May 25, 2013 3:28 pm

Protesters rally in Vancouver against genetically modified food

Hundreds of people gathered in downtown Vancouver in May to protest genetically modified food and biotech company Monsanto. Credit: Nick Logan/Global News

Nick Logan/Global News

Hundreds of people gathered in downtown Vancouver Saturday to protest genetically modified food and biotech company Monsanto.

The Vancouver March Against Monsanto is part of an international movement that aims to raise awareness about the impacts of genetically modified organisms (GMOs)  in food.

Marchers gathered at the Vancouver Art Gallery beginning at 11 a.m. to protest Monsanto Co., the leading producer of GMOs and the largest seed company in the world.

Gallery: Vancouver March Against Monsanto 

Protesters claim genetic engineering has a devastating effect on the environment and health and companies should be forced to label food that contains GMOs.

“There’s a growing body of evidence indicating that genetically modified crops are not benign; they affect both our health and the environment,” said Greenpeace Vancouver Local Group member, Zac Hambrook in a statement.

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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.

The use of GMOs has been a growing issue of contention in recent years, with health advocates pushing for mandatory labeling of genetically modified products even though the federal government and many scientists say the technology is safe.

Hambrook said that Canada is one of few industrialized countries that do not label products that contain genetically engineered ingredients.

“We need more cautious regulations that put environment and health first,” Hambrook said.

Similar marches were held across Canada and around the world Saturday.

With files from the Associated Press

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