Hundreds of thousands of Americans joined a global protest on Saturday against biotech giant Monsanto, the largest producer of genetically engineered seeds and creator of the herbicide Roundup.
The “March Against Monsanto” protests took place in 52 countries and 436 cities, organizers said, calling for a boycott of Monsanto products. Despite massive protests in New York City, Los Angeles, and D.C., there was little media coverage of the event.
Protesters are seeking a repeal of the so-called “Monsanto Protection Act.” The act refers to Section 735 of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013. Buried in the 600-page bill is language that allows biotech companies to experiment with crops, create genetically-modified (GMO) foods and sell those foods, even if legal action is made against them.
Andrew Kimbrell, the executive director of the Center for Food Safety, called Section 735 a backroom deal that muzzles federal judges from preventing the cultivation of inadequately-tested GMO foods.
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The argument against GMO crops includes research that the food injured or killed laboratory animals, made some farm animals sterile after eating them, caused animals to develop allergies and created irregularities in the organs of lab animals. Furthermore, protesters say GMO farming is unsustainable.
The U.S. Senate last week voted overwhelmingly against a bill that would allow states to require genetically modified foods be labeled as such. The Food and Drug Administration says there is no difference between GMO and non-GMO foods.
A lobbying group representing Monsanto, DuPont & Co., and other GMO seed producers, The Biotechnology Industry Organization, said it supports voluntary labeling of GMO products; however, it says mandatory labeling is misleading and could confuse consumers into think the foods are unsafe.
Vermont and Connecticut are moving ahead with legislation to make food makers label packages on foods containing GMOs.
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Whole Foods Markets Inc. said the growing demand led to a sales spike for non-GMO labeled food in their stores. They plan to have GMO labels on all foods in their stores by 2018.