“San Antonio area residents will join others in the worldwide March Against Monsanto this Saturday. The family-friendly march is to protest the use of genetically modified (GM) seeds by agricultural biotechnology company Monsanto Company and the “Monsanto Protection Act,” which bans courts from halting the sale of the seeds, according to the press release for Saturday’ march and rally at Alamo Plaza. We asked the lead coordinator of the event, Danielle Cunningham, a few questions to find out more.
RR: Let’s start with a little digital introduction of yourself. Are you a native San Antonian?
Cunningham: I was born in Ohio, but I got here as quick as I could. I’ve lived in San Antonio since I was seven years old. I love it here. I am a graphic and web designer by trade – a musician, writer, and artist as well. I like to ride my bike all over the place, read scary books, work in my garden, and hang out with my dogs – Monty, a lovable Great Dane and Sammy, a feisty Chihuahua.
I’m also a certified personal trainer looking to get my nutrition certification this year. I am working on starting community gardens in San Antonio, and I’d like to put all of my knowledge and passion about these things into helping others start their own gardens and get the discussion going on plant-based eating, growing your own food, and what to do with it from there.
RR: What made you get involved with the protest?
Cunningham: When I’ve passed out flyers to people on the street and in stores, I have been asked “What’s Monsanto?” “What are GMOs?” “Why should I care?”
I got involved in the movement because I care about my fellow human beings. We’re all in this together, and if we don’t take care of and look out for each other, then what’s the point? I always try to spread the word on organics and eating for wellness and health. While I am greatly angered by the politics behind our food system, I am even more incensed by all of the unnecessary additives, preservatives, and plain old chemicals added to our food that are making people sick.
The day the Monsanto Protection Act passed, I was livid. Here, they’re scheming right out in the open – for Monsanto be to exempt from any future litigation from any harm or illness their products may bring about is preposterous! It is proven that their GMO crops, their Roundup–Ready Crops, can cause tumors and illness, so WHY ARE WE ALLOWING THEM IN OUR OUR FOOD SUPPLY?
I was on Facebook the a few days after the bill passed, and saw the national page for March Against Monsanto. I clicked to see what it was all about, saw that it was to be a global day of protest, looked to see if there was a march in San Antonio (there wasn’t at the time) and sent them my contact information to help organize the event for San Antonio. If you’re going to talk the talk, you’d better walk the walk, n’est-ce-pas?
I have zero experience organizing marches, but no matter. I just wanted to help spread the word, educate people, let them know there are choices, where to find information and help, and stand up to let Monsanto and their cronies know that we know, and we’re not going to simply accept it. We will spread the word and speak with our wallets by not buying their products and making better, more informed choices regarding food. What’s more, it’s time to get back in the community and help each other out. What better way than to grow and share whole, real food together?
RR: How many protestors are you anticipating to join you on the 25th?
Cunningham: We estimate 500 people, but by the looks of things, over 1,000 plan to attend. It sure would be something if thousands turned out for this event. We will have guest speakers on organic gardening, fitness, juicing and nutrition, and GMOs, of course; tables for information on all of that and more.
Local comedian, actor, singer, political commentator and activist Jade Esteban Estrada will emcee the event, which will feature the Rebel Poet (Jamaal Haffner), who is writing a piece for the occasion, Diane Baines, The Food Evangelist, will share her knowledge of the GMO crisis and a couple of awesome local bands will be playing, too (Dark Planes and Please Help!).
The march starts at the Pearl Farmer’s Market at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday and heads to the Alamo. Everyone will gather at 1 p.m. at the Alamo and we will have our rally there. We aim to create a positive, informative, educational, and fun environment for discussion about GMOs, food, and nutrition.
While Monsanto is the reason I acted, they’re not the entire focus for me – I’d rather put a positive spin on it and show people how to identify and avoid those products, and show them alternatives to GMO-laden food products.
RR: What do you think this protest will accomplish?
Cunningham: A friend asked me the same question: “What do you think you’re going to change by doing this?”
My response: Hopefully, we can change people’s minds. People need to know what is going on with our food supply, what is going into their food and, ultimately, into their bodies. We need to bring to the forefront the connection between nutrition and wellness.
By marching against Monsanto, Texans are sending a message to Congress, the President, the Food and Drug Administration, and other government officials to protect America’s food sources. Protestors demand:
- The repeal of relevant provisions of the US’s “Monsanto Protection Act.”
- The labeling of GM Organisms (GMOs) so that consumers can make those informed decisions easier.
- Further scientific research on the health effects of GMOs.
It would be great if I could say, “Oh yeah, we’re going to make everyone label their products that contain GMOs and ultimately have them banned,” but one thing at a time/first things first: We need to raise awareness in order to create the positive change we so need. Hopefully, this protest will do just that and start creating that change.
Where and When:
- Tomorrow, Saturday May 25
- 11:30 a.m. — Gather at Pearl Farmer’s Market
- Noon — Begin march to the Alamo
- 1 p.m. — Rally introduced and/emceed by Jade Esteban Estrada
- Speaker: Niko Nanoski, Shaman and Organic Bodybuilder
- 1:15 p.m. — Speaker: Diane Baines, Food Evangelist
- 1:20 p.m. — Speaker: Nicholas Keel, Urban Organic Gardener
- 1:30 p.m. — Chef Gus from Sweet Yams
- 1:45 p.m. — Dark Planes
- 2:30 p.m. — J. Alejandro, The Rebel Poet
- 2:40 p.m. — Please Help!