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Monsanto protesters arrested, GMO shareholder resolutions fail

Monsanto protesters arrested, GMO shareholder resolutions fail

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The latest effort by activists targeting Monsanto’s genetic seed work resulted Tuesday in a pair of defeated shareholder resolutions and nearly a dozen arrests outside the company’s Creve Coeur headquarters.

Around 40 protesters, bundled up against frigid temperatures, spent more than three hours at Monsanto’s entrance during the company’s annual shareholder meeting.

They sang, danced and waved signs at passing traffic. And they talked about their hopes for a new resolution that would have required the company to work with the Food and Drug Administration to label food containing genetically modified ingredients.

The resolution was offered up by shareholder Adam Eidinger, who said he saw little hope of passage. But he was hoping to gain at least 7 percent support.

“We continually raise the issue. And we’re not going to go away,” said Eidinger, who would later be among a group of protesters led away in handcuffs.

In the end, the measure received just over 4 percent support from shareholders, the company said. Another resolution, sponsored by activist investor John Harrington, dealt with Monsanto’s potential liability to organic farmers. It received 6.5 percent support.

The board of Monsanto, the largest biotech seed producer in the world, recommended that both be opposed.

The protest took on a decidedly more confrontational tone at 2 p.m. when activists used five brightly decorated cars to block traffic at Monsanto’s main entrance at Olive, between Lindbergh Boulevard and Warson Road.

A large Creve Coeur police contingent spent the next hour clearing the entrance and arresting protesters, some of whom locked themselves in or chained themselves to the cars. Among those arrested were an unidentified man wearing a giant rat suit and a musician from Los Angeles, Rafi Loiederman, who said he came to the protest to keep pressure on Monsanto.

“If we don’t deal with GMOs now, everything is going to be contaminated,” Loiederman said.

Creve Coeur Police Chief Glenn Eidmann said there were 11 arrests on unspecified municipal charges — all misdemeanors.

“Nobody was hurt, and no property was damaged,” Eidmann said.

In a written statement, Monsanto touted its efforts at improving farm productivity and food quality.

“While we respect each individual’s right to express their point of view on these topics, we do not believe unlawful actions are an appropriate way to further any cause,” spokesman Tom Helscher said. “We hope that St. Louisans know Monsanto people for their role in the community and know Monsanto Co. for its commitment to St. Louis.”

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Timothy Barker is a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Related to this story

Genetically modified wheat was discovered on a research plot in Montana, despite the fact that testing there ended more than 10 years ago. It's significant because many foreign buyers of U.S. wheat refuse such modified grains. The incident does not appear to be causing any turmoil, however, as U.S. investigators say the commercial supply was not affected.

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