About 90 people marched in Hastings on Saturday against genetically engineered (GE) food.
GE Free Hawke's Bay Co-ordinator Adrian White said while New Zealand was GE free it should not bow to pressure from companies such as Monsanto, that wished to take ownership of the food chain by patenting GE varieties.
The march started and finished at the Hastings clocktower where he said there were "quite a few speeches" against the corporatisation of food.
Speakers included Paul Bailey from Fresh Thinking Hawke's Bay and Susie Lees from GE Free Nelson.
Mr White said several people joined the march en route and many retailers signed petitions in support of the chanting marchers, who chanted: "Monsanto, Monsanto we don't want your GMOs" [genetically engineered organisms].
Monsanto is a publicly-listed American multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation. It is a leading producer of GE seed and herbicides including Roundup, to which resistance is increasing in New Zealand.
Mr White is also a member of the aligned group Pure Hawke's Bay, which is lobbying Hastings District Council to declare the district GE free, a declaration that would be increasingly valuable as anti GE sentiment increased, he said.
"We are sitting on such a golden opportunity."
A Colmar Brunton poll commissioned by Pure Hawke's Bay showed 85 per cent of respondents backed the idea of District Council rules to prohibit GE releases.
A report from the Inter Council Working Party of Auckland and Northland local authorities said local authorities had the power to prohibit GE releases, and sets out in detail what rules are required under the Resource Management Act.