GENET archive


9-Misc: Stanislaus County (California, USA) board supports biotech

                                  PART I
-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  County board supports biotech
        Stanislaus supervisor says genetic engineering foes using fear,
        'junk science'
SOURCE: Modesto Bee, USA, by Joel Hood
DATE:   10 Aug 2005

------------------- archive: -------------------

County board supports biotech
Stanislaus supervisor says genetic engineering foes using fear, 'junk science'

Stronger, more resilient fruits and vegetables, or "Frankenfoods"?

Stanislaus County entered the growing debate over genetically engineered
crops Tuesday as the Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted a
resolution in support of biotechnology in agriculture.

Supervisors say the vote was critical to protect the livelihood of the
county's No. 1 industry. Stanislaus County farmers and ranchers brought
in a record $1.98 billion in revenue in 2004, making Stanislaus the No. 7
ag-producing county in California.

"These genetic improvements have led to longer shelf lives, allowed us to
use less pesticides," Supervisor Jim DeMar-tini said after Tuesday's
meeting. "This is the type of technol-ogy that has led us to safe and
affordable food supplies worldwide."

The longtime peach and almond farmer's thoughts on biotechnology echo
those of the state's largest farming organizations, including the
California Farm Bureau Federation and California Cattlemen's Association.

Genetic engineering of crops describes the common practice of combining
ge-netic materials at the DNA level to create "improved" and more
resilient species of plants. It's primarily used in cotton and corn
production. Corn is the No. 8 revenueproducing crop in Stanislaus County.

Proponents call this gene modification one of the more important
agricultural advancements in centuries, allowing growers to develop crops
that are better protected against disease, bugs and weeds, and reduces
the need to spray with chemicals.

"Agriculture is under a tremendous pressure to do more with less," Ed
Perry, a farm adviser with the Univer-sity of California Cooperative
Extension in Stanislaus County, told supervisors Tuesday. "This
technology is really no different than what we've been able to do for
thousands of years, it's just a more precise way to do genetic
engineering to get what we want.

"That benefits not only us, but society in general."

But for the last two years, voters in a handful of California counties
have seen initiatives that would ban or limit the growing of genetically
engineered crops.

In 2004, Mendocino, Marin and Trinity counties became the first in the
nation to adopt such initiatives, fueling the debate over genetically
altered foods. The controversy is expected to continue this fall as nine
counties, mostly small ag producers on the coast, consider similar bans.

The fear is that too little is known about the long-term effects of so-
called "Frankenfoods" on consumers, the environment and cross-
contamination with organic crops, said Dave Henson, pri-mary author of an
initiative in Sonoma County that would institute a 10-year ban on growing
genetically engineered produce.

"I'm personally not against genetic engineering; I just think we need 10
years to study it," said Henson, executive director of the Occidental
Arts and Ecology Center. "And I think in this issue, the ag bureau is
representing the interests of the ag industry and not small farmers."

A bill in the state Senate would pro-hibit counties from banning
biotechnology in agriculture, giving the decision to the state.

Supporters of biotechnology call the effort to ban its practice a result
of "misinformation" and "junk science."

"To ban it is impractical. There has never been any adverse effects to
GMOs (genetically modified organisms)," DeMartini said. "It's like taking
a bean and putting it toge-ther with corn. They're both good foods;
there's nothing wrong with it. (Opponents) have their own self-interests.
This is junk science and scare tactics."

Stanislaus County's motive Tuesday was to take a public stand on this
issue, DeMartini said. The county joins the ag-rich counties of Merced,
Fresno, Kern and Tulare in adopting resolutions of support.

Judy Kjelstrom, director of the biotechnology program at the University
of California at Davis, said the science of genetic engineering has
gotten lost in the debate over its ethics.

"The real issue is that this is sending mixed messages to our children
about biotechnology," Kjelstrom said. "It's a political issue and (the
opponent's argument) is not based in science. The (genetically-
engineering free) movement is more religious than anything else.

"Let's have a good debate on the science, but that's not what is happening."

                                  PART II
-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Stanislaus agriculture stands by its genetically modified crops
SOURCE: Modesto Bee, USA
DATE:   10 Aug 2005

------------------- archive: -------------------

Stanislaus agriculture stands by its genetically modified crops

Stanislaus and Mendocino counties are in the same state, even the same
half of the state, but they are oh so far apart on many issues.

In March 2004, Mendocino voters approved a measure banning the growing of
genetically modified crops or animals. Two other counties, Marin and
Trinity, followed suit.

That won't happen in Stanislaus County, where agriculture is king and
where farmers already rely on genetic modifications to improve the
quality of all sorts of crops, from corn to melons.

It's hard to imagine such an initiative could gain enough signatures to
qualify for the ballot here in the Northern San Joaquin Valley. But
Supervisor Jim DeMartini is trying to head off the possibility in
Stanislaus County. He proposed, and his fellow board members unanimously
agreed Tuesday, to a resolution supporting the use of biotechnology in

The resolution has no teeth; it's simply a public statement acknowledging
the importance of agriculture, and the fact that valley farmers already
depend on biotechnology, and will and should do so in the future.

Our county's diverse farming industry provides options for people who
have concerns about genetically modified foods and, more commonly, about
the overuse of pesticides. Organic produce is available at most farmers
markets and supermarkets.

The bigger challenge facing consumers these days is understanding genetic
modification. It dates back centuries, as farm adviser Ed Perry pointed
out to the board, and is widely used in some crops. Half the corn grown
in California has been genetically modified. The point of modification is
to increase the desirable traits, Perry explained, whether it's making
plants more resistant to disease or making them last longer after harvest.

Some foods are genetically engineered simply to make them more
convenient. Take the seedless watermelon, for instance. If folks in
Mendocino County don't like them, well, we do.

                                  PART III
-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Agenda, Meeting of the Board of Supervisors
SOURCE: Stanislaus County, USA
        files attached: SC_GMOs1.gif, SC_GMOs2.gif, SC_GMOs3.gif
        extraced from the pdf-file downloaded
DATE:   9 Aug 2005

------------------- archive: -------------------

Stanislaus County
Modesto, California

August 9, 2005


B.	Chief Executive Office
4.	Approval to Adopt a Resolution in Support of the Use of Biotechnology
in the Agricultural Industry in Stanislaus County - Agricultural Advisory


European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

Hartmut MEYER (Mr)
In den Steinäckern 13
D - 38116 Braunschweig

P: +49-531-5168746
F: +49-531-5168747
M: +49-162-1054755
E: coordination(*)
W: <>