March against Monsanto: NYC version

March against Monsanto: NYC version

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First off, if you’re going to have a protest about how we’re all being poisoned, you need to have it led by healthy, well-fed, good-looking people.

Second, you need music and what better music to have than the Occupy Wall Street All-No-Star Band with special guest, Zuccotti Park Sax Guy.

Saturday’s March against Monsanto was everything I expected it to be. The one thing I didn’t expect was how the protest stayed on point. In almost every protest I’ve participated in since the 1970s, there were always groups pimping their own causes(s) which took away from the actual issue of the protest. This one didn’t.

One of the reasons may be this isn’t really an issue that resonates with the wider progressive movement. Or maybe it was just a problem of outreach.

I missed the rally, but I did arrive in time to catch the march to Washington Square where there would be a teach-in where people could discuss the issue in groups. What that meant was let’s stand around looking serious and nod our heads knowingly in agreement. Washington Square was a sea of signs plastered with all the bad science and misinformation and surprisingly, I had very few Woody Allen-Marshall McLuhan moments.

My first encounter was with a guy who had a button that read, Stop Monsanto. Ask me why. I did and he wouldn’t tell me. Seriously. I said, “You have a button that says ask me, so I am.” He sheepishly smiled and responded, “That’s just what the button says.” Then he scurried away.

My next little chat was with a woman manning(?) a table. She was actually very nice and claimed to be a nurse. She echoed the talking points about weed resistance, mono cropping etc. I explained that weed resistance was an age-old problem and farmers have always had to stay one step ahead of the weeds. It wasn’t just a gmo problem. That’s where I got my first dog head tilt.

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I asked her if gmos were so dangerous, why were they so popular among farmers? “Well, they want to make a profit, right? Next!

Meandering around and listening in on the discussion groups it dawned on me, every discussion was one talking point after the other. It was like listening to the gmo rerun channel.

I came across a how to detoxify from gmos discussion. It was more a pitch for Isogenics than a real discussion. But even though the audio in this short video is bad at times due to the wind, what I want you to see is the guy at the beginning.  He is rambling on about the new proposed strain of gmo wheat that will eat your liver and kill your kids. He makes another appearance later.

I saw a trio holding signs, one of with the usual gamut of the dangers of gmos. Where did she get her information? “Have you ever heard of the Institute for Responsibility Technology?  I’m not sure if I actually physically cringed, but I had to explain to her the history of Jeffrey Smith.  Second dog head tilt of the day or maybe it was blank stare.

They were thinking of taking their protest show on the road and join some others in Times Square. I warned them that might not be such a good idea because the cops don’t “take kindly to protesters going off the Rez.”  They could wind up in the jail for the holiday weekend.

One guy said, “I’ll ask that cop over there. Here hold this.”  And he handed me his sign. Not wanting to seem like a party pooper, I took it. The result was this damning photo taken at my request.

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Finally, I came across Vegan Guy.  He had a nice little crowd.  As I walked up I heard him saying, “Don’t take my word for it. Look it up yourself. Look at the ingredients in vaccines…” I immediately spoke up and asked if he was anti-vax.  He stopped mid-sentence and looked at me, eyes wide and smiled a toothy, Vegan grin,

“I”m not taking about vaccines right now but that is a conversation we can have privately.”

“But are you anti-vax?”

He ignored it and continued talking as I said, “Oh, so you are,” getting a slight giggle from the crowd.

That’s when I noticed Liver Guy standing next to me. I had to talk to this guy. He said he was pro-vaccine which I said was a good thing. I asked him why he called gmos contamination. He told me that just because it’s created in a lab doesn’t mean it’s not contamination.

The conversation turned to pesticides and I asked why Bt was okay when sprayed by organic farmers and not okay when one of the genes was engineered in the plant. I explained Bt was weak and degraded quickly in the environment due to rain and sunshine which necessitates more spraying… Well, you can listen to part of it here.

Now, this was that guy from the earlier video who was talking about the gmo liver, kid killing wheat and he tells me that I should have brought my sources with me? The last line of that audio cracked me up. I told him yes, and his last words to me were, “I’m moving over there,”  and then skedaddled. The audio at that point is weak. I really wanted to post that.

I  didn’t get a chance to ask him if he had his sources with him about the child-killing gmo wheat, but he was gone in a flash. I should have led with that.

So, what did we learn? We learned that although many people had signs about tumerous rats etc, very few them knew who Seralini is and weren’t familiar with his study. Around the same number didn’t know who Jeffrey Smith is.

Among those who did know, there were many head tilts when I mentioned Seralini and Smith were frauds who refuse to publicly debate scientists who want to challenge them.

Probably the biggest eye-opener was that for the first time, the real agenda was out in the wide open. It’s not just about labeling. The end goal is to eliminate gmos. There were no Just Label It signs. It was all about ridding the world of the poison of gmos and sending Monsanto packing. It’s about the misguided notion that if you bring down Monsanto, you eliminate the technology of gmos.

It’s about time the activists running the shows in various states come clean. They’ve been allowed to dance around the issue for too long. Labeling is a red herring. If they feel gmos are so dangerous, then why stop at labeling?

The final takeaway was that, given my non-confrontational conversations, save Liver Guy, I’ve come to believe the fanatical, fire-breathing,  anti-gmo crackpots on the interwebs are just that, crazy keyboard jockeys who have no relation to  their real world counterparts. And that’s the depressing thing. (Although, I have a sneaking suspicion Liver Guy is one of those people and he escaped from the basement. Earlier in our conversation he said he wasn’t there to debate, but to “impart information. Not to discuss or debate, but impart” )

I want the anti-gmo crowd to be this one-dimensional cartoon. It would make it much easier to dismiss them.  Instead, they’re nice, friendly, smart, well-meaning dumbasses. Just the kind of people I could hang around with and well, pretty much do.

Oh, I almost forgot Illuminati Guy. I had no clue what the hell he was talking about, except the fact we were the only ones who are hearing this information. I’m not quite sure what that information is, but I am one of the lucky few outside the Illuminati that knows it.

12 thoughts on “March against Monsanto: NYC version

  1. Oh, the wheat thing… Seriously, Jack and Judy need to be chastised really harshly for this. It will persist forever in the minds of the fearful and the clueless. They actually caused people to think their kids will die and their genomes will change.

    But I don’t think they are well meaning. I think they think they have secret knowledge (not just Illuminati guy). Like Maggie Koerth-Baker said the other day:

    “If you know the truth and others don’t, that’s one way you can reassert feelings of having agency,” Swami says. It can be comforting to do your own research even if that research is flawed. It feels good to be the wise old goat in a flock of sheep.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/26/magazine/why-rational-people-buy-into-conspiracy-theories.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

    But I think they are just parrots. They have zero depth. They aren’t really a threat to actual science because everyone in science will give them a dog-head-tilt. But they are possibly a threat to farmers and politicians. And that kind of parrot mob is a sad thing.

  2. It was one guy and no one was listening to him. At Vegan Guy’s group, there was more to it and people were actually listening when I got into it with him. A serious looking hippie was listening intently to what I was saying and the people in the immediate vicinity became interested in what I was saying,

    I didn’t change any minds, but maybe people heard a perspective they don’t normally hear. And if you look at that photo, no one would mistake me for a Monsanto shill.

  3. Thank you for what you are doing ! We desperately need more people like you… ! I really like reading your articles, I found your blog recently but shared several of your articles already. Unfortunately many anti-GMOs are really good in talking and debating while I often have a hard time to put my thoughts together and express myself in a convincing way. Like you stated in one of your article (Thinking beyond Argumentum ad Monsantum) Monsanto is really what block the mind of people and prevent them to go further in the debate. I find human brain in general very prone to adopt popular believes and make conspiracy theories. I found it funny when you told that many anti-GMOs that where even bringing the “tumorous rats” argument didn’t know who was Séralini, not because he is a “most know” person but because I actually personally know him as I did my bachelor in the University of Caen and he was my teacher of Molecular Biology for 2 years. Not a good one… I sometimes got the impression that he was more preaching than teaching ! And I can say he convinced many people around me. Hard to respond back when I was just another bachelor student and he was a “well known scientist”… ! Gilles-Éric Séralini is person who love to just listen to himself talking and chasing fame, glory and acknowledgment. Surfing on a popular idea and representing one the “authority figure” on this matter for the crowd is for him the best way to get there. Fortunately I am very questioning person and I don’t easily accept something as a fact, I always try to see the bigger picture, this characteristic made me an atheist and a young critical scientist. Sadly I am surrounded by anti-GMOs in my friends and in my own family. I can’t express it better than you did in this paragraph : “I want the anti-gmo crowd to be this one-dimensional cartoon. It would make it much easier to dismiss them. Instead, they’re nice, friendly, smart, well-meaning dumbasses. Just the kind of people I could hang around with and well, pretty much do”. Therefore I know what a difficult and lonesome fight you are conducting, so once again thank you for not giving up and not thinking “fuck it, they are so stubborn and they don’t get it anyway” and continuing this tough and never ending battle for scientific truth !

  4. LOL. Love that you engaged them. I just lurked at my rally…but got some really great photos and good videos. I posted them on the blog. 🙂

    I think more people need to experience this type of thing…if for nothing else but laughs.

  5. While the marchers in New York may have been throwbacks from the ’70s, marchers in southern California are far more educated. The march I attended in Oxnard drew close to 1,000 people and was very well organized. Many professional speakers, including a 20+ year dietitian chronicling all the negative health effects the medical community is still naive to regarding the POOR NUTRITIONAL QUALITY of OUR FOOD!

    Monsanto’s own scientists have shown, back in 1994, the degradation to the nutritional value of GM crops, but it got buried and ignored by the execs and pushed through the FDA by a former Monsanto VP, Mr. Michael Taylor.

    There are many things wrong with Monsanto’s approach to GM crops and their domination of the food supply. mainly, they are more interested in profits and control over human rights or dignity. They created GM crops so they could sell more insecticide. Do you understand that?

    They entice farmers into the program with savvy marketing tools like most big business do. When the farmers get hooked, no other herbicide will control your crops and you have to use Roundup, they are stuck. Their soil is now toxic and they can’t farm organic for years. Then Monsanto raises their price knowing they have a captive audience, plus a patent and signed contract.

    This is the business model they have been using in countries all over the world. Especially, in India, where they have driven farmers into poverty and suicide rates are through the roof since they can eliminate their family debt through death.

    While many marchers may not fully understand the depth of destruction from Monsanto it’s good they at least can comprehend the value of whole nutritious food for sustaining the human body. What would you rather eat, organic or pesticide grown food? If you have a hard time answering ask any 5th grader, they’ll help you!

    The bottom line and best approach to holding Monsanto accountable for poor quality food is “labeling.” As the President of Monsanto said, “if we had to label foods appropriately nobody would buy them.”

  6. Please get your facts straight. This march is part of a worldwide movement that is alerting people to the fact that our food may no longer be ours but will belong to the corporation Monsanto which has patented genetically engineered seeds. Monsanto is a dangerous company with a history that reads like the timeline of Don Corleone’s rise to power in the Mafia. By putting themselves in “alignment with farmers interests” they have managed to gain the monopoly on the US seed market. If a gmo crop contaminates a non gmo crop, then Monsanto lawyers sweep in (literally they pop out of the corn) and slap the non gm farmers with a lawsuit for “stealing” their product. Doesn’t seem right , does it? Well, Monsanto has friends in high places. VERY high places beginning from the Supreme Court right on over to the USDA office.
    These marches are the awakening of the people to what is happening to our freedom, to our environment and to our food.
    The people in the march are good looking for a good reason. They don’t eat genetically engineered crap and they are aware of how bad the toxins from gmo are for us and for the honeybees and other life on earth. Hopefully you were able to do some research since and you attended the march in October where Scientists Michael Hansen and Ignacio Chapela spoke about the very real, very proven health effects of this technology.
    Hope you had some time to think instead of attacking those who are helping bring awareness to this most important issue. But that is also the modus operandi of the biotech industry: to attack and discredit any person who brings truth to the frontline. Good luck. The gig is up and the people are awake. Now, about those labels….

    1. That’s ridiculous. The food we buy is ours to enjoy, just as is the music we buy. But like the music we buy we are not allowed to use it to make a bunch of copies and sell (or give away) to other people.

      Plants have been patentable since 1930 in the US, and most of the seed farmers buy in this country is patented. They buy patented seed because the increased yield offsets the cost by increasing profit.

      Monsanto doesn’t have a monopoly on seed in this country (not even close). Their roundup ready trait is found in 90%+ of corn, cotton, canola and soybeans because they license that trait to other seed companies whose customers want it.

      I don’t find the anti-GMO crowd to be especially good looking. But if they are, it’s because many are young and clueless, and that’s the sort of crap one believes in their 20s, just as I used to think that the drug companies were trying to keep the masses complacent by pumping them full of anti-depressants. Yours is a position of youthful ignorance with a few old hangers-on that like like to bust stuff up and long for the kind of attentive admiration people their own age won’t afford them.

  7. Nothing like using prejudice to justify reason…. The anti-science and bigoted conspiracy theory mob;, its like looking back in time to 1930’s Europe, only replace the Jew with Monsanto, or any other Agriculture biotech company! Yes, the conspiracy theorist will explain away at how this is different, but it isn’t. It’s like arguing creationism, anything that isn’t made by God, has to be suspect, the new progressive agra-mantra, and they are not that different than the average creationist in logic and in reality.

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