About 200 people gathered at Renaissance Park on Saturday afternoon to join a worldwide movement in protesting the Monsanto biotech corporation.
According to the March Against Monsanto website, the event was organized to raise awareness of the potential health risks of eating genetically modified organisms. Those in charge also wanted to protest what they described as political favoritism that allows Monsanto to receive patents on seeds and genes.
According to The Associated Press, Monsanto Co., based in St. Louis, said Saturday that it respects people's rights to express their opinion on the topic, but maintains that its seeds improve agriculture by helping farmers produce more from their land while conserving resources such as water and energy.
In Chattanooga, protesters gathered at 2 p.m. in Miller Plaza, marched across the Tennessee River and settled in Renaissance Park. There, participants listened to speakers and flashed handmade signs: "Monsanto: Get Out Of My Plants," "Monsanto Mortuary," "Say No To GMO!"
Carol Edmonds came to the protest because she believes eating genetically modified organisms leads to health problems, problems she argues can't even be studied because politicians have protected the research of Monsanto and other biotechnology corporations.
"We're totally opposed to the GMOs," she said. "We don't even want it in our food. But if it is out there, we want the government to at least label them GMOs."
Underneath a pavilion at Renaissance Park, Garver Akers read a speech to the group. Akers owns a small experimental farm in LaFayette, Ga., and says he has studied soil science.
He hoped to provide listeners with Monsanto's history of producing chemicals used as weapons, such as Agent Orange in Vietnam.
"Over 60 countries have banned Monsanto and their products," he told the crowd. "I would like to be a part of that."
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