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Genetically Engineered Food Foes Promote ‘Bill Of Rights’ For Seeds

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A vendor picks up corn at her stall in a market in Beijing. China has approved genetically modified strains of corn and rice. (Eter Parks/AFP/Getty Images)

A vendor picks up corn at her stall in a market in Beijing. China has approved genetically modified strains of corn and rice. (Eter Parks/AFP/Getty Images)

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BRISBANE (CBS SF) — A local artist joined city officials in Brisbane Wednesday evening to
introduce an art exhibit and “Bill of Rights for Seeds” in an effort to bring attention to the proliferation of genetically engineered food and people’s rights to define their own food systems.

Mayor Clarke Conway was set to present the seed bill of rights at a public reception from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at City Hall as part of an unveiling of an art exhibit by Brisbane artist Beth Grossman.

Grossman said she was inspired by the constitutions of Bolivia and Ecuador to create the “Bill of Rights for Seeds,” which lays out measures that cities and other governments can take to better protect the environment and to be aware of the potential dangers of genetically engineered foods,
also known as genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

According to the Sierra Club, genetically engineered foods could create new allergens and toxins and spread harmful traits to non-GMO crops, and the overuse of genetically engineered herbicide-tolerant crops has prompted more herbicide use and herbicide-resistant plants.

“The overriding problem is just that we don’t know what’s going to happen when genetically engineered seeds start to germinate in the future,” Grossman said.

She also cited the disproportionate level of control over the world’s food systems by only a handful of biotechnology corporations such as Monsanto.

The ‘bill of rights’ is written in ink on seed bags in quill ink.

“It’s a literal bill of rights for seeds but it’s also more metaphorical in the sense that we as humans need to consider ourselves stewards of all of the natural organisms in the world,” Grossman said. “This is my way of saying, ‘How can we make sure we care and protect them?'” she said.

Supporters of genetically modified foods point out the increased yields and production of the foods can help stop famine and improve the food supply, adding modified foods are submitted to strict health testing by the FDA, USDA, and/or the EPA.

Monsanto responds to critics, “Biotech crops undergo more testing and oversight before commercialization than any other agricultural products, including conventional (or non-biotech) crops.”

The artist said her latest project is a way to “bring up all these issues and get a conversation going about it.”

TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

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