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When Brussels joined the global ‘March against Monsanto’
The concerns of those demonstrating covered a range of issues, many of which involve not only Monsanto but also other powerful biotech companies such as Syngenta, Bayer, Dow and more. Several people were dressed as bees, recalling the ongoing campaign to ban the use of harmful pesticides blamed for dramatic declines in bee populations across the world. The EU’s recently adopted 2-year ban on the use of certain pesticides (neonicotinoids) has been seen as a temporary victory in this area.
The cultivation and consumption of genetically modified crops (GMOs) was, of course, a central issue. Despite strong consumer opposition from the beginning, a number of GMO crops are currently being cultivated in Europe with the risks that this implies for health and crossover with non-GM crops. These include maize produced by Monsanto, Syngenta and Pioneer as well as the Amflora potato, modified to contain more starch. Further crops are in the process of being approved. These crops are generally engineered to either contain substances killing certain pests, or to resist the powerful, highly toxic pesticides/herbicides they are treated with and which then kill everything else but the crop itself. Just common sense would seem to suggest that neither of these things could be very good for the health of those consuming them – whether human or animal. Evidence is now building that this is indeed the case.
Another major concern of demonstrators is Monsanto’s use of what is called terminator technology which programs seeds to become infertile after one season thereby obliging the farmer to go back and buy new seeds every year. Combined with a growing number of patents on seeds of all kinds, some fear that this could lead to the effective monopolisation of the food chain by powerful multinationals. Particularly in the global south and developing countries where activists claim that undue pressure is being put on farmers to comply with the system.
Perhaps that is why this event was able to garner so much support so quickly. More than a political demonstration, it was a worldwide mobilisation against corporate greed, the relentless chemical poisoning of our health and environment, the insidious infiltration of GMOs into our daily lives, and socially and environmentally destructive business practices.
Encouraged by the unprecedented success of this first ‘March against Monsanto’ – organised exclusively through social media – the organisers are planning another global demonstration for 12 October 2013, World Food Day. Time to decide whether the safety and security of our food supply for the coming century lies, as the multinationals would have us believe in the increased use of genetic manipulation and the relentless poisoning of our environment, or if perhaps it’s time to stop and take stock and consider just how far we can push mother nature before she pushes back. The warning signs are already there.
* This is an opinion piece submitted by the author and does in no way constitute a Bulletin leader. Views expressed are those of the author alone.