Environmental and Food Justice, 22 December 2015
New law affirms rights to native foods and foodways
ORDINANCE IS FIRST TO ADDRESS GE SALMON
Moderator’s Note: In what is sure to become a widely replicated action, The Yurok Tribe of California has just announced the adoption of an ordinance supporting indigenous food sovereignty while banning the use of genetically engineered organisms (GEOs), including both plant and, in a first, animal species. The ordinance specifically establishes a ban on AquaBounty’s transgenic salmon (trademarked as AquAdvantage salmon), which was recently approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and earlier by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). The inclusion of GE salmon is especially important and speaks to the cultural, economic, and ecological significance of wild salmon to the Yurok.
The Yurok Tribe ordinance joins a growing list of tribes, municipalities, and counties endorsing resolutions or adopting ordinances that ban GEOs to protect indigenous, other traditional, and organic farming communities. One recently introduced measure seeks to protect ‘center of origin’ crops like native corn from threats posed by genetic contamination by GEOs, as is the case with an ordinance being considered by Costilla County, Colorado (see reports of November 12, November 15, November 16, and November 19).
The Yurok ordinance is part of a broader organized effort under the rubric of the newest program of the Northern California Tribal Court Coalition (NCTCC), the ‘Rights of Mother Earth.’ According to the NCTCC home page this program focuses on “working with…member tribes and allies on all issues involving indigenous food sovereignty, including banning GMO salmon and crops on Tribal lands and reducing chemical pesticides.”