EUGENE, Ore. -- Protesters took to the streets of Eugene this afternoon and joined the millions in a worldwide protest of agricultural bio-tech giant Monsanto, the leading producer of genetically engineered seeds.
Over 2,000 gathered in the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza for the No GMO March, protesting the use of genetically modified foods that many said are responsible for health issues.
Marcher David Hazen said he has seen these effects first-hand.
"A lot of my friends are starting to develop allergies to foods ... I myself need to eliminate certain foods to help my own osteoarthritis," Hazen said.
Genetically modified plants are grown from seeds engineered to resist insecticides and herbicides, aimed at adding nutritional benefits and improving crop yields. March organizer Michael Weed said that most people are unaware of what GMOs really are.
"We want people to be aware of what they are eating. Over 80 percent of the corn in the U.S. is actually GMO and over 90 percent of the soy that we consume is also GMO," Weed said.
Other protesters were concerned with how GMO seeds impact the environment. They say modified foods are the reason bee populations are down.
"A lot of people are tracing that back to genetically modified corn and genetically modified plants and the herbicides that are used to keep the weeds down," Hazen said.
Demonstrators around the state voiced support for legislation that would protect Oregon's local farmers and organic agricultural industry.
They joined the as many as two million people in cities around the world who held similar marches against Monsanto on Saturday. Others called for mandatory GMO labeling though the federal government.
Monsanto Co., based in St. Louis, said Saturday that it respects people's rights to express their opinion, but believes its seeds help farmers produce more food, while conserving water and energy.