The March Against Monsanto

This past Saturday, two million people around the world “Marched Against Monsanto” in 52 countries and 436 cities. In late February, founder and organizer Tami Canal created a Facebook page, calling for a rally against Monsanto, the biotechnology company whose genetically-modified crops are said to be harmful to the environment and can lead to serious health conditions. The March Against Monsanto was born.

“If I had gotten 3,000 people to join me, I would have considered that a success,” Canal said Saturday. Instead, she said an “incredible” number of people responded to her message and turned out to rally.

In Orlando, Florida, about 800 people gathered with signs, pamphlets and speeches in front of their City Hall. Maryann Wilson of Clermont, Florida, said she learned about Monsanto and genetically modified food by watching documentaries on YouTube.

“Scientists are saying that because they create their own seeds, they are harming the bees,” Wilson told the Orlando Sentinel.

In Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles, a crowd marching toward their City Hall carried signs with messages such as “Label GMOs, it’s our right to know” and “Real Food 4 Real People.” One adult protester arrived in a cow costume and a sign that said: “Happy cows do not eat GMOs.” California’s ambitious effort to label GMO foods, Proposition 37, was defeated this past November and last Thursday, the Senate rejected an amendment to let states require labels on food or beverages made with genetically modified ingredients.

“We’re marching to raise awareness,” Dorothy Muehlmann, organizer of the Los Angeles march, told the L.A. Times. “This is not just a ‘boo Monsanto’ protest. We want more people to know so they can make their own decisions. Someone has to stand up for it, and obviously I’m not standing alone.”

According to Chuck Benbrook, research professor at Washington State University’s Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources, Monsanto’s Roundup Ready formulation has resulted in an additional 527 million pounds (an 11% increase) of toxic pesticides to be sprayed on U.S. corn, soy and cotton fields between 1996 and 2011. In 2011, farms using Roundup Ready seeds were spraying 24% more herbicide than non-GMO farms planting the same crops, Benbrook added, stating that by that time, “in all three crops, resistant weeds had fully kicked in” and farmers were responding both by accelerating use of Roundup and resorting to older herbicides like 2,4-D—half of the formulation of Agent Orange. And in a new study published this past April, glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, was shown to inhibit the human cell’s ability to detoxify. According to the study, “the pathologies to which glyphosate could plausibly contribute, through its known biosemiotic effects, include inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, depression, ADHD, autism, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, multiple sclerosis, cancer, cachexia, infertility and developmental malformations.” The study added that “glyphosate works synergistically with other factors, such as insufficient sun exposure, dietary deficiencies in critical nutrients such as sulfur and zinc, and synergistic exposure to other xenobiotics whose detoxification is impaired by glyphosate. Given the known toxic effects of glyphosate reviewed here and the plausibility that they are negatively impacting health worldwide, it is imperative for more independent research to take place to validate the ideas presented here, and to take immediate action, if they are verified, to drastically curtail the use of biologically disruptive chemical glyphosate in agriculture. Glyphosate is likely to be pervasive in our food supply, and, contrary to being essentially nontoxic, it may in fact be the most in our environment.”

“[Monsanto is] poisoning our children, poisoning the planet,” Canal said on Saturday. “If we don’t act, who’s going to?”