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The Battle in Boulder County Over GMOs is Over for Now, with an Unexpected—and Disappointing—Outcome

If there was any place in the United States where you would think the banning of GMOs would be a no-brainer, it would be Boulder. With its liberal leanings, health-conscious attitudes, and natural food persona, it makes sense, right.  And yet, though the majority of residents seem to be in favor of a ban, Boulder County commissioners voted unanimously on Tuesday, December 20, to “allow some genetically modified organisms to be grown on county-owned open space,” according to the Boulder Daily Camera.

This came after an earlier decision by the Food and Agriculture Policy Council and the Parks and Open Space Advisory Committee of Boulder County, both who voted 5-4 to phase out GMOs in an economically viable way. After this decision was made, however, it appears a group of farmers who grow GMO crops rallied together, with the help of the oft-vilified—with good reason, according to many sources—Monsanto Corporation.

After pressure from pro-GMO forces, the commissioners agreed that farmers should be able to keep planting corn that has been engineered to withstand glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup, which was first approved in Boulder County in 2003. In addition, they supported Roundup Ready sugar beets, which is what sparked this whole debate in the first place.

From the Camera: “‘I don’t believe we should ban GMOs, but I do think we need to be very careful and limited in allowing them,’ (Boulder County) Commissioner Will Toor told the packed hearing room.” The commissioners reserve the right to approach any other GMO crop that gets introduced on a case-by-case basis.

The fight has raged on for almost three years, with the December 20 decision apparently marking the end to the debate. But not the contentious nature of what folks were fighting over in the first place.

Groups who support a ban vow to continue fighting. They believe that genetically modified plants are dangerous to human health, are harmful to the land, and that they support corporations that are harmful to the fabric of society. Proponents of GMOs insist that the science says they are safe and pose no imminent threat and that they help farmers get larger yields with fewer chemicals.

It seems odd that proponents and scientists would be able to claim matter-of-factly the safety of GMOs. This would presume that they could account for every highly complex interaction of the modified organism within the human body. The scary part is, if there are long-term effects, which seem almost a foregone conclusion, it might be too late at that point to do anything about it.

Other countries have already taken steps to ban and uproot GMO crops. Hungary, for instance, has destroyed all Monsanto corn fields that contain GMO crops. Peru has also taken a stand, passing a 10-year ban on genetically modified foods.

Could it be that these countries are onto something?

What is a GMO?

A genetically modified organism is a plant or animal that has had its genetic code altered. To create a GMO, scientists physically transfer a gene from one organism to another to give the receiving organism a trait it would not naturally have.

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