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SACRAMENTO, Calif. - In the guise of giant ears of corn, butterflies, and tomatoes, demonstrators, along with organic farmers and chefs, marched on Monday in protest of a meeting of more than 100 agriculture officials from around the world.
More than 1,500 protesters rallied at California's state Capitol building before marching through downtown, as the Ministerial Conference and Expo on Agricultural Science and Technology began three days of discussions on genetically engineered crops.
Activists say they fear the gathering is an attempt by corporate farming to push bio-engineered crops on starving countries. Conference organizers counter that biotechnology can help developing nations reduce hunger while improving nutrition and their economies.
At times, the march seemed to have as many themes as people, ranging from the future of farming to complaints about biotechnology and junk food. After the march, about 20 protesters stripped and danced naked on the steps of the state Capitol. Shortly afterward, law enforcement brought in buses and threatened to arrest them.
Unlike a World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle three years ago, protesters did not block the agriculture officials as they entered the conference Monday morning, police said.