Friday, May 31, 2013

GLW on March Against Monsanto

In a major show of force for the movement against genetically modified organisms (GMOs), 1600 people marched through the streets of Perth on May 25 as part of the global March Against Monsanto. Previous actions in this campaign in recent years in Perth have numbered a few hundred at most.

Organic farmers and non-GM farmers telling their stories made up a significant part of the speaking platfom. Organic farmer Kelly Newton-Wordsworth opened the rally with a number of powerful songs about saving the environment and opposing GMOs.

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 whose crops were polluted by GM canola from a neighbouring farm. Consequently, he has lost organic certification over 70% of his Kojonup 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.

In a somewhat surreal way, the huge rally proceeded through the streets of Perth on the footpath - including being broken up at times by changes in traffic lights – despite clearly having the numbers to march on the roads. More inspiring was the march through some shopping arcades and the Perth train station in the centre of Perth, reminiscent of some of the actions at the height of Occupy Perth.

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).

Organiser Janet Grogan also spoke about the strength of the global ``March Against Monsanto'' movement. She urged people to seek out non-GMO alternatives.

[This article by Alex Bainbridge was written for Green Left Weekly #968. Photos and video by Alex Bainbridge for Green Left Weekly.]