Hartford will be joining more than 300 cities around the world in hosting a food revolution through protests and informational activities to take a stand against biotech giant, Monsanto, on Saturday, May 25. Hartford will be holding an informational rally to help foster awareness of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in our food chain. The event takes place at Turning Point Park at 135 Broad St. Activities will commence at 2 p.m., when most of the events begin worldwide.
Those attending the event in Hartford can expect to gain a bevy of information regarding the issue of GMOs. According to the March co-organizer Jennifer Tirado, rally organizers are hoping to use this event to “promote more mainstream awareness of GMOs, to apply more pressure for Pro-GMO-labeling legislation, and to help inform consumers about non-GMO food options, including growing their own organic food.”
The rally will take a more urgent tone after a Friday morning amendment by the House of Representatives on May 24 cast a shadow over a Senate-approved bill for labeling genetically engineered foods. Local food activists, farmers and families supporting the right to know what’s in their food have been celebrating since May 21 when the State Senate overwhelming approved a bill to require the labeling of genetically engineered food. The surprising swift House amendment increases the number of states required to trigger Connecticut’s labeling from three to five; two of which need to be near the state of Connecticut, with the population from all states totaling at least 25 million people. A “stand-alone provision” previously allowed Connecticut’s requirement to label genetically engineered foods on its own in 2016 if the three supporting states weren’t found by 2015, but the House scrapped that provision.
At the national level, on Thursday, the United States Senate overwhelmingly voted against an amendment to the farm bill, nixing a measure that would not have required labeling GMOs, but would have allowed states to decide if they wanted to do so.
“[I]n many other countries around the world, dozens and dozens of countries, people are able to look at the food that they are buying and determine through labeling whether or not that product contains genetically modified organisms,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), sponsor of the amendment, according to The Huffington Post.
While more than 3000 ingredients require labeling in our foods, Sanders noted the genetically modified (GM) ingredients do not. His state and now Connecticut have passed laws to require GM food labeling, but local leaders fear biotech corporations like Monsanto can sue on the grounds that “they are preempting federal authority.”
Some, like Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), the chair of the Agriculture Committee, continue to stress that the FDA has not scientifically concluded that there genetically modified foods are dangerous to our health, pointing to GM crops’ ability to resist disease, survive drought in developing countries and improve nutritional content. However, there is significant, growing debate about the long-term health (and environmental) effects of consuming GM foods.
Lead organizer and creator of the popular March Against Monsanto Facebook page Tami Monroe Canal, was inspired to start the movement to protect her two daughters. “I feel Monsanto threatens their generation’s health, fertility and longevity. I couldn’t sit by idly, waiting for someone else to do something,” she said in a press release.
A GMO results when genes from one species is inserted into another in order to obtain a desired trait. The Institute for Responsible Technology states that GM plants can “create toxins, react to weather differently, contain too much or too little nutrients, become diseased or malfunction and die.” Proteins within the plant may increase or decrease, foreign proteins may be created and gene function may change; the effects of consuming these new combinations are unknown. Scientific studies have linked GMOs linked to different cancers, inflammatory diseases, increased food allergies and other health problems.
Here’s a list of 65 Health Risks of GM Foods presented in the book Genetic Roulette by Jeffrey Smith, founder of the Institute for Responsible Technology.
According to Tiraddo, 80 percent of processed foods today contain GMOs. Soy, cotton, canola, sugar, beets and corn are the most commercialized GM crops in the U.S. Here’s a list for other sources of GMOs in foods from the Institute for Responsible Technology.
Monsanto is the largest, leading corporation producing GMOs.
“I’m going to lend some support, however modest, to the stand against the corporation (Monsanto) and its very apparent predatory ethic regarding our food supply and health,” said Gary Wuerth, of Rocky Hill, who will be attending the March against Monsanto in Hartford.
At this event, attendees may make their voices heard at a “Call Your Rep.” phone table, where they can express their concerns to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and their own state representatives. There will be a Free Seed Giveaway table, where participants may pick up heirloom seeds to grow at home; attendees may also bring their own seeds to trade and share with others. Toward the end of the event, those wishing to speak out further can make their voices heard at an open mic to share poetry or riff. Sen. Art Linares (R-Westbrook) will also be paying a visit to the event to speak.
There will also be live performances by local musicians and bands, like The Royal Din and Dizzy Fish, as well as local, organic vendor tables.
“This epic event is historic! A movement of the masses who are coming together – worldwide- for one united cause,” Imani Mamalution, of Mamalicious Market, told the Hartford Healthy Examiner. “It demonstrates the power of the people to be activated by the violation of one of our most basic human rights – access to real food. It is about truth accessed through our solidarity and a demonstration of our humanness in a world that continues to challenge that on every level.”