Marching towards an organic future

30 09.11

Greetings from sunny Brooklyn!


It’s just like I sent you a postcard, isn’t it? Only without the cheesy scrawl on the back.

I’m here in a quirky cafe near Park Slope, where we’re gearing up to begin a major leg of our journey: the Right2Know March.

This 313 mile, two-week promenade is modeled after a similar march in Germany that succeeded in enforcing labels on genetically modified foods.  We – as well as the hundreds of marchers joining us, and the other companies and caravans partaking – are hoping this traipse goes in a similar direction and puts pressure on our politicians to finally label the foods that wind up on so many of our tables.

Genetic modification is a tricky, sticky topic.  Yes, farmers and gardeners have been practicing various, less direct forms of genetic modification for centuries – cross breeding is, after all, a form of GM.  But there are concerns about the form that recent “advances” in the field have taken.  To quote the National Geographic website:

“…concerns exist over the potentially negative environmental impact of GMOs. Because they introduce genes not native to a particular species, the impact these genes will have if they enter wild plant populations is yet unknown. GMO crops are often engineered to produce pesticides or resist herbicides, so the potential for GMO crops to induce pesticide resistance in pest and weed populations could result in high pest populations that cause agricultural and environmental damage. The potential of these pesticides to harm nontarget organisms also raises concern.”

The second – and to many, the most pressing – issue that these crops raise is that of corporate control.  When a new strain is introduced, companies have the ability to patent that specific seed – and then sue farmers if that seed is found in their fields.  Often, the seed spreads without their consent or knowledge, and small farmers end up losing everything because of it.  Many people know about the now famous Percy Shmeiser, who decided not to back down and stand up to Monsanto when they sued him over saving seed.  Countless other farmers have not achieved the same fame as him, but have shared his fate.

And of course, it begs the question: can you place a patent on life?

Whatever your, or anyone’s, view on GMOs in general, it’s hard to deny that they should be labeled.  I mean, if they’re as safe as the biotech companies claim, then there should be no issue with labeling them – that in itself is suspect.  An MSNBC poll indicated that 96% of Americans support labeling GMOs, so what’s the holdup?

That’s exactly our question, and that’s exactly why we’re marching.

Tomorrow is the kickoff party in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY, where we’ll be adding an element of whimsy to the marchers’ and attendees’ day.  We’ve spent the past few days getting things in order for the march – making banners and signs, figuring out last-minute logistics, and generally doing all the various tiny things it takes to put together an activist event.  Because, it turns out, it takes a lot.

Keep your ear tuned to our facebook and blog for updates, photos and videos from the march.  I have no idea what this march is going to be like, but we’re being joined by a bevy of amazing speakers and awesome organizations (Dr. Bronner’s foam tub, anyone?  I’m stoked), so it’s looking to be an amazing, enlivening, activating time.

Time for lunch!  As always – see you on the road.


PS — Want to join in on any part of the march?  It’s still not too late!  Check out the Right2Know website for more details.

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