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Large crowd turns out in Lancaster to protest GMOs and Monsanto

They came on foot. They rode in on bikes. Some car pooled. Some drove themselves in and walked to Penn Square. Some even came in strollers. They all came to March Against Monsanto Saturday. Nearly 100 people, by rough count, showed up in support of GMO Labeling or to protest Monsanto or simply to learn more about GMO crops.

March Against Monsanto, Lancaster PA / © Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman
Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman

GMO stands for genetically modified organisms. Simply put, the DNA of one species is injected into the DNA of another and thus an entirely new species is created. This is not the same as natural evolution or natural breeding. The government claims it is safe and does not even require foods to be labeled that they are not natural.

“We are standing here today with hundreds of thousands of people today,” said Emily Givler, a pediatric nutrition consultant, at Saturday’s March which was coordinated on a global level.

Men, women and children of all ages brought home made signs protesting. Some were simple, like one that read: Organic seed not corporate greed. One read: Cross pollination, ok; genetic modification, no way.

One man wore a simple white tee shirt and camouflage pants. On the back of his shirt he had written: And They said it was safe about Agent Orange. They were Wrong! A farmer was there carrying a pitchfork and a sign reading: My cows won’t eat GMO. Another man wore a white lab coat with a red skull on the back.

The March yesterday began at Penn Square with chants led by Zoe Swartz, organizer of the GMO Free Lancaster County, and Cheryl Yutzy. As the crowd chanted, many passing by honked and waved. Some yelled support. At one point a Pennfield truck went through the intersection and the entire crowd boo’d the truck. The crowd stood on both sides of Queen Street during the demonstration before all heading down to the courtyard at the Hotel Brunswick. There Swartz thanked everyone for coming. Other speakers spoke as well, including Givler. Vendors and informational tables were set up as well.

Givler pointed out the rising rates of autism, ADHD, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and many other health problems since companies, like Monsanto, have been allowed to genetically modify our food.

“Cancer is now the leading cause of death for children,” said Givler.

One person held a sign that read: Monsanto’s greatest enemy? An informed public. For more information on the organization, visit the GMO Free Lancaster County website. Follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

On Friday, 30 May the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce and Industry will discuss the pros and cons of GMO crops at its Ag Issues Forum. Some argue that the GMO crops are necessary to create more food to feed the nation’s growing population. Some argue that GMO foods are causing more health problems and are tampering with nature. The cost for Chamber members is $25, non-members are $35. The meeting will be held at the Farm & Home Center, 1383 Arcadia Road. To register, email Ashley Miller or call 717-397-3531 ext. 152.