Over the past few years, the public awareness of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, has increased greatly. Foods produced from these GMOs are extremely common, but lately, more people are trying to stop GMOs. Now, Los Angeles could become the country’s biggest GMO-free area.
Paul Koretz and Mitch O’Farrell, two Los Angeles councilmen, introduced a motion on Friday that would ban the growth and sale of genetically modified plants and seeds.
"We don't want to consume mystery food," said O'Farrell to 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."
While large farms are usually the ones using genetically modified seeds and LA doesn’t have any farms like that, they want to make sure that people who grow plants at home don’t use those seeds themselves.
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"But if they become marketed to home gardeners, we're going to have this ban in place,” said David King of the Leaning Garden and Seed Library of LA. “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.”
Environmental and nutrition activists have been trying for years to get the government to put a stop to GMOs. Many say that the GMO products, which are the most popular, can lead to health issues for people, and activists have been trying to have GMO food labeled as such. O’Farrell says that he hopes Los Angeles will kick start the rest of the country to act on this issue.
"If we aren’t going to be able to rely on our state or federal leaders to do something about GMOs, we can act locally," says O’Farrell. "This statement goes beyond LA to the big food companies. LA's always been a trendsetter. As we know, so goes the West, so goes the rest of the country."
While there are clearly many who are in support of the initiative, there are others that are skeptical. An LA Weekly blog post echoes the sentiments of those who think it is too much hype and should not result in a ban.
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“In any case this law would be nearly impossible to enforce,” reads the post by blogger Dennis Romero. “So the Mexican grandmother down the block is growing GMO corn in her backyard, and the LAPD is going to pounce? (The draft ordinance we saw doesn't talk enforcement -- it simply directs the City Attorney's office to figure it out). In many respects, GMO foods feed us, allowing insect- and weather-resistant crops that can be grown year-round and that can even be targeted toward specific nutritional needs. That's a notion, however, that anti-GMO activists dispute, saying natural crop diversity is the only solution to satiating a burgeoning global population.”
Needless to say, there are definitely mixed opinions on the motion coming out of Los Angeles.