Tens of thousands of activists are uniting in a global day of action to "take back the food supply," in a worldwide March Against Monsanto Saturday.
News of the event has gone viral as environmentalists and others opposed to the rampant spread of genetically modified (GM) crops have planned over 400 events in more than 45 countries. In the United States, actions in 47 states are slated to occur simultaneously.
"Our website is averaging over 40,000 visitors a day and our Facebook page has reached over 10,000,000 people in the last 7 days," the organizers wrote on their website Tuesday.
Tami Monroe Canal, who initiated the march, says she was inspired to start the movement to protect her two daughters. "I feel Monsanto threatens their generation's health, fertility and longevity. I couldn't sit by idly, waiting for someone else to do something."
The protesters are marching against the dangers of GM crops in addition to the "cronyism" which has enabled the biotech giant to dominate the global food supply.
"Monsanto has no intention of serving the people. They betray humanity, they betray life, they belie mother nature -- and they do so at the expense of all of us," Canal said in an online interview.
She adds that a large part of the problem is the "cronyism that exists between the government and Monsanto," specifically referencing Michael Taylor of the Food and Drug Administration and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas -- both of whom had longtime affiliations with the company.
On their website, the march organizers lay out their reasons for the fight:
-Research studies have shown that Monsanto’s genetically-modified foods can lead to serious health conditions such as the development of cancer tumors, infertility and birth defects.
-In the United States, the FDA, the agency tasked with ensuring food safety for the population, is steered by ex-Monsanto executives, and we feel that’s a questionable conflict of interests and explains the lack of government-led research on the long-term effects of GM products.
-Recently, the U.S. Congress and president collectively passed the nicknamed “Monsanto Protection Act” that, among other things, bans courts from halting the sale of Monsanto’s genetically-modified seeds.
-For too long, Monsanto has been the benefactor of corporate subsidies and political favoritism. Organic and small farmers suffer losses while Monsanto continues to forge its monopoly over the world’s food supply, including exclusive patenting rights over seeds and genetic makeup.
-Monsanto's GM seeds are harmful to the environment; for example, scientists have indicated they have contributed to Colony Collapse Disorder among the world's bee population.
Ahead of the march, activists worldwide have registered events and are speaking out about the importance of taking on "evil multinational corporations like Monsanto."
"The march against Monsanto is inspired by the love for freedom and democracy, the love for the Earth, the soil, the seed," said India's Dr. Vandana Shiva, Seed Freedom Movement pioneer, in a video promoting the action. "And it is our deep love for life on Earth in freedom that makes all of us march against Monsanto and we stand in solidarity with everyone."
"This dictatorship must end," she adds. "The March against Monsanto is a call to end the dictatorship over seeds, over life, over food and over our freedom."
Roberta Gogos, who organized the march in Athens, Greece, emphasized the vulnerability of austerity-impacted countries to industrial bullying.
"Monsanto is working very hard to overturn EU regulation on obligatory labeling (questionable whether it's really enforced in any case), and no doubt they will have their way in the end," she said. "Greece is in a precarious position right now, and Greece's farmers falling prey to the petrochemical giant is a very real possibility."
Similarly, Ecuadorian activist Josh Castro added that he was inspired to protect his country, with "the richest biodiversity in the world," from the devastating effect of monocultures and GM seeds.
"Ecuador is such a beautiful place," he said. "We will not allow this Garden of Eden to be compromised by evil multinational corporations like Monsanto."
Lauren McCauley is a staff writer with Common Dreams, where this article originally appeared.