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[genet-news] GMO-FREE REGIONS & POLICY: Lake County (USA) Board of Supervisors to look at what to do next on GE ordinance



                                  PART 1


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TITLE:   BOARD TO LOOK AT WHAT TO DO NEXT ON GE ORDINANCE

SOURCE:  Lake County News, USA

AUTHOR:  Elizabeth Larson

URL:     http://lakeconews.com/content/view/16772/919/

DATE:    05.11.2010

SUMMARY: "The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday returned to a months-dormant discussion on what next to do about an ordinance relating to genetically engineered crops in the county. Supervisor Denise Rushing brought the matter to the board, apologizing to both board members and members of the county's now disbanded GE Crops Advisory Committee for not having spoken to any of them before having it put on the agenda, a move which she said was ?unilateral.?"

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BOARD TO LOOK AT WHAT TO DO NEXT ON GE ORDINANCE

LAKEPORT, Calif. ? The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday returned to a months-dormant discussion on what next to do about an ordinance relating to genetically engineered (GE) crops in the county.

Supervisor Denise Rushing brought the matter to the board, apologizing to both board members and members of the county's now disbanded GE Crops Advisory Committee for not having spoken to any of them before having it put on the agenda, a move which she said was ?unilateral.?

She said she had wanted it to be listed on the agenda as a setting aside of the extensive work already done, not a cessation of all work, as it appeared.

While she supported the complete GE ban proposed for the county put forward in 2006, she said she didn't believe the current board supported such a measure.

County Counsel Anita Grant had earlier this year circulated a draft ordinance with neither Supervisor Rob Brown nor Rushing ? the two board representatives to the committee ? supported.

Rushing said when organic farmer Lars Crail left the committee ? he left the county to accept a job with a national organic group in Washington, D.C. ? she felt they lost an important voice that wasn't adequately replaced in the group.

Since then, she said she was approached by local organic farmers who said they didn't feel the ordinance was helpful, and questioned why she was continuing to push it. That led her to the same point of view as Brown, but from a very different direction, she said.

Questioning whether she wanted to continue to expend energy on the effort, Rushing said she wanted to have a conversation with the board about what to do.

?Let's just pause for now,? she suggested.

Board Chair Anthony Farrington said he had been curious about when they were going to return to the matter before Rushing agendized it.

The committee ?put so much time and energy and effort? into the work, he said, explaining that a driving force had been the desire to resolve land use conflicts.

?There's a process that we need to honor,? said Farrington, who wanted to have a more formal discussion with the committee.

Brown said he was surprised to see the matter agendized without any discussion with committee members. ?They should have been included in this.?

He said the board already had sent a letter to the Legislature about food labeling.

Considering all the work that had gone into the effort, Brown didn't think it was appropriate to put it aside without further dialogue with the committee. He noted during the discussion that while he wasn't saying that the county should go forward with regulation, he felt it was a disservice to the committee and the process not to take them into account.

Grant said she was willing to sit down with the committee and go over the draft ordinance she sent out in March in order to find all the sources of objection.

Farrington said the discussion needed to include all of the committee members, and he said he didn't understand why some community members didn't feel it served their interests.

Supervisor Jim Comstock said he didn't want to see them scrap all the work that's been done in order to just start again.

Rushing questioned whether the county wanted to spend any more time on the process considering other issues. Brown replied, ?We're no busier now than we were when we started this.?

During public comment, Victoria Brandon, one of the committee members, said the group was disbanded, but since they're no longer governed by the Brown Act the board can talk to them informally even in groups.

She said Crail's participation in the group was invaluable, even though he often was traveling and couldn't be at all of the meetings.

Brandon said the most contentious item of discussion for the committee had been a ?de minimus? standard for gene flow rather than a zero tolerance. By that time Crail already had resigned, and he told the group he didn't think that standard would work.

Noting that some community members not involved in the committee process are not willing to accept anything short of an outright GE crop ban, Brandon said the idea of the effort was to set up a way to stop growers using GE crops from hurting their neighbors. The next phase, with another committee, would have involved setting up buffers.

She said she was grateful that Rushing brought the matter out of limbo. After the process the group went through to arrive at a sensible, reasonable compromise, ?it should not just be dropped, it should be explored further? to see if there is a way to make it work.

Lorrie Gray, an alternate on both the original and pared down committees, said she was chosen by Crail to represent him at the meetings. She said she felt the county does need to try to regulate GE crops.

Broc Zoller, another committee member, said he was surprised to learn of the action, and thought he would have been notified. ?The process is a little comical to me,? he said.

Zoller said the board should give the committee's work to reach a compromise an up or down vote. A scientist and a pear grower himself, Zoller said he doesn't believe the county needs a GE ordinance because of the crops it grows, such as walnuts, pears and grapes.

Growers likely couldn't sell GE grapes, he said.

There are scientific ways to improve walnut rootstock, but Zoller said if they were used locally they wouldn't hurt the environment. ?For our main crops there's no issue.?

Issues might arise for hay crops like alfalfa, but there are no native plants that would be affected by GE alfalfa, he said. The bulk of the county's grasses probably were introduced, and Zoller said crops could be discussed as they're introduced.

He concluded that if the county wanted a compromise solution, the one it had before them wasn't a bad one.

Brown proposed that he, Rushing and Grant meet with Agricultural Commissioner Steve Hajik and come back with some suggestions next month. The matter will return to the board for further discussion at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 14.

In other news, the board also approved the second reading of an ordinance to raise fees and rates in the Southeast Regional Wastewater Collection System, which serves Clearlake and Lower Lake. District 2 Supervisor Jeff Smith, whose district covers those areas, was absent from the meeting so did not take part in the vote.



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:   SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE PANEL DEBATES GMOS

SOURCE:  Daily Camera, USA

AUTHOR:  Erica Meltzer

URL:     http://www.dailycamera.com/boulder-county-news/ci_16546199

DATE:    07.11.2010

SUMMARY: "Genetic engineering has the potential to feed more people while using less water, pesticides and herbicides, [Pamela Ronald] said. And the technology necessary to experiment with genetic engineering of agricultural crops is becoming less expensive and more accessible, Ronald said. This allows national institutes in developing countries like China, India and Brazil to develop their own varieties aimed at their farmers` needs, [Raoul Adamchak] said."

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SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE PANEL DEBATES GMOS

Forum part of Boulder County?s cropland policy development

The role of genetically modified crops in sustainable agriculture was the topic of a heated debate at a Boulder County-sponsored forum Saturday afternoon in Longmont.

More than 100 people, including many farmers, filled the auditorium at Silver Creek High School to listen to a lecture and panel discussion on sustainable agriculture.

The discussion topics included the definition of sustainability, the challenges of farming in an arid climate and how to attract young people into farming.

But the most contentious issue was whether genetically engineered crops that allow farmers to get high yields while using fewer pesticides should be part of the solution to sustainable agriculture.

Raoul Adamchak and Pamela Ronald, co-authors of "Tomorrow`s Table: Organic Farming, Genetics and the Future of Food," gave the keynote address. Adamchak is an organic farmer, and Ronald has worked on genetically engineering rice to resist disease and flooding. Both work at the University of California, Davis.

Ronald called for the technologies associated with genetic engineering to be separated from the practices of companies like agribusiness giant Monsanto.

Genetic engineering has the potential to feed more people while using less water, pesticides and herbicides, she said. And the technology necessary to experiment with genetic engineering of agricultural crops is becoming less expensive and more accessible, Ronald said. This allows national institutes in developing countries like China, India and Brazil to develop their own varieties aimed at their farmers` needs, he said.

"It is quite possible to feed a growing population in an ecological manner, and we have to depend on the best science available to do it," she said.

Panelist Jim Riddle, a founder of the International Organic Inspectors Association and organic outreach coordinator for the University of Minnesota, rejected the idea that GMOs belonged in the discussion of sustainable agriculture to loud applause from the audience.

But later Riddle was pressed to provide a scientific basis as to why Boulder County shouldn`t allow farmers to grow GMO sugar beets.

He said that should be a local decision, but some of the genes introduced into crop plants may have wide-ranging and little understood consequences on the wider ecosystem and our bodies.

Panelist Cindy Lair of the Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Council, said genetically modified crops can be useful but need to be used with care, like pesticides.

"Transgenic crops are a tool, and they can be used wisely or poorly," she said.

The forum is part of Boulder County Parks and Open Space`s outreach efforts as it develops its cropland policy, which will govern the management of 16,400 acres of farmland owned by the county.

Among other issues, the policy will create rules for the use of genetically modified crops, a topic that generated heated debate last year when sugar beet farmers sought permission to plant GMO varieties of the crop.




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