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.
Posted: September 29th, 2012 | Filed under: Incident Reports | Tags: Anne Peterman, Barbara Chicherio, biotechnology, Black Bear Bakery, Brian Tokar, CAMP, Carmelo Ruiz Marrero, cotton, Creve Coeur, death, Don Fitz, Dr. Irina Ermakova, Dr. Ollie Fisher, Eric Herm, Fisher Wellness Center, Gateway Green Alliance, Global Justice Ecology Project, GM soy, gmo, GMO Labeling, GMO-Free Midwest, International Symposium on Biosafety of Genetically Modified Organisms, Millennium Hotel, MO, Occupy Monsanto, Organic Consumers Association, Orin Langelle, Picket, Priti Cox, Rats, Safe Food Action St. Louis, St. Louis, Stan Cox, STL, Suzanne Renard, Whole Foods Market |
Photo by Don Fitz
By Carmelo Ruiz Marrero
In the city of St. Louis, there is no one who does not have a friend, relative or neighbor working at Monsanto. This city on the banks of the Mississippi river has the doubtful honor of hosting the world headquarters of the Monsanto corporation. Founded in 1901, it was one of the world’s leading chemical companies in the twentieth century. At the start of this century it transformed itself into a biotechnology giant, or as the company likes to put it, “a leader in the life sciences industry”. Nowadays, Monsanto is the world’s largest seed company (global market share: 27%) and owns over four fifths of the planet’s genetically modified (GM) seed.
Monsanto is therefore the very embodiment of the biotech-agricultural-industrial complex, the company has worked very hard to earn that distinction. That also means that it symbolizes everything that is wrong with the food system.
Monday September 17 was the Occupy Monsanto campaign’s international day of actions against the corporation (1). Concerned citizens all over the world were called upon to carry out protest actions at the Monsanto facility nearest to them. Groups as far away as Chile and Argentina picketed Monsanto offices and circulated photos of their actions on social media.
That day I was, of all places, in St. Louis picketing the company headquarters’ main entrance. I was accompanied by dozens of local activists plus some who came from as far away as Chicago and the San Francisco bay area (2). Among the demonstrators who addressed the small crowd was Texas farmer Eric Herm, who used to plant Monsanto’s GM Roundup Ready cotton but turned against chemical and biotech agriculture. He narrates his journey of discovery and transformation in his book “Son of a Farmer, Child of the Earth” (3).
This picket was the culmination of two days of protests and educational events organized by GMO Free Midwest (4) and Occupy Monsanto. A series of events were hosted by Safe Food Action, the Gateway Green Alliance (5) and the US Organic Consumers Association (6) in different parts of the city to agitate and educate about the threat of GM crops and foods to human health, small farmers, rural economies, and food sovereignty worldwide.
On Sunday the 16th the organizers held a day-long series of educational activities, including talks and film screenings, in the Community Arts and Movement (CAMP) (7) building between Cherokee street and Minnesota Avenue in South St. Louis, and the Black Bear Bakery a short walk away. CAMP is a community organization that promotes creative expression, social interconnection, healthy living and sustainability through a great variety of activities that celebrate diversity and encourage critical thinking, such as classes, projects, artists in residence, bicycle repair, community gardening, mural painting, and much more. The Black Bear Bakery, known for its Lickhalter rye bread, is a worker-owned collective that hosts a great deal of cultural, political and creative activities, including music performances, film screenings, meetings, presentations and press conferences (8).
Presenters that day included Dr. Ollie Fisher, a former Monsanto employee who turned his life around and is now dedicated to promoting integral holistic health and operates the Fisher Wellness Center (9); Priti Cox, an artist from India (10) who has been chronicling and analyzing the devastating effects of corporate globalization on Indian society; geneticist and author Stan Cox (11), who works at the Kansas-based Land Institute developing deep-rooted perennial food crops (12); Orin Langelle and Anne Peterman, both from the Global Justice Ecology Project (13), who work on a variety of issues ranging from climate justice to the campaign to stop GM trees; social and environmental justice activist Daniel “Digger” Romano, who helps create local food networks as an alternative to the corporate-dominated agrotoxic food system; organic farmer, beekeeper and teacher Suzanne Renard; Eric Herm, and myself.
In my presentation I provided a political and historical context to the current global battle around GM crops and the patenting of seeds, basing myself on two recent articles of mine, “The Grand Botanical Chess Game” (14) and “Seeds of Empire” (15). This is part of a much broader research work I’m doing on the geopolitics of seeds and genomes, from a social ecology perspective.
The following day was the big day: Occupy Monsanto Day. Activities began with a conference on the myths and realities of the much-ballyhooed “green economy” at the Millennium hotel in the downtown area, with Don Fitz of the Gateway Green Alliance and Orin Langelle as presenters and myself as moderator. On the same floor of the Millenium a biotech industry-sponsored international scientific symposium on the biosafety of genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) was taking place that same day. Not a coincidence, but rather clever planning and foresight. Months earlier, professor Brian Tokar of the Vermont-based Institute for Social Ecology informed GMO Free Midwest organizer Barbara Chicherio of the upcoming industry symposium, noting that it would coincide with the Occupy Monsanto actions. So the protest organizers cleverly booked the Lewis & Clarke conference room in the hotel, directly across the hall from where the industry activity would take place.
But things did not go as planned. We were changed at last minute to a different conference room on the far end of the floor, half the size of the space that had been paid for. Here is Don Fitz’s account of what happened when Chicherio brought our complaint to the hotel executive in charge:
– “If you don’t stop talking to me, I will have you removed from the hotel,” was the most thoughtful answer he seemed able to come up with. Looking at his name tag, Barbara saw that he was “Rich Martin, Director of Catering and Convention Services.”
As the conversation was unfolding, Orin Langelle with the Global Justice Ecology Project (GJEP) pulled out his camera to film the interaction. Rich put up his hand, growling “No photos! You get away from me or I’ll have you removed from the hotel.” Nearby Orin was Anne Petermann, also with GJEP. She slid her camera away as she quietly caught Rich on film. –
Fitz’s full account plus some photos of the activity are available at the Occupy Monsanto site (16).
A Russian scientist participating at the industry symposium came over and briefly joined us as the conference was starting. It was none other than Irina Ermakova. Her name may be little-known to the American general public but she is a celebrity and hero among anti-GM activists. In 2007 she published the results of her ground-breaking animal feeding studies on GM soy. In short, she found that the offspring of rats fed GM soy had a death rate of 50% within three weeks of birth, when the normal rate is 10%. For her findings, Ermakova was badly abused by biotech crop supporters, particularly the editors of Nature Biotechnology magazine (17). Apparently, the industry symposium’s organizers felt they needed a token radical voice in their activity lest they be accused of “bias”. It was a pleasant surprise and a total thrill to have her briefly join us and address our conference. Later, she joined us again when we had an anti-GM picket across the street from the hotel.
Our following action of the day was at the local Whole Foods Market, the Wal-Mart of the organic movement (18). The Whole Foods retail chain, which many consumers believe sells only organic, natural, healthy, wholesome and of above average quality foods, actually sells some GM among its many items that are not labeled “organic”. No, not everything they sell is organic, and if it isn’t then there is no guarantee that it’s GM-free. Whole Foods does not have a GM-free policy and does not even support mandatory labels on GM foods. We walked up and down the aisles talking to customers about GM foods and the importance of labeling them. The reception among the clientele was overwhelmingly positive, and even employees wanted to know about the issues. Other members of our group took non-organic items to the cash register and questioned the cashiers whether their purchases were GM-free. There were no unpleasant clashes with the store’s management and there were no arrests, even though police did show up.
The grand event of the day was the picket at the main entrance to Monsanto’s main offices, in the Creve Coeur suburb (19). What surprised us was the number of passerby drivers who expressed their approval and solidarity with our protest. That is no small thing in the world’s ultimate biotech company town.
– Ruiz-Marrero is a Puerto Rican author, environmental educator, and long-time activist on biotech issues. He currently works at the Organic Consumers Association coordinating social media campaigns. Ruiz-Marrero, a graduate of the Institute for Social Ecology’s MA program, has been involved with Green politics since the 1980’s, when he was active in the Green Committees of Correspondence. He is currently on the editorial board of Synthesis/Regeneration, a journal of Green social thought (https://www.greens.org/s-r/).
Posted: September 18th, 2012 | Filed under: Press | Tags: Barbara Chicherio, Demonstration, Dr. Irina Ermakova, FDA, Gateway Green Alliance, Georgina Gustin, GMO Labeling, GMO-Free Midwest, Millenium Hotel, Monsanto, OWS, Protest, Rally, Safe Food Action St. Louis, St. Louis, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, STL |
By Georgina Gustin, September 18, 2012 12:05 am
Protesters marking the one-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement gathered at three St. Louis area locations to protest against Monsanto Co., including the biotechnology giant’s Creve Coeur headquarters.
The protests here, organized by a network calling itself Occupy Monsanto and by the group GMO-Free Midwest, were among 45 other “actions” held across the country Monday, organizers said.
Calling on the company to more rigorously test and label genetically modified ingredients, the protesters first gathered outside the Millenium Hotel downtown, then outside the Whole Foods Market in Brentwood and finally outside the company’s offices.
“We’re celebrating the first anniversary of Occupy Wall Street,” said Barbara Chicherio, of the Gateway Green Alliance and Safe Food Action St. Louis, and a spokesperson for Occupy Monsanto’s efforts here. “We had a lot of concerns about large corporations controlling the government, but it wasn’t very focused. Now we’re focusing on Monsanto.”
The protests are the latest in a series of events over the past year in which activists have called for mandatory labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients. A petition urging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to require labeling gathered more than 1 million signatures earlier this year, and a proposition requiring labeling will go before voters in California this November.
According to records filed with the California Secretary of State, Monsanto has contributed more than $7 million to defeat the proposition.
Now, activists say, they are reaching beyond the labeling issue. “Over 1 million signatures were sent to the FDA and they were basically ignored,” said Adam Eidinger, a coordinator with Occupy Monsanto. “So what’s left to do? It’s time for civil disobedience.”
Eidinger said the company temporarily suspended operations at two of its California facilities in the past week because of protest actions.
Monsanto would not comment on the suspension of operations, saying only that the safety of its employees was paramount.
Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Posted: September 17th, 2012 | Filed under: Press, Video | Tags: Barbara Chicherio, Chemicals, Creve Coeur, Demonstration, Don Fitz, Gateway Green Alliance, gmo, KPLR, Missouri, MO, Monsanto, Protest, Safe Food Action St. Louis, St. Louis, Whole Foods |
CREVE COEUR, MO (KPLR) – Part of those occupy protests nationwide were aimed at St. Louis-based Monsanto, objecting to what organizers call the corporate food supply.
A few dozen demonstrators came to Monsanto’s international headquarters to protest Monsanto’s use of so called GMOs, genetically modified organisms.
The anti-Monsanto protestors started out at Whole Foods, angry that the organic food retailing giant also sells corn and other vegetables that are genetically modified.
Demonstrators were allowed to talk to customers. They were not allowed to carry signs or dress in costumes.
From there, they took their complaints to Creve Coeur and Monsanto world headquarters. They say most of Monsanto’s genetic tinkering, involves becoming resistant to bug killing chemicals.
“Mostly plants at this point by Monsanto are genetically engineered so that they’re resistant to their herbicides and pesticides, roundup,” said Barbara Chicherio with Safe Food Action-St. Louis. “So they’ve genetically engineered plants so they can spray the pesticide on it, which actually also has a lot of health concerns.”
“What Monsanto does is to corner the market on farming products and especially pressure farmers to buy GMO seeds and GMO seeds are something that can threaten human health, GMO seeds can be very bad for the environment, and GMO seeds can basically drive farmers into bankruptcy,” said Don Fitz with Gateway Green Alliance.
But while the protestors in front of Monsanto say genetically modified organisms are dangerous, Monsanto says they’re helping to feed the world.
No Monsanto spokesman would appear on camera. But the company did issue a statement:
“The 21,000 people who work for Monsanto are proud of our efforts to help improve farm productivity and food quality. Agriculture and its uses are important to Missouri, the United States and the world. Among the challenges facing agriculture are producing food for our growing population and reducing agriculture’s footprint on the environment. We respect each individual’s right to express their point of view on these topics. At Monsanto, we believe we can make a contribution to improving agriculture by helping farmers produce more from their land while conserving natural resources such as water and energy.”
Other anti-Monsanto protests were held worldwide. But will protests like this alter the behavior of a multi-billion dollar bio-agricultural giant? Not likely.
Source: KPLR St. Louis, Missouri
Posted: August 17th, 2012 | Filed under: Events | Tags: Conference, Demonstration, Event, Gateway Green Alliance, GMO Labeling, GMO-Free Midwest, Missouri, Organic Consumers Association, Protest, Safe Food Action St. Louis, St. Louis |
Occupy Monsanto: GMO Free Midwest
September 16-17, 2012, St. Louis, MO
Register at GMOFreeMidwest.org
Occupy Monsanto is coordinating a global week of action against Monsanto’s genetic biohazards. All across the world, there will be events and demonstrations regarding Monsanto’s increasing control of the food supply and its continued aggressive development of GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) technology. Many are voicing demands that food containing GMOs be labeled.
The world headquarters of Monsanto is in St. Louis, Missouri. Safe Food Action, the Gateway Green Alliance, and the Organic Consumers Association are hosting a two day event on September 16 & 17 to facilitate the discussion of GMO technology and the larger issue of food safety.
Please Join us for a conference and two days of education & direct action regarding GMOs and Monsanto. Learn more about GMO’s effect on human health, the environment, the economy, and the use of GMOs to dominate the global food production. There may be opportunities to interact with the Monsanto family.
For more information and to register, visit GMOFreeMidwest.org
Does your Genetic Crimes Unit have a flier that you would like to share here?
Please send it with a short description to Incident@Occupy-Monsanto.com
Posted: June 13th, 2012 | Filed under: Incident Reports, Photos | Tags: Brentwood, Coyote Jim, Don Fitz, Gateway Green Alliance, gmo, GMO Labeling, Kate Klotz, Missouri, Occupy St. Louis, Photos, Safe Food Action St. Louis, Survey, Tim Lloyd, USDA, Whole Foods Market |
This entry was supplied to Occupy Monsanto as a follow-up to last week’s action. If your organization has food democracy-related action in the works, please send details to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll do our best to post it here.
Coyote Jim Joins Picket Line
Whole Foods Rejects Dialog on GMO Safety
by Don Fitz
Drivers passing by the Brentwood, Missouri Whole Foods Market (WFM) on June 9 spied a 14 foot tall coyote puppet. Next to the puppet was a sign reading “Coyote Jim Says” followed by “GMOs Contaminate Food” and “Whole Foods Sells GMOs.”
Twenty members of the Gateway Green Alliance (GGA) and Safe Food Action St. Louis (SFA), along with Occupy St. Louis supporters were reminding customers that higher prices at WFM do not necessarily buy better food. The action followed the refusal of WFM to discuss the safety of food it sells which contains GMOs (genetically modified organisms).
Many of the customers who stopped to talk were aware of health and environmental problems caused by GMOs and wanted to know how to avoid them. But they were mostly unaware of the large number of GMO products sold by WFM.
In April 2012 GGA and SFA presented WFM the results of a survey they did on attitudes toward food labeling by 315 participants in St. Louis. The poll found that 95% wanted labels on foods containing GMOs. If also showed that WFM customers were the least likely of five groups to be willing to serve GMOs. But, at the same time, they were the most likely to expect food at WFM to be free of GMO contamination.
Safe Food Action sent the April findings to WFM and asked management to contact them by May 14 to discuss the findings and recommendations. When WFM stonewalled them, the safe food advocates called a picket for June 9.