The Boulder County Board of Commissioners are considering extending the deadline to stop genetically modified crops (GMOs) from being grown on county land that is leased to farmers.
In 2016 the commissioners approved phasing GMO corn by the end of 2019 and GMO sugar beets by the end of 2021.
A new proposal put forward by Mad Agriculture, a local non-profit, proposes extending the deadline to phase out corn to 2023 and sugar beets to 2025.
There was a huge amount of community input prior to the 2016 decision on the original phase out schedule, but there has just been much less public input on this new plan. One meeting happened earlier in May and another is scheduled for Monday afternoon. Mary Smith has been working as a community activist for a decade on phasing out GMOs and is critical of how little public input has been sought.
“We were actually told in a public meeting that an adjustment of policy did not require public process, so what they’re literally doing is extending the deadline for this ban well into the future, and the documentation showed 12 or more years, without engaging the public at all.”
Rich Andrews, a local organic farmer says that about half of county owned agricultural land, approximately 8000 acres of public land are currently being farmed with GMO crops. He says there is a relatively low number of farmers who are actually farming that land. “It’s only a handful, maybe 6 or 7 actual farmers in the county, but they are large scale farmers so thats why it adds up perhaps to half of the total cropland acreage.”
The County Commissioners will hear public testimony at their meeting on Monday June 3rd at 4pm. KGNU reached out to the County Commissioners on this issue and they said they won’t speak with us until after the public meeting on Monday. A spokesperson said it is not their practice to talk about an issue ahead of a public hearing where they will make their statements in public for the record.
KGNU also reached out to Mad Agriculture and Philip Taylor, the founder of that non profit, says he would also speak with us next week after the hearing. Taylor says they’ve heard concerns from the community, including from Rich Andrews and he says they’re working to find a middle road that works for all in the community.