Boulder County’s debate over GMOs on public lands still in stalemate | TheFencePost.com

Boulder County’s debate over GMOs on public lands still in stalemate

Kelli Heitstuman-Tomko

While many Boulder County farmers walked away from the Boulder County Commissioners' Meeting disappointed March 18, no decisions concerning genetically modified crops have yet been carved in stone.

The majority opinion of the Board of County Commissioners of Boulder County concerning section 6.1 of the Boulder County cropping policy is that genetically engineered, or GE, corn and sugar beets grown on public land leased by Boulder County farmers should be phased out.

The cropping policy was adopted in 2011 to be revisited for review and possible modification in five years. A new policy or continuation of the old policy needs to be in place by December.

After viewing a presentation by Jeff Moline on Boulder County Parks and Open Spaces cropland management, commissioners Deb Gardner and Elise Jones spoke on the concern that GE corn and sugar beet crops were engineered to partner with pesticides and not on a concern for the GE product itself.

“The question is what is the role of Boulder County in achieving our vision of being national leaders in sustainable agriculture?”

Both of these commissioners were elected on non-GMO platforms and are up for reelection in November.

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Gardner said in her statement that it was the "consequences of making plants resistant to toxic pesticides like glyphosate that I cannot support."

Jones called the question of whether the policy should be unchanged or extended "narrow, divisive and small" and suggested it was not the real question to be answered.

"The question is what is the role of Boulder County in achieving our vision of being national leaders in sustainable agriculture," Jones said.

Commissioner Cindy Domenico pointed out the small amounts of glyphosate and nicotinoids necessary to farm GE corn and sugar beets.

"(Farmers) are using only a quart (of glyphosate) per acre," Domenico said. "That's the size of a soccer field. They're using only seven teaspoons per acre of nicotinoids. That's not a lot."

She commented on studies suggesting glyphosate was a possible carcinogen on par with acetaminophen, which studies have concluded is a mild carcinogen, as opposed to caffeine, which is considered a "very toxic" carcinogen.

Closing the meeting, the board recommended the phasing out of GE corn and sugar beet crops on public lands over the next several years and asked Boulder County staff to develop a work plan to help make that transition easier.

As of Thursday's meeting, there has been only discussion and recommendations, but no vote yet by the board of commissioners on the cropping policy. ❖

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