Occupy vs. Monsanto: Activists, Farmers Fight the Corporation They Fear Will Take Over All America's Crops
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During the hearing, farmers and food activists who had come in solidarity with the plaintiffs discussed the case and the fight against genetically modified foods over the human microphone.
“Eating genetically modified foods is consuming the food of the corporatocracy,” said farmer and permaculture activist Andrew Faust, addressing the crowd assembled at Folely Square.
Many proponents of genetically modified foods claim that GM foods are the only way to produce high enough yields to feed the world’s growing population. However, several studies prove there is no difference between the yield of a GM crop and that of an organic crop. In fact, through minimizing costs by reducing labor to maximize profit and production, GM crops have less oversight and much higher rates of mass contamination and food recalls.
“Farming is a way of reclaiming our identity to combat a system that has nothing to do with the well being of the people,” continued Faust, as the crowd echoed back his words.
If Monsanto ever reached a point that it had a complete monopoly over the seed industry, organic food, farms and farmers would no longer exist. All previously natural foods would be genetically modified, meaning that the original source of all food would be in a laboratory, rather than in nature. Consumers would have no choice as to whether or not they want to expose themselves and their children to foods created through biotechnology.
“The seed is the foundation of civilization and of democracy,” David Murphy of Food Democracy Now, one of the plaintiffs in the case, told me later. “If Monsanto continues its monopoly, every citizen in the United States and on the planet could lose their basic right to have food grown in the way in which they choose.”
Photo credit: Anna Lekas Miller
In places like Iowa, where David Murphy is from, genetically modified crops, and their pollen, are inescapable. The Great Plains are covered with corn and soybean fields, and with Monsanto owning 88 percent of all corn seed and 93 percent of all soybean seed, any organic farmer in their immediate vicinity runs an enormous risk of genetic contamination and lawsuits. If Monsanto continues its practices unchecked, this could be one of the first places where both the organic crop and the organic farmer become extinct.
“The reality is, organic farmers want absolutely nothing to do with Monsanto,” Gerritsen told me. “We don’t want their seed, we don’t want their trespass and contamination, and we certainly do not want a lawsuit when we have done nothing wrong and are innocent victims.”
On March 5th, the Manhattan Federal District Court will announce its decision to go forward or to dismiss the case. Regardless of Judge Buchwald’s decision, OSGATA and the plaintiffs plan to continue their legal battle against Monsanto.