Hundreds Demonstrate Against Monsanto
PONCE, Puerto Rico – About a thousand people from some 50 organizations marched Saturday from the Ponce campus of the University of Puerto Rico to the Plaza Las Delicias, protesting the presence of agrochemical and biotech company Monsanto in Puerto Rico.
Among the protesters was a group of doctors headed by the president of the Physicians-Surgeons Association, Víctor Ramos, who claimed he received countless emails persuading him not to attend the march.
“Up until yesterday, I was getting emails to not come to the march,” said Ramos, who added that substances such as glyphosate, a herbicide, are harmful despite Environmental Protection Agency reports to the contrary of what the World Health Organization has pointed out.
Students from various university groups, as well as labor and political groups, participated in the march.
The spokesman for the Nada Santo Sobre Monsanto organization (Nothing Holy About Monsanto), Salvador Tió, said he was pleased with the demonstration despite Ponce’s 90-degree weather.
“It has been a success,” he said, stressing that government authorities have a duty to protect citizens from the use of carcinogens.
The company produces seeds for fruits, vegetables and other crops including corn, soybeans and cotton, as well as the popular weed-killer Roundup.
The company says it does not oppose food labeling, but “a state by state patchwork of GM labeling laws would create confusion and uncertainty for consumers. Additionally, an inconsistent approach to labeling would create a situation where all consumers would be forced to pay more for the food they need.”
Activists say research studies have shown that Monsanto’s genetically modified foods can lead to serious health conditions such as the development of cancer tumors, infertility and birth defects.
“The 22,000 people of Monsanto are committed to having an open dialogue about food and agriculture – we’re proud of the work we do, and we’re eager for people to know more about us,” a Monsanto statement Saturday reads.
“Glyphosate-based herbicides are supported by one of the most extensive worldwide human health, safety and environmental databases ever compiled for a pesticide product.
“Comprehensive toxicological studies repeated over the last 40 years have time and again demonstrated that glyphosate poses no unreasonable risk to people, the environment, or pets when used as directed on the label,” the statement adds.