On May 25, activists from around the world will unite to march against Monsanto, the largest manufacturer and promoter of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Organized largely via Facebook, Twitter and other social media, the March Against Monsanto protests will reflect the mounting global concern over GMO foods. Events are scheduled in more than 235 U.S. cities and more than 143 cities throughout Asia, Africa, Australia, Canada, Europe, Latin America and New Zealand.
Demonstrators will call for the labeling of GMO foods, repeal of the recently passed “Monsanto Protection Act” and further scientific research on the health effects of GMOs.
Genetically modified (GM) foods are increasingly overtaking the food supply. Nearly 80 percent of nonorganic processed foods on grocery shelves, including foods labeled “natural,” contain genetically engineered (GE) bacteria, viruses, antibiotic-resistant genes or imported DNA.
Through ownership of patents on 90 percent of all GE seeds, Monsanto effectively owns most of the U.S. food supply, and not just processed foods. Increasingly, unlabeled fresh Monsanto GM crops are going directly from farm to table.
While the public remains unaware that the food it consumes may contain GMOs, Monsanto is working behind the scenes to assure that its products can be developed and sold without any government interference or oversight.
U.S. Congress gives Monsanto ‘greenlight’
In March, the U.S. Congress passed the pro-Monsanto “Farmer Assurance Provision, Section 735” rider. This amendment was slipped into the Agricultural Appropriations provisions of HR 933, the Continuing Resolution spending bill designed to avert a federal government shutdown. The bill bans courts from halting the sale of Monsanto’s GE seeds and effectively requires the U.S. Department of Agriculture to give Monsanto a green light to promote GMO seeds.
It now seems Monsanto wants to get this same protection on state levels. The Organic Consumers Association has sounded the alarm that “Monsanto has begun secretly lobbying its Congressional allies to attach one or more ‘Monsanto Riders’ or amendments to the 2013 Farm Bill that would preempt or prohibit states from requiring labels on genetically engineered (GE) foods.” (commondreams.org, May 20)
March Against Monsanto calls for “holding Monsanto executives and Monsanto-supporting politicians accountable through direct communication, grassroots journalism, social media, etc.”
Another issue raised by March Against Monsanto organizers is that ex-Monsanto executives dominate the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the agency that is supposed to ensure food safety. The result is a lack of government-led research on long-term effects of GM products.
Typically 90-day rat feeding trials are used for GMO crop approvals. In 2011, French scientists released a two-year study that found rats fed on Monsanto’s GMO corn or exposed to Monsanto’s Roundup Ready seeds suffered tumors and multiple organ damage. (Reuters, Sept. 2012)
Gilles-Eric Seralini and colleagues at the University of Caen fed rats a diet containing NK603, a Roundup Ready seed variety, or gave them water with Roundup weed killer at U.S.-permitted levels. These rats died earlier than the control group. Seralini noted that his study of rats throughout their two-year lifespan provided a more realistic view of potential risks.
So on May 25, protesters around the world will take to the streets to show Monsanto “that we won’t take these injustices quietly.” For information visit march-against-monsanto.com.