Apparently the elected officials in Boulder County, Colorado have been living under a rock when it comes to scientific consensus.
In a vote of 2 to 1, the Commissioners of Boulder County voted to phase out the use of genetically modified crops on farmland owned by the County. For clarity, the ban will not stop farmers from planting biotech corn on privately owned land.
Over the last few decades, Boulder County has been acquiring farmland in the hopes of keeping it as farmland. In fact, the County has scooped up about 25,000 acres. The County then leases the property to farmers for use in growing crops. By 2019, farmers will have to cease using GMO corn on that land, with GMO sugar beets being phased out by 2021.
Commissioner Cindy Domenico, the lone vote against the ban, argued that scientific research should be done first to determine whether the non-GMO crops would carry any environmental or safety benefits before the timeline for phasing out the crops takes place. Unfortunately, I don’t think that even that would convince the other two commissioners because there has already been plenty of science done on the topic.
As reported by Genetic Literacy Project, the two commissioners that voted in favor of the ban seemed to be acolytes for organic farming because of an incorrect belief that organic farming does not use pesticides. (It does.) In fact, the use of genetically modified crops has actually decreased the overall amount of pesticides used by 37%.
While I’m generally in favor of local control over local land, that exercise of authority needs to be thought out and not overrun by special interests or groups. There was no valid reason that farmers should be forced to stop producing genetically modified crops. If the commissioners cannot come up with a legitimate reason, there was no basis for the ban except their own agendas and misleading fears.
Once again, we find family farmers at the disadvantage here. For no reason at all, they will have an important tool taken away from their farming operation.
[UPDATE: You can find a really good response from a farmer in Boulder County here.]