'People are now getting scared that it's true'

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Shain Pino or Rochester, sporting a Guy Fawkes mask, stands up for GMO labeling on Saturday during a March Against Monsanto protest in downtown Rochester. (Lebanon Voice/Harrison Thorp photos)

ROCHESTER - When you enjoy that Sunday barbecue later today, you're likely going to be ingesting at least some genetically modified food that came from Roundup Ready plants, or beef, pork or chicken that ate Roundup Ready plants before they were slaughtered.

Roundup Ready is a term coined by chemical giant Monsanto, which markets seeds to farmers nationwide, said Rochester March Against Monsanto organizer Kay-Lee Waters, who was one of a handful of protesters who demonstrated in downtown Rochester on Saturday.

"They found something growing in a Roundup Ready pile and decided to inject that into other seedlings," Waters said. "That allows the plant to thrive despite being soaked in pesticides."

Roundup is a popular, commercially sold weed killer. The World Health Organization recently listed its principal ingredient, glyphosate, as a carcinogen.

"So now it's in 90 percent of the food we eat," Waters, of Rochester, said as she held a placard condemning Monsanto's greed and indifference to safety.

Waters' youngest child is mildly autistic, and she said there are growing concerns that GMOs cause autism.

"It's not the immunizations," she said. "It's the GMOs."

Genetically modified foods have been in existence for 20 years, but still there is no labeling required despite the vast majority of people wishing there were.

From left, David Stringer, Johnny Stringer, both of Rochester, along with two other children make their feelings known on GMOs during a March Against Monsanto protest in downtown Rochester on Saturday.

Why? Activists will say that's because powerful lobbying groups representing chemical giants like Monsanto and Dow are making it their business to see that it doesn't.

Maine and several other New England states have passed GMO labeling laws, but they all contain a trigger clause that keeps it from being passed until five contiguous states have joined the effort.

Connecticut and Vermont have also passed GMO labeling laws.

Most of the corn, soybeans, sugar beets, alfalfa, canola, soy, Hawaiian papaya and cotton grown in the United States are grown with GMO seeds, which are spliced with DNA bacteria that protects them from insects and pests, even the herbicide that is sprayed on them.

But the amount of herbicides hasn't gone down as you might have thought with the Roundup Ready crops. It's actually spiked due to new superweeds and superbugs that have proved resistant over time.

Meanwhile, the spliced DNA that incorporates the Roundup Ready cells winds up in humans who ingest the foods.

Food label denoting absence

of GMOs.

With 20 years of eating GMOs under Americans' belts, companies like Monsanto say the public health has not been compromised, but anti-Monsanto activists say 20 years is not enough, and damage is, in fact, being done.

So far the FDA has done little. The Obama administration has agreed to let Monsanto continue its research and organism engineering while more research is planned. "Ultimately it is the food producer who is responsible for assuring safety," an FDA policy states.

Monsanto spokesman have passed the buck to the FDA, saying, "Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food ... our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA's job."

"If the FDA won't do it and Monsanto has no interest in doing it, then who is going to do it?" Waters asked.

Some of the effects of GMO usage in humans include diabetes, allergies, leaky gut and reproductive issues, according to scientists and others who are calling on the FDA to halt the practice until more long-term studies are done.

Shain Pino of Rochester, wearing a Guy Fawkes mask on Saturday, said there is more awareness now.

"People are now getting scared that it's true," Pino said. "And they fear they have a government that doesn't care about them."

Many insiders at the FDA, which is charged with keeping American's food supply safe, are former Monsanto lawyers and corporate executives, and activists say the revolving door compromises the agency's integrity and effectiveness.

While Maine legislators in April opted for the state to go it alone in requiring GMO labeling, a bill making its way through Congress now would kill states' rights on labeling issues rendering Maine's effort null and void.

To view a documentary about GMOs called Seeds of Death click here.

For more information on the fight for GMO labeling go to or

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