Monsanto has a map for conquering the world and Mexico is in the center of it.
For nearly two decades the transnational corporation that manufactures the pesticides used across the planet has been trying to take over the global seed market with genetically modified (GM) seed. If successful, most of the food we grow and eat would have to be purchased annually as seed from Monsanto. The mutant plants would grow up addicted to Monsanto herbicides. Local varieties would disappear, and in their place standardized, genetically modified food–doused with chemicals–would fill supermarket shelves and corner stores.
More than sixty thousand farmers and supporters from workers’ and environmental organizations marched through Mexico City on Jan. 31 to avoid this fate. It was one of the largest mobilizations to date to reject the Monsanto game plan, and it’s no coincidence that it took place in the heart of the Aztec Empire.
Olegario Carrillo, president of Mexican small farm organization UNORCA, addressed the crowd in the central plaza, “During the last 30 years, successive governments have tried to wipe us out. They’ve promoted measures to take away our lands, our water, our seeds, plant and animal varieties, traditional knowledge, markets. But we refuse to disappear.”
“For peasant farmers, GMOs represent looting and control,” he stated.
With tens of thousands of people shouting “No genetically modified corn in Mexico!” and “Monsanto get out!”, the march showed the muscle of an unusual grassroots movement to protect small farmers and consumers. It also revealed the remarkable success of decades of public education and organizing on an issue that Monsanto and other major biotech firms hoped would slide under the radar of the people most affected by it.
Jamie O’Brien and John Florence were among the hundreds of people who marched in protest of the Monsanto renewal of their lease from Kamehameha schools. The North Shore community united with busloads of visiting protestors to voice their entreaty for Kamehameha Schools to deny the renewal and force Monsanto and their poisonous GMO cultivation out. Despite inclement weather, the procession made its way down the highway with police support, chanting and carrying signs from the 7-11 to Hale’iwa Beach Park. Dustin Barca encouraged people to look toward a self-sustaining future for Hawaii, rather than importing modified food or allowing corporate farming of GMOs on Hawaiian soil.
Consumers, farmers, & activists prepare to fight “Monsanto Protection Act” passed by the U.S. Senate April 1, 2013
You most likely haven’t seen this story on your nightly news or on the front pages of most mainstream newspapers, but there is a huge battle underway that’s pitting angry consumers, organic farmers, small farmers and the natural food industry and others against bio-tech giant Monsanto and its large agriculture supporters.
The fight is centered around growing outrage over passage in the U.S. Senate of what critics are calling the “Monsanto Protection Act,” which President Obama signed into law on Tuesday. Anthony Gucciardi in piece on naturalsociety.com describes what’s happening this way:
"There truly is no rest for the wicked, and Monsanto is at war once again against health conscious consumers with the latest ‘Monsanto Protection Act‘, managing to sneak wording into the latest Senate legislation that would give them blanket immunity from any USDA action regarding the potential dangers of their genetically modified creations while under review.
The USDA would be unable to act against any and all new GMO crops that were suspected to be wreaking havoc on either human health or the environment….it all started in the late hours of Monday night (March 11), when lobbyists working for the Monsanto-fronted biotechnology industry managed to slide a ‘rider’ (through the deceptively worded Farmer Assurance Provision, Sec. 735) into the Senate Continuing Resolution spending bill.”
The left-of-center NationOfChange reports that Monanto’s lawyers and lobbyists pulled off a major coups with this rider and right under the eyes of even the most knowledgeable players along The Beltway:
"In the typical slippery nature of Monsanto’s legislation-based actions, the biotech giant is now virtually guaranteed the ability to recklessly plant experimental GM crops without having to worry about the United States government and its subsequent courts. The Monsanto Protection Act buried deep within the budget resolution has passed the Senate, and now nothing short of a presidential veto will put an end to the ruling.
In case you’re not familiar, the Monsanto Protection Act is the name given to what’s known as a legislative rider that was inserted into the Senate Continuing Resolution spending bill. Using the deceptive title of Farmer Assurance Provision, Sec. 735, this bill actually grants Monsanto the immunity from federal courts pending the review of any GM crop that is thought to be dangerous. Under the section, courts would be helpless to stop Monsanto from continuing to plant GM crops that are thought even by the US government to be a danger to health or the environment.”
In essence, say the critics, rider gives “backdoor approval” for any new genetically engineered crops that could be potentially harmful to human health or the environment.
A lobbyist monstrosity
The legislation has been described as a, “Lobbyist-created recurring nuisance that has been squashed in previous legislation thanks to outcry from not only grassroots but major organizations. Last time we saw The Center for Food Safety, the National Family Farm Coalition, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Sierra Club, and the Union of Concerned Scientists all come out against the Monsanto Protection Act from the 2012 Farm Bill,” says a report in NationOfChange before Mr. Obama signed the bill into law.
"This time, there was a swift resistance…however sadly the Senate acted so quickly on this and almost entirely ignored the issue that it has now passed despite thousands of fans signing the old petition…the reality is that the bill is actually seen as a positive one by most politicians, which is where Monsanto lobbyists were so deceptive and slippery as to throw in their rider (the actual Monsanto Protection Act into the bill). This makes it very unappealing to veto the bill, but also we must remember that Obama actually promised to immediately label G Mos back in 2007 when running for President," concludes the NationOfChange story.
The rider in the bill allows farmers to plant, harvest and sell “genetically engineered plants” even if the crops have been ruled upon unfavorably in court.
A Center for Food Safety statement called the rider “an unprecedented attack on U.S. judicial review of agency actions” and “ a major violation of the separation of powers.”
Yahoo News goes a step further saying this legislation rider, “Threatens the health and well-being of the public by undermining the federal courts’ ability to protect farmers and the environment from potentially hazardous genetically engineered (GE) crops. The rider was slipped into the bill while it sat in the Senate Appropriations Committee, chaired by Maryland Democrat Barbara Mikulski. According to the Center for Food Safety, the committee held no hearings on this controversial biotech rider and many Democrats were unaware of its presence in the larger bill.”
Hidden backroom deals
Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of the Center for Food Safety said in a statement, “In this hidden backroom deal, Senator Mikulski turned her back on consumer, environmental, and farmer protection in favor of corporate welfare for biotech companies such as Monsanto…this abuse of power is not the kind of leadership the public has come to expect from Senator Mikulski or the Democrat Majority in the Senate.”
Food Democracy Now is calling on concerned citizens to call Congress and petition President Obama to remove Section 735 from the Continuing Resolution bill. There is an online petition sponsored by Food Democracy Now located here.
The International Business Times (IBT) says of the Monsanto rider in the bill, “The provision’s language was apparently written in collusion with Monsanto. Lawmakers and companies working together to craft legislation is by no means a rare occurrence in this day and age. But the fact that Sen. Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri, actually worked with Monsanto on a provision that in effect allows them to keep selling seeds, which can then go on to be planted, even if it is found to be harmful to consumers, is stunning. It’s just another example of corporations bending Congress to their will, and it’s one that could have dire risks for public health in America.”
The IBT says there are “five terrifying facts about the Farmer Assurance Provision — Section 735 of the spending bill — to get you acquainted with the reasons behind the ongoing uproar.” Those five things can be found here.
More than 100 organizations and businesses have come out against this section of the bill, including the National Farmers Union, American Civil Liberties Union, Sierra Club, Environmental Working Group, Stonyfield Farm, Nature’s Path, Consumers Union, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, and Public Citizen.
"Monsanto’s predatory business and corporate agricultural practices threatens their generation’s health, fertility and longevity," March Against Monsanto founder Tami Monroe Canal said in the press release. "MAM supports a sustainable food production system. We must act now to stop GMOs and harmful pesticides."
With the horticultural shift of the Green Revolution, industrial agriculture has been producing more calories than ever, but the lack of micronutrients in the resulting diet is causing widespread disease.
A group of activist farmers in the Philippines stormed a government research facility and destroyed an area of genetically modified rice crops the size of 10 football fields. According to New Scientist, the farmers say that genetically modified organism (GMO) foods have not been established to be safe for consumption and that the real solution to world hunger isn’t biologically engineered plants, but a reduction in worldwide rates of poverty.
“The Golden Rice is a poison,” said Willy Marbella to New Scientist. Marbella is a farmer and deputy secretary general of a group of activists known as KMP — Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas or Peasant Movement of the Philippines.
The farmers attacked the fields at the research facility in Pili, Camarines Sur out of concern that their own crops could be pollinated and thereby contaminated by the GMO plants, possibly resulting in a boycott of their products like U.S. farmers of soft white wheat saw when a strain of Monsanto herbicide-resistant wheat abruptly appeared in an Oregon field. South Korea and Japan both halted imports of U.S. wheat in the wake of the discovery.
Golden Rice is a strain of rice that has been modified by scientists to contain beta carotene, a source of vitamin A. An estimated 2 million people die from vitamin A deficiency worldwide every year. Annually, about 500,000 children — mainly in the developing world — go blind from lack of the nutrient.
Golden Rice advocates claim that replacing half of a child’s rice intake with Golden Rice provides them with 60 percent of their daily requirement of vitamin A.
Anti-GMO activists say that too many studies on the effects of GMOs are being undertaken by organizations that have a stake in their success. They also say that Golden Rice is being used as a seeming innocuous “poster boy” crop to sell GMOs to an overly credulous public.
Beau Baconguis of Greenpeace Southeast Asia told New Scientist, “There is not enough safety testing done on any GM crops.”
“I think that the farmers know what they want,” she said. “What they want is a safe environment that they can grow their crops in” without fear of contamination and a subsequent boycott…This is playing with the lives of people when you are using Golden Rice to promote more GMOs in our food.”
Photo by Jenna Pope: Last night, farmers on the Brooklyn Grange Farm, the largest rooftop farm in the world, took up their pitchforks and shovels and sent out a “stop Monsanto” message to the world. This Saturday, October 12th, is a worldwide March Against Monsanto.
Monsanto is the conglomerate mastermind behind many of the pesticides and genetically engineered seeds that pervade farm fields around the world.
There is a push to protest/ boycott the products that Monsanto is behind. Groups are citing concerns over public health, adverse affects on the environment, and political corruption as their motivation to organize against the biotech giant. And their concerns have resonated.
The saddest thing about the companies on this list is, as a trucker, I move almost half the named company’s products. Although, I tend to be dubious about issues like this, I’d love to help the cause; be healthier, live in a clean world, take down the man, but I’d be jeopardizing my livelihood.