Protesters target genetically modified crops

MARQUETTE – A crowd of protesters took to the streets Saturday – along with thousands of people in countries the world over – to raise awareness of the use of genetically modified organisms in the world’s food system.

The March Against Monsanto took place in 50 different countries and more than 250 cities, according to organizers.

In Marquette, the march took area residents from the Marquette Commons, down Washington Street to Harlow Park. The group waved signs and shouted chants proclaiming what they see as the dangers of GMOs.

The group then shared in a community meal, with dishes brought by several protestors.

Marquette’s march was organized by Heidi Gould, a member of the group U.P. For Ending Corporate Personhood.

Gould said they were marching against the use of GMOs – specifically Monsanto’s sale of genetically modified plants grown from seeds that have been engineered to resist certain insecticides and pesticides, thus greatly increasing crop yields.

Much of the corn and soybean crops grown in America come from genetically modified seeds.

Some people believe the use of such seeds is dangerous to human health.

Gould said without long-term studies showing the effects of the use of GMOs, it’s anyone guess how they are affecting humans.

“The food we’re eating is modifying our bodies,” Gould said. “The GMO corn and soybeans that they’re feeding to the animals and … the chemicals, the toxins, accumulate in the animal – in the meat that we eat…

“It’s a huge experiment that we don’t know the exact effects of – biological, health, physical effects.”

The use of GMOs has become a hot-button issue in America, with many people advocating for the labeling of food that contains genetically modified products. The federal government says GMOs are safe for human consumption and does not require such labels.

Gould said the group was also protesting Monsanto for what it saw as special treatment it receives from legislators in Washington D.C. – special treatment she said the St. Louis-based seed giant can afford.

“It’s a corporation that has bought and paid for our Congress, and (is) paying the legislators to write laws that protect them,” Gould said. “On the flip side of the March Against Monsanto is the march in support of our local farmers.”

On its website, www.monsanto. com, the corporation bills itself as a “sustainable agriculture” company, looking at “producing more, conserving more” and “improving lives.”

Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is