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Another California County Puts GMOs on the Ballot
(Beyond Pesticides, July 15, 2004)
Marin County supervisors agreed yesterday to put a measure banning genetically modified crops on the county's November 2 ballot. Yesterday's vote came after county election officials certified that supporters had gathered enough signatures from registered voters to qualify the initiative for the ballot. Out of 15,299 submitted, 13,035 signatures were certified as valid - well above the 8,924 needed to qualify for the ballot. (See article).

"A lot of hard work has gone into this effort," Supervisor Steve Kinsey said. Mr. Kinsey said placing the ban on the ballot would cost the county about $15,000 - much less than the $100,000 or more originally thought. He made it clear, however, that the purpose of the ban was to prevent future genetically modified organism (GMO) crop contamination, "not to impugn our existing agricultural providers, because none of them use genetically modified organisms," Mr. Kinsey said.

This vote means Marin will join Humboldt (See Daily News from June 30), Butte and San Luis Obispo counties with similar ballot measures in November. These four initiatives follow Mendocino county's landmark move this past March in which the California county became the first county in the nation to ban the growing of genetically altered crops and animals. (See March 8, 2004 edition of Daily News) The ordinance was passed by 56.6 percent of voters.

"We are all pleased," said organizer Mark Squire, of Good Earth Natural Foods in Fairfax, after yesterday's unanimous vote at the supervisors' meeting. "We've got a lot of work ahead to educate voters in Marin County on the issue," he added. Organizers plan to launch a series of lectures, films and other educational efforts throughout the county, as well as an ad campaign to counter the expected campaign by biotech industries.

Biotech industry representatives have long maintained that genetically modified organisms can increase crop production, improve yields and lower pesticide use - and thus are beneficial to farmers, the agricultural economy and the world's hungry. But a report published last year actually showed that the planting of 550 million acres of genetically engineered (GE) corn, soybeans and cotton in the United States since 1996 has increased pesticide use by about 50 million pounds.

TAKE ACTION: Protect our land and food from genetically engineered (GE) ingredients and crops by buying USDA certified organic products. Lobby your supermarket to label GE food. Support local efforts to prohibit growing GE crops. Contact your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representative, U.S.EPA Administrator Michael Leavitt, and USDA Secretary Ann M. Veneman. For more information, see Beyond Pesticides' Genetic Engineering Page.