WASHINGTON CITY – Protesters are joining a nationwide initiative Saturday, marching at their local federal buildings and city halls in protest against Monsanto. Locally, the march is planned for noon at the Washington City Hall.
Their cause: to protect the food supply, support local farmers, spread awareness about the effects of genetically modified foods, promote organic solutions, expose the cronyism between big business and the government, and to bring accountability to those responsible for what they consider to be corruption.
Monsanto Company is a publicly traded American multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation headquartered in Creve Coeur, M0. It is a leading producer of genetically engineered or GE seed and of the herbicide glyphosate, which it markets under the Roundup brand.
Monsanto has come under increasing scrutiny as of late from consumer safety and food advocacy groups, particularly as controversy raged in March over the “Monsanto Protection Act,” a bit of policy so-named by media that was inserted into a spending bill initiated through the U.S. House of Representatives, H.R. 933, that granted the company increased protection from legal challenges. The provision was signed into law in late March by President Barack Obama.
An amendment introduced by Rep. Steve King, an Iowa Republican, was inserted into the 2013 Farm Bill (a statute that would regulate farm production and prices), and passed by the House of Representatives’ Agriculture Committee recently. Some Food Advocates believe it is a veiled attempt to revoke the ability of individual states’ lawmakers to pass GMO-labeling laws, that is, identifying genetically modified organisms.
Currently, the Food and Drug Administration requires the labeling of over 3,000 ingredients, additives and processes, but the agency has resisted labels for genetically modified foods. In a 1992 policy statement, the FDA allowed GE foods to be marketed without labeling, claiming that these foods were not “materially” different from other foods because the genetic differences could not be recognized by taste, smell or other senses.
Some, such as U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., argued in a press release from Boxer’s desk that the FDA’s antiquated labeling policy has not kept pace with 21st century food technologies that allow for a wide array of genetic and molecular changes to food that can’t be detected by human senses. Common sense would indicate that GE corn that produces its own insecticide – or is engineered to survive being doused by herbicides – is materially different from traditional corn that does not. Even the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has recognized that these foods are materially different and novel for patent purposes.
Supporters of GMO labeling point to studies showing potential risks ranging from kidney and liver damage to reproductive system issues among others while many disagree that GE foods have a negative impact on humans.
These concerns are in large part driving citizens around the world to protest the company on Saturday.
Despite sympathy with the those marching against Monsanto, the reality is that farmers need Monsanto’s seeds.
Local farmers and stores deferred comment on the march, some because of fear of backlash and scrutiny. However, many stores sell organic products and it is their mission and vision to meet the needs of their consumers and provide healthy products.
One such example is Natural Grocers of Washington city which chooses to sell only foods and supplements with natural and organic ingredients without added artificial chemical herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, fertilizers, and preservatives.
Identifying genetically engineered foods
It has become increasingly difficult, however, to identify if products sold locally are in fact genetically engineered. Often the best way to identify your meat products, such as beef, is to search for grass-fed labels (the opposite being corn-fed) and search distributors leaving the legwork up to the individual which is why many are seeking GMO labeling.
It is difficult to foresee what impacts the march will have on local and national grocers if successful, and if forced to label items as genetically modified, it may impact the consumer and the distributor from the local farmers and grocers on up to Corporate Monsanto.
Aim of Occupy Monsanto
The Occupy Monsanto movement wants to create awareness, dialogue, and eventually change. Some solutions the movement offers:
- Voting with your dollar by buying organic and boycotting Monsanto-owned companies that use GMOs in their products.
- Labeling of GMOs so that consumers can make those informed decisions easier.
- Repealing relevant provisions of the US’s “Monsanto Protection Act.”
- Calling for further scientific research on the health effects of GMOs.
- Holding Monsanto executives and Monsanto-supporting politicians accountable through direct communication, grassroots journalism, social media, etc.
- Continuing to inform the public about Monsanto’s secrets.
- Taking to the streets to show the world and Monsanto that we won’t take these injustices quietly.
What: March against Monsanto St. George
When: Saturday, May 25, noon
Where: Washington City Hall, 111 North 100 East, Washington
Facebook: March against Monstanto St. George
Contact: Alyssa Reece, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org /
Learn more here: http://occupy-monsanto.com/
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