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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Large crowd protests Monsanto’s plans to build greenhouse in Tucson

Shane Bekian

Protesters gathered early Tuesday morning in downtown Tucson in opposition to the Monsanto Company’s proposed greenhouse project in Pima County. 

Monsanto, infamous for its controversial agricultural chemicals and genetically modified crops, rescinded its tax cut request from the Pima County Board of Supervisors last week. However, this will not prevent them from developing on the 155 acres the company owns in Marana, Arizona.

Rachel Linden, director of GMO Free Arizona and an organizer of the protest, spoke about the environmental concerns of letting agrochemical giant Monsanto set up in Pima County in the context of the agricultural industry.

RELATED: Pima County strikes Monsanto tax deal incentive, company moves forward with site plan

“The industry is moving to harsher and harsher chemicals,” Linden said. “Where are they going to test those? They’re going to test them right here in Pima County unless the citizens band together.”

The protest started at 8 a.m. on Feb. 21 outside of the Pima County Administration Building in downtown Tucson. At 9 a.m., the demonstrators went into the board meeting where several speakers, including a molecular biologist and a Vietnam veteran, expressed their concerns about Monsanto to the board. 

“I’m a vegan and we only get so many choices as to what we do that affects our lives, and what we eat is one of those choices,” said protester Ashlyn Campbell.

Campbell, who lives nearby the location of the proposed greenhouse, wants to keep Monsanto out of Pima County to protect local food sources. 

“I think that making sure we have options for food that’s healthy and that’s good for us is so important, and a company like Monsanto takes away from those options,” Campbell said. “They make it really hard to get organic, healthy foods.”

The proposed seven-acre greenhouse would be used to grow corn and soybeans for research, according to Monsanto spokesperson Christi Dixon. It is unknown what the company plans to do with the remaining 148 acres. 

RELATED: Oak Flat Campground marks third year in opposition to Resolution Copper mine

Another protester, Clay Morgan, said one important way to keep Monsanto out of Pima County is to focus more attention on local farming. 

“I think it would be a better example if we showed what happens when we reinvest in local agriculture and what happens when you make food a center point for your community and for your city,” Morgan said. 

Pima County held several public meetings to discuss Monsanto’s request for a tax break before the company withdrew their request. Those who spoke to the board at Tuesday’s meeting expressed their dismay at Monsanto’s plans to develop the land, despite rescinding their property tax arrangement. Though the board has heard many concerned citizens express concerns over the possible environmental, economic and public health consequences, the board has limited regulatory power over Monsanto’s project. 

“The world is watching what happens in Pima County,” Linden said in a speech to protesters. “They’re looking at us to keep Monsanto out. If we can keep them out here, we can keep them out everywhere.”

Follow Henry Carson on Twitter.

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