Students to ‘March Against Monsanto’

Last year, around 700 protesters marched through the streets of Downtown Tampa chanting, “Hell no GMO,” in an international protest against bioengineering giant Monsanto and genetically modified organisms, commonly called GMOs.

On Saturday, protestors will take to the streets again in coordination with activists in 52 other countries around the world.

In recent years, consumers have become increasingly doubtful of the safety of GMOs. While many in the scientific community claim GMOs are as safe as conventional food, opponents are skeptical that tampering with the complex codes of an organism’s DNA could create unintended mutations.

Monsanto, a biotechnology company that produces the herbicide Roundup and genetically altered seeds, has received widespread criticism over the alleged carcinogenic dangers of its products.

While the risks are still debated, critics also oppose patents Monsanto files for their seeds, arguing that food should not be intellectual property.

Food activists will gather at Stained Market Place in Ybor for March Against Monsanto to protest the mass distribution of GMOs.

Nathan Schwartz, co-organizer of the protest and USF alumnus, said the community will demonstrate that they no longer tolerate GMO foods.

Schwartz said the speakers will discuss how protestors can actively coordinate to fight against the use of GMOs in food.

“You hit companies in the wallet,” he said. “Talk to store managers about why you can’t find non-GMO foods … tell them you won’t shop there if you can’t find those things.”

Schwartz said protests such as March Against Monsanto generate a public awareness that is difficult for the agroindustry to avoid.

“Instead of solving the problem, (agroindustry) is just mitigating it,” he said.

Another approach to take control of one’s own food supply is by growing a garden, Schwartz said.

“The less food from the supermarket, and the more from your own home, the better off you are,” he said. “You know where your food is coming from.”

What’s In The Food, a USF student organization that calls for GMOs to be labeled, will have a table at Stained Marketplace. What’s In The Food President Caitlin Nelson said GMOs are an issue students shouldn’t ignore.

“If you have a healthy body, then you have a healthy mind,” she said.

Before the march begins on Seventh Avenue in Ybor, Stained Market Place will host speakers and organic vendors around 9 a.m.

Though Schwartz said it’s hard to estimate how many protesters will show up, organizers expect a larger turnout than last year.