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.
The Honorable Margaret Hamburg
Food and Drug Administration
5100 Paint Branch Parkway
College Park, MD 20740-3835
cc: Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services
Michael Taylor, Deputy Commissioner for Food
Dear Commissioner Hamburg:
We write to you with the invitation to come join us for some delicious Stone Soup that we will prepare on Monday, April 8, outside the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition in College Park, Maryland. At 1pm we would like you to address our concerns about the labeling of genetically engineered foods sold in the United States of America. We will bring a small public address system and will provide you with an opportunity to speak to those gathered about why the FDA refuses to change its outdated policies concerning the labeling of genetically modified (“GMO”) foods. We promise to be respectful. We are genuinely hungry for answers to our concerns.
As you very well know, your administration purports man-made, patented genetic technology in our food does not constitute a “material difference” to require a byline on a food label. This is a grossly benighted position that has evoked an eruption of public protest and media investigation for over a decade. This position leads us to ask: whom does the FDA aspire to protect? You owe the American people an explanation for why U.S. policy on GMO labeling keeps us ignorant of whether our food has been genetically modified, while citizens in other countries around the world are granted the right to make informed decisions based on accurate food labels.
Americans from all over the country will bring ingredients to make the Stone Soup on the public sidewalk outside the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition between 8:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m.. Before they add their ingredient(s) to the pot, they will have the opportunity to address you and your staff members in order to express why they want genetically engineered foods to be properly labeled in America. The soup will be 100% vegan and we will compile a thorough ingredient list to show how easy it is to make an honest food label.
We expect some may come to speak about the pending disapproval of the genetically engineered Aquabounty Salmon and we hope staff members will consider listening to these oral comments, as well as accept hand-deliveries for docket FDA-2011-N-0899. As a novel drug that is bypassing the normal clinical research phases that drugs overseen by your administration normally require, there needs to be much more dialog with the American public in order to provide absolute proof that the food adulterants used to produce synthetic meat for human consumption are safe enough to not require mandatory GMO labels.
While we have asked everyone to bring their own bowls and spoons so that our picnic will not generate unnecessary waste, we will bring you and Michael Taylor your own bowls & spoons because we genuinely desire your presence. Our upcoming picnic has a purpose that we hope you and your staff members will fully acknowledge and embrace, which is Americans want the FDA to require GMO labeling. Moreover, we hope your staff members feel empowered to engage in a friendly dialog with us over a bowl of delicious Stone Soup.
By offering you organic food, we are not trying to bribe you or your administration in any way. Rather, we wish to speak with you through the act of sharing of a communal meal. Our sharing of food is symbolic of our peaceful demonstration of free speech, and thus an expression of one of the myriad fundamental freedoms we cherish as citizens. We hope you feel welcomed by our invitation, and that this letter inspires you and your staff to join us in the spirit of camaraderie between fellow eaters.
“The FDA has the opportunity and authority to do right by the American public. When issuing its rule requiring radiated foods to be labeled, FDA stated in broad terms that a decision to require labeling is not just based on the physical changes to the food but also on whether consumers view such information as important, and whether the omission of label information may mislead a consumer. The fact that the FDA has already adopted this broad interpretation of “material” facts demonstrates that [GMO labeling] is a reasonable – and therefore permissible – interpretation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA).”
We are unaware of any official reply that was generated from your administration. Before we arrive on Monday, April 8, to prepare the Stone Soup, we would love a response posted on the FDA website because, frankly, we are really hungry for some answers.
Many different versions of the fable “Stone Soup” have been written throughout history. One story is about a hungry soldier who, when passing through an impoverished village, announced that he would make ‘Stone Soup’. The promise of mysterious Stone Soup persuaded the small village to pool its resources and offer up its hidden onions, carrots, and spices to feed everyone in town. By working together, with everyone contributing something, a greater good can be achieved.
Today, America can be a food desert, devoid of healthy options and corporate transparency, but with our resources combined, we can move toward a more informed, healthy, and just food system. Mandatory GMO Labeling, Testing and Regulation is a BIG step along the way to an honest and sustainable food democracy in the USA.
Jump on an action-bound bus from your region to the FDA!
Pack a picnic, bring an arm full of (vegetarian) ingredients (herbs, spices, veggies, stock) from your region to add to the (Giant) “Stone Soup”.
Join a demonstration at the FDA and enjoy a day of sunshine and picnic-style protest. Are YOU hungry for some food democracy?
On Monday, April 8th, Americans will head to the FDA, to face down the institution that chooses Monsanto’s industrial interests over policy transparency and public health. Join this historic event to make your voice heard as we begin to take back our food system.
Why: The FDA is supposed to be the watchdog that protects us. Their purpose is to safeguard the consumer against industry, but instead they often seem to do the absolute reverse. The FDA has failed in its core purpose. FDA policies have lead to: a Lack of Transparency, Revolving Door with Industry, Market Bullying, Widespread Illness, Seed Privatization and Well Documented Risks to our Health: Lets take back our Food System!
The Occupy Monsanto team is eager to work with you on scheduling and filling a bus from your region to College Park, MD (Washington, D.C.). We are able to offer limited financial support for buses that register early and our organizers can offer helpful guidance and advertise your bus on this page.
Bus coordinators are responsible for:
Helping reserve their bus
Working with organizers to recruit riders
Assisting with logistics like rider payment and pickup locations
Our national organizers are here to help with all of these steps.
As buses to the Eat-In are scheduled, we will list them above along with contact and sign-up information. This page will be frequently updated.
To see if there is a bus publicly announced in your area, please check back here frequently. If you have any other questions about buses, please email StoneSoup@Occupy-Monsanto.com or call Gene at 202-805-1603.
By Plane: Local airports include Reagan National (DCA), Baltimore-Washington International (BWI), and Dulles International (IAD). Only DCA & BWI have connections to mass transit options. From DCA take a Fort Totten-bound Yellow Line train to Fort Totten Station, transfer to Greenbelt-bound Green Line train, get off at College Park-U of MD Station. From BWI, take the B-30 MetroBus ($6 cash fare) to the Greenbelt Metro Station, then take the next train one stop to College Park-U of MD Station.
About a dozen protesters calling themselves Occupy Monsanto spent several hours near Monsanto’s headquarters in Creve Coeur, Missouri as shareholders voted on members for the company’s Board of Directors.
The protesters called for more transparency in the multinational company’s operations especially in labeling, research and business practices.
Adam Eidinger who owns 75 Monsanto shares read his speech to the protesters before heading to the meeting to address shareholders with a statement on behalf of Pesticide Action Network, the company, which submitted the study on potential risks of using GMOs.
RT: You are a Monsanto shareholder, so you’re obviously interested in the company making a profit. But you are planning to speak on behalf of the company which submitted the study on the potential risks of Monsanto products. Why are you doing this?
AE: Well the resolution we had would have required a report to be written that could be shared with researchers and scientists across the globe about the risks that they know – the company knows already – about their genetically modified crops. Which many safe food activists believe make us more reliant on herbicides and chemicals that the company also sells. And these chemicals may be what’s causing higher rates of cancer in industrialized nations across the globe.
We know how it caused tumors in rats that were fed in long term studies last year. Dr. Seralini’s study was a topic during this shareholder meeting, I brought it up. I was able to speak during the meeting.
And this meeting was closed to the public, as you said. And one of the things we are asking for is in the future this to be live-streamed. People around the world care about what’s going into the food. They may not want to own Monsanto stock.
I only bought the stock so I could speak at this shareholder meeting.
RT: A Chinese economist has criticized Monsanto for controlling the country’s soybean market and trying to do the same with corn and cotton in the country. How is this impacting local farmers?
AE: It devastates local farmers time and time again. We’ve seen countries where Monsanto has introduced ‘patented’ technologies, I like to call it. And they only provide hybrid seeds to farmers who then loose bio-diversity, loose varieties that have actually adapted to that area.
What we need on this planet is better distribution of food and we need better organic methods to be shared with farmers, not more reliance on chemicals and pesticides.
And now, it was quite alarming at this shareholder meeting, there are these new technologies where they are going to be modifying insects and viruses and introducing these novel viruses into the environment to handle pests, to kill pests.
We wonder why bee populations around the world are plummeting – it’s because of these chemicals and possibly because of this new technology.
RT: In 2009, Monsanto was accused by the US Justice Department of breaking anti-trust rules. But in 2012 the inquiry was closed without taking any enforcement action. Why?
AE: I think Monsanto is a perfect example of regulatory capture where an industry captures the levers of government, levers of our democracy that are supposed to protect us from companies that would profit over our health being impacted in a really negative way. I mean people may be allergic to these crops, to the chemicals that are used on them, and they are trying to avoid them. And in America they have no right to know if the food has been genetically modified or not. And that is something I brought up at the meeting, if you want to be transparent you ought to label the food.
So yes, you have people at the FDA like Michael Taylor who is the head of food safety who also was the vice-president of Monsanto for a decade and prior to that worked at the FDA as well. So it’s a revolving door, he was at the FDA, went to work for Monsanto and now he’s back at the FDA. It’s clear that secretary of state Clinton, she emphasized giving these hybrid seeds to Africa, yet there’s no proof this is going to help African farmers. I think quite the contrary – they are going to become dependent on buying seeds from the United States when they should be able to save their seeds and develop their own varieties in Africa.
Three members of Congress have called for a federal investigation into possible conflicts of interest involving three officials of the Food and Drug Administration, which approved a controversial genetically engineered Monsanto Corp. drug last year. All three agency officials had some ties to Monsanto before coming to the FDA, but an agency spokesman denied there was any misconduct.
In a letter Friday to the General Accounting Office, Reps. George E. Brown Jr. (D-Calf.), David R. Obey (D-Wis.) and Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.) asked the watchdog agency to conduct a 30-day review of the FDA’s approval of recombinant bovine somatotropin (bST), a substance that increases milk yields in cows.
“A troubling pattern of unanswered questions is emerging that suggests an altogether too cozy relationship between some FDA officials central to this food safety decision and their close dealings with the Monsanto Company,” Sanders said in a statement.
The letter- which cites an anonymous March 16 complaint ostensibly written by members of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM)- asks the GAO to probe the roles of three “key” FDA officials in the approval of the Monsanto drug.
The highest ranking is Michael Taylor, deputy commissioner for policy, a past FDA employee who rejoined the agency in 1991 from the Washington law firm King and Spalding, which represents Monsanto. Also named was Margaret A. Miller, deputy director of the agency’s office of new animal drugs. The letter characterized her as “a former Monsanto company employee” who wrote the FDA’s opinion on why milk from bST-treated cows should not require special labeling.
A third staff member, Susan Sechen, was described as a data reviewer at the FDA who had worked as a graduate student for a Cornell University professor who conducted Monsanto-sponsored research on bST.
Anti-biotechnology activist Jeremy Rifkin first made the charges about Taylor in February, when he petitioned the FDA to rescind the approval of bST and investigate the three staff members’ role in the agency’s policy.
On March 15, FDA Commissioner David A. Kessler sent Rifkin a four-page letter stating that “none of the activities of Mr. Taylor cited in your petition were in violation of any applicable law or regulation, or were otherwise inappropriate … I believe that Mr. Taylor’s behavior adhered to all applicable ethical standards.”
Kessler said that Taylor had not been “intimately” involved in Monsanto’s efforts to obtain approval, as Rifkin charged, and that he was involved in the FDA’s bST policy only in the final stages of review.
Kessler attached a nine-page memo by FDA ethics official Jack M. Kress supporting that position. Upon arrival at the FDA in the summer of 1991, Taylor recused himself for one year from taking part in any agency action dealing directly with Monsanto or any other King and Spalding clients.
Some longtime agency critics found the charges against Taylor misplaced. Sidney Wolfe, a physician who heads the Public Citizen Health Research Group here has filed complaints with the FDA about revolving door ethics issues concerning other officials. But he said yesterday that “It’s barking up a silly kind of tree to be going against Mike Taylor.”
Wolfe said that “as far as we’re concerned, he’s done a perfectly good job.” Wolfe compared Rifkin’s charges to saying that anyone who worked for a drug company and began working for the FDA should not be allowed to say anything about drugs in general- a stance that Wolfe characterized as “preposterous.”
As for the two other FDA employees named in the House members’ letter, agency spokesman Jim O’Hara said there was no impropriety. “As we have learned of these allegations, we have looked at them. The appropriate safeguards against conflict of interest have been taken,” O’Hara said.
Miller was no involved in the decision to approve bST, and Sechen’s involvement with the bST review was approved at the outset by the FDA’s ethics and program integrity division, which “determined that there was no a conflict of interest based on the information they were provided,” O’Hara said.
Although reluctant to comment in the face of a possible investigation, Taylor said yesterday that “I would welcome any scrutiny of my actions.”
Much of the material used in the lawmakers’ letter, including the anonymous CVM letter alleging Miller’s conflict of interest, came from Rifkin, a long-standing opponent of bST. Bill Goold, a spokesman for Sanders, said the search of scientific literature relied upon by Sander’s staff in drafting the letter came from Rifkin’s organization.
Rifkin has fought against the approval of bST for more than seven years as a part of an all-fronts assault against biotechnology. He called his ethical charges “a significant scandal” that he said showed moral weakness at the top of the organization. “We want Kessler’s resignation,” Rifkin said yesterday. He said that the nine-page ethics memo by FDA’s Kress was “people in government trying to protect their own.”
Sanders and Obey have previously taken stands against the approval of bST and its use without consumer labels that identify the milk as coming from cows treated with the drug.
But many Capitol Hill staff members were surprised to see Brown- who chairs the Science, Space, and Technology Committee- as a signer of the letter.
Sources familiar with the process said key committee staff members felt they had been end-run by activists. One congressional aide said staff members who normally would be informed of such an action were unaware that Brown had signed the letter.
“George’s issue is with the process of approval. He wants to make sure people are squeaky-clean,” the aide said. Brown did not see the FDA response to the Rifkin petition before signing the Sanders letter, an aide said. Obey said yesterday that he had seen the FDA response and “I’m frankly not impressed.”
Some acquaintances of Taylor were incredulous that the official would be the object of ethical scrutiny. “There’s no more ethical person in this town than Mike Taylor,” said Wayne Pines, a former FDA official who now consults with companies on FDA matters. “Mike would never get involved in a situation in which there’s a conflict- that’s such a no-brainer.”
This morning Field Agents from the Occupy Monsanto Genetic Crimes Unit staged a demonstration outside of the Republican Party’s headquarters in Washington, DC.
As a part of the Occupy the GMO Candidate national day of action, Field Agents setup outside of the Capitol South Metro Station and greeted Capitol Hill staffers & Republican Party operatives as they arrived for work.
Many people gave thumbs up in approval and quite a few people laughed at the Corn Chimp’s street theater.
Field Agents held up signs & banners, mic-checked Romney for his ties to Monsanto, and asked staffers why Romney chooses to only eat organic food.
Throughout the demonstration there was an undercover police officer sitting in an unmarked car across the street monitoring the demonstration. At around 9:30AM when Field Agents concluded the demonstration and began to take off their costumes, the officer came up to the group and thanked us for our spirited activism. What he said next was rather shocking: he said he used for work for the USDA in the 1990s and that employees worked tirelessly to prevent GMOs from going into the American food supply.
Later today Field Agents will be heading to Democratic Party headquarters to ask why Obama has failed to fulfill his campaign promise to label GMO foods & why he appointed Monsanto lobbyist Michael Taylor to the second highest position at the FDA.