Anti-GMO protesters march against Monsanto in Canada and around the world

WATCH ABOVE: Worldwide protests against American agribusiness giant Monsanto. Jennifer Tryon reports.

TORONTO – Hundreds marched in Toronto Saturday joining thousands around the world to protest against genetically modified organisms and agribusiness giant Monsanto.

The “March Against Monsanto” protests are now in their third year and were held in several Canadian cities including Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver. Organizers said that events were being held in 428 cities in 38 countries from North America to Africa and Europe.

Demonstrators in Toronto rallied outside of Queen’s Park before marching their way across the city to a GMO-free festival at Christie Pits in the city’s west end.

READ MORE: New research suggests link between diseases and common pesticide

The group behind the event said in a statement the rally is about providing an opportunity to people to educate themselves about the “serious health conditions” linked to “Monsanto’s genetically-modified foods.”

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Those who attended the rally in Toronto said it was about creating a grassroots movement.

“Companies like Monsanto have billions of dollars behind them. They can do their campaigns and there is not a problem. We are as grassroots as it comes,” Brock Sheppard, who identified himself as an organic food consumer, told Global News.

In Kelowna, B.C., dozens of protesters gathered calling for more protection of food supplies and to create awareness of what they say are harmful impacts of genetically modified foods like the Arctic Apple.

IN PHOTOS: Protests against GMOs and Monsanto held around the world

Protesters participate, during a World March Against Monsanto, in Paris, France, during a global day of action against the agricultural biotechnology company, in Paris, Saturday, May 23 2015. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Activists share a picnic at a march against Monsanto, where 'anti-OGM31' cooperative and citizens are protesting against US agriculture and seed giant Monsanto on May 23, 2015, in Toulouse. AFP PHOTO / REMY GABALDA
People take part in a march against US agrochemical giant Monsanto on May 23, 2015, in Santiago, Chile. (AFP PHOTO/MARTIN BERNETTI)
Activists take part in a march against US agrochemical giant Monsanto and GMO food products, May 23, 2015, in Los Angeles, California. (ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

Attempts to reach Monsanto for comment were unsuccessful. On the company’s website they claim there’s no credible evidence GMOs are harmful to humans or animals.

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“As consumers ourselves, we place the highest priority on the safety of our products and conduct rigorous and comprehensive testing on each,” the company writes. “In fact, seeds with GM traits have been tested more than any other crops in the history of agriculture – with no credible evidence of harm to humans or animals.”

A study conducted by Pew Research in January found that the scientific community and public are at odds when it comes to the safety of GMOs. The study found that 88 per cent of U.S. scientists with the American Association for the Advancement of Science believe genetically modified foods are “generally safe” for consumption, while only 37 per cent of the public said the same.

READ MORE: Teen activist fights for GMO labeling

Protesters are also highlighting concern over Monsanto’s best-selling herbicide Roundup, with the main ingredient glyphosate, which the World Health Organization called “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

“With the new admission by the World Health Organization that Monsanto’s best-selling herbicide Roundup is causing cancer worldwide, now is the most important time to join the movement and take a stand,” event organizers said in a statement.

While numbers from this year’s event are still unconfirmed an estimated 1,500 people attend this year’s rally down from 3,000 last year.

*With files from Jennifer Tryon

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