Protesters shut down Monsanto for a day

Mar 30, 2012

Tuesday, March 20 was the first day of spring. Traditionally, spring’s beginning has been celebrated in many cultures by giving thanks, prayers for kind growing seasons to come, and the sowing of first seeds. In the Occupy culture, the coming of spring was cause for protest.

Occupy Monsanto—an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement—in cooperation with “Millions Against Monsanto”—a project of the Organic Consumers Association—wound up shutting down the Davis, CA, Monsanto branch for a day.

The motivation behind the protesters’ activities is a desire to end the use of genetically modified crops in the food supply, or at least get government-mandated labeling on foods containing genetically modified organisms. These drives stem from a belief that genetically modified foodstuffs somehow poison consumers or are unsafe in some way.

The Occupy protesters and their organic activist compatriots have been occupying various Monsanto locations across the country for a while now. Unlike the better-known Occupy Wall Street protesters who turned out in large numbers for their events, the Monsantofocused Occupiers usually only show up in handfuls. A recent Washington, D.C., protest group, all of whom were arrested for trespass, numbered at only 13 individuals.

The “shutdown” was more a preventative action on the side of Monsanto than it was due to the actions of the protesters. Out of concern for the safety of their 60 employees, officials of the Davis Monsanto branch told employees not to come in to work on Friday, March 16. The protest event’s organizer, Steve Payan, called the results a success regardless.

In an email correspondence regarding the demonstration, Monsanto representative Tom Helscher stated the company “respects each individual’s right to express their point of view.” He continued, stating that agriculture is supremely important and that Monsanto works to improve crop productivity and food safety around the world. — Kerry Halladay, WLJ Editor