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Santa Monica Library to Host Genetically Modified Organisms Discussion

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By Lookout Staff

December 8, 2014 – The Santa Monica Public Library next week will host a screening of the documentary “GMO OMG” and a discussion of the impacts of Genetically Modified Organisms.

In this documentary, which will be shown on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in the Martin Luther King Jr. Auditorium, director Jeremy Seifert examines GMOs and how they might affect children, the environment and “our freedom of choice.”

A GMO is any organisms whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques and are the source of genetically modified foods.

“During the course of the film, the audience gains insight into a question that is of growing concern to citizens the world over: what’s on your plate?” said Public Services Librarian Nancy Bender.

The screening is followed by a discussion with the film’s co-producer Jill Latiano Howerton and author Sharon Weil.

Howerton is an actor turned activist, who “combines her love of the arts with her passion for healthy living to help inspire social change through creating and producing new and exciting content for television and film,” according to Library officials. 

She also has a blog, The Daily Tonic, which is used to advocate healthy eating, informed pregnancy and “nontoxic, conscious living.”

Weil is an award-winning Writers Guild of America screenwriter, producer and director who “advocates for the natural world through her supportive work in climate solutions, community arts and holistic health.”

The issue of GMOs has stirred up controversy in recent years, mostly on the role of government regulators, the effect of genetically modified crops on health and the environment and the impact of those crops for farmers, among other concerns.

One of the biggest controversies in GMOs is whether or not they should be labeled so consumers can choose between GMOs and conventional products.

Although labeling of GMO products in the marketplace is required in many countries, it is not required in the United States, and no distinction between marketed GMOs and conventional foods is recognized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Currently, three states require GMO labeling: Connecticut, Maine and Vermont.

However, the law in both Connecticut and Maine contain provisions stating that they can’t be implemented unless several other states approve similar labeling laws.

Vermont passed a labeling law that will go into effect in 2016.

As of today, voters in Colorado, California and Oregon have all rejected ballot measures that would label GMOs.

In 2012, California Proposition 37 was defeated at the polls, falling short with 48.6 percent of the vote. Proponents included the California Democratic and Green parties, various restaurant chains and consumer advocacy groups, while opponents included the Republican Party, various biotech companies and food companies.

If it had passed, California would have been the first state to require GMO labeling.

The scientific consensus is that genetically modified foods pose no greater risk than conventional food, according to more than 1,700 peer-reviewed safety studies published, including five lengthy reports from the National Research Council, that focus on human health and the environment.

However, opponents of genetically modified food claim risks have not been properly identified and have questioned the objectivity of the regulatory authorities.

Their concerns also include contamination of the non-genetically modified food supply, the effects of GMOs on the environment and nature and the accuracy of the regulatory process.

Some health groups say there are unanswered questions regarding the potential long-term impact on human health from food derived from GMOs and propose mandatory labeling or a moratorium on such products.

Humboldt County in California and Maui County in Hawaii both passed ballot measures banning the cultivation or reproduction of GMOs within their areas.
This event is free and open to the public. Seating is limited and on a first arrival basis. 

For more information, visit or contact the Santa Monica Public Library at (310) 458-8600.

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