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Congress OKs GMOs, Monsanto Makes Sure You Can Grow Them at Home

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(Photo by LuckyRykinLA via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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Earlier this week, a committee made up of members of the US House of Representatives agreed to allow genetically modified crops more commonly referred to as GMOs to continue to be used on American farmland. The seeds of said crops are patented by biotech giants like Monsanto and Dupont Co., who argue that their Frankenseeds help provide Americans with an abundant and reliable food supply while remaining competitive in the world market. Bloomberg Business says that the one-paragraph provision to the 90-page bill, which is headed to the full House for consideration, will "circumvent legal obstacles that have slowed commercialization of engineered crops, sometimes for years, benefiting Monsanto, the world’s largest seed company. Planting would be permitted until USDA completes any analysis required by a judge."

This is not good news for advocates of good, clean, and fair food, heirloom seed savers, and small-scale organic farmers. Says RT:

Monsanto has garnered their fair share of opponents as of late, a result that many will argue comes from the company’s heated stance against small-time farmers. The corporation has threatened lesser farms with hundreds of lawsuits for using genetically modified crops patented by Monsanto that have been carried onto their farms by wind and other elements of nature. Recently, the corporation threatened to sue the entire state of Vermont because lawmakers there were considering a bill that would force manufacturers to label products that are created either partially or in full from a GMO.

Vermont is not alone in their mission to have GMO products labeled. Many, including California, are fighting to have these products labeled like they are in Europe and other nations. (The California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act will be on ballots later this fall.)

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But despite the progress, the Seed Library of Los Angeles (SLOLA), brought news today that Monsanto is beginning a program to start selling seeds to consumers. The first crop of seeds to be sold for home use, of course, will be corn. The problem with this, says SLOLA's chairman David King, is that corn's pollen can spread up to 20 miles, meaning that if one person plants Monsanto's modified seeds, other organic farmers' produce can be impacted.

"Previously, I could assure you that if you were growing in Los Angeles, your garden wouldn't have any contact with GMO product. The sale of these seeds would change that," says King. "I think the only way to really defeat Monsanto will be on a county by county basis. From here on out there is always going to be some segment of our country that's growing GMO. What we have to do is contain it."

With all the progress made in the community gardening and urban farming movement, it would seem a shame to have heirloom seeds be replaced or tainted by mass-produced, Round-Up ready corn. Which is why SLOLA is pushing for Los Angeles to become an anti-GMO county, just like Mendocino. Besides, what's the reward in home gardening without a flopped crop or two?