By Barbara Kessler
Green Right NowMarch Against Monsanto flyer

This weekend thousands are expected to join the March Against Monsanto, a grassroots effort that’s brought together people around the world who’re fed up with large corporations dictating what foods they can buy and how farmlands will be used.

No doubt this movement, begun on the Internet by Utah resident Tami Canal, will  cause the biotech seed giant some serious  heartburn, even as it celebrates its ownership of many of the genetically modified (GMO) foods we’ll be eating this Memorial Day weekend.

(About that food, in the U.S. the Monsanto takeover of crops is so advanced that you almost cannot avoid participating. Check out what you’re picnicking on. Does it have high fructose corn syrup or was it raised in a CAFO on American grain (from GMO corn)? Does it contain soybean oil or products (from GMO soybeans) or sugar (most likely from GMO sugar beets)?

Are you having sweet corn?  Chances are 40-60 or 50-50 it’s now genetically altered too.

This march is long overdue.

Polls show that the majority of American consumers don’t want genetically modified foods because they’re polluting (in most cases they’re engineered to work with certain herbicides) and potentially unsafe or at least unproven. The American public is not keen on serving as guinea pigs, and skeptical of assurances that GMO or GE (genetically engineered) foods are safe, given the paucity of public or unbiased research.

They have not been persuaded that GMOs are good for consumers or producers, and yet, the takeover of certain American food crops by Monsanto, the world’s largest biotech seed company,  is nearly complete.

mvm-redNo one should be surprised that this situation has produced a massively frustrated public.

To add to the slow burn, we’ve seen politicians pave the way for Monsanto’s vise-hold on the breadbasket, bowing to the powerful corporations instead of the electorate.

Now for my personal worry. While this march brings together  people from different political backgrounds, libertarians (Tea Partiers among them) and progressives (Democrats and beyond), and that’s really powerful, this neophyte alliance could be headed for trouble if people don’t heed each other’s differences.

Here’s what I’m talking about. On the March Against Monsanto website, Nick Bernabe of The alleges that the mainstream media has ignored the Monsanto story, specifically failing to warn the public about the “Monsanto Protection Act,” which passed earlier this year. The act protects Monsanto from lawsuits, allowing crop planting to continue even if there’s a court challenge pending.

Here’s Bernabe, who’s listed as a sponsorship coordinator for March Against Monsanto:

“Remember seeing the warnings about the dangers of the ‘Monsanto Protection Act’ on MSNBC and FOX News before it became a law? Me neither. That’s because there was no warning from the mainstream media; in fact very few have even covered it to this day. We did find out about this bill when it was only a proposal from multiple reports by independent journalists, including SpreadLibertyNews on 12/17/12.

His allegation about the mainstream media oversight may or may not be true, I don’t have time to investigate.

But, they’re covering it now.

And many advocacy groups,  notably Food Democracy Now! have been sounding the alarm for months. FDN was publicizing and petitioning to stop the act, starting in mid 2012.

Conflating anti-media and food politics, could only hurt the latter. These are entwined, but also separate issues, unless you see a conspiracy around every corner and a corporate media with a nefarious agenda, instead of a shambling, hapless media that cannot get to every story.

And do we have to single out SpreadLibertyNews for special praise on this one?

This is a news organization that covers every utterance of Sen. Rand Paul, as if he were the Dali Lama. They’ve got a dozen stories posted and four of them cover Paul. I get that they’re aiming for an alternative view, but let’s not swing so wide we fly out of orbit.

In this case, pointing to SpreadLiberty and its guiding saint, leaves the wrong impression that Libertarians like Paul were leading the charge against big bad Monsanto. (It was a matter of liberty!) When in fact, the real heroes were Food Democracy Now!, small farm and food groups and regular old Democrat Sen. Jon Testor of Montana, who railed against the Monsanto Protection Act on the Senate floor.

And of course there were fleets of enablers, people in power who looked the other way, to avoid getting entangled in an issue that might cause them political heartache or funding losses.

Rand Paul apparently wasn’t part of either the pro or the con consortium, but fell into the “say what?” camp.

Here he is answering a very recent question about the Monsanto Protection Act:

If it’s to survive beyond this weekend, the March Against Monsanto coalition must remember its shared goals and avoid the divisive partisanship.

End of lecture, now go drink some high fructose corn syrup.

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