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NH March Against GMO Seeds "Raised Awareness"

Photo: In more than 400 cities around the world, people participated in this weekend's March Against Monsanto, voicing their disapproval of genetically modified crops and foods.
Photo: In more than 400 cities around the world, people participated in this weekend's March Against Monsanto, voicing their disapproval of genetically modified crops and foods.
May 28, 2013

CONCORD, N.H. - Thousands in New Hampshire and across New England spent part of the long weekend participating in the worldwide "March Against Monsanto" protest. Monsanto is the world's leading producer of genetically modified (GMO) seeds. Protesters charged that the company has used unfair business practices as it tries to increase the demand for genetically modified foods.

On the steps of the New Hampshire Capitol, at one of many New England rallies, local anti-GMO activist Bonnie Wright said she got involved in the cause because genetically modified organisms in food were making her sick. She warned that they are now in so many products that it's hard to figure out which foods are GMO-free.

"Say, 'Hey, we're not accepting this, this isn't right,'" she advised. "We want to be able to make informed decisions, and the way that things are now, if we don't know what's in our food, we can't make informed decisions."

Concord was one of more than 400 cities worldwide where weekend protests drew an estimated 2 million people.

The GMO process involves inserting genes into common farm seeds like corn or soybeans to make them hardier or more pest-resistant, and then patenting those seeds. The practice was recently upheld by the U.S Supreme Court.

Monsanto does some of its work in North Carolina's Research Triangle. Roland McReynolds, executive director, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, said some countries now require that GMO foods be labeled, but there is no such rule in the U.S.

"Because genetically modified seeds so dominate the plantings of corn and soybeans," McReynolds explained, "basically, if food doesn't say it's 'GMO-free,' you should assume that it has GMOs in it."

Wright said marchers in New Hampshire are also calling for action on HB 660, a bill that promotes organic farming and would provide more information to local consumers about what goes into their food.

"It would require any food sold in New Hampshire to be labeled if it contained genetically modified organisms," she said.

Monsanto's practice of genetically modifying seeds is protected by U.S. law, although last week, Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon introduced an amendment that would overturn those protections.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NH