Saturday May 23rd marked the third year of March on Monsanto across the globe. I was lucky enough to be a part of this movement in the beautiful city of Orlando, Florida. The march started at 2pm in front of city hall in downtown Orlando. In front of city hall, there were protestors lined up on the street with picket signs and crazy outfits. There were a plethora of signs that read, “Hell No Monsanto”, “I’m a GMO free kid”, “GMO free is me”, “Save our pollinators”, etc. Personally, I brought two signs, one of a butterfly and the other of a bee. The butterfly sign read, “Save the butterfly, fly free, GMO free”, and my bee sign said, “GMO free makes a happy bee!” We marched from city hall to Lake Eola and back. Business owners and patrons alike cheered, honked, some gave confused looks and others took the time to ask more about the movement we were a part of. Before we go further, I know many of you may be as lost about this issue as some of these patrons. You may be asking yourself, what are GMO’s and what is all the hype about them? GMO, or genetically modified organism, refer to seeds of plants that have been tampered with through gene splicing. GMO’s are not necessarily horrible or the makings of evil corporations. One example is genetically modified rice where vitamin A has been spliced in and is also referred to as, “golden rice”. Traditional white rice, which is a staple to many people’s diets worldwide, lacks this necessary nutrient. Vitamin A deficiencies for children and pregnant women can cause irreversible blindness and in some cases, even death. Although golden rice is good from a humanitarian standpoint, it has not been on the market long enough for us to know the possible consequences that golden rice has on the human body and that’s where the hype comes from. Some people believe that we are human science experiments to the producers of these GM products. Feel free to check out, goldenrice.org, for more information regarding this GM product.
Although I am fearful of what GMO’s may do to the human body, my real issue stands with Monsanto Company Inc. Which is why my cousin and I made our way to the March On Monsanto rally which I might add had over 250 locations around the globe participate in. This company was founded in St. Louis, Missouri, and was originally involved in the food additive industry with artificial flavorings such as vanillin and later made its way into the industrial chemical, plastic, insecticide and even artificial growth hormone industries. More recently, Monsanto has capitalized on the GM seed industry and distributing Roundup. So what makes this corporation so “dirty”? For starters, according to the World Health Organization report in 2015, glyphosate or Roundup, was found to be carcinogenic when exposed to human beings. Additionally, Roundup has not been thoroughly tested by the USDA and has still found its way to our stores and sprayed by millions of consumers. Monsanto has no intentions of pulling this harmful chemical off the shelves or to change its chemical content. The spraying can cause damage to soil quality and can make its way into waterways harming aquatic ecosystems. This herbicide is also partially responsible for the dying off of vast numbers of vital crop pollinators. These pollinators include honey bees and lady bugs which ensure that plants fruit or seed.
Here’s a scenario for you. Say your name is farmer John and you own a small cornfield in Nebraska. You use this cornfield to support your children, your wife and your extended family. One day, a corn seed that belongs to Monsanto makes its way into your farm and grows into a new cornstalk. According to Monsanto, this cornfield now belongs to them, your field is LEGALLY taken away from you and your livelihood is forever destroyed. Monsanto is known for taking away small farms from people because of occurrences such as this.
Finally, as a consumer at the grocery store you deserve the right to know 1) What is in your food and 2) Where your food came from. As of right now, it is not required in the United States for labeling of GMO products. Whether you care about the source of your produce or not, there are people out there who would like to know what they are feeding their families and deserve to know as they are paying for that produce to be on the shelf in the first place! We DO NOT know the impact that GMO’s can have on our bodies and until we know if their harmless or not, we as the BUYER have a right to know what is in our food. In the meantime, educate yourself about GMO’s, support local/organic farmers, grow your own food and stand up for what you believe in! If you believe that labeling of GMO products should be out there, write your representatives and come out to support rallies such as March on Monsanto! You have a voice, USE IT.
Also did I mention that in 2009 that Monsanto tried to sue Germany for putting a ban on GM corn? Pretty ridiculous if you ask me. Since when is it ok for a corporation to sue another country over the food that goes into our bodies. It’s time for us to let this company know that we have the power as the consumer to have this choice, NOT big business.
-Kaila Rose Varano
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