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Pacific Northwest
Hawai'i CFS

Living the Monsanto Years On the Road with Neil Young

August 12, 2015
Center for Food Safety
Center for Food Safety
Center for Food Safety

It's a bad day to do nothin'
With so many people needin' our help
To keep their lands away from the greedy
Who only plunder for themselves

-Neil Young and The Promise of the Real, The Monsanto Years

For two weeks we stood in outdoor stadiums singing songs with a rock star legend that has taken a big stand against Monsanto and a bigger stand for our farmers and food transparency.

The rock legend is Neil Young and we had the privilege of journeying with him on his tour The Monsanto Years, joining tens of thousands of fans and food activists all over the country. From  Red Rocks in Colorado, to Nebraska, Ohio, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, and finally to Massachusetts, we have been amazed by the energy of the crowds and endlessly inspired by Neil and the way he has used this tour to rally the movement.

Neil has a history of fighting for causes that he believes in and using his music to instigate change - and The Monsanto Years tour has been the epitome of his talent of integrating his activism and music. With this tour, he created an eco-village at each show where concertgoers had the opportunity to mix and mingle with a variety of non-profits working to instigate change towards sustainability and transparency in the food system. We were thrilled to take part in this experience and represent CFS by tabling at every show.

Check out all our photos from the tour here!

As an NGO, a lot of our day to day work is trying to inform and get people to care about the issues facing farmers, our food, and the environment. But on tour, we were awarded the opportunity to connect with our members and countless new faces one on one in a creative, fun, and energetic setting. Night after night was a snapshot of the momentum building around the food movement in this country. We learned so much listening to the diverse viewpoints of everyone we met. Whether a farmer, working mom, a school teacher, or an executive, they all have one thing in common: they are movers and shakers ready to execute change.

Many of the songs on Neil’s new album mention CFS lawsuits including “Workin’ Man” and “A Rock Star Bucks A Coffee Shop.” We talked to concert goers about our legal victories protecting small farmers, about the tradition of saving seeds, about our legislative battles to pass GE labeling laws and protect consumers right to know, and about how Monsanto’s Roundup Ready™ corn is a direct threat to the beautiful monarch butterfly population. We met farmers and gardeners who were worried about protecting their organic farms and gardens from pesticide drift, we met a landscaper who passionately worried for her livelihood if the bees all disappear, and we met young couples worried about starting a family when they can’t guarantee access to safe foods.

If there is one thing to be taken from the tour (other than the ominous sound of Neil’s voice singing MON-SAAAAAN-TOOOOOOO echoing in your head) it is that there is not one face of the food movement or one way to take on a bad actor. Neil’s plea to the people is to get involved.  You do not need to be a rock star to make a difference. All voices and actions matter—and together we create a power larger than the chemical and agriculture corporate giants.

So in the spirit of Neil – let’s take an action right now.  Our country is facing a very dangerous bill—the so-called  DARK Act (Denying Americans the Right to Know)—that  will, among other things, take away our right to know whether the food we buy and feed our families is genetically engineered. This bill has already passed in the house and will next head to the Senate for consideration. Contact your Senator as soon as you can to voice your concern with the DARK Act and share this action with your family and friends and encourage them to do the same!

And if you haven’t had the opportunity to hear Neil Young’s newest album with Promise of the Real, The Monsanto Years, do yourself a favor and give it a listen here!

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