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Protest Against GMO Lawns, Alfalfa & Food is Lost Amid Occupy Movement

Yesterday's anti-GMO rally in Washington was lost in the din of the Occupy movement.

Yesterday’s anti-GMO rally in Washington was lost in the din of the Occupy movement.

From a public relations perspective, yesterday’s Right to Know rally in Washington was a bit of a bust. Did you even know about it? I didn’t, and I like to think I pay attention to such things.

Lost amidst the now worldwide Occupy Wall Street movement, the Right to Know folks had marched the 300-plus miles from New York to Washington, D.C., during the first half of October to protest the proliferation of genetically modified foods. As I read some of the reviews and goals of the event this morning, it only deepened the frustration that our most important conversations often get lost in the din.

I’ll confess that the Occupy movement puzzles me. If we want to take back control from banks and large corporations, wouldn’t it be more effective to keep our money in local credit unions and shop from local merchants who get their stuff from local producers? Isn’t it that simple, or am I missing something? It’s called voting with your wallet. For the huge corporations that all these folks are publicly hating right now, a mass exodus of business to smaller, local companies would be a major blow. It would get their attention far more than any rally.

But I digress.

The absolute frustrating point is that really important discussions like life-altering, irreversible genetic modification of our food supply continue to be muted. As this article in the Daily Beast notes, Monsanto and its partners are gloating right now about the huge percentage of our food that is genetically modified — forcing U.S. organic food manufacturers to shop in Canada for things like organic soy.

Most troubling of all is that the Obama administration cowardly stepped aside while Monsanto and Scotts got the green light to sell and plant genetically modified alfalfa and Kentucky bluegrass.

The Right to Know march had high aspirations of making people care about these issues — but the movement’s Facebook page showed 472 people nationwide even bothered to RSVP. We have written extensively throughout this year about genetically modified foods, the newfound information about Roundup toxicity and the horrific decision to allow Scotts Miracle Gro to sell mutant grass seed beginning next year, but when we post these things to our Facebook pages, we might get a dozen people who pay attention. A cute photo of my daughters, on the other hand? Then I’m flooded with emails.

I’ve always told my older children and my employees that you don’t get to complain about something unless you come armed with a better alternative. And, yet, as I write this I have no idea, really, how to get people to care that 80 percent of the food we eat contains genetically unnatural ingredients and that oceans of scientific evidence indicates this is VERY BAD for us. It’s mind-bendingly scary to me that two perennial crops, alfalfa and bluegrass, will now be genetically modified — and we have a president standing idly by. Forget wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or gunning down the world’s worst terrorist . . . The most significant event of this president’s term has been to allow genetic modification of a perennial crop like alfalfa — because it’s a decision that can never be reversed, whether we elect a Republican, a Democrat or a Green Party candidate next time around.

Now and forever our animals will eat genetically modified alfalfa. And then we’ll eat those animals. And all of us, our kids and grandkids — and their great-great-great grandkids — will be screwed forever.

I loathe the political rhetoric that’s poisoning our country. I have great disdain for anyone who hopes our current president will fail just because he’s a Democrat, because that means we all fail.

But we do live in a democracy. I guess, when it comes right down to it, we need to vote our conscience and support political leaders who are willing protect what we have left of clean food resources.

So that, I guess, is my better alternative: Tell this year’s crop of candidates that genetic modification of foods needs to end, at least for the perennial crops that can never be reversed. Tell the candidates that you don’t want Jim Hagedorn at Scotts Miracle Gro getting even more rich on genetically modified bluegrass — at the expense of generations of children whose futures will be ruined.

Find a way to occupy the candidates’ consciousness. In this age of emails, phone calls and even old-fashioned letters, we don’t need another rally in Washington to do that.

About The Author

Paul Tukey

An international leader of the green movement, Mr. Tukey is a journalist, author, filmmaker, TV host, activist and award-winning public speaker, who is widely recognized as North America's leading advocate for landscape sustainability and toxic pesticide reduction strategies.

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