‘Frankenfood’: There Is No Escape


Cindy Chan

Los Angeles Daily News recently covered a new measure looking to ban the cultivation and sale of genetically modified organisms. City councilmen Paul Koretz and Mitch O’Farrell said the proposal seeks to protect local farms and homegrown food from GMO contamination. However, there would be no effect on food sales containing GMO ingredients. Proponents of the measure state that the significance of the measure lies in serving as a symbol to relay the message of necessary change.

The devastating truth of the matter is that we do have to start this small. A simple citywide implementation that pushes for the tiniest bit of control in the matter is the only option left. We live in one of the only developed nations in the world that refuses to acknowledge the danger of GMOs. Nationwide and statewide attempts at regulating the GMO presence in our food and environment have all been fruitless. Whether it is attributed to the lack of public knowledge about GMO presence and harm or to the government’s continuing assurance that GMOs are safe for consumption and the environment, the fact exists that there is no federal regulation whatsoever that requires labeling of GMO in our foods or products.

Due to the lack of extensive research and unknown depths of GMO presence, there is no definitive answer as to whether or not GMOs are harmful for consumption or the environment. The latest concerns, in addition to the widely publicized research on organ failure and cancerous tumors in rats, fall upon the worldwide 40 to 50 percent decline of honeybees in the past year. A Huffington Post article relays researchers’ worries about the powerful breed of pesticides actually being integrated into the plants themselves. GMOs also continue to be the common thread in current agricultural woes: “superbug” insects that have grown immune to the pesticides and “seed drift” of GMOs contaminating other areas.
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If the measure passes, there may not be any immediate, very noticeable changes. David King, head of Learning Garden and Seed Library of LA told Huffington Post that because Los Angeles does not run any large-scale farming operations, the main purpose of the measure would be to protect home-grown food. So, it would seem that the GMO ban would seem to have less than grand, immediate effects. However, the impact again would lie in what the movement suggests. Los Angeles has always been a model for innovation and revolution. With this in mind, along with other successful implementations in similar citywide communities, hope exists that an approval of this measure will domino and kick-start a widespread movement for the issue.

Another object of concern is the availability of the diversity in the farmlands. There are entire communities dedicated to the protection of heirloom, or pure, seeds. Joanne Poyourow, executive director of Environmental Changemakers of LA, purports that within smaller cities, it is less daunting to try to attack this issue, and it is more feasible to work within these smaller areas. Now starting small seems to be the lone, most hopeful option left. By slowly reintroducing the forgotten honesty of our food, one community at a time, these small local measures can hopefully contribute to tangible progress and instill in this generation a concern for our food and environment’s culture, safety, and security.

This could lead to a possible higher price ceiling and demand for organic foods, although within this market alone these characteristics already are prevalent. An even more pressing issue would relay from the growing consciousness of the GMO presence and consumption, and the obvious division between those who can afford to avoid GMOs and those for whom it is unavoidable. For those who just do not have the income level or devotion for all it takes to support an all-organic, “pure” diet, this measure being passed can stir up economical turmoil. If these types of measures are to reach other student communities like our own, how can affordability and actual possibility meet?