Why Did California’s Largest Indian Tribe Just Ban GE Salmon and Crops?

Looks like  the FDA’s approval of GE AquAdvantage salmon back in November, the agency’s first approval of a GE animal for food, just brought yet another first to the US.  This past month, California’s largest Indian tribe, the Yurok Tribe, banned GE salmon and crops.

The new ordinance reads as follows:

The Tribal GEO Ordinance prohibits the propagation, raising, growing, spawning, incubating or releasing genetically engineered organisms (such as growing GMO crops or releasing genetically engineered salmon) within the Tribe’s territory and declares the Yurok Reservation to be a GMO-free zone. While other Tribes, such as the Dine’ (Navajo) Nation, have declared GMO-free zones by resolution, this ordinance appears to be the first of its kind in the nation.

california's largest tribe bans GE salmon and crops. Tribe enjoying salmonfest

The tribe celebrates an annual Klamath Salmon Festival, hosting its 53rd iteration this past August. Click the pic to view original photo on the Yurok Facebook Page

The 56,585-acre Yurok Reservation is located in the far northwest of California along a 44-mile stretch of the Klamath River. According to ecowatch.com, this river has been a crucial fishing source, mostly for salmon, for thousands of years.

“The Yurok People, have managed and relied upon the abundance of salmon on the Klamath River since time immemorial,” a press release from the Yurok Tribe says. “The tribe has a vital interest in the viability and survival of the wild, native Klamath River salmon species and all other traditional food resources.”

In recent years, however, the river has faced a series of environmental challenges, including drought and low snowpack.  The tribe hopes the GMO ban will help reduce additional problems.

“GMO farms, whether they are cultivating fish or for fresh produce, have a huge, negative impact on watersheds the world over. The Yurok Tribe’s homeland is on the Klamath River, where massive algal blooms, exacerbated by agricultural runoff and antiquated hydroelectric dams, turn the river toxic each summer.”

There’s always the potential problem of GE salmon making its way into the wild, and of course GMOs have a way of contaminating non-GE crops, but California’s largest tribe (with close to 5,000 members) hopes the ban provides significant protection for generations to come.

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Author: renezimbelman

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