Protest challenges safety of modified organisms
About 40 placard-waving demonstrators took to Red Deer’s streets on Saturday to draw attention to activist claims about the dangers of genetically modified foods.
Food giant Monsanto was singled out for its role as a leading producer of genetically modified seed in the protests held in more than 50 countries worldwide. In Canada, about 4,000 people gathered in Vancouver and protests drew crowds in many other cities across the country.
Red Deer organizer Mara Nelson said the goal is to keep genetically modified organisms (GMOs) out of the food supply.
“We want to keep our seeds safe,” said Nelson. “Our pollinators are decreasing at such a rapid rate that they are not going to be able to recover and we rely on our pollinators for over 40 per cent of the foods we eat daily.
“There are too many pesticides, herbicides and fungicides being put on our foods. And with that come along an increase in disease we’ve never seen before in our lifetimes or our grandparents’ lifetimes.”
Nelson says cancer, autism, diabetes and Alzheimer’s Disease rates among other diseases are all rising dramatically.
Red Deer’s event was not organized by a group, she said. “We are just like-minded citizens who are concerned about toxins in our environment and toxins in our food.
“We’re concerned that our government is letting this become part of our food supply.”
The group gathered at City Hall Park before marching south down 49th Ave., returning to the park by Gaetz Avenue.
Monsanto is not the only company involved but it is the main target because it is the biggest contributor of genetically modified organisms and is also seen as the main government lobbyist to ensure their products are approved.
Nelson said the company has been buying out other seed producers, which reduces the pool from which “safe” seeds can be purchased by those who don’t want genetically modified products.
A spokesperson for Monsanto could not be reached on the weekend.
But the company’s website addresses concerns raised about GMOs. It says that the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the British Royal Society, among others have reviewed GMOs.
They have all come to the same conclusion: that “consuming foods containing ingredients derived from GM crops is safe to eat and no riskier than consuming the same foods containing ingredients from crop plants modified by conventional plant improvement techniques (i.e. plant breeding).”
Health Canada’s website says that genetically modified foods are only approved after a detailed scientific assessment that examines how the food was developed right down to the molecular level. The composition of the food compared with non-modified counterpart foods, nutritional information, potential for new toxins and potential for allergic reactions are also assessed.