By: Chris Bonanno
Protests in Cocoa Beach and Melbourne on Saturday afternoon were part of the third annual March Against Monsanto demonstrations in more than 400 cities worldwide.
About 50 participants gathered near the intersection of State Road A1A and SR 520, many of whom were sporting colorful, provocative signs that elicited honks from motorists.
"We're just trying to protect our rights as humans, protect our food for future generations," said Heather Starr, with the Florida Right to Know group that organized the event.
Those who were protesting believe Monsanto has put financial gain ahead of the public's health by producing food with genetically modified organisms. They also believe the company has been at the forefront of preventing food that has been genetically modified from being labeled that way.
"So many people don't realize what they're eating, and it's because these companies don't label their food with all the chemicals and ingredients that are in them so nobody knows the wiser," said Chad Downs of Rockledge, who was there with his mother, girlfriend, stepson and stepdaughter. "That's what we're out here trying to do: spread the word."
"I'm 82 years old and I feel that every moment of the life that I've been given has to be used for a purpose, and I don't think there's anything greater right now than trying to save the next generation or generations, and they're being poisoned by Monsanto," said Joan Reader of Melbourne. "People need to be aware of what they're eating."
Starr also said there was "triple" the turnout of last year's event. Part of that credit lies with students from the Cocoa Beach Jr./Sr. High School environmental club.
Keri Allen, a junior at the school, said about 20 students attended the rally.
"I feel like a big difference would come if people saw that young people started to care," Allen said.
"The United States is one of the only countries that doesn't label GMO products, and I feel like we have the right to know what we're eating so we can make a healthy choice. So that's one of the main reasons why I'm out here and that's one of the main reasons all these kids are out here cause we want to know what we're eating," Allen added.
Representatives from Monsanto have claimed that foods that include genetically modified organisms are safe. Charla Lord, a representative of Monsanto, offered a statement via e-mail when contacted by FLORIDA TODAY:
"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," Lord stated in the e-mail. "We're also proud of our collaboration with farmers and partnering organizations that help make a more balanced meal accessible for everyone. Our goal is to help farmers do this in a more sustainable way using fewer resources and having a smaller impact on the environment. We know people have different points of view on these topics, and it's important that they're able to express and share them."
The Right to Know group is planning another protest in September in Cocoa Beach near Minutemen Causeway and one in October in Melbourne.
Originally Published: Florida Today