Published on May 26, 2013
Challenging Monsanto: Over two million march the streets of 436 cities, 52 countries
Millions of activists around the world have rallied against Monsanto, the biotechnology giant for genetically engineering agriculture and food while suppressing negative scientific research.
Organized by the ‘March Against Monsanto’ movement, an estimated two million have taken part in the massive event on Saturday spanning six continents, 52 nations, and at least 48 US states.
“It was empowering and inspiring to see so many people, from different walks of life, put aside their differences and come together today,” said Tami Canal, founder and organizer of the global event.
“We will continue until Monsanto complies with consumer demand. They are poisoning our children, poisoning our planet,” she said. “If we don’t act, who’s going to?”
The day of protest has already ended in Europe, where thousands of activists in Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, Ireland, France, Malta and elsewhere took to the streets to protest against Monsanto abuses.
Earlier in the day, hundreds of demonstrators in Brisbane and Melbourne in Australia and across Japan and South Africa took to the streets to protest against the multi-national corporation and to demand a ban on Genetically Engineered and Genetically Modified Organisms (GE/GMOs). Angered by the lack of action from governments on the issue, activists in the western part of the globe – in North and South America – are also gearing up for the global march.
The organizers of the May 25 rally call for labeling of GM foods and further scientific research on the health effects of GE/GMOs. They also urge supporters to “vote with their dollar” by buying only organic products and boycotting Monsanto-owned companies. Besides that, they are urging a repeal of the so-called Monsanto Protection Act and that the company’s executives and politicians who back them are held to account through “through direct communication, grassroots journalism, and social media.”
Initially a small, grassroots event, the march became a globe-spanning movement through the efforts of local activists and environmentalists. The protest is being organized on Facebook and Google Documents, where users can find a list of events near their location. March Against Monsanto Director Nick Bernabe told the Natural Society that genetically engineered food could affect everyone, even the apathetic: “What we’re trying to do is bring awareness to GMOs and the health effects that they’re causing and bring about some solutions about what people can do to take back their food supply,” he said. “They’re expecting more than 15,000 people in San Francisco alone… We want to get people working together in their communities.”
Monsanto has described current research into GMO crops as “inconclusive,” and has lobbied hard in Washington and around the globe to continue manufacturing lab-made foods without the oversight demanded by activists.
In March, Congress passed a biotech rider dubbed the ‘Monsanto Protection Act’ that effectively allows Monsanto and other companies that use GMOs to plant and sell genetically altered products even if legal action is taken against them.
Up until it was signed, “the USDA [US Department of
Agriculture] oversaw and approved (or denied) the testing of genetically modified seeds, while the federal courts retained the authority to halt the testing or sale of these plants if it felt that public health was being jeopardized. With HR 933 now a law, however, the court system no longer has the right to step in and protect the consumer,” explained James Brumley, a reporter for Investor Place.
“They own the largest share of the agribusiness, pesticides and seeds,” Joanne Montana, who organized a protest in Florida, told the Gainesville Sun. “They’re transnational, in food behind the scenes and a big conglomerate.” The ‘Monsanto Protection Act’ was co-authored by a senator who has received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the company — a revelation that did not surprise many, given that another important figure in Washington, Justice Clarence Thomas, served as an attorney for the corporation before he was nominated to the Supreme Court, only to eventually preside over a case involving his former employer.
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