Simply put: The March Against Monsanto (MAM) is a menace to society. It spreads lies and distrust about science and scientists. Its organizers frequently compare themselves to great American civil rights leaders like Rosa Parks and Dr. King. They believe they are protecting society from something they feel is a danger, but what they are really doing is failing to comprehend basic biology.
For two years its gone unchecked, but not anymore! A group of activists is readying to Take Science to the Streets to fight back.
The group, led by 3 science activists from the midwest, have organized a counter protest against MAM which they are calling the March against Myths about Modification (MAMyths). The organizers say the event is happening everywhere; but formal marches are scheduled for many cities in the US including Chicago, Portland, Oregon, Washington DC and Seattle, and globally in cities from Ottawa to Brisbane to Amsterdam. The group is also encouraging people who cannot attend a rally to participate on social media.
I spoke with one of the organizers, Dr. Karl Haro von Mogel, who described to me how this all came about:
A few months back, Kavin, David, and I heard the news that the March Against Monsanto was going to happen again this year. MAM has not only been promoting myths about agriculture and biotechnology, but has also branched out into promoting myths about the safety of vaccines. This can be dangerous - as the news of measles in Disneyland proved to the nation. We were talking amongst ourselves about how we could make a difference and raise awareness about this problem, and promote scientific literacy. We realized that it was time to take the Science to the Streets and address those myths head-on.
Dr. Haro von Mogel says he and the other marchers have a number of goals they hope to accomplish during the march:
We're out to help people bust some big mammoth-sized myths. We've got information to pass out, fully referenced on our site, so people can look up this information themselves. If we can put a smidgen of doubt - and a desire to investigate - into the minds of the people who are receptive to MAM's claims, they will gain the power to defend themselves against those myths. We're also going to see if we can convince a MAM protestor to skip the march and join us for beer to talk science!
However, in Taking Science to the Street, Dr. Haro von Mogel says they do expect some backlash:
The March Against Monsanto stirs up irrational fears and anger in good people by using myths and manipulating the facts. We know that MAM will not be able to marshal the science to support their views, so they will resort to name-calling and innuendo. We've already been called shills which is par for the course. But when we go to our demonstrations we will go with kindness and a desire to help people learn more about genetically engineered crops. We will not stoop to their level.
Although the goal for this year is to explicitly focus on GMOs and biotechnology in agriculture, Dr. Haro von Mogel and his co-founders have plans to expand for the future:
The March Against Myths is focusing on myths about genetic modification of crops in its first year, but in the future we plan to address many other myths about science that have been promoted in the public sphere by pressure groups. Next year we may need to March Against Myths about Vaccines, Global Warming, or Evolution - and our movement will evolve to suit the needs of the public interest.
Dr. Haro von Mogel encourages anyone who can to get involved in person, or online using one of their many hashtags:
People can still get involved. You can go to www.mamyths.org to find a local chapter and join their march, or show up to any MAM demonstration wearing green and holding a sign debunking one of the myths they promote. We also have an "online event" that people can join to show their solidarity this Saturday. You can use our hashtags #MAMyths, #FoodNotFear, #science, #biotech, #gmos, #ScienceArmy, #TeamAg
If you are interested in getting involved (and we hope you do), a full list of cities, as well as the contact information for each location s local organizer can be found here. We should note that Monsanto has asserted that the company has absolutely nothing to do with the MAMyths.