From: Georgina Gustin, Strait to the Source, Organic Consumers Association, More from this Affiliate
Published May 3, 2012 01:34 PM

GMO Labeling to Go Before Voters in California

It doesn't take an agricultural expert to know that you can't grow vegetables without water. So it wasn't surprising that after hundreds of people marching under the banner "Occupy the Farm" took over a University of California (UC) agricultural testing station on April 22, UC officials responded by shutting off water to the site.

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The next day, a late-season storm brought a half-inch of rain to the San Francisco Bay Area, irrigating the thousands of vegetable starts in the ground and lifting the spirits of the urban farming activists who are determined to save the site from development. Score: Occupiers, 1 - UC administrators, 0.

Social change activists in Berkeley, Calif., have always been ahead of the curve.  May Day is the spring reemergence for the Occupy movement as activists around the United States engage in work stoppages, street marches, and various forms of civil disobedience to press their demands for a more equitable economy. 

The folks with Occupy the Farm got started early. On Earth Day, they marched from Berkeley's Ohlone Park to a five-acre plot of land in the adjacent bedroom community of Albany. They cut the locks on the gates of the UC-Berkeley and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) field trial plot, pulled up nearly an acre of thick mustard growing there, and got busy working the soil.

Last week, a group backed by the biotechnology and grocery industries, called Stop the Costly Food Labeling Proposition, formed in anticipation of the labeling initiative. Monsanto, the world's largest producer of genetically modified seed, said it supports the group, calling potential labels misleading and expensive.

"It's going to be very costly to small farmers, any farmer," said Kathy Fairbanks, of Bicker, Castillo & Fairbanks, the public relations company running the anti-label campaign. "The measure sets up a system whereby a trial lawyers can sue anyone along the food chain for labeling violations."

Photo of the Occupy the Farm event credit: Act for Climate Justice.org

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