While some people will gather at City Hall to listen to the tunes of Fun., and other big name musical acts at the Boston Calling festival, a large group of protesters will meet at Government Center with a different agenda for the weekend, and march through the city to mourn the death of “real food.”
On a Facebook event page called “March Against Monsanto,” more than 2,000 people have signed up to take a stand against GMOs—genetically modified organisms—in crops and foods, which they say can lead to serious health conditions such as the development of cancer tumors, infertility and birth defects.
The nationwide group is urging consumers to boycott Monsanto, an agricultural biotech corporation that produces genetically engineered seeds, and other Monsanto-owned companies that use GMOs in their products, by buying organic and homegrown foods like vegetables. They are also calling on legislators to label foods containing GMOs so that consumers can make informed decisions about what they buy and eat.
In March, President Barack Obama signed a bill that protects companies like Monsanto from lawsuits over potential health risks. Protesters dubbed the legislation the “Monsanto Protection Act.”
Boston’s march on Saturday is part of a global movement where 250 cities, and 30 other countries, have pledged to take a stand against the company. “It’s not enough to simply tell people to eat organic, or vote for initiatives that will label GMOs,” according to group organizers. “There are many forms of activism that we can use to improve our food fate and continue the food revolution. The March Against Monsanto is a perfect example of a mass movement that disseminates information to millions of people, awakening the masses to the injustices of the world.”
After the march on Saturday, attendees are planning to gather at the Boston Common bandstand to talk about the problems people face when consuming foods that have been manipulated by food distribution companies, and watch a performance about the hazards of genetically modified products. A brass band will accompanying those marching and play a “New Orleans” like funeral song for “real food.”
The protests come at a time when more cities and towns around Massachusetts are updating zoning rules and regulations to adapt to the growing interest in urban agriculture. In the coming weeks, officials from Boston will meet with residents to talk about outdoor and rooftop farms, composting, and soil safety. In Somerville, residents can now learn how to raise their own chickens in their backyards as part of the city’s Urban Agriculture Initiative, opting out of food purchases from large supermarkets.
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