The Growth of the Worldwide Backlash Against Monsanto and GMOs
04 Jun, 2013
“OMG, GMO, WTF?” Nine letters printed on a protester’s T-shirt summed up the frustration of the thousands who gathered in San Francisco’s Justin Herman Plaza for the culmination of the local March Against Monsanto action on May 25. San Francisco’s protesters joined more than two million people in 400 cities around the world in a backlash against the $58 billion multinational corporate giant Monsanto, responsible for chemical poisoning, genetically engineered seeds, and a multitude of offenses since its founding as a chemical company 100 years ago.
Pamm Larry—the self-proclaimed Grandma behind Calif.’s Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food Initiative (Prop. 37)—spoke to the crowd about ongoing efforts to follow the momentum of the global march.
“It’s the little tiny things that add up, which have made this movement explode around the world and the country, and I’m so excited to see that it’s moms and dads and grandmas and grandpas getting out there,” she told the crowd via megaphone, noting that a mother started the March Against Monsanto (MAM) effort via a Facebook page. “I’m gonna ask you all not to let this energy die, please.”
While Prop. 37 failed to pass a vote in 2012, Larry and other organizers are pushing for another labeling initiative on the 2014 ballot.
“It takes a willingness to stand, to talk to people not like us, and meet them not with anger but with love—and to meet them with an open heart, because an open heart is what draws people in and they can’t help but want to join us and listen to us,” she continued. “Everybody eats, everybody breathes, everybody wants to breathe good fresh wonderful juicy clean air. We cannot allow them to take over our planet while we sit by and decide to go out and have another beer.”
Monica Lopez, who works with a grassroots organization called Label GMO in San Francisco and helped organize the city’s MAM rally, says the anti-GMO movement is in defense of a fundamental tenant of democracy.
“I believe that many have not yet understood the association between democracy and the situation we find our food system today,” she says. “Real food is not a privilege for the elite but rather a fundamental right for every human being. Yet our grocery stores are filled with toxin-ridden foods that could not even enter 60 other nations in the world. Is this really how we want to nourish the American population?”
While March Against Monsanto was among the largest global efforts in history with 400 simultaneous events in 60 countries around the globe, no major corporate media outlets in the US covered the live event. CNN ran a followup short on the event on May 28, and mainstream coverage has trickled in here and there, but has been sparse.
Despite the mainstream media’s decision to ignore thousands of people marching down the nation’s busiest thoroughfares, the movement to end Monsanto’s toxic hold over agriculture is gaining more participants everyday.
Reports across some of the major media outlets like theWashington Post revealed Monsanto’s most recent crime when a farmer in Oregon discovered that unapproved GMO wheat was growing in his field. After testing, scientists confirmed the wheat was of a strain tested by Monsanto that was not approved due to concern that other countries would not import the GM wheat.
The Washington Post reports:
Japan, the largest market for U.S. wheat exports, suspended imports from the United States and canceled a major purchase of white wheat on Thursday after the recent discovery of unapproved genetically modified wheat in an 80-acre field in Oregon.
Investors drove down the price of Monsanto shares by 4 percent on May 31 as South Korea joined Japan in suspending imports of U.S. wheat after an unapproved strain of genetically modified wheat was discovered in a field in eastern Oregon.
Among the many concerns the March raises about Monsanto is the pervasiveness with which Monsanto products appear in foods we eat, according to a column on the Huffington Post.
While the March Against Monsanto and followup efforts are primarily focused on exposing the dangers of GMO food products and Monsanto’s toxic chemical history, some have also used the protest as an opportunity to expose the ties between corporations like Monsanto and the government. Perhaps the most glaring example of Monsanto’s hold on government is the fact that the US Food and Drug Administration, the government agency charged with protecting people against potentially dangerous products that corporations might produce, is run by ex-Monsanto executives. However, the GMO industry’s influences on the US government are more insidious still.