Ann Arbor march to protest genetically modified foods

Ann Arbor march to protest genetically modified foods

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(WJBK) -

A "March against Monsanto" protest is planned for Saturday, Oct. 12 in Ann Arbor as part of a global demonstration against the seed giant, Monsanto.

A previous rally with 1,000 demonstrators was held in Ann Arbor in May.

LINK: Learn more about Monsanto

Similar marches have also been held in 52 countries. Demonstrators are angry about the fact that much of our food comes from genetically modified plants, grown from seeds engineered to grow faster or to resist diseases and insects. Most corn, soybeans and cotton in the U.S. are genetically modified.

Those on the other side of the argument praise the bio-technology.

"We harvest more high-quality crops with less fertilizer and less pesticide and less water than we ever could before," Mark Lauwers, a corn farmer, tells Fox 2.

"There's really nothing we can point to at this time that would say this has done any damage to anyone," Christoph Benning from Michigan State University says.

But protesters beg to differ.

Many fear genetically modified foods will have long-term consequences on our health and the environment.

"They have been linked to infertility, cancer, autoimmune diseases, food allergies..." says Kristen Jones. Jones organized the Ann Arbor protest, and even got arrested during the demonstration.  

Police took her away in handcuffs because protesters used a megaphone during the demonstration. The charges were later dropped.

Now she's planning an even bigger protest for Oct. 12 when similar rallies will take place on six continents.

"It's really sad when you go into the grocery store, just right in your community, and everything's banned in other countries -- that's a problem," Jones adds.

Eight European countries including France, Germany and Greece have banned the cultivation of GMO crops. Dozens of other countries, including China, have labeling restrictions.

But here in the U.S., while many "non-GMO" or organic products are labeled, the Food and Drug Administration does not require labeling for genetically modified foods.

"Monsanto denies claims that GMOs are dangerous. Their CEO is quoted as saying they're the most tested food product the world has ever seen. His company's net sales exceeded 13 billion dollars last year.

"How are we to trust them when there haven't been any conclusive studies telling us whether they're okay or not, and the only studies that have been done show them to be harmful?" Jones asks.

Jones says she and her family grow as much of their own food as possible and makes careful choices when buying food.

"Every time you buy organic or non-GMO you're sending a message to the corporations that we're not going to take this anymore," Jones says. She hopes her demonstration will give people "food for thought" about what they're eating.

The demonstration takes place Saturday, Oct. 12 at 1 p.m. at Liberty Square Plaza in Ann Arbor, on the corner of Divison and Liberty streets.

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