March Against Monsanto planned for Beaufort

emoody@beaufortgazette.comMay 22, 2013 

Josefina Blanc Mendiberri is concerned about the future -- for her, her 9-year-old son and the elementary school students she teaches -- especially when it comes to the food they eat.

"If you're not ingesting real, plant-based food that humans have been eating for the last 3,000 years, then you don't really know where your food is coming from," she said.

A group of Beaufort-area residents is joining the international March Against Monsanto on Saturday with a local rally to increase education and awareness, Blanc Mendiberri said.

"There's a lot of people locally who came from big cities and are well-meaning, well-educated people who know about these issues that don't always get a lot of attention in Beaufort," she said.

More than 400 events are being planned worldwide Saturday, according to the March Against Monsanto website. Monsanto is a multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation.

Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are harmful to people who eat them and to natural organic crops because they take over fields, Blanc Mendiberri said. GMO labeling is not required in the U.S., but 50 countries across the world either require the labeling or ban such foods, according to Label GMOs, a California organization.

Mary Connor, who with her sisters owns Three Sisters Farm in Bluffton, said she is leery of GMOs because she believes they have not been tested thoroughly. Connor is unable to attend the march but believes it and similar events around the region and nation are important.

As a certified organic farmer, she said she fears modified corn and soy have led to an increase in pests and weeds that are resistant to pesticides and herbicides.

"Just like the problem with antibiotics, where you start getting super-germs that no antibiotic can kill, the same thing happens with weeds," she said.

The local group is small and is attracting many parents, especially moms, who are concerned about what they feed their children, Blanc Mendiberri said.

"I think, fortunately, Beaufort is still relatively rural to where we get to have a choice on how we want to develop this city," she said.

Beaufort march participants will meet at the Big Lots parking lot in Beaufort Plaza at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. Several dozen adults and children are expected to start walking downtown at 2 p.m. They will rally at the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park pavilion at about 3 p.m.

"We just need to be informed so people can make good consumers," Blanc Mendiberri said.

Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.

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