Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Crowd decries seed giant, GMO foods

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A person wears a Guy Fawkes mask while protesting against GMO food and Monsanto at The Forks Saturday.

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

A person wears a Guy Fawkes mask while protesting against GMO food and Monsanto at The Forks Saturday. Photo Store

They didn't come out in the numbers organizers had hoped for, but the anti-Monsanto message got out anyway.

About 100 people came out to protest Monsanto Co., the international seed giant headquartered in St. Louis, at a rally at The Forks Saturday afternoon.

In their crosshairs was genetically modified organisms -- a.k.a. GMOs -- that go into the production of food items that we put on our dinner tables every day. March Against Monsanto protesters want to call attention to the serious health risks posed by genetically modified food and the companies that produce it.

"These aren't natural products, they're Frankenfood," said Rose Stevens, one of the event's organizers.

She said many countries in Europe have banned GMOs in the wake of numerous research reports showing the serious health risks -- including cancer, infertility and leaky-gut syndrome -- that can result from eating unnaturally produced food.

Janice Palmer, who works at the A1 Nutrition health food store at Grant Park Shopping Centre, said it's the younger generation that is likely to be most affected by GMOs because their popularity has skyrocketed in recent years.

"We don't know the long-term side-effects of these genetically modified foods," she said as her 18-month-old granddaughter, Cassia, slept soundly in her stroller.

She said the Canadian government should follow the trail blazed by many European countries and require that retailers and manufacturers label GMO food so consumers can know exactly what they're buying.

Matthew Ostrove, a regular anti-GMO activist in Winnipeg, said educating the public is a vital first step in forcing changes to the global production of food.

"Once customers know what's in a package and they know that it's bad for them, they won't purchase it," he said.

Another systemic problem is GMO foods produce higher yields than their organic counterparts, which forces the hands of some farmers.

"We have to come up with a different plan for farmers so they can make a good living. Helping to poison the population isn't the right one," he said.

Similar protests against Monsanto took place Saturday in more than 260 cities in more than 60 countries around the world. More than 600 people had indicated via social media they planned to attend the Winnipeg event.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 26, 2013 A4

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