Occupy Monsanto Heads to Congress Today as Part of Global Day of Action
Today, Occupy Monsanto’s agents of change with the Genetic Crimes Unit (GCU), a group designed to protect America from genetically modified foods, will wear bio-hazmat suits when they visit Congress. The group will gather at Capitol South Metro station at noon on March 16 to highlight how chemical company Monsanto is contaminating the political process. The GCU opposes Monsanto’s bid to increase spraying of food with toxic weed killers like 2,4 D (the main ingredient in Agent Orange), genetic contamination of the organic food supply, and other risks associated with genetically modified food (GMOs).
The GCU will arrive at the metro station wearing bio-hazmat suits to assess whether Members of Congress and their staff have been victims of genetic crimes. The GCU will hold a banner that reads, “Congress is Genetically Modified,” as they circulate on Capitol Hill sidewalks. This day of action is part of a larger international call to ‘Occupy Monsanto’ taking place all over the globe, including Spain, Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and at least 28 cities throughout the U.S.
“In the name of Wall Street profits, chemical corporations such as Monsanto genetically engineer crops to withstand high doses of their toxic weed killers that contaminate our food and water, and have not been proven safe. We deserve to know what we are eating. Virtually every major country requires labeling of GMOs in foods so their citizens can make informed choices, including all of Europe, Japan and even China,” said GCU’s Ariel Vegosen. “Monsanto’s lobbying dollars are pouring into politicians, so its clear we have a GMO contaminated U.S. Congress that threatens our health and the health of the planet,” said Vegosen.
WHO: Occupy Monsanto’s Genetic Crimes Unit (GCU)
WHAT: ID’ing Victims of Monsanto’s Genetic Crimes by GCU Agents in Bio-Hazmat Suits
WHEN: Friday, March 16, Noon
WHERE: Cannon Building: Independence Ave. SE, Washington, D.C., 20540, corner NJ Ave.
Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) has introduced three bills addressing concerns with GMOs. In addition, more than 900,000 people have signed onto the JustLabelit.org citizens’ petition to the Food and Drug Administration for GMO labeling (the most to sign a Food & Drug Administration petition ever). Last fall, about 100 people marched in the Right2Know March from New York to the White House to demand President Obama keep his campaign promise to label GMO foods. Video of the promise can be seen by clicking here. In California, Monsanto faces a 2012 ballot proposition on GMO labeling. Finally, on September 17, 2012, Occupy Monsanto is calling for hundreds of actions internationally.
For more information, click here.
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One of nature's epic events is underway: Monarch butterflies' fall migration. Departing from all across the United States and Canada, the butterflies travel up to 2,500 miles to cluster at the same locations in Mexico or along the Pacific Coast where their great-grandparents spent the previous winter.
Millions of People Care About Monarchs<p>I will never forget the sights and sounds the first time I visited monarchs' overwintering sites in Mexico. Our guide pointed in the distance to what looked like hanging branches covered with dead leaves. But then I saw the leaves flash orange every so often, revealing what were actually thousands of tightly packed butterflies. The monarchs made their most striking sounds in the Sun, when they burst from the trees in massive fluttering plumes or landed on the ground in the tussle of mating.</p><p>Decades of educational outreach by teachers, researchers and hobbyists has cultivated a generation of monarch admirers who want to help preserve this phenomenon. This global network has helped restore not only monarchs' summer breeding habitat by planting milkweed, but also general pollinator habitat by planting nectaring flowers across North America.</p><p>Scientists have calculated that restoring the monarch population to a stable level of about 120 million butterflies will require <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/icad.12198" target="_blank">planting 1.6 billion new milkweed stems</a>. And they need them fast. This is too large a target to achieve through grassroots efforts alone. A <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/CCAA.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">new plan</a>, announced in the spring of 2020, is designed to help fill the gap.</p>
Pros and Cons of Regulation<p>The top-down strategy for saving monarchs gained energy in 2014, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service <a href="https://www.fws.gov/southeast/pdf/petition/monarch.pdf" target="_blank">proposed</a> listing them as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. A decision is expected in December 2020.</p><p>Listing a species as endangered or threatened <a href="https://www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/pdf/listing.pdf" target="_blank">triggers restrictions</a> on "taking" (hunting, collecting or killing), transporting or selling it, and on activities that negatively affect its habitat. Listing monarchs would impose restrictions on landowners in areas where monarchs are found, over vast swaths of land in the U.S.</p><p>In my opinion, this is not a reason to avoid a listing. However, a "threatened" listing might inadvertently threaten one of the best conservation tools that we have: public education.</p><p>It would severely restrict common practices, such as rearing monarchs in classrooms and back yards, as well as scientific research. Anyone who wants to take monarchs and milkweed for these purposes would have to apply for special permits. But these efforts have had a multigenerational educational impact, and they should be protected. Few public campaigns have been more successful at raising awareness of conservation issues.</p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="91165203d4ec0efc30e4632a00fdf57d"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KilPRvjbMrA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
The Rescue Attempt<p>To preempt the need for this kind of regulation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved a <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/pdfs/Monarch%20CCAA-CCA%20Public%20Comment%20Documents/Monarch-Nationwide_CCAA-CCA_Draft.pdf" target="_blank">Nationwide Candidate Conservation Agreement for Monarch Butterflies</a>. Under this plan, "rights-of-way" landowners – energy and transportation companies and private owners – commit to restoring and creating millions of acres of pollinator habitat that have been decimated by land development and herbicide use in the past half-century.</p><p>The agreement was spearheaded by the <a href="http://rightofway.erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank">Rights-of-Way Habitat Working Group</a>, a collaboration between the University of Illinois Chicago's <a href="https://erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Energy Resources Center</a>, the Fish and Wildlife Service and over 40 organizations from the energy and transportation sectors. These sectors control "rights-of-way" corridors such as lands near power lines, oil pipelines, railroad tracks and interstates, all valuable to monarch habitat restoration.</p><p>Under the plan, partners voluntarily agree to commit a percentage of their land to host protected monarch habitat. In exchange, general operations on their land that might directly harm monarchs or destroy milkweed will not be subject to the enhanced regulation of the Endangered Species Act – protection that would last for 25 years if monarchs are listed as threatened. The agreement is expected to create up to 2.3 million acres of new protected habitat, which ideally would avoid the need for a "threatened" listing.</p>
A Model for Collaboration<p>This agreement could be one of the few specific interventions that is big enough to allow researchers to quantify its impact on the size of the monarch population. Even if the agreement produces only 20% of its 2.3 million acre goal, this would still yield nearly half a million acres of new protected habitat. This would provide a powerful test of the role of declining breeding and nectaring habitat compared to other challenges to monarchs, such as climate change or pollution.</p><p>Scientists hope that data from this agreement will be made publicly available, like projects in the <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/MCD.html" target="_blank">Monarch Conservation Database</a>, which has tracked smaller on-the-ground conservation efforts since 2014. With this information we can continue to develop powerful new models with better accuracy for determining how different habitat factors, such as the number of milkweed stems or nectaring flowers on a landscape scale, affect the monarch population.</p><p>North America's monarch butterfly migration is one of the most awe-inspiring feats in the natural world. If this rescue plan succeeds, it could become a model for bridging different interests to achieve a common conservation goal.</p>
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