As shareholders of the agrichemical giant Monsanto gather in St. Louis, Missouri for their annual meeting on Friday, they will be met by a coalition of doctors, concerned parents, and food and environmental safety advocates delivering a simple message: "You're making us sick."
At issue are the company's genetically modified crops and pesticides, including the herbicide Roundup—whose key ingredient glyphosate has been tied by researchers to a host of human health problems, from Parkinson's to cancer to autism.
"We're bringing message that glyphosate and genetically-modified foods have never been thoroughly safety tested for human consumption," Katherine Paul of the Organic Consumers Association told Common Dreams.
Inside the shareholders' meeting, the coalition intends to present a proposal for greater corporate accountability. Outside the meeting, advocates plan to hold a mid-day memorial to "victims of Monsanto's products."
"Numerous scientific studies show, and Moms see, that GMOs and related chemicals are connected to our children's skyrocketing health issues," said Zen Honeycutt, founder, Moms Across America, in a press statement. "Taking the first step in being responsible and having a pediatrician on their board makes sense for Monsanto Shareholders and for our children and the future of our country."
Monsanto has long been a target of world-wide protests for its role in spreading the agro-industrial model, which critics say undermines peasants and farmworkers while increasing food insecurity, environmental destruction, and climate change.
Protesters plan to highlight the impact the Monsanto has in the United States, where it is the country's third most hated company, according to a Harris poll last year.
According to Paul, federal authorities play a key role in allowing the company to avoid tough regulations despite serious questions about the safety of their products and practices. "We are also sending a message to the Food and Drug Administration to, at the very least, label GMO foods," said Paul. "Furthermore, it is time to ban Roundup."
"We go back to the previous examples of DDT and Agent Orange, where corporate America and the federal government told Americans they were perfectly safe until proof they they weren't safe came to light. But by that time, it was already too late for a lot of people."
Reports and commentary on the protest will be posted to Twitter throughout the day: