Some 300 persons marched Saturday in San José against multinational biotechnology giant Monsanto, particularly to draw attention to the company’s presence in agriculture sectors of developing countries.
The march was part of a global initiative that took place in more than 400 cities, aimed at drawing attention to the alleged risks of genetically modified organisms, heavy use of agrochemicals, and the multinational company’s virtual monopoly on agricultural biotechnology.
“We not only oppose this corporation [Monsanto], but also we oppose the development model that it represents,” said Ignacio Arroyo, a representative of the Costa Rican environmental activist group Bloque Verde.
“Farmers become customers of big corporations that sell them patented seeds and agrochemicals. They are no longer the owners of their seeds”, he added.
Singing “queremos chicha, queremos maíz, queremos a Monsanto fuera del país” (“We want chicha [a fermented corn-based liquor], we want corn, we want Monsanto out of the country”), protesters began the march at the Plaza de la Cultura in downtown San José at 2 p.m. They walked along Central Avenue, visiting the capital’s two major markets, and then headed to Morazán Park and National Park.
Many carried signs saying “Monsanto mata” (“Monsanto kills”), “Seeds are free” and “La naturaleza no nesecita ser modificada” (“Nature doesn’t need to be modified”).
Several members of the Bloque Verde, which opposes the introduction of GMOs into the country and is one of the organizers of the march, handed out fliers with information to people who curiously watched the march pass by.
The USA Today reported that two million people joined the march around the world. Participating cities included Los Angeles and Portland, in the United States, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Bogotá, Colombia, and many others.
In January, Costa Rica’s National Biosecurity Technical Commission granted U.S. Company Delta & Pine Land seed Ltda (D&PL), a local subsidiary of Monsanto, permission to grow genetically modified corn in the country.
The decision now faces a constitutional challenge by lawmaker José María Villalta of the Broad Front Party and local environmentalists. The case is under review by the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court.
Across the country, 56 cantons have voted to declare themselves GMO-free zones.