Protest focuses on GMO

SALEM – Over 120 people participated in a demonstration Saturday afternoon in Centennial Park to raise awareness of the dangers of genetically modified foods known as GMO (genetically modified organisms).

Coordinated by Salem resident Geoff Johnson’s Against All Odds Food Safety, the event was part of the worldwide March Against Monsanto movement – organized marches and rallies held against the seed giant Monsanto.

The event featured music and speakers, as well as a stone soup made with organic fruits and vegetables shared by those participating in the demonstration.

Johnson said he hoped to collect 100 signatures for a petition. He said that the organization wants to create a presence in the community helping gardeners and getting children involved.

“If we don’t start something now, it’s going to be bad for future generations,” he said. “Kids are suffering

from food-related illnesses such as leukemias and birth defects.”

According to an Associated Press story, genetically modified plants are grown from seeds that are engineered to resist insecticides and herbicides, add nutritional benefits or otherwise improve crop yields and increase the global food supply. Most corn, soybean and cotton crops grown in the United States today have been genetically modified. But some say genetically modified organisms can lead to serious health conditions and harm the environment.

Monsanto Co., based in St. Louis, said Saturday that it respects people’s rights to express their opinion on the topic, but maintains that its seeds improve agriculture by helping farmers produce more from their land while conserving resources such as water and energy.