A Saturday Fighting GMOs
Leads To Zombieland
Top 13 contributors to defeating California’s Prop. 37
Monsanto — $7.1 million
E.I. Dupont De Nemours & Co. — $4.9 million
Pepsico, Inc. — $2.1 million
DOW Agrisciences — $2 million
Bayer Cropscience — $2 million
BASF Plant Science — $2 million
Syngenta Corporation — $2 million
Kraft Foods Global — $1.9 million
Coca-Cola North America — $1.4 million
Nestle USA — $1.3 million
Conagra Foods — $1.1 million
General Mills — $1.1 million
Kellogg Company — $790,000
By Chet Molandes
Special For Modern Times Magazine
Oct. 29, 2012 — At 1 p.m. on a sunny warm day in front of the Burton Barr Library in downtown Phoenix, I had the pleasure of meeting up with a couple of my friends and fellow Phoenix activists as well as a couple more new faces I had not met before.
New faces are always welcomed when you are trying to foment change.
Everyone is welcome because being an activist in the heart of a republican stronghold like Phoenix, Arizona is no place for the weak in spirit. In the short time I have been an activist in this city, I have already seen many fall by the wayside and give up the fight. But there are a few of us that struggle on, against all odds, to bring the message of sanity and progress to this city.
Saturday, seven brave souls suited up in an effort to spread the message of the possible health hazards of GMOs and the need for labeling of GMO food products, as well as supporting our fellow activists in California working to pass Proposition 37. If passed, Proposition 37 would require everyone — and especially huge corporations that use GMOs — to label all products containing ingredients grown from genetically modified crops. Right now, the most common genetically modified crop is corn, which is, of course, a staple of processed food products like breakfast cereals.
The European Union, China, Japan and Russia all have labeling requirements similar to what Proposition 37 would mandate.
The Kellogg Company has spent at least $790,000 trying to stop Proposition 37. In total, agri-business has raised more than $43 million to fight simple labeling requirements for food products that contain GMOs — led by Monsanto’s $7 million and Dupont’s $4.9 million. But since Kellogg’s products are in the pantry of almost every American, the company has become a target of those concerned that modified crops have not been adequately tested.
Genetically modified, plant-based ingredients as well as the plants themselves, are an unknown and undetermined danger to the health and well-being of every human on this planet. I say this not to be dramatic, but because as of yet no definitive long-term testing by any agency outside of and not paid for with money from the huge corporations like Monsanto and others has been done. Simply, no studies have been done that have definitively proven the safety of genetically modified seed and food grown from that seed to be safe for human consumption.
So, Saturday, some of us donned Dupont white chemical haz-mat suits and hospital masks to illustrate the possible biological health hazards of GMOs (genetically modified organisms) to those that would see and speak with us.
Then, we took up our protest signs and began our march through the streets of Phoenix. First, to the Downtown Farmers Market where we were met with smiles and greetings. Even as the merchants were closing things up, we were still able to pass out fliers and talk to folks about the possible hazards of GMOs and the need for labeling. Then we marched over to the nearby ASU Phoenix Campus and met up with a friendly campus police officer who directed us to the annual Zombie Walk event. We all agreed that was a great idea, so we continued our march.
I mean, where better to symbolically wage a battle against corporate over-reaching in the face of an ill-informed public than at a “Zombieland?”
As we walked, we continued to pass out literature and spread the message of the need for the labeling of all GMO foods to everyone we met who happened to be walking down the sidewalk or waiting for a bus.
We eventually arrived at Zombie Walk and continued to pass out literature and educate the public on the possible hazards of modified food and the need for labeling. I spoke with many people who agreed that it is our right as American citizens to know what is in the food we eat, feed to our children, and spend our hard-earned money buying at the grocery store.
Our mission was almost complete before we were approached by one of the Zombie Walk event staff and told we could not be inside the boundary of Zombie Walk passing out fliers unless we had a permit. I smilingly complied at the irony of the situation, gave the gentleman one of my few remaining fliers, and headed towards the gate. I was followed shortly there afterwards by the rest of our brave squad.
We had succeeded in our mission of distributing all of our fliers, educating and raising the awareness of the public about the possible hazards of GMO foods and the need for labeling. We played our part in the continuing struggle to bring about a better America and a better world.
There were not thousands of us — or even hundreds of us — we were but a peaceful few. We bravely put into action our convictions, however.
I believe and feel strongly that it is not the number of those that stand. It is only important that we stand. Whether we are one or many, we are still standing, marching and protesting to further those beliefs we hold dear and reaching out to a world gone mad and saying “we can do better.”
Chet Molandes is an activist and writer currently living in Phoenix.
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