Originally published December 29 2014
LA City Council members suddenly oppose GMO ban after heavy lobbying by biotech industry
by Jennifer Lilley
(NaturalNews) Los Angeles, where there are no known GMOs, may want to brace themselves for a change... and it isn't for the better.
Just when a GMO ban for the city appeared to be favored by officials, a good ol' one-two switch took place when they suddenly expressed opposition. In fact, their abrupt change of heart came a mere three days before LA lawmakers were slated to vote on a proposal to ban genetically modified crops in the city, a decision which -- coincidentally -- also occurred when top City Hall lobbyists were hired to prevent it from going into effect.
Late in 2014, 15 LA council members were on board with the ban (there was only one opposing vote), soaring through the necessary steps that put it that much closer to gaining its final determining vote. That all came to a halt when the lobbyists were hired; when voting time came once again, suddenly three of the five council committee members expressed dissatisfaction, taking a strong stance against the GMO ban. They are adamant that lobbying had nothing to do with their flip-flop decision, saying that, instead, it was a closer examination of more information and identification of possible problems with the ban that led to their opposition.(1)
Lobbyists say GMO ban founded on "wrong science"Councilman Gil Cedillo cited issues with the ban such as cost and enforcement, to which another councilman, Tom LaBonge responded in bobble-head-nodding agreement. Furthermore, there's the action of George Kieffer, an established LA attorney associated with the Biotechnology Industry Organization who is also a City Hall lobbyist. He's said to have delivered information to council offices in an attempt to prove that the suggested GMO ban was founded on the "wrong science." Kieffer was supported by other lobbyists, John Ek and Howard Sunkin. Councilman Cedillo maintains that neither he nor his staff engaged in conversation with these individuals, expressing that their shift in thoughts had nothing to do with their influence.(1)
Joanne Poyourow, a local environmental activist who advocates such a GMO ban, says the sudden change is "horrifying." It's especially disappointing, she says, because her volunteer coalition had met with council members' staffs throughout the duration of the decision process, and there was no question that most everyone was in favor of the ban. Of the lobbyists' shady entrance, Poyourow says she's not entirely surprised by their actions. "I've been working with GMOs for long enough that I knew that at some point we would get resistance."(1)
Sadly, even the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) supports the change of heart.
They express that a ban opposing GMOs in LA is a moot point, more of an act of symbolism than one that would truly make a difference. Of the proposed ban, ASCH's Dr. Ruth Kava said, "This is one of the most egregiously political moves we've seen in a long time. First, it will affect no one in LA county, second, it will send an anti-science and counterproductive message about GMO crops and foods, and third, such a ban is clearly an instrument to support the organic industry. One can only hope that wiser heads will prevail and this ban will die a quiet and well-deserved death."(2)
The ACSH attempts to slam health-conscientious anti-GMO individuals, saying on their website that "there have NEVER been any deleterious health or environmental effects from GMO crops" and then rhetorically stating, "So who would such a ban protect?" ASCH explains that, since no crops are grown in LA, they remain baffled as to the need for a ban opposing GMOs in the area. If ever there was a declaration made with a myopic mindset, full of disregard for the well-being of all (crop-growing areas or not), it was in these statements.(2)
From human health dangers to environmental concerns, GMOs are simply not the way to goThe fact remains that farmers working in pesticide-laden fields with the likes of Monsanto's Roundup and other harmful pesticides have reported ill health, traced to long-term exposure to such toxins. GMO foods have been linked to metabolic and mental damage, chronic wasting and even the deaths of non-humans such as the already endangered monarch butterfly. GMO practices, which tend to tout the promise of food security by saturating crops with toxins, have also been shown to produce no yield increases. Instead, they're nothing more than a serious hazard to the environment and all who depend on it to live healthy lives.(3)
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