Saturday, May 25, 2013

sing, Monsanto, sing

Occupy Atlanta joined protesters in fifty-two countries world-wide today to rail out against corporate giant Monsanto in Atlanta's March against Monsanto. The march began in Piedmont Park at 2 p.m. and circled a portion of the city's BeltLine, chanting lines orchestrated by megaphones and carrying signs under the hot Memorial weekend sun.

While the lazy tones of jazz from the annual Atlanta Jazz Festival simmered in the background, protesters garbed in red rallied in the park to begin their march to the BeltLine entrance at Monroe and 10th. Officers stopped traffic so that the long line of an estimated seven hundred protesters could cross to the BeltLine entrance.

Occupy Atlanta's March against Monsanto
Monsanto is at the forefront of many questionable 'advances' in modern agriculture and chemical weapons. Approximately 90% of U.S. corn and soy contain genes patented by the corporate giant. In addition, 90% of all processed foods are believed to contain genetically engineered ingredients.

Montsanto produces not only genetically modified (GMO) foods, but also herbicides (Round-up), and artificial sweeteners, and was one of the foremost producers of Agent Orange in the 1960s and 1970s.

Before Congress banned Polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) in 1979, due to its environmental toxicity and peer-reviewed studies that linked the product to cancer in mice and a causal link to non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in humans, Montsanto produced approximately 99% of the pollutant.

Monsanto also produces Posilac, an rBST product which supplements a naturally occurring hormone in cows (BST). The product increases milk production in cows, and is used by many dairy farmers because it allows more milk to be produced with fewer cows. Milk is often labelled now to designate that it comes from cows who have not been treated with rBST products.

March 26, 2013, Barack Obama signed into law H.R. 933, which was intended to avoid a federal government shutdown, and provide funding for several government agencies. It has become known as the "Monsanto Protection Act," however, as it slipped in provisions that forbid the federal government from halting the sale or planting of GMO seeds, no matter what health risk might develop from the plants.

A wide range of protesters
The rally in Piedmont Park was attended by a wide range of protesters. Young couples joined families with small children and marched beside elderly participants on walkers and in wheelchairs. The eclectic group included dramatic, 'street theatre'' type activists, as well as activists who came from more ordinary walks of life. Non-activists who are concerned about issues linked to Monsanto products also came to rally against the corporate giant. As well, participants from other countries and cultures also took part in the Atlanta march.

Occupy Atlanta's March on Monsanto focused on educating people about the corporate giant and burgeoning concerns regarding GMOs. They also hope to impact the debate on labeling foods that are made from genetically-modified seeds.

Gathering as the Atlanta Jazz Festival simmers in the distance under a hot Atlanta sun


As the march begins
Arching into the far curve of the BeltLine, City Hall East in the distance

UPDATED 27 MAY 2013 8:54 AM
2nd UPDATE 29 MAy 2013 4:51 PM Adjusted total to align with Creative Loafing report.
Photographs ©2013 Isobel Freer