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Boulder County’s GMO Ban Endangers Multigenerational Farmers

May 9, 2017
Over the past five months, Boulder County community columnist Mara Abbott has researched the local, national and international debate over GMOs in agriculture and interviewed 14 key local players to produce a five-part series in the Daily Camera on Boulder County’s decision to ban GMOs on county-owned agricultural land. Today we’re highlighting part three, which delves into some of the potential consequences both for the environment and for area farmers.

Among the article’s highlights:
“The arrival of GMOs was a big thing. It enabled new conservation tillage methods, which, due to limited water and weed pressure, currently are possible locally only with GE.”

A 2015 report on the issue showed that GMO crops in the county now use 20 percent as much pesticide and 10 percent as much water as conventional farming; they also release one-sixth the sequestered carbon. However, county commissioners still voted on a ban.

While the county plans to help with a research initiative investigating alternative growing methods, area farmers are concerned, Abbott explains.
“In the absence of a research breakthrough, many farmers worry that the next best option will be a return to the pre-GMO methods. Thus an immediate repercussion of the ban could be more pesticides, more water used and more carbon released from the soil — because those outcomes aren't the things we have actually decided to regulate. “

Abbott warns that the ban could endanger multigenerational farmers.
“Forcing a transition from GMOs sets us up to sacrifice our recent environmental gains. And while a research initiative could be useful long-term, it will never replace the accumulated centuries of knowledge of our farmers. Natural resources aren't the only things facing scarcity.

Click HERE to read the full article and check back for more installments in this series.