Participants in the Third International March Against Monsanto gathered for a rally at Westlake Park on Saturday morning and planned to march to The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for an additional rally at 2 p.m.
Marches were also held in Olympia, Bremerton, Monroe, Longview and Spokane.
Rallies and marches were planned in more than 400 cities and 52 countries. Protesters are calling for the permanent boycott of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and other harmful agro-chemicals.
“Monsanto’s predatory business and corporate agricultural practices threatens their generation’s health, fertility and longevity. MAM supports a sustainable food production system. We must act now to stop GMOs and harmful pesticides,” said Tami Monroe Canal, founder of March Against Monsanto (MAM).
Genetically modified plants are grown from seeds that are engineered to resist insects 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 critics say genetically modified organisms can lead to serious health conditions and harm the environment.
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.
Last fall, voters in Washington state rejected I-522, which would have made Washington the first state to put in place labeling requirements for genetically modified foods.
The opposition to I-522 raised $22 million to defeat the measure. Hefty contributions came from Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer and the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which collected millions in donations from the nation's top food companies, including Nestle SA, General Mills Inc., Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc.