Dozens of protesters shut down Monsanto offices in Davis, Calif. for one day over genetically modified foods, seeds
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Dozens of protesters shut down Monsanto offices in Davis, Calif. for one day over genetically modified foods, seeds

Davis : CA : USA | Mar 17, 2012 at 12:58 PM PDT
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Designing Drought-tolerant Plants for Global Warming

Can money buy the government? As much as 90 percent of the corn, soybeans and cotton produced in the United States come from genetically modified seeds. Protesters want choice.

This fact inspired dozens of protesters to disrupt the workday at Monsanto in Davis, CA near Sacramento yesterday in pouring rain to "shut down" the Davis office of the multinational biotechnology company because critics claim that genetically modified seeds are an untested risk to the world's food supply. Check out the March 17, 2012 Sacramento Bee araticle by Ed Feltcher, "Protesters disrupt workday at Monsanto in Davis - Sacramento Bee."

Yesterday you saw a group of activists against genetically altered seeds join with local Occupy protesters who took credit for closing down the company just for the day. Before employees arrived at work, the company decided to keep its Davis, CA offices closed yesterday.

The protesters stood against a backdrop of rainy sky and dark clouds that looked bruised. It was as if the protesters' eyes had taken on a life of their own. But what happened? Not much. Monsanto's Davis office remained closed for a day.

An alternative solution points to legal ways and bills introduced in the legislature as the quickest approach to allow people vote on food safety based on scientific research on this matter. After all, companies can be sued if food safety is at stake...but you can't sue the government.

What sparked the event was to coordinate it with the well-organized "Millions Against Monsanto," project of Organic Consumers Association. The cause had been coordinated around the country, but not well covered by other mainstream news wires. However, news of the movement in Washington D.C. had been only that a dozen people participating in a protesting in Washington, D.C., were arrested.

The newspapers around the nation did not focus on reporting research on the subject of genetically modified vegetable and fruit seeds on the day the Millions Against Monsanto project organized protests around the nation.

What the protesters want is at the very least in the name of public food safety requiring the labeling of genetically modified food. What the protesters wish for and would really like is that genetically modified seeds should be banned.

For example, when vegetable seeds have been modified in such a way as that insecticide is inside the seed and honeybees eat those seeds, the honeybees die off. See the news articles, Insecticides linked to honeybee die-offs and Honeybee Deaths Linked to Corn Insecticides - ABC News.

In the study, according to the article, Corn Insecticide Linked to Great Die-Off of Beneficial Honeybees, on why honey bees are dying from seeds coated with insecticide, the latest study noted that seeds coated with so-called neonicotinoid insecticides went into wide use in Europe in the late 1990s. The insecticides are among the most widely used in the world, popular because they kill insects by paralyzing nerves but have lower toxicity for other animals.

Almost immediately, beekeepers observed large die-offs of bees that seemed to coincide with mid-March to May corn planting. Scientists thought this might be due to particles of insecticide made airborne by the pneumatic drilling machines used for planting.

These machines forcefully suck seeds in and expel a burst of air containing high concentrations of particles of the insecticide coating. In an effort to make the pneumatic drilling method safer, the scientists tested different types of insecticide coatings and seeding methods.

Other genetically modified food that also is eaten by people is a concern for many within the United States and internationally. Supporters of a California ballot initiative that would require genetically modified food be labeled are trying to collect the 800,000 signatures needed to qualify the measure for the November ballot.

Monstano gets the protesters most often. But it is not the only player in the genetic engineering of seeds. For further information you can check out the research and projects from the University of California Systemwide Biotechnology Research and Education Program. Check out, UC BREP - University of California, Biotechnology Research and Education Program.

Genetically engineered products include insect-resistant corn and pesticide resistant seeds

Protestors are complaining about Roundup and also about insect-resistant corn and other vegetable seeds containing insecticides or pesticides. Monsanto's two main genetically engineered products are a strain of insect-resistant corn and pesticide-resistant seeds that enable farmers to use Roundup to kill weeds without killing the desired crop, according to the Sacramento Bee article, "Protesters disrupt workday at Monsanto in Davis."

The big debate is whether genetic modifications to foods are safe for people. Protesters want choice. Organic produce costs more money. Not everyone has a yard to grow their own vegetables.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that bioengineered food be labeled as such if the end product is "significantly different" from its traditional counterpart, has altered nutritional requirements or has new allergens.

So the big picture gets down to do you want biotech? Or do you want choice to control what you eat? Who has more control is what the 'war' is about...you or biotech over what goes into your body?

What you don't want say some people, is for farmers to radiate foods to speed up mutations of plants or seeds. On the other hand, irradiated foods kill the harmful bacteria such as E-coli and salmonella on vegetables. But the bacteria gets there in the first place usually from runoff of water contaminated with animal waste, cattle manure, or bird and rodent droppings in the field or in the water used on the plants.

Monsanto doesn't want people spreading fear. Follow the money. Monsanto has deep pockets.

The questions people ask, especially protesters is whether those deep pockets give the government connections needed to head off criticism? Right now, the government is not regulating Monsanto, say the protesters.

The people still ask whether money can buy government. What would you do -- protest, sign petitions, or follow the money from huge corporations to huge government hands?

Would you continue scientific research on genetically modified foods? Who will fund your research -- government or industry? Of course if you speak about it too much, what do you think will happen to the noisy wheel-- will it get attention and get repaired or get silenced by industry, government, or what's the third alternative?

After all what people want is to share, care, and repair in safety. Presently, there are petitions. Do the majority of people have a voice or a choice? And what impact do petitions have in today's balance of power, politics, and scientific research?

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Activists protest against US biotech giant Monsanto in Germany in 2009
Activists protest against US biotech giant Monsanto in Germany in 2009
AnneHart is based in Sacramento, California, United States of America, and is an Anchor for Allvoices.
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