REPORT FROM BABES AGAINST BIOTECH – San Diego, California – Environmental groups from across the Pacific in Hawaii and California have called a statewide protest today regarding pesticide poisoning and genetic contamination, urging residents to join a peaceful demonstration in San Diego. The worldwide resistance against the practices of the largest international chemical companies, and especially their development of herbicide-tolerant “GMO” crops and seeds, which critics say entrench a pesticide-intensive corporate-controlled food system.
The 2014 Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) International Convention, currently being held at the San Diego Convention Center, has attracted the opposition of thousands of members of environmental and consumer advocacy groups in California and Hawaii. Industry watchdogs based in Hawaii, Babes Against Biotech, marine conservation advocates Ocean Defender, legendary international surf and environmental defense group Da Hui and an organization leading multi-million participant worldwide protests, March Against Monsanto (MAM), are uniting with the initiators of Prop 37, Label GMOs (California) and local chapters MAM San Diego and Label GMOs San Diego to bring attention to this critical matter in a first amendment exercise.
BIO is the largest industry trade group in the world, and the convention is sponsored by most of the chemical corporations producing GMO foods that are responsible for genetic contamination of our food supply. Concerns are aimed specifically at the “Big 6” chemical+GMO corporations—Monsanto, Dow, DuPont/Pioneer, BASF, Bayer and Syngenta. The chemicals produced by these companies used in production of GMO crops, are linked to birth defects, cancer, nervous system disorders, ecological devastation, the death of bees and other critical species, and countless other health concerns. Widespread global genetic contamination of agricultural crops through pollen drift has led to the prohibition and rejection of GE crops in 32 countries and the labeling of GE foods in more than 62 countries.
Protesters are calling for transparency, consumer rejection of GE crops and regulatory overhaul of the chemical +GMO industry practices. While California is an agricultural center of the nation, the Hawaiian islands are GMO Ground Zero worldwide. Over 5,000 open air agricultural genetic experiments have been performed in Hawaii, which has 3-4 growing seasons per year. A recent report in Cascadia Times suggested that these testing sites have made parts of Hawaii into one of the most toxic chemical environments in a comparison between all United States agriculture. Data suggests that use of some of the most toxic pesticides, including chlorpyrifos and permethrin, are ten times the national average. Medical doctors treating communities near fields are concerned that they are seeing elevated rates of serious illness, possibly including rare birth defects ten times the national average.
California’s agricultural industry produces nearly half of all US-grown fruits, nuts and vegetables and is one of the largest consumer markets in the country. Despite the fact that 93% of US citizens surveyed want GE food labeling and the federal government has failed to enact labeling for eighteen years, the GMO food industry narrowly defeated Prop 37, a 2012 California GMO labeling initiative. Today’s protest targets companies which collectively contributed over $20 million to prevent GMO food labeling in California alone.
BIO, the organization hosting the convention, is currently suing the County of Hawaii in attempts to reverse a recent law (Bill 113) passed to prevent agricultural genetic contamination and prohibit the open air cultivation of additional GMO crops. Chemical companies Dow, DuPont/Pioneer, BASF and Syngenta, are currently suing the County of Kauai for a recently passed Ordinance 960. The law places pesticide spraying buffer zones around schools, homes and hospitals, requires the largest users to disclose pesticides being sprayed in the community and genetic experiments being performed in the open air as well as environmental and health impact studies. Monsanto has been voted“Most Evil Company in the World,” “Worst Company in 2011” and runner up for Worst Company in America.
The companies specified, have been responsible for numerous chemical poisoning incidents and superfund sites, perceived corruption regarding their undue influence over governments and financial relationships with lawmakers, habitual lawsuits against organic farmers with fields contaminated against their will by genetically engineered pollen, health and environmental hazards. Widespread international consumer rejection of GMO crops and economic implications exemplified by China’s recent rejection of over $5 billion of U.S. corn due to GE contamination, are small clues in a larger investigation of the practices of the world’s largest chemical companies and their proponents.