MEDFORD, Ore. – Medford joined over 250 cities across 36 countries as part of the “March Against Monsanto.”
Organizers say over 800 people marched from Vogel Plaza to Alba Park as part of the protest.
They say their outrage is in response to the so-called Monsanto Protection Act, which offers legal protections to those planting genetically modified and potentially unhealthy seeds.
“What’s at stake is our whole food supply,” said Kayla Starr, one of the event organizers.
The so-called Monsanto Protection Act allows farmers to plant purchased genetically modified seeds even if those seeds are found to have negative health effects.
When those seeds grow, they can spread to nearby farms.
“The wind blows the pollen into organic farmers’ fields… and that way they can’t save their own seeds,” said Starr.
As protestors marched by, Rogue Valley farmers sold their produce at the downtown market. Some quietly cheering from the sidelines.
Vince Alionis has been farming organically for 21 years. He says genetically modified sugar beets have been a source of controversy — and contamination — here in the valley.
“This is not too different from pesticide drift or point source pollution issues,” said Alionis. “It’s something that needs to be addressed.”
Young farmers say they’re beginning to see that happen.
Max Binstock moved here from the Bay area, in part because of the food movement.
“There’s always been pockets of this movement, and now it’s coming back with a lot of force,” said Binstock.
Even though rallies in places like Portland have four or five times the turnout, organizers here say they’re heartened.
“Any of the issues that I’ve been part of, this is the biggest ever,” said Starr.
Oregon senator Jeff Merkeley introduced an amendment this week that would have repealed the Monsanto Protection Act. Senate Republicans blocked that amendment, saying it would be unfair to ban seeds that farmers already purchased.