Anti-GMO protesters close main entrance to Monsanto plant in Woodland

 The number of protesters varied, but by day’s end Thursday an “Anti-Monsanto” action west of Woodland was generally peaceful.

The Woodland protest was part of what was claimed to be a worldwide action to bring attention to the company’s role in creating genetically modified foods.

The event started around 4:30 a.m. and continued throughout the morning. Activists blocked gates to the Woodland facility off Hwy. 16 initially, and then moved to other access points around the 182,000-square foot facility, located a mile west of town on the south side of the road.

The Woodland building was originally established in 1972. A new structure was completed in late 2014 with an open house held only in April this year. The new three-story structure also has 290,000 square feet of greenhouses and screenhouses and around 300 full-time employees.

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Most of the work deals with identifying and correcting plant pathogens and developing new variatals of plants.

At Thursday’s protest, there were no immediate reports of any arrests.

A Yolo County Sheriff’s Department spokesman said the primary goal of law enforcement was to keep people safe on the heavily traveled road — which customarily sees traffic headed to the Cache Creek casino in Brooks, as well as people going to and from the Wild Wings subdivision.

The sheriff’s deputy also stated that business didn’t appear to have been disrupted by the protesters, which he estimated at numbering around 65 people.

In addition to sheriff’s deputies, there were also members of the California Highway Patrol and some Woodland police.

The protest is part of “Anti-Monsanto” actions in more than 450 locations worldwide, including 47 states, and 52 countries on six continents this week.

The action on Thursday was a prelude to a rally for the global “March Against Monsanto” scheduled for Sunday at he California Capitol building in Sacramento.

The activists, few apparently from Woodland or Davis, contend that Monstanto controls 92 percent of the world’s seed market and conducts genetic engineering which produces genetically modified foods that reach food markets.

The demonstrators blocked the entrance to Monsanto’s Woodland operation along Highway 16, and later to a entryway located to the rear of the facility. Law enforcement officials had placed “no parking” barricades along a half-mile stretch to the east and west of the entries to keep people from parking along the busy road.

Monsanto released a written statement supporting an open dialogue: “The 22,000 people of Monsanto are committed to having an open dialogue about food and agriculture — we’re proud of the work we do, and we’re eager for people to know more about us. We’re also proud of our collaboration with farmers and partnering organizations that help make a more balanced meal accessible for everyone. Our goal is to help farmers do this in a more sustainable way using fewer resources and having a smaller impact on the environment. We know people have different points of view on these topics, and it’s important that they’re able to express and share them.”

In a prepared email, activists stated they were also protesting the “DARK Act” (HR 1599). If passed, this congressional legislation would not reveal the contents of meat products.

Regarding Monsanto, the same emails alleged, that the company’s GM soybeans are seed-treated with bee-toxic neonicotinoid pesticides, which have been linked to massive die-offs of bees, commonly referred to as Colony Collapse Disorder. There is, however, no definitive link between these pesticides and bee deaths. Rather, there seem to be a number of causes behind CCD.

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