An expanding network of concerned individuals known as Occupy Monsanto has emerged over the past 8 months staging numerous protests at companies connected to the global trade of genetically engineered foods, also known as GMOs. The network announced on August 27, 2012 in a news release, “Press Release for the Occupy Monsanto Global Week of Action,” that on September 17, 2012 protests will begin for an entire week in St. Louis, home of the Monsanto Corporation, and across the US including California where voters will decide if they will label GMOs this election and worldwide in Argentina, Canada, Germany, India, Philippines, and other countries where concern over GMO impact on the environment and human health is growing.
In Sacramento you can check out the website on what’s happening in the local area. See, Occupy Monsanto to Gain Support for Proposition 37 in Davis. The Anti-Monsanto Project is looking for help from the public to spread the word, get involved and educated by joining. There is a Facebook site called the Anti-Monsanto Project.
The protests will vary in size and nature but are unified in pushing back GMO food into the lab from which it came. An interactive map with times, dates and locations of the 60+ protests can be found at the Occupy Monsanto Genetic Crimes Unit site. Since GMOs’ introduction to the food supply in the mid 1990s, food allergies have expanded according to Center for Disease Control data,” says Rica Madrid, a member of the Genetic Crime Unit of Occupy Monsanto.
Monsanto is planting deep roots in the Sacramento area
In Sacramento’s suburb of Woodland, Monsanto is planting deep roots for its research on seeds and is working with the University of California, Davis. Check out the September 6, 2012 Sacramento Bee article by Darrell Smith, Monsanto growing its seed research facilities. Monsanto in the Sacramento area, Woodland, and Davis is emerging as a center for seed science. Note that the mainstream media in Sacramento is writing pro-Monsanto articles emphasizing how many millions of dollars Monsanto has invested in the Sacramento-Woodland area.
The new 90,000-square-foot Monsanto expansion will add laboratory and office space, nearly doubling the size of the Monsanto campus on Woodland’s outskirts to 200,000 square feet. Monsanto officials expect the project to be complete by August 2013. Crews have been at work on the site since late April. But organic farmers in the region are wondering what effects Monsanto seed research will have on farming organic produce for Sacramento’s food and farmers’ markets.
The University of California, Davis has it’s own Seed Biotechnology Center. And locally, Seed Central is a university-led initiative to attract seed industry to the Davis area. Consumers who buy organic vegetables and fruit wonder how Monsanto will capitalizes on the University of California, Davis nearby and the research capacity of the companies.
Monsanto will focus on researching and developing disease-resistant vegetables
Consumers want to know how their food will be genetically modified and in what ways. Monsanto’s strategy and operations will be leading research and development in Woodland, which is in the Sacramento and Davis regional area.
Monsanto will be developing seeds for California’s Central Valley as it does globally for other countries. Monsanto says it wants to develop better, healthier vegetable varieties with natural disease resistance so growers can use fewer fungicides. But consumers are worried that if pesticides and anti-fungal chemicals are put inside the seeds, there’s no way to rinse them off or make them organic.
Meanwhile the investment Monsanto is making in this area is huge because the company looks at Sacramento and surrounding areas as a fertile laboratory for its own research and development. This area called the Central Valley provides half of the vegetable crops for the whole U.S.
Consumers have other ideas about what they want to experience in a vegetable as far as safety and purity, freedom from genetic modification, and other issues based on having healthy food trends. For Yolo County, it’s another sign of growth in an industry it has worked years to cultivate. There are already more than 30 companies doing seed research in Yolo County. But how many of them are organic or reach people who want produce that isn’t full of chemicals from the seed stage?
Agriculture is big business in the Davis and Woodland area surrounding West Sacramento areas. Farmers often work with UC Davis on vegetable seed research. In fact, UC Davis has the largest concentration of vegetable seed research in the USA, according to the Sacramento Bee article.
Genetically modified foods are the main issue when it comes to Monsanto in Sacramento and Davis: The ‘No’ on Proposition 37 campaign
Monsanto expansion concerns others are deeply concerned about Monsanto’s development of genetically modified seeds and food and the labeling of genetically modified foods, often called “GMOs” for genetically modified organisms.
In November, 2012 Californians will vote on Proposition 37, which calls for mandatory labeling of genetically modified foods. The measure is backed by a number of consumer and public health groups, organic growers and businesses. Growers and grocery associations are lined up against the proposition. Monsanto and DuPont are major funders of the No on 37 campaign and have spent millions of dollars in recent years to stave off efforts to label GMOs.
About 245 employees work at the Woodland site, including 70 scientists and support staff brought on in the last four to five years. Scientists test and research seeds and vegetables for characteristics like taste, texture and color while making the plants more resistant to disease. The question is whether the plants are made resistant to disease by adding chemicals such as pesticides that you can’t wash off the vegetable.
When Monsanto came to town, farmers lost older vegetable processing businesses such as tomato and sugar beet processing. But Yolo County now gained organic crops, wine grapes, and nuts. What’s next now that Monsanto has invested in the area? Growing food is a daily necessity to feed the population.
Occupy Monsanto means to confront the industrial agriculture system head-on in a week of events in Atlanta
Some protests could result in widespread arrests of people who choose to engage in non-violent civil disobedience. Despite the peaceful nature of these planned protests, organizers are concerned about surveillance of Occupy-Monsanto.com by the US Department of Homeland Security and law enforcement agencies worldwide, according to the August 27, 2012 press release, “Press Release for the Occupy Monsanto Global Week of Action.”
Nevertheless Occupy Monsanto protests will feature costumes made of bio-hazmat protective gear that can also protect against pepper spray from police who have routinely attacked occupy protests in the past year. Consumers are concerned with chemicals in their produce.
Why is a chemical manufacture who once made Agent Orange controlling the US food supply?
“There is something wrong when a chemical manufacturer, the same company who made Agent Orange, controls the US food supply,” says Jaye Crawford, a member of the Occupy Monsanto » Genetic Crimes Unit in Atlanta, Georgia that has planned a week of events, according to an August 27, 2012 news release relating to Atlanta, not Sacramento, “Occupy Monsanto.” For more information, see the Occupy Monsanto Atlanta Schedule of Events news release. .
“Wall Street and the American political elite have underestimated and even ignored our potential to effect rational policy change on GMOs which would include labeling for GMOs and restrictions on GMO cultivation,” says Gene Etic an anti-GMO campaigner based in Washington, DC. “If Occupy Monsanto’s anti-GMO actions are successful, after September 17 the media and increasingly more voters will ask tough questions about these experimental GMO crops especially within the context of the Presidential election, as that office holds the power to determine American food policy,” says Etic, according to the Occupy Monsanto news release.
“People are stirred by the evidence that GMO foods compromise human health,” says Rica Madrid, a member of the Genetic Crime Unit of Occupy Monsanto, according to the Occupy Monsanto news release. “Politicians and their sponsoring corporations ignore public outcry over GMOs to protect huge profits over health. Since GMOs’ introduction to the food supply in the mid 1990’s, food allergies have expanded according to Center for Disease Control data,” says Madrid.
“By purchasing influence via massive campaign donations, Monsanto ensures the essential duties of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are neglected. One example of this corporate coup is President Obama’s appointment of Michael Taylor, former Monsanto Vice-President and legal council for the chemical company, to head the FDA’s food safety efforts despite his obvious conflict of interest,” says Ariel Vegosen, a member of the Genetic Crimes Unit, according to the news release. She adds, “Monsanto is the biggest maker of genetically engineered crops so it must be stopped before it is too late to shift to healthy organic agriculture practices as a result of widespread genetic contamination by GMOs. ‘Coexistence’ as defined by the USDA of Organic and GMO crops is a myth.”
“At the US State Department it’s apparent Monsanto has duped leaders in Africa to ask the US for foreign aid in the form of GMO technology and equipment,” says Monsanto shareholder Adam Eidinger, according to the Occupy Monsanto news release. Last year he walked from New York to the White House in Washington, DC with hundreds of other food activists to demand labeling of GMO foods. “The generous use of US tax dollars, endorsed by the likes of rock-star Bono and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a former legal council for Monsanto, is actually another taxpayer funded subsidy for Monsanto’s pesticide and herbicide hungry crops,” Eidinger explains in the Occupy Monsanto news release of August 27, 2012.
Occupy Monsanto will be heard at the offices and facilities linked in the GMO food system
In St. Louis a major anti-GMO conference will take place in the same location as the ‘12th International Symposium on GMO Safety.’ A lead organizer of the conference is Barbara Chicherio who believes, “’Monsanto’s push to control agriculture and what people are eating poses a great threat not only to consumers in the US, but to farmers and communities throughout Latin America, Africa and Asia.” Information on the conference is at the GMO Free Midwest site.
In Sacramento, it’s a different scene with the mainstream media such as the Sacramento Bee touting the investment, jobs created, and benefits of what Monsanto is bringing to Woodland and the Sacramento and Central Valley region, the positive results of the new location for Monsanto, and how the company will be working with UC Davis agricultural research scientists on creating better tasting vegetables, according to the September 6, 2012 Sacramento Bee article, Monsanto growing its seed research facilities. For further information also see the site, At Least 60 Protests To Target Makers Of Genetically Engineered Foods on Anniversary of Occupy Movement.