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South Bay | Health, Housing, and Public Services

March Against Monsanto but then March Against Property Owners
by Eugenio Negro
Tuesday May 13th, 2014 6:37 PM
March Against Monsanto in San Jose is scheduled for Saturday 24 May beginning at SJSU at 10:30 AM. The author asserts that not just Monsanto but consumers share the blame for Roundup's destruction of the environment.
MARCH AGAINST MONSANTO BUT THEN MARCH AGAINST PROPERTY OWNERS
By Eugenio Negro 13 May 2014

There’s to be a march against Monsanto 24 May in San José, but don’t worry, its sense of engaged citizenship will be belittled by the crowds of anime fans also in town. The mixture is unique and something to see.

Monsanto has been called a global terrorist by several groups because they invent seeds that die each year, and because they alter plants’ genes in order to help agribusiness strangle the earth and water harder so consumers can add strawberry and peach to their thirty-plus flavors of ice cream.

However Monsanto isn’t the strongest player in the struggle for food independence, economic self-determination and the health of the environment (which we place here last on the list, right where it lands in peoples’ priorities), and therefore isn’t the worst global terrorist. Indeed it is homeowners and landlords, who enjoy a special antidemocratic property right, that earn this distinction. Their ability to forcibly pull their privileges from the community, with no effective laws in place to stop them from polluting the ground, makes them free to slather their yards with Monsanto’s most successful poison, Roundup.

Homeowners in San Jose and throughout the US, uncritically following an ideal of presentability often unconnected to local ecosystems (for instance floodplain lawns in California’s semiarid sands), dump gallons of Roundup and its cousin products through their lawns and flower beds into everyone’s ground every year, strengthening Monsanto’s purchasing power. These people tend to be swayed only toward zeroscaping and the like by conformity to their sense of class privilege.

Landlords contract the dumping of scarce water and Roundup on their landscaping without thought or oversight, out of some belief that a city with over 95% occupied housing really needs grassy humps in front of buildings to attract renters. They plant practically no shading or water-saving trees over these lawns.

Imagine if this process were affected in a different context. A person, rather than decorating a yard, is managing the growth of his child. The child may have curly or lightweight hair that gets mussed easily, or have a worldview that the parent doesn’t like. Instead of cultivating the child and himself toward harmony, the parent not only shaves the child’s hair, but pumps the child full of chemicals to try to destroy whatever part of the child’s composition makes the undesired look or behavior. Wait, that’s not hypothetical, is it?

We encourage people to march and speak out against Monsanto and their irresponsible intentions and actions. But Monsanto is just the symptom. The problem is property owners and their wasteful, lazy habits, their refusal of environmental stewardship in the face of vanity, and their public economic support of Monsanto’s destructive products.

Even a company as powerful as Monsanto has to go to court once in a while and stand trial for its practices. Property owners as a body can never be held responsible in this way due to their right to exclude everyone outside their nuclear communities and to live by the fantasy that their decisions don’t affect anything outside their driveways. It’s up to us the people to police them.