Protesters in more than 50 countries mobilized on Saturday for a series of demonstrations against agricultural business titan Monsanto, far surpassing the organizer’s expectations, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
“If I had gotten 3,000 people to join me, I would have considered that a success,” activist Tami Canal told the newspaper. Instead, she said the “March Against Monsanto,” which originated as a call to action via Facebook on Feb. 28, drew about two million people to demonstrations in 436 cities in 52 countries.
“It was empowering and inspiring to see so many people, from different walks of life, put aside their differences and come together today,” Canal said to the Sun-Times. “We will continue until Monsanto complies with consumer demand. They are poisoning our children, poisoning our planet. If we don’t act, who’s going to?”
Besides protesting the company’s practice of making genetically-modifying seeds, protesters vowed to make their voices heard against the U.S. Senate after it rejected an amendment introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) that would have allowed states to require labels on foods made with modified ingredients.
Sanders’ amendment failed on Thursday in a 71-27 vote, three days after one of his colleagues, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), released a statement promising to repeal the so-called “Monsanto Protection Act,” which allows farmers to buy and plant genetically-altered seeds while its regulatory approval is being challenged in court.
Dorothy Muehlmann, who organized the march in Los Angeles, California, told the Los Angeles Times that the protests were also designed to heighten consumer awareness about Monsanto’s business dealings.
“This is not just a ‘boo Monsanto’ protest,” Muehlmann said to the Times. “We want more people to know so they can make their own decisions.”
The Chicago Tribune reported that Monsanto released a statement Saturday defending its practices.
“Among the challenges facing agriculture are producing food for our growing population and reducing agriculture’s footprint on the environment,” the company’s director of company affairs, Tom Helscher, said in the statement. “While we respect each individual’s right to express their point of view on these topics, we believe we are making a contribution to improving agriculture by helping farmers produce more from their land while conserving natural resources such as water and energy.”
Watch RT’s report from the protest in New York City, aired Saturday, below.