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.
As the world comes to Washington, DC to celebrate the inauguration of President Barack Obama, safe food activists will be gathering to demand the President follow up with his campaign promise to label genetically engineered foods.
Over 90% of Americans want food labels to indicate if the ingredients came from a genetically engineered plant or animal. Polls show that across all political party affiliations Americans believe that they should have the fundamental right to know the source of their food.
Since President Obama has been in office, he’s placed former Monsanto employees in positions of enormous power at the FDA, EPA, and the USDA. This regulatory capture of America’s food system has made our food supply less safe. During Obama’s tenure as President there has been a large increase in the number of food recalls due to bacteria and other adulterants.
There have been two different petitions on the White House’s website that have met the signature threshold for a response from the President. Over 6 months later, the White House has failed to respond to people’s concerns.
On Monday, January 21, come join us on the National Mall in Washington, DC to raise awareness about GMO and to demand that President Obama follow-up with his promise to label GMO foods. We will be gathering in Dupont Circle at 9:00 AM and we’ll depart for the National Mall at 9:30 AM. Please dress warm!
Safe Food Activists Sponsor a GMO-Free Inauguration
President Obama’s Supporters ask him to Fulfill Promise to Label Genetically Engineered Foods (GMO)s
Joining the estimated 1 million visitors in Washington, DC for 2nd Inauguration of President Barack Obama, hundreds of safe food activists will hold a “GMO Free Inauguration” by sharing organic & non-GMO food and hot drinks via a roving musical assembly. The group will call upon President Obama to follow through with his 2007 campaign promise to label foods with genetically engineered (GMO) ingredients. The group will gather at 9:00 a.m. on the South side of Dupont Circle and walk to the National Mall for the inauguration ceremonies.
WHEN:Monday, January 21, at 9 a.m. in Dupont Circle & March to the National Mall at 9:30 a.m.
WHY: To urge President Obama to mandate labeling of GMO foods
“President Obama has had over 4 years to give Americans the same simple food labels citizens of over 40 countries enjoy,” says, Emilianne Slaydon, founder of GMO Free DC. “With over 90% of Americans in support of labels for GE foods, if Obama acts there’s no demographic he would upset except Wall Street agribusiness interests and processed food companies.” Last fall over $45 million dollars was spent by the biotech food industry in a lopsided battle to defeat GMO food labels in California. While the voter initiative lost by less than 2% points, numerous states across America have begun a process of getting GMO food labeling legislation passed.
“We’re tired of waiting for the Obama Administration to respond to our ‘We The People’ petitions on the White House website,” says Gene, an anonymous Occupy Monsanto activist, “So we are going to inform President Obama’s supporters that he’s failed to answer our concerns.” On September 23, 2011, on the second day after the “We The People” petitioning microsite was launched, the first GMO Labeling petition was created. It has received over 30,000 signatures and has not received a response, while a petition on raw milk, which was also created on the same day, was responded to after only 6,000 signatures. In April of 2011 another GMO Labeling petition was created and 8 months & over 60,000 signatures later, there is still no response from the White House. In the meantime, the White House has answered three petitions on cannabis legalization, as well as responded to petitions on ephemeral issues like building the Death Star and the White House beer recipe.
Citizens will be accompanied by a mobile sound system that will be playing audio of President Obama’s GMO labeling campaign promise that was made on November 10, 2007 in Des Moines, Iowa. President Obama said “Here’s what I’ll do as president… we’ll let folks know whether their food has been genetically modified because Americans should know what they’re buying.” (Watch here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqaaB6NE1TI )
Activists will also be handing out information concerning GMO foods and how customers can avoid them in lieu of Federal GMO labeling guidelines.
Activist ties up the checkout line at Whole Foods by asking the clerk whether each of the items in her cart contain GMOs. Photo: Langelle/GJEP
Occupy Monsanto in St. Louis: Action 2
“Ma’am, Please Don’t Take Off Your Shirt in the Parking Lot”
by Don Fitz
Several dozen people at GMO-Free Midwest, the St. Louis portion of Occupy Monsanto, went from picketing the industry-sponsored “Biosafety” symposium at the Millennium Hotel to Whole Foods Market (WFM) in Brentwood, Missouri. It was September 17, 2012, the one year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street. Safe food activists began a series of tactics which built on previous demonstrations and caught store management and local police completely off guard.
June 9 had seen a creative picket of WFM, including a 14 foot tall coyote puppet opposed to putting genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food. The picket provided an opportunity to talk with WFM workers who have been led to believe that the store does not sell GMOs. A few shoppers joined the picket upon learning that WFM brags that it labels GMO food when it only labels non-GMO food, leaving customers uninformed about potentially contaminated products.
On August 18 a new tactic challenged WFM. WFM aggressively censors “soliciting” which it says includes telling customers of dangers that GMOs poses to health and the environment. So, we went into its parking lot with signs on top of cars saying “GMOs Contaminate Food” on one side and “WFM Sells GMOs” on the other. Other cars had the same message on window signs or on home-made bumper stickers.
Police told drivers that they could not enter the parking lot with “protest signs” on their cars. But they were hard pressed to explain what was and what was not a protest sign. They were particularly befuddled at trying to figure out if they should order the removal of bumper stickers, since so many cars at WFM have safe food slogans on them. As we discussed what constitutes a protest message, other drivers came in, parked, and let their cars with signs on top remain throughout the afternoon.
Eric Herm, anti-GMO cotton farmer from Texas, stands by car sign in Whole Foods parking lot. Photo: Petermann/GJEP
A new level of action
On September 17, participants from GMO-Free Midwest took activities at WFM to a higher level. A few carried signs on the sidewalk. But most walked to the front of the store.
“If you are here to protest, you need to go to the sidewalk,” the police motioned. I buttoned up my jacket over my “Genetic Engineering — Don’t Swallow It” T-shirt and walked through the police. Since we didn’t appear different from the typical WFM customer, others did the same.
Some said, “I just came here to pick up a few items” as they walked by the police, who were again unsure of what to do.
Apparently warned that we would be there, WFM staff could be heard saying “What’s happening? They’re all coming in to shop.” Safe food activist wandered through the store looking at labels carefully. They did not put items in their carts if they read, “GMO-free,” “organic,” or “365,” which is the WFM house brand.
As shoppers went through the check-out line, they picked up each item and asked the cashier if it had GMOs in it. If so, it went in the “don’t buy” pile. Cashiers often weren’t sure; and that meant it also went in the “don’t buy” pile. One cashier claimed that everything WFM sold was GMO-free, which led to each item in turn being put aside by a disbelieving shopper.
Mindful of the bad working conditions at WFM, shoppers took the opportunity to explain our concerns to every employee. And there is no better opportunity to discuss potential food contamination than doing so with a customer waiting behind you in line. WFM is particularly vulnerable to such a tactic because the vast majority of its customers are concerned about food quality, but most think that store products are GMO-free.
From chatting with us, customers found out that, though WFM products cost more than those at other grocery stores, they are very likely to contain GMOs. With a bad rep for extreme anti-unionism and buying out competitors in order to destroy them, WFM is also resented for reversing its former opposition to GMO foods. It now babbles about “informed customer choices” but fails to inform customers by labeling food that might have GMOs.
A “superbug,” caused by consumption of GMO crops, argues with a police officer outside of Whole Foods. Photo: Langelle/GJEP
From Shop-In to Talk-In
Many safe food shoppers asked for the manager to come and verify whether food in their cart was GMO-free. At one point, a frazzled manager began grabbing handfuls of food and pushing it aside, saying “Yes, all this food has GMOs.” The manager seemed obsessed with keeping the check-out lane flowing as rapidly as possible.
Managerial distress was caused by two dictums: WFM policy says that every customer question must be answered; and, WFM also says that shopping must be a “pleasant experience.” But the shopping experience might be made unpleasant either by a slowed check-out line or by customers watching someone being hassled by police for the crime of asking if food quality is compromised. This particular manager decided that pleasant shopping would best be maintained by confirming that a large amount of WFM items might be contaminated with GMOs.
The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) had told us that WFM could order us to leave and those who refused could be arrested. But it would have been impossible for WFM to determine who constituted “us.” WFM could have brought police from inside to harass those they thought were “protestors.” But doing so would run the risk of intimidating everyday customers who go to WFM concerned with the quality of food and happen to ask a question or two about what they are buying. Its liberal façade again makes WFM more vulnerable to a shop-in than any other supermarket chain.
Our friendly shoppers left the store with a single purchased item, confirming that they were, in fact, WFM customers. Others asked what all the commotion was about and what we were trying to accomplish. Some asked if they should boycott WFM. We explained that they could help lay the groundwork for a future boycott by telling everyone they knew about the true face of WFM.
The WFM ban on “solicitation” had been broken in store aisles, in check-out lines, and at the store entrance. Unable to distinguish “protesters” from “legitimate” customers, neither WFM management nor Brentwood police could stop people from asking “Why should we be concerned about what we buy at WFM?” Getting people to ask that question was the point of the action.
GMO farmer dressed for duty outside of Whole Foods. Photo: Langelle/GJEP
From Talk-In to Gawk-In
A stiff foam-board sign with holes for zip-ties can be fastened with bungy cords to the top of a car in 10–15 seconds by people who have practiced doing it. As cops and store managers were trying to figure out if they could do anything about the growing number of GMO conversations among customers, two people fastened a six foot long sign saying that “WFM Sells GMOs” atop a station wagon. By the time the cops figured out what had happened, the two were long gone.
Cops walked over and asked the people looking at the car who owned it; but they just shrugged their shoulders. Most picketers left their sidewalk location to see what the cops were doing. Friendly shoppers walked toward the car. Customers drifted over to hear everyone asking about why police were concerned with a car that had a sign on its hood.
There’s few things that people gawk at more than cops looking at something while a small crowd looks at the cops. Barbara Chicherio asked what bothered them. “Protest signs need to be on the sidewalk and not on cars,” a cop huffed.
Barbara talked through the car signs – window signs – bumper sticker questions concerning which needed to be removed as the cop scowled. Remembering that she was wearing a “Millions Against Monsanto” T-shirt, she had a flash: “Officer,” she asked, “If everything critical of Whole Foods and Monsanto is a protest sign, do I have to take off this T-shirt?”
“Ma’am, please do not take off your T-shirt in the parking lot!” The crowd laughed and even the cop chuckled. The absurdity of trying to wrestle through the twists and turns of exactly what type of free expression WFM could suppress was too much.
It had become clear that effects of the police presence had turned into their opposite. Intended to be soft-core harassers, the police were less than totally dedicated to protecting WFM customers from the horror of people asking about food contamination. As they drew a larger crowd, the show of police force served to increase discussion about WFM, thereby furthering goals of the action.
Many of the tactics used on September 17 had been worked out weeks before. Others arose as the event unfolded. Throughout the WFM action, neither store management nor police had any idea of what to expect next or how they should respond.
Within half an hour of the mini-confrontation in the parking lot, the police gave up efforts to get the sign off the car and walked off. Soon the crowd drifted away but the sign remained until the end of the action. Having reached over 10 times as many WFM workers and customers as all previous efforts combined, safe food shoppers boarded a bus and cars headed for their final destination of the day: Monsanto World Headquarters in Creve Coeur, Missouri.
LIHU‘E — Genetically modified organisms were the focus of a worldwide Occupy movement on Monday, and demonstrators in Lihu‘e said Kaua‘i is Ground Zero with experimental seed testing.
Most of the world was holding an Occupy Monsanto protest, a GMO company that has since departed Kaua‘i, but still has operations in Hawai‘i. The Lihu‘e demonstration focused on all major growers conducting testing, including Kaua‘i companies Syngenta and DuPont/Pioneer, along with ConAgra Foods, Inc. and BASF SE.
The issues were about expansion of testing fields from Kekaha to the Eastside, and the referendum to require labeling of GMO products in foods.
“I just want to know what I am eating,” said Sol Kahn, a demonstrator at the protest. “I don’t want to eat GMOs if I choose not to. It needs to be labeled with more information, and there needs to be more research.”
Kahn fears that poisons in the drinking water and soil is killing microorganisms and bacteria that are beneficial to life. The results of leaching pollution is killing the oceans, reefs and fish, he said.
“I am not necessarily against it (GMOs), but the science of it needs to be inspected,” he added.
Michael Schultz was demonstrating about the wealth of university research on pesticides and herbicides that damage the land and environment.
“I’ve been concerned about this for many years since the end of the cane industry,” Schultz said. “We are not just eating GMO food, but we are the guinea pigs for all these toxins.”
Fern Holland said she began researching the GMO issue five years ago as a student of environmental science, marine biology and wildlife management. She said studies from the Institute of Responsible Technology shows GMOs are not doing the right thing.
“They are chemical companies that are genetically modifying the world’s food supply to need chemicals,” she said.
The GMO issue should unify creationists and evolutionists, who agree that open testing of the world’s food supply is unacceptable. They also believe that breading across species is fundamentally wrong, she said.
“It might be an amazing technology to benefit pharmaceuticals and biotech,” she said, “but it needs to be treated unsafe until proven safe.”
Only numbers will make a difference, and Holland said that monthly community meeting for people on all sides of the issue will follow. She hopes to get 30,000 people to join the cause.
There are currently two lawsuits in state circuit and federal court against seed companies on Kaua‘i. The suits claim that violations of dust suppression orders are poisoning neighboring communities and are preventing organic farms from maintaining its status.
“The Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture supports all forms of legitimate agriculture, which includes conventional farming, biotech farming and organic farming,” said Janelle Saneishi, a public information officer for the department.
Hawai‘i Board of Agriculture Chairman Russell Kokubun was out of state and not available for comment.
Biotech farming is regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and once it approves a crop for planting, it is considered like any other plant, she said. Research crops must also follow USDA conditions, but once approved for release they are considered a deregulated crop and not experimental, she added.
As of now, there does not appear to be scientific evidence of harm, she said. Biotech is regulated by USDA permits including inspections quarantine branch facilities.
“We do have some input into how they grow and the inspectors look at how they are following permit conditions and USDA regulations,” she said.
Lopaka Baptista said he grows his own garden and wants his family to have good food on the table. The GMOs ruins everything, he said, referring to his brother who suffers from the effects of Agent Orange during the war in Vietnam.
He said that Atrizine in the water supply is also deadly for humans, pets, animals and birds of Kaua‘i.
“My concern is for my family, my friends and neighbors,” Baptista said. “We have a lot of keiki and we don’t want them growing up in an environment where you cant even drink the water anymore.”
“This issue is important to me and its pretty critical that people of Kaua‘i participate in a meaningful way,” Wendy Raebeck said. “I am really heartened because a demonstration just two years ago people were asking what GMO is, when it’s now a mainstream issue and it needed to happen.”
Corn, soy and canola are taboo items to Raebeck. She buys only organic tofu and soy milk.
“I’m against GMOs and I’m for labeling foods so that we know what is in it,” said Josephine Bonaparte, an organic farmer and grandmother. “I want a life free of pesticides and free from food that is pesticide resistant.”
Tiana Laranio said she was raised a “GMO youth” on microwavable groceries and canned SPAM, sausage and white rice. She suffered from reproductive and gastrointestinal problems at a young age and said she saw a connection with food allergies.
“I started becoming aware, and really once you wake up, there is not turning back,” she said. “I want to help other people to wake up for themselves.”
She said Occupy is about self-empowerment through community outreach and education. She said people can learn to read labels and demand that stores sell GMO-free products.
Once people know and they choose the alternative, then the natural forces of the free market will make the adjustment. As for Hawai‘i, she would like to see remediation of the ceded lands used for sustainable programs that get more people working with community gardens.
As for protesting, this is Laranio’s first time and she was motivated by the sudden growth of GMO fields around the island.
“I don’t agree with what the GMOs do, but if they do it then they should do it in a lab and not in the open air of Kaua‘i,” she said. “We are all being poisoned whether we realize it or not, and I am not a science experiment. I did not agree to this.”
Calls to Syngenta were not returned by press time.
DuPont Pioneer responded with resources that explain the work of GMOs on Kaua‘i at www.hciaonline.org.
More Hawai‘i seed industry surveys and information on biotech food safety is available from the International Food Information Council at www.foodinsight.org.
About 700 people came to the Aztec Maize Harvest on Saturday, 15th of September, in Berlin, Germany. They celebrated the harvest of colorful GMO-free and open-pollinated corn with traditional Aztec rituals and ceremonies.
A variety of typical Latin-American food, music and dance was offered and people were informed about the dangers of GMOs and Monsanto.
Eine ungewohnt-bunte Maiskörner-, Genuss- und Musik-Vielfalt wird es am 15.09.2012 auf dem Kinder- und Familienbauernhof in Berlin Gatow geben. Vier Monate nach der Maisaussaat auf dem Vierfelderhof, die mit aztekischer Zeremonie und Opfergaben an die Götter Centeotl (Maisgott), Tezcatlipoca (Sonnengott) und Tlaloc (Gott des Regen) begangen wurde, laden in Berlin lebende Mexikaner, die Aktion Bantam Mais und der Vierfelderhof zur Maisernte ein. Das Projekt „Tlayolan“* trägt nun Früchte…
Phantasievoll startet das Fest: Mit ritualen Dankes-Tänzen wird die Ernte von rotem, gelbem, grünem, blauem und schwarzem – gentechnikfreiem – Mais gefeiert. „Oaxaca grün“, „Black Aztec“, „Rio Lucio“, einige Samenkörner kamen direkt aus Zentralmexiko auf den Vierfelderhof und sind inzwischen „Berliner Pflanzen“. In Töpfen über dem Holzfeuer werden leckere Pozole und Tamales gekocht und gedünstet. Mit viel Liebe und großem Engagement zelebrieren die Aktivisten und ihre Freunde echte mexikanische Küche. Lebensfreude pur garantieren die „Mashicunas“ und „Flores Mexicanas“, Tanzgruppen aus Ecuador und Mexiko. Für die Kinder wird es einen „Piñata Kurs“ geben. „Viva Mexiko“ – der Schrei, den einst Landpfarrer Miguel Hidalgo 1810 zum Aufstand gegen die Spanier ausstieß und damit die Unabhängigkeit einleitete, wird öfter zu hören sein, denn am Sonntag (16.09.2012) ist Mexikos Nationalfeiertag. “Tlayolan” ist ein von Mexikanern und der Aktion Bantam organisiertes Maisanbau-Projekt mit gentechnikfreiem mexikanischen Mais. Ziel des Projektes ist es, den Anbau von samenfestem Mais in Berlin zu fördern und auf die Risiken und Gefahren der Agro-Gentechnik hinzuweisen. Das Fest ist Teil der weltweiten Occupy Monsanto Aktionswoche.