MARQUETTE - As people honked car horns in support, a small number of protesters made their way down Washington Street in Marquette Saturday afternoon, decrying the use of genetically modified organisms in the world's food supply.
They protested in solidarity with millions of people across the globe who took part in international March Against Monsanto Day.
Monsanto is a large agriculture company most well-known for producing chemicals such as Agent Orange and the weed killer Roundup. It is also known for producing "Roundup ready" seeds that can withstand the popular pesticide, according to the company's website.
A small group turned out in Gwinn Saturday to March Against Monsanto’s production of genetically modified organisms. The group protested in solidarity with millions of others who participated in similar marches around the world Saturday. (Elizabeth Brown photo)
The company is also one of the world's leading producers of genetically modified seeds - most commonly corn and soybean - which are used in many large farming operations around the world.
Many of those plants are then used in pre-packaged food.
Zelda Ziemer, organizer of the Marquette march, said the effects of GMOs on humans have not been adequately studied and the potential dangers are being swept under the rug by large food companies with endless supplies of cash to pay for lobbyists and political campaigns.
"(Congress doesn't) want to see, they don't think it's necessary to label these foods," Ziemer said. "It's essential."
Ziemer said Monsanto is singled out for protest because of its sheer size, and what she called its attempts to "control the food supply."
"Monsanto, if they control the seeds through use and costs, they control food and therefore they control the world," Ziemer said. "If they control seeds, they are more powerful than bombs, guns or any weapons. It is everything."
A march was also held in Gwinn earlier Saturday, organized by Elizabeth Brown.
Brown, a cancer survivor, said she believes GMOs are causing health problems in people and that awareness of their use needs to be raised.
"The FDA isn't making the big agri-companies do health studies," Brown said. "They're just letting them produce this stuff and with our cancer rates on the rise and our children's autism rates (rising) ... I think that people ought to know."
The Center for Disease Control's Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network estimates 1 in 88 children has been identified with an autism spectrum disorder.
Brown said people should be allowed to have as much information about the food they're buying as they can.
"People can have a choice," she said. "People can say, 'I don't want to buy this tomato that was made with the DNA of a fish. I just want a tomato. It doesn't have to be organic. I just want a safe tomato for my family.'"
According to its website, Monsanto is a sustainable agriculture company working with farmers to help increase the world's food supply.
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org