GMOs have to go

Santa Monica College is an educational institution that prides itself on sustainability and global citizenship. Harrison Wills, President of the Associated Students of SMC, is currently promoting that idea by working to create a healthier and more conscious way of life on campus.

Wills intends to reform the policies regarding the food supply, specifically products that are genetically modified.

These genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, have become a highly controversial topic over the years with concerns about health and environmental factors.

GMOs result from genetically altering an organism to possess certain traits that do not occur naturally, which includes a laboratory process of transferring genes from one species and inserting them into another.

They are usually created to make crops less susceptible to pests and disease and more resistant to harsh climate conditions.

But altering the genetic makeup of these organisms is unnatural and can be harmful to the environment.

It may also be potentially dangerous to humans due to a lack of thorough studies performed on the additional pesticide’s effects on the body.

The controversy regarding this topic includes the concern that GMOs are not being properly labeled.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 93 percent of all soy, 86 percent of corn, and 93 percent of cotton in America is genetically modified.

Most of these products are not properly labeled.

The U.S. has yet to pass a law stating that corporations label their products that are genetically altered and this makes it difficult to differentiate them from naturally grown or organic organisms.

“At a minimum, the least we can do is label food products so consumers know exactly what they are putting in their bodies,” says Wills. “We have a right to know.”

Among Wills’ concerns is the scientific research that is being done on GMOs.

“Because studies are financed by biotech companies and funded by these corporations, the results of these scientific experiments tend to represent the interest of the financier, meaning we only know what the corporation wants us to know,” says Wills.

Last Tuesday, Wills attended the SMC Board of Trustees meeting and spoke to the board about his concerns on GMOs. He proposed to bring healthier food to the SMC campus.

In order to reform the food policy at SMC, the A.S. has to revise and enhance their current request for proposal to be presented to the District Planning and Advisory Council. From there it would be assessed and potentially recommended to the superintendent or president for evaluation.

“I feel it is very important that students are provided with relevant educational information regarding the foods we are using,” says Wills. “Such as nutritional information and farm locations as well as informing students of the benefits of eating local, fresh, organic, non-GMO and fair-trade foods.”

To do this, he is proposing that SMC add educational information about the food in the cafeteria so students can make informed decisions about what they choose to consume.

Among these efforts, the A.S. is researching changes that other colleges such as Yale, UCLA, and Berkeley have undergone in regards to food policy so SMC can follow their reform models.

“If a sustainable policy that actually works is created, then we can globally make a difference by potentially taking the policy to other community colleges across the state so they too can follow this example,” says Wills.

“The big bold move that we hope to accomplish is banning GMOs from our campus," says Wills. "The difficulty with this, however, is that foods aren’t properly labeled so how can we even begin to ban something we aren’t aware of? Either we ban GMOs or we enforce labeling, but something should be done about this growing concern.”