On May 24, Northwest Arkansans will join millions of activists from around the world when they once again March Against Monsanto, calling for the permanent boycott of Genetically Modified Organisms and other harmful agro-chemicals, like so many countries have done already.
Marches will occur on six continents, in 52 countries, with events in more than 400 cities. In the U.S., marches are slated to occur in 47 states. A comprehensive list of marches can be accessed at www.march-against-monsanto.com.
In Fayetteville, residents and concerned citizens will hold their second annual March Against Monsanto at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 24, at the Fayetteville Town Center on the square. Last year’s march became one of the largest in Fayetteville in more than seven years, with hundreds in attendance to show their support for legislation and government action to end harmful farming practices. This year is expected to be even larger, with local musicians and Jacob Holloway, the libertarian candidate for 2014 Arkansas Secretary of State, as guest speaker. Participants will arrive at the Town Center and after a brief introduction and informational session, will march to support their cause.
MAM supports a sustainable food production system. GMO opponents say the products are not adequately monitored to ensure public safety. Long term, independent, peer reviewed studies were not conducted before GMOs were introduced for human or animal consumption. In the U.S., the revolving door between Monsanto employees, government positions, and regulatory authorities has led to key Monsanto figures occupying positions of power at the FDA and EPA.
Monsanto has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to obstruct all labeling attempts; they also suppress any research containing results not in their favor. The scientifically established health risks include, but are not limited to: organ damage, sterility, infant mortality, birth defects, auto-immune conditions, allergies and increased cancer risks. GMOs have been partially banned by Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Japan, Luxembourg, Madeira, New Zealand, Peru, South America, Russia, France, Switzerland and Costa Rico, and are currently labeled in 62 countries. Despite this, factory farm animals throughout the world are still fed GMOs.
Roberta Gogos, organizer for Athens, Greece, addressed the importance of the marches in austerity-impacted Europe. “Monsanto is working very hard to overturn EU regulation on obligatory labeling where enforcement is already lax. Greece is in a precarious position right now, and Greece’s farmers are positioned to follow the same perilous fate as farmers in countries such as Colombia and Mexico.”
Josh Castro, organizer for the march in Quito, Ecuador, observes, “Ecuador is such a beautiful place, with the richest biodiversity in the world. We will not allow this Garden of Eden to be compromised by the destructive practices of multinational corporations like Monsanto. Biotechnology is not the solution to world hunger. Agroecology is. Monsanto’s harmful practices are causing soil infertility, mono-cropping, loss of biodiversity, habitat destruction, and contributing to beehive collapse. GMO crops cross pollinate with traditional crops, risking peasant farmers’ livelihood.”
MAM says that in India more than 250,000 farmers have committed suicide after Monsanto’s Bt cotton seeds did not perform as promised. Farmers, left in desperate poverty, are opting to free their families of debt by drinking Monsanto pesticide, thereby ending their lives. Many farmers in other countries are also stripped of their livelihood as a result of false promises, seed patenting and meticulous legal action on the part of Monsanto and other big-ag interests. In many parts of Africa, farmers and their communities are left to choose between starving or eating GMOs.
An “Open Letter from World Scientists to All Governments Concerning Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs),” http://www.i-sis.org.uk/list.php, signed by 828 scientists from 84 countries, detailed concern regarding GMOs coupled with a call for immediate 5 year suspension of GMO crops in order to conduct “a comprehensive public inquiry of agriculture and food security for all.”