During an afternoon bike ride through downtown Mt. Pleasant, I found myself dodging dozens of people shouting protests against Monsanto, an agricultural company infamous for its purportedly shady business practices and use of genetic engineering. Observing this March Against Monsanto from a distance, repeated chants of "Hell no! GMOs!" served as the cadence of my whirring mind as I considered joining their protests.

Ultimately, I chose not to participate. Frankly, I'm just not comfortable with the voice of a group of protesters representing my own. Sure, I probably share the group's sentiments about how loathsome some of Monsanto's business practices are, but I refuse to decry GMOs. Admittedly, I chuckled at the sight of a picket sign that read "GMOs, WTF are those?" because I wondered how many people in the march really didn't know WTF GMOs are, yet proudly wielded a sign that slanders them.

A brief bit on why I'm not riding the non-GMO bandwagon... The popular media and health movements have labeled GMOs (tee hee) as an over extension of technological intervention and a major threat to consumers' health. GMO is an umbrella term and there's an important distinction to make between genetically modified organisms and genetically modified foods. A genetically modified organism (GMO) is any living being whose genetic code has been modified via genetic engineering. This includes bioluminescent goldfish, tomatoes that can survive unpredictable spring frosts, and microbes that are designed to break down plant products to create biofuels. The term GMO is far more encompassing and less frightening than the "Frankenfood" image portrayed by GMO adversaries.

Over 2 million people across the globe raised their voices and marched against Monsanto today. I'm glad to witness people displaying their dedication to ethical, healthy, and sustainable foods. While I admire the protesters' impassioned display of unrest, I think my voice best serves its purpose outside of the picket lines.

I'll preface the following by nothing that whether you think these sorts of tests are bunk or not, I think they're fun. Anyway according to the Workuno strength-finding test, my top two strengths are "intellection" and "learning". My interpretation of these results are that I'm inclined to spend my time thinking, searching for information, and questioning. My internal voice is at a constant hum, begging me to dig deeper in order to understand the whys and hows of my surroundings. Thus, I spend a great deal of time exploring, reading, and asking questions, rather than promoting my thoughts and opinions.

My voice isn't the loudest, but it's audible when necessary. My voice is sheepish, but it's embedded with careful thought. My voice doesn't lead the protest, but it asks a fellow onlooker, "What do you think about Monsanto and GMOs?"

I feel that side conversations that question both the convictions of the protesters and the protested carry as much value in inspiring progress as the statements broadcast by protesters. Protests are meant to incite change, right? Well, can you imagine how disastrous change could be without thoughtful and critical conversation about the issue of protest?

Whether your voice is that of a fierce leader, gentle motivator, sharp critic, or quiet thinker, it has a purpose. Find that purpose, use your voice, and raise hell! (or questions that are relevant to the hell-raising)

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