As world marches against Monsanto, senators protect it from labeling laws
Any U.S. senators paying attention to what was happening in the entire world over the weekend may have noticed a teensy disconnect between their protectionist votes for Monsanto and global discontent with the GMO giant.
On Saturday, protestors in dozens of countries took to the streets to “March against Monsanto.” The coordinated day of action against genetic engineering and reprehensible business practices by the Missouri-based company came just two days after the Senate rejected a bid by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to ensure that his state and others are free to mandate labels on transgenic foods.
First, to those protests. Organizers tallied rallies in 436 cities across 52 countries, according to the AP:
The ‘March Against Monsanto’ movement began just a few months ago, when founder and organizer Tami Canal created a Facebook page on Feb. 28 calling for a rally against the company’s practices.
“If I had gotten 3,000 people to join me, I would have considered that a success,” she said Saturday. Instead, she said an “incredible” number of people responded to her message and turned out to rally. …
Protesters [marched] in Buenos Aires and other cities in Argentina, where Monsanto’s genetically modified soy and grains now command nearly 100 percent of the market, and the company’s Roundup-Ready chemicals are sprayed throughout the year on fields where cows once grazed. They carried signs saying “Monsanto — Get out of Latin America.”
In Portland, thousands of protesters took to Oregon streets. Police estimate about 6,000 protesters took part in Portland’s peaceful march, and about 300 attended the rally in Bend. Other marches were scheduled in Baker City, Coos Bay, Eugene, Grants Pass, Medford, Portland, Prineville and Redmond.
Across the country in Orlando, about 800 people gathered with signs, pamphlets and speeches in front of City Hall. Maryann Wilson of Clermont, Fla., said she learned about Monsanto and genetically modified food by watching documentaries on YouTube.
The Senate on Thursday overwhelmingly rejected an amendment that would allow states to require labeling of genetically modified foods.
Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont said his amendment was an attempt to clarify that states can require the labels, as several legislatures have moved toward putting such laws into place. The Vermont house and the Connecticut senate voted this month to make food companies declare genetically modified ingredients on their packages.
The Senate rejected the amendment on a 71-27 vote, during debate on a wide-ranging, five-year farm bill that includes generous supports for crops like corn and soybeans that are often genetically modified varieties. Senators from farm states that use a lot of genetically modified crops strongly opposed the amendment, saying the issue should be left up to the federal government and that labels could raise costs for consumers.
The vote did not affect a bill introduced in April by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) that would mandate labeling of all products containing genetically ingredients sold in America. But it was a reminder that the labeling bill doesn’t stand a honey bee’s chance in a field full of Roundup of becoming law.