Organic Consumers Association

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San Luis Obispo Citizen Report on the Health Effects of GE Foods


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE            Contact:  Teresa Campbell
August 2, 2006                        805-927-0714


Public Responds to the SLO Health Commission GMO Task Force Report

(San Luis Obispo, Calif.)  On August 1st, a group of SLO County citizens submitted a report on the health concerns of GMOs to the SLO County Health Commission.  The report provides an overview on the regulatory, food safety, and field test requirements for GMOs along with recommendations to the SLO County Health Commission.

The citizen report was written out of concern that the Health Commission GMO Task Force report presented to the Health Commission in May 2006 did not meet its stated goals.

Among the goals of the HC GMO Task Force were “to gather reviewed scientific information on genetically engineered foods and crops” and generate a report “setting forth scientific information (Pro and Con) on the subject of genetically engineered foods/crops from the perspective of the health considerations and implications”.

“Rather than presenting the Pro and Con, the GMO Task Force report focuses on the status quo – that GMOs are similar to conventional crops and do not require labeling or any testing”, stated Mike Zelina of SLO GE Free.

The citizen report provides information on the following items not included in the HC Task Force report:

∑ Availability - or lack thereof - of short-term and long-term peer-reviewed animal feeding studies for GMO foods on the market.
∑ A December 2005 USDA APHIS audit criticizing the agency for massive failures in the oversight of open-air GMO test plots
∑ Reference to more than a dozen GMO contamination incidents that have occurred – most of which have involved test crops.
∑ Peer-reviewed literature provided to the task force by the public

- MORE -
The citizen report states “SLO County citizens have the right to know to what unapproved, experimental crops and pollen they are being exposed. SLO County citizens have the right to decide what they eat and feed their families. These are reasonable requests,” and provides recommendations to the Health Commission that include the following:

∑ The Health Commission should submit a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to determine the location of all genetically engineered test plots in SLO County from the USDA (APHIS).
∑ The Health Commission should recommend that the Agricultural Commissioner institute a mandatory registration program for both test plots and approved genetically engineered crops.
∑ The Health Commission should recommend a precautionary approach to the adoption of genetically engineered crops in San Luis Obispo County to the Board of Supervisors, similar to the on adopted by the Santa Cruz Board of Supervisors.

The Health Commission will be discussing the Task Force report and the citizen’s response at the August 14th, 2006 meeting in the Board of Supervisors chambers. The meeting starts at 6:00pm. The public is encouraged to participate by providing public comment during the agenda item.

The citizen report is available online at:

The Health Commission GMO Task Force Report was no longer available on the County website at the time of this press release. A link to an archived copy is available at:

The Santa Cruz Board of Supervisors recently appointed a committee with similar goals to the SLO GMO Task Force.  The Santa Cruz GE Committee has recommended the precautionary approach to the adoption of GMOs in Santa Cruz County. Those interested in reading the Santa Cruz County report can visit:


Genetic engineering (GE) is a new technology used to insert genes from different species into agricultural plants and animals by directly manipulating DNA in a laboratory.  GE is different from all traditional forms of plant and animal breeding and never occurs in nature.

Genetically engineered crops and foods may also be referred to as genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or, more generally, as agricultural biotechnology.
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