On Saturday, thousands of North Carolinians will start their Memorial Day weekend by speaking up against an international company.
The March Against Monsanto is taking place in seven cities in the Tar Heel state and 243 other cities around the world.
Monsanto makes genetically modified seeds, and protesters feel the company is using unfair business practices while it tries to grow the use of genetically modified foods.
Tami Canal is one of the protest organizers.
“As a parent, I feel that it’s very irresponsible to not be conscious about what I’m feeding my kids,” she said. “And that’s why March Against Monsanto is a campaign of awareness to hopefully get parents to be conscious about what they’re buying.”
In North Carolina, the March Against Monsanto will take place in Asheville, Charlotte, Greensboro, New Bern, Raleigh, Wilmington and Winston Salem.
Monsanto has offices in the Research Triangle. The company inserts genes into common farm seeds, such as corn or soybeans, and then patents those seeds. The Supreme Court recently upheld the practice.
Currently, Monsanto’s practice of genetically modifying seeds is protected by U.S. law, but this week Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon introduced an amendment that would overturn those protections.
There is concern by some scientists that GMO (genetically modified organism) foods pose a risk to human health.
Some countries now require GMO foods be labeled, but that requirement does not exist in the U.S., explains Roland McReynolds, executive director of the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association.
“Because genetically modified seeds so dominate the plantings of corn and soybeans,” he says, “basically if food doesn’t say it’s GMO free, you should assume it has GMOs in them.”
McReynolds adds in addition to concerns over GMO foods, Monsanto’s Roundup pesticide is causing another problem.
“Now, particularly in the Southeast, we are overrun with a plague of Roundup-resistant super weeds,” he says. “So farmers have to turn to the other chemicals.”
Prior to the Monsanto Protection Act being passed, federal courts ruled that the U.S. Department of Agriculture failed to consider the potential harm some genetically engineered crops may have, approving the use of the seeds too quickly. The Monsanto Protection Act circumvents those court rulings.