On May 24, Farm Bureau Directors Norm Yenni, Tito Sasaki, Steve Dutton and Jeff Carlton testified at the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors meeting to advocate for the Supervisors putting the GMO legislation on the ballot instead of adopting it outright. The Supervisors voted 5-0 to place it on the November ballot despite testimony from the anti-GMO group asking them to adopt it and not allowing the voters to have a say.
As presented, the Transgenic Contamination Prevention Ordinance (“TCP Ordinance”) is an example of poorly written public policy presented, advocated and funded by special interests that live outside of our community and have little to no understanding of farming, ranching or agriculture business. This minority group seeks to use fearmongering tactics to disallow technologies that have been scientifically proven repeatedly, most recently in a significant report released this week by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, to be safe and could prove to be lifesaving for our economy and environment.
In November of 2005, the “Genetically Engineered Organism Nuisance Abatement Ordinance” or Measure M was defeated, when 55% of the population voted to allow Genetically Modified Organism (“GMO”) technology.
As written, Sonoma County would be adopting a definition of GMO substantially more restrictive than the definition used by the USDA, National Organic Program or by organic rules adopted in most countries in the European Union.
Under this rule it would be impossible for growers to adopt a technology that could significantly reduce water consumption, pesticide use and fertilizer application for some of Sonoma Counties most prized crops. A Pierce’s Disease resistant grapevine, research that is currently underway at University of California at Davis, would significantly reduce the use of pesticides within riparian zones.
Adoption of the Ordinance would make it more difficult for farmers and ranchers to compete with growers in adjacent counties since GMO crops produced outside the area would still be allowed to be transported and sold within the County. This creates a competitive disadvantage and could result in economic hardship for local growers.