In February, activist and event co-organizer Tami Canal created a “March Against Monsanto” Facebook page calling for a rally against the agricultural corporations’ practices regarding genetically modified organisms. By May, 2,000,000 people rallied to Canal’s call, protesting Monsanto’s GMO seeds and practices in 436 cities across 52 countries. (See 2,000,000 March Against Monsanto Part 1.)
To refresh readers on the subject, genetically modified means that seeds are engineered to increase crop yields, resist insecticides and herbicides or add nutritional benefits. Nearly all of the corn, soybeans and cotton grown here in the United States come from GMO seeds. If you buy it from the grocery store in a bag, can or box, the food product inside is probably made from GMO seeds. This is the business of Monsanto.
The federal government as well as many (but not all) scientists say that genetically modified seeds are safe for human consumption. Despite their assurances, the push for mandatory labeling of GMO products exists because health and nutrition critics say genetically modified organisms can lead to serious health conditions and harm the environment. The volume of GMO related disaster stories certainly offer plenty to back that up. However, critics say nothing can directly be attributed to the use of GMO seeds.
These words and posts come from just a few of the 2,000,000 global citizens who participated in March against Monsanto worldwide. However, their words clearly reflect the commitment, excitement and energy of the organizers, the speakers and the citizens who Marched Against Monsanto.
Organic Consumers Association’s Zack Kaldveer spoke during March Against Monsanto, San Francisco. Kaldveer captured the mood of the crowd with one statement, “The message from seniors, Vietnam veterans, mothers, farmers and every other demographic from every corner of the planet is clear. Monsanto’s control of the global food system threatens food safety, biodiversity, and food sovereignty.”
In his job at the Organic Consumers Association, it’s Kaldveer’s business to know the politics of our food. Here are some of Kaldveeer’s key points regarding Monsanto.
• Convinced the FDA in 1992 that no independent health safety tests of foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) were needed nor should a label even be required.
• Since then, Monsanto and the biotech industry, aided by indentured politicians and corporate agribusiness have seized control over the global food and farming system, including the legislative, patent, trade, judicial and regulatory bodies that are supposed to safeguard the public interest.
• Saturday’s protests represent a growing public awareness of the drastic implications of a Monsanto monopolized food system.
• Among these implications are the growing body of research indicating GMO foods are toxic, allergenic and pose health risks to animal and human health, they don’t increase yields.
• Their insecticide Bt is partially responsible for the die off of the Honey bee. Honey bees pollinate one out of every three bites of food we take.
• Genetically engineered crops increase the use of toxic herbicides which have led to herbicide-resistant “superweeds” that have now spread across 61 million acres in the U.S.
• Superweeds threaten the economic livelihood of organic and small farmers because of genetic pollution and seed monopolization.
• GMOs will serve to exacerbate the world’s hunger problem by destroying biodiversity among others.
Standing before the crowd in San Francisco, Kaldveer threw down the gauntlet of the March Against Monsanto.
“The battle lines have been drawn. Do we continue to trust the future of our food supply in the hands of a handful of corporations, with a long and sordid history of polluting the environment, endangering public health, deceiving the public and squashing direct democracy?,” Kaldveer asked. “Or do we stand up for true food democracy, sustainable agriculture, small farmers and our fundamental right to eat food that is healthy and safe?”
With Kaldveer’s words in the air, the March Against Monsanto San Francisco was on.
The rest of this story comes from the perspective of a few of the marchers as they posted their thoughts. A friend’s personal Facebook page served as the main source for most of these comments and images. All comments are the posts or excerpts from posts by marchers in their original form and in their exact words.
Here are posts that began with one person in one city reaching out to others that Marched Against Monsanto.
Stacy Malkan: May 25 near Paso Robles, CA via mobile “Global marches against Monsanto today! Get live updates here: http://bit.ly/10SyjGi”
Stacy Malkan: May 25 near Paso Robles, CA via mobile #MarchAgainstMonsanto Downtown Los Angeles Thousands turn out to say NO GMOs, NO Monsanto, and that Monsanto is NOT MY SAINT-OHHHHHH!” #MAMLA”
Stacy Malkan: May 25 near Paso Robles, CA via mobile “In tears about the global march against Monsanto, so inspiring!”
Carla Sanchez :“ 13 12:51pm “Miami has awakened, thank you GOD. People that don't know about GMOs please do something for your health and research what kind of foods you're putting in your bodies. It's time!!!!”
Bruce Clauson: “Had 3-400 people at Monsanto Chicopee,Ma. I went all the way there because Vt has Sen Sanders. They stayed out in the freezing rain. The movie is truly scarey. Kids and animals will be sick for years to come.” May 25 at 2:12pm · Like ·
Carla Sanchez: “As I was marching yesterday with a sea of people here in Miami, I couldn't help but get teary eyes every once in a while feeling the energy and the awakening of our people. So proud of this movement and hopefully we see some changes made in the near future! Blessings” May 25 at 2:40pm ·
Pamm Larry: “I cried tons, too. Was a good....VERY good day. May 27 at 9:27am ·
Bruce Clauson: “Not everyone can afford all organic food. We have to stop the De-natured march of our food. Look at how sick Americans are and we, by law, protect Monsanto. Now other countries are paying the price for a few greedy companies. Stop them for our kids and pets, generations will be lost.”
Carla Sanchez: “I supported and attended the march because I wanted my voice to be heard, I wanted to let congress and goverment know they can't control what I put in my table and my family's health. I want to voice loud and clear my right to know what I am buying at the supermarket and what I want to feed myself and my family. I marched for my future children and for our health, for all of us.”
Stacy Malkan shared Mi Puerto Rico Verde's photo. May 25 Ahora: Cerrado el paso en la Ave Fernández Juncos, pda. 20 en Santurce debido a la multitud presente para la Marcha internacional contra Monsanto en Puerto Rico http://t.co/K7FefjGuXF.
Jennifer Lunden: “It was a raw, windy day in Portland, Maine, as protesters like me gathered in Monument Square to raise their voices against Monsanto. To our great relief, the rain held off. Sadly, the PA system wasn't loud enough to carry over the crowd. Instead, I decided to make myself useful and stand with my sign (Monsanto = Fox; FDA = Henhouse) with others along the stretch of Congress Street across from the Portland Public Library.
Many cars honked. I was surprised how many cars honked. The people inside waved and pumped their fists in support. We on the sidewalk cheered in solidarity. The energy was palpable. Finally, the march began to move, and suddenly the street was filled with protesters. I have participated in a number of protests, but never have we taken over the streets. We were two blocks long, at least, and I was somewhere in the middle. It was a sea of people.
Chanting was disappointingly intermittent, but one loud voice from the back shouted, “Hey, hey, hey! Don’t mess with the DNA!,” The crowd in my vicinity joined him. A young guy in a navy blue hoodie and saggy pants shouted out to the bystanders who lined the sidewalks down Exchange Street, “You have a right to know what’s in your food!” We took a right onto Fore Street, and then up to Spring. As we marched past the Holiday Inn, I looked up to see three people way up near the top floor standing in the window and pumping their fists in solidarity.
I pulled out at Congress Square, stood and watched the long line of protesters pass, and then headed home. When I turned onto my street, my neighbor, Irving, who is 15 now and still helps me out in the garden now and then, called out a hello. “Whatcha doing?” he asked. I explained that I was protesting. I wondered how I would explain a Monsanto protest to a 15-year-old with ADD. So I was relieved when his next question was, “You still gonna be protesting when you go home?”
My answer was no. That I was done protesting for the day. But that was not completely true. I was coming home to write, and after I write this post, I’ll be making revisions on my mammogram piece. The one about conflicts of interest in the breast cancer awareness campaign, and about the dearth of attention given to prevention and the environmental sources of breast cancer.
And believe it or not, Monsanto even makes an appearance in the essay. Did you know that Monsanto sponsors Race for the Cure in St. Louis, Missouri? Did you know that a Monsanto subsidiary launched a new variety of cherry tomato called the Pink Pearl, which was sold in packaging displaying the pink ribbon? Yeah. Then Irving came back to the question I had kind of hoped he wouldn’t ask. “What are you protesting?” “Well…” I said. “…have you heard of Monsanto?” No, he hadn’t. “Have you heard of genetic engineering?” Yes, he had, he said. A little.
I said, “Monsanto is a big, huge, company that does a lot of genetic engineering of our foods. And we don’t know if it’s safe or not. And we want the government to make sure those foods are labeled so we have a choice about whether or not we eat them…. And also, Monsanto is the reason we use so many pesticides on our foods, and pesticides are bad for our health.” I didn’t feel like I did a very good job. Irving didn’t ask any further questions, but he was not dismissive, either. He said, “So what are you doing? Just walking up and down the street with your sign?” This made me smile. “No,” I said. “I was just up there with about 500 people, and we filled Congress Street. Have you ever been to a protest?” No, he hadn’t. He asked me what I was doing the rest of the day. “Writing,” I said. His face fell. “Aww…. You have a terrible job.” May 25 at 1:57pm · Like · 4
Sandy Weaver: Yes I was at the Davis one yesterday and the Sacramento march today. Lots of people there. May 25 at 3:53pm · Like · 3
Susan Lang: I was moved nearly to tears most of the time in Sac. So powerful and encouraging, so good to join forces with all those energized and committed people. May 25 at 5:08pm · Like · 2
Ellen B Freed: How did it all go? I'm so glad this movement is gaining momentum. May 25 at 11:08pm · Like · 1
Stacy Malkan: May 25 near Paso Robles, CA via mobile “Ok done posting now, just trying to make the point - people around the world are rising up to say No to Monsanto messing up our food system.”
The March Against Monsanto is over but the people who posted these quotes aren't finished. These people will continue to make change happen for the future of ourselves and our planet. One March Against Monsanto at a time.