Hundreds of people in Los Angeles joined
protesters across the United States to stand against seed giant Monsanto on
"March Against Monsanto" protesters gathered at Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles as part of an international effort to raise awareness of dangers posed by genetically modified (GM) food and its makers.
Cheryl Aichele, an activist who joined the protesters, blamed Monsanto of trying to hide the facts that crops grown with GM modified seeds have negative impacts on people's health.
"We want to stop GM crops, or at least get them labeled. We want to get more people aware of what's going on so we can come together to have healthy food. Our health is more important then their profits," said Aichele.
Monsanto's supporters claimed that the GM crops have increased agriculture production by nearly 100 billion dollars and prevented nearly 500 million kg of pesticides from being sprayed since it was put into use.
The debate has never stopped since the GM technology was first commercialized nearly two decades ago.
The United States is one of the leading producers of GM crops in the world. The top three GM crops grown in the country are soy, corn and cotton, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
During the past 12 years, the percentage of acreage planted with GM crops soared to over 80 percent for each of the top three, said a USDA report.
Market watchers estimate that over 70 percent of processed foods in local supermarkets contain genetically modified ingredients.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not require genetically modified foods or such ingredients to carry a label.
Organic food companies and some consumer groups are pushing for labels. "Food Democracy Now!" an organic food advocacy campaign, is asking followers to sign a petition calling for labeling of genetically modified products.
However, Julie Gunlock of the pro-free-market think tank the Independent Women's Forum, called the bill as good for "moms like me."
"If we're in a situation where farmers are forced to lose their crops, lose their entire harvests, that will raise prices. That ultimately harms me, the consumer, the mom," Gunlock told the press.
"We believe this technology has the potential for agricultural biotechnology in terms of gene control devices in plants," Jack Watson of Monsanto was quoted as saying.
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