Letter to LA Times about the GMO-free Zone

In Reply to LA Times Editorial, “L.A.’s bid to target genetically engineered crops isn’t productive

Creating a GMO-Free Zone in L.A. serves an important function. It preserves space — real, tangible geography — where clean seeds can be grown.

All food comes from seeds. In order to have clean food, you need to have clean seed. To contain GMOs, labeling the bad stuff is only one part of the effort. Parallel to labeling, we have to save the good stuff. We have to save heirloom seeds.

Heirloom seeds are our cultural heritage. They represent decades-worth, even centuries-worth, of careful plant selection, isolation of specific niche attributes (like drought tolerance, flavor, seasonal adaptability, etc.). This precious heritage has been handed down to us by generations of farmers and devoted growers.

Climate change is bringing serious jeopardy to our worldwide food supply. GMOs and industrial agriculture are a highly fragile system (and fossil-fuel dependent) that does not have the capability to handle it. We desperately need the diversity that heirloom seeds represent. We need it in order to survive.

In order to have clean seed, you have to have designated places to save that clean seed. The motion put forward by Councilmen Koretz and O’Farrell sets aside 502.7 square miles — the City of Los Angeles — as a place to save GMO-free seed. Humanity needs this motion.

Right now, there aren’t farmers growing GMO crops within the City of L.A. This motion won’t hurt anyone’s livelihood. (It might even help: urban farmers and local CSAs might be able to create an enterprise zone, create special branding, and advertise that their crops are grown in a GMO-Free Zone.)

Seed savers are now beginning to realize that the geography of our cities holds tremendous potential to save heirloom seeds. And Los Angeles is a great place to start.

It won’t hurt livelihoods, and it just might help save humanity’s food supply. It’s productive all right, but only if you want to eat.

Joanne Poyourow
Director of the Environmental Change-Makers
Westchester/Los Angeles

About envirochangemakers

We are a community group in the Westchester neighborhood of Los Angeles (LA 90045 near LAX airport). Founded in 2005, we offer classes, events, and community gatherings focused on building a resilient future. We are part of the international Transition Network.
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