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Tossed Out

 

Millions march against Monsanto

Protesters against genetically modified crops gathered outside the state capitol in Denver Saturday. (Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media)
Protesters against genetically modified crops gathered outside the state capitol in Denver Saturday. (Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media)

Washington state organizers for a “March Against Monsanto” thought they would have a successful protest against genetically-modified food if they attracted 3,000 people.

Instead, they got a global audience of 2 million to take part in Saturday’s event, according to the Associated Press, in 436 cities and 52 countries.

Harvest Public Media’s Luke Runyon attended a rally at the state capitol in Denver and estimated that 500 people were there. In Kansas City, a crowd filled the Country Club Plaza, using slogans that harkened back to the 1960s, like “Give Bees a Chance.”

Tami Canal, the Seattle organizer, worked with other activists and websites to promote the event.  She told the AP that the turnout was "incredible," and credited social media as a new venue for social activism.

"It was empowering and inspiring to see so many people, from different walks of life, put aside their differences and come together today," Canal said. "We will continue until Monsanto complies with consumer demand. They are poisoning our children, poisoning our planet," she said. "If we don't act, who's going to?"

St. Louis-based Monsanto Co., issued a statement that said it respects people's rights to express their opinion, but that the company maintains that its seeds improve agriculture by helping farmers produce more while conserving water and energy.

Genetically-modified food, or GMOs, have become increasingly controversial as the technology spreads. Many have called for labeling of products that have GMO ingredients, and some state legislatures have taken up the cause, as our Abbie Swanson reported recently. The anti-GMO movements received a huge boost recently when Whole Foods said it would be labeling such products by 2018.

There’s also some confusion about the crops, as our Jeremy Bernfeld discussed on a recent talk show on our lead partner station, KCUR. He offered these helpful “Five things you should know about genetically-modified food.”

We also have a much more detailed three-part series on the issue called “Science of the Seed.”

What do you think? Should states pass laws requiring GMO labels? Or do you think the effort should be voluntary for companies, as the industry has suggested? Click here to submit your thoughts and experience with the Harvest Network.