Originally published August 13 2015
Washington state initiative I-735 seeks signatures to stop corporations from GMO bullying through anti-personhood movement
by S. Johnson
(NaturalNews) After the disappointment of failing to get GMO labeling passed in Washington in 2013 (I-522), the citizens of Washington have banded together to pass an even more powerful initiative that would claw back the rights of the people from the clutches of billionaire multinational agrochemical corporations. All over the country, grassroots organizations are fighting against GMOs, including the Pacific Northwest Coast, Hawaii and even the Lone Star State.
The Washington Coalition to Amend the Constitution (WAmend) is a grassroots organization that is going up against some of the biggest names in politics, including the largest chemical corporations in America. WAmend is pursuing a Constitutional amendment that would change the way corporations are viewed by the law. Specifically, it would mandate that constitutional rights belong only to individuals — not corporations. Also, it would stipulate that spending money does not constitute free speech as defined by the First Amendment. Finally, the amendment would make it possible to regulate political contributions and expenditures in order to prevent undue influence, and both political contributions and expenditures would have to be promptly disclosed to the public.
WAmend grew out of the need to rework the way the law views corporations more broadly. There are many examples of communities losing the fight for GMO labeling because chemical corporations have fought back with a vengeance. For instance, corporate front groups like the Grocery Manufacturers Association are suing the state of Vermont over their recent GMO labeling law, and agrochemical corporations pushed to make Hawaii's laws for GMO agriculture invalid. Now the federal government is stepping in, with Congressman Mike Pompeo sponsoring a bill to prevent any state from mandating GMO labels at all.
When you see the way corporations fight against groups of small farmers, like the ones in Hawaii and Kauai Counties, you begin to recognize that their defense is based on nothing more than heartless self-interest. Hawaii and Kauai counties both passed ordinances in 2013 — with widespread local island support — to regulate the use of pesticides and the growth of GMOs. There was a brief flurry of excitement and triumph when the historic vote passed. The campaign (for Kauai County), aptly named Stop Poisoning Paradise, had won a battle against the Goliath of agrochemical power: i.e., against Dow, Syngenta, Pioneer and BASF. But only a few short months later, a judge with ties to Monsanto ruled that the GMO law was invalid.
Grassroots activist Stacy Cossey is actively seeking signatures in and around Spokane, Washington. She dresses up in a bee costume to attract attention to the Initiative, and to alert the community that corporate personhood not only hurts people, but also the honeybees:
A similar story has played out in many communities. In 2014, Vermont passed the nation's first GMO labeling law. For the first time, a state could require all products to identify whether or not they contain GMOs. Very soon afterwards, Vermont was sued by the Grocery Manufacturers Association, and in July 2015 the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of a new law that would essentially block states from mandating GMO labels.
These losses are disheartening, but WAmend is trying to hit the chemical corporations where it hurts — by reigning in their perversely bestowed constitutional rights. One reason why corporations wield as much power as they do is because they essentially possess many of the same rights as people. When a corporate entity is viewed as a person by the law, it can pursue unlimited spending on important political issues, and this in turn disenfranchises actual citizens. Does anyone really believe that this constitutes a fair fight?
Corporate personhood is a dangerous development that most people do not think will benefit the interests of the majority of Americans. As Robert Reich famously quipped, "I'll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one." Washington is one of 16 states that has endorsed some type of anti-personhood movement in regard to corporations. They are actively seeking signatures, 330,000 to be exact, in order to put the initiative forward to the Legislature. If you are a citizen of Washington, or know folks who reside in Washington, it is of the utmost importance that they seek out the Washington Coalition to Amend the Constitution and put their signature on the initiative. The signature drive only runs through December, and there are many places were you can sign the petition.
For more information on places to sign the petition, check out the "Where You Can Sign" page on their website.
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