August 22, 2015 Zurich, Switzerland
Organized by Public Eye on Science
In attendance: Multi Watch of Basel, GenTechFrei, STOPOGM.ch, biorespect, uniterre, SAG, Integrale Politik, Garten fur alle, Permakultur Schweiz, Aktive schweiz, Longomai, Moms Across America.
Speakers: Zen Honeycutt, Monika Krueger, Arnaud Apoteker, Walter Haefeker, Josef Hopplicher, Eva Gelinsky, Ruth Tippe, Ulrike Minkner, Olivia Jost and Ueli Gahler, Udo Schilling, Gottfried Glockner, Anner Marie Volling.
It was a sunny Saturday in Switzerland. We started out in a story book picturesque farm valley east of Zurich with a van full of speakers and activists. We drove for nearly an hour to the outskirts of Zurich to start the rally at a typical tree lined square. The demonstration had been denied access to the center of Zurich and a gathering in the research facility. It didn't stop them however. Our host Urs Hannes, a down to earth cattle farmer, was an infamous activist and farmer in his region. A few years ago he realized that his fellow farmer calves were dying shortly after vaccinations. He refused to vaccinate his calves and it resulted in a standoff between he and the government that rallied farmers from far and wide. For the first time ever differences between different types of farmers were set aside, mountain farmers and valley farmers, conventional and ecological, poor and wealthy, cattle, goat and sheep farmers, all came together to fight against mandatory vaccinations of their animals. Urs and the farmers won the ability to opt out. Lo and behold, their animals did not die of the disease that the government proclaimed would wipe out their livestock. Urs was unstoppable in his stand for his animals and I am pretty sure that is why he related to my speech when he saw me speak in Denver Colorado at the Seeds of Doubt Conference.
When a Moms across America supporter, Nadia Negro heard Urs asking questions of me at the Denver conference, she recognized his accent and said to him in Swiss German, "We need to talk." She was moving back to her homeland, Switzerland and she said " I want to keep going, we have to do something." She too, was unstoppable. So the two of them got together in Switzerland and organized and event for myself and several international speakers to address their citizens at a demonstration against corporate control and the test planting of GMO potatoes in their region.
Watch the 20 minute recap of the march here or read the account below.
This may sound like just another rally but it really was extraordinary on so many levels.
First, Switzerland does not cultivate GMO crops, it does not import or feed their livestock GMOs and they do not allow them in their food, made locally or imported. GMOs are not a part of their daily life. To ask anyone to protest against something which is not impacting them, and to have nearly 1000 people show up, is true dedication and I must say, sheer brilliance on everyone's part.
Second, the test plot was merely an few hundred feet of a fenced in field of potatoes, something that most people wouldn't even blink at. It will not be on the news, it was not planted near a school or church. It looks harmless. To have so many people march from the outskirts of town through Zurich and back out through a small village to this potato field for an entire day, is just a feat of dedication, that I hate to say, most Americans would not even imagine.
Third, the moratorium preventing GMOs from being grown for industry in the EU will expire in 2017. That's nearly two years from now. Not next week. Nearly two years. Most people don't plan a month out, never mind plan a protest for something which will not truly impact them for another 2 years. The organizers, Urs and Nadia and their families and friends are truly dedicated people and get that political pressure must remain strong now and the public must be the ones to speak up.
Everyone who showed up and marched in the bright sun, passed out flyers, chanted, sang and danced down the roads of Zurich and small villages for hours, are truly extraordinary people. I was smiling from ear to ear all day when I wasn't nearly half asleep from jet lag. I talked to everyone I could and just immediately loved them. I love them all.
I love America too and yet being in Switzerland and seeing the dedication of the activists has me wondering...as it did one of the spectators who asked me, "Why aren't Americans doing more about this? Why are they letting them plant GMOs everywhere? Why don't they do something?"
I racked my brain.
I was reminded of the article I saw posted on Facebook a few days ago where a person suggested that the fluoride in our water could be connected to complacency. It was put into the water of prison camps, the article stated, and made the prisoners docile, complacent and more easy to manage. Such a conspiracy theory sounds ludicrous, but one must wonder...why is fluoride in our water if it if Harvard University studies have found it to be a neuro toxin? Could it be making us more complacent? Why aren't Americans more active and stopping GMOs and pesticide from polluting our country and harming our children? Why doesn't the American public care?
I told the man that unfortunately I did not find out about GMOs until 4 years ago, I fed my children GMOs for 9 years. I ate them for 17. The mainstream media does not tell us about them. The only reason I realized GMOs were harmful is because I had children who were sick and so I researched. Most Americans don't know and the ones that are not sick don't care. They don't have reason to. The ones who do know now however, are doing something. We just are not activists in the same way Europeans are. It's not a part of our culture the way it is here, I said. But it all sounded like excuses and not a real answer. The fact is, I don't know. Do you? Why don't you protest what is happening if you don't? If you do what reasons do you hear from friends that won't join you? What do you think we can do to impact this?
I grapple with this still. I know thousands of activists and supporters now who do care and do go to extraordinary efforts to raise awareness. I am enlivened and enamored with them. The switch has turned ON for them and there is no turning it off. I wonder every day how we can turn more people to ON. How can we raise awareness with million so they realize what is happening and are compelled to do anything and everything they can? My only answer for now is empowerment and love.
This banner design is 15 years old. Switzerland has been keeping GMOs out for 15 years.
So on that sunny Saturday, as I stood on the top level of the gutted double decker bus which was festooned with banners and outfitted with speakers and a rumbling generator, I started with empowerment and love.
After the speech I was approached by many wonderfully kind and dear people. They looked me in the eyes and thanked me in such a heart felt way I had tears in my eyes. I realize in these moments how much I love people. This is a challenging thing to do sometimes. I am wracked with feeling of betrayal, fear, anger, resentment and doubt as much as anyone else, even more sometimes, I think because I am sent so many scientific studies and testimonials from people who have been harmed, but the people I meet doing this work inspire me forevermore. Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow, Dupont, Bayer, and BASF have nothing, zero, zilch, nyente, nothing on the love and dedication of the compassionate people in the world. All the money in the world cannot stop humans from protecting their loved ones.
Monika Krueger, German scientist and I take a break from the seriousness for a chuckle.
Monika Kruger then spoke in German about her finding of glyphosate in livestocks' urine, muscle and the impact on their gut health. A lovely man, Hopplicher, that I could only describe as Winnie the Pooh in the form of a Bee Keeper man, translated for me. She spoke of the microbiome in the gut and how we can actually restore it with humic acid, saurkraut juice and zeolyte. I was so thrilled to see her again after our first meeting in China a year ago. Urs told me that when he asked her to attend, if she could be there, she said, " Well it's not a matter if I could, I NEED to be there." That is what I mean by compelled. Dedication. Love.
The speakers from Austria, France, Germany, Switzerland and USA.
We rallied up and began marching to the next point on the other side of town. When the banners came up and the music came on, a lively, insanely cool track of German and French music blared for all to hear. You just had to bounce your head and wiggle. I was totally impressed with the MC, a young man in his twenties, who created a perfect balance of chants with raucous music. He and two other young men darted on and off the double decker bus where I sat, as they changed the music and directed chants. I still have the chants in my head event though I don't understand the language. All I know is they all said no to GMOs and corporate control. Many mentioned Syngenta, which is the world's largest producer of pesticides and is based in Basel Switzerland. It may be the new home of Monsanto as well, ( NOOOO! SWITZERLAND PLEASE KEEP MONSANTO OUT!) if they are successful in finding themselves a company to buy and become a tax break shelter. I may be coming back to Switzerland quite a bit.
After nearly an hour of parading through town, during which I was taking pictures and short videos constantly because everyone was just so cool, we stopped at a square with a shaded park. Bodies fell into shaded sections and people chatted and conspired together. I loved seeing so many connect. Several speakers spoke of seeds, bees, and the harm of GMOs. Esteemed speakers from France, Germany, Austria and Switzerland all spoke passionately and garnered loud cheers and applause even though most of us would rather be napping. The fire in the belly of an activist can keep us awake for hours beyond when our body says enough.
After the speeches, we rallied again. This time we walked to the out skirts of Zurich, to a farming village, through fields, past cows and ducks to stop in a large field adjacent from the GMO potato test plot. The tractors moved into a circular pattern and the tents serving vegan food were already set up and waiting for us. Urs and Nadia’s planning was typical of Switzerland’s reputation, like fine clockwork.
The activist set some banners up to face the test plot field, so the security guards could see we were there. Several tried to walk toward the fields and police came closer, speaking into their walkie talkie’s. The activist had envisioned shooting conventional potatoes into the field with sling shots, to contaminate the crop as undoubtedly their GMO crops will do to the neighboring crops, but the season for seeding and sprouting had passed. It would have needed to be a catapult as well, as the test plot was at least a quarter of a mile away. No, we behaved, ate, listened to more speeches, talked and schemed amoungst ourselves. A lovely man translated several of the speeches for me and I was impressed by the range of experts Urs and Nadia had lined up.
When it was my time to close out the afternoon with one more speech about "How We Will Win", I had my doubts the crowd wanted to hear it, as they had listened to speeches for a few hours already. It had been a long day. But I launched into it and gave it all I had anyway. In the end though, just two paragraphs away from the end, the generator died. The mic went dead and the people a few hundred feet away in the huge field could not hear a word. I ended on the words, "We have faith in our farmers." And I decided that was a good way to end. For those who wish to read the whole speech, here it is. I wish everyone to be empowered to transform the world and create health and freedom, in this commitment I will not be stopped and I will continue to share.
Thank you to the organizers of the International Demonstration in Zurich!
The film crew of "Scientist Under Attack" filmed the demonstration. Look for their new movie about GMOs coming out in the Spring and watch their other two movies in the meantime.
P.S. Note that I could eat whatever I wanted in Switzerland. The bread and cheese did not make me feel bloated, tired, cranky or give me digestive issues like the bread and cheese in the USA.
My boys could also eat the bread. They did not rash out, get irritable or wet the bed like some usually do when they eat wheat in the USA. This shows the sad state of our food in America. I attribute this primarily to the fact that glyphosate (Roundup) is sprayed on wheat and grains as a drying agent in the USA but not in most of Europe.
Bronson held the bread to his cheek and said, "This bread is like magic."