South Africans Say “No to GMOs!”, Join Global “March Against Monsanto”

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On May 25th, South Africans will come together in cities throughout the country to demand democratisation of South Africa’s food systems, and the elimination of dangerous and harmful “Genetically Modified Organisms” from Africa. The action will coincide with protests in dozens of countries around the world involving millions, all united against US agro-chemical company Monsanto and GMOs, and in favour of Food Sovereignty Now!

On Saturday, May 25th, 2013, civil society activists and ordinary South Africans will gather outside the Johannesburg offices of US agro-chemical giant Monsanto, in a protest against the company’s aggressive efforts to force “genetically modified organisms” (GMOs) on South African consumers and farmers.

Monsanto’s toxic legacy of poisonous chemicals and environmental destruction is well documented, as is the frightening extent to which the company controls South Africa’s food systems. Unfortunately, many South Africans still don’t realise they are being sold unnatural, experimental, risky substances as part of their daily diet.

Growing numbers of South Africans are angry about being force-fed GMOs, however, and this protest will be an opportunity for them to unite and send a loud and clear message to Monsanto and the South African government that we will not allow Monsanto to control our food system with its toxic and poisonous chemicals, and its contempt for the environment, farmers and citizens.

Monsanto’s Toxic Legacy

US agro-chemical giant Monsanto has been at the forefront of developing and marketing risky and unnatural genetically modified (GM) seeds. In addition to producing and promoting these artificial and unsafe “food” products, the company has a long legacy of producing toxic chemicals, non-biodegradable plastics and artificial food additives. Monsanto’s toxic pesticide “Roundup” is used extensively on food crops, vegetation, road-sides, railway lines and in water-courses, poisoning our food and contaminating our environment. Yet precious little has been done to monitor and manage its environmental impacts.

Monsanto even arrogantly claims to “own” life itself through patents on seeds. The company is notorious for persecuting small farmers who save seeds from one season to the next. Replanting farm-saved seed as old as agriculture itself.

Monsanto also aggressively prevents and undermines consumer efforts to get accurate labelling of GM foods.

In South Africa

Monsanto owns around 50% of South Africa’s entire maize seed market, and has an absolute monopoly over the country’s GM market. More than 80% of maize, 90% of soyabean and 100% of cottonseed sold this season were GM, all belonging to Monsanto. Yet, the majority of South Africans are completely in the dark about the risky and extremely dangerous food they consume everyday and have been doing so for more than a decade.

Although Monsanto has obtained approval from the South African government and is supported by commercial businesses that stand to profit from GMOs – large food producers, the animal feed industry, and agri-business in general – many small producers, family and organic farmers, consumers and independent advocacy groups vehemently oppose the use of GMOs in agriculture production.

Studies strongly suggest that GMOs pose serious long-term health impacts. Since maize is a staple food item in the diet of many millions of South Africans, Monsanto could be laying the groundwork for a public health disaster.

Protest Action

Organisers of the protest invite all South Africans who are concerned about the health and control of their food supply to join this peaceful protest action on the day.

Food Sovereignty movements and activists share commitments to certain key principles and values such as:

- Defending the right to sufficient, healthy and culturally appropriate food for all;
- Ensuring local, democratic control over our entire food system;
- Supporting local food producers and local communities;
- Protecting the land, water, animals and plants we depend on to live.

For More Information:

- Monsanto Factsheet from African Centre for Biosafety
- Details for the Protest in Fourways, Johannesburg (Facebook event)

Contacts:

Zakiyya Ismail, African Centre for Biosafety
Email: zakiyya@biosafetyafrica.org.za
Mobile: +27 (0)83 273 7304

Andrew Bennie, Democratic Left Front
Email: bennieand@gmail.com
Mobile: +27 (0)72 278 4315

Food Sovereignty Movement, Gauteng Province
Web: foodsovgp.wordpress.com
Email: foodsovgp@gmail.com
Twitter: @FoodSovGP

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