March Against Monsanto in Quito – Notebook and 22 Photos

March Against Monsanto in Quito, Ecuador
March Against Monsanto in Quito, Ecuador

Here are some images from this morning and early afternoon’s March Against Monsanto action in Quito, Ecuador, one of 436 cities in 52 countries where demonstrations were held against GMO/biotech giant Monsanto today.

Monsanto, the company that brought the world Agent Orange five decades ago (see a post of my October 2010 visit with Vietnam’s third generation of victims), has massive global reach, with 404 facilities in 66 countries across six continents. According to Food and Water Watch, in 2009 Monsanto’s products were grown on more than 282 million acres worldwide.

Activists and food safety advocates contend that no scientific assessments exist confirming that genetically-modified crops are safe for people and the environment. Conversely, numerous GMO products –many owned by Monsanto– have been linked to serious disease and illness, and have rendered millions of acres of land infertile. Earlier this year Poland became the eighth European Union country to ban Monsanto corn, joining Germany, Austria, Hungary, Luxembourg, France, Greece, Italy, and Bulgaria. At least 27 countries now ban certain GMOs.

Several Hundred Take Part in Quito

Given Ecuador’s progressive agriculture and environmental policies –the country’s 2008 Constitution was the first in the world to recognize legally enforceable Rights of Nature, or ecosystem rights, and was one of the first to recognize the right to food, or Food Sovereignty– I was a little surprised to learn that Monsanto not only has a presence here, but that Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa recently said that the government needs to take another look at GMOs.  “No they don’t,” was the answer today.

Here in Quito, the demonstration began in a small plaza in front of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Aquaculture and Fisheries (MAGAP). There was then a march to and through Parque la Carolina, one of the country’s largest public green spaces, before returning to MAGAP Plaza. I estimate that about 200 took part in the march, with the number of participants topping 300 at its peak post-march. Local organizers might be able to provide a better figure.

Speaking of numbers – those provided by organizers of the worldwide action –upwards of two million from 436 cities in 52 countries — and cited in this Associated Press story, are quite significant, considering the ‘March Against Monsanto’ global movement began less than three months ago via a Facebook group.

Twenty-two photos in all are below. Note to event and community organizers: You may use any of these photos to illustrate stories, posts and summaries of other May 25 events so long as the watermark remains intact and credit provided as follows: Bob Ramsak / piran café. A quick note informing me that they’re being used would be appreciated as well.

Video coming later, or tomorrow, depending on the connection at my humble hostel in Quito. I just posted a four-minute video of the action here. There was some absolutely fabulous post-march music and dancing, but that’ll have to wait until tomorrow later in the week. It’s worth the wait, I promise.

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Bob R

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