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article imageDurban S.A. March against Monsanto: 'There’s poison in your pap!'

By Anne Sewell     May 27, 2013 in World
Durban - May 25 saw a colorful and diverse procession of Durbanites in support of the worldwide protest event "March against Monsanto." One of the main themes of the protest was "There's poison in your pap" (corn porridge).
The event was led by Earthlife Africa eThekwini and supported by organizations including Biowatch South Africa, the Green Squad Alliance, South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA), and the Right to Know KZN.
Approximately 150 people gathered in and around the Workshop shopping precinct, Gugu Dlamini Park and also in front of City Hall in Durban, South Africa.
March against Monsanto in Durban  Kwazulu-Natal  South Africa - May 25  2013
March against Monsanto in Durban, Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa - May 25, 2013
Earthlife Africa Ethekwini
The protest was an energetic one, with people chanting, beating drums and marching to highlight global problems in the food and agricultural systems epitomized by profit-hungry multinationals such as Monsanto.
March against Monsanto in Durban  Kwazulu-Natal  South Africa - May 25  2013
March against Monsanto in Durban, Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa - May 25, 2013
Earthlife Africa Ethekwini
March against Monsanto in Durban  Kwazulu-Natal  South Africa - May 25  2013
March against Monsanto in Durban, Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa - May 25, 2013
Earthlife Africa Ethekwini
The main theme of the Durban protest was "mielies" (maize or corn), which is the staple food of Africa. The event drew the attention of the people to the fact that in South Africa as much as 86% of the maize crop is now genetically modified (GM).
March against Monsanto in Durban  Kwazulu-Natal  South Africa - May 25  2013
March against Monsanto in Durban, Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa - May 25, 2013
Earthlife Africa Ethekwini
The Durban protest action was followed by ‘Musos against Monsanto – Songs for Seed’ at the 101 on Pine Pub, where Durban’s finest musicians and artists eloquently shared their concerns for the planet and our food.
March against Monsanto in Durban  Kwazulu-Natal  South Africa - May 25  2013
March against Monsanto in Durban, Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa - May 25, 2013
Earthlife Africa Ethekwini
Background and reasons for the protest:
Most South African are not aware of genetically modified organisms and do not know that the safety of these foods is highly questionable.
Delwyn Pillay of the Green Squad Alliance said:
“GM crops have been dogged by controversy since the first plantings in the 1990s. Given that this living technology cannot be recalled, GM organisms have been approved with surprisingly scanty safety testing, mostly carried out by the biotech industry.”
Independent scientific studies have been performed, like the one carried out in France by French scientist Gilles-Eric Séralini, and have revealed a serious cause of concern with animals fed GM food suffering organ damage, cancers, allergies and birth defects along with reduced fertility.
Only one human trial has been run with GM foods, and this study found that GM genes transferred into intestinal bacteria. Given that GM foods contain antibiotic resistant pesticidal genes, this could result in human stomach bacteria becoming living pesticide factories, immune to antibiotics.
Besides maize, consumers in South Africa may also be eating GM foods when buying products containing soya, cotton seed oil and canola oil.
What also concerns South Africans is the fact that the patented GM seeds, and necessary related chemicals to use with their cultivation, cost farmers more than conventional products. This is creating crippling debt for many farmers, and many have been forced out of business in the process.
There are also worries about environmental problems due to the increased use of herbicides and pesticides, which have resulted in the creation of ‘super-bugs and weeds’, and the poisoning of beneficial insects, plants and micro-organisms by the pesticide produced in genetically modified Bt crops.
Vanessa Black of Earthlife Africa eThekwini told the media:
“It is apt that the March against Monsanto coincides with Africa Day, as now, more than ever, Africans must unite to protect our seed and farming systems from corporate control.”
South Africa is well known for being the biotech industry's "springboard" into other African countries and according to Black, “GM crops are the most recent addition to an increasingly risky industrial agriculture system, which currently contributes to 50% of climate change emissions."
"We must urgently transition to small-holder farming using agro-ecological farming methods, which are biodiverse, GM and chemical free. Most importantly we need to localize farming to support our communities and take back control of our food and seeds.”
As Monsanto has an absolute monopoly over the GM seed market in South Africa and controls 50% of the maize seed and 60% of the glyphosate herbicide markets, this means that the corporation is positioned to totally control the food supply of the country.
In South Africa, Monsanto is not the only company promoting GM foods and the relevant chemicals, but has been singled out due to its aggressive practices in pushing GM foods on to farmers. Monsanto also has a long history of knowingly selling dangerous toxic chemicals, while at the same time calling them "safe."
More information can be obtained by contacting Vanessa Black of Earthlife Africa eThekwini by email to black@ispace.co.za or by cell phone on +27 (0)82 472 8844.
More photos of the event:
March against Monsanto in Durban  Kwazulu-Natal  South Africa - May 25  2013
March against Monsanto in Durban, Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa - May 25, 2013
Earthlife Africa Ethekwini
March against Monsanto in Durban  Kwazulu-Natal  South Africa - May 25  2013
March against Monsanto in Durban, Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa - May 25, 2013
Earthlife Africa Ethekwini
March against Monsanto in Durban  Kwazulu-Natal  South Africa - May 25  2013
March against Monsanto in Durban, Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa - May 25, 2013
Earthlife Africa Ethekwini
March against Monsanto in Durban  Kwazulu-Natal  South Africa - May 25  2013
March against Monsanto in Durban, Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa - May 25, 2013
Earthlife Africa Ethekwini
March against Monsanto in Durban  Kwazulu-Natal  South Africa - May 25  2013
March against Monsanto in Durban, Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa - May 25, 2013
Earthlife Africa Ethekwini
March against Monsanto in Durban  Kwazulu-Natal  South Africa - May 25  2013
March against Monsanto in Durban, Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa - May 25, 2013
Earthlife Africa Ethekwini
Other articles on the March against Monsanto, May 25, 2013:
In photos ─ Activists March against Monsanto in Washington, D.C.
March against Monsanto: Cape Town, South Africa, May 25, 2013
March against Monsanto: A worldwide protest, May 25, 2013
March against Monsanto: Kingston, Jamaica, May 25, 2013
March against Monsanto: In the streets of Maui & Oahu, Hawaii
March against Monsanto: Toronto, Canada saw 2,000 in the streets
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