Though Saturday’s worldwide March Against Monsanto’s local turnout was small, those who showed up on Main St. in front of City Hall at noon to participate in the awareness campaign were passionate about the subject at hand.
Shouts of “Oh no, GMO” and “Stop Monsanto” could be heard resonating from the buildings across the street and amplified over the sounds of both traffic, and the homecoming parade for university students that was taking place just two blocks away.
Cedar City resident Erin Fletcher said that she helped as an organizer with the previous march in May, but this time there was no official organization for the event at a community level. She said she was there with her husband, and three small children, as a representative of the Cedar City Action Group and herself as a concerned mother to show solidarity by uniting with marchers who were also taking a stand around the globe.
“The March Against Monsanto is an international demonstration bringing awareness to Monsanto Company who is one of several large agricultural and chemical producers in the world,” Fletcher said. “They happen to have a large amount of control of our food supply.”
Fletcher said one reason she is angry is, because a large amount of subsidies, in the form of taxpayer monies, are funneled into programs to specifically support the farming of GM foods that have not been tested for safety or efficacy by an independent testing facility.
“The government has allowed these crops to be produced with only the testing that comes from the producers laboratories,” she said. “So, the people who stand to make a profit – Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta – they are the ones doing the testing that the FDA and the USDA have accepted.”
According to the website monsanto.com the company’s agricultural endeavors, including GM foods, are pioneering developments that were designed to help meet the needs of a growing world population and feed the starving families.
“We have our eye on the future and we’re working on bringing innovative products to the market,” the website reported. “With the aid of our talented workforce and robust research and development platform we’re working toward producing more, conserving more, and improving lives.”
Fletcher said that she is not buying into the “save the world” propaganda that Monsanto touts, because every bit of research she has done has disproven the reality of their claims.
“A lot of these crops are grown for fuel,” she said. “Corn is very much an ethanol product now-a-days, and it’s also grown for animal feed,
“So, while it may benefit the animals that we will eat later in America, the starving people in third-world countries are not buying beef or chicken from us, so it’s a farce,” she added.
Mother of three, Lilli Shrope, said that her family moved to Cedar City from Sweden only three weeks earlier, and even though they have struggled to get on their feet, buying anything less than organic, non-GMO foods would be unacceptable to her.
“We try our best to buy all organic for my kid’s sake,” Shrope said. “I don’t want them to get cancer, and I don’t want to support the people that support GMO’s and Monsanto.”
Shrope said that in Sweden there are labels on any foods that could potentially be dangerous to consume.
“In Sweden we are required to put huge labels on stuff like the Twizzlers, the Fruit Loops, the Doritos,” she said. “The label says ‘red #40 eat with caution this causes cancer and hyperactivity in children.’”
After moving to America, Shrope said she mistakenly bought yogurt thinking that, because it said “all natural” it would be safe, but was disappointed to find out that the cow’s the yogurt came from had been fed with genetically modified grain.
Shrope said that her mission for the year is to tackle the school lunch program at her son’s school while he is still a kindergarten student and eliminate GMO foods from the menu before he begins first grade next year.
“I refuse to feed my son the snacks they give him (at school),” she said. “I send him along with organic fruit, or some Annie’s, but I have told the teachers that he is not allowed to eat the GMO, red #40, snacks they give at school.”
While the debate about GMO’s has been the hot-button issue at the forefront of the Monsanto protests, Fletcher said that it is by no means the only issue. The growing oligarchy that Monsanto has created is increasingly more dangerous for the public she said.
“Monsanto has a revolving door into our politics,” she said. “They control our food supply and when we get sick from their food, we turn to them for our medicine, it’s a vicious cycle that needs to end.”
Fletcher said that CCAG is a group of concerned individuals who have taken deep interest, and have a personal stake, in the welfare and important issues that affect Iron County residents at large.
More information about the March Against Monsanto and the Cedar City Action Group is available on facebook.