Occupy DC protesters arrested outside Monsanto

Wednesday, March 07, 2012 by: J. D. Heyes
Tags: occupy DC, protests, Monsanto

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(NaturalNews) The Occupy DC movement said a dozen of its members were arrested outside agricultural biotech giant Monsanto's offices last week as part of a national day of protest to "shut down the corporations."

The protest outside of Monsanto's offices was part of a national day of opposition called for by the Portland, Ore. Occupy chapter, the goal of which was to shut down all corporations associated with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which describes itself as a non-partisan individual membership organization of state legislators which favors federalism and conservative public policy solutions." In a statement, the Occupy Portland movement said ALEC "is a prime example of the way corporations buy off legislators and craft legislation that serves the interests of corporations and not people," the Washington Examiner reported.

Local police said that about 50 Occupy DC protesters showed up early in the morning with the intent of blocking the entrance to Monsanto's offices, located at 13th and I Streets downtown. One officer, William Farr, said the protestors were on public space and initially allowed employees of Monsanto to enter the building.

"Making us sick!"

Later, though, protesters physically blocked doors to the building by forming a line around all entrances. According to Twitter posts by the group, some protesters even scuffled with cops. Police threatened to arrest them if they didn't move and eventually took 12 or so into custody.

Some of the protesters held signs that read, "Stop Corporations!" while others chanted phrases and slogans, including, "Monsanto and ALEC, corporations are making us sick!"

Occupier Brian Eister said the group arrived outside Monsanto's offices around 7:20 a.m. Eister said they chose Monsanto because the agri-giant "is doing more to make a sustainable world impossible than almost any corporation on the planet."

Following the protest, Monsanto's public affairs machine must have sensed some negative publicity fallout from the arrests, because it kicked into gear and spit out a polished, albeit standard, mea culpa.

"We respect each individual's right to express his or her point of view. Agriculture and its uses are important to all of us. We understand that no single company or method of agricultural production can address food production needs individually," said Monsanto Director of Corporate Affairs Tom Helscher.

"We believe farmers should have the opportunity to select the production method of their choice and all of the production systems contribute to meeting the needs of consumers," he added.

Tell a lie often enough...

This, you might recall, from the same agri-giant that sues and intimidates farmers on a regular basis.

No matter what you think of the "Occupy" protests, it seems clear that Monsanto's business practices are somewhat predatory. As a Vanity Fair investigation found nearly four years ago, the company which had already achieved near-total domination of the nation's food chain with genetically modified seeds, was beginning to target milk production too.

"Just as frightening as the corporation's tactics -- ruthless legal battles against small farmers -- is its decades-long history of toxic contamination," said the report.

One of the biggest issues between the agri-giant and local farmers is the company's habit of suing planters for saving seeds for use the following year, a practice that stretches back for millenniums.

"Some compare Monsanto's hard-line approach to Microsoft's zealous efforts to protect its software from pirates. At least with Microsoft the buyer of a program can use it over and over again. But farmers who buy Monsanto's seeds can't even do that," said Vanity Fair.

To hear Monsanto tell it,the company takes farmers to court to protect seed patents and "ensure that we are paid for our products and for all the investments we put into developing these products."

Further, "Monsanto invests more than $2.6 million per day in research and development that ultimately benefits farmers and consumers. Without the protection of patents, this would not be possible," the company says on its website.

Yet for nearly the entire history of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, officials considered seeds life forms that contained too many variables to be patented. That all changed in 1980, when the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that seeds could indeed be patented, paving the way for agri-giants like Monsanto and a handful of others to control the world's food supply.

It's not a conspiracy theory, it's a conspiracy, period. The Occupy protesters have this one right.


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