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Boulder County says ‘NO’ to ‘GMO’

Is there anything more polarizing thna genetically-modified crops? Proponents note that the GMO traits allow farm products to be perfected and grown even in the most adverse conditions, while those against the production technique cite health and environmental hazards. Although there is still no clear consensus, at least one Colorado county is taking a stand.

Boulder County in Colorado will proceed with a policy and plan that will phase out the growing of genetically-modified corn and sugar beets on county-owned farmland following a 2-1 county commissioners vote. The plan will allow for tenant farmers to continue planting GMO corn on county-owned fields through the end of 2019, and GMO sugar beets will be phased out by 2021, reported The Times-Call (Nov. 30).

Many activists argued that without deadlines, government agencies would not do much to study the impact of GMO crops. They argued that the time frame would spur research into the crops to determine whether they were safe or not. Family farmers in the region argued that the research should be completed first; some argued that if the research determined it was safe to continue using GMO crops in year two of the three-year plan, it could be too late for many small farmers who had to go out of business.

It will be interesting to see whether or not the rules will remain in place considering recent developments in other states. In 2014, Honolulu, HI, passed a similar law to prohibit the cultivation of GMO crops. In June, the 9th U.S. District Court of Appeals declared that federal law overuled the law that banned GMO crops in Hawaii, Kauai and Maui counties, reported U.S. News & World Report (June 16).

Sonoma County, CA, also appears to be following suit. Voters in the county approved Measure M to ensure that GMO crops are not grown on unincorporated areas of the county. The measure was passed to protect the county’s organic fields from cross-pollination, reported KQED Science (Nov. 10).