There’s nothing like a crowd of protesters dressed up as enormous (and royally pissed off) butterflies to scare the pants off of a corporate giant, right? That’s probably what anti-GMO activists were going for when they took to the streets May 25th to protest the genetically modified foods produced by GMO pioneer Monsanto Company. The protests spanned 52 countries and 436 cities, including Birmingham, Ala., where protestors wearing bee and butterfly costumes gathered at Rhodes Park to express their disapproval of GMO foods.
We gotta say, Monsanto has not been popular lately. First there was the bill nicknamed the Monsanto Protection Act, which Obama signed into law in March and which generated a pretty big backlash from a general public growing concerned about the modified genes in their cornflakes. Then there was Monsanto’s highly-publicized lawsuit against an elderly soybean farmer that led farmers around the country to protest Monsanto’s aggressive legal tactics.
And this isn’t the first time Monsanto has come under fire for unpopular business practices — in the sixties, Monsanto manufactured and sold the deadly chemical cocktail known as Agent Orange to the U.S. Military. The same Agent Orange that killed over 400,000 people and caused 500,000 children to be born with birth defects? Yeah. Not exactly a treasure trove of good publicity.
Of course, the fact that Monsanto has been experiencing a bit of a PR backslide doesn’t change the reality of the situation: The majority of foods on the market right now have been genetically modified, and that’s not likely to change any time soon. Genetically modified crops are higher-yield and hardier than their natural counterparts, which makes them cheaper and therefore more profitable for growers and consumers alike. And Monsanto is very, very successful. As for the debate on whether we should stop manufacturing and consuming GMO products . . . only time will tell.