I used to think it was enough to stand up for what I believe in by the way I live day-to-day. I used to think that voting with my dollars and being a responsible consumer was enough, but now I’m starting to feel like I need to do more. We are more than just consumers and the sum of us is greater than all that we could do individually put together. This is why I decided to attend my first peaceful protest, March Against Monsanto.
According to Monsanto’s website, it is “a sustainable agriculture company”. However, a growing number of citizens are concerned about this giant corporation’s products and practices. One of Monsanto’s most controversial products is herbicide tolerant (also known as Roundup Ready) seeds. According to the Institute for Responsible Technology, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), such as these seeds, are having an overwhelmingly negative impact on the health of the environment, our food supply, and any organisms that consume them. If there is even a grain of truth to this, I believe we’d be negligent not to address it.
Although the dangers of these crops are widely disputed, more and more scientists are coming forward with data that supports growing concerns. The increasing cognizance of GMOs reminds me of the trajectory of awareness of the dangers of smoking. Unfortunately, Monsanto’s ardent claims, expensive campaigns, and disregard for life are also reminiscent of big tobacco’s maneuvers to keep American citizens in the dark and doling out money to them for our own demise. It seems big tobacco has been replaced by “big food“.
While not enough time has elapsed to draw absolute conclusions about the effects of consuming these genetically modified foods, I feel people have the right to know what is in our foods and make educated decisions about what we eat. Apparently, Monsanto and other “big food” companies do not agree. These companies have spent millions of dollars fighting against labeling these products to show that they are genetically modified. This does not sit well with me. As more and more foods are genetically modified, we deserve the right to know and to choose what we consume. I don’t trust any company that can argue with that. If Monsanto believes their products are harmless, the onus is on them to prove it to the consumer. Instead, they’re trying to keep us in the dark. I find that insulting and downright dishonest.
They will not force us
They will stop degrading us
They will not control us
We will be victorious
– from Uprising by Muse
I could write on for pages about other Monsanto concerns, such as their historical connections to Agent Orange and Roundup and their negative impact on small agriculture, biodiversity, and the environment at large, but those are not really the points that I’m trying to make.
My point is that we can vote with more than our dollars. We can vote at the polls. We can vote with our voices: in letters, with phone calls, and at protests and marches. We can vote by arming ourselves with knowledge. We can vote by speaking out against wrongdoing when we see it. More importantly, we can support the good we see in the world. Perhaps most importantly, we can do it together.