One week ago today, in St. Petersburg, Fla. and in over 400 other cities worldwide, an estimated two million like-minded people gathered to march down the streets of their hometowns, in an effort to bring visibility to the proven dangers of genetically modified organisms,(GMOs). In a cry for awareness, protesters held signs that said, “I am not a lab experiment” and chanted slogans such as “Say no to GMO, Monsanto has to go.”
Monsanto, the target of the planetary protest event, is the leading producer of GMOs and genetically engineered seeds. Explained on Wikipedia as a “… a chemical and agricultural biotechnology corporation”, Monsanto’s website defines themselves quite differently, stating they are a “sustainable agricultural company”, helping farmers grow crops worldwide.
People marched last Saturday because they believe food containing GMOs should at minimum be clearly labeled as such. Most would like to see GMOs banned altogether, as they did in Russia, Italy and Australia, and people would like a commitment by the U.S. government to invest in natural and organic sustainable farming practices for the food they are supplying and subsidizing.
Monsanto states on their website and in their corporate social responsibility report that, “We are a seed company that is a part of your food supply chain…We strive to make our products available to farmers throughout the world by broadly licensing our seed and trait technologies to other companies. In addition to our seeds and traits business, we also manufacture Roundup® and other herbicides used by farmers, consumers and lawn-and-garden professionals”.
Activists, environmentalist, scientist, organic farmers and consumers have a huge problem with the conflict of interest when the company that provides the seeds for the nation’s food supply also supplies the synthetic pesticides to keep the bugs at bay, from those very crops.
Did you see the protest event in the news?
Likely not, as most March against Monsanto events were not covered by mainstream media in the U.S. In its inaugural year in 2013, the march drew some, if little, support from local news and national media. In 2014, media coverage was virtually absent, both surprising and disappointing to protestors last week.
Pummeling the mainstream TV media and newspaper outlets early on with press releases and information, and by promoting the march through its huge social media presence, expressly to ensure there was adequate news media coverage, this ever increasingly debated topic seems to have gone by the wayside.
One ABC affiliate in Las Vegas, KLAS-TV did air the coverage of the March against Monsanto in their city, where it’s estimated that thousands marched up and down busy streets. Showing respect for their viewers and a commitment to report unbiased news, KLAS-TV was one of the only affiliated stations to cover the event. After significant research and online searches, very little footage outside of personal video coverage could be found.
Since the march last week, supporters and activists are trying to understand why this worldwide event with millions attending, lacked the importance for major news coverage. In this CNN 2013 iReport story, article titled, ‘Media ignores worldwide March against Monsanto’ it was a clear indication that support was missing then, but, passionate protestors were optimistic for a better year.
In the past two years the effort has grown significantly in the amount of marchers and supporters and there is a heightened focus on GMOs, depicted in recent organic food demand and profit reporting. In 2013, the USDA organic market overview showed organic food purchases continuing to grow by double digits. It’s clear the people want clean food.
Marchers, ages four to eighty-four, walked to have their voices heard. Those in St. Petersburg, Fla. joined the effort because the health of the soil and the food that farmers grow is important to them. Organic farming practices and seeds produced without synthetics, those not created in a lab, are important to them. The signs they held and the chants they shouted were clear in their intent.
Whether you support the Non-GMO platform or whether you believe there is nothing wrong with the current food system in the United States, marchers and supporters urge all consumers to do a little research from an independent source, about the health risks linked to GMOs.
Non-GMO activists were hoping for support from their local media; unbiased and informed coverage of this increasingly visible and important news story. The people in the U.S. were speaking loud and clear but it seems no one was listening.
Another question so many people are asking is, why?