Occupy DC said 12 of its members were arrested Wednesday while protesting outside the offices of agriculture giant Monsanto as part of a national day to "shut down the corporations."
The group was protesting in solidarity with Occupy Portland, which called for a national day of action to shut down corporations with ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council. According to Occupy Portland's Call to Action statement, ALEC "is a prime example of the way corporations buy off legislators and craft legislation that serves the interests of corporations and not people."
D.C. Police Officer William Farr said early Wednesday that about 50 people came to Monsanto's offices at 13th and I streets and tried to block off the doors. Farr said that the protesters were on public space and that people who work in the building were able to enter it.
But later, protesters blocked the doors to the building -- forming a line around all entrances -- and scuffled with police outside, Occupiers said on Twitter. Police threatened demonstrators with arrest if they did not move from the doors, eventually taking a dozen protesters into custody, Occupiers said. Ten were arrested for blocking the entrance. Two others were charged with crossing a police line. Among the arrested was an American University student conducting a survey on police brutality, they said.
Protesters chanted phrases including "Monsanto and ALEC, corporations are making us sick." Some protesters were holding signs reading, "Stop Corporations."
Occupier Brian Eister said the group arrived at the building around 7:20 a.m. Wednesday. He said the group chose to protest outside of Monsanto, the agriculture and biotechnological giant that protesters said "is doing more to make a sustainable world impossible than almost any corporation on the planet." Washington examiner --- --- 2.US police arrest 12 Occupiers on national day of solidarity Press TV, Feb 29 2012 http://presstv.com/detail/229316.html
US police have arrested 12 Occupy DC activists after scuffling with protesters outside the offices of agriculture giant Monsanto who were rallying as part of a "national day of solidarity."
The Wednesday protest was being held in solidarity and in conjunction with a national day of action against American Legislative Exchange council (ALEC)¸ which lobbies on behalf of corporations for legislations to create tax breaks.
On Monday, a federal class-action lawsuit brought by a group of farmers against Monsanto was dismissed.
The group was seeking to have the company's agricultural patents invalidated, saying they feared the appearance of Monsanto seeds in their fields. Monsanto is the world's biggest producer of genetically modified seed, according to Farmers Weekly magazine.
Police threatened with arrest demonstrators blocking the doors to Monsanto's offices, eventually taking a dozen protesters into custody, the 99-percenters said. Among the arrested was an American University student conducting a survey on police brutality.
Demonstrations have been planned from Connecticut to California on Wednesday to unify the movement under the message of "decrying social inequalities."
The Occupy movement owes its inspiration to the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protests, which began when a group of demonstrators gathered in New York's financial district on September 17, 2011 to protest against the excessive influence of big corporations on the US policies and the high-level corruption in the country. --- --- 3.Monsanto Trial Verdict Leads To Protest In Washington, D.C. James Gerken The Huffington Post, 29 Feb 2012 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/29/monsanto-trial-verdict-protest_n_1311078.html
Protesters assembled in front of the Washington, D.C. offices of agricultural biotech giant Monsanto Wednesday, in response to a federal judge's dismissal of a class-action lawsuit against the company.
Chanting phrases like "Hey, hey! Ho, ho! Monsanto has got to go!," 40 to 50 members of Occupy D.C. gathered in the rain in front of the I Street office building, reported DCist.
Although the Occupy protesters did not stop office workers from entering the building, a dozen demonstrators were arrested by D.C. police. The Washington Post notes that another Monsanto protest, called "Occupy Our Food Supply," took place on Tuesday in New York City.
The case that preceded the protests was called a "transparent effort to create a controversy where none exists" by Naomi Buchwald, the U.S. District Court judge who dismissed the claims against Monsanto.
According to Reuters, the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association and dozens of other plaintiffs filed the suit hoping for a "ruling that would prohibit Monsanto from suing the farmers or dealers if their organic seed becomes contaminated with Monsanto's patented biotech seed germplasm."
Monsanto, the world's largest seed company, is known for its "reputation for zealously defending its patents on its genetically altered crops," explained Reuters.
Monsanto spokesman Tom Helscher told The Washington Post, "We respect each individual's right to express his or her point of view. Agriculture and its uses are important to all of us...We believe farmers should have the opportunity to select the production method of their choice -- whether that be organic, conventional or the improved seeds developed using biotechnology."
Earlier in February, a French court found Monsanto guilty of poisoning a French farmer. The Lyon court ruled in favor of Paul Francois, who claimed to suffer from neurological debilities after inhaling a Monsanto weedkiller in 2004, reported Reuters.
Francois' lawyer told Reuters, "It is a historic decision in so far as it is the first time that a (pesticide) maker is found guilty of such a poisoning." --- --- 4.Monsanto protested after class-action lawsuit is dismissed Elizabeth Flock Washington Post, 29 February 2012 http://wapo.st/yQTQwR
Following dismissal on Monday of a federal class-action lawsuit brought by a group of farmers against Monsanto, protesters in Washington D.C. showed up on Wednesday at the biotech giant's doorstep.
A photo posted on Twitter shows a protest sign that seems to be blocking a doorway, and the accompanying tweet says that the "blockade" at Monsanto's Washington office was erected by Occupy D.C. Monsanto spokesman Tom Helscher confirmed that the demonstration took place at the office; Occupy organizers couldn't immediately be reached.
The farmers' consortium, the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, was seeking to have the company's agricultural patents invalidated, saying they feared the appearance of Monsanto seeds in their fields, Farmers Weekly reports. Monsanto is the world's biggest producer of genetically modified seed. U.S. District Judge Naomi Buchwald, however, said the farmers had no standing because they had not been harmed by the company, calling their suit "a transparent effort to create a controversy where none exists."
Helscher said in a statement e-mailed to the Washington Post:
"We respect each individual's right to express his or her point of view. Agriculture and its uses are important to all of us...We believe farmers should have the opportunity to select the production method of their choice - whether that be organic, conventional or the improved seeds developed using biotechnology. All three production systems contribute to meeting the needs of consumers. Since the advent of biotech crops 15 years ago, both biotech and organic crop production have flourished. We have no reason to think that will not continue to be the case."
The dismissal of the class-action suit comes on the heels of a successful suit by French farmer Paul Francois, who took Monsanto to court for three neurological problems he says he suffered after inhaling a weedkiller made by the biotech giant. In February, a French court found Monsanto legally responsible for poisoning Francois and ordered the company to compensate him "entirely." Monsanto plans to appeal the verdict.
On Tuesday, demonstrators in New York also took to the streets to protest Monsanto, demanding more government regulations on food and water, Press TV reports. The protest, dubbed "Occupy Our Food Supply," also targeted other agricultural companies like Cargill, ADM, and Dupont.
Protests are stirring up online, too, where a two-year-old appointment of a former Monsanto vice president to the Food and Drug Administration has spurred an online petition calling for his removal. The petition now has more than 420,000 signatures.
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