Local protesters plan to march as a part of the worldwide demonstrations against Monsanto Co., the leading producer of genetically engineered seed, on Saturday in Jackson, Miss. and Memphis, Tenn.
In what organizers say is a cause to “end the dictatorship over seed, over life, over our food, and over our freedom,” people in Jackson and Memphis are being asked to join others from throughout the world in a March Against Monsanto on Saturday, May 25.
The St. Louis-headquartered company is at the center of criticism over the genetic engineering of seeds that interrupt the natural germination cycle by rending the next generation of seeds sterile.
Beginning in the 1980s, Monsanto lobbied for and helped draft laws imposing patents on its seeds, making it illegal for farmers to save and reuse them. More recently, the Supreme Court of the United States has upheld Monsanto’s patent right on seed in the Bowman v. Monsanto case.
Protesters also seek to draw attention to U.S. laws that make the company immune from any court action to protect diversity and the reuse of seeds by farmers.
“In India, we have a very strong and very good law under the Environment Protection Act. It predates the Earth Summit, it predates the Convention on Biodiversity, it predates the Cartagena Biosafety Protocol, and it’s meant to regulate GMOs,” said the Global Alliance for Seed Freedom’s Dr Vandama Shiva, in calling for worldwide protests against Monsanto. “Because we used the law to stop the Bt gene, the Bt brinjal, there’s been attempts by Monsanto to write a Monsanto Protection Act. It is called the Biotechnology Regulatory Act of India. It’s a deregulation act, but in typical Monsanto double speak, it’s called a regulatory act. It would throw citizens into jail for challenging GMOs. It is taking away the federal rights of our state governments who were a major player in stopping the Bt eggplant.”
She said another Monsanto Protection Act similar to the one written into U.S. budget laws is being shaped in Europe to make it illegitimate and illegal for gardeners and farmers to have their own seeds. “This is a new form of fascism. It’s a new form of dictatorship.
“When Hitler came to power and the Nazis came to power with their kind of genocide, people created resistance movements everywhere,” she said. “Today, this new fascism is over life itself in all its diversity. It’s not just controlling one religion and one race. It’s wanting to outlaw all diversity of all life on Earth, and the rights of the producers as well as the eaters of food. After all, the huge onslaught against any attempt for labeling GMO foods in the United States is part of this Monsanto dictatorship.
“That is why the March Against Monsanto is a march for freedom. And this march is not just for the 25th of May. We will have to carry it on everyday of our lives as we plant our seeds and save our seeds, and we stand up in resistance with our gardens of resistance, growing healthy food, nurturing the soil and the seed, thanking the ancestors of those seeds and the future generations, handing over to our future generations the care and custody of our precious diversity.”
The March Against Monsanto in Jackson, Miss. is expected to start at the Farmer’s Market on High Street at noon, then march up High Street to the Capitol between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. The organizers are Lindsey Lemmons and Julie Dennis Stewart. For more information, find the event on Facebook: Mississippi March Against Monsanto. For more information visit the official March Against Monsanto website at march-against-monsanto.com/.
The March Against Monsanto Memphis rally will be held in the First Congregational Church’s south parking lot at 1 p.m. featuring guest speaker, Chris Peterson with Grow Memphis. The march will follow the rally, starting at First Congo, following the sidewalk up Young, left on Parkway, left on Central, left on Cooper, back to First Congo. Participants are encouraged to bring signs and wear red. For more information visit the March Against Monsanto Memphis Facebook page at www.facebook.com/events/147826612052424/.
Watch the full video of Dr Vandama Shiva calling for a worldwide March Against Monsanto.