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6-Regulation: US community barred GE crops from local land

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TITLE:  Boulder, Colo., city government unit bans GMOs on city land
        rented to farmers
SOURCE: Pro Farmer, by Greg Avery
DATE:   August 24, 2000

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Boulder, Colo., city government unit bans GMOs on city land rented to 

Another locality has taken official action to curb plantings of 
genetically modified crops. One California community's city counsel 
discussed such a limit on public property earlier, and now the City 
of Boulder, Colorado, has taken specific action barring farmers from 
using GMO crops on the land it rents to them. The Boulder Open Space 
Department barred genetically modified agricultural crops from city 
lands Wednesday, endorsing the argument that too little is known 
about the engineered plants' long-term ecological impacts.

The policy is similar to a proposal being studied by Boulder County 
for its open space land. Concerned about the possibility of having 
herbicide-resistant plants introduced to open space, department 
Director Jim Crain asked the city's Open Space Board of Trustees to 
add language to leases for agricultural operations on open space that 
would bar any genetically modified organism from being introduced.

What do you think?
Should the City of Boulder ban genetically engineered crops on open 
Why, or why not?
E-mail your opinion to
We will publish your responses in a couple of days.
Please include your name and city of residence.

The trustees approved the policy unanimously Wednesday night. 
According to city figures, nearly half of the city's 33,000 acres of 
open space is leased for agriculture, though only about 400 acres 
have grain crops for human consumption grown on them. The Open Space 
Department asked the trustees to ratify the ban even though it's 
impact on the ground will be small, said Bryan Pritchett, open space 
resource conservation coordinator. "One of our charges is to protect 
environmental resources, and there are enough concerns about 
genetically modified crops to justify taking this action," Pritchett 

In 1998, a 2-acre plot of Monsanto's Roundup Ready corn -- 
genetically modified corn designed to withstand the company's popular 
herbicide -- was tested on an open space parcel. No other genetically 
modified crops have been grown on city land. "There's whole host of 
biological and societal questions about this practice. Ethically, I'm 
not sure we want it represented on public land we control," Pritchett 
said. "Our take is that until a whole lot more is known about GMO 
impacts then we'd rather not have them." Millions of acres of 
genetically changed crops have been grown in the United States, and 
critics argue that the plants could pollinate and change other 
species, threatening ecosystems over time. The European Union has 
taken steps to eliminate importation of genetically modified produce.

Boulder's ban came at the urging of the Rocky Mountain Peace and 
Justice Center. The center also supports state, national and 
international efforts to force labeling of genetically modified foods 
and to enact moratoriums on the use of genetically modified organisms 
until significant testing concludes they are safe. Though the 
physical impact of the ban may be small, the educational aspect of 
the ban is invaluable, said Peace and Justice staff member Carolyn 
Bninski. "We feel it's important to make this statement. It's a way 
to educate the public on what is really an important issue," Bninski 
said. "We may be jeopardizing our long-term ability to feed ourselves 
and to live on the earth."

Crystal Grey, the most senior member of the Boulder Open Space Board 
of Trustees, said the panel decided that formalizing the ban was 
necessary to ensure the safety of open space ecosystems. Concerns 
over the spread of potential herbicide-resistant plants, dubbed 
"super weeds" by detractors, was enough to warrant the measure, Grey 
said. "Fortunately, staff is way out ahead of everybody on these 
things" she said. "It was almost a no-brainer when they brought it to 

Mayor Will Toor, director of University of Colorado's Environmental 
Center, said he believes Boulder should err on the side of caution 
when it comes to allowing modified crops on city land. "I don't think 
we have adequate safeguards in the process of going from research 
labs into the environment," Toor said. "I think it makes sense for 
the city to be very careful about what gets released on its public 


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