Make us your home page
Instagram

Sign protesting genetically engineered crops posted along I-4

A sign on Interstate 4 early Wednesday protests part of a recently passed federal law.

Bay News 9

A sign on Interstate 4 early Wednesday protests part of a recently passed federal law.

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.

Sign protesting genetically engineered crops posted along I-4 04/03/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 3, 2013 11:46pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Pinellas construction licensing board needs to be fixed. But how?

    Local Government

    LARGO –– Everyone agrees that the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board needs to be reformed. But no one agrees on how to do it.

    Rodney Fischer, former executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board Rodney, at a February meeting. His management of the agency was criticized by an inspector general's report. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  2. New owners take over downtown St. Petersburg's Hofbräuhaus

    Retail

    ST. PETERSBURG — The downtown German beer-hall Hofbräuhaus St. Petersburg has been bought by a partnership led by former Checkers Drive-In Restaurants president Keith Sirois.

    The Hofbrauhaus, St. Petersburg, located in the former historic Tramor Cafeteria, St. Petersburg, is under new ownership.
[SCOTT KEELER  |  TIMES]

  3. Boho Hunter will target fashions in Hyde Park

    Business

    Boho Hunter, a boutique based in Miami's Wynwood District, will expand into Tampa with its very first franchise.

    Palma Canaria bags will be among the featured items at Boho Hunter when it opens in October. Photo courtesy of Boho Hunter.
  4. Gallery now bringing useful art to Hyde Park customers

    Business

    HYDE PARK — In 1998, Mike and Sue Shapiro opened a gallery in St. Petersburg along Central Ave., with a majority of the space dedicated to Sue's clay studio.

     As Sue Shapiro continued to work on her pottery in St. Petersburg, her retail space grew and her studio shrunk. Now Shapiro's is bringing wares like these to Hyde Park Village. Photo courtesy of Shapiro's.
  5. Appointments at Raymond James Bank and Saint Leo University highlight this week's Tampa Bay business Movers & Shakers

    Business

    Banking

    Raymond James Bank has hired Grace Jackson to serve as executive vice president and chief operating officer. Jackson will oversee all of Raymond James Bank's operational business elements, risk management and strategic planning functions. Kackson joins Raymond James Bank after senior …

    Raymond James Bank has hired Grace Jackson to serve as executive vice president and chief operating officer. [Company handout]