OWS Stands With Farmers, Says Enough! to Monsanto

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Common Dreams

OWS Stands With Farmers, Says Enough! to Monsanto

Movement is calling for protests to support 60 family farmers, small seed businesses, organizations challenging Monsanto's patents on genetically modified seed

by
Common Dreams staff

The Occupy Wall Street movement has highlighted the tremendous corporate greed and power that has benefited the 1%.

One company helping the 1% is Monsanto. Food Democracy Now! writes that:

Monsanto’s seed monopoly has grown so powerful that they control the genetics of nearly 90% of five major commodity crops including corn, soybeans, cotton, canola and sugar beets.

Monsanto's genetically modified seed can contaminate non-gmo fields allowing the company to sue for seed theft. Food Democracy Now! continues:

In many cases farmers are forced to stop growing certain crops to avoid genetic contamination and potential lawsuits. Between 1997 and 2010, Monsanto admits to filing 144 lawsuits against America’s family farmers, while settling another 700 out of court for undisclosed amounts. Due to these aggressive lawsuits, Monsanto has created an atmosphere of fear in rural America and driven dozens of farmers into bankruptcy.

Today, the Occupy movement is seizing the moment to highlight this corporate power.

The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) writes:

On January 23, over 20,000 people poured into the streets of Berlin to say that they have had enough of industrial agriculture. The demands made in Germany can be heard all over the world starting with fair treatment of farmers and consumers, safe food, an end to food speculation and a respect for nature and the welfare of animals.

[Today], in New York City, the Occupy Wall Street movement is calling for protests to support 60 family farmers, small and family-owned seed businesses, and agricultural organizations that are challenging Monsanto's patents on genetically modified seed in federal court.

Like the Germans, it time for us to say, “We’ve had enough!” of Monsanto’s agriculture. From super weeds to pest resistance in corn, genetically modified seeds have failed. Now Monsanto is turning to even more dangerous products with new varieties that will only increase the amount of herbicides in the environment.

At the heart of industrial agriculture is a long running conflict between corporations and farmers on who will control food production. Occupy Wall Street has come out on the side of farmers and all who eat to say, “We’ve had enough!”

Writing on the Care2, Beth Buczynski adds this background:

On January 31st, family farmers from across the county will take part in the first phase of the OSGATA et al. v. Monsanto court case filed to protect farmers from genetic trespass by Monsanto’s genetically modified (GMO) seed, which can contaminate organic and non-GMO farmers’ crops and open them up to abusive lawsuits.

As a result of aggressive lawsuits against farmers with contaminated crops, Monsanto has created an atmosphere of fear in rural America and driven dozens of farmers into bankruptcy.

But farmers are fighting back! The Federal District Court judge has agreed to hear oral arguments in this landmark case to decide whether or not this case will move forward.

Occupy Wall Street Food Justice, Occupy Big Food and Food Democracy Now! will assemble in solidarity with farmers on the front lines of the struggle against corporate domination of our food system.

Live stream can be seen here:

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A current petition at Signon.org urges President Obama to end FDA ties to Monsanto.

The Washington Post reports:

In 2009, President Obama appointed Michael Taylor as a senior adviser for the FDA. Consumer groups protested the appointment because Taylor had formerly served as a vice president for Monsanto, the controversial agricultural multinational at the forefront of genetically modified food.A two-year-old Food and Drug Administration appointment is stirring up online protests once more.

In 2009, President Obama appointed Michael Taylor as a senior adviser for the FDA. Consumer groups protested the appointment because Taylor had formerly served as a vice president for Monsanto, the controversial agricultural multinational at the forefront of genetically modified food.

The petition adds that:

Taylor was in charge of policy for Monsanto's now-discredited GM bovine growth hormone (rBGH), which is opposed by many medical and hospital organizations. It was Michael Taylor who pursued a policy that milk from rBGH-treated cows should not be labeled with disclosures. Michael Taylor and Monsanto do not belong in our government.

Frederick Ravid, who began the petition, writes:

This unthinkable linkage between food safety and corporate interests that have little regard for the public health must be stopped. This example of a "fox watching the henhouse" is inexcusable. President Obama must reverse this unimaginably dangerous policy and isolate the FDA from corporate influence.

Last year, Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers Association wrote more on Monsanto's influence on the Obama White House:

Obama's Administration, like the Bush and Clinton Administrations before him, has become a literal "revolving door" for Monsanto operatives. Obama has not come though on his 2008 campaign promise to label GMOs. His unilateral approval of Monsanto's genetically engineered alfalfa, overruling the federal courts, scientists, and the organic community, offers the final proof: don't hold your breath for this man to do anything that might offend Monsanto or Corporate America.

Obama's Administration, like the Bush and Clinton Administrations before him, has become a literal "revolving door" for Monsanto operatives. President Obama stated on the campaign trail in 2007-2008 that agribusiness cannot be trusted with the regulatory powers of government.

But, starting with his choice for USDA Secretary, the pro-biotech former governor of Iowa, Tom Vilsack, President Obama has let Monsanto and the biotech industry know they'll have plenty of friends and supporters within his administration. President Obama has taken his team of food and farming leaders directly from the biotech companies and their lobbying, research, and philanthropic arms:

Michael Taylor, former Monsanto Vice President, is now the FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods. Roger Beachy, former director of the Monsanto-funded Danforth Plant Science Center, is now the director of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Islam Siddiqui, Vice President of the Monsanto and Dupont-funded pesticide-promoting lobbying group, CropLife, is now the Agriculture Negotiator for the US Trade Representative. Rajiv Shah former agricultural-development director for the pro-biotech Gates Foundation (a frequent Monsanto partner), served as Obama's USDA Under-Secretary for Research Education and Economics and Chief Scientist and is now head of USAID. Elena Kagan, who, as President Obama's Solicitor General, took Monsanto's side against organic farmers in the Roundup Ready alfalfa case, is now on the Supreme Court. Ramona Romero, corporate counsel to DuPont, has been nominated by President Obama to serve as General Counsel for the USDA.

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