Wednesday, 29 May 2013

March against Monsanto

On Saturday I took the kids to the State Library to a protest called 'March Against Monsanto'.  Millions of people rallied at the same time in 436 cities and 52 countries globally to publicise a variety of concerns about the genetic manipulation of seeds, the safety and labelling of GM foods and the concentrated ownership of the seed supply.

I had it in my head that everybody knew about the concerns relating to Monsanto but a bloggy friend pointed out to me that it is not discussed in mainstream media and therefore not everybody is aware of the issues.  Thanks Cheryl!  We talk about it a lot in this house so I figured everyone knew this is becoming a big area of discontent.

The concerns about the power and control that the GM companies - Monsanto, Bayer, Dupont, Dow, BASF - have over seed and food supplies are many and varied:-
  • Monsanto and a small cartel of other companies own over 50% of the commercial seed supply (GM and non-GM) globally.
  • Some GM foods harm experimental animals so I do not believe they are safe for the environment or animals - yes, that includes us humans.
  • Herbicide tolerant GM seed is patented and is sold with the Roundup chemical - so Monsanto makes a bucket load of money that they have used to buy up other seed companies.  Monsanto now owns well over 25% of commercial seed.
  • It is VERY concerning that a small group of companies are in control of the majority of the world's seed supply.  There is too much power in controlling the world's food!
  • I am sceptical about the company's claim to fix the world hunger problem.  Gm crops yield no more than the best conventional varieties. The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food - Prof. Olivier de Schutter - points out that there is already sufficient food to feed everyone adequately, but 30% is wasted AND because food goes where it is most profitable, starving and malnourished people cannot afford it.
  • Some governments around the world do not support labelling of ingredients derived from GM techniques.  However, pressure is building, especially in the USA, for the right to know if a food ingredient is GM.  GM labelling in Australia exempts GM vegetable oils, starches and sugars, and meat, milk and eggs from animals fed GM, on the basis that they are refined and contain minimal GM DNA or protein.
  • GM companies expect that if their products were properly labelled, we wouldn't buy them, as this happens in Europe where every GM ingredient except animal products require a label.
  • Farmers everywhere are becoming more dependent on hybridized and GM seed (seed that you cannot save and replant) and therefore have to buy new seed each season and pay royalties to Monsanto or other companies that OWN the seeds!  These seeds were developed over several thousand years by traditional breeders but GM companies now add a gene and claim to have invented the seed, which allows them to patent.
These concerns are all very worrying.
Please google this issue and see what you can learn.  There is a fantastic organisation  Gene Ethics which has been advocating, campaigning and educating for GM-free for 25 years.  They are a good contact for more information.
So......... the big day out!

Well of course we packed home cooked food.  We boarded a train and headed to the big smoke!
A quick refresher of their education on why we are attending this march........
and the Country Bumpkins arrive at Southern Cross Station.
There were over 2,000 people gathered in front of the State Library to hear speakers and to march through the Melbourne streets..................

including this beautiful girl in her very relevant bib!
It was great to take my children, including 19 year old Rosie and her boyfriend, and show them that it is important to stand up for what you believe in.  I want my kids to grow up to be proactive about what they would like their world to be like.  After hearing the speakers talk about their concerns relating to Monsanto and GMO, we all marched around a large city block.
Buddy Boy was exhausted........
and Pumpkin was overwhelmed by the noise.........
but it was a great afternoon out.  I'm so glad I took them!!!!  We have had so many conversations about the march and how important real food is!
I am looking forward to more events later in the year:
  • July 4 - American Independence Day.  Moms Across America and Australia are taking a stand for clean green and healthy GM-free foods for families.
  • August 19 to 25 - Fair Food Week.  Australians will celebrate the diversity and abundance of local fresh food supplies that should be available to all.
  • September 14 - Food policy will be on the election agenda, with the Food Sovereignty Alliance launching the People's Food Plan for affordable, safe, secure and locally owned food supplies for all Australians.
  • October 16 - UN World Food Day.  This is expected to be another day of global action for freely available and labelled GM-free food and seed for all.
 Have you heard of Monsanto before?  Are you concerned about the future of our food?


purplepear said...

great Post. Like you I assume everyone knows about GM. We were curious to see if any of the marches attracted media attention. I didn't see any! We attended our small "march' here in Newcastle. Met with some great young people doing what they can. We had a seed swap and took a tour of the community garden. I think what you're doing with your children is wonderful. Education on these subjects is crucial.

Busy mum of 3 said...

I had heard of GM foods and the patenting of seeds etc, but I just hadn't heard of the company name Monsanto (They manage to keep their name out of mainstream media don't they) so I was pleased to read a more informative post on them, and their wicked ways!

I was suprised that there wasn't a protest march in my region (not to my knowledge anyway) because the Northern Rivers is full of alternative people and environmental activists, I'll keep my eyes and ears open for one next year.

Fiona from Arbordale Farm said...

I am so glad you wrote this post. And I am like you and assume this is something people just know about. I sometimes start conversations with people about these sorts of issues and you would think I am talking a different language.

Linda said...

Thanks Fiona!