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Protesters block Monsanto plant entrance in Woodland

Anti-GMO demonstrators block Monsanto plant in Woodland

Al Rojas of Sacramento talks during an anti-GMO rally at the Monsanto plant in Woodland on Thursday, May 21, 2015. About 70 people blocked the entrance to the company and marched down Main Street in Woodland. Video by Hector Amezcua, The Sacrament
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Al Rojas of Sacramento talks during an anti-GMO rally at the Monsanto plant in Woodland on Thursday, May 21, 2015. About 70 people blocked the entrance to the company and marched down Main Street in Woodland. Video by Hector Amezcua, The Sacrament

Several dozen environmental advocates demonstrated outside the Monsanto plant in Woodland on Thursday to call attention to the company’s business practices and its role in producing pesticides and genetically modified foods.

More than 70 protesters who began arriving around 4:30 a.m. blocked an entrance to the massive plant on Highway 16, organizer Steven Payan said. Demonstrators later blocked additional gates, organizers said.

Yolo County sheriff’s deputies and California Highway Patrol officers monitored the protest, sheriff’s Lt. Martin Torres said. The number of pickets at gates fluctuated during the demonstration, he said.

A rally against Monsanto also is planned for 10 a.m. Sunday on the north steps of the state Capitol.

The demonstration was peaceful, and no arrests were made, Torres said Thursday afternoon. The CHP monitored traffic on Highway 16, and road crews posted no-parking signs about a half-mile along the busy thoroughfare near the protest site to prevent traffic bottlenecks, he said.

“Monsanto has allowed them to demonstrate in their driveway, so we’re not taking any action except monitoring the situation as a neutral party to keep the peace,” Torres said.

Organizers said the event kicks off a weekend of demonstrations worldwide against Monsanto, a major producer of crop seeds. Payan said protesters are calling attention to the company’s “stranglehold on government policy” on food issues and its production of pesticides that he said harm the environment.

Monsanto spokeswoman Charla Lord said the demonstration had no impact on operations Thursday at the Woodland plant. In a written statement, the company said it is “committed to having an open dialogue about food and agriculture” and that it works with farmers and organizations to “help make a more balanced meal accessible for everyone.”

“Our goal is to help farmers do this in a more sustainable way using fewer resources and having a smaller impact on the environment,” the statement said.

A rally against Monsanto also is planned for 10 a.m. Sunday on the north steps of the state Capitol.

Robert D. Dávila: (916) 321-1077, @Bob_Davila

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