'March Against Monsanto' rally held in front of NH Statehouse
CONCORD — A few dozen people gathered in front of the State House Saturday to protest Monsanto and demand labels for genetically engineered foods.
March Against Monsanto is an international event "aimed at informing the public, calling into question long-term health risks of genetically engineered foods and demanding labels for genetically modified products so that consumers can make informed decisions."
The event kicked off with several speakers including: Republican State Representative James McConnell, Bonnie Wright, of Non-Toxic N.H. and N.H. Right to Know GMO, local beekeeper Amy Antonucci, ecologist Marty Michener and Molecular Biologist and Archaeologist Laura Wolfner.
After the speakers finished, the group of activists marched along North Main Street, sometimes chanting, but also trying to be respectful to other people who were enjoying the sunny day.
Carline Carpenter, an organizer from the N.H. March Against Monsanto Community said that people sometimes get the wrong idea when they hear about a protest and she emphasized the fact that this event was a peaceful march that wouldn't block traffic or impede on other members of the public.
N.H. March Against Monsanto Community hosted the event, and organizer Fawn Gaudet said they hope the event will show the importance of protecting our food supply and the environment.
"People are marching against Monsanto and Bayer," Gaudet said, "and we want to promote organic solutions and support local and organic farms."
"We also want to let people know that they have power right here in your wallet," added Carpenter.
"No single person is going to take down a giant agrochemical corporation," she said. "But what you do have that they want, is money. If you stop buying Round Up [a Monsanto pesticide] and genetically modified food, then they're going to lose money."
Carpenter said she wants people to know that they have the power to buy local and organic and that they are supporting the environment by doing so.
"I think its really key that we protect our seeds and we need to protect our bodies from the harmful use of glyphosate," Gaudet said. Glyphosate is a widely used pesticide, and Gaudet said its more commonly known by Monsanto's brand name for it- Round Up.
Aside from labeling GMOs and protesting Monsanto, saving the bees was also a important theme of the day.
"Since 1945, managed honey beehives have been steadily declining," Amy Antonucci, a local beekeeper and member of the N.H. Beekeepers Association who also spoke at the event, said.
Antonucci said there are intersecting factors that contribute to declining bee populations, but that the health of honey bees has been on a downward slope since the agricultural system in the United States began relying more heavily on herbicides and pesticides.
Catherine Corkery from the N.H. Sierra Club, an environmental group that sponsored the event, said a big part of their participation in the event was not solely about getting humans to stop ingesting pesticides in food.
"We don't want to be applying pesticides around our gardens and our homes and playgrounds," Corkery said. "We feel thats a do-no-harm approach and thats why we support the March Against Monsanto Community here in New Hampshire."
This was the fifth year the March Against Monsanto took place worldwide and a march also took place in Portsmouth Saturday. Gaudet said more events will be announced in the coming months.
To learn more about the N.H. March Against Monsanto Community visit their Facebook page.