San Jose ‘Raging Grannies’ protest GMOs, targeting Monsanto and free-trade pact

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Some residents of San Jose joined in a “march for real food” Saturday with the Raging Grannies of San Jose. The demonstration was one of many international protests organized in conjunction with March Against Monsanto, a nongovernmental organization advocating against the genetically modified products of American agricultural biotechnology corporation Monsanto.

The Raging Grannies is a subset of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom that works for “world disarmament, full rights for women, racial/economic justice, an end to all forms of violence at all levels of society, and changing government priorities to meet human needs” as stated on its website. The Raging Grannies is one way that, through political satire, the Women’s International League makes national and international issues local concerns.

Ending at San Jose City Hall on Saturday, protesters called for the end to secret negotiations between the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and 11 foreign governments about potential free trade pacts, better known as the trans-pacific partnership or TPP. The Raging Grannies encouraged protest attendees to “flush the TPP” by contacting their representatives in Congress.

According to materials distributed at the gathering, a free-trade pact would undermine food safety protections, including the banning of genetically modified organisms, and prevent the establishment of laws that would require such modified products to be labeled.

Missouri-based Monsanto was identified as one such company that participates in genetic modification. It has been on the receiving end of a variety of protests nationwide, including a protest at its headquarters on Saturday, as reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

An $11.8 billion company, Monsanto sells glyphosate-resistant seeds to farmers. Glysophate is a main ingredient in the company’s weed-killing herbicides under its Roundup product line. Through use of the glysophate-resistant seeds with the glysophate herbicide, farmers can produce an increased yield of their products.

In a statement prior to Saturday’s protest, Monsanto stated: “We believe we are making a contribution to improving agriculture by helping farmers produce more from their land while conserving natural resources such as water and energy.”

San Jose had its own bout with genetically modified foods last year when residents voted on Proposition 37, which would have required genetically modified products to be labeled. The proposition was defeated 53 to 47 percent, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

Update, Oct. 18: In a statement, a San Jose protest organizer disputed that crop yields increase: “Sometimes there are increased yields in the first or maybe the second year, but after that, decreasing yields. One of the reasons for decreasing yields is that many of the weeds develop resistance to Roundup.”

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