The San Francisco Chronicle reports on the November 8 vote on Measure M – a proposal to ban genetically modified (GM) crops in Sonoma County, Northern California.
Both sides are having their say on the issue. First the pro-GM side:
Doug Baretta, a third-generation rancher in Santa Rosa, grows bioengineered corn to feed his livestock. The result, he said, is increased yields because of less damage by pests, reduced herbicide and pesticide applications, less labor, lower fuel costs and less fuel emissions.
"This isn't a food safety issue," he said. "It's just putting us as farmers at a disadvantage to farmers in other counties. The way the measure is written, it's going to affect some of us with the amount of feed that we can grow. It will also affect the vaccines that we can use on our cattle."
Of course, one rancher’s claims of higher yields are anecdotal – GM frequently does increase yields, but whether it does in this case is unknown. Additionally, the pro-ban side disputes claims that the ban would restrict vaccines.
The pro-ban supporters also have their say:
Some family farmers, including certified organic farmers, say the use of bioengineered seeds will cause the genetic contamination of local agriculture and ecosystems and threaten the economic viability of small farms.
Still others say bioengineered foods may pose a health risk to consumers and allow the Monsanto Co. and other large firms to reap huge profits from having a patented monopoly on genetically modified seeds for basic staples such as rice, corn, cotton, canola and soy beans.
Of course, the degree to which GM cross-breeds with conventional crops, and the degree to which this is a problem, is also disputed, as are any alleged health risks.
I think the article covered both sides of the argument fairly.