Thousands of people rallied in cities across Australia on May 25 to protest genetically modified organisms (GMO) developed by Monsanto and being used in food products worldwide.
This was part of the March Again Monsanto global day of action that saw demonstrations take place in more than 40 countries around the world.
In Australia, these rallies were significantly larger than previous rallies on the issue of GMO. More than 1000 people rallied in Melbourne and a crowd of 500 rallied in Sydney’s Hyde Park.
Members of the Agent Orange Justice campaign also publicised the part played by Monsanto in the US government's destruction of Vietnam's forests and agriculture by spraying Agent Orange during the Vietnam War of the 1960s and early 1970s.
In Perth, a 1600-strong rally heard from speakers including organic farmers and non-GM farmers telling the crowd about their experience.
Julie Newman from the Network of Concerned Farmers spoke early about the case of Steve Marsh who has initiated landmark court action against Monsanto. Marsh was unable to attend the rally but his statement was read by Newman.
Marsh is an organic farmer in Kojonup whose crops were polluted by GM canola from a neighbouring farm. Consequently, he has lost organic certification over 70% of his farm thereby threatening his livelihood. He has commenced legal action against his neighbour who is being fully supported by Monsanto making this a precedent-setting David versus Goliath case.
Solidarity with Marsh became a significant theme of the Perth March Against Monsanto with badge sales, fundraising and information sharing about his case. Greens senator Scott Ludlam was one of several speakers who expressed solidarity with Marsh.
The rally concluded with speakers and a festival at Russell Square in Northbridge.
Organic farmer Bee Winfield made a powerful speech which highlighted the threat organic farming poses to Monsanto and outlining the long record of environmental disasters for which Monsanto has been responsible (including DDT, PCBs and Agent Orange).
Speakers at the rallies highlighted the issues in regards to Monsanto and GMO. Publicity for rallies said: “Monsanto is a chemical company. Its products include: Agent Orange; PCBs; Roundup; and now GM crops.
"Monsanto bought seed companies to force its GM crops on farmers. It owns 25% of all seed worldwide and around 90% of GM seed.
"Monsanto sues US farmers; owns around 90% of the Indian cottonseed market. Farmer suicides have skyrocketed. GM monocultures are destroying forests, bees and butterflies.
"Australia: Grows GM cotton (around 90% of the crop) and GM canola (less than 10% of the crop). Monsanto has bought into WA's public plant breeding company, Intergrain, and wants to release GM wheat.
"We are eating unlabelled GM ingredients in most processed food. Your tacos, corn chips, bread and dips may contain ingredients from GM soy, corn, canola, sugar or cottonseed oil. This GM food was approved by our food regulator, FSANZ, based on data provided by Monsanto."
March Against Monsanto