What’s Next in the Campaign Against Monsanto in Pima County?

Call to Action This Week: Tell the Pima Community College Board Members and the Marana Unified School District Board Members to Say No to Monsanto!

by Melissa Diane Smith

After Monsanto dropped its bid to get a tax break from Pima County, a quartet of women—Moms Across America founder Zen Honeycutt and GMO Free Arizona co-founder Rachel Linden along with farmer Anne Loftfield and Going Against GMOs author Melissa Diane Smith—held several successful events: a Stand Up Against Monsanto Public Forum on February 19 and a Rally and Press Conference before a dozen or so powerful statements were made at the Board of Supervisors meeting on February 21. Supervisor Richard Elias, who has spoken out against Monsanto since the beginning, also spoke at the rally. You can see some of the coverage of these events at the following links:

GMO Free Arizona Rallies Against Monsanto on Tucson News Now TV

Speakers at the Say No to Monsanto Rally on Feb. 21 before the Board of Supervisors Meeting

Although Monsanto dropped the payment in lieu of taxes (tax break) proposal, it is still expected to apply for a foreign trade zone status. Receiving foreign trade zone status would give Monsanto advantages we do not want it to have, so we need to generate massive public input against Monsanto’s application being approved. We will reveal more details about how to oppose as soon as Monsanto files its application.

We have two big Calls to Action this week—not to the Board of Supervisors, but to governing boards of two educational institutions in Pima County. The Pima County supervisors’ involvement in Monsanto’s foreign trade zone application is off the table now, but both the Pima Community College Governing Board and the Marana Unified School District are still considering options having to do with Monsanto. That means we need to write these board members or speak to them in person at their board meetings this week.

Call to Action #1 on Wednesday, March 8

The Pima Community College Governing Board’s regular meeting will take place this Wednesday, March 8, at 5:30 p.m. at the Pima Community College Community/Board Room at 4905 E. Broadway. Business regarding Monsanto is not on open meeting agenda. But it’s closed-door, Executive Session agenda (prior to general meeting) lists “discussion or consultation with legal counsel regarding potential Monsanto application for Foreign Trade Zone application for property in Marana.” So, Call to Action #1 this week is to write an email to email hidden; JavaScript is required (which will be sent to all PCC board members) on Tuesday, March 7, or before 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 8, or attend and speak in person to the board members for up to 5 minutes at the regular PCC board meeting at 5:30 pm Wednesday.

As one of our informants wrote in an email:

They have been meeting on this issue with their attorneys in executive session previously. In those meetings they were discussing what they have to make public and what they don’t with regard to privacy laws.

Please write the PCC board members and tell them that we appreciate their vote against sending a letter of no objection for Monsanto’s foreign trade zone application in late autumn last year and we urge them to stay strong and hold firm to that and not enter into any secret contracts with Monsanto. PCC offers Pima classes at Marana High School, and the board members have an obligation to protect and ensure the safety of Pima students, including those that are taking classes at Marana High School.

Call to Action #2 on Thursday, March 9

On Thursday, March 9, at 7 p.m., the Marana Unified School Board Meeting will take place at Marana Municipal Complex Council Chambers, 11555 W. Civic Center Drive, in Marana. Business related to Monsanto is not on this week’s agenda, but the MUSD board still has things to consider regarding Monsanto, so we need to keep the pressure on.

According to a Northwest Explorer article by Brad Allis:

In their release about the Pima County move, Monsanto said they still planned on making a $500,000 payment to the Marana 2340 Foundation as a payment in lieu of taxes, but that is now on hold as the school district is assessing the situation.

“As a result of the Monsanto Company’s recent announcement to no longer pursue a proposal for payment in lieu of taxes with Pima County, we have decided at the time to postpone a similar proposal the company has before the Marana School District Governing Board,” said Tamara Crawley, district spokesperson. “If the opportunity presents in the future, we would consider science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) options that will provide our students with the skills necessary for success in the future.”

Call to Action #2 this week is to send an email to Gloria at email hidden; JavaScript is required. She will forward the email to all MUSD Board members. You could also attend and speak in person for 3 minutes at the board meeting on Thursday night.

Please join us in telling the MUSD board not to take Monsanto’s $500,000 payment and not to do any type of business or enter any type of agreement with Monsanto. We need to remind the board members that taking a financial gift or making a financial deal with Monsanto is not upholding their duty to protect the safety of their students.

Writing or speaking to the PCC and MUSD board members may not seem like important types of actions to take, but they really are, especially if a large number of us do that. We don’t know what will happen if Monsanto can’t make deals with both of these educational governing boards. Since it didn’t get the tax break from Pima County, it’s possible the company could just decide it’s not worth it to even try to start its toxic business here.

New Calls to Action will be coming. But, for this week, writing the Pima Community College board members and the Marana Unified School District Board members are the most important ways we concerned citizens can take action to help stop Monsanto in Pima County.

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