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Posted: April 9th, 2013 | Filed under: Press | Tags: America, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, College Park, Dana Milbank, Demonstration, eat-in, Fable, facebook, FDA, Food and Drug Administration, Kids, Maryland, MD, Michael Taylor, Mom, Monsanto, Occupy Wall Street, Photos, Picnic, Pot, Protest, stone soup, syndicated, Tom Llewellyn |
by Dana Milbank, Washington Post
When authorities got wind of a demonstration planned for Monday outside the Food and Drug Administration’s offices in College Park, they fortified their defenses.
A motorcycle and nine police vans, ominously marked “Homeland Security,” parked in front of the FDA building, and uniformed officers fanned out across the entrance, where they waited.
They needn’t have. The demonstrators, demanding that the FDA require the labeling of genetically modified foods, hadn’t come with violence in mind, or even civil disobedience. They had come to cook a 50-gallon vat of soup on the sidewalk and then consume the stuff — a first-ever “eat-in” at the FDA, they said.
There were no foul-mouthed anarchists dressed in black — just the sort of well-heeled crowd you’d come across at Whole Foods. “I packed up my kids’ lunches and drove from Boston to Hartford to ride a bus for five hours,” Kristi Marsh told the crowd, using the sound system to recount her trip to Monday’s protest. She wore a chef’s hat hand-lettered with the words “Everyday Mom.”
“I’ve never, ever protested before,” Marsh told me after her speech. “I was nervous. I had these visions of overturned buses and policemen dressed up like storm troopers. But when I saw part of the labor was to commit to no alcohol, no drugs, no violence, then I thought, ‘I want to be present.’ ”
She reached into her handbag. “Want some sunscreen?” she asked.
This is the face of the new protest movement — or at least organizers hope to make it so.
“We wanted a comfortable event,” Tom Llewellyn, the 30-year-old organizer, said of the FDA action, billed as “a day of sunshine and picnic-style protest” against GMOs, or genetically modified organisms. “It’s all about who you’re appealing to. There has to be a face of the movement for every single demographic to connect with.”
Taking a page from the gay-rights playbook, other causes on the left are holding fewer of the disruptive protests of recent decades and opting for persuasion over confrontation. In part, this strategy reflects the failure of recent movements, such as Occupy Wall Street and the anti-globalization demonstrations, to turn protesters’ enthusiasm into enduring public support.
The campaign against GMOs is typical: The movement has dropped its demand that such altered foods be banned, instead embracing the more reasonable goal of labeling such foods accurately. And activists are looking for non-threatening ways to broaden the cause’s appeal.
Llewellyn based Monday’s event on “Stone Soup,” a European folk tale about a traveler who persuades villagers to contribute to a communal meal. He borrowed the idea from peace activists of decades past, but made his a GMO-free soup.
“I’ve come here with this magical soup stone,” he told the crowd of 60, which swelled through the morning as the soup boiled.
The demonstrators, some wearing aprons, chef’s hats or clothing with GMO themes (“Give Peas a Chance”), handed over their organic vegetables and told their stories to the TV crews and reporters who had come to witness the spectacle:
“Hi, I’m Tory and this is my grandmother Nettie. We brought carrots . . . ”
Peter, a 12-year-old from Pennsylvania, announced: “I came here today with just organic mushrooms.” His mom patted him on the back after his turn at the microphone.
Another woman said, “My name is Erin O’Maley. I’m a chiropractor. . . . I brought some zucchini.”
A woman from Atlanta, Jay, was one of several to call for the resignation of Michael Taylor, the deputy FDA commissioner who had worked at Monsanto, a major GMO producer. “I’m a mother of an 8-year-old child and she’s not a science experiment,” the woman said.
Not all of the demonstrators were of the sort that would help the movement broaden its appeal. One man, in fatigues and a T-shirt covered with handwritten slogans, said he had brought “a non-edible mushroom” and complained that “my soup kitchen serves food that sucks.”
But the organizers found their target audience in Marsh of Massachusetts. Marsh, who writes tips on healthful living, said the image of the typical protest, angry and defiant, “scares people away.”
But as the soup simmered Monday, she told her fellow demonstrators that she would convert other mothers — “everyday me’s,” she called them — to the cause. “As long as you are out there doing this kind of stuff, I will be out there,” she said. “And I will be educating the everyday me’s, because that’s the masses that you need your support from.”
Source: Washington Post
This article was syndicated in the Salt Lake City Tribune, The Oregonian, The Herald, The Orland Sentinel, West Hawaii Today, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Shreveport Times, Delmarva Now, The Herald Tribune, AZ Central, and Faribault Daily News.
Posted: September 18th, 2012 | Filed under: Photos, Press | Tags: CA, California, Demonstration, Monsanto, Occupy Wall Street, Oxnard, Police, Power-Gomez, Prop 37., Proposition 37, Protest, Seminis, Thousand Oaks, Tom Helscher, Tracy Long |
ROB VARELA/THE VENTURA STAR – Alyssa Davis (from right), Ellie Loiacono and Heather Power-Gomez, all from Thousand Oaks, join the Occupy Monsanto protest and yell, “Label the seeds!” on Monday in Oxnard.
By Carol Lawrence – 1:00am, September 18, 2012
Local food activists chose Monday, the anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street activist movement, to start a global outcry in Oxnard against agribusiness giant Monsanto Co.’s chemicals and genetic modifications of plant seeds.
Less dramatic than Tuesday’s protest at Monsanto’s seed distribution plant Seminis Vegetable Seeds Inc. on Camino Del Sol, in which nine protesters in chains and shackles were arrested when they blocked the gates, Monday’s event at the same site drew about 35 protesters who limited their opposition to signs, masks and shouting on the sidewalks.
“Stop Patents on Life” read a sign held by a graduate student wearing a paper mask over her mouth and caution tape around her neck with the word “Hazard.”
“My concern is what genetically modified organisms do to the sustainability of our environment and the ability of farmers in Third World countries to support themselves,” said Tracy Long, of Ventura, who attended a May protest at the plant.
No arrests had been made as of 5:30 p.m. Monday. Oxnard Police Department officers circulated the block in police cars.
The demonstrators were part of a group called Occupy Monsanto, which identifies itself with Occupy Wall Street.
Monday was the first day of the group’s weeklong series of 65 events planned worldwide to protest Monsanto, its relationship with Third World farmers and the seeds it develops.
Tom Helscher with corporate affairs for Monsanto, which has headquarters in St. Louis, said Monsanto helps improve farm productivity and food quality.
“Agriculture and its uses are important to California, the U.S. and the world,” Helscher said. “We respect each individual’s right to express their point of view on these topics.”
California’s Proposition 37, a November ballot measure that would require labeling on most processed foods to explain whether they have ingredients from genetically modified organisms, gave several protesters a tangible action to support.
Several Thousand Oaks teenagers came after school to their first official protest.
“Hey, hey, ho, ho, we’ve got a right to know,” shouted the teens to passing cars.
Seventeen-year-old Heather Power-Gomez, a Westlake High School student from Thousand Oaks, said she came because she thought food should be labeled.
“In biology class, we learned about genetically modified organisms and how they can affect your body,” she said. “They (Monsanto and scientists) can change the genetic structure of the seeds so your body doesn’t know how to react.”
Power-Gomez said scientific and medical studies she read in class suggested links to cancer and autism.
Occupy Monsanto’s spokesperson, Adam Eidinger, whose role in Washington, D.C., is to facilitate the Monsanto events by posting the company’s locations online and inviting actions there, says the group is “a subgroup (of the Occupy movement) and focused on food issues and one company.”
“We feel a part of group,” Eidinger said. “I think we realize we belong in the Occupy movement because we’re talking corporate control of food.”
Actions by the Occupy Monsanto group also took place Monday and were planned for other days this week in Woodland, Gilroy, Davis, Ohio, Hawaii, Australia and Argentina.
Only one activist Monday was celebrating Occupy’s birthday.
A Camarillo resident wore a party hat with a foxtail pinned to the back of his pants and a full-face mask. He declined to give his name.
“Happy /b/-day Occupy! 7,435 political prisoners and counting!” his sign read, referring to those arrested in a year’s worth of Occupy protests.
Source: Ventura County Star