Saturday, May 25, 2013
WASHINGTON, May 24 (RIA Novosti) – From a town called Moscow in the state of Idaho to the shadow of the Kremlin in the better known Moscow, protests are scheduled around the world Saturday against biotechnology giant Monsanto, which the demonstrators say is turning a blind eye to the potentially deadly effects of genetically modified foods produced from seeds it sells globally.
Demonstrations are planned in 400 cities in some 55 countries on six continents, with 200,000 protesters expected to take part, Nick Bernabe, the social media coordinator of the March Against Monsanto told RIA Novosti.
“We want to put pressure on politicians because right now Monsanto is so intertwined with the government that they get their way on every issue,” Bernabe said.
“We want to let our politicians know that they represent us, not Monsanto.”
US lawmakers in March quietly passed a provision that limits the ability of judges to stop Monsanto and other producers of genetically modified seeds, and the farmers they sell those seeds to, from growing or harvesting genetically modified crops even if courts find there could be health risks.
This month, the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of Monsanto when it said farmers may not use a patented seed for more than one planting. Monsanto has brought lawsuits against some 144 farmers whom it accuses of breaching its genetically modified seed patents, which oblige farmers to buy new seeds every year from the biotech giant.
Monsanto spokesman Tom Helscher told RIA Novosti that the company was “aware some local groups are promoting events, but we don’t have specific information about who might participate or why.”
“While we respect each individual’s right to express their point of view… we believe we are making a contribution to improving agriculture by helping farmers produce more from their land while conserving natural resources such as water and energy,” Helscher added.
Monsanto is “primarily a seed company,” Helscher said. The company also produces herbicides, including the widely used Roundup weed-control products.
In the United States, the marches against Monsanto are set to begin simultaneously at 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT) on Saturday in 48 states.
Nearly 2,000 people have signed up to march against Monsanto in Belgrade, while 81 have added their names to a list on Facebook indicating that they plan to march in Moscow.
In Moscow, Idaho, 90 people have said they will march through the town center “to show our solidarity and to request the removal of genetically modified organism (GMO) products” from shelves in local stores.