Environmentalist and leftist politicians, such as former presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon, marched at the front of the column, but the impetus for the rallies was provided by another group.
The grassroots Nuit Debout has mobilized hundreds of thousands for labor reform protests in recent months, and many of the same demonstrators turned out to barrack the St. Louis-based giant in Lyon, Bordeaux and Lille.
Genetically-modified crops are banned in France, despite the European Union gradually loosening regulation on the varieties, as they become more popular across the world due to higher yields and greater disease resistance.
Glyphosate, the active chemical in RoundUp and other leading herbicides, could face a Europe-wide ban, after an EU committee failed to issue it with a new retail license, following protracted negotiations. A UN report published this month stated that it was not likely to be ingested in quantities sufficient to cause cancer in humans, but last year’s report by the UN cancer agency called for it to be recognized as a carcinogen that could cause non-Hogdkin’s lymphoma.
“Monsanto is killing me & you!” and “I am not your experiment!” read placards at a protest march through New York.
More than 90 percent of US-grown corn, soybean and cotton is genetically-modified.
Well-attended rallies also took place in Tokyo, across Germany and in Canada.
Monsanto, which has repeatedly put out publicity campaigns to try and demonstrate that its product range is safe, issued a conciliatory statement to the protesters.
“The 22,000 people of Monsanto are committed to having an open dialogue about food and agriculture – we’re proud of the work we do, and we’re eager for people to know more about us,” said a Monsanto text sent out to the media. “We know people have different points of view on these topics, and it’s important that they’re able to express and share them.”
Marches against Monsanto have become a regular event over the past half-decade, but activists may soon need to find a new target for their anger, following Bayer’s proposed bid for the US company, which has a market cap of nearly $46 billion.