On Saturday I marched with an estimated 6000 protesters in Portland, Oregon in the March Against Monsanto. We were but a small portion of people marching against Monsanto and GMO foods around the world–there were over 2 million people worldwide who joined in this protest.
I didn’t know how many people would show up. I know there are a lot of Oregonians who care about their food, their health, and their rights, so I was hoping for a good turnout, but there was still this tiny fear in me that it would be too small a group to get any attention. How many people in my area were really concerned about GMOs, anyway? I had no idea. But when I arrived at Holladay Park, my fear dissipated when I saw the park with packed with protesters. As I walked through the crowd with Sandrine Love of Nourishing Our Children, it was quite obvious that I was in the company of a LOT of people who were passionately against GMOs.
Having never before been to any kind of protest rally, I made a rather conservative sign that read: Protect our Food. Say NO to Monsanto. Say NO to GMOs. It didn’t portray the emotions I feel toward GMOs and biotech company Monsanto, but simply stated my main concern–that we need to protect our food supply. Signs carried by children said things like “I am not an experiment” and “I love real food.” Other signs said “The World Doesn’t Want Your GMOs,” “F*&% Monsanto,” “GMOs are Poison,” “Monsanto’s Worst Enemy is an Informed Public,” as well as signs asking to save the bees, save the seeds, and support farmers. There were signs with skulls and crossbones or that portrayed Monsanto as the devil. Other signs had statistics written on them, such as the high percentage of foods made with GMOs and the number of countries that have banned GMOs.
There were speeches given before and after the march. Some of the speakers included Mary Nickles, director of GMO Free Portland, Elizabeth Swagger of the Oregon Fair Trade Campaign, Becky Learner, author of Dandelion Hunter, and Andrew Still of Adaptive Seeds. Unfortunately I didn’t get all the names of the speakers but there were several others. I especially loved hearing the farmers speak. One farmer insisted that we CAN feed the world and do it RIGHT. Andrew Still said that the heirloom seeds of Adaptive Seeds outperform GMO seeds, busting the myth that we need GMO seeds for stronger crops. I learned that Oregon is an important area of the world for seed production–seeds that are shipped around the world. You can imagine what GMO contamination here would mean.
Of course, Oregon isn’t the only place that has people concerned about GMOs. Over 2 million people around the world in 436 cities and 52 countries marched against Monsanto on Saturday. And of course this only represents a fraction of people who have concerns about GMOs. When people talk about GMO dangers being a myth, I have to laugh. I really don’t think this many people in so many places become so impassioned against something that is simply a myth. People have real cause for concern regarding GMOs. We’re talking about people from all walks of life, including some very intelligent and educated people. To call us all gullible myth-believers is an insult.
What’s also insulting is that the federal and local governments are creating laws to protect Monsanto and other biotech companies from the concerns of citizens and the concerns of small farmers. It’s hard to believe we are really living in a democracy when the government makes laws without our consent to protect the big companies that we believe are harming us.
But it sure felt good to at least be able protest GMOs. There are those who believe Monsanto’s days are numbered. I hope they are right.