Protesters Hold March in Rome

Sat Jun 8, 8:17 PM ET
By SHEYAM GHIETH, Associated Press Writer

ROME - Under tight security, thousands of protesters marched
peacefully through Rome on Saturday to air grievances over
genetically modified food and other agriculture issues two days
before the start of a U.N. summit in the Italian capital.

With memories of the violence that left one protester dead and the
city of Genoa heavily damaged during the G-8 summit last summer,
Italian authorities ordered heavy security for the march.

Police helicopters followed the route, armored vehicles were
parked at many intersections and tight clusters of officers
guarded possible targets of the anti-globalization movement, such
as U.S. fast food eateries.

Organizers had predicted that about 50,000 marchers would show up,
and after it began, put their numbers at 40,000. Police did not
give a crowd estimate.

The four-day summit, hosted by the Rome-based U.N. Food and
Agriculture Organization (news - web sites), starts Monday.
Organizers hope to press donor countries into keeping earlier
promises to halve the number of hungry people in the world by
2015. The pledges were made at similar summit here five years ago,
but progress has come up short.

More than 100 heads of state and ministers are expected to attend.

Saturday's protest drew those pushing for land reform as well as
those against the use of pesticides and genetically modified food.

"A forum like this can bring all these issues together," said
Monica Moore, a marcher who said she is program director of the
Pesticide Action Network in San Francisco.

Among issues likely to surface at the food summit are access to
markets for poor farmers and the use of genetically modified

Both issues are rallying points for environmental and farmers'
rights groups who will be holding their own meeting on the
outskirts of Rome.

The United States argues that the creation of drought- and insect-
resistant crops through genetic manipulation ensures greater food

But opponents say genetically tampered-with crops can jeopardize
health and the environment. Anti-globalization movements say
production of genetically altered foods mainly benefit
multinational companies.

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