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.
Yesterday saw a handful of new developments in the push to align voters either in favor of or against Proposition 37, a measure that would require food producers who knowingly use genetically modified crops to label them as such, and prevent such producers from referring to their products as “natural.”
Women Occupy San Diego, one of the lasting and perhaps most prominent local groups to emerge from the Occupy Wall Street movement that began one year ago yesterday, organized a rally at the Hillcrest headquarters of Canvass for a Cause on Monday afternoon.
Several speakers decried the potential health impacts from genetically altered products, noting that the products have been shown to contain increased levels of allergens and that modified crops, marketed by chemical giant Monsanto as “Roundup-ready,” are treated with considerably higher doses of herbicides, as the seeds have been engineered to resist the effects of the company’s signature weed killer, allowing farmers to douse their entire crops at will to control weeds.
The Occupellas, a chorus group featuring members of Women Occupy, sang familiar yet re-branded tunes such as “Old Monsanto Had a Farm,” and a crew of demonstrators arrived with a large “Monster of Monsanto” prop that accompanied the crowd, which had swelled to over 100, as they marched toward the SR-163 overpass at Robinson Avenue.
Original plans had called for a second group of protesters to demonstrate on the bridge crossing University at the 163, but as of shortly after 5 p.m. only one bridge was occupied. Several police cruisers stood by to survey the action, but neither the demonstrators nor members of the public seemed inclined to violence.
Meanwhile, backers and detractors of the Prop 37 campaign sent out dueling press releases.
The Yes contingent seeks to draw attention to new funding received by its opponent, information made public by the state last Friday. Monsanto gave the No campaign another $2.9 million, raising its total stake in defeating the proposition to $7.1 million. Other pesticide companies recently upped their investments, including DuPont ($874,800), Dow AgroSciences ($815,200), Bayer CropScience ($381,600), BASF Plant Science ($357,700), and Syngenta ($178,700).
These groups, which measure proponents are calling the “Big 6 pesticide firms” have contributed $19 million of the $32 million raised so far by those opposing the proposition.
Others investing heavily in defeating Prop 37 include Pepsi ($1,716,300 to date), Nestle USA ($1,169,400), Coca-Cola ($1,164,400), and ConAgra Foods ($1,076,700). At number 7 on the list of highest donors, only Nestle USA (itself a subsidiary of the Swiss parent company) is based in California.
Opponents of 37 didn’t leave long to question where the influx of cash would go, announcing a major buy of radio ads to be aired statewide beginning yesterday.
“Prop. 37 is about the right to sue,” says California Grocers Association president Ronald K. Fong in a statement accompanying the ad copy. “And when it is time to sue, grocery retailers will be at the head of the line to get hit with a lawsuit. Lawyers need no proof, no damages prior to filing the lawsuit.”
The ad makes similar claims, and also says that the new labeling requirements would “increase food costs for a typical California family by hundreds of dollars per year” while “[giving] trial lawyers a special new right to file shakedown lawsuits.”
The ad closes by advertising “FactsOn37.com,” a website that was not active as of Monday evening, though the campaign website makes many similar claims and links to the study that is the basis of the figure given on higher food costs, finding that the costs of food prices could rise $4.5-$5.2 billion if the proposition is passed, mainly because producers would prefer using non-bioengineered crops to having to disclose their continued use.
“It’s an infinitesimal amount cost per product, but they’re going to say it’ll cost you hundreds,” predicted Jeffrey Smith, a consumer activist and author on genetically modified crops, in a statement about a week before the survey was posted to the No on 37 website. Smith was speaking about the cost of continuing to use the same products while producing packaging compliant with the new law, which producers are widely expected to shy away from due to real or perceived concerns from consumers regarding laboratory-altered food.
While no other U.S. state currently has such a law on the books, 50 countries including China, India, Japan, and all of Europe requires such disclosure.
On September 17, Honoka’a will play host to a movement aimed at taking back our island food source. The goal is to target Monsanto, a self-proclaimed “sustainable agriculture” company which aims to “protect” what some argue are intrinsic rights that deserve to be left alone.
Eden Peart, owner and operator of Kawaiholehole Farm is among the many local farmers who are fighting back to resist the genetically modified foods (GMO) movement that is increasingly present on the island. “…[in] 1999, as a school librarian I signed up for a teacher workshop sponsored by the USDA and Monsanto called ‘Field of Genes.’ I was shocked to learn that Hawaii is the world center of unregulated GMO field testing,” Peart said.
Peart later attended a briefing to a select group of mainly government officials by Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), the major lobbying force at local and national levels whose members include Monsanto, Bayer, BASF, Dow/Pioneer and Syngenta. “The BIO spokesman said, ‘We can exploit Hawai’i’s biodiversity for biotechnology’ and ‘Hawaii is a good place to do business, because the people here are passive’,” Peart said.
Companies like Monsanto work to create GMO strains of corn and other produce that are resistant to pesticides and disease and are now doing so on-island. “Monsanto has been given some of the best agricultural lands in the state. Journalist Alan McNarie has documented Monsanto’s influence in the political sphere — donating to candidates and legislators who will do their bidding. They also have benefited from huge state tax breaks,” Peart said.
Peart decided to take action, and has organized “Occupy Monsanto,” a multi-faceted protest to speak out against Monsanto. In collaboration, a panel discussion will take place with speakers including UH Manoa’s Dr. Hector Valenzuela, an Extension Crop Specialist.
Like Peart, Valenzuela has a personally vested interest in the cause. “Because the GM industry, which owns the major vegetable seed companies, has had plans to modify most vegetable species, and because UH had a similar vision, I decided to look into the issues back in the 1990s,” he explained.
But Valenzuela’s search for answers was not always a successful or welcome one. “Some administrators within the UH College of Ag don’t feel that UH Ag professors should be asking questions about the safety of GM crops, nor that faculty should interact with consumers, organic farmers, or members of the public that have questions about the safety of GM crops,” Valenzuela added.
Valenzuela feels that it’s important for the community to get educated, and explained that in Hawaii the number one focus should be to grow food, and not to divert the land for subsidized agricultural uses, such as GMOs or biofuel.
“We are dealing with very powerful companies that control a bulk of the pesticide industry; because these companies have considerable connections with the powers that be in Hawaii and because these companies may exert considerable influence in terms of agricultural policy in the state, I feel that it is important that the community become aware of who they are,” Valenzuela said.
Adding to the lineup of events, reggae musician Marty Dread will perform, with one special song in particular dedicated to the cause, “Say No to Monsanto.” Dread commented that “[the song] came about because I saw a film called “Bitter seeds,” which is a true story of the thousands of farmers in India who have committed suicide because they lost their land and way of life due to corporate farming.
In India alone, a farmer kills himself every 30 minutes because they can no longer make a living. Monsanto is the chief culprit in this scenario because they sell genetically modified seeds that resist roundup (Monsanto’s top selling chemical) so the farmer must spray the field with these awful chemicals and everything else dies except the GMO crop.”
Facts like these are what alarm Peart. “Hawaii [needs] to rise to our responsibility, to using our unique resources to grow identity-preserved (GMO-free) seed for the world. We cannot do that until we eradicate and ban all GMO production. During Harry Kim’s first tenure as mayor, he confirmed that the only GMO crop we had on the Big Island was papaya,” noted Peart.
Peart went on to explain that, “Island Dairy, bought by a huge Utah dairy corporation, is growing and feeding their cows Monsanto’s ‘Round Up Ready’ GMO Corn. This is in clear violation of the Hamakua Agriculture Plan. Now anyone growing natural corn is at risk of contamination. What’s worse is that throughout Hawaii, without the public’s permission, GMO seed companies are now field testing many Genetically Modified crops including sunflowers.”
The “Occupy Monsanto” movement will also protest at Island Dairy, as well as stage a ceremonial planting of “identity-preserved” corn following the upcoming event.
Presale tickets for the September 17 benefit concert are available at Taro Patch Gifts in downtown Honokaa through Sept 16 for $10, or for $12 at the door.
Doors open at 5:30 p.m., with a panel discussion at 6:15 p.m.. featuring Valenzuela, Britt Bailey, attorney and Big Island resident who helped draft the successful Mendocino County, California GMO-Free ordinance, and Ku Ching Hawaiian Scholar and activist. Music is from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
For questions, find the movement on facebook or call (808)775-7159 or gmofreehawaii@gmail for more info.
By Lisa Baertlein and Carey Gillam, OXNARD, Calif./KANSAS CITY, Missouri | Wed Sep 12, 2012 7:04pm EDT
(Reuters) – Opponents of genetically engineered foods on Wednesday blocked shipments and deliveries at Monsanto Co’s vegetable seed company in California that developed a new genetically modified sweet corn that will hit stores this fall.
The protesters, who want to remove all so-called genetically modified organisms (GMOs) from the food supply, say their action is a preview of about five dozen other events planned for countries around the world next week.
They also hope to drum up support for a California ballot measure that would require food sellers to label a broad range of products, including soup, soy milk, breakfast cereals and chips, that contain GMOs.
Monsanto and other developers of these biotech crops say they are safe. But U.S. regulators do not require any independent safety tests that would put a lid on doubts raised by consumers and some scientific and health groups.
More than 40 countries around the world have some requirements for labeling foods containing ingredients from genetically modified crops. But U.S. regulators have rejected requests by many groups for similar labeling rules, and as a result many Americans do not know that they have been eating GMOs for years.
At the protest on Wednesday, about a dozen people organized by a network of anti-GMO activists called Occupy Monsanto stopped trucks from entering or leaving Monsanto’s Oxnard, California-based Seminis for nearly six hours.
The activists, some dressed in biohazard suits, blocked truck entrances with cars and chained themselves to the vehicles.
Police arrested nine of the protesters and charged them with trespassing, organizers said.
Seminis’ biotech sweet corn is one of the newest GMO crop products to make it to market. The corn was altered genetically to withstand dousings of a common weedkiller and to ward off certain pests.
“We deserve to know what we are eating and we should put GMO crops back in the lab and off the kitchen table,” protester Rica Madrid said.
Occupy Monsanto is not affiliated with the backers of a California proposal to label foods that are made with crops or from animals that have had their genetic makeup altered in the laboratory.
Monsanto did not directly address Wednesday’s events but said the company’s work helped improve farm productivity and food quality.
“We respect each individual’s right to express their point of view on these topics,” Thomas Helscher, a Monsanto spokesman, said of the Seminis protest.
DIFFERENT VIEW IN EUROPE
GMOs are deeply unpopular in Europe and many other countries, but they eventually came to dominate key crops in the United States after Monsanto in 1996 introduced a soybean genetically altered to tolerate Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer.
Using genes from other species, Monsanto and rivals including DuPont and Dow Chemical have since introduced an array of genetically altered crop varieties.
The most popular genetically engineered crops in the United States include corn, soybeans, sugar beets and canola – staple ingredients in a wide array of popular packaged foods.
Proponents of GM crops say they make farming more efficient by making plants resistant to pesticides, pests and harsh growing conditions, such as drought. They say genetically modified crops are no different from conventional types and that increasing demand for food, biofuels and livestock feed can only be met with help from the biotech industry that Monsanto dominates.
Critics say GM crops have not always lived up to their promise and that the benefits to farmers do not outweigh myriad risks to human and animal health and to the environment.
Assessing such risks is difficult in the United States. The government does not require GMO crops to undergo independent safety testing before they are approved, and it does not require labeling for GMO content which makes it next to impossible to track any links to human health problems.
The World Health Organization says “individual GM foods and their safety should be assessed on a case-by-case basis.”
Recently, some U.S. scientists have raised alarm bells over what they see as potentially dangerous implications from overuse of GMO crops.
Among the concerns is the fact that the rapid adoption by U.S. farmers of genetically engineered corn, soybeans and cotton has promoted increased use of herbicides, which critics say has triggered an epidemic of herbicide-resistant weeds and more chemical residues in foods.
This week, the Center for Food Safety vowed to sue the U.S. government if it approves a new type of genetically altered corn developed by Dow.
(Additional reporting by Mario Anzuoni in Oxnard; editing by Jim Marshall)
For over 20 years, Hawai’i has been the global center for the open-field testing of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s), including pharmaceutical crops. Over 5,000 experimental tests have been conducted by Monsanto, Dow, Dupont/Pioneer, Syngenta and BASF that spray chemicals on an almost daily basis on our most valuable lands. They are supported by tax-breaks, and beneficial relationships with landowners, regulators and politicians. We estimate GMO companies own or lease 40,000 — 60,000 acres that are sprayed with over 70 different chemicals.
A new vision for Hawai’i would promote small farms that grow chemical-free produce, employ our youth and restore the indigenous ahupua’a system. Hawai’i has less than 3,000 acres of certified organic farmland, which is 0.27% of Hawaiian farmland.
Kamehameha Schools is Hawaii’s largest private landowner. Despite Kamehameha’s public statements about sustainability and conservation, they lease substantial amounts of land to multi-national biotech firms, including Monsanto, Dow, Dupont/Pioneer and Syngenta for GMO open field tests and seed corn production.
Kamehameha is the only institution with the land, capital and resources to reduce our food imports, that are now over 90%, and ensure that Hawai’i does not run out of food in case of natural disasters or rising oil prices.