An explosion of domestic and international protests against Monsanto has been a testament to the biological engineering company’s complete negligence of the environment and consumers’ well-being. This past week has seen marches, lawsuits, and suspensions of international imports of Monsanto’s products.
Monsanto has been on the unethical side of many issues. The company has poisoned farmers, aggressively sued small farmers for unintentionally and unknowingly growing crops with Monsanto seeds, produced foods that have caused new food allergies, and a slew of other heinous actions. But the last year has seen an increase of lawsuits and protests against the chemical giant.
Last week, citizens in 436 cities across 52 countries held marches protesting the production and sale of Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds and foods. After its conception in February, March Against Monsanto has accrued enormous support from millions of people worldwide. Tami Canal, who created the movement, only had expectations of a small rallying: “It was empowering and inspiring to see so many people, from different walks of life,” said Canal of the immensely large turnout. Though millions joined the march, it’s still a small sample of those who believe that GMOs should at least be labeled, which is 93 percent of people polled. And that’s only the American population.
On the international front, Japan and South Korea have suspended imports of genetically modified wheat products “found on an Oregon farm,” according to numerous reports. The GMO strain found in the wheat was traced back to Monsanto. Once Japan caught wind of this information, they immediately seized the import of nearly 25,000 tons of wheat.
“We have no choice but to avoid bidding for the product,” said Japanese farm ministry officials.
From the mid-1990s until 2005, Monsanto used the Oregon farmlands as a bombsite to test herbicide resistant wheat seeds which proved fruitless being that the seeds weren’t approved for commercial sale. On the other side of the map, the European Union is now going to investigate their stocks of wheat imported from the US for the same strain. If anything is found, surely Europe will discontinue its import of American wheat and seeing as how “soft white wheat accounts for about 80 percent of U.S. wheat imported annually by the EU,” farmers will take a devastating economic hit. The Oregon farm situation has already prompted lawsuits.
A farmer in Kansas has filed suit against Monsanto over the findings in Oregon. This suit was filed because “the company’s gross negligence hurt U.S. growers by driving down wheat prices and causing some international market to suspend certain imports.” Attorneys have projected the damages caused by Monsanto to be upwards of “hundreds of millions of dollars.” Monsanto, of course, denies all the allegations of any sort of negligence.
“Tractor-chasing lawyers have prematurely filed suit without any evidence of fault,” says Monsanto executive VP David Snively.
That’s a premature statement to make considering is was a Monsanto strain that was found in the wheat and testing of the illegal seed ceased in 2005. After testing had stopped, farmers trying to clear acres would then go after and try to chemically kill the Monsanto seeds but the plants produced were resisting the chemicals. University lab tests then verified the crop as a GMO made by Monsanto. Despite scientifically verifying the crop’s origin, Monsanto still relinquishes any “legal liability.” These are the same grounds on which Monsanto has sued numerous farmers in the past.
With the apparent outcry of public disapproval, Monsanto remains steadfast in its arrogant ways, trying to avoid responsibility for its harmful products and business practices. One thing is certain, the last year has been a banner one for anti-Monsanto groups pushing for consumer and farmer protection worldwide. Hopefully, March Against Monsanto and the numerous suits filed against the company pick up speed and spark some resolution. This many people against Monsanto can’t be wrong.
Joshua de Leon is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire.