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6-Regulation: Boulder County (USA) adopts "good neighbor" protocolon growing GE maize

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SOURCE: Boulder County Commissioners' Office, USA
        edited and sent by Agnet, Canada
DATE:   Feb 12, 2003

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Boulder County Commissioners' Office

The county commissioners in Boulder County, Colorado, adopted protocols
on February 11 describing how three types of genetically modified corn
may be grown on county-owned open space that is leased to farmers for

The protocols were developed after a year of study by a 10-member
technical advisory committee appointed by the Boulder County
Commissioners. The intent of the protocols is to ensure that the county
government remain a "good neighbor" with nearby growers, to ensure that
genetically modified corn does not deleteriously affect neighbors' corn,
particularly organic corn.

Around 500 acres of genetically modified corn (Roundup-Ready Corn, Bt
Corn, and Liberty Link Corn) were grown on county open space in 2002.
These protocols apply to all of the roughly 4000 farmed acres on county-
owned open space.

The year-long review by the technical advisory committee also encompassed
a corn pollen drift study to determine reasonable buffers for achieving
minimal cross-pollination by Roundup Ready Corn, which is not regulated
by federal agencies or through contracts with seed companies.

That study determined that in the windiest direction (winds blowing
south/southeast), 99.4% of cross-pollination was contained within a 150-
foot buffer.

For more information on the protocols, contact Jane Uitti, Boulder County
Commissioners' Office, at



Approved by Boulder County Commissioners by a unanimous vote on 2/11/03,
amended as follows.

A) Recommendations on varieties of GM corn approved for use on Boulder
County Parks and Open Space Any corn genetically engineered to confer
glyphosate tolerance by a U.S. government-approved event as of October
2002 and that is specified in Table I. Any combination of corn bearing
these approved events is allowed (e.g. stacked hybrids), excluding only
combinations with events resulting from genetic engineering that are not
on the list in Table I.

Any corn genetically engineered to confer glufosinate tolerance by a U.S.
government-approved event as of October 2002 and that is specified in
Table I. Any combination of corn bearing these approved events is
allowed, excluding only combinations with events resulting from genetic
engineering that are not on the list in Table I.

Any corn genetically engineered to confer resistance to the European Corn
Borer, by a U.S. government-approved event as of October 2002 and that is
specified in Table I. Any combination of corn bearing these approved
events is allowed, excluding only combinations with events resulting from
genetic engineering that are not on the list in Table I.

The committee requests that, where possible, Boulder County Parks and
Open Space (BCPOS) farmers avoid using stacked transgenic hybrids
unnecessarily (i.e. when a transgenic trait is present that will not be

Crops containing any U.S. government-approved event not listed in Table I
can only be planted on BCPOS land after approval by the County Commissioners.

B) Recommendations for buffer zones between corn varieties GM corn, like
all fertile corn, has the potential to cross-pollinate other corn
varieties. A number of studies have reported on how far corn pollen can
drift and cross-pollinate (see
lifesciences/TransgenicCrops/croptocrop.html and Figure 1, Table II).
These studies can be used by a grower to determine the planting
strategies needed for obtaining the desired level of identity
preservation (IP) of his/her crop. In general, IP requires the presence
of a buffer zone between the crops, e.g. between a GM crop and a non-GM crop.

To manage potential problems related to IP, it is critical that BCPOS
receive precise information on crop planting plans by both BCPOS growers
and growers interested in IP of their crops. To enable BCPOS to address
such problems in a timely manner, the committee recommends the following

1. All BCPOS growers are required to inform the BCPOS office if they plan
to plant any GM crop on BCPOS land by April 1 of each year's planting
season. BCPOS growers are required to keep the office informed of any
changes in their plans.

2. Any grower located close enough to require a buffer, and interested in
IP of his/her corn crop should contact the BCPOS office with their
concerns as early as possible and no later than April 1 of each year's
planting season.

The BCPOS office will determine if GM corn will be planted on BCPOS
adjacent to the concerned grower and if so, will appoint a person to act
as a liaison and mediator between the affected parties.

Appropriate county representatives will determine which non-open space
growers qualify as an IP grower.

C) Recommendations for what the buffer distance should be Recent
preliminary data obtained by members of the GMO TAC (Byrne et al.,
unpublished observations; Figure1/Table II) has shown that in Boulder
County a separation distance of 150 ft. provides for greater than 99.4%
identity preservation.

The committee recommends that the buffer distance be 150 ft., pending
final results from the 2002 study in Boulder County (Byrne et al.,
unpublished observations). The grower interested in IP always has the
option to extend this distance on his own land to ensure even greater IP.

D) Recommendations on what types of crops will be permitted in the buffer
With the exception of GM corn, any species may be grown in the buffer
zone. Committee comment: Planting of a crop in the buffer zone is not
required but is expected to significantly reduce weed problems.

E) Recommendations on who is responsible for Identity Preservation (IP)
This is a difficult question and opinions amongst GMO TAC members vary
greatly regarding what level of responsibility should be borne by the GM
grower on BCPOS vs. the producer desiring IP.

Traditionally in the USA, growers interested in identity preservation
assume responsibility for the IP of his/her crop. However, given the
committee's sense that the promotion and preservation of small farming
operations (both conventional and organic) is important to the citizens
of Boulder County, a modified view concerning BCPOS and adjacent farming
may be appropriate.

At present, identity preservation of non-GM corn crops does not appear to
be a problem in the context of BCPOS for two reasons: (1) GM corn planted
on BCPOS to date is far from any known IP grower operations; and (2) only
a very small fraction of the corn acres on BCPOS land are GM varieties
(i.e. large buffers are in place). However, this question may become more
of an issue in the future. Below the committee provides four options that
the Commissioners may wish to consider as they arrive at a decision as to
"who's responsible."

The committee recommends that the BCPOS office shall notify the affected
parties about potential identity preservation situations, and offer its
services to help find mutually acceptable and practical solutions to
preserve identity preservation.

If, after having received a request for identity preservation, BCPOS
staff determines that there is no mutually agreed-upon plan between the
GM grower and the grower desiring identity preservation, then the BCPOS
grower desiring to plant GM corn would be required to provide 100% of the
buffer zone recommended in section (C).

F) Recommendations for corn refuges to prevent development of insect
resistance As is the case with other pesticides, target insects can
develop resistance to Bt toxins. To delay the development of insect
resistance to Bt corn, the EPA has developed Insect Resistance Management
(IRM) plans.

All growers of Bt corn must sign a Stewardship Agreement, which obligates
them to follow these EPA-mandated IRM plans.

One of the most important elements of the EPA-mandated IRM plans is the
inclusion of "structured refuges" in the Bt corn fields. The EPA defines
a structured refuge as "a non-Bt portion of a grower's field or set of
fields that provides for the production of susceptible (SS) insects that
may randomly mate with rare resistant (RR) insects surviving the Bt crop
to produce susceptible RS heterozygotes"

Highlights of some of the EPA-mandated requirements for refuges currently
in place are given below in quotes. As with all growers, BCPOS growers
must follow these requirements. Additional comments or recommendations
from the GMO TAC are given below.

1. BCPOS growers must comply with EPA-mandated Insect Resistance
Management (IRM) plans, and with IRM requirements from seed companies.

Since BCPOS growers wishing to grow Bt corn must follow these plans and
since the EPA requirements may change as more scientific data is
obtained, the committee recommends Bt corn growers comply with the
agreement from their supplying seed company to ensure appropriate IRM

2. The committee recommends minimal use of pesticides in the refuge
wherever possible.

3. Each grower must provide his or her own refuge. Since larger refuges
will delay the development of insect resistance even further, the
committee recommends planting as large a refuge as is practical.

4. The committee strongly recommends that, where possible, the refuge be
planted within the same field as the Bt corn or within _ mile.

5. BCPOS should develop a policy concerning the reporting of possible
resistance development by farmers growing crops on BCOS land 6.
Management practices on the refuge and Bt corn acreage must be similar
and include planting both varieties at the same time and using similar
agronomic practices.

The EPA further states: "For Bt field corn grown outside cotton-growing
areas (e.g. the Corn Belt),

growers must plant a minimum structured refuge of at least 20% non-Bt
corn "Insecticide treatments for control of ECB [European corn borer],
CEW [Corn earworm] and/or Southwestern corn borer (SWCB) may be applied
only if economic thresholds are reached for one or more of these pests.
Economic thresholds will be determined using methods recommended by local
or regional professionals (e.g. Extension Service agents, crop consultants.

" microbial Bt insecticides must not be applied to non-Bt corn refuges."
"Growers must plant only non-Bt corn in the refuge and plant the refuge
within _ mile of their Bt corn acreage. In regions of the Corn Belt where
conventional insecticides have historically been used to control ECB and
SWCB, growers wanting the option to treat these pests must plant the
refuge within _ mile of their Bt corn." "Refuge planting options include:
separate fields, blocks within fields (e.g. along the edges or
headlands), and strips across the field. When planting the refuge in
strips across the field, growers must plant multiple non-Bt rows whenever
possible." "The registrant will monitor for the development of resistance
this resistance monitoring program will be developed to measure increased
tolerance to Bt corn above the various regional baseline ranges "Non-Bt
corn should provide the best refuge to increase the probability that
susceptible insects will mate with potentially resistant ECB from the Bt
corn. Non-Bt corn hybrids used in refuges should be selected for growth,
maturity, fertility, irrigation, weed management, planting date, and
yield traits similar to the Bt corn hybrid." G) Recommendations for
notification of farmers adjacent to BCPOS Procedures to contact farmers
who may be impacted by GM corn grown on BCPOS should be developed by
BCPOS staff.

H) Recommendations for conflict resolution BCPOS will develop a dispute
resolution procedure to address complaints about the use of transgenic
corn on county open space, and to address disputes between parties where
at least one of them is an open space grower planting a GM crop.

This procedure could include informal procedures or formal mediation.

I) Recommendations for monitoring and compliance BCPOS will develop a
method to monitor growers' compliance with these protocols.