The March Against Monsanto will see hundreds of thousands in 40 countries united to challenge biotechnology corporations and protest against genetically modified food, which despite bans in some countries due to health hazards remains legal in many others. In Serbia, the protest was held in Belgrade on the Main Square, Novi Sad on the Square of Freedom and in Nis on the Square of King Milan on Saturday.

Monsanto Challenge Belgrade
Around 300 people at Monsanto Challenge Belgrade

On the Republic Square in Belgrade activists fighting the GMO in Serbia have gathered around 300 people, in form more of a protest rather than a march. Acknowledged university professors spoke about the negative effects of GMO seeds, food for the health of people as well as the Serbian economy, specifically.

Monsanto Challenge Belgrade
Vladimir Milenković, member of the project “Citizen power”, part of “We are the 99%” movement in Serbia

The activists also noted that the gathering was organized by a group of citizens who have good will to educate people about GMO and that there are no political motives behind the gathering.

“Today, throughout the world, people are also protesting against genetically modified food and we are among them. In the other countries a march against Monsanto is organized, but we wanted our protest to be more of educational character, where we will speak about reasons against GMO. This is an informal gathering, organized by citizens, no political parties are involved, only citizens”, Vladimir Milenković, member of the project “Citizen power”, part of “We are the 99%” movement in Serbia, told at the protest opening.

“Serbia already has laws against GMO and is known as a country without GMO. Other countries, companies in them and their citizens consider this to be good thing and that is why they import seeds and products from Serbia. Some countries, like Russia or Ukraine, which are big countries with 200 million or more citizens, have strict laws and regulations, and require certificates that food that is imported is not genetically modified. Serbia also has the ability to practice the same policy,” he added.

 

“There are many arguments against GMO regarding health risks. All the results regarding GMO in US and world are done based on 3-month long research studies on animals. However, indipendent research studies have shown that second and third generations of lab rats have shown the consequences of the GMO food they were given,” said professor Miladin Ševarlić, from the Faculty of Agriculture.

Monsanto Challenge Belgrade
Professor Miladin Ševarlić at Monsanto Challenge Belgrade

He reminded of the Mad Cow disease, and how long it took for the actual consequences of the disease on people to show, and asked a question – how long will it pass until people feel the real consequences of the GMO food they eat today. He also added that it may take several, but also hundred years (two or three generations) to see the actual consequences for human health.

Monsanto 10
Professor Miladin Ševarlić at Monsanto Challenge Belgrade

“Further,” he said, “Serbia would lose its domestic and foreign markets where it now sells its seeds, all the gene banks with indigenous varieties which our collectionars have collected for years. Also, Serbia would loose all the advantages it has as a producer of seeds and food which are not geneticaly modified and thus be economically damaged, and when I say economically, I mean in millions of EUR.”

Anonymous at the challenge
Anonymous at the challenge

After professor Sevarlic, professor Snezana Oljaca, from the Belgrade University, addressed the audience and spoke about organic food and its advantages compared to genetically modified food and reporter Biljana Djorovic, who spoke about the censorship she expirienced when GMO is in question.

“I am quite satisfied with how everything went on. The professors mentioned many important facts that Serbian citizens ought to be informed about. I have to say that while we were preparing the protest many regular citizens helped us by spreading the info about the meeting. In a way, the protest would not be as successful without them,”  said Vladimir Milenković for InSerbia News after the protest.

“The protest was successful but we are very much aware that protests don’t solve anything really, but serve as a starting point for practical projects. We plan to promote prof. Ševarlić’s ‘Declaration against GMO’ during the summer, since we think it is a good, democratic initiative which will pressure Serbian institutions to change their stance about GMO. If this proves to have no effect, we will organize a much larger protest in Autumn,”  he added.

Monsanto Challenge Belgrade
Monsanto Challenge Belgrade

Anti-Monsanto activists repeated that mainstream media keeps the blackout on coverage of the protest marches.

Banner at Monsanto Challenge Belgrade
Banner at Monsanto Challenge Belgrade
"Monsanto seje smrt" - Monsanto seeds death banner
“Monsanto seje smrt” – Monsanto seeds death banner

Organized by the ‘March Against Monsanto’ movement, about 200,000 were expected to participate in the massive event on Saturday spanning six continents, 40 nations, and at least 48 US states, RT Reported.

The march is already gathering pace in Europe, where thousands of activists in Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, Ireland, France, Malta and elsewhere are taking to the streets to protest against Monsanto abuses.

Earlier in the day, hundreds of demonstrators in Brisbane and Melbourne in Australia and across Japan and South Africa took to the streets to protest against the multi-national corporation and to demand a ban on Genetically Engineered and Genetically Modified Organisms (GE/GMOs).

Nick Bernabe, a social media director for March Against Monsanto, told RT that in some parts of the world, Monsanto’s tactics are leading farmers to suicide.

“If you look at what happened in India… I mean there was an epidemic of suicides of the farmers,” Bernabe said. “Monsanto sold them a kind of seed that they promised would do a certain thing and then those seeds didn’t perform how they were supposed to. And it drove a lot of those Indian farmers into sheer poverty – and they ended up committing suicide by the hundreds and thousands even.”

Meanwhile in the United States, Monsanto is known for litigating small farmers out of business, Bernabe added.

“There are a lot of small farmers they are putting out business because they have a genetic migration into crops that were not supposed to be GMO, but they are getting cross-pollinated,” he explained. “And then Monsanto comes in, they use their government cronies to go in and shut down small farmers because the genetics from the seeds they’ve patented have slowly crept into the genetics of non-GMO seeds.”

Bernabe says that activists “want to spread awareness and we want to start from the ground up.”

“The easiest thing you can do to know what’s in your food is to grow your own food,” he said. “We start there. At the very top we want labeling and a ban, but I think we should work from the ground up to have the best results.”

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