5 Photos That Show Why People Around the World Are Protesting GMO Crops

Thousands took to the streets to demand transparency from agricultural giant Monsanto.
A protest in Paris. (Photo: Mal Langsdon/Reuters)
May 24, 2015· 2 MIN READ
Samantha Cowan is an associate editor for culture.

“Monsanto! How rude! They’re poisoning our food,” chanted protestors in Australia during Saturday’s march. Others shouted “Hell no, Monsanto” and “No, no GMO.”

More than 400 rallies were held in 48 countries, including the U.S., Burkina Faso, Mexico, and Brazil, in the third annual March Against Monsanto, according to organizers. The agricultural company is the world’s largest producer of genetically engineered seeds and herbicides.

GMOs, or genetically modified foods, are designed to become resistant to herbicides and disease, contain more nutrients, and grow faster. But with little research done on the long-term impacts of what consuming and planting these foods does to our bodies and the environment, many fear the worst.

"[We’re] committed to having an open dialogue about food and agriculture," Charla Lord, a spokesperson for Monsanto, wrote in an email to TakePart on Sunday. While Lord did not address yesterday's events directly, she acknowledged the dissenting opinions.

"We know people have different points of view on these topics, and it’s important that they’re able to express and share them," said Lord. "Our goal is to help farmers do this in a more sustainable way using fewer resources and having a smaller impact on the environment." Lord also directed concerned citizens to their website to learn more about upcoming projects.

Despite no concrete scientific evidence that GMOs are harmful, tens of thousands of protesters from around the world took to the streets to voice their concerns. They called for transparency, elimination of herbicides and chemicals in the agricultural system, mandatory GMO labeling, and an end to Monsanto’s seeming monopoly over the global food supply.

Health Concerns

Protesters in Paris. (Photo: Mal Langsdon/Reuters)

The main target of the protest appeared to be Monsanto’s use of Roundup, an herbicide containing glyphosate that is linked to cancer in humans, specifically non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The World Health Organization recently deemed the weed killer “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

The Right to Know

Bogotá, Colombia. (Photo: John Vizcaino/Reuters)

While an increasing number of grocery items have a “GMO-free” label, some concerned consumers say disclosure isn’t enough. As shoppers demand the right to know what’s in their food, Monsanto has opposed mandatory labeling.

For the Love of Bees

A protester in São Paulo. (Photo: Paulo Whitaker/Reuters)

Seeds treated with neonicotinoid pesticides have been linked to the gross decline in bee population, with one-third dying off since 2006. Since bees pollinate 80 percent of crops, which make up about a third of the food we eat, lives depend on protecting these buzzing insects.

Strong-Arming the Little Guy

Protesters in Dhaka, Bangladesh. (Photo: Twitter)

People in India and Bangladesh protested the company’s monopoly on cotton. Suicide rates have climbed for Indian farmers who struggle to make a profit growing cotton or pay back their loans to Monsanto.

A Healthy Future

(Photo: Twitter)

Children joined the march in London to say no to GMOs as their parents voiced their concern for the future.