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Hoosiers to Protest GMO Practices of Agriculture Giant

PHOTO: Hundreds will gather this weekend in Indianapolis for the March Against Monsanto, an annual worldwide event to draw attention to the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Photo credit: Angie Capretti.
PHOTO: Hundreds will gather this weekend in Indianapolis for the March Against Monsanto, an annual worldwide event to draw attention to the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Photo credit: Angie Capretti.
May 23, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS – Some Hoosiers will be joining other demonstrators around the world Saturday to protest the practices of an agriculture giant.

The annual March Against Monsanto aims to raise awareness about the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and food production practices that some believe could harm human health or the environment.

Monsanto, based in St. Louis, makes genetically modified seeds and herbicides that Dave Menzer, organizer of the Downstream Project, says contain chemicals possibly linked to health risks.

"Farmers are on the front lines of this, and many of them are experiencing increases in cancers,” he points out. “Many of them are finding that the applications of these chemicals simply aren't doing the job for weed control. And so, they're moving to things like cover crops."

Menzer maintains GMOs should be banned until there is a better understanding of their long-term effects on people and the environment.

They've been partially banned in several countries and dozens of countries require labels for foods containing GMO ingredients.

Saturday's event begins at 2 p.m. at the Indianapolis City Market and includes an information fair, farmers market, a rally and march.

Monsanto has been accused of challenging farmers who say their fields have been contaminated by the company's genetically modified seed.

Jonathan Lawler, owner of Lawler Farms in Greenfield, says he moved away from chemicals and started growing GMO-free sweet corn because he was concerned about his family's health.

He says he can no longer save his seed because other growers nearby use genetically modified seed and sweet corn can cross-pollinate.

"Now it's contaminated with GMO and if I did decide to replant it, someone like Monsanto would be on me for replanting their seed, even through I'm the one who tilled the ground, planted it, fertilized it,” he says. “They've got a patent on life somehow."

While some farmers are moving away from using genetically modified seed, Lawler says there are many in his area still buying into messages from big agriculture that it's their responsibility to use genetically modified seed to grow more on less land.

"’We need to feed the world, and Indiana can do that,’” Lawler says. “That's what being pressed, and that's just not something that any American farmer or any Hoosier farmer should be worried about.

“The Hoosier farmer should be worried about feeding Indiana."

Meanwhile, many others claim GMOs are safe and that they improve farm productivity by increasing resistance to insects, increasing yields, and reducing labor.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, GMO crops were planted on about half of the total land used for crops in the U.S. last year.




Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IN