Saturday, May 24, 2014

March Against Monsanto!


Over 400 cities worldwide will see millions marching against the US chemical and agricultural company Monsanto in an effort to boycott the use of Genetically Modified Organisms in food production. Marches are planned in 52 countries in addition to some 47 US states that are jointing in the protest.

 “MAM supports a sustainable food production system. We must act now to stop GMOs and harmful pesticides,” said Tami Monroe Canal, founder of March Against Monsanto (MAM) in a press release ahead of the global event. The movement was formed after the 2012 California Proposition 37 on mandatory labeling of genetically engineered food initiative failed, prompting activists to demand a boycott of the GMO in food production. “Monsanto’s predatory business and corporate agriculture practices threatens their generation’s health, fertility and longevity,” Canal said.

The main aim of the activism is to organise global awareness for the need to protect food supply, local farms and environment. It seeks to promote organic solutions, while “exposing cronyism between big business and the government.” Activists say that Monsanto spent hundreds of millions of dollars to “obstruct all labeling attempts” while suppressing all “research containing results not in their favor.”  Birth defects, organ damage, infant mortality, sterility and increased cancer risks are just some of the side-effects accredited to GMO.

“That is what the scientists have learned about, that the genetically modified foods will increase allergies that they are going to be less nutritious and that they can possibly or very often contain toxins that can make us ill,”  according to Organic Consumers Association's political director Alexis Baden-Mayer . GMOs have been partially banned in a number of countries, including Germany, Japan, and Russia but yet in most countries across the globe still feed GMOs to their animals. For years now, Monsanto agents have been lobbying the EU Commission in Brussels to get relaxations on the ban on GMO experimentation on foodstuffs to which the European public is extremely hostile.

Citing the US example, Baden-Mayer said that “it is hard to distinguish the company Monsanto from the players in the US government.” “Most of the genetically modified crops grown in the US, almost all of them end up in factory farms, concentrated in animal feeding operations,” stating that US has enough grassland to pasture and raise “100 percent grass-fed beef” and produce even more grass fed beef than is raised on “modified corn and soy.”

Investigations show how closely connected the management and the central government in Washington are, as well as with diplomatic representatives of the USA across the world.  In many instances, Monsanto has operationally powerful assistants.  Former Monsanto employees occupy high offices in the USA in government authorities and ministries, industrial associations and in universities; sometimes in almost symbiotic relationships. According to information from the American Anti-Lobby-Organisation, Open Secrets .Org, in the past year, 16 Monsanto lobbyists have taken up sometimes high ranking posts in the US administration and even in regulatory authorities.

Despite such high-profile lobbying, US State, Vermont, has recently passed legislation requiring labelling, which will come into effect in 2016. The state has set up a $1.5 million legal fund in response to Monsanto’s threat of a lawsuit. Even if the state wins, the legal costs would likely consume the entire fund. In a loss it could lose as much as $5 million.

A report by Food and Water Watch, released last year, found that US government officials were actively promoting Monsanto products overseas. They reviewed over 900 US diplomatic cables from more than 100 countries, published by WikiLeaks.
They found government officials tried to quash public criticism of companies such as Monsanto and facilitated meetings between foreign governments and biotech companies. US diplomats supported Monsanto even after it paid $1.5 million in fines for bribing an Indonesian official. One cable showed “high-level US government intervention” at the “urgent request” of Monsanto to combat biotech crop opponents in Spain.

“It really goes beyond promoting the US’s biotech industry and agriculture,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food and Water Watch. “It really gets down to twisting the arms of countries and working to undermine local democratic movements that may be opposed to biotech crops, and pressuring foreign governments to also reduce the oversight of biotech crops.”

For the company, it is all about new markets and capturing a large share of the food supply for a rapidly growing world population. Genetic engineering and patents on plants play a big role here which creates a virtual monopoly for Monsanto in food production where they gain a foothold.. Over 90 % of corn and soya in the USA is genetically modified. In some parts of the rest of the world the percentage is also growing constantly.

Only the European markets are at a standstill. Several EU countries have many reservations about the Monsanto future, which clearly displeases the US government administration and its Corporate Masters. France moved against Monsanto, April 15, 2014 approving a law with far-reaching applicability for genetically modified (GM)corn. France’s lower house of Parliament, the National Assembly, banned GM corn in a sweeping fashion. Now, no variety of GM corn can be cultivated in France because of its toxic threats to the soil, insects and human health. Also, In March, France prohibited the sale, use and cultivation of Monsanto’s MON 810, the only GM crop that had been authorised in the European Union.

Last year over 2 million people in 436 cities in 52 countries worldwide marched against the largest producer of genetically engineered seeds.

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