Boulder County Commissioners approve GMO phase-out

“We need to do the research first… lets do the research and see if we can find a viable cropping alternative to GMOs.”

In five years, agricultural crops that are genetically modified will no longer be grown on Boulder County land that is leased to local farmers. That decision was handed down late Wednesday by the County img_0521Commissioners after two hours of testimony from opponents and supporters of the phase-out plan.

KGNU’s Roz Brown reports that the decision to approve the transition plan came on a 2 to 1 vote with commissioner Cindy Domenico opposed.

The split decision was mainly attributed to disagreements on the phase out timeline, lack of completed research, and the plan’s unclear impact on the farmer community. Domenico’s argument to delay the timetable for GMO phase outs was shared by many, including fellow plan opponent Scott Miller who farms on open space at Rock Creek Farm.

“We need to do the research first… lets do the research and see if we can find a viable cropping alternative to GMOs … something that is environmentally and economically sustainable for the farmers.”

While many agree on the importance of research-backed timelines, others including Commissioner Deb Gardner, expressed a concern that further postponement could jeopardize the effectiveness of GMO discussions.

“I share some of the concern in that we have been talking about this for a while and not a lot has really changed in where we are… it feels important to me that we do set some concrete time frames around when we need to be transitioning and doing the research concurrently.”

Commissioner Gardner further reasoned that both the land and the farmer are individuals and that despite the valuable guidance research will provide, it will not lead to a single model for GMO alternatives that can be applied across all farms and crops with guaranteed success. Commissioners Garner and Jones spoke on the importance of moving forward with the phase out plan and conducting the research concurrently.

Farmers who grow genetically engineered corn on the lands they lease from the county will still be permitted to plant corn next spring, with a firm phase out date of 2019. Genetically engineered sugar beets will continue to be allowed for the next five years with a target phase out date of 2021.