The Norman Transcript

May 25, 2014

Protesters rally against agro giant Monsanto

By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript

OKLAHOMA CITY — Rain did not deter protesters at the March Against Monsanto in Bricktown on Saturday evening. A button on one man’s shirt was typical of the attitude of many of the marchers, “I’m one of those people,” it read.

“I am here today marching against Monsanto because I care about our health and our environment, Norman resident Christy Privett said. “But more importantly I care about the next generation... if a handful of corporations own all the seeds, then they got the control.”

Privett said a future with robotic bees and no farmers is not a future she wants for her children.

Privett became aware of genetically modified organisms or GMOs as a mother concerned with conscience eating choices for the best health of her children.

“There is an awakening going on,” Privett told the crowd gathered in front of the Harkins Theatre. “Even some of the corporate grocery stores have begun to sell more organic produce at a reasonable price.”

For Privett and others like her, eating food that is not chemically treated is important. Other concerns driving the movement against Monsanto revolve around control of the food supply. GMO seeds are patented by large companies who then control those seeds.

“For me, it’s always been less is more,” said Norman resident Judith Blake. “Fewer people between me and my food.”

Blake and friend, Marcie Hronopulos, said they decided to attend the March in Bricktown after reading about the event in the Transcript.

“We’ve been involved in food co-ops because we have no idea how a gene from a fish and a gene from a tomato could ever go together to form a viable food product,” said Hronopulos.

Monsanto is a leading manufacturer of herbicides and hold patents on several GMO seeds used in industrial agriculture. GMOs are plants or animals created through gene splicing biotechnology or genetic engineering.

High-risk crops include canola, corn, papaya, soy, sugar beets, zucchini and yellow summer squash. Other crops are at high risk due to contamination from cross-pollination. Most of Monsanto’s patented products are designed to be herbicide resistant and/or to repel pests through genetic modification. Genetic contamination is an ongoing concern by organic growers and consumers who want to avoid GMOs.

“Monsanto’s ability to force farmers to pay them for seed and plant their GMO modified seeds when they affect another’s land and crops is evil,” said Norman activist, Mary Francis. “Pollen is insidious. It doesn’t know any fences or borders.”

Monsanto has filed 145 lawsuits since 1997 in the U.S. for saving seeds or using seeds that their investigators said were patented. In some cases, the farmers said they never planted those seeds and crops must have been cross-pollinated. When farmers buy Monsanto’s patented seeds, they sign an agreement that they will not save and replant those seeds.

Privett and Oklahoma Food Co-op President Bob Waldrop encouraged people to vote with their dollars.

Many GMOs are created to be herbicide resistant to accommodate chemically managed crops. One girl at the March was dressed as a bee. Chemical-intensive agriculture, such as that associated with Monsanto’s industrial farm products, is considered a primary contributor to colony collapse disorder. Colony collapse is the name scientists use to describe the sudden disappearance of bees. Many crops cannot be grown without bees and other pollinators.

Privett said one of the easiest ways to vote with your dollars is to eat more whole foods and less processed foods.

“Since our life-style change, I have naturally lost 15 pounds,” Privett said, noting that many processed foods have an addictive element to them that promote overeating. “We continue to share with family and friends what new discoveries we find.”

Because the United States does not require labeling of GMO ingredients, it’s hard for consumers to know which products contain them. But the fact is, most corn and soy in processed foods are likely to be GMOs unless the product is organic or labeled by the Non-GMO Project as GMO free.

Many people are growing their own food as part of the solution.

“We raise chickens for eggs and plan to raise chickens for meat in the near future,” Privett said. “We grow a garden and continue to teach the next generation — our kiddos — the value of our food supply.”

Joy Hampton




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