 5100 Paint Branch Parkway College Park, MD 20740 – Directly across the street from the College Park Metro Station (Green Line).
WHEN: All day, Monday, April 8 from 8am until 6pm – From 8am until Noon Safe Food Activists will prepare the Stone Soup and at 1pm the Stone Soup will be served to everyone with a bowl. After lunch, there will be a seed exchange and workshops on various topics.
Last week Safe Food Activists formally invited FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg and the staff at the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition to speak at 1pm while the Stone Soup is being served. In the letter, they requested the FDA explain why they’ve refused to change the official policy toward labeling of GMO foods and to explain why the transgenic Aquabounty Salmon does not merit a GMO label.
“The FDA has a terrible track record when it comes to genetically engineered food,” said Patty Lovera, assistant director at the consumer advocacy group Food & Water Watch. “They have allowed GE ingredients to spread through our food supply without labels and they may soon make it worse by approving GE salmon, the first genetically engineered food animal. If FDA wants to actually fulfill it’s mission to protect the public, it needs to reject GE salmon.”
“The awareness is growing in the US, from the grassroots up, of people from all walks of life and from moms to students to CEOs, that are demanding their right to transparency in the labeling of genetically engineered foods. It is time that the FDA fulfill its role of protecting citizens by granting us our right to know what we’re eating,” said Lisa Stokke, co-founder of Food Democracy Now!, a grassroots advocacy organization based in Iowa. “The folks gathering near the FDA building, and in over 20 states where legislation for labeling is being considered, are a testament to the strength and resolve of the food movement.”
While Occupy Monsanto originally called for the demonstration, there have been numerous groups that have pledged their support for the picnic protest, including Food Democracy Now!, Food & Water Watch, Organic Consumers Association, GMO Inside, and the Right to Know GMO, a grassroots Coalition of States for GMO Labeling. There will be buses and vans from across the United States making their way to the FDA with the common goal of getting GMO foods labeled like they are in most industrialized nations.
“There have been ‘Be-Ins’ and ‘Sit-Ins’ but there has never been an ‘Eat-In’ in the history of the FDA,” says Adam Eidinger, spokesman for Occupy-Monsanto.com. “Its shameful the White House has nothing to say about the multiple ‘We The People’ petitions on GMO labeling that have gone unanswered for over a year,” adds Eidinger.
“The fable of ‘Stone Soup’ has been rewritten many times throughout history and will be rewritten once again on April 8,” says Tom Llewellyn, a lead organizer with the REAL Cooperative in Asheville, NC. “One version of the ‘Stone Soup’ tale is about a hungry soldier who, when passing through an impoverished village, announced that he would make ‘Stone Soup’ for everyone in town. The promise of this mysterious ‘Stone Soup’ persuaded people in the small village to pool their resources and offer up their hidden onions, carrots, lettuce, and spices to feed everyone. With all food activists and citizens working together, a greater good can be achieved by forcing changes in the way huge food corporations source ingredients and the way our government regulates food safety,” says Llewellyn.
Nearly 93% of all soybeans grown in America contain man-made, patented genes owned by a very small number of agrochemical companies that the FDA passively oversees. Instead of conducting rigorous independent analyses of patented GMO crops that make up Americas food supply, the FDA has relied on short-term industry studies that were written for profit, not food safety. In a January 2013 article in the Wall Street Journal, Monsanto’s CEO Hugh Grant stated the corporation was open to the FDA allowing GMO labeling, but only if it was done scientifically. “What is more scientific than a patent listing,” asks Emma Hutchens of the REAL Cooperative. “The FDA says that GMOs are not materially different than their non-GMO counterpart, but if the plants are patented there must be a material difference, otherwise there would be no need for a patent. They can’t have it both ways.”
In 2011 and 2012 over a million Americans signed the “Just Label It” FDA petition for GMO labeling, but the FDA has responded with silence. “The Food and Drug Administration is not listening to the overwhelming majority of Americans who want honest food labels,” says Emilianne Slaydon, founder of GMO Free DC. “We have signed numerous petitions but we’ve received no response. We only want the same food labels citizens of over 40 countries enjoy, so we are going to enjoy some ‘Stone Soup’ to demand this simple democratic right.”
NARRATOR: This week, the United States Supreme Court is hearing a symbolic case concerning a small farmer’s lawsuit against agribusiness giant Monsanto concerning their pesticide-resistant soybean seeds.
Since its introduction of genetically modified crops, Monsanto has generated a sea of controversy among small farmers across the U.S., and the company is now trying to expand south into Mexico. After years of trying to penetrate the Mexican market, Monsanto, Dupont, and Dow had a breakthrough when outgoing Mexican president Felipe Calderón granted them the right to cultivate GMO corn in various northern Mexican states.
Protesting the influx of genetically modified crops in their country, activists, farmers, and academics all across Mexico have been mobilizing to urge the new Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto to reject these permissions. In early February, UNORCA, the National Union of Autonomous Regional Peasant Organizations, held a week-long fest with 50 campesino farmers from all over the country participating in Mexico City.
FRANCISCO JIMÉNEZ MURILLO, MEXICO CITY COORDINATOR, UNORCA (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): So we believe that the only relation that we have left, us the growers, with mother nature is specifically with the natural seeds. And we have to remember something. Mexico has 60 distinct varieties of corn that we have cared for over the last 10,000 years, and with this the world has been nourished. We will fight to the end. This is a struggle that we have started for life, the healthy life of our country.
NARRATOR: At the conclusion of their fast, thousands of people marched in central Mexico, uniting their voices against the introduction of GMO corn and urging President Peña Nieto to take a stand against these crops.
LUÍS PINEDA, UNORCA MORELOS (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): What does Peña Nieto do? Peña Nieto lies to the people. Look at how he is now inventing things. This will result in sickness. They conducted studies at the Autonomous University and also conducted studies in France with rats consuming GMO corn to see what results it would yield. The results in France were that the rats had tumors. The rats had cancer. What will happen with Mexican citizens here? We can’t take it anymore. Leave, Monsanto! This is what we ask, all of us Mexicans who eat tortillas made with native maize.
NARRATOR: A delegation of hundreds of farmers from the northern states where the GMO corn will be planted traveled a whole day to arrive at the march.
GERARDO GARCIA, UNORCA DURANGO: I believe [corn] is the plant and seed that is most consumed in our country, our native seed, native to Mexico. It is important to have movements and peaceful protests like this in support of food sovereignty, and healthy production of corn that can nourish all of our families.
NARRATOR: Mexico has one of the highest per capita consumption rates of corn in the world. In 2005, Mexico occupied the fourth place for maize production. But this has since dropped to seventh place, largely due to importation of corn from the U.S. that has driven the crop’s prices down in Mexico.
DEYANIRA NAVARRETE, ASSEMBLY OF ENVIRONMNETALLY AFFECTED PEOPLE (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): We have distribution problems, because here in Mexico it seems that we produce enough corn and beans, yet many corn farmers do not have a way of distributing their products to cities and centers of consumption and it’s not moving. Current policies merely increase foreign imports every year. So now they say: you know what, not enough corn is arriving to Mexico City; we must increase production by increasing the external supply. And a solution they are questioning is to increase the production of genetically modified corn instead of relying on the local ancestral knowledge of indigenous communities.
NARRATOR: In the United States, 86 percent of corn is grown from Monsanto genetically modified seed. And since its introduction, seed prices have grown 259 percent. For already impoverished small farmers in Mexico, this increase in prices will have devastating effects. Mexican President Peña Nieto has declared a war on poverty and hunger. Protesters decried this initiative as hypocritical, believing that GMO corn will increase hunger and poverty.
MARIA GUADALUPE BENITEZ, PROTESTER FROM MORELOS (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): [GMO corn] is going to cause more hunger because we don’t even know how it grows because it is different. The people who are used to cultivating one type of corn are angered because they are paid a very low price. Therefore hunger will just continue. Peña Nieto says things just so people in other countries will believe him without knowing the truth.
NARRATOR: Monsanto commonly sues farmers who have not purchased their seeds but have GM seeds present in their fields due to contamination or cross-pollination. Hugh Bowman, a seventy-five-year-old soybean farmer from Indiana is countersuing Montsanto in the Supreme Court after they sued him for over $84,000 for planting and reusing seeds from GMO soybeans, which he purchased at a grain elevator. It appears that many of the justices, including Clarence Thomas, who was formerly a lawyer for Monsanto, are in favor of the corporation’s position. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. asked, quote, why in the world would anybody spend any money to try to improve the seed if as soon as they sold the first one, anybody could grow more and have as many of those seeds as they want?
The result of this lawsuit could have very strong repercussions in Mexico if GMO crops are introduced.
PETER ROSSET, LA VÍA CAMPESINA ADVISER: Well, I have to say, I was just reading the transcript of the hearings today, and I was somewhat disappointed that the attorney who was challenging Monsanto didn’t actually call into question the right to patent life, but was really only arguing about something called patent exhaustion doctrine, which is whether or not the second or third generation would still be the property of the patenting company. It’s kind of nibbling around the edges, because as far as I’m concerned and farmer, indigenous peoples’ organizations are concerned, there should never be any law that allows property rights over living things. And that we would like to see that challenged.
Of course, if Bowman loses and Monsanto wins, it means that any GMO seed that’s found because of contamination, because of accidental planting, whatever, in a farmer’s field means that Monsanto or any other company who owns that patent could sue those farmers and recover damages from them. Of course, that’s very bad. But it doesn’t really get at the larger issues around GMOs and around patents on life.
NARRATOR: In the coming days, the Supreme Court will make their decision on the Bowman v. Monsanto case. Mexicans say they will continue to mobilize to prevent the introduction of genetically modified corn in their country.
Andalusia Knoll with Christiane Rasguado for The Real News Network in Mexico City.
About a dozen protesters calling themselves Occupy Monsanto spent several hours near Monsanto’s headquarters in Creve Coeur, Missouri as shareholders voted on members for the company’s Board of Directors.
The protesters called for more transparency in the multinational company’s operations especially in labeling, research and business practices.
Adam Eidinger who owns 75 Monsanto shares read his speech to the protesters before heading to the meeting to address shareholders with a statement on behalf of Pesticide Action Network, the company, which submitted the study on potential risks of using GMOs.
RT: You are a Monsanto shareholder, so you’re obviously interested in the company making a profit. But you are planning to speak on behalf of the company which submitted the study on the potential risks of Monsanto products. Why are you doing this?
AE: Well the resolution we had would have required a report to be written that could be shared with researchers and scientists across the globe about the risks that they know – the company knows already – about their genetically modified crops. Which many safe food activists believe make us more reliant on herbicides and chemicals that the company also sells. And these chemicals may be what’s causing higher rates of cancer in industrialized nations across the globe.
We know how it caused tumors in rats that were fed in long term studies last year. Dr. Seralini’s study was a topic during this shareholder meeting, I brought it up. I was able to speak during the meeting.
And this meeting was closed to the public, as you said. And one of the things we are asking for is in the future this to be live-streamed. People around the world care about what’s going into the food. They may not want to own Monsanto stock.
I only bought the stock so I could speak at this shareholder meeting.
RT: A Chinese economist has criticized Monsanto for controlling the country’s soybean market and trying to do the same with corn and cotton in the country. How is this impacting local farmers?
AE: It devastates local farmers time and time again. We’ve seen countries where Monsanto has introduced ‘patented’ technologies, I like to call it. And they only provide hybrid seeds to farmers who then loose bio-diversity, loose varieties that have actually adapted to that area.
What we need on this planet is better distribution of food and we need better organic methods to be shared with farmers, not more reliance on chemicals and pesticides.
And now, it was quite alarming at this shareholder meeting, there are these new technologies where they are going to be modifying insects and viruses and introducing these novel viruses into the environment to handle pests, to kill pests.
We wonder why bee populations around the world are plummeting – it’s because of these chemicals and possibly because of this new technology.
RT: In 2009, Monsanto was accused by the US Justice Department of breaking anti-trust rules. But in 2012 the inquiry was closed without taking any enforcement action. Why?
AE: I think Monsanto is a perfect example of regulatory capture where an industry captures the levers of government, levers of our democracy that are supposed to protect us from companies that would profit over our health being impacted in a really negative way. I mean people may be allergic to these crops, to the chemicals that are used on them, and they are trying to avoid them. And in America they have no right to know if the food has been genetically modified or not. And that is something I brought up at the meeting, if you want to be transparent you ought to label the food.
So yes, you have people at the FDA like Michael Taylor who is the head of food safety who also was the vice-president of Monsanto for a decade and prior to that worked at the FDA as well. So it’s a revolving door, he was at the FDA, went to work for Monsanto and now he’s back at the FDA. It’s clear that secretary of state Clinton, she emphasized giving these hybrid seeds to Africa, yet there’s no proof this is going to help African farmers. I think quite the contrary – they are going to become dependent on buying seeds from the United States when they should be able to save their seeds and develop their own varieties in Africa.
Monsanto Annual Shareholder Meeting
800 Lindberg Road
Creve Coeur, MO
January 31, 2013
Good Afternoon. I am here speaking on behalf of Harrington Investments, the Pesticide Action Network and my 75 shares . Our resolution for consideration by fellow shareholders addresses serious and potential risks associated with our Company’s genetically engineered crops, the toxic chemicals applied to these crops, and the related civil liability our Company may face due to their continued sales.
I realize our resolution is the same as last year and is unlikely to receive enough votes today to pass. So instead of speaking to the merits of the resolution or the Board’s prepared response, I am going to use my limited time to inform fellow shareholders that a massive tidal wave of consumer rejection of foods derived from our company’s patented technology has yet to crash down, but will soon.
What I am speaking of is a historic re-ordering of what crops farmers will be permitted to grow and the near-complete collapse of our customer base if we don’t change our business practices. Customers in our value chain are beginning to reject our patented technology due to the unsustainable consequences its use brings for human health and that of our soil and water.
First of all, why is our Company and it’s industry partners as a whole so vigorously hostile to new independent, peer-reviewed research? Last Fall, Dr. Seralini’s research clearly showed that rats fed this Company’s NK603 corn over their lifetime had serious health issues versus rats fed the control, a non-genetically engineered diet. We know the Company’s Technology Agreement does not permit farmers to give their seed away to scientists for research purposes. But in order for Monsanto to uphold its official pledge of “Transparency,” the Company’s patented technology must be scrutinized by scientists in every country in the world, without restrictions. The Company must embrace all research, in all its forms, to be truly transparent with current and future customers.
It is clear from the research of Dr. Seralini, that exposure to glyphosate and our Roundup Ready family of herbicides in only trace amounts of drinking water was linked to severe tumors in these rats over a lifetime of feeding. Moreover, our Company’s own rat feeding trials were woefully inadequate in measuring the long-term health risks of foods derived from our Company’s technology because our studies took place over only 90 days versus a rat’s entire lifetime as shown in Dr. Seralini’s study. To dismiss long-term animal feeding studies that were reviewed by the same scientific journal that years earlier did not reveal the long-term impacts of eating GMOs in Monsanto’s own studies is another example of this Company being two-faced and opaque. Customers, government regulators, and concerned scientists deserve nothing less than crystal-clear transparency from this Company. This starts by welcoming research by scientists who may be critical of our patented technology.
Secondly, last year I warned shareholders and the Board of Directors that the Company’s misguided hostility to safe food activists and farmers was fueling a consumer backlash. There was the Just Label It campaign, which last year sent over 1.1 million petition signatures to the FDA requesting labels for GMO foods. This effort led by Stoneyfield Organic CEO Gary Hirshberg, set the record for the most public comments on a petition to the FDA ever. And most recently social media campaigns have emerged, like the GMO Inside campaign, which urges grocery shoppers to label the suspected GMO foods and post the photos to Facebook and Twitter, as they have done by the thousands.
And then there was Proposition 37 in California. When I asked you Mr. Grant straightforwardly last year, “How much would this Company spend to defeat the California Right2Know Ballot initiative,” you refused to answer my question. Today fellow shareholders I am displeased to report our company wasted $8.2 million dollars to defeat transparency in food labels. Spending millions of dollars through lies and misinformation is not the way to stop the customer backlash towards GMOs. It’s only made it worse. Shareholders need to take this breech of trust very seriously.
While the proposition to label GMO foods in California failed to pass by a slim margin, people now say that if this Company was so proud of its patented technology, it would demand labels just as much as grocery shoppers do. This paradox exists because the Company is not being transparent with itself. This blatant denial of the wishes of customers in our value chain has the fuel to generate a wild fire of grassroots activism against this company. Customers recognize the lack of transparency in our food labels means there must be something to hide and they are wising up to the fact that its our patented technology that is being concealed.
For that matter why is this a closed-door meeting and no video feed made available to the hundreds of millions world-wide who eat our patented technology? Why must we meet in secret if the Company truly embraces transparency?
Since last year’s shareholder meeting we know more than 6 million Americans have voted & signed petitions demanding more transparency in food labels. This voting block is not going away because they vote three times a day- breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Throughout 2012 there were over 150 large-scale protests against this Company’s opaque & undemocratic control of global food policy. There were at least 50 protests at Monsanto facilities world-wide this past September 17 alone and just this last Tuesday there were thousands who took to the streets of Argentina protesting this company. Unless things begin to change and become more transparent, these protests will increase in size and number. Mr. Grant, the grassroots are Roundup resistant.
The way forward is by upholding the Company’s pledge to transparency. First, this means following the lead of other Fortune 500 companies like Apple, Coca-Cola, and Walmart and begin to stream over the Internet audio & video of all future shareholder meetings. Second, the Company should cease its efforts to stymie legislative solutions that provide increased transparency around GMO foods. States like Washington, Hawaii, Connecticut, Oregon, New Mexico, Vermont, and even here in Missouri have legislative solutions in the works. These efforts should be embraced by the Company, not fought off with lobbyists & lawyers. Third, the company needs to provide scientists access to the Company’s seeds & existing body of research. Let independent scientists provide the much-needed peer-reviewed studies, so the public at large believes this Company is being truly transparent.
A video published yesterday on the Wall Street Journal’s website, Mr. Grant said quote “we need to do much better job explaining where food comes from” We wholeheartedly agree. From independent scientific experimentation to honest food labels to streaming future shareholder meetings, this Company needs to look inward and become transparent.
Thank you for your time and I will answer questions shareholders may have.
Activist Investor to Challenge Monsanto CEO to be More Transparent at January 31 Annual Shareholder Meeting
Anti-GMO Protests Expected Outside
CREVE COEUR, MO – On Thursday, January 31, 2013, the Monsanto Company officers and shareholders will vote on a shareholder proposal to create a study of “material financial risks or operational impacts” associated with its chemical products and patented genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Activists in favor of the measure will demonstrate outside the meeting to raise awareness that the public does not currently have the right to witness what will be the only democratic vote of accountability on Monsanto’s leadership because the company bans cameras inside their Annual Shareholder Meeting.
WHO: Anti-GMO Food Activists, Adam Eidinger, Monsanto Shareholder WHAT: Protest at Monsanto Annual Shareholder Meeting WHERE: Monsanto Global Headquarters, Creve Coeur, MO, East Campus Entrance on Olive Blvd. WHEN: Thursday, January 31, 2013, Noon to 3:30PM
“Monsanto pledges transparency, but provides very little,” says Adam Eidinger, an organic food activist and Monsanto shareholder who organized a march from NY to Washington DC on behalf of honest food labeling in 2011. For the second year in a row, Eidinger will present a shareholder resolution on behalf of Napa, California-based Harrington Investments (HII) with help from the Pesticide Action Network of North America (PANNA).
“Companies like Starbucks, Walmart, The Washington Post, Oracle, Apple and Coca-Cola among many others provide the public and media access to their shareholder meetings in one form or another, but Monsanto, a company who’s patented genetically engineered products are in most people’s food, meets in secret,” says Eidinger.
“By banning cameras from their Annual Shareholder Meeting, Monsanto is flouting its pledge to shareholders who are unable to attend, the majority of Americans who eat the products created by Monsanto Company’s patented technology, farmers who are keen to know future plans of their seed & herbicide provider, and members of the media who report on the company,“ says Eidinger.
Last year Eidinger was forced to sneak an undercover camera into the Annual Shareholder Meeting because safe food activists were concerned about Monsanto Company’s lack of transparency. The grainy footage has been viewed more than 55,000 times. “I shouldn’t be required to break the rules in order to uphold Monsanto Company’s pledge of transparency,” says Eidinger.
The shareholder proposal Eidinger will speak for represents one of the strongest signals to date that the Monsanto Company faces growing consumer, legal, and regulatory uncertainties. Public pressure for transparency in the marketplace in the form of GMO food labeling is leading to new battles for Monsanto Company, which spent over $8 million dollars in 2012 to prevent labeling of genetically engineered foods in California. Next month, on February 19, Bowman v. Monsanto, a landmark case on GMO patent exhaustion, will be argued before the US Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court rules against the Monsanto Company many its patented products face an uncertain future.
The Annual Shareholder Meeting itself is only open to shareholders but concerned citizens will demonstrate outside along Olive Blvd. near the East Campus entrance to Monsanto Company’s Creve Coeur facilities beginning at 12:00 noon. The Monsanto Company global headquarters is located at 800 North Lindberg Boulevard in Creve Coeur, MO.
In 2012 there were over 100 demonstrations against the Monsanto Company around the world, including protests on five different Hawaiian Islands, three at Monsanto Company’s headquarters in Creve Coeur, Missouri along with 60 others across the US. In Argentina, Japan, Poland, Canada, Peru, Philippines, Spain, and numerous others countries people protested at Monsanto Company offices on September 17, 2012.
Last fall Monsanto and its business allies showed they can subvert the democratic process by spending more than $45 million dollars to spread lies in order to prevent GMO labeling in California’s Proposition 37. Monsanto and other biotechnology & processed food companies outspent their opposition by a factor of 5 to 1. In 2013 numerous states, including Missouri, have pending GMO labeling legislation. Washington State is expected to have a GMO labeling initiative on the ballot later this year. Efforts are already underway in California for a new 2014 labeling initiative.
John Harrington, CEO of Harrington Investments, questions the veracity of Monsanto’s GMO crops, “With the rise of Round-Up resistant ‘superweeds’ the company is simply telling farmers to spray even more toxic herbicides including 2,4 D, the main ingredient in Agent Orange. Many people are struggling to avoid GMO’s and chemicals used on them in the food they eat due to serious health and environmental concerns, yet Americans have no right to know what we are eating largely due to the close ties Monsanto has to President Obama’s USDA, EPA, and FDA, which have not satisfied more than 1 million Americans who have signed on to the JustLabelIt.org’s petition to the FDA.”
Adam Eidinger will be available for interview before and after the Monsanto Shareholder Meeting, to which he will drive in a “Label GMO Foods” art car called the Fishycorn Car.