Activists Prepare to March Against Monsanto


By Rebekah Wilce, PR Watch

22 May 13

 

 

See Also: March Against Monsanto Planned for Over 30 Countries

 

n an advance that makes history, Vermont‘s House of Representatives passed a bill on May 10 requiring foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to be labeled. This is the furthest any such legislation has made it through the legislative process in the United States.

Vermont’s legislative session was due to end already, but negotiations over a tax bill have kept lawmakers in the capitol this week. With the Senate’s attention focused fiscally rather than on food, however, H.112 to label GMOs will have to wait to be taken up by the Senate in January 2014.

The bill would exempt animal products, including meat and dairy, even though livestock are often fed genetically engineered (GE) feed.

State Faces Threat of Monsanto Lawsuit

GMO labeling legislation has been stalled in the Vermont legislature for three years, in part because of a concern that biotechnology companies would sue the state if it passed. The concern seems justified, as Monsanto — the world’s largest GE seed company — reportedly threatened to do so last year.

According to Organic Consumers Association Executive Director Ronnie Cummins and Vermont farmer Will Allen, “Monsanto has used lawsuits or threats of lawsuits for 20 years to force unlabeled genetically engineered foods on the public, and to intimidate farmers into buying their genetically engineered seeds and hormones.”

GMO Labeling Bills Across the Country

California’s Prop 37 to label GMOs was narrowly defeated in 2012, as the Center for Media and Democracy reported. Afterwards, Jennifer Hatcher, senior vice president of government and public affairs for the Food Marketing Institute, who had previously said that Prop 37 “scared us to death,” said in an official statement, “This gives us hope that you can, with a well-funded, well-organized, well-executed campaign, defeat a ballot initiative and go directly to the voters. We hope we don’t have too many of them, because you can’t keep doing that over and over again . . .”

Contrary to industry hopes, however, similar bills have been introduced in Connecticut, Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico, Arizona, Illinois, and Iowa in 2013. Food and Water Watch and other organizations are encouraging supporters to petition for a national GE labeling law. The passage in the Vermont House of Representatives of that state’s long-sought labeling bill marks an important and historic step towards realizing eaters’ right to know whether or not foods contain GMOs.

Tens of Thousands to “March Against Monsanto” Worldwide Frustrated with Monsanto’s bullying of governments and farmers in the United States and abroad, tens of thousands of activists around the world will “March Against Monsanto” on Saturday, May 25, according to organizers.

Marches on six continents, in 36 countries, and in 47 U.S. states — totaling events in over 250 cities — are coordinated to occur simultaneously at 11am Pacific time. A Facebook page founded in February has been instrumental in organizing the events.

Goals of the march’s organizers include:

  • “Voting with your dollar by buying organic and boycotting Monsanto-owned companies that use GMOs in their products.
  • “Labeling of GMOs so that consumers can make those informed decisions easier.
  • “Repealing relevant provisions of the US’s ‘Monsanto Protection Act.
  • “Calling for further scientific research on the health effects of GMOs.
  • “Holding Monsanto executives and Monsanto-supporting politicians accountable through direct communication, grassroots journalism, social media, etc.
  • “Continuing to inform the public about Monsanto’s secrets.
  • “Taking to the streets to show the world and Monsanto that we won’t take these injustices quietly.”

In Madison, Wisconsin, where the Center for Media and Democracy is based, activists will march on the state capitol at 1pm Central time on Saturday, May 25.

 

How Monsanto Is Sabotaging Efforts to Label Genetically Modified Food


Inter Press Service / By Charlotte Silver

Lobbyists from the biotech industry are ardently opposing GMO labeling.
June 26, 2012  |

Photo Credit: illuminating9_11

As the 2012 Farm Bill continues to take shape in the halls of the United States Congress, the immense influence of corporate interests is on display.

On June 21 the United States Senate voted overwhelmingly against the Sanders Amendment that would have allowed states to pass legislation that required food and beverage products to label whether or not they contain genetically engineered ingredients.

The amendment, proposed by Independent Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, is particularly relevant as many states prepare to vote on a ballot initiatives that would require such labelling of genetically modified (GM) foods.

Lobbyists from the biotech industry have ardently opposed GMO labelling. These opponents argue that because food labelling has historically been handled by the Food and Drug Association (FDA), it is a federal issue and, therefore, individual states do not have the right to implement such legislation. Indeed, in the case of Vermont, Sanders’ home state, Monsanto successfully intimidated the state legislature from voting on a bill that would have required GMO labelling.

Patty Lovera, the assistant director of Food and Water Watch, explained that states planning to vote on GM labelling in November could face a legal fight to defend their right to enact such laws.

“However, this amendment would have taken this threat away,” Lovera told IPS.

In a move heralded by food advocates, Sanders introduced amendment 2310 on June 14 this year, after his own state legislature backed out of voting on the popular bill, H.722, also known as the Vermont Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act.

Vermont lawmakers allowed the bill to stall – and ultimately die – in the Vermont House Agriculture Committee in April, after a representative from biotech giant, Monsanto, threatened to sue the state if the bill passed.
Significantly, the Senate vote, 73-26, did not fall along partisan lines, with 28 Democrats voting against the Sanders Amendment.

Lovera emphasised that the powerful biotech lobby informs how politicians vote. “This doesn’t happen overnight, this is a result of years and years of lobbying and pressure from the biotech industry,” she said.

In a report published in November 2010, Food and Water Watch revealed that the largest food and agricultural biotechnology firms and trade associations spent a total of 572 million dollars on campaign contributions and lobbying over the course of ten years.

Importance of Labelling

The Senate vote comes amidst near global agreement that there is a need for GMO labelling.

Codex Alimentarius, the food safety arm of the United Nations, concluded last year after nearly 18 years of debate, that countries were free to label goods as containing genetically engineered ingredients and that labelling of genetically-modified organisms would indeed help inform consumers’ choices.

“GMO labels are a risk management measure to deal with any scientific uncertainty,” said Dr. Michael Hansen, a senior scientist with the Consumers Union, who has been a long-time advocate for mandatory testing and labelling of genetically engineered (GE) foods.

“Labelling is the only way to track unintended effects,” Hansen said. “How can you know what you are allergic to if you do not know you are eating GMO’s?”

In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Association’s hands-off approach to regulating genetically engineered foodstuffs runs contrary to international standards. Currently the U.S. is the only developed country that does not require safety testing for GE plants. However, the Codex Alimentarius instructs countries to conduct safety assessments of all GE plants.
According to testimony written by Dr. Hansen, “This means the U.S. cannot meet the global standards for safety assessment of GE foods. Consequently, countries that require food safety assessments for GE foods could block shipment of such GE foods from the U.S.”

Recent polls conducted by MSNBC and Thompson Reuters found that between 93 and 96 percent of the American public believe genetically engineered foods should be labeled as such.

California’s GMO labelling initiative collected close to one million signatures, doubling over the requisite 500,000 signatures to secure a place on the November ballot, and the FDA received over 850,000 letters in support of labelling GE food.

Voting as they did, the U.S. Senate did not in any way reflect the desires of their constituents or reflect the guidance of food experts.

Visit IPS news for fresh perspectives on development and globalization

Argentinian farmers suing Monsanto for ‘poisoning’


By Anne Sewell

Apr 12, 2012 in World
Monsanto is once again in the news. This time they and other corporations are being sued for allegedly “knowingly poisoning farmers” in Argentina.
Farmers from Argentina allege agri-giant Monsanto, together with Philip Morris and other U.S. tobacco companies, asked them to use chemicals on their crops. Said chemicals have allegedly caused “devastating birth defects.”

The farmers say the corporations were aware of the implications but have failed to sufficiently warn farmers.

The corporations thus were driven “by a desire for unwarranted economic gain and profit,” farmers say.

The suit was filed this week at New Castle County Court, Delaware and Monsanto, Philip Morris Cos, Philip Morris USA, Carolina Leaf Tobacco, Universal Corporationand others are said to have “wrongfully caused the parental and infant plaintiffs to be exposed to those chemicals and substances which they both knew, or should have known, would cause the infant offspring of the parental plaintiffs to be born with devastating birth defects.”

In a 55-page complaint filed with the court, it is alleged chemicals caused conditions to develop, including: “cerebral palsy, epilepsy, spina bifida, congenital heart defects, Down syndrome, missing fingers and blindness.”

The plaintiffs in the action are growers from mostly small and family-owned farms in the Misiones Provinceof Argentina.

They say they were asked to use pesticide and herbicide products produced by Monsanto and that these were proven to be poisonous.

Many of the farmers say they were forced to replace native tobacco crops with a variant that was favored by Philip Morris. This variant required more pesticides to harvest successfully. They were pushed to use Roundup, a Monsanto herbicide product. While the product was successful in killing the weeds, it apparently has terrible side effects due to the high concentration of the chemical glyphosate in the product.

The complaint claims: “Monsanto defendants, the Philip Morris defendants, and the Carolina Leaf defendants promoted the use of Roundup and other herbicides to tobacco farmers in Misiones even though they were on direct and explicit notice that at all relevant times farmers in Misiones, including the instant plaintiffs, lacked the necessary personal protective equipment and other safety knowledge and skills required to minimize harmful exposures to Roundup.”

Attorneys further argue that both Monsanto and Philip Morris “actively recommended and/or required that contracted tobacco farmers, including the instant plaintiffs, purchase excessive quantities of Roundup and other pesticides” but that they failed to recommend the necessary protective measures to combat health risks.

“The plaintiff tobacco farmers’ lack of training and instruction on the safe disposal of unused Roundup and other pesticides caused further exposure,” the complaint states. “Leftover pesticides were discarded in locations where they leached into the water supply.”

The suit is requesting financial compensation and punitive damages for “negligence, product liability, breach of warranty, ultra hazardous activity, aiding and abetting, willful and wanton misconduct and violations of Argentine laws”, according to the Courthouse News Service.

In a recent Digital Journal article, Monsanto threatened to sue the state of Vermont, U.S.A. if legislators approved a bill forcing the labeling of GMO products. Following this threat Vermont suspended voting on the bill.

Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/322845#ixzz1s0Z2igMN

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