On Saturday, May 25, 2013, citizens from around the globe participated in a grass-roots March Against Monsanto. All in all, over 2 million protesters from some fifty countries took part. My photographs, posted below, document the New York City march, which took place in and around Union Square.
Why Monsanto, one may ask? The answer is not simple. While Monsanto, a company with annual profits of $1.6 billion, would have us believe that it is a “relatively new company…[which is] focused on agriculture and supporting farmers around the world in their mission to produce more while conserving more,” it actually was founded in 1901 and its world-wide activities are far from benign. In fact, Monsanto is more likely to view farmers as antagonists and it maintains an annual budget of $10 million and a staff of 75 solely dedicated to investigating and prosecuting farmers.
Also, historically, many products manufactured by Monsanto and sold around the globe are environmental poisons deleterious to the health of plants, animals and people. Among these are DDT, PCBs, Agent Orange, and rBGH; the company even was involved in the creation of the first atomic bomb, and its facilities in five states are highly polluted “superfund sites.” Today, of course, Monsanto is a major player in the biotechnology industries and the dominant manufacturer of pesticides and genetically modified seeds.
I try to provide supplemental documentation below an image (or group of images) which builds on a topic to be seen in one of the demonstrators’ signs. But before reading and opening up all of that supplemental material, I encourage you first to look through the photographs and enjoy them simply as visual documents of this day and event.
|Lisa (from Manhattan), Getting Ready, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
|Guitar Army, Boys in the Band, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
In the distance, overseeing all, looms the equestrian statue of George Washington (by Henry Kirke Brown, 1856). How fitting for this particular event, given Washington’s early interest in husbandry and agricultural improvement.
|The Crowd Assembles, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
|Occupy in Attendance, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
Occupy Monsanto will also be promoting July 4 Independence Day parades across America under the aegis, Moms Across America March where “moms, dads, kids, and concerned citizens…[will declare] independence from Monsanto.” One hopes that, it being July, they also will be able to enjoy some non-GMO corn on the cob!
|Sara (from Tampa), The French Study, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
|Haley (from Los Angeles), No GMO, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
Oren Lyons tells us that, for the sake of society and survival, all of our actions must be calibrated on their effects seven generations from now. In his words, “The Peacemaker taught us about the Seven Generations. He said, when you sit in council for the welfare of the people, you must not think of yourself or of your family, not even of your generation. He said, make your decisions on behalf of the seven generations coming, so that they may enjoy what you have today.”
We do not and cannot know the effects of GMO foods on human beings, because Monsanto (and other GMO agribusiness companies), with the acquiescence of the first Bush Administration in 1992, required all buyers of its seeds to sign an agreement forbidding any and all use of those seeds for independent research. Only research pre-approved by Monsanto may be done.
This is not science. This is dictatorship. As one who has been nurtured on the principles of academic freedom, I find this agreement abhorrent and those who enabled it traitors to the concept of public service. Clearly, Monsanto cares not a whit for even the next generation, nor for the health and welfare of Americans and the rest of the world. It just wants to sell its seed.
|Hell No Monsanto, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
|Yuka (from Brooklyn), Agent Orange, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
We sprayed 19 million gallons of defoliant over 6 million acres of forest. The results were 400,000 people killed or maimed, 500,000 children born with birth defects, and up to 1 million people still disabled or with health problems. In the end, 25 million acres of agricultural land was destroyed in Vietnam.
|Tom (from New Jersey), Crimes Against Humanity, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
For a thorough and eye-opening exposé of Monsanto’s attempts to take over the distribution of seed and the production of food around the globe, watch the 2008 movie by Marie-Monique Robin, The World According to Monsanto. In this prizewinning documentary, we learn how Monsanto gets its way through bullying, bribery, lies, threats, collusion with governmental agencies, falsifying hundreds of scientific studies, and smear campaigns aimed at destroying the reputation of any scientist who dares to challenge its claims.
Just be prepared, because this is a full-length movie, lasting an hour and 49 minutes.
|Monsantoland, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
|Alex et. al. (from Queens via Mexico), Future in Our Past, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
Alex and his two skeletal-headed cohorts came here from Mexico as immigrants, and the word, migrante, is written on the skeleton foreheads. Alex’s elaborate headdress represents an Aztec god, and I suspect that his sign, which reads, “The Future is in Our Past,” may be a reference to the milpa, a centuries-old tradition of the Mexican campesinos who steward their several thousands of varieties of corn in order to insure biodiversity.
Contamination by Monsanto’s monocultural corn variety threatens an entire way of life, and thus a past as well as a future for many Mexicans.
|Genevieve (from Manhattan), One Seed at a Time, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
I derive this latter interpretation from the fact that Monsanto has developed what it calls “terminator technology,” in which the GMO seeds they supply to farmers are sometimes V-GURTs, or “suicide seeds,” in which the seeds that emerge after the first planting are sterile and cannot be saved by the farmers for next year’s crop.
In this way, the farmers have to buy seed anew from Monsanto, Monsanto controls what they are allowed to plant, and the farmers can no longer improve the quality of their crops through artificial selection of last year’s product.
|Seven Signs–A Common Good, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
|Michelle & Qaain (from The Bronx), God Made the Seed, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
As a result, Indiana farmer, Vernon Bowman, had to pay Monsanto over $84,000 for planting soybean seeds (that he had purchased from a third party), because some of those seeds were Monsanto GMO seeds. How unfortunate for everyone that God won’t come down to earth and sue Monsanto for messing around with His original seed!
|Elisa (from Rego Park), Grant Wood Modified, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
We all know the Grant Wood Painting (American Gothic, 1930) on the left hand panel of this sign. I think that we all know, as well, what Grant Wood’s farmer would have done with his pitchfork if his farm were visited by a Monsanto sales representative!
|Marlene (from Jersey City), Let Me Decide, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
If a hundred-year-old company, with the help of recent government legislation, can tell farmers (some of whom have been tilling the same soil for ten-, twenty- or more generations) what and how to plant, so our citizens, with the help of un-coerced and un-lobbied government legislation, should be provided with accurate and unambiguous information about the make-up of the food that they purchase and consume.
But last year Monsanto, bully that it is, threatened Vermont with a major law suit if it passed H-722, a bill proposing GMO labelling. The bill had majority support, but was tabled without a vote. So, one of our most progressive states, and the first to ban slavery, among other things, backed down when Monsanto decided that corporate rights are more important than states rights and the rights of citizens to know the dangers of food products.
|Eva (from Queens), From Greed to Oppression, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
|The March Begins & Death Takes a Drink, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
|The March Begins, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
|Umbrella Banning, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
|The March Turns North, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
|The March: Woman Al Hijab, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
|The March: Young Woman, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
|The March: Angry Pacifist, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
|The March: The 99%, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
|The March: Umbrellas, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
|The March: No GMO, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
|The March: Artists Against Monsanto, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
The March: Occu Evolve, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square
Occu Evolve, which is what we read on this black-and-yellow banner, represents part of the evolution of OWS, the Occupy Main Street movement. Its stated goals are “to create a better future based on economic justice, community empowerment, and the rights of all people to live a decent and meaningful life.”
|The March: Horns, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
|The March: Bagpipes, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
|The March: Whole Fools, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
Having its “lie” exposed last year on YouTube, Whole Foods now has accepted the mass commercialization of GM crops. Joining them in this move are Organic Valley and Stonyfield Farm.
Among the other organic and “natural” companies that seem to have succumbed to the pressures of Monsanto and had, in fact, generously contributed last year to the defeat of California’s Prop 37 initiative calling for GMO labeling are: Kellogg’s (Kashi, Bear Naked, Morningstar Farms); General Mills (Muir Glen, Cascadian Farm, Larabar); Dean Foods (Horizon, Silk, White Wave); Smucker’s (R.W. Knudsen, Santa Cruz Organic); Coca-Cola (Honest Tea, Odwalla); Safeway (“O” Organics); Kraft (Boca Burgers and Back to Nature); Con-Agra (Orville Redenbacher’s Organic, Hunt’s Organic, Lightlife); and PepsiCo (Naked Juice, Tostito’s Organic, Tropicana Organic).
I think it’s high time that we boycott the whole lot of them. If, as we have seen this week, the Brazilians can reject soccer and their soccer heroes, isn’t it possible for Americans to reject Coke, Pepsi, Kellogg’s and General Mills?
Fortunately, we have many farmer’s markets in New York City offering us plenty of healthy alternatives–and the largest of these markets gathers at this same spot, Union Square, on Mon., Wed., Fri. and Sat.
|The March: I Don’t Want GMO, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
|The March: Protect the Bees, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
|The March: God Save the Queen, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
|The March: OMG GMOs, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
|The March: Seed of Greed, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
But Monsanto is doing its best to make sure that we can’t prove any such connection, and to insure this, in 2011 Monsanto acquired Beelogics, a major company dedicated to restoring the health of the bee population. We can be sure that today’s Beelogics will find no fault in Monsanto for the plight of the world’s honeybees.
|The March: Say NO to GMO, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
|The March: My Mom Needs To Know, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
|The March: Foods the Way God Made Them, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
|The March: Hands Off My Food I, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
|The March: Hands Off My Food II, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
First, we should realize that the food industry now spends $2 billion every year marketing junk food to children and teenagers. Although this does not specifically spotlight Monsanto, it is Monsanto which sweetens these food products.
Secondly, a study of pigs and GMO feed came out last year that showed the pigs suffering similar stomach damage that has been increasing among American children. The same pigs also showed “signs which mimick autism: distraction, irritability and inability to follow directions.” The fourth study to which I will refer shows how glyphosate causes the symptoms of autism.
Thirdly, GM products in baby food and in milk and dairy products (rBGH, bovine growth hormone) can be particularly harmful to infants and young children, as children are more susceptible to allergies, nutritional problems, milk problems, and antibiotic-resistant diseases.
Fourthly, and by far most importantly, Anthony Samsel and Dr. Stephanie Seneff of MIT have shown how glyphosate destroys human health by creating nutritional deficiencies and systemic toxicity. They have demonstrated how glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, is “the most important factor in the development of [the following] chronic diseases and conditions:” Autism; Allergies; Cancer; Parkinson’s disease; Gastrointestinal diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, chronic diarrhea, colitis and Crohn’s disease; Cardiovascular disease; Infertility; Multiple sclerosis; Obesity; Depression; Alzheimer’s disease; ALS, and more.
This last reference contains a video interview (1:05:41) with Dr. Seneff conducted by Jeffrey Smith, the author of Seeds of Deception. I strongly recommend that you take the time to watch and listen to this video interview in the process of making up your own mind about the potential hazards associated with ingesting any GMO product.
|The March: A Bad Seed, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
|The March: Monsatan, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
In an April 26, 2013 issue of Food Science, a certain James Cooper called the Samsel and Seneff study a “bogus paper,” questioned their research credentials, and accused them of making “naive references to discredited research.” These are serious accusations, until one digs a bit deeper. The bio on James Cooper is brief and simply states that he is the Fairfield County Food Examiner and “has been cooking and eating fine food for over 30 years.” The bios of Seneff and Samsel are clearly those of serious scientific researchers. Moreover, research articles from scientifically reputable journals—Current Microbiology (April, 2013), Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society (April, 2009), Chemical Research in Toxicology (2009), and Toxicology in Vitro (2009) corroborate the findings cited above in the Samsel and Seneff article.
I suspect that James Cooper is one of the many people hired or induced and encouraged by Monsanto to shill for the corporation and pretend to be writing legitimate “science.” Monsanto has placed former employees on the editorial boards of scientific journals in order to protect its interests, as in “The Goodman Affair.” It has paid millions of dollars to fund research at public universities and take over professorships in order to promote favorable research. And it has mounted smear attacks on even the most respected persons who dare speak against its interests.
Monsanto has made it almost impossible to discover the truth behind any issue that relates to its products and interests, and it threatens the professional status of anybody who has the temerity to seek out those truths.
|The March: Evil Seed, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
|The March: Mankind Must Stop Monsanto, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
|The March: Migrante, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
|The March: Gas Mask, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
But when the FDA turns around and says in its policy statement, “Ultimately, it is the food producer who is responsible for assuring safety,” we begin to realize that we have been had.
It may soon be time for all of us to don our gas masks!
|The March: Monsanto Owns Our Government, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
|The March: World No: Politicians Yes, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
For example, Michael R. Taylor wrote the FDA’s rBGH labeling guidelines when he was an FDA deputy commissioner; prior to that, he had been a former Monsanto lawyer and lobbyist for seven years. As of July, 2009, Obama appointed him an advisor to the FDA commissioner. This is truly the fox in the henhouse.
In another instance, Margaret Miller, one of Monsanto’s researchers, put together a report on the safety of Monsanto’s growth hormones. Even before the report was submitted, she was hired by the FDA, and her first task was to approve the report that she had written for Monsanto. At least seven Monsanto officials have served in FDA government positions, thus insuring that the U.S. government protects the welfare of Monsanto. Even the Supreme Court is not immune to this insidious “revolving door,” since Justice Clarence Thomas was once a Monsanto lawyer.
|The March: Repeal Monsanto Protection Act, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
|The March: Right to Know if its GMO, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
Monsanto also has supported Blunt’s re-election war chest since 2010 by more than $100,000. Add Monsanto’s support to that of the Agribiz contributions, and Senator Blunt’s war chest increased between 2010-2012 by over $446,000. It’s impossible for citizens to compete with this level of “graft,” if I might speak bluntly.
This so-called “Monsanto Protection Act” will make it nearly impossible to keep GMO foods off of store shelves. It prevents the USDA from accepting any outside (i.e., non-Monsanto) money for further study of GMOs; it creates artificially short deadlines for GMO approvals which, if missed, allow the GMO to be granted automatic approval (and we all know how slowly governmental agencies work!); and it gives the USDA sole regulatory powers to review GMO applications. This latter regulation prevents other federal agencies from reviewing GMO applications and, as David Swanson has written last month, “Monsanto Has Taken Over the USDA.”
|The March: Eat Real Food, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
|The March: Let’s Be Real, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
|The March: Against Monsanto, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
|The March: Free the Seed, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
“Free the Seed” we must, as this woman’s sign says. Anna Lappé writes “we can only ensure a well-fed world if we start shifting away from an agricultural system dependent on fossil fuels, mined minerals, and lots of water—all of which will only get more costly as they run out.” Read her short article, and then watch her 6-minute video which promotes new, state-ot-the-art sustainable farming over the corporate farms that rely on corporations like Monsanto.
|The March: F!;*ck Monsanto, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
|The March: I’m Not A Science Experiment, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
Mexican protesters also rallied against Monsanto GM corn last September with signs which read: “No Soy Un Experimento Científico.”
In the words of Nicholas Hulot, who wrote the preface to Marie-Monique Robin’s award-winning book, The World According to Monsanto (The New Press, 2010), do we allow “a company such as Monsanto to hold the future of humanity in its test tubes and to impose a new world agricultural order?”
Do we really want ourselves (and the rest of the world) to become one, vast Tuskegee experiment for Monsanto’s GMOs? Does our government, given its support of and collusion with Monsanto, really want to be associated with another questionable “experiment” on the health and welfare of its people?
I certainly hope not. But now only we the people can change what is happening. I encourage you all to participate in the Moms Across America March on July 4th. Its purpose is to insist on the labeling of GMO foods.
|The March: If You’re Proud of It, Label It, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
Here is a statement so simple, its logic so unassailable, that it should be to Monsanto’s ultimate embarrassment to be fighting the labeling of foods that contain its GMO-produced crops. After all, Monsanto offers this boast on its web site: “we want to make sure the food on your table is good for you. Part of our research and development is devoted to developing seeds that produce food that has improved nutritional qualities.”
But, of course, Monsanto must fight the labeling of foods which contain GMO products. It knows that its products are unsafe. It is, to quote once more from Nicholas Hulot’s preface, “a calmly arrogant company heedlessly profiting from the suffering of victims and the destruction of ecosystems.”
|The March: Label My Mattress, March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013, Union Square|
Yet, we must not inform our citizens of the hidden, genetically modified organisms that may be in the foods they buy in stores and supermarkets.
Seventy-one Senators voted to reject states’ rights to label GMOs, even as 90% of American consumers wanted such labels. As Katherine Paul writes in an article entitled “We Know Who You Are…,” “28 so-called liberal Democrats and 43 Republican so-called defenders of states’ rights—voted against your state’s Constitutional Tenth Amendment right to protect the health, safety and welfare of its citizens and local businesses.”
She lists each of these Senators in her article. I suggest we contact our senators–including those 29 not on this list–and let them know how we feel: a small measure and a beginning to taking back control of our health and welfare.