Saturday, December 3, 2011

GMO-Free in our Boulder Bubble

This photo which is the header for the GMO-FREE BOULDER website was "borrowed" from my blog here, something I happened to notice while preparing this post. It's ok this time, but don't let it happen again. Ha. ;-)

There has been quite a controversy in Boulder County regarding whether or not to allow GMO crops to be grown by farmers on Boulder County Open Space farm lands. Included in my news recently, was this item:
'Citizens Cropland Policy' affects Boulder County board decisions on GMOs - Last week, two volunteer advisory boards weighed in on one of the most controversial issues to face Boulder County residents in years -- whether farmers should be allowed to grow genetically modified crops on open space land. Both boards -- the Parks and Open Space Advisory Committee and the Food and Agriculture Policy Council -- recommended that GMOs be phased out on county-owned land. ... "In my lifetime, this is an unprecedented act of democracy that I've never seen before," said Food and Agriculture Policy Council member Shanan Olson, an organic farmer. [Dailycamera]
Because my blogging takes most of my time, I have stayed out of this controversy.
(I did apply late to be on the Policy advisory committee, but I don't think my application was looked at, and now I'm thankful for that.) I feel for the economics of farmers who have to make a living as well as the issue that it is probable that non-GMO farming today might require more dangerous chemical applications if a farmer competes unsubsidized in the current system, the only system we have in which to compete. Luckily, since Boulder is in a "bubble" of twenty-five square miles surrounded by reality, this does not apply to us. ;-)

Yes, in a perfect world without big agribusiness and with many more people working to produce food (something people would rather say how-it-should-be-done than actually do the difficult work itself) we could be sharing non-GMO diverse seeds and all eat organic produce, grains, and grass fed livestock. But, in the real (developed) world, most stories involve that yin-yang condition where there is good and bad in everything. And that includes farming and that includes GMOs.

What prompted this post, is that GMO-Free Boulder has an ad in our local paper which lists GMO Facts, so I went to their website to get the list and post them here. Imagine my surprise when I saw that their blog photo header was "borrowed" from a photo that I took and posted to b.p.a. in this post where I reported on a Boulder County Open Space farm tour that I went on last summer!

Anyway, here is a list of the group's "GMO Facts" that GMO-Free Boulder publicized in our local paper:
  • A seedless grape or a seedless watermelon are not GMOs. They are the result of cross-pollination and selective breeding. They are awesome.
  • A genetically modified organism (GMO) is the result of a laboratory process of taking genes from one species and inserting them into another in an attempt to obtain a desired trait or characteristic.
  • GMOs have only existed in the food supply since the mid-nineties.
  • GMOs are not truly "traditional" agriculture. They have only existed a short time and many "traditional" non-organic farmers reject GMOs in favor of traditional seed.
  • GMOs are banned or restricted in over 30 countries because they are not considered safe.
  • GMOs are patented products designed to benefit agrochemical companies who sell the seeds and the chemicals.
  • GMOs have no consumer benefit.
  • GMOs have not been proven safe to eat.
  • No labeling is required on GMO food in the U.S. despite polls that show that 93% of the U.S. public favors labeling.
  • 71% of Boulder residents polled want GMOs off of public land.
Since this group was successful due to extremely motivated individuals who took part in our democratic process of weighing all sides of the issue and listening to all who wanted their voices heard, now Boulder County is also reconsidering land use and I really do like each of these three ideas, particularly No. 3!
Boulder County is reviewing its Land Use Code and is considering the following: 1) A new classification to include community gardens, 2) Is considering permitting people to apply for the chance to operate small-scale, farm-based restaurants, and 3) Is considering allowing "farming communities," where multiple owners live in multiple dwellings but work together on a single farm. [TimesCall]
No issue is ever simple or straight-forward, this one being the perfect example.
——Kay McDonald

UPDATE: The Daily Camera ran two Sunday Opinion pieces DEC 4th worth reading both in favor of GMOs on open space farmland:
Support for farmers who use GMO crops By Jane Uitti
Benefits of GMOs outweigh costs By John Caldwell