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Worldwide Movement Against Monsanto Gaining Steam

Monsanto’s stocks have fallen following its GMO wheat debacle and the global March Against Monsanto.

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Investors drove down the price of Monsanto shares by 4 percent on May 31 as South Korea joined Japan in suspending imports of U.S. wheat after an unapproved strain of genetically modified wheat was discovered in a field in eastern Oregon.

Among the many concerns the March raises about Monsanto is the pervasiveness with which Monsanto products appear in foods we eat, according to a column on the Huffington Post.

While the March Against Monsanto and followup efforts are primarily focused on exposing the dangers of GMO food products and Monsanto’s toxic chemical history, some have also used the protest as an opportunity to expose the ties between corporations like Monsanto and the government. Perhaps the most glaring example of Monsanto’s hold on government is the fact that the US Food and Drug Administration, the government agency charged with protecting people against potentially dangerous products that corporations might produce, is run by ex-Monsanto executives. However, the GMO industry’s influences on the US government are more insidious still.

According to an analysis by the nonprofit, nonpartisan research group MapLight, dedicated to revealing money’s influence on politics, members of the US senate received $1,260,384 in campaign contributions from the PACs of key companies supporting the use of genetically engineered crops from January 2009 to March 2013.

Additionally, on May 23—just two days before the March Against Monsanto—the Senate defeated an amendment by Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont that sought to ensure states’ rights to enforce their own laws labeling GMO foods, by a vote of 27-71.

The New York Daily News reports that Sanders' primary goal was to protect states that want to label GMOs from facing lawsuits:

If the state of Vermont wants to go forward, I don't want to see us sued in a multimillion-dollar suit by a very powerful, wealthy corporation who says, well, you don't have the right to do it, it is a federal prerogative.

Monsanto has responded to calls for labeling with claims that it would be unfair and harm its business:

We oppose current initiatives to mandate labeling of ingredients developed from GM seeds in the absence of any demonstrated risks. Such mandatory labeling could imply that food products containing these ingredients are somehow inferior to their conventional or organic counterparts.

Following the March Against Monsanto, the Daily Kos and Credo launched a petition to demand the US Senate repeal the law that has been dubbed the Monsanto Protection Act. The petition has gathered more than a million signatures and counting.

The Monsanto Protection Act came to be when President Obama signed spending bill HR 933 into law in March, a bill primarily concerned with the threat of government shutdown. With HR 933 the president also signed in a piece of fine print located under Section 735, called the Farmer Assurance Provision. The provision bars federal courts from halting the sale or planting of GMO seeds.

Food Democracy Now's executive director Dave Murphy  told MSN the provision is “basically an ATM machine [and a] corporate handout to Monsanto." Murphy adds that every farmer and consumer is at risk.

The provision allows Monsanto to continue using GE seeds in farms across America and was written in collaboration with some of Monsanto’s representatives. It allows Monsanto and other large corporations to ignore existing food safety rules, and continue selling genetically modified seeds even if a court blocks them from doing so.

The March Against Monsanto has spurred additional efforts, including a July 4 Moms Across America March on main streets throughout the US to label GMOs. The upcoming march is organized by Occupy Monsanto, whose stated mission is “empowering citizens of the world to take action against Monsanto and its enablers like the FDA, USDA, EPA, GMA, BIO, and the processed food companies that use Monsanto's products.”