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Posts Tagged: Measure P

Humboldt County voters to weigh in on GMOs

On Nov. 3, Humboldt County residents will vote on Measure P, which would ban GMOs in the county if it passes. Above, cows on an organic farm. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons.)
Voters in Humboldt County will decide on Nov. 3 whether to ban genetically modified organisms - animals and plants - within the county boundaries. The North Coast Journal ran a lengthy analysis of the proposed ordinance, Measure P, with arguments from advocates for and against its passage. Reporter Heidi Walters also sought comment from UC Cooperative Extension.

Alison Van Eenennaam, UCCE specialist in the Department of Animal Science at UC Davis, said there are thousands of scientific studies that have shown that GMOs are not dangerous. Van Eenannaam herself published a review in September that examined 30 years of livestock-feeding studies that represent more than 100 billion animals. She concluded that the performance and health of food-producing animals consuming genetically engineered feed has been comparable to that of animals consuming non-GE feed.

Van Eenennaam cautioned the North Coast Journal reporter that "you can't just say 'GE is safe.'"

"That's too broad," she said. "That's like saying 'electricity is safe.' People who've been in the electric chair would disagree."

One can't say that traditional breeding is "safe," either. People have been breeding organisms to select for specific traits, and creating hybrids by crossing two species (such as a horse and donkey to get a mule) for thousands of years, the article said.

In San Luis Obispo County, where a measure banning GMOs failed in 2004, organic farmers are using buffers and communication with neighbors to allow farmers who use GMOs to coexist with non-GMO farmers.

"Coexistence is not a new idea,"said Mary Bianchi, director of SLO County UCCE. But it's been working. And, she says, nobody has pushed for a GMO-ban in San Luis Obispo County since.

The director of UC Cooperative Extension in Humboldt County, Yana Valachovic, said she and her office haven't taken a side in the debate over the Humboldt County measure.

She said she believes the issue boils down to one question: "Are we more concerned about the risks or more hopeful of the opportunities?"

Posted on Thursday, October 2, 2014 at 11:01 AM
 
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