Grassroots food justice advocates for clear and concise labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and protection of native seeds from genetic contamination, are calling out Councilmember Gil Cedillo. The organizations question Cedillo’s credentials to promote himself as an advocate of non-GMO corn.
Cedillo positions himself as a man of the people and an advocate for the Latino community. But when it comes to the GMO issue, not only does he appear to have dropped the ball; he appears to have thrown it to the opposing team.
Cedillo is sponsoring the October 3 “Latin American Corn Festival – for a corn tortilla without GMOs”. He will get positive publicity for his implied support of this issue, and ride on the coattails of a snowballing national movement that is exposing the GMO issue. Unfortunately for the City of Los Angeles and his community in District 1, Cedillo is saying one thing and doing another.
Gil Cedillo’s actions effectively killed the City of Los Angeles Ordinance #13-1374, which would have made Los Angeles a GMO-Free Zone. GMOs have been engineered into our food without adequate safety testing and without labeling. Natural corn is currently being phased out and replaced with GMO patented corn by agricultural corporations. Genetically modified corn has Bt toxin in every cell and allows unlimited spraying of glyphosate without killing the corn. Glyphosate, an herbicide that was just declared a probable carcinogen by the World Health Organization, is the active ingredient in RoundUP. GMOs themselves have also been linked with serious health risks.
One way to help prevent the contamination and domination of the world food supply by GMOs is to create GMO-Free Zones. This ordinance would have made history, joining Los Angeles with 8 counties in the US and 20 countries globally which have enacted similar laws.
In October of 2014, Councilman Cedillo voted YES on the City Council motion to authorize the drafting of an ordinance. But in December, 2014, he effectively killed the newly drafted ordinance as soon as the corporate ‘suits’ walked in the room. He completely back peddled with last minute excuses regarding cost and enforcement.
Cedillo’s action at the committee was appalling to the constituents and local organizations who had met previously with Cedillo’s Chief of Staff, Arturo Chavez. At a December 2014 meeting, the group informed Chavez of the potential risks GMOs pose to human health and the environment.Their message was clear - Corn is a staple food and cultural heritage to Native Americans, indigenous and Latino communities. A GMO-Free zone would allow for communities of color to safely grow non-GMO corn not found in their local markets. GMOs are a proven threat to seed diversity and native seeds. The coalition was assured by Arturo Chavez that Cedillo would wholeheartedly vote YES as he was fully supportive of this issue. In a follow-up call Chavez assured that no further meetings were needed- “We are supporting the ordinance. There is nothing to worry about.”
Cedillo had plenty of time and opportunity to speak to LA GMO-Free Coalition if he had any questions or concerns. Instead, he repeatedly assured the coalition he would vote yes. His vote said otherwise.
We denounce politicians who side with the Ag-biotech and chemical industry. It is shameful that our representatives sell out the health and welfare of their own citizens while shielding and doing the bidding of Monsanto and similar companies. Cedillo joins Congress member Mike Pompeo, who is infamously carrying HR 1599 “The DARK Act” to kill GMO labeling at a national level, and many others in the American political system who appear to be heavily influenced by biotech money.
We urge the general public to continue their efforts to create a GMO-free world and to stand in solidarity with grassroots movements to assure availability of healthy, local non-GMO and native varieties of corn for future generations.
The following organizations have written in support of this statement
Seed Freedom Los Angeles
The Seed Library
Moms Across America
Latino Diabetes Association
Label GMOs CA Grassroots
Yo Soy Maíz
Corn is our heritage & saving seeds is our right. Por Un Maíz Libre de Transgénicos! Label GMOs.org