On May 25 activists, farmers and consumers in 52 countries and 436 cities around the world united to March Against Monsanto. The grassroots Facebook campaign was started by Tami Monroe Canal who wanted to protect her two daughters. “I feel Monsanto threatens their generation’s health, fertility and longevity,” said Tami.
The messages at the marches ranged from exposing the influx of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) into our food supply to require labeling, to protecting the right of small farmers to grow crops, to challenging the unchecked corporate power of businesses like Monsanto. As Dr. Vandana Shiva said, “The March Against Monsanto is inspired by the love for freedom and democracy, the love for the earth, the soil, the seed.” Watch Dr. Shiva’s call for a march against Monsanto.
My colleague Saulo Araujo and I joined the March Against Monsanto on a rainy afternoon in downtown Boston. Over 350 people of different ages, including young children accompanied of their parents, braved the cold windy day. We marched from City Hall to the State House where we chanted for over an hour. Among the crowd there were people dressed up as bees, Franken-corn, or wearing biosafety cleanup suits. Saulo and I agreed that by the level of enthusiasm and the composition of the crowd, people are very aware of the problems caused by GMOs in general and Monsanto in specific to our food system.
We took breaks from chatting and waving our Via Campesina flag to wave to tourists traveling in buses and celebrate when drivers honked at us in agreement and support.
“Hey, hey. Ho, ho. Monsanto has to go,” the crowd chanted.
Our global partner the Via Campesina has been at the forefront in the struggle for food sovereignty which is no longer a tug of war between farmers and truculent government and corrupt dictators, but against transnational corporations like Monsanto. These companies control the largest share of commercial seeds including local varieties that were originally domesticated by rural women and indigenous people. Big agricultures’ patents on these seeds prevent small farmers from manipulating and saving seeds, a critical part of food production and biodiversity.
“Seeds are essential to human survival and should be part of the commons. But Monsanto has a different plan for us. They want to make a profit by selling an agricultural system that includes GMO seeds, herbicides and chemical fertilizers,” Saulo explained.
It is not surprising people decided to march against Monsanto. The company’s marketing strategies are robbing us of our future and health. For a world without hunger, we need to democratize the access to seeds, land and water. Millions of small farmers and urban dwellers are still unable to feed their families because our food policies are preventing them from having a plot of land and a decent salary to buy food.
Thinking about the everyday plight of families in the Global South – as well as communities in Detroit, Oakland and Dorchester, MA – we marched, proudly waving our Via banner.