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March against Monsanto in Guelph

Monday, October 14, 2013

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Written by Peter Miller

Protests connected across cities can help pump up activists to continue working on a cause they care about. Recently, community members in Guelph joined over 200 000 people around the world in protest.

Around 100 people gathered to march against Monsanto at City Hall this past Saturday October 12. They took part in an international day of action; calling for Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) to be mandatorily labeled.

Rally chants included, “GMOs have got to go, hey Monsanto we say no” and, “the people, united, united against Monsanto.” Protestors marched around downtown Guelph, handing out flyers to passers by in order to inform them about the movement against Monsanto.

Speeches were made before and after the march. Council of Canadians and OPIRG Guelph organized the protest.

Monsanto is the largest seed company in the world, worth over 55 billion dollars. Critics of Monsanto are upset that, “long term, independent, peer reviewed studies were not conducted before GMOs were introduced for human or animal consumption,” according to March Against Monsanto’s press release.

“In the USA, the revolving door between Monsanto employees, government positions, and regulatory authorities has led to key Monsanto figures occupying positions of power at the FDA and EPA. Monsanto has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to obstruct all labeling attempts; they also suppress any research containing results not in their favor.”

Last spring, the “Monsanto Protection Act” was passed by US congress, and recently extended for 3 months. The act protects genetically modified products from litigation, and stops federal courts from having the ability to intervene to end the sale of a GMO, even if the product causes adverse health effects. GMO health risks include organ damage, sterility, infant mortality, birth defects, auto-immune conditions, allergies ,and increased cancer risks. These health risks are scientifically proven, according to March Against Monsanto.

Alanna, one of the leading organizers of the protest spoke about how, “Monsanto’s Roundup has been proven to cause birth defects.” Protestors are upset that the corporation is allowed to, “patent food in attempt to own nature,” further allowing Monsanto to, “monopolize food production, and drive thousands of farmers into poverty.”

Monsanto creates terminator seeds that last only one generation, forcing farmers to buy Monsanto seeds yearly. Monsanto also sells GMO seeds that need to be used with some of the company’s other products. These products include fertilizers, fungicides and pesticides, which have been connected to mass bee deaths.

Poverty for small farmers has reached a crisis point in India, where in the past 16 years more than 250,000 farmers have committed suicide opting to free their families of debt. Large corporations like Monsanto are to blame for this tragedy. Forcing Indian farmers to buy products from agricultural monopolies like Monsanto has caused farmers to fall into debt. Monsanto’s genetically modified BT corn has also performed poorly for farmers in India.

Marchers against Monsanto have also not forgotten the corporation's past. During the Vietnam War, Monsanto sold Agent Orange to the USA. It is estimated that the US spread 20 million gallons of Agent Orange on Vietnam and border areas of Cambodia and Laos between 1962 and 1971. The herbicide has been linked to cancer, diabetes and birth defects among millions of Vietnamese.

Activists against Monsanto passed around a petition calling for GMOs to be mandatorily labeled in Canada. Another protest calling for the boycott of Monsanto will occur again in the spring. 

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