GENET archive


6-Regulation: Lake County Board (USA) continues GMO debate

                                  PART I
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TITLE:  Board continues GMO debate
SOURCE: Record Bee, USA, by John Jensen
DATE:   28 Sep 2005

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Board continues GMO debate

LAKEPORT -- The debate before the board of supervisors over planting
genetically modified Roundup-resistant alfalfa in the county was
continued for the second time Tuesday.

The topic, continued to Oct. 11, was last heard by supervisors on Aug. 23.

The debate will continue into October to give supervisors time to study
the issue further after more documentary evidence was provided than they
could absorb during Tuesday's meeting.

The three-and-a-half-hour public hearing served only to raise more
questions than it answered regarding a proposed 30-month moratorium on
the glyphosate-resistant hay.

The extended discussion altered the positions of neither moratorium
proponents nor opponents, although many had a good deal to say on the
topic. The two groups sat on either side of the chamber with opponents
outnumbered by those who favored a sit-back-and-wait strategy regarding
the alfalfa.

The hotly contested issue has drawn battle lines with both groups
providing volumes of evidence to support their respective cases.

Opponents of the moratorium, including the Farm Bureau, fear it will be
the first step toward a full ban on genetically modified organisms in
Lake County.

Toni Scully, owner of Scully Packing, implored the supervisors to deny
the moratorium on the grounds that farmers should have the right to use
any technology they can to compete. "Our entire livelihood is tied up in
the agricultural environment of this county," she said.

Moratorium proponents specifically, the Coalition for Responsible
Agriculture, who authored the proposed ordinance say they are working to
create a 30-month period in which the seed won't be planted in Lake
County. That, they say, will allow farmers and officials to observe how
the hay does in other areas and decide whether or not to allow it to be
grown here.

Pear farmer Phil Murphy spoke to the board late in the day to point out
that the moratorium addressed strictly one product and did not address
any others.

He cautioned the board to take time to carefully consider the
ramifications of the decision and the evidence provided. Murphy pointed
out that in spite of seemingly careful study, plant life can surprise
people by adapting. "Plants are not an assembly line product," he said.

Regardless, all present maintained decorum over what District 1
Supervisor Ed Robey referred to as an "emotionally charged issue." Robey
and District 3 Supervisor Gary Lewis both thanked the audience for their
control during the lengthy public hearing before the board agreed to
continue the issue.

Despite the serious topic, some levity was evidenced in the chamber when
Robey interrupted Murphy to ask just how much more time he would need.

"It's past five and we've still got seven items to cover," Robey said.

Just then, a mischievous District 5 Supervisor Rob Brown chimed in,
"About 30 months, Ed."

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

TITLE:  GMOs and the right of self-determination
SOURCE: Record Bee, USA, by the Lake County Publishing Editorial Board
DATE:   23 Sep 2005

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GMOs and the right of self-determination

On Tuesday, the board of supervisors will discuss whether or not to
accept an ordinance crafted by a local group, Coalition for Responsible
Agriculture (CRG) that places a 30-month moratorium on the introduction
of Roundup Ready alfalfa in Lake County.

Developed by Monsanto, one of the world's largest and most powerful
multinational corporations, this alfalfa is meant to be resistant to one
of Monsanto's own products, Roundup, a powerful herbicide. The
corporation suggests that this will allow growers to use its herbicide to
kill weeds while not harming the alfalfa itself.

The government cleared the crop for release in July. Agricultural
publications have cited its potential for greater yields and weed
resistance; at the same time, concerns have emerged from various corners.

CRG members have compared the seed's introduction to letting a genie out
of a bottle; other GMO opponents around the country call the issue a
"Pandora's box" that, once opened, can't be closed.

Their concerns aren't isolated. An August article in Kennewick, Wash.'s
Tri-City Herald says alfalfa growers in the region's Columbia Basin are
concerned that Japanese export markets will reject the crop based on the
perception that "the product is unnatural" and could affect both people
and the milk from dairy cows that eat the hay.

An August 2004 article from the University of California's Agriculture
and Natural Resources Department touts the seed as promising while
mentioning "weed shift," a phenomenon in which weeds Roundup doesn't
control proliferate, and that certain weeds develop resistance to
Roundup's active ingredient, glyphosate.

In Lake County where approximately 108,000 acres are devoted to some type
of agricultural use less than 100 acres of the crop is grown by a handful
of farmers, said agricultural commissioner Steve Hajik.

Hajik said he doesn't know of any local farmers planning to use the seed.
While there is, he said, a search on for an alternate crop to pears, the
acreage of which continues to decline, he added, "I don't know if alfalfa
is it."

It's unlikely that this seed would either be introduced or much used in
Lake County, which Chuck March executive director of the Lake County Farm
Bureau and a moratorium opponent told us this week.

"It's almost a non-issue in Lake County," he said.

Yet you wouldn't know that by the flood of e-mails we've received from
"think tanks" across the country urging us to oppose the moratorium.
These groups aren't unbiased; in fact, they're all funded, at least in
part, by Monsanto.

When we questioned these groups about their affiliations, and then asked
them, "What's the rush?" about introducing the crop, their hard-sell
tactics immediately took a harder edge, accusing us of bias.

That told us this matter is less about helping farmers and more about
helping Monsanto, and the safety of Lake County's ecosystem doesn't
figure anywhere.

For March, the moratorium is "the first step for an all-out ban on GMOs."
Such a ban, he said, could prevent positive steps forward in crop
development such as winegrapes resistant to Pierce's disease.

"Our whole position is that it (GMOs) should be regulated at the state
level, not local," said March. State agencies, like the Department of
Food and Agriculture, March said, are better equipped to set GMO
regulations, much as they do with pesticides.

Yet, we believe this issue is about self-determination, allowing local
citizens and officials to judge products on their merit and benefits, on
a case-by-case basis, instead of leaving the decisions to distant,
politically charged processes behind closed doors in Sacramento.

This matter requires an approach that blends caution, concern for
everyone involved and a respect for the environment.

The Record-Bee supports the 30-month moratorium on Roundup Ready alfalfa.
Long-term, careful study and anecdotal evidence in the open market will
address concerns about the seed, and tell us if it is truly safe.

We're not saying that we favor a total GMO ban. But we do believe that we
need to think carefully before opening a door that, once opened, can
never be closed.

The Lake County Publishing Editorial Board includes Publisher Gregg
McConnell, Editor Elizabeth Larson, News Editor David Stoneberg and
Sports Editor Brian Sumpter.

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

TITLE:  California restaurateurs oppose biotech crop bans
SOURCE: Western Farm Press, USA
DATE:   28 Sep 2005

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California restaurateurs oppose biotech crop bans

The California Healthy Foods Coalition recently announced that the
California Restaurant Association (CRA) and several additional
agricultural organizations have joined the farm coalition's efforts to
promote the benefits of biotech crops and oppose efforts to ban
agricultural biotechnology in California.

California's $51 billion restaurant industry is dependent on California's
family farmers for a safe and reliable source of foods and fresh produce.

"California is home to the finest restaurants in the nation and this is
due in part to our access to locally grown produce," said Jot Condie,
president/CEO of CRA. "With the number of consumer food dollars spent
away from home growing, restaurants will be even more dependent on
California's family farmers to get the finest and most affordable foods
and produce from their fields to our dining tables."

A statewide poll conducted in May 2005 revealed that 54 percent of
California voters think farmers should be allowed to grow biotech crops.
The survey also revealed that support grows to 68 percent in the
agricultural communities of California's Central Valley. To date, 14
California counties stand with California's family farmers in opposition
to banning biotech crops in California.

It is estimated every $1 spent in restaurants generates more than $2 in
business for other industries. The total economic impact of restaurant
sales in California in 2005 is projected to be more than $103 billion.
California is home to more food chains than any other state in the country.

The farm coalition also announced several new additions to the coalition:
California Cotton Ginners and Growers Association, California Floral
Council, California Poultry Federation, California Tomato Growers
Association, Sacramento Valley Landowners Association, Sonoma County
Grape Growers Association and the Ventura County Agricultural Association.

Previously released additions to the farm coalition included the
California Chamber of Commerce and the California Manufacturers and
Technology Association.


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