It's been suspiciously quiet on the Monsanto front lately.
Since we last checked in with the Aggro Overlords of Corporate Agribusiness, they’ve suffered some setbacks. First, boycotts on their genetically-engineered corn and soy have caused major manufacturers like General Mills and Whole Foods to dial back their supply needs.
Then, all those pesky grassroots groups flooded people’s psyches with images of rats with stomach tumors, causing their public relations department to double down on the propaganda. Monsanto has even had to institute a new grandiose “sustainability campaign” and pretend like they give a genetically-engineered flying fig about water usage and greenhouse emissions.
Plus, the sneaky little legal rider that their political minions buried into a congressional spending resolution fizzled last fall, making the “Monsanto Protection Act” as impotent as a whiskey-sodden Donald Sterling without his Cialis.
Though in 2012 the megalithic chemical company helped destroy California’s Proposition 37 that would have required labels on genetically-modified foods (most people call them GMOs; feel free to refer to them simply as “poison”), other companies under the umbrella of the sinister Grocery Manufacturers Association are now taking giant steps away from the GMA’s Goliath-esque efforts to stop food labeling initiatives in other states.
Nope, things are not looking good for those who make a profit by dickering with the food supply. Last month the Monsantogres took a real arrow to the thigh when the state of Vermont passed the first labeling law in the U.S. Unlike similar laws in Connecticut and Maine that remain stalled until liabilities can be sorted out, Vermont’s “right to know about GMOs” will go into effect as soon as Gov. Peter Shumlin plops his signature on it.
We’re at the tipping point, people. Those coordinated international protests have clearly affected change, and this year’s local March Against Monsanto promises to be even bigger, louder and more cohesive when it takes over Johnson Square this Saturday.
Which is excellent, ‘cause it’s going to take a helluva heave-ho to topple this sacred cow. Now Congressbot Representative Mike Pompeo of Kansas has introduced the hilariously misnamed “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014,” a federal bill that effectively demolishes states’ rights to enact GMO labeling laws. The rest of us are calling it the DARK Act—as in Denying Americans the Right to Know.
Over 60 countries, including the entire European Union, have already outright banned GMOs based on scientific evidence that they erode biological systems inside the body and out. But here in America, we can’t even get a sticker on our strawberries?
Yet the labeling movement has been emboldened by Vermont’s victory. Suddenly, GMOs have gone from a hippie rallying cry to a legitimate issue, and politicians are paying attention—especially at the state level. It’s even become a talking point in a couple of Georgia races: Toccoa contractor Chris Irvin is running for Commissioner of Agriculture, a position held by his granddaddy Tommy Irvin from 1969-2011. While the elder Irvin’s tenure was not without its controversy, his scion intends to focus on supporting small farmers and nutrition reform in schools. If elected, he’d also back a GMO labeling bill, hands down.
“We have warning labels on everything else. People need to know what they’re eating,” declares Irvin. “Agriculture is a profit-driven business, but the bottom line can’t be the only concern. My loyalty is to farmers, not CEOs.”
He says he lost the taste for politics after an unsuccessful run for the state house in 2010, but after a phone call from Democratic Party chair DuBose Porter, he felt obligated to stand up against opponent Republican Gary Black—the current Ag Commish who happens to be a former Monsanto lobbyist. (Yes, really. How’s your lunch sitting now? On a related note, Georgia was recently ranked No. 1 on the Richest.com’s list of “Most Corrupt State Governments.”)
Irvin will be in Savannah for the March Against Monsanto, along with District 1 Congressional candidate Amy Tavio, one of three Democrats (and the only woman) vying for the seat vacated by Jack Kingston. (Republican contender Darwin Carter is also scheduled to speak.)
Tavio, a Richmond Hill real estate agent, wholeheartedly supports GMO labeling and points out that consumers are driving the demand.
“Our farmers markets are thriving, people are seeking out healthy foods,” she says. “The market should comply.”
Tavio doesn’t believe the government ought to dictate what people should and shouldn’t eat, but supports America’s right to know what exactly they’re purchasing at the grocery store. She also suspects food plays a large part in the epidemic of illnesses plaguing our citizens.
“I have girlfriends with lupus and MS who have modified their diets and have been able to fight illnesses that used to keep them in bed half the week,” shares the mother of two. “A lot of the problems we face today might be linked to our food supply.”
All the shouting and the boycotting and the support of local and organic farmers, it’s working. Monsanto may be lying in wait to spring some horrific strain of fish-spliced bean sprouts on us, but if we keep it up, at least we’ll know what’s really in that box of Wheaties.
So keep marching, keep voting and keep eating like a champion.