Today, May 25th, 2013, the people of Sitka, Alaska, stand united with the people of the world in a global March Against Monsanto! And today we stand united in a global March For Humanity, a March For All Living Things, and a March For Our Treasured Mother Earth.
Today we honor the Creator and the creations, the abundant nature, the rich biodiversity, and the infinite wisdom bundled into the smallest seed and into the universe itself.
Photo Credit: Debi Terry
Chuck Miller. Gunalchéesh. You call yourself a Tlingit Elder in training. We are all in training. But the heart that beats in your young body is the heart of an Elder. When I first told you about Monsanto and biotechnology, you knew in your heart Monsanto is violating nature. Later, you wrote, “My grandmother used to teach my family that we need to treat our food with respect or it will not provide for us. My ancestors’ teachings are still a very big part of my life and I want to be able to pass that on to my children, grandchildren and those yet to come. GMOs are not the way to treat Mother Earth and the generations yet to come.” You encouraged us to come to Castle Hill today to March Against Monsanto, and so we have.
Sharon McIndoo. Gunalchéesh. And Gunalchéesh to the Haa Toowu Litseen Drum group. Your drumming brings a good and powerful spirit to this gathering.
Gunalchéesh to the dancers who will honor us later in this event.
Gunalchéesh, for your prayer. May God bless you for your offering today.
Gunalchéesh to the officials who gave us a permit to meet on Castle Hill, an Alaskan State Park.
Gunalchéesh to the people from the Harbor Department who opened up the restrooms under O’Connell Bridge for us today. When I told the gentlemen of our need, he said, “My parents taught me we must take care of our Elders.”
Gunalchéesh to the Lutheran church for letting us borrow this podium and these chairs.
Gunalchéesh to the sound, video, and media people. Thanks to you, this event will bless people around the world.
Gunalchéesh to our parents and ancestors. May their spirits fill our hearts and may they join with us today as we honor our common Mother.
And Gunalchéesh to each of you. I welcome and honor you. Your very presence makes a statement. And today we make that statement with countless people around the world, people of all races, creeds, and cultures, and we bear testimony on behalf of our children, our friends and neighbors, our communities. On behalf of the land, the water, and the air. On behalf of our sisters and brothers, the raven, the eagle, the salmon, the bear, the whale. On behalf of the bees, the birds, and the butterflies. On behalf of all life and the Earth herself.
I’m Brett Wilcox. I’m joined today by my wife, Kris, and three of our four children, Brittany, David, and Olivia. Sitka has been our home for over twelve years now.
We meet today on Castle Hill for a reason. This is the location where Russia sold the vast territory of Alaska—land it didn’t own—to the U.S.A. Historians tell us when the Russians and the Americans met on this very spot to legitimize the theft, the Tlingit people were not included in the gathering. Many of them watched the proceedings from their canoes in Sitka Sound, having no knowledge of the purpose of the meeting.
Thus, the Native tribes and people of Alaska became disenfranchised from their own land and governance, and thus they became foreigners and non-citizens in their 10,000-year-old ancestral home.
Of course Alaska’s Native people were not the first to suffer at the hands of European expansion. Following the arrival of Columbus, Native Americans have experienced over five centuries of barbaric behavior from “civilized” Westerners.
The American sense of Manifest Destiny—our self-serving belief that God wants people of European descent to spread across the land and claim everything within sight—resulted in the Manifest Destruction of America’s Indigenous inhabitants.
And what European Americans did in the U.S.A., European colonists did in much of the rest of the world.
Carl Jung described such “cut-off Europeans” as “technological savages” and “intellectual barbarians.” Jung once spoke with his friend, the Pueblo Indian Chief, Ochwiay Biano (Mountain Lake), while on a trip to Taos, New Mexico. The Chief described white people this way: “Their eyes have a staring expression; they are always seeking something. What are they seeking? The whites always want something; they are always uneasy and restless. We do not know what they want. We do not understand them. We think that they are mad.”
Jung then asked the Chief why he thought the whites are mad.
Ochwiay Biano replied, “They say that they think with their heads.”
Yung was surprised at the response. “Why of course. What do you think with?” he asked.
“We think here,” he said, indicating his heart.
Yung later wrote, “I fell into a long meditation. For the first time in my life, so it seemed to me, someone had drawn for me a picture of the real white man. . . . This Indian had struck our vulnerable spot, unveiled a truth to which we are blind. . . . What we from our point of view call colonization, missions to the heathen, spread of civilization, etc., has another face – the face of a bird of prey seeking with cruel intentness for distant quarry – a face worthy of a race of pirates and highwaymen.”
(Claire Dunne, Carl Jung: Wounded Healer of the Soul: An Illustrated Biography, (Parabola Books, USA, 2000) pp. 67-68.
The Native American author, activist, and professor, Jack Forbes, wrote extensively of the white man’s madness of which Chief Biano spoke. Forbes used the Cree word, “Wétiko,” to describe the European Americans’ collective mental illness. Wétiko literally means cannibal, but not in the usual sense. A cannibal is a person who consumes other human beings for profit. And, of course, people who are willing to exploit, enslave, and kill human beings for profit, think nothing of stealing, plundering and lying to increase their claim upon the Earth’s resources.
The irony of the Wétiko mental illness is that it is not seen as an illness in our “civilized” Western society. Rather it is seen as a virtue.
The author Thom Hartmann points out that those who hoard newspapers, magazines, sheets of tin foil, string, empty bottles, etc., are universally recognized as mentally ill, perhaps exhibiting a manifestation of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. But the people who hoard billions of dollars, and the accompanying exploitive, dangerous, and destructive practises which secure those dollars, are held up as cultural icons and heroes.
This brings us back to Monsanto and Castle Hill. The company, Monsanto, was born in 1901, a mere 34 years after the USA purchased the Alaskan territory from Russia. Since its creation more than a century ago, Monsanto has amassed billions of dollars, at the cost of millions of human lives, global environmental degradation, and untold suffering. This multi-national corporation has infected and infested the U.S. government to such a degree that the two entities have almost become one. And with the blessing and help of the U.S. government, it is now infecting and infesting the governments and farms of the world.
Monsanto has turned American farmers into Monsanto pawns and peons—peons Monsanto sues with regularity and impunity. It has turned human food into a corporate commodity, most of which is fed to our cars and cattle. Through Monsanto propaganda, many people think that foods saturated with Monsanto chemical poisons are conventional, and that organic foods are weird or elitist.
All of these behaviors demonstrate the Wétiko mental illness. But as terrible and greedy as they are, perhaps Monsanto’s recent foray into the world of genetic engineering is the most terrible and most greedy of all.
Genetic engineering is based on the idea that God and Mother Nature don’t know what they are doing. And that we human beings, through crude and imprecise laboratory methods, can combine unrelated species, to create life forms that will survive and thrive in toxic chemical baths or which will generate poisons from within their cells, turning those plants into pesticides, plants which we then eat.
Monsanto spends millions of dollars convincing us that genetic engineering is necessary to feed the world. Without it, they say, global famine is inevitable. The truth is this: genetic engineering has nothing to do with feeding the world. It has everything to do with owning, controlling, and profiting from food—your food, my food, and the food of the world.
Some twenty years ago, American lawmakers, under the influence of corporate forces including Monsanto, ruled that life could be patented. Thus, seed, a gift from God and nature from time immemorial, became private property.
Private property was a foreign concept to many Native Americans. “Sell a country?” the Native American Tecumseh shouted in a meeting in 1810. “Why not sell the air,” he asked, “the clouds, the rivers and the great sea as well as the entire earth? Did not the Great Spirit make them all for the use of his children?”
Evidently not. Tecumseh’s question now stands as prophesy against Monsanto and the privatization of life itself.
Monsanto’s mission is to own and poison every seed and every plant around the world.
Just as early European American settlers raced across the country, seizing land, minerals, and resources, and killing anyone who stood in their way, when Monsanto engineered U.S. patent law, Monsanto raced around the world claiming seeds and plants by the dozens as their own, hoarding at a global scale. Jung’s words echo from the past: Monsanto has become the epitome of “the face of a bird of prey seeking with cruel intentness for distant quarry – a face worthy of a race of pirates and highwaymen.”
Monsanto, the world’s leading bio-pirate, is perpetrating global bio-piracy.
The Native American people became the disenfranchised with the original Western land grab and expansion. All Americans and indeed, all the people of the world, have become disenfranchised with the advent of patented seeds and crops, whether those seeds are natural or transgenic.
Monsanto’s sense of Manifest Destiny has resulted in worldwide Manifest Misery.
We, the people of the world, are now, as it were, sitting in our canoes in Sitka Sound. Yet most of us, perhaps especially in America, remain ignorant—ignorant of the fact that Monsanto facilitated meetings with “our” government and that “our” government gave Monsanto license to claim seed—Mother Nature’s free gift to the world—as their own. As a result, we have lost free access to the use of seeds for food.
Monsanto and other biotech companies now own nature.
In this bizarre turn of events, the company that may have committed more crimes against humanity than any other can and does legally steal from nature, while we become criminals simply by saving and replanting Monsanto seed.
How is it that the majority of us remain ignorant of this outrageous situation?
We remain ignorant because just as Monsanto runs the government, Monsanto has near total control over American news and media. While the European press ran hundreds of news stories regarding the health risks associated with GMOs, the U.S. press has remained nearly silent. Monsanto threats and potential loss of marketing dollars silenced American media.
I am a mental health counselor. I have spent much of my career remediating the impact and consequences of human violence.
Broadly defined, we all perpetrate acts of violence on each other. Healthier individuals learn from their mistakes, make amends, heal relationships, and move forward. Less healthy individuals learn that violence works for them. By using violence, they gain power and control over others. And sometimes they gain money. Lots of money.
The Monsanto Company is, at its core, violent. Monsanto is at war with nature, humanity, dignity, and compassion. The power mongers who run Monsanto long ago learned that violence works for them. They violate laws, nature, ethics, morals, and trust. And through these violations, they amass billions of dollars.
Contrary to what the Supreme Court believes, Monsanto is not a person. If Monsanto were an American, he would have been executed decades ago for crimes against humanity. And if Monsanto had somehow escaped from justice and were still at large, Monsanto would be the world’s number one, and most feared psychopath. And with good reason. Monsanto is responsible for knowingly and intentionally killing millions of people, and repeatedly lying about it, polluting plants, animals, soils, lakes, streams, and oceans, and repeatedly lying about it, and poisoning our food supply, both with toxic chemicals and by introducing toxic and foreign genes into plant DNA.
Let’s play along with the Supreme Court for a moment and pretend that Monsanto is a person. Let’s say, heaven forbid, Monsanto is your next-door neighbor. He’s an entrepreneur. He’s also a chemist, miner, scientist, businessman, and farmer. He farms on the property behind your house.
One day you wake up and find your daughter is sick. You take her to the doctor and discover she has leukemia. You send your son off to war. He comes back with multiple health issues and dies a few years later from cancer. You learn that someone in your town has been poisoning many of the plants and processed foods in the local grocery stores. Not only that, you learn that someone has introduced a toxic gene into corn, and that toxic corn is now registered with the EPA as a pesticide. You learn more about the health risks associated with genetically modified foods. You want to avoid it, but you don’t know how because someone has spent millions of dollars to keep transgenic foods unlabeled in the United States. You learn that someone has been poisoning the meat, milk, and cheese in the stores. It’s filled with pesticides, herbicides, genetically altered hormones, antibiotics, and pus. And you’ve been feeding it to your family for years.
And then you discover dead fish in the stream behind your house. You see a pipe extending from the stream bank with a foul smelling liquid flowing into the stream. Tests reveal the liquid is made up of PCBs and Dioxin. A few days later, you discover barrels of PCBs buried in your back yard. At the moment of discovery, you hear a plane fly overhead and stand in horror as a spray of Agent Orange and glyphosate falls upon your children.
You rush your children into your home to wash off the burning poisons, and your spouse is just getting off the phone. Your neighbor on the next block, a farmer, has “lost his farm.” But he didn’t lose it, someone stole it from him in court. Another neighbor, also a farmer, has killed himself due to crushing debt. He planted high priced genetically altered cottonseeds in the spring and the crop failed to yield the promised amount. Monsanto killed his farm, killed his spirit, and ultimately killed his body as he committed suicide by pesticide. And we mustn’t forget your cousin. She just gave birth. The infant has no eyes.
You begin to understand that these terrible events didn’t “just happen.” They are connected and related to each other. Someone is responsible. Someone is systematically and intentionally poisoning you, your family, and your community. Needless to say, you’re angry. Who wouldn’t be angry at such loss and such egregious acts of violence? More than anything you want the perpetrator found and brought to justice.
Your multi-talented neighbor, Mr. Monsanto, knocks on the front door. As usual, he’s dressed in an expensive Italian suit and he wears a commanding smile. He ignores your crying children and tells you that he cares about you and that he’s doing everything he can to solve the world’s problems. He reminds you yet again that the human population is exploding, and he’s working hard to make sure that famine does not result. You wonder why such a magnanimous, forward thinking, and wealthy man can’t spare a moment or even a dollar to help you clean up your poisoned stream or yard. Or why he can’t spare a dollar for any of the suffering people in your town. He shakes your hand and tells you to check out his website. “It’s really quite lovely,” he says. And then he leaves.
Have you had enough of pretending that Monsanto is your neighbor?
We who are gathered here today know the truth about Monsanto. As previously mentioned, the Pueblo Indian Chief, Ochwiay Biano said, referring to white people, “We think that they are mad.”
If white people are mad, then Monsanto is the maddest of the mad. Our good neighbor, Monsanto, is a global psychopath.
He amassed the largest share of his fortune by selling Agent Orange and other chemicals to the US government during the Vietnam War, knowing full well that Agent Orange had already sickened and killed his own employees in his chemical plant in Nitro, West Virginia. And even though the mothers of Vietnam continue to give birth to malformed babies some 40 years since the US stopped the largest chemical warfare campaign in the history of the world, Monsanto paid millions of dollars to lawyers to ensure he doesn’t have to pay one dime to his Vietnamese victims. He used his own rigged studies from Nitro to prove that Agent Orange isn’t harmful in order to keep American Vietnam veterans from receiving any kind of meaningful compensation for their ruined and shortened lives. He knowingly and intentionally dumped and buried PCBs in Anniston, Alabama, and other towns for years. Jeffrey Smith, the author of Seeds of Destruction, reminds us that an Alabama “court found Monsanto guilty of negligence, wantonness, suppression of the truth, nuisance, trespass, and outrage. Outrage, according to Alabama law, usually requires conduct ‘so outrageous in character and extreme in degree as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency so as to be regarded as atrocious and utterly intolerable in civilized society.’”
Thanks to our neighbor Monsanto, the breast milk Inuit mothers feed their babies is toxic. And thanks to Monsanto and his PCBs, we all carry PCBs within our bodies.
Thanks to Monsanto, the 11-year-old Paraguayan boy, Silvino Talavera, died after being sprayed with Monsanto’s Roundup, the same Roundup that Monsanto formerly advertised as biodegradable and “safer than table salt,” the same Roundup that independent scientists have linked to cancer and birth defects, the same Roundup you’re probably feeding to your children.
Thanks for Monsanto, some hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers have committed suicide.
Thanks to Monsanto, Mexico’s cradle of corn is now contaminated by Monsanto’s GMO corn.
Thanks to Monsanto, American and Canadian farmers have lost their farms, both to genetic pollution from Monsanto’s genetically modified crops, and from Monsanto’s aggressive lawsuits against farmers.
Thanks to Monsanto and the US government, Congress recently gave Monsanto immunity from the federal courts under a provision commonly referred to as the “Monsanto Protection Act.”
Thanks to Monsanto and the US government, the Coalition Provisional
Authority forces Iraqi farmers to plant Monsanto genetically modified seeds through Paul Bremer’s infamous Order 81.
These facts are only the tip of Monsanto’s toxic iceberg. Books have been written exposing Monsanto’s crimes. And many more will yet be written when Monsanto’s secret abominations are brought to light.
Knowing what you know about your smiling psychopathic neighbor, Monsanto, how do you feel about his products, poisons, promises, and lies? Over 800 scientists signed a document sharing their thoughts on that subject. They write, “Patents on life-forms and living processes should be banned because they threaten food security, sanction biopiracy of indigenous knowledge and genetic resources, violate basic human rights and dignity, compromise healthcare, impede medical and scientific research and are against the welfare of animals. GM crops offer no benefits to farmers or consumers. Instead, many problems have been identified, including yield drag, increased herbicide use, erratic performance, and poor economic returns to farmers. GM crops also intensify corporate monopoly on food, which is driving family farmers to destitution, and preventing the essential shift to sustainable agriculture that can guarantee food security and health around the world.”
The world-leading environmental activist and eco-visionary, Dr. Vandana Shiva, is one of the 800 scientists mentioned above. This is what she thinks of Monsanto: “When Hitler came to power and the Nazis came to power with their kind of genocide, people created resistance movements everywhere. Today this new fascism is over life itself in all its diversity. It’s not just controlling one religion and one race. It’s wanting to outlaw all diversity of all life on Earth, and the rights of the producers as well as the eaters of food. After all, the huge onslaught against any attempt for labeling GMO foods in the United States is part of this Monsanto dictatorship. That is why the March Against Monsanto is a march for freedom.”
What can we do to stop our good neighbor, Monsanto?
As a small group of people? Not much.
But when many small groups grow and become large groups, then we gain the power we need to stand up to Monsanto and stand up to the government officials and scientists who have sold out to Monsanto.
Today, we join hands, hearts, and voices with the people of the world. Today, countless numbers March Against Monsanto. And as a result of our efforts, millions more will March Against Monsanto.
But while we march we must remember: Monsanto is not a person. People have faces, hearts, and hands. People have souls. Monsanto has none of these things. If Monsanto had eyes, he would see the people he has murdered. If Monsanto had ears, he would hear the cries of those left behind. If Monsanto had a nose, he would recoil at the smell of his poisons. If Monsanto had a mouth, he would refuse to eat his toxic fare. If Monsanto had hands, he would cover his face with shame. If Monsanto had shoulders, he would be crushed under the weight of his crimes. If Monsanto had a heart, it would break from the pain he has inflicted. If Monsanto had a soul, his life would be a living hell. If Monsanto were a person, Monsanto would be dead.
So, standing here on Castle Hill, we are here to deliver a message. Not to the faceless and heartless Monsanto, but to the breathing, living people who have surrendered their humanity to Monsanto. We offer our message to you from our hearts and in the spirit of prayer: The world neither wants nor needs the Monsanto empire and Monsanto castles. Your castles of death must come down. Mother nature decrees your silly claim upon her null and void. You did not give life to your Mother; she gave life to you. You are not the creator of life; you are life’s steward. When you patent plants, you patent your brothers. When you murder butterflies and bees, you murder your sisters. When you poison soil and water, you poison your children. When you war against humanity, you war against yourselves. Yes, you profit from plunder. Yes, you grow from greed. But your wealth will mean nothing to you when your Mother is dead, your brothers and sisters are dying, and your children are gone. Chief Ochwiay is right. You are mad because you think with your heads. What else can you think with? You have poisoned your own hearts.
But it’s not too late. The hearts of the world beat for you until yours beat again. The eyes of the world see for you until yours see again. Open your hearts, think with your hearts, see with your hearts, and hear with your hearts. You know within your souls it is time to stop your war against Nature. You know it is time to stop your pollution, your corruption, and your lies. And you know that even though you can’t possibly pay the tiniest fraction for the crimes you’ve committed, you will pay. You know that as you hide out in your corporate castles, separated from your serfs and slaves, drunk on your dreams of controlling the world, you are made of flesh and blood . . . like the rest of us. And before you were flesh and blood, you were soil. You know when you poison the land, air, and water, you poison you own breath, flesh, and blood. You know when you kill and maim others, you kill and main yourselves and your children.
You know it’s time to stop the madness, time to heal from your Wétiko. Time to stop generating chemical pollution. Time to stop generating biological pollution. Time to stop generating lies. It’s time to stop. Just stop. You must stop.
It’s time for you to reclaim your humanity by dropping your claim upon nature. It’s time for you to join the people of the world in our March Against Monsanto.
Together, we must stop Monsanto, before Monsanto stops the world!
Amen and amen.