Polluted waterways, demineralized soil, galloping health epidemics of gastrointestinal disorders, food allergies, diabetes — and even cancer. Anti-Monsanto activists, including scientists, argue that these are just some of the horrors resulting from genetically modified foods (GMOs) and toxic pesticides, both produced by Monsanto.
The March Against Monsanto held in downtown Manhattan on Saturday afternoon May 21st focused on the power that the agricultural behemoth wields over the world’s most important resource: Food.
Some 300 protesters criticized the perceived vice-like grip Monsanto holds on the institutions — media and the government — that should be looking out for our interests. The demonstration was part of a campaign of marches across 300 cities and 48 countries.
In the midst of the wave of protests, the intention of the German pharmaceutical giant Bayer AG to purchase Monsanto was widely reported. If the deal goes through, their combined might will represent a whopping 29 percent of the world’s seed market and 24 percent of the pesticide market.
The demonstration was not the show of force some had hoped for. Documentarian Marie-Monique Robin — who made The World According To Monsanto — had flown in from Paris with a small crew to capture footage of the march. “Very few people here, too bad,” Robin said. She estimated that the march in Paris she attended in 2013 had drawn 3,000 to 4,000 people.
That doesn’t mean however that there aren’t a great many people who feel strongly about fighting GMOs, Last year there was a $4 billion shift away from non-organic agriculture last year alone. This statement is supported by the interest March Against Monsanto galvanized on social media.
But what was lacking in numbers was made up by the passion of the knowledgeable New York crowd. They spoke in unison about their efforts to avoid genetically modified foods and their anger at those in power who they believe frustrate that goal with their deep pockets and dirty tricks.