The International Reporter, 19 December 2015
To Humans who care and to Humans who don’t, but might one day and to those who never will but are curious about what the #RoundupOut Fuss is about. I am Rushka – Environmental Activist, Fighter, Lover, Mom, Healthy Organic Food, Kids, Air, Soil and Earth.
The history of #RoundupOut Campaign-
This is not an article listing web links, peer-reviewed studies, resources and science journals. We have a zillion of those. All of the information below does however have all or some of the above to backup the statements.
Herewith A summary on the past and present of the #RoundupOut Campaign.
Most causes and passions stem from your surroundings and influences as a child and through your life. Coming from a home where the Earth is well-respected, waste is not accepted and logical thinking encouraged, it was an easy progression for me to not only understand the problem we face with these dangerous, toxic, chemicals in our environment and food supply, but feel a powerful urge to try to do something about it.
For those of you who have followed this story and for those of you who are reading about it for the first time – A brief summary on Roundup and why such a fuss has been made – (Please note that I am not filling this article with all of the links, peer-reviewed studies and resources as there are others destined for that and many available that I and others can supply.) See HERE and HERE for International sample articles.
Roundup is a dangerous herbicide with many proven side effects such as birth defects, massive kidney damage and cancer. Made by a company who is commonly known as “the most evil corporation on planet earth”, Monsanto and for good reason. The company is currently being sued for crimes against humanity. Monsanto are the creators of Agent Orange, DDT, PCB’s, Dioxin,Roundup/glyphosate, Aspartame. Monsanto is largely responsible for the Genetically Modified food crisis that we are facing in our beautiful South Africa. The corporation has been sued numerous times for various reasons, poisoning citizens, mis-labeling, cross contamination, illegal toxic waste dumping etc.
Our staple diet in South Africa, is Roundup Ready Maize, Roundup/Glyphosate is sprayed on our verges, schools, parks, food crops, cannabis fields, golf courses and sadly, families are adding to it all by spraying it in their gardens. Our food and public spaces are drenched in it. The Cannabis fields in the Transkei are routinely, areal sprayed, without warning. The families who live in the area are suffering from many illnesses and defects because of this. There is a massive outcry in our country on this issue.
Knowing all of this and then finding a wall of Roundup on the shelves of my local family BuildersWarehouse store, with innocent mommies and daddies buying it, and their chubby healthy darlings stuffed into trolleys and bouncy kids in tow, you can imagine that I couldn’t keep my mouth shut and carry on my merry way to my toxic free garden and think it was enough. Any decent human wouldn’t keep quiet.
Need I say more? I had about 5 kids in tow at the time and to their delight called the manager for a “chat”. Kids love watching moms speak out against wrongs (especially if its to protect them). So, as I proclaimed my concerns, they stood underneath the proceedings with their little heads moving back and forth, mouths open and pure delight on their faces.
The manager was shocked and horrified (many don’t know the stats on some of the products they stock, they just put in what head office tells them to) and gave the me the email address of their main manager who I proceeded to email and visit for a chat. He was also polite and sent me onto head office.
Who was ALSO polite – BUT – all of this politeness, although welcoming wasn’t getting me anywhere as often you are told just what you want to hear in the hope that you will forget about it, move on and be made to feel like you you’ve done something.
I gave them a few weeks to take me seriously, letting them know that I would launch a campaign against them if they didn’t.
Nothing happened. Waiting around after receiving calls from various people, some who are devastated because they didn’t know of the side effects when spraying it in their gardens while pregnant, consequently baring children with related birth defects !
We can safely say that my blood reach boiling level.
I launched the campaign with a video of my two kids going into the shop and buying the RoundUp off the shelf with no parental supervision. (I waited outside for them). THEY SOLD IT TO AN 11 YEAR OLD and A 9 YEAR OLD WITH NO PARENT ! Let that sink in please.
My children are true activists themselves and were more than happy to go in to prove the point. I’ve had criticism from individuals wanting to find a way to hurt the campaign, saying that it was irresponsible of me to do this. To them I have this to say – MY CHILDREN KNOW THE DANGERS, They’ve read the studies, they have a clear understanding of what Roundup is.
Selling it without an age restriction or correct labeling to people who have No IDEA of the dangers, who use it around kids and pets and keep it in possible reach of children. Now THAT is irresponsible.
Continuing to knowingly sell a product that is such a high risk to people who trust your judgement, is IRRESPONSIBLE.
Soon after the video launch – The emails, phone calls and string of cc’s followed.
Over the course of a few months MassMarts Group Sustainability manager and I negotiated a way forward. They proposed to fly me up and meet with the managers and Monsanto, to which I declined. The issue raised was between consumers and Builders Warehouse, NOT their supplier, Monsanto. Monsanto is their client. They were passing the buck.
Just for a quick chuckle, Imagine if you will mommy on one side, talking to Monsanto South Africa, lawyers and managers from MassMart on the other?
What would this achieve? Monsanto are the creators of the product, their profits in this country are HUGE. Builders Warehouse / MassMart, peddling the product – HUGE profits. What other reason would they want to meet? Other than to either intimidate or try to convince me that their product is safe. A pointless venture and surely one that I couldn’t leave my family, farm and busy life for.
After much talking I realized that although they were saying that they would take the matter seriously, possibly look at re-labeling and age restrictions, they were mostly just stalling.
I launched phase 2 of the campaign which was to stop the spraying on our verges and public areas. I made myself available to back and support people who needed information, email templates and general encouragement to try to achieve clean public areas.
Many complexes, after receiving the information from the concerned members are deciding to use vinegar instead (which incidentally works well), with no side effects. (My blood boils when I see sweet old folk, struggling to breath properly after the weed spraying in their complexes).
Our local municipality have promised not to spray any verges that carry a no spray zone sign. Many people have stopped spraying it in their gardens as a result of the initiative, some have gone in and spoken to schools etc and continue to do so with good results. (The Average human will stop immediately once knowing of the effects). To those who make a wide circle when they see me because they have used Roundup and have a bottle sitting in their garage… Please don’t feel bad. Most people do. You didn’t know. When the companies peddling it tell you that it’s as “safe as table salt” !!
MassMart/BuildersWarehouse, after speaking to the Department of Agriculture (DAFF), who sing the praises of Monsanto and Roundup/Glyphosate, have no current studies and base their decisions on the FDA (Food and Drug Administration in the USA) -( incidentally the deputy head of the FDA worked for Monsanto and is back and forth with them). The decision was made that until the DAFF give the word that it isn’t safe, they would keep it on. (passing the buck again). “The DAFF made us do it, take it up with them”.
MassMart/ Builders Warehouse refused to speak to the African Centre For Biodiversity who have the current studies, science and stats on Glyphosate or the Health department or any other counter organisations suggested, to balance their decision-making process.
Hence phase 3 of the Campaign.
Nation Wide picket. (When they let me know that they were keeping it on until the DAFF made the call, I told them that they had left me with no choice but to make sure that the public knew of the harmful effects).
Port Elizabeth, Durban, Cape Town, East London, Umngazana, staged organized pickets – Various other locations went in and spoke to managers and informed the public. Now at this point note – It isn’t just me anymore – With the backing of other environmental activists from around South Africa, movements and organizations all pushing for the same outcome. Roundup banned from our food, family stores and public areas.
The faces of the picket (the flesh and blood – because remember that we live in two worlds, online and on the ground. For every one person that you see on the ground – there are thousands watching and backing them online), Spent our Saturday on the verge, in the sun, handing out pamphlets and making a fuss. It was hot and tiring but when you know that a product could hurt an innocent person, sitting at home drinking organic smoothies on a Roundup free lawn isn’t going to cut it.
YES it was worth it, it always is. A person has a right to know that the product that they are just about to spray around their kids is banned in several countries, causes unthinkable illnesses and is created by a company that is on trial for crimes against humanity.
Builders Warehouse sent a message just after the picket to all of their managers nation wide to NOT pull any of the Roundup from the their shelves. They are worried. The pressure from the people in various cities is on. The managers are calling in.
What you are doing is working – You are simply letting them know that you don’t want it. DON’T STOP. REMEMBER the collective.
Not only that but the managers are concerned and some frustrated that they aren’t being given the choice to make the call. I always try to remember that these are real people working in these stores, with families of their own and hearts and consciences. Even though MASSMART is a faceless corporation making the calls. Many of them realize the dangers but their hands are tied because their livelihoods are at stake.
Phase 4 and more is already in the process of rolling out. GAME stores, in some areas pulled Roundup From their shelves on the weekend of the picket. Pick n Pay has been emailed. The South African Pesticide Control Association have much to say about these toxic chemicals in family stores and I will follow through with them.
Negotiations with BuildersWarehouse/ MassMArt are not over. I want an age restriction and correct labeling on the Roundup while we are waiting for the DAFF to catch up with the rest of the world.
I STILL always try to appeal to the humanity of any faceless control center – and ALWAYS have hope that they will reconsider and do the right thing. So I will continue to negotiate with them until I’m blue in the face. Eventually these family stores will have to take it out whether it be from public pressure, government level, law or pure boycott. The one that does it first will simply be the one that we will always remember as the one who DID choose people over Profit just because it is the right thing to do and not because they were forced.
This story is all over social media, people are emailing and calling me constantly.
Movements and organisations are wholeheartedly backing this Campaign:
as well as many other food sovereignty and health organizations in South Africa.
While I have had some kick back from people in the invasive species sector, I continue to remind them that environmental affairs don’t use specifically Roundup , they use other Glyphosate mixtures which are in themselves harmful to the environment but many argue have their place. For now – I understand that a workable solution with them is a whole other story which needs to be spoken about and worked out separately.
Roundup on our Food and sold over the counter in family stores – UNTHINKABLE – The stores should be held liable for putting the public at risk.
I support the #GlyphosateMustFall petition demanding that Glyphosate be removed from our food crops wholeheartedly and am inspired that so many sectors, citizens, environmental activists, movements and organizations back and support it.
South Africans are starting to speak out, to local managers stocking this toxin, to their friends and neighbors, sharing the information on social media. This is ultimately what is keeping this movement and initiative moving forward.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If only we could realize the power that we have when we stand together. On our own we feel small up against these large faceless corporations who have profit as their priority. But together we are ultimately what makes or breaks them.
PLEASE JOIN MARCH AGAINST MONSANTO SOUTH AFRICA
12 December 2015