San Francisco, CA Board Passes Anti-GE Food Resolution

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San Francisco, CA, US

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Type: Resolution

Status: Adopted on 12/18/00

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The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution calling for environmental and health protections from genetically engineered (GE) foods. Supervisor Gavin Newsom introduced the resolution.

The resolution comes after a massive food recall of corn products containing StarLink, a genetically engineered corn only allowed for animal feed, when it was found in a range of food products. An advisory panel to the Environmental Protection Agency recently ruled that StarLink corn has the potential to cause food allergies. In passing the resolution, San Francisco joined with a growing number of municipalities from across the country in demanding protection from this dangerous new food technology.

"Because our federal agencies that are regulating genetically engineered foods have failed the American public, it is critical that cities across the country take a strong stance on this issue and demand adequate health and environmental standards for these novel foods," said Rebecca Spector of the Center for Food Safety. "San Francisco has taken this stance today, and has said enough, is enough."

The resolution calls on FDA to label genetically engineered foods and institute a moratorium on GE foods. The resolution also calls on food companies, like Kellogg's and Campbell's, which have stopped using GE ingredients in their products in Europe, to do the same in the United States.

"Kellogg's and many food companies have stopped using genetically engineered ingredients in Europe, but continue to use these experimental foods in the U.S.," said Jeanne Merrill of Greenpeace. "Today San Francisco told Kellogg's and others to end their double-standard."

Genetic engineering of crops fundamentally alters nature by crossing natural species barriers, and inserting virus, bacteria and even insect genes into plants-something traditional breeders can never do. Once these man-made organisms are released into the environment and the food chain they can never be recalled. Currently, approximately 69 million acres of GE crops are grown in the United States- primarily corn, soy, canola and cotton. Over 60% of processed foods on our grocery shelves now contain GE ingredients.

"Genetically engineered ingredients are in everything from our cereals to our chocolates without even a label to tell us we are eating experimental foods," said Simon Harris of the Organic Consumers Association. "That's why we need local government to stand up and demand consumer protection."

Among those who support the resolution is head chef of Millennium restaurant, Eric Tucker. "Without labeling in this country, the burden of finding non-GE foods falls on responsible chefs and food providers," said Tucker. "The responsibility should be with the government and the biotech industry to provide this information."

Genetic engineering of plant life creates for the first time living pollution, bringing known and unknown risks to the environment and public health. Herbicide resistant crops can create superweeds and increase herbicide use. GE foods may also create new food allergies and increased levels of toxins in food. Medical experts warn that some antibiotics could become useless from the use of antibiotic resistance genes in creating GE crops. Furthermore, genetically engineered corn and soy with the Bacillus thurigienisis (Bt) toxin threatens insect resistance to Bt, a fundamental tool for organic farmers.