Moms Rise Up! Why I Protested GMO Sweet Corn at Walmart in Sacramento
By Susan Lang
I confess I am a bit of a reluctant activist. As a stay-at-home mother of two young boys, I never saw myself planning rallies at the local Walmart. But I also never intended to feed my kids food grown from seeds that were genetically engineered in a lab to either contain insecticide, or to survive and absorb toxic herbicides.
Like all parents, I want the best for my kids. That's why I have educated myself, and learned firsthand the effects of a healthy diet on my family. Through research, I've come to the conclusion that GMOs don't fit into my idea of a healthy diet. The concerns raised by independent animals studies and the lack of long-term testing for these brand-new foods convinced me that GMOs don't have a place on my dinner table.
I've tried to avoid GMOs, but it's not easy! I can't always afford organic, and sometimes you just don't know if a food has genetically engineered ingredients, so you guess or make assumptions that may or may not be correct. And then there are the birthday parties, the school functions, the family dinners, holidays and soccer games -- all the times I am not the one feeding my children.
It became clear to me: it’s not enough for just me to be educated about GMOs -- everyone I know, everyone who has children, everyone who eats has a right to know about genetically engineered food. Everyone should have the right to decide if they want to buy GMOs or say, "No thanks."
But the more people I talk to, the more it becomes clear that many people do not know about genetically engineered food at all, or are operating under misconceptions such as, "They label those, don't they?" Or, "All foods are genetically modified, right?" Each time I hear a comment like this, I am more sure than ever that Californians need to know this truth: Everyday they are feeding their children unlabeled genetically engineered food grown from patented seeds that could only be created in a lab.
What better place to bring this issue to voters and shoppers than Walmart? Walmart has just started selling unlabeled Bt sweet corn created in a lab by Monsanto. That means Walmart's corn on the cob has been engineered so that it has insecticide inside of it – not just on it, in it.
Polls show that the overwhelming majority of Californians want genetically engineered foods to be labeled. It seemed like a good time to ask Walmart to be a leader in their field and give their customers what they want by labeling the Bt sweet corn, and also by endorsing Proposition 37.
And so we rallied.
Our Sacramento Walmart rally had a great turnout of around 70 people, including grandparents, mothers and children. Led by a volunteer in a corn suit with a giant question mark pinned to his front and back, we progressed with signs and our "Right to Know" banner across the crosswalks and down the road. We were met with supportive honks, waves, and phones snapping pictures as we walked, chanting "Label GMOs: It's Our Right to Know" and "Walmart Lead the Way, Label GMOs Today."
We handed out flyers to Walmart shoppers about the superworms created by Bt corn in the Midwest. After respectfully delivering the signed letter to the store manager, the volunteer in the corn suit reported back that the manager herself was completely unaware of the GMO and Bt corn situation. What a surprise for us to realize that the folks employed by Walmart are just as much in the dark about this important issue as many shoppers are!
While there's no word yet on whether Walmart will take advantage of this opportunity to do the right thing in the eyes of the world, it's good to know that many eyes were indeed watching that day. And for some, like the Walmart employees as well as many shoppers, it was no doubt a real eye-opener. Altogether, a very successful rally!