We occupied Monsanto yesterday when CFO, Pierre Corduroux, addressed top banking executives and investors at The Crowne Plaza Hotel in Times Square for the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2011 Industrials conference.
We marched down Broadway in the middle of Times Square chanting, “Hey Monsanto! We don’t want your GMOs!” Once we arrived at The Crowne Plaza, the police had cordoned off a little patch of sidewalk for us to hold our rally. Many weren’t happy about being penned in, but we were able to exercise our First Amendment right — this hasn’t been the case at many OWS rallies.
We chanted and mic-checked Monsanto for over an hour. Many Times Square passers-by stopped to ask and listen in and we were able to reach people who might not have heard of Monsanto otherwise.
Here are some important facts to know about Monsanto:
- Monsanto brought Agent Orange to the world, a highly toxic, cancer-causing herbicide used in the Vietnam war. Veterans who were exposed to this herbicide have suffered terrible consequences such as rare cancers, skin diseases, multiple sclerosis, birth defects in their children and psychological disorders.
- The Mississippi River has suffered from the company’s pollution. Monsanto’s Illinois plant discharges an estimated 34 million pounds of toxins annually into the river. Its Iowa plant which produces alachlor and butachlor, releases at least 265,000 pounds of chemicals per year directly into the Mississippi.
- In 1990, Monsanto paid 648,000 dollars to settle charges that it allegedly failed to report significant risk findings from health studies to the EPA as required under the Toxic Substance Control Act.
- In 1988, Monsanto agreed to a 1.5 million dollar settlement in a chemical poisoning case filed by over 170 former employees of the company’s Nitro, West Virginia facility.
- Monsanto has made Roundup, its most successful herbicide. Human exposure to Roundup has resulted in nausea, skin and eye inflammation, bronchial constriction and nervous system disorders.
- Monsanto controls more than 93% of the soybeans and 80% of the corn grown in this country. And corn and soy are in everything! They’re in the animal feed in industrial farms and they’re in nearly every packaged and processed food and beverage. They are GMO crops. Read this for more on the health risks of GMOs.
- President Obama has put Monsanto’s own former VP, Michael Taylor, in charge of food safety. As of April 2011, 81 Transgenic crops have been approved by the USDA and not a single request has been denied.
- For more on the monopolization of the food supply and the connection between OWS and our food system, please read my article on Civil Eats. For yet another issue with Monsanto, read Tom Philpott’s article on Mother Jones published today.