October delivered two major victories in the fight against genetically-engineered foods: Mexico announced an immediate ban on planting GMO corn, and the big island of Hawaii County Council gave preliminary approval to a bill that prohibits open air cultivation and testing of genetically engineered crops or plants.
As the month draws to a close, it appears that the good news will continue.
Two Los Angeles City Councilmen have introduced a measure [PDF] that would ban the growth, sale and distribution of genetically engineered seeds and plants within the city limits. If passed, Los Angeles would have the illustrious honor of being the country’s largest GMO plant-free zone.
The councilmen, Paul Koretz and Mitch O’Farrell, say they proposed the ban in the hopes of protecting local gardens and homegrown food from GMO contamination. ”We don’t want to consume mystery food,” O’Farrell told The Huffington Post. “Since there’s currently no requirement, anyone could unwittingly purchase a genetically modified product and not know it. I think that’s irresponsible.”
The proposal in America’s second-largest city is an interesting attempt to regain some of the ground lost when California’s Proposition 37 was defeated last year. Prop 37 was a historic ballot initiative that would have required labeling of genetically engineered foods sold in California. Unfortunately it was narrowly defeated after companies like Monsanto dumped millions of dollars into voter misinformation campaigns.
To be clear, the ban proposed by Koretz and O’Farrell would only pertain to the cultivation of genetically modified seeds; it would not affect the sale of food containing genetically modified ingredients, as nearly all of those are grown or produced far from Los Angeles. It would however, send a powerful message to biotech companies.
“The pending ordinance would be symbolic more than anything else, but we do feel it’s an important step to have the second-largest city in the nation declare itself as against genetically modified seeds,” David King, head of Learning Garden and Seed Library of LA, told HuffPost.
The LA proposal comes just weeks before Washington State will vote on I-522, its own mandatory GMO labeling law. Like California’s Prop. 37, Monsanto and major food brands have already spent over $7 million to defeat the measure.