On Saturday, May 25, approximately 200 people lined all four corners of the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) and 2nd Street in Long Beach’s representation of March Against Monsanto. The group ranged in age from young children to the elderly also crossing racial, cultural and economic lines to share their common concerns regarding the Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO”s) in the US food supply. Even a few dogs came along.
The group started out behind the Whole Foods Market earlier in the day. There they gathered with signs and discussed plans. Wayne Marchyshyn, media representative from Occupy Long Beach helped them organize.
When asked about the reason for protesting against Monsanto, Marchyshyn answered, “People are concerned about what is in their food. Parents in particular are worried about what they are feeding their children. Parents come home from work and have to feed their children. They need to use shortcuts like processed foods, but what is in those foods can be dangerous. It contains a lot of corn and soy and those crops are mostly grown from GMO seeds.”
When asked why he thought Monsanto was so strongly against labeling of products that contain GMO’s, he said. “They’re afraid that if people know which products contain GMO’s they won’t buy them.”
There were indeed many families with children present. It was interesting to note that some of the older children not only carried their own signs, but knew what the march and the signs were about. Though the current objective is to have GMO foods labeled so that consumers have an informed choice, there is great concern that existing GMO crops may affect future crops for generations to come even after they are no longer planted by spreading their modified genetics. Their affect on the honey bee population is also and issue.
Shortly before the beginning of the march, the group crossed the N. Marina Dr. and stood along the sidewalk of N. Marina Dr. holding their signs carrying such slogans as “Monsanto Sux” and “GMO Hell NO!”
The marchers and their signs provoked strong reactions from the drivers passing on N. Marina Dr. While one shouted “Grow up!” many others honked and shouted in support.
When 1 p. m. arrived, protestors crossed the street to the Whole Foods parking lot. As they passed the taco restaurant across from the store, one of its employees came out and shouted “No to GMO” until the group had passed.
The group then marched to the corner of PCH and 2nd Street and took stands on all four corners. From time to time members of the crowd crossed the street displaying their signs. As happened on Marina Dr.. drivers enthusiastically honked their horns and shouted in support.
The march in Long Beach was part of the worldwide March Against Monsanto that occurred on March 25. According to the Associated Press, more than two million people participated. Marches were held in 436 cities in 53 countries.
As with the Civil Rights Movement and the Peace Movement, American citizens have taken to the streets to bring attention to their cause when the government refuses to listen to their concerns. There have been no long term studies regarding how GMO’s can affect health or the environment. The Food and Drug Administration does not require them for this type of product. Since the passage of the Monsanto Protection Act, companies cannot be held responsible for any harms their products cause. In addition, the United States Senate has rejected an amendment to the farm bill that would have allowed states to make their own decisions on whether or not to require labeling of products containing GMO’s.
Thanks to Justin Vigardt of Justin Paul Photography for additional photos.