Saturday, May 25, 2013

Planting a Seed: Why I Marched Against Monsanto Today

My formal introduction to Monsanto began in 2009, when O was just one year old and we were living in Chilliwack. We lived a few blocks away from an elementary school, and often went there to play on the playground and pick the wild blackberries in the summer that grew along the fenced perimeter of the schoolyard. On one warm summer evening, July 30th to be exact, we were shocked and disappointed when we literally stumbled upon a sign indicating that the blackberries had been sprayed that day with Roundup, a herbicide. The sign was small, laying on the ground, and obviously not visible from all entry points onto the schoolyard. In the relatively short time period during which we were at the school, I stopped four kids and teens from eating the blackberries and pointed out the sign to  them. Each of them was equally shocked and, understandably, felt concerned about having ingested berries freshly sprayed with toxins.

Wikipedia commons
I quickly sent an email to the principal of the school, and to the Chair of the Chilliwack Board of Education about my concerns over the lack of adequate signage, and the use of a toxic herbicide on an Elementary school playground! To their credit, both were quick to respond with shared concerns over the incident, and the Chair indicated that he had intentions to investigate a ban on all herbicides on school grounds. He also indicated that Roundup had been used on the plants already that year in the Spring. My heart sank when I thought of all the sprayed berries I had been feeding my one year old.

In the past, we used Roundup in our own yard to deal with unwanted plants.  However, I have researched this product, and numerous studies point to troublesome effects of exposure to this herbicide on human and animal health, and on our environment.  Such effects on human health include severe eye and skin irritation, impaired lung function, and gastrointestinal problems.  Breakdown products of Roundup include formaldehyde, a known carcinogen.  Roundup has also been implicated in increased risk of miscarriage and premature births in pregnant women.  Here are a few links that can explain the health and environmental concerns:

Glyphosate Formulations Induce Apoptosis and Necrosis in Human Umbilical, Embryonic, and Placental Cells

New evidence of dangers of Roundup weedkiller

What's Wrong With Roundup?

If that information isn't disturbing enough, the public has been deliberately mislead about the safety of this product. Monsanto, the maker of Roundup, has been fined in the USA and in France for false claims about the safety of Roundup.

Monsanto is fined by the Attorney General of the State of New York for false claims regarding safety and environmental impact of Roundup

Monsanto is fined in France for deliberately misleading the public about the safety of Roundup

You may have heard Monsanto's name in reference to GMOs, Genetically Modified Organisms. The connection between Roundup and GMOs, other than the obvious fact that they are both produced by Monsanto, is that much of the GMOs produced by Monsanto are created specifically to withstand applications of Roundup to crops. For example, "Roundup Ready" canola is a genetically modified version of the canola seed that is resistant to applications of the herbicide. This way, farmers can spray their crops with Roundup, which will then kill all the weeds and leave the canola doused in herbicide, but alive and ready for harvest. Here are some of the concerns that I and millions of other consumers have:

1. We are consuming products that have been treated with a toxic herbicide.
2. We are consuming genetically modified food, the safety of which has never been proven. The burden of proof should be to prove that GMOs are safe, not to prove that they aren't safe.
3. We are dealing with a corporation with a documented history of dishonesty.
4. We are dealing with a corporation that is responsible for Roundup, Agent Orange, and Bovine Growth Hormone.
5. We are dealing with a corporation who, in some countries, owns the patents to living organisms, even to genes in the human body.
6. In Canada, we have no legal right to know whether the food we purchase is GMO or not.

There is much to be written on the subject of Monsanto, their absence of ethics, their quest to amass the patents to the very building blocks of food and even the genes in our own bodies, but this post is intended to plant a seed. If you haven't thought about these issues before, please do. I marched today to generate awareness, and discussion. I marched against Monsanto, and in recognition and lament of my own complicity in supporting them. The list of food companies that use Monsanto products is astoundingly long. I don't have all the answers, but I hope that as more people become aware of the questions and legitimate concerns, we can work together to secure a better, healthier future for our children, a future without Monsanto.

It is not radical to oppose the pursuit of profit when it deliberately jeopardizes our health and our very lives. It is not radical to fight for your children's right to health and a good future.


  1. Andrea, thanks for the education. I had no idea the depth of the issue. Have never liked or used commercial products in our garden there are so many effective ways to keep bugs at bay... This info certainly cements that idea. Will be doing a little more research on my own.

  2. Thanks, Andrea! Very informative! I'd never heard of Monsanto until I saw a couple of people post about it recently on Facebook, which made me curious to read your blog. You've inspired me to do some more research.

  3. Thanks for sharing the facts. It was a pleasure to march with you and so many others. I saw the link to your article via Marcia's facebook.

  4. Thanks for the comments, Di. That's a good point about alternative ways to keep bugs away. People managed without chemicals and GMOs for thousands of years, so they definitely aren't a necessity!

    Happy researching, Nichole. And I loved reading the article about your classroom in the news! Way to go!

    Thanks Leona, it was a great turnout for the march, wasn't it! I love your blog, by the way & voted for you in the greenest family contest. Congrats on the win!


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