GMO Food

Los Angeles Abandons Silly, Anti-Scientific, GMO Ban Plans. Blame Lobbyists!


Mendel was a menace!
Credit: smith_cl9 / photo on flickr

The Los Angeles City Council was seriously considering a ban on growing genetically modified crops (GMOs) within the city limits. The good news is that it has backed off, not that it would have mattered, because it's not an actual issue within the city limits of Los Angeles. The disquieting news is that the Los Angeles Times coverage of the conflict is treating the matter as a victory for lobbyists, not for science, progress, or common sense.

Here's the opening of the L.A. Times story:

Three days before Los Angeles lawmakers voted on a proposal to ban genetically modified crops, the world's largest biotechnology trade group hired three top City Hall lobbyists to stop it.

The matter had sailed through a meeting weeks before with only one City Council member expressing doubt.

But when a council committee sat down to vote again this month, three of the five members came out strongly against it — though they said lobbyists had nothing to do with it.

The action shocked Councilman Paul Koretz, who co-authored the proposal and expected his colleagues to rubber-stamp it as they had many times before.

"Since nothing else had changed it clearly was heavy lobbying," Koretz said later.

If lobbyists did convince City Council members to change their minds, well, congratulations to the city of Los Angeles for making lobbyists look like heroes. Here is the entire and sole paragraph in Soumya Karlamangla's report that speaks to the science of the conflict:

Koretz's ordinance sought to prohibit the growth of genetically modified organisms — plants or animals whose genetic material has been altered to make them bigger or resistant to pests and herbicides. GMO supporters say such crops are needed to boost food production, while opponents say not enough research has been done to tell if the products are harmful to humans.

That's it. The opposition to GMO crops is based on an appeal to the precautionary principle, not actual science that indicates there's harm (because there isn't any). And GMOs do a lot more than boost food production, too. The rest of the reporting is about the city's rules and regulations on lobbying guidelines.  

Karlamangla ends the story with an industry representative saying that members want to make sure lawmakers are "aware of how damaging a policy like this could be." But strangely, the story is so caught up in discussing regulations about lobbying that it neglects to actually let the representative explain why the law would be damaging. It's possible Karlamangla included more from the representative, and it was edited out. But what we're left with is a story about a proposed law that is more interested in the sausage-making process of the law's creation instead of the law's meaning and impact. It's a trap municipal reporters sometimes fall into when they spend so much time at City Hall that they get caught up in narratives produced by the people there and not the audience they're writing for.  

I don't know if that's what happened with this piece, but it's weird how little this story is about the actual story. There's a little more about the story earlier in December when members of City Council started rethinking their plan, but it is still fairly disengaged from the actual issues at hand.

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  1. When the Zombie Apocalypse happens and major cities much wall themselves off, Los Angeles would have regretted not allowing GMO anyway.

    1. But wouldn’t a GMO ban keep the zombies out?

  2. Evil lobbyists, trying to represent constituents. Why can’t they get out of the way and let elected representatives enact whatever they want without interference?

    1. Evil lobbyists, trying to represent people that progressives disagree with.
      Oh wait, that’s redundant, because progressive think everyone who disagrees with them is evil.

    2. Evil lobbyists, trying to represent people that progressives disagree with.
      Oh wait, that’s redundant, because progressive think everyone who disagrees with them is evil.

  3. In return for your support Scott, the Killer Tomatoes promise to eat you last. 😉

    1. They lied.

  4. COUNCILMAN BOB: “I propose that we choose 5 rich people annually by lottery and throw them into an active volcano to appease Gaia.:

    LOBBYIST: “That’s a horrible idea!”

    BOB: “You’re right, I withdraw my motion.”

    HEADLINE THE NEXT DAY: “Concerns about lobbyist influence triggered by lottery bill debate.”

  5. Wait, that’s El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles? Really? Is this some sort of sick joke?

  6. The only narrative that the audience cares about is “poison foods NOT banned? SHRIEK!!??” CORPORATIONS AND LOBBYISTS WANT POISONS US?!”

    Anything more than that is just fluff. So what if there’s no actual ‘farming’ business in LA to speak of that matters? The meta-story is, “GMO Bad, but GMO have strong Lobby that make-um policians Do Bidding” GNASH TEETH, SHAKE FIST!! DAMN PROFITEERS!!

      1. That term needs to be linked to this picture in perpetuity

  7. The Los Angeles City Council was seriously considering a ban on growing genetically modified crops (GMOs) within the city limits.

    Why stop there, LA? If you really have the conviction of your principles, ban the sale of any such products. Let’s all see the consequences of your idiocy in practice.

    1. They could just skip all that and just ‘Ban Cancer’. Obama would, except the obstructionist rethuglicans keep stopping him!

  8. You called Karlamangla reporter. But LATimes employees are in the stenography business, not the journalism business.

  9. Science is not the main issue in these political games, other than the fact that many scientists not indebted to the GMO producing corporations have come up with evidence that many current GMO’s are not actually safe at all. There are two main issues here: control and associated poison. The largest GMO crops are being designed to sell pesticide and own farmers through the patent system, not to actually provide better growing crops or more nutritious food. So, for a libertarian, you could say the market could take care of the issue by people refusing to buy GMO products. That ultimately may be the only thing that works. The trouble with this is that the GMO producers are actively taking over the government and pushing regulations preventing people from acting in that way, by not allowing them to know which foods to avoid and not allowing them to restrict trade in GMOs, if they collectively decide to do that. If the government is used against you, while libertarian principles are great, they do not work, unless you can get rid of the government, which is like taking the guns (government) away from criminals (the GMO pushers) Another scientific problem is that GMOs are spreading out of control and contaminating non-GMO crops, meaning that people will ultimately have no choice at all, which is not good if any of them actually are not safe.

    1. Citation?

      Or should I say “Peer Reviewed Citation?”

      1. GMO Beer Reviewed Citation.

      2. GMO Beer Reviewed Citation

    2. many scientists not indebted to the GMO producing corporations

      The usual conspiracy-mongering bullshit from camp know-nothing.
      When you’re this deep into the psychosis anyone that isn’t on your side is automatically “indebted” to the GMO producing corporations, just merely by being part of the mainstream scientific establishment. Because, don’t you know, the establishment is all a giant plot by evil, evil, corporations to hide the truth.

      I’ve got it! Maybe Monsanto was secretly behind 9/11 too.

  10. ALL GMOs should be outlawed. The more that comes out about GMOs, the worse they look.

    LA definitely made the wrong decision.

    1. And from the number of new commenters showing up suddenly, we can see that the anti-GMO people clearly circulate any articles opposing their stupidity in their own insular little world, so as to agitate their fellow believers to comment upon them. This really shows how fanatical they are, that they feel compelled to send a shill to comment on any blog post that says anything whatsoever about GMOs.

    2. There appear to be more than a few GMO humans.

  11. I’ve been following the GMO issue for some time now. I believe Reason’s belief that GMO foods are okay is, well, unreasonable. Cows and goats dying in India after grazing on cotton plants after harvest, something that has been done for centuries before GMO cotton, with no problems. Cross-pollination with weeds, now begin called super weeds. Monsanto, et al., employees working for the fedgov then back to Monsanto. Studies by Monsanto, not independent researchers, being accepted to show that GMO’s are safe. Mice fed GMO foods in Italy growing huge tumors. And more. Civilization will not end with a bang, as in nuclear war or an asteroid strike. It will end with a whimper as Monsanto, et al., kill us off slowly with franken-foods.

    1. The “rat tumor” study was retracted by the original journal and then shopped around and published in a new journal:…..published/

      Just because something is published in a peer-reviewed journal doesn’t mean it’s good science.

      Your post is the classic “spaghetti gambit”: throw as much pasta as you can against the wall and see how much sticks.

  12. The Los Angeles City Council was seriously considering a ban on growing genetically modified crops (GMOs) within the city limits.

    They don’t want to suffer the same fate as Detroit.

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