If you hate global biotech corporate beast Monsanto — and as well you should — nonprofit Food Democracy Now! has a clever way for you to fight back against the corporation.
Targeting three big investment firms — Fidelity, Vanguard and State Street – Food Democracy points out, “Fidelity alone owns more than $3.2 billion in Monsanto stock. In total, Fidelity manages more than $4.6 trillion in assets and more than 20 million customers in the U.S. – Are you one of them?”
Food Democracy Now!’s letter to managers and CEOs of the firms reads:
“I urgently request that you permanently remove Monsanto’s stock from investment portfolios under your management. In its 100-year history, Monsanto has proven itself to be one of the most destructive companies on the planet, regularly creating toxic chemical products that cause severe harm to human health and the environment.
As the manufacturers of Agent Orange, DDT, and PCBs, Monsanto’s corporate executives intentionally ignored the warning of their own scientists for decades regarding the harmful and even deadly effects these products had on their workers, communities where the chemicals were manufactured and even America’s veterans.”
In addition to calling for people to check whether their 401ks, IRAs and any mutual funds fund holdings in GMO companies, Food Democracy Now! and Natural News, Organic Consumers Association, Cornucopia, Green America, GMO Inside, Millions Against Monsanto, Babes Against Biotech, Food Babe, Hawaii GMO Justice Coalition, Institute for Responsible Technology, GMO Free USA and March Against Monsanto are organizing flash mob protests outside Fidelity headquarters in San Francisco, Boston, New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. May 9.
But if your opinion of anti-GMO activists is that they’re annoying health-hippie Chicken Littles freaking out despite little-to-no scientific evidence to support claims that GMOs are bad for our health, here are a few things to consider:
Although the FDA has said that genetically modified organisms are “substantially equivalent” to nonGMO crops, this is hardly comforting considering that the government relies on Monsanto’s own testing when evaluating for safety.
Explaining its regulatory process in this area, the FDA explains, “Generally, the developer identifies the distinguishing attributes of new genetic traits and assesses whether any new material that a person consumed in food made from the genetically engineered plants could be toxic or allergenic.”
This means that Monsanto tests its crops, and as long as no one drops dead immediately or breaks out in hives after eating them, they decide, “Hooray, this is safe!” even though no longitudinal studies have been conducted to evaluate long-term effects of GMOs on humans.
From the FDA, a little farther down: “FDA teams of scientists knowledgeable in genetic engineering, toxicology, chemistry, nutrition, and other scientific areas as needed carefully evaluate the safety assessments taking into account relevant data and information.”
To put it another way, “…relevant data and information that Monsanto gave us.”
And while we don’t know yet whether food from genetically modified seeds is not safe and will give you cancer, Monsanto is so awful that it doesn’t even matter. Given that the Obama Administration’s commitment to GMO labeling has been tepid at best, more of us should listen to the hippies and get involved.
The nicknamed “Monsanto Protection Act” that Obama signed last year “will effectively bar US federal courts from being able to halt the sale or planting of genetically engineered (GE) crops even if they failed to be approved by the government’s own weak approval process and no matter what the health or environmental consequences might be,” according to Greenpeace.
In an article for New Republic last month, Jason Zengerle wrote, “Beyond the realm of the symbolic, Obama’s food policies have followed the depressingly familiar pattern of so many of his other domestic initiatives. He has overpromised reforms, underestimated the strength of his opposition, and then flinched from real fights.”
Although the First Lady has been successful in some of her efforts, such as making school lunches more healthful, he points out:
“Even Michelle Obama, who has been the toughest food fighter in her husband’s administration, has been forced to compromise. When she launched the anti-childhood obesity ‘Let’s Move!’ campaign in early 2010, its main target was the food companies. In a speech that year to the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the first lady berated these companies for marketing unhealthy food to kids. ‘We need you all to step it up,’ she said. But when the industry pushed back against the prospect of new regulations—on both food content and marketing practices—the Let’s Move! campaign changed course.”
You’re likely aware that Monsanto is notorious for not only suing farmers who don’t buy their seeds when pollen from nearby genetically modified crops blows onto their farms and gets mixed in with their crops, but they even sue their own farmers for taking seeds from their plants and planting them rather than buying brand-new seeds from Monsanto, here are few more fun facts to help hammer the point home:
1. The company threatened a Tampa, Florida, Fox News affiliate in the late 1990s and eventually got two investigative reporters fired for daring to do a story about bovine growth hormone (BGH) in milk. After forcing 83 rewrites of their story, reporters Steve Wilson and Jane Akre refused to report the false and misleading information they were told to and were fired.
2. Monsanto aggressively targets anti-GMO activists, according to a report in German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung. “The distinguished GMO truth website GMWatch.org has also been relentlessly targeted with ‘cyber attacks’ since at least 2007, a disturbing trend that the site’s main editor is convinced originates from the biotechnology industry. As we reported back in 2012, some of the strongest attacks against the site came just weeks and days before the historic Proposition 37 vote in California, which would have mandated GMO labeling at the retail level.”
3. “Monsanto’s profit-driven policies have led to a ‘suicide economy’ in India,” author and physicist Vandana Shiva told Project Censored about the problem last year. Bitter Seeds, a documentary about how Monsanto’s inflation of cotton seed prices is ruining Indian farmers and other global effect of GMO seeds, won a humanitarian award in 2012.
4. It’s suspected that men working on sugar plantations in Central America have developed a rare form of kidney disease as the result of exposure to Monsanto pesticide Roundup, NPR reported last week. A similar epidemic of kidney disease among sugar plantation workers in Sri Lanka prompted their government to ban Glyphosate, the generic version of Roundup.
Bonus horror: SUPER WEEDS.
Now that Roundup resistance has spawned new troublesome weeds for farmers to contend with, Monsanto is pushing through a more toxic chemical despite widespread concerns.
“More icamba-tolerant crops (corn, cotton, canola) are all waiting in the wings,” Marcia Ishii-Eiteman wrote in a 2012 blog for the Pesticide Action Network. “If this new generation of GE crops is approved, then dicamba use will surge, just as it did with RoundUp. And we all know how well that didn’t work out. To the giant pesticide company, this chemical arms race is all part of the plan.”
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.