home->Campaigns->Safeguard our students->Sample ordinance banning genetically engineered food
(Note: use of this initiative, intended for the Nov. 2001 ballot in Denver, in other locations will require modifications. See your local election rules on Initiative and the "Getting Started" points www.bigg-alliance.org
The ballot title for the Initiated Ordinance shall be as follows:
"Shall the voters for the City and County of Denver adopt an Initiated Ordinance making it unlawful for any person to sell or distribute on school premises, including through vending machines, any genetically engineered food, until such food has been confirmed, through a successful food safety testing assessment, safe for consumption by humans under eighteen (18) years of age, and, in connection therewith, requiring the Denver City Council to enact measures to fund, implement, and enforce this ordinance, and providing an affirmative defense for persons who do not knowingly violate such ordinance if they were not notified, did not know, and made a reasonable investigation to determine, whether or not such food had been confirmed safe?"
Be it enacted by the People of the City and County of Denver
The Code of the City and County of Denver is amended by the addition of a new division to read:
DIVISION ___. sale or distribution OF Genetically Engineered Food
on school premises
Sec. 24-___. Definitions. As used in this division.
Sec. 24-___. Declaration of findings and intent.
The People of the City and County of Denver hereby declare that internal files of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reveal it has been misleading the public about the hazards of genetically engineered (GE) foods for almost a decade.
Numerous memoranda from FDA scientists to the agency’s administrators repeatedly cautioned: (1) that producing new varieties of foods through genetic engineering is substantially different than doing so through conventional breeding practices; (2) that every GE food entails different risks than its conventional counterpart; (3) that these risks include the potential production of unintended and essentially unpredictable new toxins, carcinogens, and other harmful substances; and (4) that as a consequence, no GE food can reasonably be considered safe unless it has successfully undergone rigorous toxicological feeding tests employing the whole food.
However, FDA administrators, who were operating under presidential directives to promote the biotechnology industry, disregarded their experts’ input and instituted a policy that (1) presumes GE foods are as safe as conventional foods and (2) allows them to be marketed without any testing. Further, the administrators covered up the statements from their scientists and went on to declare they were "…not aware of any information showing that foods derived by these new methods [GE foods] differ from other foods in any meaningful or uniform way."
The sole basis on which GE foods have come to market is the FDA’s claim that they are recognized as safe by an overwhelming consensus of scientific experts. Yet, it is clear that such consensus did not even exist among the FDA experts when the agency issued its formal policy statement in May of 1992. Further, the FDA biotechnology coordinator acknowledged in a letter to a Canadian health official on Oct. 23, 1991 that there was not a consensus within the scientific community about safety. Moreover, it is obvious that there is presently even greater disagreement among scientists. For example, hundreds of scientists (including professors of biology from Harvard University and M.I.T.) have signed an open letter to the world’s governments warning of the health hazards of GE foods and calling for a moratorium on their sale. Moreover, nine experts have even joined a lawsuit against the FDA demanding that it: (1) acknowledge the hazards of GE foods and (2) obey the mandates of the U.S. Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, which requires that products like GE foods be confirmed safe through testing before they are marketed.
Consequently, it is unreasonable for consumers to be exposed to GE foods, especially since (1) the FDA does not require they be labeled, making it extremely difficult for people with concerns to avoid them. It is especially problematic that children are being exposed to GE foods, since they are in many ways at greater risk than adults are from continued ingestion of harmful substances in their food. It is therefore legitimate for parents to be concerned about their children consuming genetically engineered foods.
To protect the health of children, the sale or distribution of every genetically engineered food must be prohibited on school premises until such food has been confirmed safe, for consumption by humans under eighteen years of age, after undergoing the kind of rigorous safety testing called for by the FDA scientists and intended by the U.S. Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.
Sec. 24-___. Sale or distribution of genetically engineered food on school premises.
It shall be unlawful for any person to sell or distribute on school premises, including through vending machines, any genetically engineered food, until such food has been confirmed, through a successful food safety testing assessment, safe for consumption by humans under eighteen (18) years of age.
Sec. 24-___. Enforcement. By the effective date, as set forth below, the Denver City Council shall prescribe and enact measures to fund, implement and enforce this new division.
Sec. 24-___. Affirmative defense. No person shall be liable for violating the provisions of this division if:
Sec. 24-___. Effective date. This new division shall become effective ninety (90) days after the certification of the vote.
Sec. 24-___. Severability. Should any one (1) or more provisions of this division be determined to be illegal or unenforceable, all other provisions nevertheless shall remain effective.