Monoculture corn fields (farms) were part of my existence from the beginning. Field after field spanned the landscape of my Illinois home. In the small neighborhood I grew up in, they lined the backyards and became play places of discovery and imagination. I was taught to believe that farmers were the salt of the Earth, the pride of our nation; and the landscape which their fields created was the physical manifestation of the success of the hard working Americans that made our “way of life” possible. When I visit I still feel the sense of comfort the fields once offered with their strong green stalks and long, flowing leaves that make the few trees left standing in the backdrop visible and seem majestic.But recently, as my education breaks down what I once felt those cornfields meant for our society, the comfort is replaced with fear and anxiety for our future.
Although it may seem extreme to say now I see bad health, mass suicides, mass extinctions and a misuse of resources — it’s true. And I’m not alone. Over 2 million people in 52 countries and 436 towns and cities gathered on Saturday, May 25, for the March Against Monsanto — the corporation in control of close to 80 percent of the U.S.’s crops.
Part of the concern lies with the farmers who aren’t allowed to save their seeds because of Monsanto patents and must buy them each year along with the pesticides and fertilizers also made by Monsanto, specifically designed to work with the seeds they’ve created. Part of it is the species die-offs like with colony collapse disorder that have been tied to the chemicals used on GMO fields. Part of it is the loss of our agricultural heritage through the growing of only one type of genetically modified plant in a monoculture system. Part of it is how much of the corn is being used for livestock consumption and is not edible for humans. Part of it is the mass suicides in India after unknowing farmers entered into binding contracts that led to a new type of indentured servitude. These reasons — along with the negative health effects of generations eating vegetables lacking in nutritional value (but are full-up on genetics to fight chemicals) and others — are what have led millions to decide enough is enough.
The next, most crucial step is deciding what ACTION to take after realizing the “way of life” that has been fed to us (literally) is at the expense of our health and ecosystem. Large corporations like Monsanto have been running rampant on the world, gaining power, money and resources as they go, with the help of governments, and worst of all, us. The system isn’t working, and we need to create something new.
What I took away from the Fayetteville event where organizers estimate that over 200 citizens gathered in protest, is that people are ready to take action. They’re ready in NWA. They’re ready in Illinois, and they’re ready around the world.
The best way to do that, as Don Bennett of Tri Cycle Farms in Fayetteville pointed out, is to use the one resource that can affect them — money. The small farms and farmers that line NWA, and other technologies, can help make it easy. Visit localharvest.org to look up small farms in your area that are trying to do right by our environment and other humans. Download the app Buycott at www.buycott.com to scan barcodes to see if what you’re purchasing is benefiting the Koch Brothers or Monsanto — two large corporate entities that do not include the human aspect in their business planning, to say the least. Or even stop eating meat or cut back since feedlots are mainly sustained by GMO corn.
Whatever action you take, you’re not alone and transparency and change is possible if we put our resources into the right hands.