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Date: October 12, 2012 To: Councilmember Wendell Young From: John P. Curp, City Solicitor Subject: Resolution — Supporting Labeling of Genetically Engineered Products
EXPRESSING the support of Council for the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered products so consumers are informed that the potential long-term risks of genetically engineered products to public health and the environment are largely unknown.
WHEREAS, the City of Cincinnati recognizes that consumers have the right to receive accurate and thorough information about the products they feed to their families; and
WHEREAS, the potential long-term risks to public health and the environment from genetically engineered products are largely unknown; and
WHEREAS, safety studies on genetically engineered products are limited because biotechnology companies generally prohibit their cultivation for research purposes in seed licensing agreements; and
WHEREAS, some independent peer-reviewed research that has been done on genetically engineered crops has reveled problems with liver and kidney functions in rats; deformities and neurological problems in vertebrates; and lower nutrition content in pesticide-resistant Roundup Ready crops; and
WHEREAS, it is the responsibility of the United States Department of Agriculture to ensure that genetically engineered crops are safe to grow, the Environmental Protection Agency to ensure that genetically engineered products will not harm the environment and the Food and Drug Administration to ensure that genetically engineered food is safe to eat; and
WHEREAS, the United States federal agencies that regulate genetically engineered products, including crops and animals, have not yet enacted a comprehensive plan to adequately oversee and monitor genetically engineered products; and
WHEREAS, farmers who produce organic or non-genetically engineered crops run the risk of crop contamination from nearby genetically engineered crops; and
WHEREAS, farmers who unintentionally grow patented, genetically engineered seeds or who harvest crops that are contaminated with genetically engineered traits could lose marketing options and face costly lawsuits; and
WHEREAS, a 2008 CBS/New York Times poll found that 87 precent of the U.S. consumers wanted all genetically engineered ingredients to be labeled; now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED, that the Council of the City of Cincinnati, State of Ohio,
Section 1. That the City of Cincinnati supports mandatory labeling of all genetically engineered products.
Section 2. That this resolution be spread upon the minutes of Council and a copy sent to the following:
1. Lisa Jackson, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Ariel Rios Building, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.,Washington, DC 20460
2. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, United States Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, DC 20250
3. Margaret Hamberg M.D., Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20993
4. Senators Sherrod Brown and Robert Portman, United States Senate, Washington, DC 20510
5. Representatives Steve Chabot and Jean Schmidt, United States House of Representatives, Washington, DC 20515
6. Food & Water Watch, 103 William H. Rd., Cincinnati, OH 45219
Submitted by Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls and Councilmember Wendell Young
26 genetically engineered crops are currently being considered for approval in the European Union. 19 out of these 26 are genetically engineered to be tolerant to herbicides.
Renowned agricultural economist Dr. Charles Benbrook was commissioned by Greenpeace to make the first ever forecast of how Europe would be impacted by authorising the cultivation of genetically engineered herbicide tolerant corn, soy and sugar beet.
Greenpeace has also travelled through Argentina and USA to speak to farmers and their communities about how herbicide tolerant crop monocultures have affected their economy, environment and community. These first person accounts formed the basis for the documentary Growing Doubt (the film above).
Witness accounts from Argentina and USA and Dr. Benbrook’s forecast report present a grim view of a future Europe: the over-reliance on herbicide-tolerant crops in the U.S. has triggered the emergence and rapid spread of nearly two dozen glyphosate-resistant weeds, driving up farm production costs, as well as the volume and toxicity of herbicides needed to prevent major yield loss. Europe will face a similar reality by 2025, should
herbicide tolerant genetically engineered crops be authorised for cultivation.
Greenpeace is facilitating an 18 day tour of Europe with public screenings of Growing Doubt showing the reality in Argentina and USA, followed by Dr. Charles Benbrook presenting his study which you can view here.
These public meetings offer European farmers, politicians, media and civil society a chance to hear directly from Dr. Benbrook, as well as Wes Shoemyer and Wendel Lutz – two American farmers featured in the film, who have personally experienced the agricultural and social catastrophe caused by herbicide tolerant crops. Together, they have joined Greenpeace in Europe to warn European farmers against following the American example.
• As herbicide-tolerant GE crops lead to an increase in herbicide usage, that no herbicide tolerant GE crops should be authorised for cultivation in Europe.
• As part of the implementation of the 2008 Council Conclusions, that the European Commission should substantially strengthen the EU risk assessment procedure for GE crops by carrying out a thorough evaluation of the environmental and socioeconomic impacts of HTGE crops.