Article published in the West County Gazette, Oct.
Vote Yes on Measure M (GE-Free Sonoma County)
By Patricia Dines
(c) Patricia Dines, 2005. All rights reserved.
The Nov. 8 election is near, bringing with it an incredible opportunity for us to declare Sonoma County a GE-Free Zone (for 10 years). With our vote, we can help our county avoid the enormous health, environmental, and economic costs of GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms), aka GEOs (Genetically Engineered Organisms). Plus we can be an example that inspires others near and far to join along.
Unfortunately, opponents of this community initiative are spreading audacious lies about Measure M. So be sure to look past their false story to see the truth.
For your convenience, I've summarized here the key reasons to vote yes on Measure M, and the key responses to opponent lies. Since the media blitz will only increase until election day, it's vital that we educate ourselves and others about these facts. I encourage you to help get the truth out to family, friends, and co-workers. Hey, even ask the bankteller how she's voting, and, if she's undecided or misinformed, you can let her know what's true!
Reasons to Vote Yes on Measure M
GMOs are a largely-untested highly-risky experiment with the DNA basis of all life on this planet. Genetic engineering (GE) is absolutely not the same as traditional cross-breeding, because it crosses the species barrier and combines multiple species in an unpredictable and uncontrolled way. Scientists don't know what 99% of DNA does, let alone the magic of how it all works together. It's foolhardy for anyone to mix-and-match lifeforms, let alone for us to give control over the DNA basis of life to multi-national chemical corporations (like Monsanto) which have a shameful track record of causing health and environmental harm, lying, and leaving us to pay the bill. (Think Agent Orange, PCBs, and toxic pesticides like DDT!) Top genetic scientists worldwide warn that GMO crops shouldn't be released into our farms, food supply, and ecosystems without extensive health and environmental testing. Already the predictable health and environmental problems are appearing, and these are just the tip of the iceberg. How many more problems are happening but the GMO cause isn't known because GMO manufacturers ardently resist calls for labelling? The GMO manufacturers are running a vast unmonitored experiment with this planet's essential code of life! Do we really want to let them?
GMOs have been shown to drift significant distances, cross-pollinating with other crops and wild plants, and causing uncontrolled ripple effects that risk the survival of all lifeforms. The Bt GE crops found to kill Monarch butterflies are just a warning about the predictable "unexpected" harm from this dangerous technology. Studies have shown that once GMO crops enter an area, they infiltrate and make it impossible to grow GE-Free versions of those crops. Saskatchewan farmland is so contaminated that farmers can no longer grow GE-Free canola for organic or GE-Free markets like Japan. Farmers have filed for class action status for their loss of markets. Their experience warns us what happens when GE crops enter an area.
The enticing claims of GMO proponents are often unproven, disproven, speculative, and not supported by facts. The evidence certainly doesn't justify the enormous risks that GMOs impose on us all. Let's insist instead that these supposed benefits be much-better proven, and the risks greatly reduced, before our uncontrolled exposure. Let's insist that we as a communtity aren't involuntarily included in this highly-risky experiment, and left to pay its cost.
Measure M is just a temporary 10-year "time out," so the community can ensure our well-being. Don't we wish we had looked deeper when these same chemical companies made sky-high promises about toxic pesticides? How much pain and destruction could we have avoided then? And, if it turns out during these 10 years that a GMO crop is considered essential, County supervisors can vote for an exception to the measure, with public hearings.
Measure M lets us learn from others' experiences, consider overall benefits and costs, and prevent irreversible disasters. Already the harm of GMOs is evident worldwide. We have an incredible opportunity to think ahead this time. Let's embrace it with gratitude.
Don't Be Distracted by Opponent Lies and Ungrounded Assertions
Here are some rebuttals to opponent claims:
Measure M opponents do not represent all farmers in this county. The national Farm Bureau is a well-known ally of GMO manufacturers. So it surprised few when the Sonoma County Farm Bureau opposed Measure M, through their newly-minted committee, the Family Farmers Alliance. The truth is that many local farmers support Measure M, especially those who've investigated the truth of GMOs. Supporters include CAFF (Community Alliance with Family Farmers), a nonprofit that has acted for family farmers for 30 years.
Measure M opponents are not environmental groups or organic farmers. Their ex-Greenpeace spokesman left environmental ideals long ago; he's a big proponent of clear-cutting! And the Farm Bureau claims of organic farmer allies are almost completely unsupported. They'll only give two organic farmer names. One (Bureau Executive Director) has no certified organic acreage; apparantly he's not aware that USDA regulations forbid farmers from claiming to be organic without third-party verification. The other named farmer has a very small percentage of organic acreage, while using thousands of pounds of toxics on the rest of his land. Hardly a ringing organic endorsement. The truth is that organic farming specifically forbids GMOs, and leading organic and environmental organizations support Measure M, including CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers).
Farmers don't need GMOs to grow our food, and in fact GMOs can harm farmers' efforts. Farmers who investigate GMOs with an open mind find that GMOs can result in: lost markets; reduced crop yields, even crop failures; increased pesticide use; the end of seed saving (forcing them to pay whatever the seed manufacturer demands each year); and liability for their GMO drift onto other farms, yards, and wild lands. Farmers can even sued by Monsanto if patented GMOs drift onto their land -- shifting liability to the victims!
Remember These Key Facts
Measure M is a broad-based community initiative, supported by farmers, environmentalists, health professionals, scientists, chefs, fishermen, and many others concerned about GMOs' enormous risks. The community has a right to insist that our shared well-being be respected, not just the profits of a few (mostly the GMO manufacturers).
Measure M is about crops. No current human or animal medicines would be impacted.
Initiative implementation costs will be almost completely borne by violators, not taxpayers. On the other hand, if we don't stop GMO contamination, its unlimited costs and liabilities would be borne by all of us, including local farmers.
The Bottom Line
GMOs are a dangerous technology that would irreversibly contaminate our farms, yards, and ecosystems, and risk our health, environment, and the economic survival of our farms. It is patently unfair for a few farmers to expect us to bear those costs for their hope of benefit. Our community has an incredible chance to pause before taking on this unlimited risk and liability. We can stand up to the GMO steamroller that's literally putting at risk all life on this precious planet.
Vote Yes on Measure M, and encourage everyone you know to do the same. Put a sign in your window and on your lawn. Support the campaign with your time and money; you can make a big difference on an important issue. For more information, watch The Future of Food; information on this and more is at <www.GEFreeSonoma.org>. More information (including my past articles on this topic) is at <www.healthyworld.org/GEFree.html>.
Patricia Dines is author of The Organic Guide to Sonoma, Napa, and Mendocino Counties, which makes it easy to find and support local organics. The Guide includes more about GE-Free Zones -- with footnotes! For more information, see <www.healthyworld.org>.
Read CAFF's letter in support of GE-Free Sonoma County
Return to CAP's main GE-Free Sonoma County page
This entire website is (c) Patricia
Dines, 1998-2007. All rights reserved.
Page last updated 04/05/07