That was some good soup!: First Ever “Eat-In” at the FDA a great success

 

On April 8th, 2013, about 300 safe food advocates, farmers, mothers and kids from across the country joined together for a “picnic-style protest” in front of the Food and Drug Administration. We were there to share a GMO-free “stone soup” and to demand food democracy: labelling of Genetically Modified Foods, the closing of the revolving door between industry and government, and the immediate resignation of former Monsanto Vice President turned FDA Food Regulator, Michael Taylor. It was a beautiful and inspiring day, and while we didn’t get that Monsanto minion to resign, our voices were heard and our movement continues to grow.Inline image 1

Organizers with MA Right to Know GMOs were so delighted to partner with GMO Free CT to bring 29 dedicated safe food advocates from across the Northeast to participate in this historic event.  With the support of Food Democracy Now! and several donors, we were able to charter a coach from Western MA, pick-up folks in Hartford, and make an overnight trip to the offices of the Food and Drug Administration in College Park, Maryland.  It was no easy trip, but a determined hunger for food democracy will help you overcome many obstacles!

 

We made it to the site of the FDA as the sun was starting to warm up what would turn into an utterly beautiful day.  (75 and sunny after the prolonged New England winter was such a great reward for making the trip).  We were warmly welcomed by those setting up at the rally and helped to jump start the day with our energy and enthusiasm.  We were also welcomed by about a dozen Homeland Security and police vehicles and officers.  One of them even told us that Monsanto is a “bunch of criminals,” and they’re glad we are there to protest the corruption of our government!  (It was the most peaceful and joyous crowd imaginable, even the police didn’t seem to be looking for a fight.)  Many of us got right to work, holding signs and waving to the FDA employees as they came into work for the day.

 

In addition to the soup, the day included sign-making and holding, literature distribution to passers by, networking and strategy sessions, an heirloom seed exchange, and a few rounds of open-mic addresses over the PA.  Some people directed their messages at those assembled, while other spoke toward the employees inside the building (who we could see peaking out of the windows during the day).  One of the speakers, and an organizer of the event, Tom Clever, made it a point to express that we were not there to protest against the people inside the building (except for Michael Taylor, of course) but, rather, we were protesting the policies of the FDA.  We even invited them out to share some GMO-free soup with us!  We know that many of the FDA’s own scientists have expressed concerns over the safety of GM foods, but that it’s the whitewashing and censorship carried out by Monsanto minions like Michael Taylor that is keeping them from doing their job of protecting the health of Americans.

 

Our celebrity guest of the day was Birke Baehr, who many of you might remember from a TED talk of an 11 year old that went viral a couple years ago, entitled “What’s wrong with our food system?”.  The young food activist and aspiring organic farmer is 14 now, and had some good words to share with the crowd.  (Sorry I don’t have any quotes – hopefully we’ll have a video, soon!).

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Of course, the featured event was the shared enjoyment of our Stone Soup!  After we heard a telling of the mythical story of Stone Soup, people took turns explaining to the crowed the significance of the ingredients they brought with them.  The ingredients were combined in the largest soup cauldron anyone has ever seen and  masterfully blended by a local chef and friend of the movement.  What came out was an enjoyable an incredibly complex Stone Soup which was enjoyed by all assembled!

 

Meghan Lopez, a reporter with RT America, did a great job summarizing the story of Stone Soup and covered the action in a feature video.

Overall, we got an impressive amount of media coverage: an article in the Washington Post was syndicated in multiple papers across the country.

There was also TV coverage from WJLA ABC7 and from the Prince George’s Community Television station.Stone Soup without GMOs for the FDA by Susana G. BaumannIs Monsanto worthless? By Sara MurphyYou can also see photos that people took a the Eat-In, posted here.

We got back on the bus at about 5:30 pm, and made the journey home.  Those who had any energy to stay awake watched a new documentary called “Seeds of Death” produced by Gary Null.  It’s a compelling and well-produced documentary which complements Genetic Roulette as another great video teaching tool.   We made it back to Hartford at 1a and Northampton at 2.  (Writing this two days later, I’m still a bit off kilter from the trip, but it was well worth it!).

What’s next?  The local state GMO labelling initiatives will continue on with renewed energy (righttoknow-gmo.org), and people are getting ready for a the next big action,  something more local this time!  The global March Against Monsanto is taking place on Saturday, May 25, 2013 in cities and towns across America!  As of 4/4, over 10,000 people has singed up to attend (this action is spreading virally through Facebook).  Please consider helping out with organizing or attending your local demonstration.  It appears that we’re reaching a tipping point of awareness of the role that Monsanto is playing in jeopardizing our health and our democracy.  With you’re help, we’ll  push it over the edge and finally take back our food supply!

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(the Northeast contingent, with a surprising amount of energy after a long day!)

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