Activists with Occupy Monsanto chained and shackled themselves to cars and cages Wednesday at Monsanto Co.’s seed plant Seminis Vegetable Seeds Inc. in Oxnard to protest genetically modified seeds and foods.
Nine members of the activist group Occupy Monsanto were arrested on suspicion of trespassing Wednesday at the chemical maker Monsanto Co.’s seed plant in Oxnard.
Oxnard Police Department Cmdr. Eric Sonstegard said five men and four women age 23 to 42 were arrested after they blocked three shipping and receiving gates at the Seminis Vegetable Seeds Inc. plant on Camino Del Sol.
Three were from San Francisco. The others were from Petaluma, Garberville, Oakland, North Hollywood, New York and Washington, D.C.
The police went because trucks were unable to get through the gate and the company couldn’t do business, Sonstegard said.
“Seminis wanted them to leave,” Sonstegard said. All the protesters were “extremely cooperative,” he said, but also indicated they would not leave.
Officers had to call on the Oxnard Fire Department to help remove the protesters, who were locked to their vehicles and shackled together, Sonstegard said.
He said the group has targeted the plant before but that this was the first time there had been arrests.
Occupy Monsanto activist Rea Abileah said the group held the protest to begin its upcoming global week of actions against Monsanto starting Monday, with similar events to take place at other company facilities in the U.S. and overseas.
“This is a protest of Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds and toxic pesticides,” Abileah said.
She said there were about 23 protesters and they wanted to shut down shipping and distribution operations. The broader goal is to educate the public, she added.
Abileah said the action wasn’t specifically related to 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.
Adam Eidinger, Occupy Monsanto’s representative in Washington, D.C., said the organization thinks all modified foods should be banned.
“Genetically modified food is an experiment and should be treated as such,” Eidinger said.
On its website, Seminis says it is the world’s largest developer, grower and marketer of vegetable seeds, with examples such as Gemini virus-resistant tomato seeds.
Tom Helscher with corporate affairs for Monsanto, which has headquarters in St. Louis, said the challenges facing agriculture are producing food for a growing population and reducing agriculture’s footprint on the environment.
“While we respect each individual’s right to express their point of view on these topics, we do not believe unlawful actions are an appropriate way to further any cause,” Helscher said.
Source: Ventura County Star