With the Anchorage air still thick from the Funny River fire, I set out on foot to downtown on a mission to learn more about Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) at this year’s March Against Monsanto.
Unfortunately, most of my knowledge on the subject was limited to conspiracy radio talk shows, so I did my best to wipe the slate clean and felt determined to enter with an open mind.
I eventually found what I was looking for. A group of ten or so were diligently setting up signs and tables for the event. Statements of protest on cardboard signs lined I Street from 9th to 10th Avenue.
I was immediately greeted by a group of women who very kindly offered me their opinions on the subject.
One of whom, a breast cancer survivor, offered more smiles than anyone else on the park strip possibly could have that day. They told me that GMOs produced by the Monsanto Corporation are responsible for increased obesity, colony collapse disorder, toxic seeds, increased cancer rates, and mental illness. They told me that Monsanto is also responsible for Agent Orange, toxins found in Round-Up products, and that they do not actually help increase crop yield.
The next group of eager activists walked up and had a few more items to add to the list, adding their belief that Monsanto was part of a larger plot. At one point or another, it was claimed that the mainstream news refused to cover the subject, not even to provide coverage for what they claimed was the largest protest of all time.
The United Nations was using the legally non-binding Agenda 21 against the people of the world. The Illuminati were involved. HAARP is used to control the weather. And finally that around 200,000 farmers have committed suicide after losing their livelihoods to Monsanto.
At one point during the conversation, a gentleman pointed to the sky at a jet’s contrail and said that it was a chemtrail being used to purposefully affect the Earth’s climate. Several sets of eyeballs took skyward at the mention. A cute little doggie with an anti-GMO adornment crossed my path. Eventually, the phrase “this liberal” was used, the death of Osama bin Laden was denied, and I was asked if I had “heard about the fluoride?”
I had a lovely afternoon. Everyone there was very kind, hospitable, and open to conversation. It is nice to see Alaskans getting passionate about something.
A Brief History of a Complex Corporation.
There is a lot of ground to cover here. When an amazing century of scientific discovery is coupled with the worst wars our species has ever seen, tragedy seems to have locked step with progress.
Let us begin with the main suspect, Mr. Monsanto himself — or as he was known in real life, John Francis Queeny.
Queeny was a long time veteran of the pharmaceutical industry, founded the company in 1901, and expanded it until 1926, when they founded a town in Illinois. By 1936, they had Charles Allen Thomas, a talented scientist by any means, who would eventually go on to be an integral part of the Manhattan Project.
Monsanto was one of the major producers of both DDT and Agent Orange. It should be noted that Monsanto was not alone in this endeavor, and when PCBs (Polychlorinated Biphenyl, commonly used as a cooling agent) were banned by the U.S. government, Monsanto discontinued use.
These chemicals were originally intended to aid humanity in its fight against malaria and to improve technological efficiency. But, like any new scientific discovery, you may want to conduct some long term research before spraying yourself with it.
Agent Orange has even more horrifying effects (WARNING: NSFW/NSFL). The harm caused by this particular chemical is beyond reproach. A particular session of litigation between U.S. veterans and the Monsanto Corporation ended in a troubling settlement. One scientist, whose research helped in the eventual development of Agent Orange, said he was “immediately concerned” about the effects that his discovery might have. His original intention was to increase soybean production in Illinois.
Good intentions can have unintended results. In this manner, Monsanto is a bit more of a reflection of our species’ story instead of an isolated, shadowy corporate bogey-man.
Monsanto is also a leader in the field of genetic modification. This can be used for things as seemingly benevolent as generating more food for the planet’s ever booming human population, to something as silly as pet fish that glow in the dark.
There is good reason for this to be a contentious issue, and there are thoroughly intelligent arguments on both sides of this seemingly insurmountable fence, especially over the fear of terminator seeds, or seeds that are engineered to have sterile second generation seeds.
Here is where the conspiracy theories really fall apart. The United Nations, the same organization that some claim is plotting against us, put a moratorium on terminator seeds. As noted by another writer at Alaska Commons, “monopolistic multinational corporations aren’t bound to the truth, ultimately.”
This statement has been proven time and again and terminator seeds cause rational concerns. I would like to add that Youtube conspiracy videos are not bound to the truth either.
New Stuff is Scary.
1) Food is awesome.
We need it to live, and life is a big part of what these demonstrators are concerned about. What affects our food affects us all, and diligence towards public food safety is of real importance.
2) The environment is also quite awesome. As DDT and Agent Orange have proven, people spraying junk all over the place for quick results can have long-lasting disadvantages. Peacefully protesting against harmful things is a great way to add your voice to the public discussion.
3) Being passionate about public health is pretty darn neat. It’s just plain nice to see Alaskans getting outside on a sunny day in the name of people leading healthier, happier lives.
But un-researched conspiracy theories make me frustrated. There are enough real problems in the world — so much so that creating invisible and intangible enemies is simply unnecessary. As our species progresses into the future, we will undoubtedly encounter many complex situations.
If Monsanto can serve as any example, it would be one of caution. Well intentioned science combined with unrestrained capitalism can have a very nasty effect, but it is not the cause for paranoia and fear directed at the entire world around you.
Long live peaceful protesting and social activism. But please, please check notions of disproven allegations at the door to reality.
This is Illuminati Brother #6459 out.