Activists around the world are gearing up for a weekend of rallies to protest Monsanto, the biotechnology giant accused of genetically engineering agriculture and food while turning a blind eye to their potentially deadly health ramifications.
Organized by the 'March Against Monsanto' movement, an estimated 200,000 activists will participate in the massive campaign spanning six continents, 40 nations, and at least 48 US states.
Angered by the lack of action from governments on the issue, activists in hundreds of cities – including New York, Chicago, Montreal, Berlin, Paris, Brussels, Moscow and Melbourne – will stage coordinated protests against Monsanto and demand a ban on Genetically Engineered and Genetically Modified Organisms (GE/GMOs).
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.”