Protesters shut down Monsanto’s Davis facility for the day

Up to 100 protesters blocked the entrances to Monsanto at 1910 Fifth St. on Friday morning, according to sources, leading Monsanto to close the facility for the day. The facility remained closed on Saturday as well.

Starting at 6:30 a.m. Friday protesters gathered as part of the two-day “Global Days of Action to Shut Down Monsanto” that took place Friday and Saturday in dozens of U.S. cities and several countries. The facility officially shut down around 9:30 a.m.

Occupy groups from Sacramento, Davis, Woodland and Los Angeles participated, along with labor, environmental, veterans and social justice groups. Protesters came out in the rain to set up tents and hold signs in opposition to the company’s use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Steve Payan, one of the organizers of the protest and leader in Occupy Woodland, said the protests are about food, health and safety.

“The City of Davis is doing a good job of understanding us as a movement,” Payan said. “Today’s events were about starting to take resolutions against Monsanto to the city, state, nation and United Nations. We’re really questioning why the U.S. is keeping GMOs and letting Monsanto stay part of the FDA [U.S. Food and Drug Administration].”

According to the organizers, the objective of the protest is to bring local awareness to the Monstanto corporation’s control and involvement with the toxins in food and water supplies and the ties they have to the government. The Anti-Monsanto Project worked in conjunction with Millions Against Monsanto to “start acting locally and thinking globally to bring down this tyrant of the food industry.”

Lt. Paul Doroshov of the Davis Police Department said there were about 80 protesters outside the building when it was closed Friday morning and that the protest was peaceful. He said the police worked with Monsanto’s management to ensure the protests continued to be peaceful.

Artem Raskin, a junior political science major who has been involved in the Occupy movement since last quarter, said he felt a lot of the Occupy events in Davis have been overly insular, only involving UC Davis students.

“Events like the one this morning are beneficial for breaking the town and gown design,” Raskin said. “Occupy is about uniting everyone in the 99 percent.”

He also added that the community has ways to go in that Monsanto is right next door to campus, yet most people are unaware of this.

“I didn’t know about Monsanto being in town until Occupy Woodland contacted me,” he said.

Davis resident Alia Tsang attended the protest and said she felt it wouldn’t have a long-term effect on Monsanto.

“It’s more about drawing attention to people who didn’t even know Monsanto was here,” Tsang said. “It will help inspire people to get involved in helping to start labeling GMOs.”

Rosalindia Martinez of Woodland also participated in the protest.

“I never thought anybody would stand up to Monsanto,” she said. “They’re the food bully of the world and I hope these protests help people awaken to Monsanto’s corruption.”

Monsanto Corporate Affairs office released the following statement about the protest: “We respect each individual’s right to express their point of view. Agriculture and its uses are important to California, the United States and the world. The 21,000 people who work for Monsanto are involved in producing seed and technologies for farmers to help improve farm productivity and food quality. We believe farmers should have the opportunity to select the production method of their choice and all production systems contribute to meeting the needs of consumers.”

Protesters stayed in front of the Fifth Street Monsanto building overnight on Friday and left Saturday.

ANGELA SWARTZ can be reached at city@theaggie.org.

This article was last updated on March 19, 2012.

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