By Liisa Wale
Arizona Community Press | www.azcommunitypress.org
Back in the 1970’s who would have suspected that the food supply of 2013 would include one of science and biopiracy. Who would have known that by allowing pharmaceutical companies and science to have so much control over the food supply could be leading society down a road of destruction. All because people were concerned there would not be enough food for the growing population. Farmers did not even imagine that there would be a time when they could not save their own seeds. For communities around the globe where people rely on government help to survive and grow their food it has become one of leverage and a way to control a population and culture.
Today people including parents, scientist and farmers are fighting back to save not only the food supply, but also nature and ones health. Resistance began in parts of the “global South” and parts of Europe where countries began to ban or put moratoriums on growing and selling of genetically engineering foods. Seeds of resistance began to sprout up in the United States – home of biotech companies such as Monsanto and Bayer- in the late 90’s.
Here in Arizona we have not been immune to the growing and research of genetically engineered crops. Cotton is widely grown throughout Arizona and much of it is genetically engineered. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Arizona also has some of the highest corn yields in the country. Like in many states across the United States, Monsanto has offices throughout Arizona in Eloy, Maricopa and Yuma to support its interests. They also pour many millions of dollars into research and development via University of Arizona in Tucson. Some of the research is done at the Monanto Arizona Cotton Research Center.
The indigenous cultures and their food supply throughout Mexico and the Southwest have been severely impacted due to the introduction of GMO corn. The genetically engineered growing of corn has destroyed native and indigenous seed. Throughout Mexico native corn seed is disappearing due to the introduction of genetically engineered corn. In 2010 Brenda Norrell of Censored News reported, “In Chiapas, heritage seed-stocks of Indigenous corn are being infected by genetically-engineered corn imported by multinational companies from the United States under the terms of the North American Free Trade Agreement, according to Schools for Chiapas.” Earlier this year there were large protests and hunger strikes throughout Mexico to protest the expansion of genetically engineered corn being grown. Companies who are pushing the the government to allow for more growing of GMO corn include Monsanto and DuPont. On May 16th Greenpeace activist scaled the ‘Pilar of Light’ in Mexico City and hung a banner which read “NO GMO” to call for the rejection of commercialization of genetically engineered corn.
This Saturday across the globe the movement against Monsanto and genetically engineered foods continues with mass marches and actions planned. According to organizers of ‘March Against Monsanto’, the global day of action will span across “6 continents, 36 countries, 300+ cities, and in 47 states in the Unites States”. Here in Arizona there are marches and actions planned in Tempe, Tucson, Bullhead City, and Yuma. The Tempe event will include a Really, Really Free Market, music, and speeches in front of Tempe Farmers Market. This will be followed by a march to the FDA field office in Tempe.
Even though the global day of action is not officially until tomorrow there are already actions occurring across the country. In the early morning hours Friday there was a banner drop on the 51 in Phoenix.
On Thursday the U.S. Senate took another type of action by rejecting the GMO Labeling bill. RT news reported that “As 200,000 people prepare to march against Monsanto, the Senate has overwhelmingly rejected a bill that would allow states to decide if genetically modified food products should be labeled.”
Over the last 10 years there appears to be an increasing desire to put a stop to genetically engineered foods and Monsanto has become the target. As Monsanto fought in the courtrooms, placed people in positions of government power, or worked to suppress the voices of reporters the more the people and communities have fought back and resisted. Due to people speaking out genetically engineered wheat was not given approval for market (at least not legally) in the United States. The push to label genetically engineered foods in California last year brought national attention to the issue. In Washington state there is a push for a statewide ballot measure to label GMO foods. Here in Arizona there is a renewed interest from local groups like GMO Free Arizona to label genetically engineered foods. Tami Monroe Canel, one of the founders of the Global March Against Monsanto is inspired to action because “I feel Monsanto threatens their (her children’s) generation’s health, fertility and longevity. I couldn’t sit by idly, waiting for someone else to do something.” If there are many more voices like hers on the streets the March will not end on May 25, 2013, but will only get louder.