Photo Set 3 http://la.indymedia.org/news/2013/06/260189.php
Photo Set 2 http://la.indymedia.org/news/2013/06/260169.php
Photo Set 1 http://la.indymedia.org/news/2013/06/260148.php
Last Saturday saw a spirited protest march occur in downtown Los Angeles. The protesters went from Pershing Square to City Hall. Well over a thousand people participated. This was part of a Worldwide Day of Protest against The Monsanto Corporation and those companies like Syngen, Dow, Bayer and others who are coming to dominate the world food supply. The worldwide protest numbers were reported to be over two million.
One of the reasons for the American marches was a rider that was attached to the 2013 Spending Bill that was signed by President Barack Obama. The rider was drafted by Republican Roy Blount who represents Missouri which is the home state of the Monsanto Corporation. The GOP representative states that he worked closely with Monsanto on the drafting. Senator Barbara Mikulski’s Appropriations Committee was where the rider was injected.
The provision is being called "The Monsanto Protection act. It's actual name is the Farm Assurance Provision.
This is the text of the rider. Courtesy of Wikipedia.
Sec. 735. In the event that a determination of non-regulated status made pursuant to section 411 of the Plant Protection Act is or has been invalidated or vacated, the Secretary of Agriculture shall, notwithstanding any other provision of law, upon request by a farmer, grower, farm operator, or producer, immediately grant temporary permit(s) or temporary deregulation in part, subject to necessary and appropriate conditions consistent with section 411(a) or 412(c) of the Plant Protection Act, which interim conditions shall authorize the movement, introduction, continued cultivation, commercialization and other specifically enumerated activities and requirements, including measures designed to mitigate or minimize potential adverse environmental effects, if any, relevant to the Secretary's evaluation of the petition for non-regulated status, while ensuring that growers or other users are able to move, plant, cultivate, introduce into commerce and carry out other authorized activities in a timely manner: Provided, That all such conditions shall be applicable only for the interim period necessary for the Secretary to complete any required analyses or consultations related to the petition for non-regulated status: Provided further, That nothing in this section shall be construed as limiting the Secretary's authority under section 411, 412 and 414 of the Plant Protection Act.
The essential meaning of this is that the powers of the courts are nullified in the context of planting untested genetically modified crops whilst the normal flow of citizen summoned judicial review is cancelled.
A citizen can in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act http://www.epa.gov/Compliance/nepa/
call for a judicial review of specific GMO plantings and their impacts upon public health and safety thus keeping the crops from being planted until solid scientific study in the context of public safety issues can be pursued. This rider does away with that and leaves the decision to plant up to the Secretary of Agriculture and whatever reasons they may have. It should be noted that the present Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has deep ties to Monsanto. It should also be noted that quite a few important positions in the FDA have been filled by ex-employees of Monsanto, Dow, Syngen, Bayer and others from the big Agri-tech companies.
Democracy Now has a discussion between WENONAH HAUTER and GREGORY JAFFE on the Monsanto Protection Act. Hauter is the executive director of Food & Water Watch and Gregory Jaffe is director of the Biotechnology Project at the Center for Science in the Public Interest. http://www.democracynow.org/2013/4/2/the_monsanto_protection_act_a_debate
Here is the page for the National Environmental Policy Act. http://www.epa.gov/Compliance/nepa/
The march started out in a fervent and almost wildcat style led by the folks of Occupy Los Angeles. However within a few blocks,families started to dominate the landscape. Mothers, fathers babies, toddlers, tweens and grandparents marched and held signs stating that they wanted to feed their families good food.
To passively accept the very uncertain and possibly harmful changes that genetically modified foods could present down the road was absolutely unacceptable to them.
A little history is called for at this point....
Genetically modified foods have only been grown commercially for the last fifteen years starting in 1996 in the United States.
So.....long term population and environmental impact studies on humans don't really exist. Anyway, most food test studies last for 90 days or less. This is due to the high cost of research and the token amount that the FDA has put towards research that tries to ferret out negative effects.
There is also the factor that companies like Monsanto are also the holders of their seed patents and rarely give out the pertinent information that independent researchers need to research the long term effects of these seeds and compounds.
Thus we don't know what GMO foods may do to us in the long term. Some of the reasons of course are due to market and shareholder pressures as well as a seemingly legally corrupt state of affairs in the context of a revolving door policy at the FDA and other state and federal regulatory agencies. We are not being allowed to know if that tortilla shell or hot dog bun may leave tumors in my gut or our families' tummys.
At the bottom of this is the fact that in the arena of Genetically Modified Organisms basic science and public safety have beenshut down in order to give preference to market share and shareholder gain. It all started when the FDA in the 80's and 90's deemed GMO foods as being in the category of "GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) ". This meant that little or no public safety research was done on genetically modified foods at all before they were released on the public in fields and supermarkets.
At this point ...
Nearly all of American beef is raised on GMO corn.
Most non organic corn, soy, cotton, sugar beets are Genetically Modified Organisms
There are studies but....
The most significant studies have been done on mice with samples of ten or so subjects.
Many feel this is a very insignificant sample size.
The longest study on the effects of RoundUp and RoundUp ready seed to date is only two years long and only two hundred rats were used.
The longest one before that was 240 days.
It's a French study on Roundup....Monsanto's chief product.
Here is the study.
It came out in 2012.
It is not pretty.
The name of the study is "Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize"
Gilles-Eric Séralinia, Emilie Claira, Robin Mesnagea, Steeve Gressa, Nicolas Defargea, Manuela Malatestab, Didier Hennequinc, Joël Spiroux de Vendômois
The Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology where it was published is a peer reviewed publication. http://research.sustainablefoodtrust.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Final-Paper.pdf
Here is a great article on the lack of testing by Tom Philpott in Mother Jones that address's long term public safety testing of Genetically modified foods. http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2012/09/gmo-corn-rat-tumor
It seems prudent to mention that corn in it's present naturally evolved state is about 10,000 years old. once again.....the above study is for two years on a small sample of rodents.
Anyway.....the march wound along and ended at the Los Angeles City Hall where booths were set up and speakers spoke.
The speakers were mainly poets, rhetoricians and fevered activists which was in contrast to the panoply of technically oriented speakers at the XL Pipeline protest that was held in Los Angeles in February of this year.
Perhaps this is due to the fact that food is the most intimate thing that we do for ourselves and our tribes. To cook and prepare food for others is the ultimate act of trust and responsibility and love.
Ed Bagely Jr. a stalwart of LA environmental messaging spoke for a minute as did activist Tiffany Wallace on the need for an urban environmental awakening.
Cheri Rae Russell, a raw food firebrand who owns the Peace Yoga Gallery / Restaurant in the middle of Downtown LA spoke forcibly on the need for pure unadulterated food. The overcast day cleared at that moment so she used the California Sunshine as a star witness in her testimonial for homegrown, organic food.
An organic lemon and date farmer doing his tilling out in Niland, California at the Rancho Gecko spoke intelligently on our need for small farmers and the urgency to mitigate new laws that favor Agr-tech at the expense and obliteration of small and organic farms.
His name was Jamey Jones
Here are a few of his opinion pieces. http://datepeople.net/why-we-need-small-farms http://datepeople.net/truth-about-food-safety-bills
The police presence was very minimal.
Oh yes......There were quite a few people in bee suits, which at first glance registered as silly.
Silly until one notes that 31 percent of the U.S. honeybees died in 2012. Thirty One Percent.
The culprit in this profound calamity is looking to be a class of pesticides deadly to bees that are produced by Bayer and Syngen They are used on almost all corn and soy crops in the U.S. This pesticide class is called neonicotinoids.
Bees pollinate crops that yield the worlds flowers, fruits and vegetables. Plenty of animals that we eat live on those very things.
These compounds are banned in Europe but no such legislative wave is apparent in the U.S. right now.
Wikipedia Entry on neonicotinoids: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neonicotinoid
The day progressed well and the ethnically and income varied crowd mingled. Some folks had access to Whole Foods and some folks shopped at Pay For Less.
Some folks were homeless with a can of beans and the and some lived in houses with full fridges on the West side. But people spoke together and laughed and shouted and testified. Sacred Aztec maize dances were performed. There were citations of Monsanto's lurid chemical history, the GMO insider appointments the FDA and the USDA made, the unfair monopolistic competition that Monsanto practices against small farmers worldwide and the insanity of absolutely no real public safety tests for genetically modified foods. It was brought up that "RoundUp" resistant organisms are now becoming an issue and pesticide stocks are rising. Signs demanding the labeling of GMO's was a constant theme as well as the testimonials of those those that had had possible negative encounters with processed foods, GMO's and the like.
The gut deep anger was evident in everyone's faces; Especially the kids, who as we all know...... love to make ugly faces when talking about bad food.
Oddly enough no food was offered at the march by groups such as Food Not Bombs or your everyday vendors.
The protest eventually wound down around 5 or 6 pm, people probably became hungry, went home to make dinner and eat in the dark with the lights on....as we all do now.