On January 30, the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) joined Moms Across America (MAA), SumofUs, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Harrington Investments and GMO Free Midwest in a protest and confrontation at Monsanto’s annual shareholder meeting.
The meeting was held at Monsanto corporate headquarters outside St. Louis, Mo., in a town called Creve Coeur—which in French means Broken Heart.
It’s a fitting name for the location of a company that has caused so much heartache with its toxic chemicals.
OCA’s mission on January 30 was to let Monsanto know, in no uncertain terms, that its so-called science—bought and paid for with dirty corporate money—is no match for the research being conducted by honest, independent scientists. And that research is clear: Monsanto is making us sick.
OCA launched our “Monsanto Makes Us Sick” campaign with speeches by medical doctors Jeff Ritterman and Norm Shealy who summed up the scientific case against Monsanto’s flagship product, Roundup herbicide. We also constructed a memorial, in front of the Monsanto sign on the company’s lawn, to victims of Monsanto and Roundup.
Zen Honeycutt of MAA, acting as a proxy for Harrington Investments, took the message of our protest inside the shareholders’ meeting. She presented Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant with more than 500 testimonials from members of both MAA and OCA describing how their health, or the health of a family member, had been damaged by Roundup and its key active ingredient, glyphosate. Honeycutt also delivered a bibliography listing scores of scientific articles linking Monsanto’s Roundup to the health problems described in the testimonials.
When it was her turn to speak, Honeycutt spoke directly to Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant:
I want to share with you why I personally am here.
I have three sons, 12, 9 and 6, and they all have food allergies and my husband and I never did.
Two have life-threatening nut allergies and one son we almost lost twice; I held his hand in the hospital and prayed to God for his life.
But when we went organic, his allergies went from a 19 to a 0.2; he no longer has life-threatening allergies.
And, my other son, at 8 years old, had a rash around his mouth, and a sudden onset of autism symptoms. His grades dropped from A’s to D’s. He was hitting and had erratic behavior. I got him tested and he had Clostridium difficile, fungus, clostridia, leaky gut, 19 different food intolerances and gut dysbiosis. These are all things farm animals have when they are exposed to glyphosate [the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide].
I got him tested for glyphosate and he had 8.7 ppb in his urine, eight times higher than was found in anyone in Europe.
So we all went organic to avoid glyphosate and within 6 weeks, we tested him again and his levels of glyphosate were undetectable. His autism symptoms were also gone and he has not had a single autism symptom since.
And, I am not the only one; we have hundreds of testimonials. We see our kids get better from autism, allergies, asthma and autoimmune disorders.
Honeycutt also presented a proposal, on behalf of Harrington Investments. The proposal addressed “proxy access” at Monsanto, which is the process allowing shareholders to directly nominate a limited number of candidates to the Board of Directors. Currently, the existing board members alone select a sole slate of candidates for the board.
The proposal garnered 53 percent of the vote, ending what Harrington Investments called “Soviet Bloc Style Voting at Monsanto.”
It was a surprising victory. As Honeycutt described it:
I felt an actual pat on my back and I turned and saw smiling faces. The shareholders had passed it! And they were smiling at me. Amazing! Astounding. I felt myself choke up and tears welled up in my eyes. I put my face in my hands and took a deep breath. I was overwhelmed with emotion.
Even the Wall Street Journal had to admit that Honeycutt, representing MAA, had put Monsanto on the defensive. In his blog post, “Monsanto Shareholder Meeting Gets Heated,” Jacob Bunge wrote:
The meeting at Monsanto’s St. Louis headquarters tested CEO Hugh Grant’s stated determination to more directly engage critics of large-scale agriculture and genetically modified crops.
OCA and MAA weren’t the only protestors at the January 30 meeting. Sum of Us delivered a mock award to Monsanto for being the World’s Most Evil Corporation. A member of GMO Free Midwest came to the protest dressed as the Grim Reaper, whom they referred to as “Monsanto’s most influential shareholder.”
OCA will continue to highlight the growing body of evidence that GMO foods and Roundup are harmful to human health, and remind consumers that while Monsanto may no longer be officially engaged in chemical warfare, its body count continues.
Farm workers handling crops doused in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide are dying from Chronic Kidney Disease.
Those who eat a standard American diet of genetically modified foods engineered to absorb or produce Monsanto’s pesticides are struggling with infertility, digestive disorders, and neurological diseases.
The list goes on.
As this year’s shareholder meeting was winding down, Grant told attendees, “We’ve had a lively afternoon.”
Get ready, Mr. Grant, things are going to get a lot livelier. Our “Monsanto Makes Us Sick” campaign is only getting started.
Video of the January 30 Monsanto protest here.
More on the human health impacts of Roundup here.
Alexis Baden-Mayer is political director of the Organic Consumers Association.