Sonoma County Voter Success Leads To Largest GMO-Free Zone In U.S.

On election day, voters in Sonoma County successfully banned the cultivation of genetically modified crops!
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    It’s taken some time for word to spread due to the focus on Presidential-elect Donald Trump, but on November 8th, voters in Sonoma County successfully passed Measure M to make growing genetically modified crops illegal.

    Measure M passed 55.9% to 44.1% in the county, and led to the largest ever GMO-free zone in the U.S. being formed. Jumboldt, Marin, Mendocino, Santa Cruz, and Trinity Counties have all successfully banned the cultivation of GMO crops in the past. Now, a total of 13,734 square miles is GMO-free, reports Sustainable Pulse.

    Karen Hudson, the campaign manager for Measure M, told SF Gate: 



    “What’s exciting is, we have a northwest coast GMO-free growing zone that’s growing, and Sonoma County is the missing link.” 

    “The fact is, more and more people want non-GMO food, and our local farms have a right to grow without contamination. It’s that simple,” she said in a statement.

    Originally called the Sonoma County Transgenic Contamination Ordinance, the ballot initiative bans all GMO crops and seeds from being grown or used in unincorporated areas of the country. Reportedly, farmers who are now growing GMO crops or who have already purchased genetically modified seeds for next season will be allowed to continue growing this season as a grace period before the ban is implemented.

    This monumental Measure was passed despite opposition by the Biotech industry. In fact, supporters of the ban raised a total of $255,000 to ensure it passing – making it one of the most expensive ballot initiatives in the history of Sonoma County. Those who supported the ban include organic dairy farms, natural food co-ops, and heirloom seed companies.

    The county has come a long way since a similar measure was voted on ten years ago. At that time, $850,000 was raised, but it was eventually voted down by a ten percent margin. At present, citizens in Sonoma County can feel good about contributing to a region which is now the largest GMO-free zone in the U.S.


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    • Missy Q

      So, as I understand this as described by “morphd” . GMO’s injected with pesticide are perfectly safe- to consume, because a company wouldn’t put anything on the market that might be harmful? That’s an interesting view. Especially since supposedly Tobacco ( cigarettes, cigars, pipe, & chew) ALL cause some sort of cancer. But they are all very legal & available at every corner. Approved by every government agency. That would mean that the cancer claim ( by so many supposedly educated people) is untrue & Tobacco is perfectly safe- Yes? Sorry, but your education doesn’t compensate for common sense. Tobacco causes cancer, the companies produce & sell it, this Government approves it. GMO foods are far worse than cigarettes, GMO’s & Pesticides are just like Tobacco & Cancer they go hand in hand as money makers & the only people who suffer are the average people.

    • PERS ponzi 1st repsonders

      .
      nancy pelosi. .
      .

      …………buyers of pelosi’s vineyard wine ,

      these chosen businesses in pelosi’s district

      were the biggest recipients of free health care tax waivers.
      .

    • PERS ponzi 1st repsonders

      .
      why does pelosi vineyards get a gmo free pass from Monsanto ?.
      .

    • morphd

      The irony is that those Northern CA organic-consuming, non-GMO counties, who never grew much in the way of GMO crops to start with, have higher overall cancer incidence rates (age-adjusted) than most “industrial agriculture” counties in the San Joaquin Valley (Madera, Fresno, Tulare, Kern) as well as Imperial County http://www.cancer-rates.info/ca/

      You’d think with all the pesticides used in those industrial ag counties it would be the other way around – but maybe, just maybe, the scientists were right and the activists wrong. Enjoy your expensive organic food – but don’t force others to pay more for their food with your anti-GMO religion.

      • TecumsehUnfaced

        I agree that you would make a good guinea pig for long term GMO consumption.

        • morphd

          I’ve done that for a long time. Recall buying Flavr Savr tomatoes when they first came on the market (in grad school at the time). I avoid organic unless the price is competitive with non-organic (i.e. almost never). Feed non-organic and GMO food to my kids too.

          I’m a molecular biologist so understand the science – just like the National Academies and over 100 Nobel Laureates that weighed in earlier this year. The organic industry pours money into anti-GMO activism because it scares people and makes them spend the extra money for organic. It’s about profits. I refuse to be one of the suckers.

          If you were objective you’d take a look at some of the anti-GMO activist sites and try to find staff with biology degrees – very rare. Biologists are the people who best understand the science around GMOs and there are hundreds if not thousands of them who’ve worked in academia and/or industry in the 20+ years GMOs have been on the market. Many of them are now retired or otherwise not tied to the biotech industry. Don’t you think if there was some conspiracy to hide evidence of harm, they’d be coming forward in droves? The anti-GMO organizations should be filled with biologists – but they aren’t.

          As someone who grew up on a farm the one good thing I can say about organic is that because the industry is constrained to find non-synthetic solutions, sometimes they come across something that is price competitive that non-organic farmers can adopt. If the premium organic consumers pay helps that kind of stuff I’m all for it.

          • TecumsehUnfaced

            You’ve supported my argument that you would make an excellent guinea pig.

            Please note that I have enough molecular biological training to know that very bright people in that field can make horrible mistakes.

            No, I don’t think they would come forward in droves. They saw what Sygenta did Tyrone Hayes. They know that if they made trouble for the corporations, their careers would be in peril, even in academia, which receives heavy agribusiness funding.

            Note also that corporations never voluntarily expose information deleterious to their profits, e.g. Monsanto’s PCBs and Exxon’s realization that their product would cause global warming, the dreadful effects of smoking hidden by tobacco companies.

            How do you feel about agribusiness using GMOs to consolidate proprietary control of seeds? How do you feel about all the heavy pesticide and fertilizer use accompanying increasing agribusiness?

            • morphd

              Tyrone Hayes claimed the herbicide atrazine caused feminization in frogs and other maladies. I don’t know to what degree he was right or wrong but assume you know atrazine is used as much or more on non-GMO than on GMO corn (corn is naturally resistant to atrazine). Atrazine is much more toxic than glyphosate so more of it would likely get used under a GMO ban.

              I doubt many biologists are worried about the same thing happening to them. You have a small number of ‘scientists’ like Séralini, often supported by the organic industry, who seem to have devoted their entire careers to running dubious experiments that ‘show’ GMOs are bad – and the industry doesn’t seem to go after them in a significant way. All an industry scientist would have to do was claim he or she knew of some coverup (even show the evidence) and all sorts of activist organizations would rally around them. They’d likely be protected by whistle-blower laws as well. Countless opportunities for something like that to happen – but it hasn’t.

              I’d heard of instances in the company I worked for where a promising project was stopped because a chemical didn’t meet objectives – too toxic to animals or didn’t break down readily in the environment for example. When scientists find a promising molecule (e.g. potential herbicide or insecticide) in their screens, chemists typically create an assortment of similar molecules hoping to find better activity against the target organism and other desirable characteristics like lower mammalian toxicity or faster breakdown in the environment. The farther a lead gets down the pipeline the more money gets spent on it, so there’s an incentive to weed out the ones that won’t be marketable as early as possible.

              Some of those bad things – PCBs for example – happened years ago. Today a company would be shooting itself in the foot if it knowingly put something clearly dangerous on the market. The lawsuits and damage to reputation would likely far exceed the profits. I can’t speak for every corporation of course, but can’t imagine the company I worked for putting something on the market that people inside knew was dangerous. That said, a company is going to do the testing that satisfies the government regulators; they’re not going to spend millions more hoping to fine some rare situation where their product looks bad. In any case one can never prove with absolute certainty that anything is perfectly safe.

              I always find it amusing when I hear tobacco mentioned. Many years ago people thought there was a health benefit to it and it’s the natural pesticides produced by the plant that cause most of the issues. Betel nuts, chewed by Asians, are another example of a plant product that is highly carcinogenic. There are likely any number of foods – spices especially I suspect – that if subjected to testing might show up as toxic at some level. Here’s some examples from traditional breeding https://www.nap.edu/read/10977/chapter/5#41.

              Exxon’s suppression of climate change would be a crime in my view https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/exxon-knew-about-climate-change-almost-40-years-ago/ (I’m very worried about how the new administration will handle the issue btw). There is a strong tendency to argue in one’s self interest. Consider the real-world data I pointed out showing higher incidence of cancer in those northern non-GMO organic-consuming counties versus the industrial Ag counties. Both you and GALT completely ignored that and went off on tangents.

              • TecumsehUnfaced

                What an essay! But you are out of touch with reality….

                Some of those bad things – PCBs for example – happened years ago. Today a
                company would be shooting itself in the foot if it knowingly put
                something having significant undisclosed risk on the market,

                Drug companies do that all the time. Chemical companies are not obligated to test for toxic side effects. Corporations always go for profits coupled with harm to people, when their lawyers tell them they can get away with it , or by paying a small percentage of their profits. You sound like a corporate shill trying to whitewash the psychopathic conduct of corporations.

                I’m surprised at you, a self-identified scientist accepting that comparison on non-GMO with GMO areas as due to difference in non-GMO and GMO consumption, when nothing has been controlled for, or other possible causes searched out and checked. I didn’t go off on a separate tangent. I knew it was unsoundly based.

                You like to be amused? Okay…. cigarettes! Amused now?

                • morphd

                  Yes – if a company knew of a significant risk and put a product on the market anyway it would be exposing itself to litigation and loss of reputation – even criminal liability. The company I worked for wouldn’t do it. If after launching a product they identified some small risk – who knows – there are gray areas everywhere.

                  You sound like a corporate shill trying to whitewash the psychopathic conduct of corporations.

                  I’m retired and not paid anything to post comments. Having worked in one of those corporations alongside highly ethical coworkers I find your use of “psychopathic” indicates a highly prejudiced attitude. Are all people in all corporations perfect – absolutely not – but to think that they knowingly harm their customers as a way of doing business is rather absurd. As for drug companies, I assume you understand phased testing and that passing phase 3 doesn’t guarantee some small percentage of people won’t have adverse reactions not identified in the trials. There’s typically after-market monitoring to catch previously undetected adverse effects. It also depends on the condition treated – the side effect profile for a cancer drug is likely to include more harmful side effects vs. a drug to treat moderate headaches. People like you seem to focus almost entirely on risks and ignore (or minimize) benefits. Is US medicine too drug-based? I wouldn’t argue against that – but do believe the industry provides way more benefit overall than harm.

                  I realize the comparison I made between the two regions wasn’t a designed experiment, but anti-GMO activists’ fear-mongering paints this dark cloud of uncertainty over GMOs that makes some consumers believe that even a small fraction of GMO contamination is unhealthy. If GMO/conventional Ag was that bad, you would expect to see some differences at a gross level. The fact that cancer rates are lower in the industrial ag counties argues against there being any significant difference – consistent with what scientists tell us. A similar thing can be seen when comparing rates of cancer in the GMO-consuming US with that of other developed countries where little or no GMO food is consumed http://www.wcrf.org/int/cancer-facts-figures/data-cancer-frequency-country

                  You keep coming back to tobacco – once thought to be healthy then known risks suppressed by an industry that was wholly dependent on selling an addictive product. Natural chemicals are the main cause of cancer – even chewing tobacco can cause cancer. In contrast Monsanto and the other Ag biotech companies sell non-GMO as well as GMO seeds to farmers who are business people that make rational, cost:benefit-based decisions to purchase those products.

                  Assuming you know something about science, adding say a half-dozen transgenes to the 32,000 or so genes of corn represents a minuscule change on a percentage basis. The GM DNA and proteins are composed of the same natural nucleotides and amino acids, respectively, as the native DNA and proteins – and all get digested in animals. Glyphosate is less risky than other herbicides applied to non GMO crops and insecticide use is reduced in the case of Bt. There’s no rational basis to expect GMO crops to be substantially different than non GMO crops.

                  In the past several months I’ve learned that the some of the Transcendental Meditation people – the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Cult based in Fairfield IA – have a significant role in the anti GMO movement http://welovegv.com/anti-biotech-gm-watchs-connections-to-maharishi-tm-cult-industry-money/ https://www.biofortified.org/2010/12/vedic-businesses-use-clever-advertising/
                  Perhaps you are a member of that group so forgive me for any offense – but it’s basically a religion that has no business attempting to influence our food supply any more than right-wing fundamentalists have the right to restrict gay marriage. What they want to do within their own community is their right, but their clandestine agenda affecting everyone else I find very troubling. More than perhaps anything else, this motivates me to defend GM technology.

                  • TecumsehUnfaced

                    Please! How can calling corporations psychopathic be at all indicative of a highly prejudiced attitude? That is way they are constructed. They are created with a unrestricted imperative of making money in any way they can get away with, irrespective of the injury to others, but yes! – careful of getting nailed. After all, their legal responsibility is too maximize the return to the share holders.

                    Assuming you know something about science, you should know that changes in just one gene can have significant consequences, and that the rest of that paragraph of yours is just yammer.

                    Transcendental Meditation people – the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Cult based in Fairfield IA?

                    You try to put me with those? It is clear that you are not a serious speaker, but one with an agenda of selling corporations and their GMOs.

                  • TeeJae

                    People like you seem to focus almost entirely on risks and ignore (or minimize) benefits.”

                    YES, when those risks result in serious injury or DEATH, who WOULDN’T focus on them?!

                    Stop with the cancer-GMO link strawman. Again, cancer is not the only negative health effect of industrial agriculture.

                    “Farmers…are business people that make rational, cost:benefit-based decisions to purchase those products.”

                    NO, they are duped by BigBiotech and regret those decisions later. There are countless examples, especially in developing countries where US “humanitarian interventions” have paved the way for BigAg land grabs (because they’ve destroyed the soil here at home).

                    The Maharishi have a “clandestine agenda?” What’s wrong with you? Advocating natural health alternatives (used by Eastern cultures for centuries), is not some nefarious plot against humanity. The only threat they pose is to the profits of BigBiotech and BigPharma.

                  • why not what

                    Thanks.
                    This was exactly like reading a conversation between a biologist and an advocate.

              • TecumsehUnfaced

                Here’s another good example of what morality is really like among scientists nowadays. Many are easily prostituted by politicians as well as corporations. All that’s needed is the offer of money, maybe only the surety of keeping one’s job.

                http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/38375-even-after-trump-is-gone-fallout-from-democratic-primaries-may-haunt-single-payer-efforts

              • TeeJae

                I don’t know whether you’re naïve or being willfully ignorant. Good grief, where to start.

                As with glyphosate, there’s a campaign to ban atrazine, as well.

                The industry didn’t go after Seralini in a significant way?! Are you serious? How can you claim to be informed on this issue if you’re not aware of what they did to him?

                Potential whistleblowers are hushed all the time. Employees of the FDA, CDC, the pharmaceutical industry, for example, have come forward to share how their livelihoods have either been destroyed or were threatened to keep them quiet.

                Of course there are toxic natural plants out there, but we know about them and have warned against them because testing was done to determine their viability for potential use.

                “There’s a strong tendency to argue in one’s self interest – or to deflect an argument to avoid facing truth.”

                Yes, thank you for being the perfect example of that.

          • GALT

            Still not clear on the concept of “natural selection” or “evolution”?

            Like everything else the species has done it still hasn’t grasped
            the “unintended consequences” RULE!

            BTW do you know why “oil” is cheap? That is why GMO’s are cheap.

            The bill comes due later.

            • morphd

              Not sure how evolution and unintended consequences fit together – perhaps you can explain further.

              Organic farmers have to burn a lot of fuel cultivating for weed control. I’ve seen organic fields covered with plastic to control weeds. Organic tends to have a fairly large carbon footprint.

              BS is cheap – that’s what organic is fertilized with. And that excrement typically comes from confined animals fed crops grown with synthetic fertilizer. Kinda cheating the sustainability game. Organic farmers sometimes use blood and bone meal as fertilizers. I wonder how many vegans realize that. Should be on the label.

              So why to you think people in those Northern CA organic anti-GMO counties have a higher incidence of cancer versus people in the Industrial Ag counties (see my first comment) where they ‘drench’ the crops with pesticides? That’s real-world data, not some poorly designed experiment with aged cancer-prone rats.

              I wonder if organic might be the culprit. Has anyone ever done long-term safety testing of organic food in humans?

              • GALT

                But you ARE CLEAR on “natural selection” and “evolution”?

                Did you understand the “unintended consequences” of using
                “antibiotics”? Or the choice of “germ theory” over “immune theory”?

                GMO’s main purpose is to develop “pesticide resistance” in plants,
                which allows for stronger pesticides, but doesn’t kill all the pests,
                which adapt, calling for “even stronger pesticides”, etc, etc, etc.

                The stronger pests don’t care what plants they attack, so using gmo’s
                with pesticides affects the “entire eco system”….and all non gmo
                plants would suffer the “unintended consequence”…..or maybe
                it’s NOT an “unintended consequence”?

                Any clearer for ya?

          • TeeJae

            “We don’t know the long-term risk of any food – even organic…”

            Really? What did mankind eat before industrial agriculture?

            “It’s about profits. I refuse to be one of the suckers.”

            And BigBiotech ISN’T about profits? Exorbitant profits, in fact, that it feels are being threatened by the organic industry.

            “Don’t you think if there was some conspiracy to hide evidence of harm, they’d be coming forward in droves?”

            There would have to be droves of studies first. But there aren’t because the biotech industry doesn’t pay for studies that would risk promoting their products.

      • TeeJae

        Straw man much? Cancer is but one of many health conditions resulting from industrial agriculture.