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Four Anti-GMO initiatives firefight leads to larger war

It should come as no surprise that Western Farm Press has been dropped from “Californians for GE-Free Agriculture” media mailing list.

For the reason, check out this month's collections of letters to the Biotech Bully on Page 9.

A couple points about last issue's commentary. I apologize for the neo-Nazi comment about renting a city hall or a board of supervisor chambers to this anti-society, anti-science crowd being tantamount to renting a public building to a neo-Nazi group or the KKK. I could have made my point without the Nazi comment.

Secondly, some who support biotechnology say I was off base in criticizing public and private entities for renting to anti-GE groups so they could parade their anti-GMO charade as informational forums. That may have been harsh, but this is a serious issue that has far reaching societal consequences if these radicals are successful in banning GMO crops in a few counties in California. No one objected to my KKK comment because I know of no one who would support the philosophy of the Klu Klux Klan. I think there is a strong anti-societal, exclusivity sentiment in this anti-biotechnology movement just like the KKK.

This anti-biotech movement is not about biotech — it is about right-to-farm. It is a free choice issue. Who is to say this group will stop at banning GMOs? What would be next; no tractors more than 10 horsepower in farming; everyone must plant a certain percentage of organic crops, regardless of the economic consequences; dairyman can milk only a limited number of cows per day. If these groups are only marginally successful, they will not stop at banning GMOs.

Or the most absurd of all, that farmers can be arrested for growing herbicide-tolerant corn. That is exactly what the anti-GMO measure would demand if passed in Humboldt County, one of four counties where anti-biotech measures are on the ballot next month. Humboldt has the highest percentage of biotech crops of any other county in the state. It is all herbicide resistant corn, and this group of anti-science whackos want to arrest farmers for growing biotech corn.

Third-generation Ferndale, Calif., Dairyman Dennis Leonardi grows genetically engineered corn to feed his 400 cows. Leonardi was quoted in a recent Associated Press article that the anti-GMO measure in his county has “gone over the edge. It's absolutely ridiculous to make criminals out of farmers.”

It is so absurd it is frightening because these radical groups who want to dictate how producers farm may actually win one or more of the ballot measures. They have succeeded in Mendocino County. They also count Trinity as in their win column, but that is only until the board of supervisors there decides to modify or toss out the anti-GMO ordinance. There was no ballot initiative in Trinity, only a county ordinance passed and it can be rescinded by the same supervisors vote as it was passed.

The strongest opposition to this anti-science movement seems to be in Butte County where farmers are organized and successfully fighting back. San Luis Obispo County agriculture is just now getting up a head of steam; however, it may be too late there. Marin is probably a lost cause. Agriculture is playing catch up. The four county initiatives represent a firefight — win, lose or draw the battle is far from over.

The anti-GMO crowd will not stop with these four counties. They want a statewide anti-GMO initiative and with the distortions they freely regurgitate, they just may fool enough Californians to sign petitions to call an initiative. Remember, groups behind this movement are well-funded because raising money to sustain their radicalism is what they are really all about.

Farmers had better catch up quickly, or the war will be over before they are in the fight. Some have stepped up already; rice growers, cotton producers, cattlemen and others. However, conspicuous by their absence in this fight are grape growers, almond producers, vegetable producers, the California Department of Food and Agriculture and others.

My passion on this issue is not just from the hope that some day biotechnology can find a cure for diabetes for my granddaughter or at least make her insulin-dependent life easier. I have also seen biotechnology work in the field even beyond expectations of scientists. I have seen it dramatically reduce the use of pesticides. I have seen it improve the environment. And, this is only the beginning…if this anti-science crowd does not win.

Disregard my passion and convictions. Read what two of the most influential men of this generation have to say. In this edition of Western Farm Press are two articles, one from Nobel Peace Prize recipient Dr. Normal Borlaug and the other from the quintessential environmentalist, Dr. Patrick Moore Borlaug has been credited with saving billions of lives through his successful efforts to breed drought-resistant grains. Moore brought the environmental movement into public view as one of the founders of Greenpeace. You cannot find two more different scientists, yet they agree totally that to ban biotechnology would be a crime against humanity.

Clip the articles and send them to your friends and neighbors.

I realize that I have been largely preaching to the choir in my tirades about this anti-biotechnology injustice being palmed off on California by outsiders, but it must be the choir, farmers and ranchers, who sing the loudest to get the congregation, Californians, to hear the message. It must be farmers who stop this movement.

e-mail: [email protected]

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