Saturday, May 25, the March Against Monsanto will occur in 400 locations in 50 countries. One of these marches will be held in Long Beach.
The march will begin at 1 p. m. behind the Whole Foods Market located at 6550 E. Pacific Coast Hwy., Long Beach, 90803. Those wishing to participate in sign painting should arrive at noon. It is advisable to wear sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat and to bring a bottle of water.
The purpose of the march is to protest the use of genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) by agriculture and to raise awareness of the need to label these foods so that consumers may choose whether or not to eat them.
Protestors have cause for concern. Studies have shown that eating GMO’s may be unhealthy. A study in France showed that rats fed on GMO corn grew enormous tumors and 70% of the female rats died. Others show that the flower pollen from GMO plants is the primary cause of the severe reduction of honeybees in the US. Some crops such as almonds, apples and blueberries receive most of their pollination from bees. The reduction of the bee population affects the production of these crops.
Around the world, 40 countries have required labeling or outright ban GMO’s, yet the US does not require producers of these foods to allow the consumer an informed choice through labeling. In fact, they seem to be fighting it vigorously.
Last Thursday, the United States Senate voted 71 to 27 against an amendment to the farm bill that would have allowed states to decide whether or not they wanted labeling for GMO foods. According to Agriculture Committee chair Sen. Debbie Stabenow, the measure was not germane to the farm bill. She expressed belief that the FDA’s science-based process to determine what should appear on food labels.
This is the second blow in two months that the Federal government has dealt to advocates of food safety. In March, President Obama signed what has come to be known as the Monsanto Protection Act. This prevents companies such as Monsanto from being liable if their products are eventually proven to be harmful.
In 2012 concerned Californians placed Prop. 37 on November ballot. The proposition required not an end to GMO’s, but simply that GMO foods be labeled. Monsanto and other companies in agribusiness spent $45 million in advertising in order to defeat it in the election. They only succeeded doing so by a small margin, less than 400,000 votes out of more than 12,000,000,000.
In December of 2000, Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant was interviewed by NOVA, the PBS television show. At that time, Grant defended the use of Biotechnology, or BT, as it is referred to in the interview. When asked about safety issues, such as allergens, Grant states that Monsanto’s products had been extensively tested, more widely so than any other products that had come before them. When asked about labeling, Grant states that in the U.K where labeling is required it has had very little impact the sale of those products.
This begs a question. If the GMO food is safe and labeling does not significantly impact sales, why fight so hard to prevent labeling?