This Saturday (May 25), activists around the world, including the Fort Frances area, will unite to take back their food.
JoAnna Richards is among the district residents organizing a “March Against Monsanto,” targeting the American multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation which is a leading producer in genetically-engineered seed.
“Basically, it’s to raise awareness of genetically-modified organisms [GMO] as well as the corporation, Monsanto, and some of the things that that particular corporation is looking to do,” said Richards, who owns and operates “From the Ground Up” farm in Devlin with her husband, Todd.
“We are local growers, so we can answer questions about how this affects local agriculture and how this affects food in general,” she added, noting plenty of information will be available.
Participants will mobilize at noon at From The Grind Up on the 100 block of Scott Street, with the march beginning at 1 p.m.
It will proceed up one side of Scott Street and down the other (to Safeway and back). The Richards will be leading the march.
“March Against Monsanto” events will be taking place world-wide on Saturday.
“Everybody’s welcome to come out,” stressed Richards. “It’s very casual, it’s a very peaceful event.
“We’ll just out there informing people what’s going on.
“You would be surprised just how many individuals have no idea what this is,” she added.
Richards said she was prompted to do something because of the so-called “Monsanto Protection Act,” which was passed through as part of the federal budget bill in the United States.
“What that did was give Monsanto a ‘get out of jail free’ card, so they are pretty much allowed to do whatever it is that they want without consequences at all,” she argued.
“A lot of the individuals that are supposed to be watching over the food and drugs in that country, as well as I think in Canada, are actually linked to a lot of these big businesses, corporations, so there’s really no watchdog out there,” Richards warned.
Genetically-modified foods threaten local agriculture, she explained, noting that if, for example, a farm next door to the Richards had genetically-modified crops, and those crops cross-pollinated with the Richards’ organic crops, their crops become GMO the next year if they decide to save their seeds.
“We end up saving seeds, which is essentially a crime because the seeds are patented by Monsanto,” Richards said.
“A lot of farmers have lost their livelihood,” she noted. “There [are] heritage farms in the United States, 100-year-old farms, that have been bankrupted by Monsanto because they claim that they stole seed.
“They have had to pay for seed which was their seed, but it just cross-pollinated because that’s nature.
“That’s something we don’t want to see here in Canada because we like to keep our land pure and free of these kinds of problems,” Richards added.
Richards also noted that bee populations everywhere are declining and nobody seems to know why for sure, but there’s possibly some link to GMOs.
“This is not only just an agricultural problem,” she stressed. “This is a humanity problem.
“It was said a thousand years ago or so by very great men that without bees, humanity would survive for about four years.
“This is big,” Richards reiterated.
“Ultimately, we figured it’s time to start speaking out about this because we may be small and we may think that this problem isn’t our problem, but the fact is, every time you go to the grocery store and you pick a product off the shelf, chances are you’re taking a product which has genetically-modified ingredients in it.”
At the very least, Richards said companies should have to label their products to tell the public if those foods contain GMOs, and let the consumer have a informed choice when deciding whether or not to eat genetically-modified food.
To find out how to make a sign prior to Saturday’s march, or to ask questions about the cause, contact Richards at 486-0185 (home) or 271-0090 (cell).