The self-named March Against Monsanto held demonstrations Saturday in cities around the US and in other countries. These seems to be more an anti-GMO demonstration than anything else, using Monsanto as a symbol for their non-scientific views about GMO crops.
The Associated Press quotes organizers as saying there were demonstrations in 52 countries and 436 cities, although there does not seem to be any accurate measure of turnout. Organizers claim that two million protesters turned out, but this has not been verified.
The blogs of Discover Magazine called this a cartoonish march against Monsanto and Rachel Ludwick wrote a sober column explaining some of the valuable products companies like Monsanto actually produce.
Why were they marching? Their Why Do We March document does not stand up very well to factual scrutiny. Its conspiracy theory claims seem to indicate more sloganeering than careful thought. Here is what we found.
Research studies have shown that Monsanto’s genetically-modified foods can lead to serious health conditions such as the development of cancer tumors, infertility and birth defects.
Actually there aren’t any such studies. Seralini’s discredited study claims the GMO crops (and maybe glyphosate we think) cause rat tumors. The European Food Safety Association and studies from 6 nations have concluded that the study was inadequately designed and reported and that even after they requested further information, Seralini did not provide it. Six French Science Academies concurred. Seralini is mostly guilty of serious animal cruelty for allowing rats to continue to live with tumors the size of the rat’s body.
In the United States, the FDA, the agency tasked with ensuring food safety for the population, is steered by ex-Monsanto executives, and we feel that’s a questionable conflict of interests and explains the lack of government-led research on the long-term effects of GM products.
FDA Commissioner Michael Taylor has had a substantial career outside of Monsanto both before and after the 4 years he spent there as shown by his Wikipedia bio. And he recused himself from decisions for a year after joining the FDA from Monsanto.
Recently, the U.S. Congress and president collectively passed the nicknamed “Monsanto Protection Act” that, among other things, bans courts from halting the sale of Monsanto’s genetically-modified seeds.
Actually this just isn’t accurate. This law only stays decisions until the science can be examined by the USDA. We wrote about this extensively for Huliq. And it expires in 6 months anyway.
For too long, Monsanto has been the benefactor of corporate subsidies and political favoritism. Organic and small farmers suffer losses while Monsanto continues to forge its monopoly over the world’s food supply, including exclusive patenting rights over seeds and genetic makeup.
Lots of companies have patented their seeds, and this has been the case long before biotech seeds were created. Organic farming can be profitable in the long term according to a recent Agronomy Journal study although it may actually have a larger carbon footprint than conventional farming.
Monsanto’s GM seeds are harmful to the environment; for example, scientists have indicated they have contributed to Colony Collapse Disorder among the world’s bee population.
The general consensus about colony collapse disorder seems to be a combination of the use of neonicotinoid pesticides, parasites and viruses. There is no indication that any GM crops have affected bees or humans.
They also suggest Calling for further scientific research on the health effects of GMOs, apparently not aware of over 600 peer-reviewed studies showing that GM crops are perfectly safe.
Voting with your dollar by buying organic and boycotting Monsanto-owned companies that use GMOs in their products.
You can buy organic if you want to spend the money. Organic crops are nutritionally equivalent and have about the same pesticide residues as conventional crops.
Labeling of GMOs so that consumers can make those informed decisions easier. There is no need to label GMOs. Just buy organic. Of course you are paying more for the same foods.
It seems pretty clear that this “march” is about accusations rather than rational discourse, and if a march has been organized on such a scale there must be substantial financial support behind it, most likely from the organic foods industry as we see from the list of supporters of GMO Free CT.
And what we did not see among these protesters were very many scientists: former anti-GMO activist and science writer Mark Lynas has called this an “anti-science movement.”