The Mar Vista Community Council has become the first local neighborhood council to officially call for mandatory labeling of genetically modified foods.

The local council unanimously approved a resolution Aug. 14 urging “the state of California to establish mandatory food labeling requirements for certain genetically engineered foods, and asking that the mayor and the Los Angeles City Council support this request.”

Genetically modified food is a plant or meat product that has had its DNA artificially altered in a laboratory by genes from other plants, animals, viruses, or bacteria in order to produce foreign compounds in that food.

“Knowing what is in the food we eat is a fundamental, basic human right,” said Andy Shrader, a former member of the Mar Vista council and the author of the resolution.

“With all the strange new digestive issues and allergies that have sprung up the past decade or so – gluten-free, dairy-free, peanut-free, soy-free – consumers need to know exactly what they are putting in their mouths to protect their health and the health of their children,” said Sherri Akers, co-chair of the community council’s Green Committee. “Our big corporations already label the very same genetically modified foods they sell to us in China, Mexico, Brazil, the entire European Union and many other places. Why should United States citizens have fewer rights than those countries?”

Mar Vista council Chair Sharon Commins added, “This is all about transparency. This isn’t about taking a position one way or another on a product.

“This is about letting consumers choose for themselves what they eat – Period.”

Proposition 37, an initiative on the Nov. 4 ballot, calls for the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered food.