The genetically modified organism (GMO) issue rages on.
While states are facing lawsuits for mandatory labeling legislation, some cities are attempting to take things into their own hands.
Hallandale Beach is one.
Recently, "The City of Choice" became the first town in Florida to pass a resolution in favor of GMO labeling and a resolution supporting a ban on the overuse of antibiotics in livestock.
"Labeling GMOs is about consumer education and transparency," says Vickie Machado of Food & Water Water Watch. "We have a right to know what we eat. We're excited that Hallandale has championed this cause... I am especially grateful to Commissioner Lazarow and Mayor Cooper for their constant effort and support of labeling."
The resolution came about through several meetings among organizers from Food & Water Watch, GMO Free Florida, and Hallandale Beach Commissioner Michele Lazarow. A big supporter of mandatory labeling initiatives, Lazarow turned up to meet with activists at May's March Against Monsanto.
"She was aware about representative Michelle Rehwinkle Vasilinda's House Bill 1 and had come to support," says Trish Sheldon, organizer of GMO Free Florida. "Pretty much she's a ballsy broad. I mean, I hadn't met her officially, and I could tell right away she'd get it done."
When efforts to get a similar resolution passed in the City of Fort Lauderdale seemed to stall, Lazarow came out to support the measure by voicing her opinion. Eventually, activists got the go-ahead from the City of Fort Lauderdale Sustainability Advisory Board; however, at the last City Hall meeting, the Grocery Manufacturers Association and Farm Bureau showed up, making a last-minute plea claiming that enforced labeling will increase cost. (Major food companies are already forced to label GMO products in other countries.)
Lazarow said she thought she could help pass a resolution in Hallandale Beach. Along with Mayor Joy Cooper, the city unanimously passed it on Wednesday, September 3, adding another stipulation regarding the overuse of antibiotics in livestock.
"Really, it was so refreshing to see this amazing group of elected officials talk so passionately about water conservation, overuse of pesticides and antibiotics, sustainability, and clearly seeing the importance of 'eaters' wanting to know where their food comes from," says Sheldon. "The City of Hallandale Beach clearly has intelligent leaders that care about really important issues that face our people. They see not only the importance of healthy, clean food and water but that, because of this movement, we have a renewal of young farmers and farms all across our state."
For activists, however, the fight is not over. GMO Free Florida and Food & Water Watch reached out last night to Mayor Jack Seiler of Fort Lauderdale to support a similar resolution. Seiler has agreed to include a resolution on the agenda, but the groups will follow up with him over the next week.
If you're interested in contacting Seiler, call 877-247-1820.
Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.
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