Thursday, July 24, 2014

MARCH Against MONSANTO, NYC: Photos & Comments

On May 24 of this year, a third March Against Monsanto (MAM) took place in 52 countries on six continents, in 47 of the 50 American states, and in over 420 cities. The MAM was founded last year by one individual, Tami Monroe Canal, after the failure of California's ballot initiative to require the food labeling of GMOs (genetically modified organisms). 

The first March Against Monsanto took place on May 25, 2013. I invite you to scroll back to my post, “MARCH AGAINST MONSANTO” of Tuesday, June 25, 2013, where I document that event in New York City. A second MAM took place on October 12, 2013.

I am encouraged and amazed by the fact that a 31 year old mother with two daughters, having lost easy access to farmers markets and fresh foods when she moved to Utah from California, and concerned for her childrens' health, could go on Facebook and cultivate a movement that generated over 2 million demonstrators, globally. All this was accomplished in less than three months in early 2013. 

Monsanto aside, this feat should be a lesson for the citizens of every country as to the importance of net neutrality. Citizens of America (and the world) are increasingly plagued by corporate greed and dominance, economic inequality, and governmental neglect. Yet, with the help of the internet and a social media site, one mother could take on what has regularly been voted the "Most Evil Corporation in the World" in an attempt to promote proper food labeling and mobilize a sustainable food production system.

Let Our Citizens Be Heard:

Mickey Z, March Against Monsanto, Union Square, NYC, May 24, 2014

John, March Against Monsanto, Union Square, NYC, May 24, 2014

At this year's third MAM in New York City, a speaker's area was designated at the southern edge of Union Square. Mainly, I was wandering around and photographing the crowd, but I heard a few speakers, and all were eloquent and well-informed. Above are photographs of two of them.

John (shown directly above) urged each of us to "do something to change the system" and, implying that such change would demand more than individual action, he called for "radical community power." In a way, Tami Monroe Canal modeled what John calls for: she first "did something" by taking individual action; that action then quickly grew into a form of "radical community power."

Preceding John to the microphone was Mickey Z (see the top photo, above). He, too, stressed the need for community action, albeit more aggressively. Alluding to the power and world-encompassing tentacles of Monsanto, he suggested that we may need "nothing short of a global jailbreak."  Given Monsanto's long history of sugar-coating problems and telling outright lies, he also cautioned the Union Square demonstrators:  "Do not opt for the illusion of safety over the quest for justice."

In an on-line article posted three days after MAM, Mickey Z noted an all-too-common, glaring absence--the lack of any traditional media coverage of this (global) event. As he pointed out, our press essentially is corporate-owned and "reflects the biased interests of [its] elite players." He then astutely noted certain general, glaring absences in our media news coverage: "That’s why every major daily newspaper has a business section, but not a labor section. Why at least once a week, those same newspapers run an automobile section, but no bicycle section...[and] this is why when the Dow Jones Industrial Average drops, it makes headlines. But if the global extinction rate rises, it’s questionable if it’ll even make the papers."

Corporate interest, aided by the traditional media that answers to it, does its best to keep American citizens and the general public blithely stewing, like those proverbial frogs, in a slowly heating pot of water.

World Domination:

Ego : Eco, March Against Monsanto, Union Square, NYC, May 24, 2014

Let me begin with this small sign, which offers us multiple references. Across its top we read, "Feminists Against MON$ANTO."  I am not aware of a specific movement of that name.  However, the three words down the left and right edges and the central symbols appear to develop its gender reference.

Those three words are "end the domination." The symbols in the middle, a triangle and a circle, are composed of things in/of nature like stars, plants, fish, animals, a man and a woman (think animal, vegetable, mineral). The triangle symbolizes hierarchy and is identified by the word "Ego." The circle symbolizes collaboration and is identified by the word "Eco."

Clearly, the sign plays on the gender assumption that men are more ego-driven and compete for dominance, while women tend more to collaborate and work together towards a solution.  

Very likely, the “ego triangle” alludes to that hierarchical model of leadership popularized seventy years ago by the American psychologist, Abraham Maslow, here simply modified to illustrate a (biblical) interpretation of the human being’s (actually, the male figure's) dominant position within the natural world. 

The “eco circle,” on the other hand, positions the male and female figures as equals among the animals and the rest of nature. Here, all elements relate to each other in complex and unpredictable ways as part of a single society. The “eco circle,” then, embodies the ideas of deep ecology; this model holds that the entire living environment is a complicated balance of interrelationships  among all organisms, and furthermore, that interference by humans for their strictly utilitarian benefits will destroy this natural order (and man along with it).

Now, to my subtitle, “World Domination.” Ego, of course, is the driving force behind a desire for world domination, whether fictional, as in Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers series and Ernst Stavro Blofeld, as the chief James Bond villain, or in real life, as is the case with Monsanto.

Many sources accuse Monsanto of seeking world domination. But can a corporation really be equated with some fictional Dr. Evil? Several students of Monsanto would say “yes,” definitely.  Among them are political activist Kevin Zees and pediatrician Margaret Flowers. They convincingly argue that “Monsanto is rapidly dominating our global food system” and has become a major threat to the environment and public health through its control of seed supplies, its activities that lessen biodiversity, its promotion of fossil-fuel based pesticides and other actions that contribute to the growth of climate change.

In an older article from four years ago, titled, "Monsanto is trying to take over the world," writer Ethan Huff cites an AP investigation which states that "Monsanto regularly employs business practices that not only aim to eliminate all competition, but essentially position the company as the sole proprietor of all things related to food."

Monsanto may be one of today's major players in this hideous game of world food control, but decades earlier, the United States under President Richard Nixon launched a global strategy to monopolize and manage the world market in grain and agricultural commodities. As Henry Kissinger remarked in 1970, "control food and you control the people."

Hierarchy and dominance is the name of the game. Monsanto has never shown any interest in cooperating with other entities to promote global food growth. It's their way--either you use their GMO seed--or "the highway." In other words, the "eco circle" is a completely alien metaphor to Monsanto's corporate ethos.

TPP & the Global Monsanto Protection Act:

Marty: Don't Fast Track, March Against Monsanto, Union Square, NYC, May 24, 2014

Some readers may wonder what Monsanto has to do with TPP (the Trans Pacific Partnership), given that the TPP is a "free-trade" deal being worked out right now among the United States, Canada and some ten Asian-Pacific countries. Also, this deal is being worked out in secret, so even Congress cannot see it. Nevertheless, we do know that TPP has over 600 corporate advisers--Monsanto among them.

One of the major critics of the TPP is the Nobel Prize-winning American economist, Joseph E. Stiglitz. He calls it part of a "gross mismanagement of globalization," and warns that TPP "will benefit the wealthiest sliver of the American and global elite at the expense of everyone else." 

Essentially, if ever enacted, TPP will roll back reforms enacted by its signatory nations, will empower corporations to attack and sue those nations whenever their laws counter corporate profits, and will "elevate individual foreign firms to equal status with sovereign nations."

The so-called Monsanto Protection Act, which was sneaked in to the continuing resolution bill in early 2013 by Republican Senators Barbara Mikulski and Roy Blunt, bars our federal courts from halting the sale of GMO and GE crops and seeds no matter how dangerous these are shown to be.  However, this continuing resolution was temporary, and now its secrecy has been exposed. Therefore, by taking advantage of the TPP, Monsanto can act globally, expand its special protections beyond American shores,  and make those protections permanent, all while nullifying any regulations enacted against it in specific countries.

This is the reason that the "Monsanto Protection Act" is connected to the TPP, and why TPP has been called "the global Monsanto Protection Act on steroids."

Does Monsanto Own Congress?:

Monsanto Owns Congress, March Against Monsanto, Union Square, NYC, May 24, 2014

FDA Poisoning, March Against Monsanto, Union Square, NYC, May 24, 2014

I'm Michael Taylor, AwakentheMind, America's FDA in Bed with Monsanto

The simple answer to the question posed in the sub-heading above these three photographs is: "Yes, Monsanto owns Congress, but not only Congress."

Members of Congress certainly benefit from the largesse of Monsanto, and last year more than ten received donations of $10,000 or more, with $260,000 going to House members and $122,000 to Senators. Journalist Elizabeth Renter speculates that the "real number" may be in the millions, because how much must one "pay these politicians to shoot down GMO labeling bills that 90 plus percent of the entire country wants?"   For example, Missouri Senator Roy Blunt, who was responsible for sneaking the Monsanto protection rider into the continuing resolution bill, received a total of $74,250 from Monsanto during the 2012 election cycle.

Congress, however, is not the only government entity that is doing Monsanto's bidding. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the agency responsible for protecting and promoting the public health of all Americans through the regulation and supervision of food safety (among other things), has completely failed to protect American consumers in regard to the regulation of genetically engineered foods.

One article I read asks, in its title, "Is the FDA killing us one bite at a time?" The title of another bluntly states, "FDA Approves Poisoning of Americans." 

The justification of such damning titles (and the reference to "cancer" seen in the second photograph, above) is revealed in the third picture, showing the two faces of Michael Taylor.  Taylor, who had been Monsanto's Public Policy Vice-President, was appointed Deputy Commissioner of the FDA by President Obama.  Among other Obama appointments were Monsanto director,  Robert Beachy to be the director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture; Monsanto lobbyist  Islam Siddiqui as our Agriculture Trade Representative; and DuPont biotech attorney  Ramona Romera as USDA's counsel.  These are just a few of the foxes placed in our FDA henhouse by, amazingly enough, a Democratic president who really should know better.

As writer and editor Aviva Shen reveals, Monsanto "has spent decades packing the US Department of Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency with its own members." 

Even our Supreme Court has been tainted by the Monsanto "Trojan Horse" (forgive my mixing of animal metaphor from fox to wooden horse): Justice Clarence Thomas was a lawyer for Monsanto in the mid-1970s (and at least two times did not recuse himself on decisions regarding Monsanto).  Then, Elena Kagan  intervened in a Monsanto case in December of 2009, before her nomination to the Supreme Court--when she still was our Solicitor General. The intervention was, in itself, questionable: Kagan ruled in favor of Monsanto after a US District Court in California had ruled against the corporation, and this ruling had been upheld by our Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

And just this week, David Swanson wrote an article in Nation of Change with the chilling title, "Monsanto Has Taken Over the USDA." So, in answer to the subtitle of this section, indeed, Monsanto owns America's Congress...and much more.

We Want To Know, Just Label Our Food:

Text "Label" to 69866, March Against Monsanto, Union Square, NYC, May 24, 2014

Cristina: NY Wants To Know, March Against Monsanto, Union Square, NYC, May 24, 2014

Lately, Monsanto has spent millions of dollars fighting a growing movement of citizens calling for the labeling of all genetically modified (GM) foods. In its counter to this movement, Monsanto makes an argument not unlike that which the tobacco industry once made.  It argues, “in the absence of any demonstrated risks....mandatory labeling could imply that food products containing these ingredients are somehow inferior to their conventional or organic counterparts.”

"Inferior" is hardly the word that the MAM demonstrators would use to define GMO food.  More appropriately, they would call it "unhealthy" or "dangerous," and this perception is shared by many beyond the demonstrators. Today, one-half of all Americans refuse to eat GM vegetables for health reasons, and even more, two-thirds, reject any form of GM meat. The New York Times poll of July, 2013, from which these figures come, also had 93% of all respondents demanding identification labels for all GM food.

Globally, 64 countries require the labeling of GM foods, and among these are all the countries of the European Union, Japan, China, Australia, Brazil, and Russia. The most glaring holdout countries, having no GM food labeling laws, are the United States, Canada and Mexico.

An amendment to Congress' 2013 Farm Bill would have guaranteed states the right to enact GM food labeling laws, but 71 Senators voted it down, led by Debbie Stabenow (D, MI). It just so happens that she received $739,926 in 2012 campaign contributions from "Big Ag."   I think you get the picture.

Still, several states have attempted to enact GMO labeling laws, and currently 29 states have 84 bills in process dealing with GMO labeling.  Maine and Connecticut passed labeling requirements that will go into effect if neighboring states do the same. And on May 8, 2014, Vermont became the first state to enact a GMO labeling law. Last month, a lawsuit to turn back this Vermont law has been filed; and so the GMO labeling battle now is on in full force in the United States.

Coca-Cola, the Farm Bureau, Kraft Foods, Monsanto, and the Grocery Manufacturers Association have taken this battle to New York State, spending heavily to defeat a similar bill to Vermont's. So far, they have met with success, as Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has said, "It probably will not get done this session."

Fighting from the other side are individuals like Christina, pictured in the photograph above. Completely on her own, she has begun a community project for her Queens neighborhood, calling it New York Wants to Know, Label GMO. I am unclear as to how she is involving her neighbors in Queens, but maybe her efforts and those of many other New Yorkers can give Albany lawmakers enough spine to vote in the interests of their constituents. If this happens, neighboring Connecticut is poised to follow suit.

In the meantime, one can decide to boycott certain foods that accept and use GMO products, as revealed in this list (click on it to enlarge) from the internet. I have not researched this list and can't vouch for its accuracy:


 USA: GMO Corn, March Against Monsanto, Union Square, NYC, May 24, 2014

Khalil Bendib: Killing Fields, 2012,

GMO corn and soybeans now dominate American crop production as of 2012, 88% of corn and 94% of soy, according to the USDA, was genetically modified. Given their saturation of the US market, Monsanto and other GM seed companies are also turning their attention to South America and China as a way to augment profits. I will present examples of this global spread of GMO crops in a few of the following topics.

Earlier this month, Christina Sarich wrote an article titled "'GMO, OMG:' Is This the End of Real Food?" She copied her title from that of a film by Jeremy Seifert, for which she also shows a trailer. With the proliferation of GMO crops, and the processed foods that use them extensively, Sarich observes that "an entire generation of Americans is being fed on fake, cancer-causing food."

Now, to be clear, connections between GMO foods and cancer have not been proven; however, the counter-claim that GMO foods are as safe as conventional foods is also unproven.  In fact, the second claim is far from true, because Monsanto and other agritech companies monopolize their products so tightly that they won't approve any independent research studies.  The result is that no positive, "scientifically-based" articles on the safety of GMO seeds and foods, can be believed. As an article in Scientific American bemoans, "it is impossible to verify that genetically modified crops perform as advertised....[because] only studies that the seed companies have approved ever see the light of a peer-reviewed journal."  In fact, the article continues, "in a number of cases, experiments that had the implicit go-ahead from the seed company were later blocked from publication because the results were not flattering."

Scientific American then posits an analogy that ought to cause everyone to shudder: "Imagine car companies trying to quash head-to-head model comparisons done by Consumer Reports, for example. But when scientists are prevented from examining the raw ingredients in our nation’s food supply or from testing the plant material that covers a large portion of the country’s agricultural land, the restrictions on free inquiry become dangerous."

It may be that most American institutions (governmental, academic, private) have been bought-off or infiltrated by Monsanto and its fellow agritech companies;  however, independent doctors and scientists from beyond our borders still offer wise skepticism and critical warnings.

In Austria, Piero Lercher, speaking for the Viennese Doctors' Chamber, cautions us about a Pandora's Box of possible issues: "If such genetically manipulated organisms are released into nature they can hardly be controlled and are also irretrievable....[and] they represent a substantial risk to the biological balance of nature."

The Viennese Doctors' Chamber also makes several recommendations, two of which are particularly important.  One is that the "release of transgenic species in nature must still be strictly opposed as the results can neither be estimated nor reversed."  The other asks that the agritech companies not be exempted from liability: "It must be clearly defined who is liable for possible damages and direct and indirect consequences to health by genetically manipulated organisms which have been released."

If countries adopted this, alone, companies like Monsanto might become less brazen and more cooperative.

In Ireland, the Irish Doctors' Environmental Association this year called for a "complete moratorium" on the growth and use of GMO foods as well as the withdrawal of all such foods currently on the market. The Association also referenced its broader group at the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity with this statement: "We join with our colleagues in calling on governments to impose an immediate moratorium on further environmental releases of genetically engineered foods for at least five years."

In Canada, the Canadian Association for Physicians for the Environment (CAPE), in October of 2013 called for "the immediate suspension of all (GMO) releases."  Furthermore, it claims "that existing life forms such as organisms, seeds, cell lines and genes...cannot and should not be patented....[because they, as] living entities are part of the common heritage of humankind."

Then, CAPE states a truth that Monsanto would prefer the world not know--that "current analyses of GM crops show that they generally yield less than conventional crops....[and that] organic growing methods, using conventional seeds and crop lines, can enhance soil structure, reduce nitrogen pollution, and generate adequate and secure income for farmers while freeing them from dependency on costly external inputs."

In other words, farmers around the world, properly trained in organic growing methods, would be much better off had Monsanto and the other agritech companies never pushed the production and patenting of GM (herbicide resistant) seeds. 

I encourage you all to read the entire statement by CAPE, which is eye-opening and full of common-sense.  I conclude with its preamble, where the Canadian doctors place GMOs within a larger, more frightening, historical context. They write, "We are concerned about what it means to introduce what are essentially newly created species, some of which contain a chimeric blend of genes from entirely different creatures, into our world.  We have seen the effects of chemical and nuclear contamination of the environment, and have real fears that biological contamination with newly minted organisms may be even more threatening to the natural order."

Monsanto Abroad, Puerto Rico:

 La Bandera de Puerto Rico, March Against Monsanto, Union Square, NYC, May 24, 2014

The main island of Puerto Rico, the smallest of the Greater Antilles, has an area of only 3,515 square miles, or slightly less than three times that of Rhode Island, our smallest state. No matter its size, Puerto Rico boasts more GM crop experiments per square mile than any mainland American state.  Moreover, these experiments have been undertaken ever since 1987, nearly a decade before the U.S. government permitted any application of GM foods for human consumption.  Furthermore, these experimental trials have been conducted in the open air, so creating enormous risks that genetically modified strains will infect other plants and "go native" on the island. 

Because Puerto Rico's climate allows up to four harvests per year, it has attracted not only Monsanto--the biggest and baddest agritech--but also the other "usual suspects:"  Dow AgroSciences, Syngenta AG,  DuPont Pioneer,  Mycogen Seeds,  RiceTec, AgReliant Genetics,  and Bayer CropScience, among them.  For Monsanto and these other agritechs, the island has become a big nursery and breeding ground for GMO seeds and crops. The government of Puerto Rico has welcomed this activity, even as it contributes to the destruction of the Island's indigenous farming and agriculture.

In 2009, under the governor Luis Fortuño, Law 62 was passed, with public hearings open only to the agritech companies and government agencies with industry interests. This law, the Business Promotion and Development of Agricultural Biotechnology Law, gave Monsanto (et. al) fast-track permits to build and acquire farmland along with many financial incentives and tax breaks. The corporations are reimbursed for wages paid to field workers, for example, while the subsidies from public funds paid to Monsanto for the year of 2011, alone, was nearly half a million dollars. Between 2006-2013, Monsanto received $4.9 million in subsidies to help cover payroll expenses.

All this governmental largesse has not altered Monsanto's generally contemptuous behavior or made it more deferential to its host country, however.  It has refused to testify before Senate hearings regarding illegalities in the sale of its GMO seeds. It also is in violation of the 1952 Puerto Rican Constitution, which prohibits agricultural landholdings larger than 500 acres (it has over 1,500 acres in production).  And its security is so extreme that nobody can park a car off the highways near its fields without police appearing immediately; nor may anybody take pictures or film near its fields. 

In a creepily sinister way, Monsanto's heavy hand in Puerto Rico brings to mind Sydney Pollack's film of 1993, The Firm, based on John Grisham's novel.

Monsanto has bought and coerced its way into collusion with the government and governmental agencies of Puerto Rico, flaunting the laws of the land and endangering the health of the people of this proud island.

It's been just over ten years since Puerto Rico succeeded in halting the US Navy from using its island of Vieques for sixty years as a test site for bombing practice. The results of those "tests" are a contaminated superfund site, parts of which may never again be fit for human habitation. Will the "tests" by Monsanto and the other agritech corporations result in equally life-threatening contamination on the main island?

Monsanto Abroad, Hawaii:

 Kaina: Aloha 'Aina, March Against Monsanto, Union Square, NYC, May 24, 2014

Hawaii, as Puerto Rico, has "a long history of biotech companies experimenting with GM crops." Pictured directly above, Kaina, originally from Hawaii and now living in Brooklyn, holds a sign stating Aloha 'Aina. Translated, this means "love for the land." However, one might question the degree of love for the land of Hawaii among Monsanto and the other biotech seed companies which have "moved [t]here en masse," taken over more than 60,000 acres,  and displaced the traditional crops of sugar cane and pineapple with corn. That genetically engineered corn, of course, is intended to be "sold to farmers across the globe."

Monsanto's procedures also support the planting of one crop--monocropping--which "contributes to environmental degradation," and promotes the spraying of more than seventy different test chemicals on the land in total disregard for the indigenous Hawaiian concept of aloha 'aina.  To the Hawaiian, the land and the people are one, and, for example, a plant like taro is considered  a "family member...a common ancestor."   So Monsanto (and Pioneer, Syngenta, Dow and BASF) by displacing traditional crops with corn, pushing monoculture farming, and poisoning the earth with chemicals and pesticides, exhibit neither love for the land nor for the people of Hawaii.

Hawaiians are fighting against the long-entrenched powers of the biotech companies. Measure 2491, for example, tries to create buffer zones between schools and fields sprayed with pesticides and asks for disclosure of when and where such spraying takes place. But even these common-sense measures are being contested by the biotech industry and its legislative supporters.  In fact, in January of this year, state lawmakers introduced a bill to stop county governments from "restricting agricultural practices even if these practices were impacting the health of Kauai residents." 

As the managing attorney of Earthjustice, Paul Achitoff observed, “The spectacle of four multibillion-dollar multinational chemical companies suing for the right to continue spraying Kauai’s residents with acutely toxic chemicals, and to keep what they spray and when they spray it a secret, is shameful."

Shameful? I'd say criminal.  So much for the Hawaiian culture of aloha 'aina.

Monsanto Abroad, India:

 Indian Farmer Suicide, March Against Monsanto, Union Square, NYC, May 24, 2014

The white, hand-written sign (enlarge if you wish), reads: "Over 250,000 Farmers in India Have Committed Suicide because of Monsanto's Policies. Monsanto's Profiteering: Monstrous."  If the implications of this are true, and Monsanto's policies have contributed to the suicide deaths of hundreds-of-thousands of Indian farmers, then Monsanto's presence in India is even more horrible than in Puerto Rico and Hawaii.

What can't be contested are the suicide numbers. Nearly 300,000 Indian farmers have taken their lives, some even sitting down in their fields and drinking Monsanto's Roundup. The main seed crop that Monsanto is involved with in India is cotton. Monsanto entered the Indian market in 1988, the year that the World Bank made structural adjustments that forced India to open its seed sector to global corporations; don't you wonder whose idea that was? Within the following twenty-five years, Monsanto gained control of 95% of India's cotton seeds.

The particular cotton seed that Monsanto now monopolizes in India is what is known as Bt cotton. This seed is genetically modified to produce a chemical insecticide harmful to selective insects that normally feed on cotton. However, in what has become an unfortunate pattern in which weeds and insects develop resistances to the chemicals and genetic modifications meant to repel or kill them, by 2010 there have been indications that Bt cotton has been failing. In Gujarat, for example, even Monsanto admitted that the pink bollworm has developed resistance to its Bt cotton.

What this means for the Indian farmer is that his seed has lost productive value, he can't return to his old (natural) methods of planting cotton, and he is being advised to purchase a new variety of Bt cotton and to apply much more toxic pesticides, all of which comes at enormous cost to him.

Before Monsanto monopolized cotton farming in India, the Indian farmer used an indigenous system of mixed cropping, whereby various food crops were planted along with the cotton. This system gave the farmer added security, and it has been shown that mixed cropping also reduces the ability of pests and diseases to spread. It is also the case that the indigenous cotton and other crops could survive simply on rainfall.

Once Monsanto gained control, cotton farming in India became a monoculture. Also, Bt cotton demands more water and demands irrigation. This meant that Indian farmers incurred added expenses for irrigation at the same time as they now had to purchase new seeds each year from Monsanto instead of simply saving seeds for the next year's planting. The Bt seeds cost over 12 times as much as traditional cotton seeds, since they were no longer a natural resource. The seed had become the "intellectual property" of Monsanto, and the company collected a royalty on it. On top of all this, "Monsanto sells its GMO seeds on fraudulent claims of yields of 1500 kg/year when farmers harvest 300-400 kg/year on an average." 

And even these paltry yields are unsustainable because, as Steve Masover explains in an article that is a must-read, "monoculture is antithetical to how life works."

An article in the Deccan Herald stated that "Bt cotton...was knowingly promoted so as to allow the seed industry to make profits. What happens to the farmers was nobody's concern." It is hard to determine the degree to which Monsanto is responsible for what has become a farmer suicide every thirty minutes in India. Nevertheless, many in the know claim, as Anthony Gucciardi does in an article written this May, that "due to failing harvests and inflated prices that bankrupt the poor farmers, struggling Indian farmers began to kill themselves." Most follow such claims by pointing an accusing finger at Monsanto.

Monsanto Abroad--Banned:

 Removed/Banned: Why Not Here?, March Against Monsanto, Union Square, NYC, May 24, 2014

Mexico Bans GMO Corn,

Many countries have bans on GMO crops and foods, and the number of countries change from month-to-month.  Some of this change, however may be a reversal of bans, as Monsanto succeeds in overturning some bans or portions of them. In general, Japan, New Zealand and the European countries (with the main exception of Spain) represent the major countries banning GMOs. The United States, Canada, the Scandinavia countries, China and the Philippines represent some of the major countries embracing GMO crops.

Walden Bello wrote an article last October in The Nation with the title, “Twenty-Six Countries Ban GMOs--Why Won’t the US?” He opens up with the revelation that the 2013 World Food Prize was awarded to three chemical company executives, including Monsanto vice-president Robert Fraley. Thus, while the evidence mounts up in the international scientific community against GMOs, including concerns about genetic code disruptions, genetic contamination, toxic effects on other living matter, and the emergence of "super bugs," cries of "prize buying" resounded.  After all, as Bello documents, Monsanto has given generously to the World Food Prize Foundation for over a decade.

The competition between countries determined to ban GMO crops on one side and Monsanto and other agritech companies with their entrenched influence on the other might be an intriguing international game to follow. But the game is rigged. Behind the scenes, in a contemporary version of that cigar-smoke-filled back room, looms United States government, as Wikileaks has revealed. According to an article by John Vidal, "US diplomats around the world are found to have pushed GM crops as a strategic government and commercial imperative....[and] US diplomats [have been] working directly for companies such as Monsanto."  

One instance cited in Vidal's article reveals that in 2007, our Ambassador to France, Craig Stapleton "asked Washington to penalize the EU and particularly countries which did not support the use of GM crops." This was during the presidency of George W Bush, but I have no doubt that this particular game goes on today as well. 

After all, just last week, we learned that the United States is forcing the EU to accept Canadian Tar Sands oil. The product may be totally different, but the process is the same: coerce our European friends to go against their better judgement so that we may support certain corporate interests which want to expand their global sales of harmful products. 

How shameful. Still, the game goes on, and one can take pleasure in "victories" such as Mexico banning GM corn in October of 2013. Monsanto no longer may plant nor sell its corn within the borders of Mexico. We should take pride in the bravery of our southern neighbor.

GMO's May Poison Humans:

 I'll Be Your Server, March Against Monsanto, Union Square, NYC, May 24, 2014

 You Are What You Eat, March Against Monsanto, Union Square, NYC, May 24, 2014

 Stop Disease, March Against Monsanto, Union Square, NYC, May 24, 2014

 Nina: If You Walk...You Should March, March Against Monsanto, Union Square, NYC, May 24, 2014

Nina (from Queens) holds a sign that refers to cancer. It reads "If you walk for a cure, then you should march against the cause."

 Ed: Killing You, March Against Monsanto, Union Square, NYC, May 24, 2014

Ed (from West Islip) wears a T-shirt that elicits a double-take from many people.  It reads "Monsanto: killing you never tasted so good."

 Profit and Perish, March Against Monsanto, Union Square, NYC, May 24, 2014

GMF Tomato, Greenpeace

These seven photographs all bring up the question of whether the GMO foods already being marketed (and not labeled) might harm our health. The answer to this question remains unclear, since GMO seeds are patented and thus privatized and Monsanto controls any studies done on them, and since the FDA, America's regulatory agency has allowed the biotech companies to conduct their own "voluntary safety consultations," i.e. studies. As Zack Kaldveer writes, "the FDA has failed consumers on genetically engineered foods."

Nevertheless, sufficient scientific studies have been done, particularly in Europe, to question the safety of GMO foods on human health. In an article published this April, Arjun Walia cites the findings of ten different studies. In summary, these reveal the discovery of GMO toxins in maternal and fetal blood;  the transference of the DNA from GOM crops to human consumers;  the connection between GMOs and gluten disorders;  a connection between GMO corn and tumors in a study on rats;  the connection between glyphosate and the growth of breast cancer cells;  a connection between glyphosate and birth defects;  a connection between glyphosate and autism, Parkinson's and, Alzheimers;  a connection between chronic illness and high glyphosate levels;  and a connection betwee GMO animal feed and severe stomach and uteri inflammation.

Walla goes on to say what many farmers already know or have come to realize with some degree of bitterness: "We could easily feed the planet through organic, GMO-free methods, so there is absolutely no reason we need GM foods around."  

Let me finish this section on the health risks of eating GMO foods with the words of a former pro-GMO scientist, Dr. Thierry Vrain, who claims that GMO technology is narrow and flawed. He writes, “Genetic engineering is 40 years old. It is based on the naive understanding of the genome based on the One Gene – one protein hypothesis of 70 years ago, that each gene codes for a single protein. The Human Genome project completed in 2002 showed that this hypothesis is wrong.”

Pesticides Are Toxic, after all:

Pesticides...In My Food?,  March Against Monsanto, Union Square, NYC, May 24, 2014

Monsanto constantly claims that Roundup, its main pesticide, is harmless, that is doesn't persist in the soil where it has been sprayed, and that is doesn't reach any groundwater. Evidence strongly suggests otherwise. Glyphosate, its main active ingredient, has been found in human urine, the food we eat, and our water system.  It also has been shown to be the cause of an epidemic of birth defects among pigs in a Danish pig farm.

Even more terrifying, glyphosate has been linked to epidemics of a chronic kidney disease among the peasant farmers of Central America, India and Sri Lanka. Known as CKDu (Chronic Kidney Disease of unknown etiology), it has killed more men in El Salvador and Nicaragua than HIV/AIDS, diabetes, and leukemia combined. And in Sri Lanka, CKDu has killed over 20,000 people over the past two decades. On this tragedy, read Jeff Ritterman's article of July 10 in Truthout, as well as my short post of Sunday, June 1, 2014 titled "Letter to the New York Times on Nicaraguan Sugar Workers," to which you can scroll back.

To our horror, we may eventually discover that the toxic chemicals in these herbicides and pesticides that accompany GMO crops are responsible for the fact that 54% of American children already suffer from a chronic health condition. But we have no tests or studies to prove this. Nevertheless, farm and food policy analyst, Charlotte Vallaeys suggests that these tests are taking place, not in any controlled clinical setting, but outside and in real time. As she puts it, "our children are the agrochemical companies' lab rats."

Bees and Butterflies:

 Bees & Butterflies, March Against Monsanto, Union Square, NYC, May 24, 2014

 Save the Bees, March Against Monsanto, Union Square, NYC, May 24, 2014

Kate: Say NO to Monsanto,  March Against Monsanto, Union Square, NYC, May 24, 2014

I am sure that most of us have heard about the phenomenon of the bee colony collapse disorder (CCD), in which the worker bees mysteriously disappear, and the bee colony dies.  It is estimated that nearly a third of the honeybee population has been wiped out since 2006. As Katherine Paul and Ronnie Cummins observe, "no bees, no food. Or at least, no apples, cherries, onions, celery, cabbage" and the list goes on and on

Bees, in fact, are more important for healthy crops than either fertilizer or sufficient water. Crops that are "adequately pollinated" by a colony of bees, "bear more fruit and their nutrient content changes." So Freiburg ecologist Prof. Dr. Alexandra-Maria Klein has found in research she has been doing with American colleagues in California. 

As Richard Schiffman warned in an article on this topic from 2012, "honey bees have been likened to the canaries in the coal mine. Their vanishing is nature’s way of telling us that conditions have deteriorated in the world around us. Bees won’t survive for long if we don’t change our commercial breeding practices and remove deadly toxins from their environment. A massive pollinator die-off would imperil world food supplies and devastate ecosystems that depend on them. The loss of these creatures might rival climate change in its impact on life on earth."

Recent discoveries on the causes of CCD have pointed to Bayer and its neonicotinoid pesticides [aka, neonics]. These are synthetic derivatives of nicotine which attack the nervous systems of insects, including the honey bee, since these pesticides are expressed in the  pollen and nectar of the plants. But Monsanto also uses neonics in its pesticides and its seeds.

As to the Monarch Butterfly decline, Monsanto appears the prime suspect because as it has monopolized the midwest with its "Roundup Ready" GE crops. The spraying of glyphosate that these crops demand has destroyed the milkweed on which the butterfly depends. In fact, it is estimated that midwest agricultural fields have lost 98.7% of their milkweed between 1999 and 2012.  Even birds have been victimized by this process.

Monsanto Against Nature:

 Nature Is Natural, March Against Monsanto, Union Square, NYC, May 24, 2014

 Conquest of Nature, March Against Monsanto, Union Square, NYC, May 24, 2014

As you can see, I have grouped 11 more photographs under 6 more topics.  But I am leaving for a vacation tomorrow morning and don't have time to complete these topics. So I will leave these 11 photos without any commentary or research. It may even be that they speak for themselves, without me.

Meanwhile, on the topic of Monsanto against Nature, I offer you this 6:14 YouTube video from one of the March Against Monsanto demonstrations of May 24, 2014. It was posted by Owen Crowley and titled, "The Monsanto Miracle: The Conquest of Nature." It is a bit of performance art by Elliot Crown and Friends. At its end, you will see Frankenstein's Monster break his chains, rip off Monsanto's head and free Mother Nature.


Monsanto Cannot Be Trusted:

 We Eat Their Lies, March Against Monsanto, Union Square, NYC, May 24, 2014

Monsanto and Blackwater:

 Why Buy Blackwater...?, March Against Monsanto, Union Square, NYC, May 24, 2014

Is Monsanto Evil?:

 Monsanto Destroys the World, March Against Monsanto, Union Square, NYC, May 24, 2014

 Bite Me Monsanto, March Against Monsanto, Union Square, NYC, May 24, 2014

 Monsanto Profits from Misery, March Against Monsanto, Union Square, NYC, May 24, 2014

Monsanto and Anonymous:

 Guy Fawkes Mask, March Against Monsanto, Union Square, NYC, May 24, 2014

 Frost: Expect Us, March Against Monsanto, Union Square, NYC, May 24, 2014

How Can We Fight Monsanto?:

 Subvert the System, March Against Monsanto, Union Square, NYC, May 24, 2014

 Monica: End Monsanto, March Against Monsanto, Union Square, NYC, May 24, 2014

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