Wednesday, January 17, 2018
News Roundup

Sign protesting genetically engineered crops posted along I-4

TAMPA — A large, illuminated sign protesting a federal farming law was posted on an overpass early Wednesday, and a protest organizer says commuters haven't seen the last of it.

The sign was reported to the Florida Highway Patrol about 6:30 a.m. Troopers responded to the Interstate 4 overpass near U.S. 301 but did not remove it because it was not disrupting traffic. About 7 a.m., protesters began removing the sign, which said, "Stop Monsanto GMO Law."

That's a reference to a wide-ranging appropriations bill that Congress recently passed and that President Barack Obama signed last week.

New York Times food columnist Mark Bittman reported in an online blog this week that one section of the bill "essentially prohibits the Department of Agriculture from stopping production of any genetically engineered crop once it's in the ground, even if there is evidence that it is harmful."

Critics say it provides excessive legal cover to agri-tech companies like Monsanto, a Fortune 500 company based in St. Louis, that work with genetically engineered foods.

"Our mission is to try to put a stop to this Monsanto protection act," said protest organizer Kyle Petillo, 30, of Plant City. "It's really something that snuck in under the radar."

The dozen or so protesters responsible for Wednesday's demonstration came together through the Facebook page, "March Against Monsanto." Petillo said he believes people have a right to eat naturally grown food, as opposed to genetically modified food, and to know when food was grown from genetically modified seeds or similar products.

On its website, Monsanto defends the provision, saying it strikes "a careful balance allowing farmers to continue to plant and cultivate their crops subject to appropriate environmental safeguards, while USDA conducts any necessary further environmental reviews."

The company also denies that the provision was slipped into the bill in secret, noting that a coalition of cotton, corn, soybean, wheat, sugar beet and other farming groups wrote to Congress last June in public support of the provision.

Petillo said the group plans to return to the overpass early April 11 with a similar protest. It also plans a rally on genetically engineered crops at 8 a.m. April 28 at Edward Medard Regional Park in Plant City.

"What we're trying to do is raise awareness," he said.

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report.

Comments
Apple to build second campus, hire 20,000 in $350B pledge

Apple to build second campus, hire 20,000 in $350B pledge

Associated PressSAN FRANCISCO — Apple is planning to build another corporate campus and hire 20,000 workers during the next five years as part of a $350 billion commitment to the United States that will be partially financed by an upcoming windfall f...
Updated: 21 minutes ago
‘All I see is fire’: 911 calls released from Florida casino boat fire

‘All I see is fire’: 911 calls released from Florida casino boat fire

PORT RICHEY — The first call came into emergency dispatch at 4 p.m. on Sunday from shore, reporting a ‘‘giant’’ boat on fire in the Pithlachascotee River."It’s urgent," the caller said.Others followed quickly, one woman crying as she described from h...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Gibsonton man faces 50 counts of child porn

Gibsonton man faces 50 counts of child porn

GIBSONTON — A 46-year-old man was arrested Wednesday by Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents on 50 counts of possession of child pornography and one count of promoting a sexual performance by a child.Authorities said they received several tip...
Updated: 3 hours ago

He still has nightmares: Deckhand recalls prior casino boat fire

Cory Byrd said he still has nightmares about the smoke. In them, he is back in the cabin of the Express Shuttle II, scrambling to reach the white rectangle of an open door. The smoke was so thick, he said, you could barely see an outstretched hand. ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Wallaby bounds down Sydney Harbour Bridge; North, South Korea to march as one in Olympics; more in world news

Wallaby bounds down Sydney Harbour Bridge; North, South Korea to march as one in Olympics; more in world news

AustraliaWallaby infiltrates Sydney bridgeA wayward wallaby disrupted downtown traffic by bounding across the Sydney Harbor Bridge on Tuesday with police in pursuit. The adult male was captured without any apparent serious injury and is expected to b...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Pinellas sheriff, feds announce changes to controversial immigrant detention policy

Pinellas sheriff, feds announce changes to controversial immigrant detention policy

LARGO — For years, county sheriffs in the United States have faced a quandary when asked by federal officials to hold undocumented immigrants in their local jails. They could continue to hold them for up to two days past the time they were legally fr...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Water Street Tampa developers seek artist and design for $600,000 outdoor art near USF med school

Water Street Tampa developers seek artist and design for $600,000 outdoor art near USF med school

TAMPA — Water Street Tampa called Wednesday for artists to send in their ideas for a big piece of public art for the outdoor plaza between one of the $3 billion project’s office buildings and the new University of South Florida Morsani College of Med...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Tourism brought in record $112 billion to Florida in 2016

Tourism brought in record $112 billion to Florida in 2016

Tourism brought in a record $112 billion to Florida’s economy in 2016, up about 3 percent from 2015, according to Visit Florida figures released Wednesday. About 10 percent — $88 billion — of the state’s gross domestic product came from tourism in 20...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Time to carbo load: Three new bakeries include an Australian bakery, second La Segunda

Time to carbo load: Three new bakeries include an Australian bakery, second La Segunda

LA SEGUNDAA Tampa Bay giant has stirred and is on the move. La Segunda Central Bakery, a family-owned Ybor City institution for nearly 103 years (they celebrated that birthday Jan. 15) and the largest producer of Cuban bread in the world, will open a...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Temperatures falling fast; freeze warnings issued for Tampa Bay

Temperatures falling fast; freeze warnings issued for Tampa Bay

UPDATE: The National Weather Service has issued freeze warnings for Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, Hernando, Manatee and Sarasota counties.A cold air mass is moving southward through the Florida peninsula dropping temperatures across the Tampa Bay ar...
Updated: 5 hours ago