Tag Archives: Percy Schmeiser

Millions March against Monsanto

Durban GMO protest

Wow. On Saturday 25 May 2013, two million people worldwide marched against Monsanto, reported the Guardian. (Image above by Phillip Martin of the Durban protest from No GMO South Africa).

One of the top ten US chemical companies – think Agent Orange and DDT -Monsanto started buying up seed companies in the 1980s. Now it is the biggest producer of GM (genetically modified) seed.

Portman Square Bristol BS2 Sat 25 May 2013

Portman Square Bristol BS2 Sat 25 May 2013

Here in Bristol, we chanted: “We don’t want no GMO.”

GM (genetically modified) technology is based on the outdated scientific premise that a gene is responsible for a characteristic. So all you have to do is add a desired characteristic from one species  into another species and ta da, you have a nice new genetically modified organism (GMO).

It’s nothing like traditional breeding because it crosses species barriers, creating organisms that would never exist in nature.

Once a seed is genetically modified it can be patented – which means the company that patents it, owns it.

Which means you can now prosecute farmers who have your patented seeds on their fields. Even even if the seeds arrived (as seeds do) by wind or bees.

Check out GMO Myths and Truths for more info. This fully-referenced report shows that Monsanto et al‘s claims – that GM crops yield better, reduce pesticide use, and are safe to eat – are dubious.

Also check out: GM Education, GM Freeze and GM Watch. Also: Thierry Vrain, former pro-GM research scientist for Agriculture Canada now promoting awareness of the many dangers of GM food.

NO GMO Monsanto couple

Back to the march.

Well, despite some “trolling” beforehand including fake reports that marches were not going to happen, or would be violent, they happened and they were 100% peaceful.

See these pics of the London march and below.

Bianca Jagger - image from http://www.demotix.com/news/2088303/environmental-gmo-activists-march-against-monsanto-london#media-2088296

Bianca Jagger – image from

I was a steward (I have an NVQ in Green Stewarding, I’ll have you know) for the approx 500-strong Bristol march and I can report it was filled with good humour and co-operation.

Portman Square Bristol BS2 Sat 25 May 2013

Portland Square Bristol BS2 Sat 25 May 2013

As we waited at Portland Square before setting off from the march, a man with a beautifully-ironed shirt volunteered he had escaped his “corporate pay masters” to support us.

“O, that’s great,”I said. “Are you coming on the march?”

Well, no, he wasn’t because he had already been there 45 minutes already.

He said Monsanto probably had some observers at the march but they were likely dressed in a “bohemian” way.

He was keen to meet local organisers but was uninterested when I suggested Bristol Friends of the Earth.

Monsanto has used a PR firm in the past to discredit opposition and according to some, employed a security firm to monitor activists online.

I think a security firm will have its work cut-out. The thing is there is not one over-arching or hierarchical body behind people like us.

These marches are organic and spontaneous – the human spirit rising up to protect our food.

Veg fest

After the march, Julia and I went to the VegFest (above), and reaped the benefits of a happy healthy food movement.

Who would have thought that wholesome food could be subversive?

GM – the more we hear, the less we like

“Waiter, will you serve me a dish of genetically modified food?”

I don’t see anyone clamouring to eat it.

Genetic modification. Such a mild-sounding term. A bit of modifying here, a bit there – what could be wrong with that?

A lot. Genetic modification is a radical departure from traditional plant breeding.

Genetic modification is about taking a gene from one species and placing it in the gene pool of another species.

And why, pray? To help feed the world, as the GM companies would have us believe?

Um, no. Commercially developed GM crops have been ‘modified’ to survive being sprayed by the GM companies’ pesticides.

GM makes spraying intensive farms easier – just spray the field and what is left standing is your genetically modified plant.

The GM companies claim that their new technology cuts down on pesticide use.

A recent report published in the US has found that growing GM plants is actually increasing pesticide use.

Meanwhile here in old Blighty, the UK’s venerable scientific institution, the Royal Society, wants to invest millions of our taxpayers’ money into researching GM.

Stop this madness! We need to be spending our money on researching systems that DO work, such as organic farming, to find out how to make them even better.

Money invested in low-tech research is pitiful compared to money sunk in magic-bullet technologies – set to make corporations even richer than they are because – here’s the rub, so listen carefully:

Once a corporation genetically modifies a seed, the corporation can patent it. It owns the seed. 

And if that GM seed should land accidentally in a farmer’s field (and seeds do travel, borne by bees, or wind) then the farmer has to pay the GM corporation a licensing fee – viz the terrible case foisted on the 70-year-old farmer, Percy Schmeiser, in Saskatchewan, in Canada. And, according to the Soil Association, hundreds like him…

This week we heard the Food Standards Agency wants another go at persuading the British public that GM is OK.

The Food Standards Agency. That’s the same outfit that published a  flawed report in August stating  the benefits of organic food are “insignificant”. As I thrive on fresh organic food, this  incensed me. My post on the FSA’s report got the most comments ever.

So anyway, as I was saying, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) wants another go at brainwashing the British public.

The FSA is calling it a “dialogue project”.

The way we use words, eh. Obviously ‘dialogue’ was deemed innacurate – suggesting a two-way give-and-receive exchange of views. Which it is not. It’s a project. A dialogue project.

So a steering group of academics has been assembled so consumers “can be helped to make informed choices about the food they eat.”

Only two out of the 11 members of the steering group are known to be critical of GM technology, according to the Telegraph.

In fact one of the members, Professor Bryan Wynne, signed a letter to the paper saying (I paraphrase) the dialogue project was a waste of money anyway.

I like the sound of Prof Wynne.

I remember the government-led public debate on GM, called GM Nation.

The more debaters heard about GM, the more anti-GM feeling grew: “soaring to 90%” said Geoffrey Lean in this week’s Telegraph. Back in 2003 he reported how “Many regarded the debate as “window dressing used to cover secret decisions to go ahead with GM crop development”.”

The more we hear, the less we like.