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Protests against GMO crops and pesticides target Monsanto, international agribusiness giant

www.abc.net.au

From Paris to Ouagadougou, thousands of people have taken to the streets to protest against the American biotechnology giant Monsanto and its genetically modified crops and pesticides.

The third annual March Against Monsanto was being held in upwards of 400 cities in more than 40 countries.

About 2,500 people staged anti-Monsanto protests in the Swiss cities of Basel and Morgues, where the company has its headquarters for Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

Up to 3,000 protesters rallied by environmental organisations including Greenpeace and anti-capitalist group Stop Tafta gathered in Paris, with Monsanto’s market-leading herbicide Roundup the main targets of protesters’ anger.

The controversial product’s main ingredient was recently classified as “probably carcinogenic to humans” by the World Health Organisation.

Organisers said ahead of the marches the multinational biotech giant had claimed that genetically modified crops would actually lead to a decrease in Roundup use.

Coloured powders are thrown during a protest in Mexico City

But they pointed to US Geological Survey data that revealed the use of Roundup’s key component glyphosate had increased 16-fold since the mid-1990s when genetically modified organisms (GMOs) were first introduced.

“Looking for mass suicide? Go for Roundup,” read one placard at a French protest in the western city of Rennes.

In a march in another French city, Toulouse, protesters called for more protection for bees, amid international alarm at recent population declines of the vital pollinator.

Halfway around the planet in Burkina Faso, about 500 people marched against the US giant, which introduced GM cotton into the west African country in 2003.

Demonstrators demanded a 10-year moratorium on the planting of Monsanto seeds so “independent research can be conducted” into the effects of the technology.

Up to 1,000 anti-Monsanto activists gathered in front of the European Parliament in Strasbourg as the sun was setting for a minute’s silence “in homage to the existing and future victims poisoned by pesticides”, according to the organisers.

The worldwide March Against Monsanto was begun in 2013 by the Occupy movement and has become an annual event.

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