By Ellen Henderson
Monsanto’s website declares that the company could not exist without farmers. The public, however, is no longer buying the rhetoric the company has pushed since its founding in 1901.
Monsanto has sued small family farmers, taken small dairy farmers to court, pushed cotton farmers into bankruptcy, and coerced taxpayers into funding their efforts to poison the world with their genetically modified products.
On May 25, millions of people took to the streets, chanting things like “stop poisoning the people.” Dubbed, the “March Against Monsanto,” the protests were largely ignored by mainstream media.
HR 933, known as the “Monsanto Protection Act” to opponents, easily passed through Congress and was signed into law by President Obama in March. Officially called the Farmer Assurance Provision, the Act forbids federal courts from stopping the sale or use of GMO seeds regardless of any health risks that may be discovered in the future. Though research is revealing the potential dangers of GMO food, the International Business Times says the Monsanto Protection Act gives the corporation immunity from any sort of liability.
Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has been a vocal critic of the act, which he says forces Americans to eat GMOs whether they want to or not. Vermont is one of few states that have passed a bill requiring food manufacturers to label GMO ingredients. Sanders proposed an amendment to the federal bill that would require all states to have similar labeling laws. The presence of the powerful GMO lobby, which has a lot of influence on Congress, helped reject the proposal in the Senate. Even at the state level, particularly California, big names in the food industry like Pepsi, ConAgra and Smuckers are fighting against similar labeling proposals.
Disillusioned by the government and lacking the financial resources to fight such massive multinational organizations, many citizens are gathering gardening tools and aquaponics equipment to cultivate their own food. Urban farmers are growing their own fruits and vegetables, with some also producing their own meat, eggs, and honey.
Consumers not only save money by cultivating their own food, but also protect the health of their families. Hydroponic gardening, composting, fish farming and other simple, yet revolutionary ideas present people the opportunity to sustain their families without using a lot of space. The number of people with hunting licenses and permits has increased by nearly 2 million since 2010, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. A hunting license and an accurate shot can fill your freezer with meat for the winter, while a Michigan boaters license and a small paddle boat are all you need to find GMO-free fish.
Reaction since the Monsanto Protection Act was passed indicate that consumers aren’t quietly succumbing to the GMO giant. Whether they are lobbying their senators, weeding their backyard gardens by hand or just sitting by the stream hoping for a bite, its clear consumers want safe, GMO-free food with clear labels.
Ellen is a mom and DIY maven. She writes primarily about health, wellness and sustainable living issues.