Essential Pittsburgh
9:49 pm
Sat May 25, 2013

Occupy Monsanto: Protesting Genetically Engineered Food

An activist movement known as Occupy Monsanto staged a global protest Saturday afternoon to raise awareness of genetically modified organisms, also known as GMOs.

A Pittsburgh contingent marched from the Strip District to City Hall chanting about GMOs and the biotechnology company, Monsanto.

Donna Terlecki, who calls herself a “mom against Monsanto,” marched with her daughter Carla Martinez and said she's concerned about the health effects of genetically engineered food.

"The GMO’s, the Genetically Modified Organisms in our food are extremely bad for us, are killing us," Terlecki said. "We’re the first generation that will die sooner than our parents, and it’s because of the food that we’re eating and putting in our body."

Terlecki and Martinez said companies are not currently required to label food that comes from GMOs, and everyone should be aware of what they’re eating and what it’s doing to their bodies.

"Don’t just blow it off and say, 'Oh look at those hippies walking down the street,'" Martinez said.

Terlecki chimed in: "Don’t think that if it’s on the shelf, the government must be protecting you because that’s really not the truth."

Last week Connecticut was the first Northeast state to pass legislation requiring special labels for food made with GMOs. The effective date for supermarkets may depend on whether similar bills are passed in nearby states, such as Pennsylvania.

T. Lyle Ferderber, a beekeeper from Cranberry Township, was downtown protesting Monsanto because of the company's popular herbicide, Roundup, which is available to farmers and the general public. He said the overuse of herbicides may be contributing to honey bee colony collapse and other environmental problems.

"Farmers and lawns are the largest non-point source of pollution in our country," Ferderber said, "and that comes from lawns that have been doused with it. Fields that have been doused with it, and it runs off into the streams and into the soil. If you look for example at the Chesapeake Bay, it has dead zones in it, due to over fertilization and chemicals.

The USDA and the EPA have found a number of factors may contribute to honey bee colony collapse disorder, such as a lack of diverse food sources, natural pathogens and overuse of agricultural chemicals, especially pesticides. The research is ongoing.