African nations joined tens of thousands of people across the world on Saturday to protest against the American biotechnology giant Monsanto and its genetically modified crops and pesticides.
The third annual March Against Monsanto – begun by the Occupy movement – was held in around 400 cities in more than 40 countries from the Americas to Africa and Europe.
May 23 marked the global March Against Monsanto day, which aims to raise awareness about health threats posed by the $20-billion corporation’s genetically modified seeds and chemical herbicides.
In the West African nation of Ghana, anti-Monsanto rallies were led by several national trade unions and farmer groups, including the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana and the General Agricultural Workers Union of the Trades Union Congress.
Some gathered outside Monsanto’s office in the Ghanaian capital of Accra, the grassroots Food Sovereignty Ghana advocacy group said on its social media account.
The protest was also underway in South Africa’s Durban, groundWork non-profit organization said on its Twitter account. Demonstrators sought to kick Monsanto out of the country and ban genetically modified organisms altogether, according to the watchdog.
“‘M’ is for mass murder,” read one of the placards at the march in Cape Town, another South African city, according a photo posted on Twitter by a participant of the rally.
The March Against Monsanto (MAM) movement seeks to shed light on the dangers surrounding Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds and herbicides linked to cancer, particularly Roundup.
Founded in 1901 as a food additive company, Monsanto now employs 22,000 people across 61 countries and is the world’s leading producer of genetically engineered seeds and chemical herbicides.
About 2,500 people staged anti-Monsanto protests in the Swiss cities of Basel and Morges, where the company has its headquarters for Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
Up to 3,000 protesters, rallied by environmental organisations including Greenpeace and anti-capitalist group Stop TAFTA, gathered in Paris, with Monsanto’s market-leading herbicide Roundup the main targets of protesters’ anger.
The controversial product’s main ingredient was recently classified as “probably carcinogenic to humans” by the World Health Organisation.
“Looking for mass suicide? Go for Roundup,” read one placard at another French protest in the western city of Rennes.
In Burkina Faso, around 500 people marched in the capital Ouagadougou against the US giant, which introduced GM cotton into the west African country in 2003. Demonstrators demanded a 10-year moratorium on the planting of Monsanto seeds, so that “independent research can be conducted” into the effects of the technology.
Up to 1,000 anti-Monsanto activists also gathered in front of the European parliament in Strasbourg as the sun was setting for a minute’s silence “in homage to the existing and future victims poisoned by pesticides,” according to the organisers.
There were similar scenes in Los Angeles and Rio de Janiero. Up to 500 protesters, including families with small children, took part in a colourful rally under the sun in Los Angeles.
“I’m not a science experiment,” read the sign of a young girl in a pushchair, while demonstrators chanted: “Hell no, GMO!”
In Chile’s capital Santiago around 1,000 people demanded the withdrawal of Monsanto from the country and the end of production of genetically modified foods.
All photos by Christine Hogg. See full photo album on Flickr.