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Thursday, December 22,2011

Anti-GMO crowd reacts to decision

By Jefferson Dodge

Activists opposed to genetically engineered foods are not singing the same tune when it comes to reaction to the Boulder County commissioners’ Dec. 20 decision to allow additional genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on taxpayer-funded open space.

On one side, leaders of the GM Know group are alluding to keeping up the fight in terms of voting down open space taxes and bringing in strong anti- GMO commissioners. But on the other side, GMO Free Boulder seems to have been pleased by aspects of the decision and is willing to work with farmers to find solutions.

After the commissioners’ unanimous vote on Tuesday to approve a cropland policy allowing genetically modified sugar beets to be added to the crops grown on county land (GM corn was allowed in 2003), anti-GMO activists said they weren’t surprised by the decision, but they differed on the next steps.

Scott Smith, co-founder of the grassroots group GM Know, told Boulder Weekly that “the Boulder New World Order is genetically modified organics” when asked about the commissioners’ decision to approve a cropland policy that allows for GM corn sugar beets, but no other genetically engineered plants.

“They saw the money to be made on sugar beets, and don’t see the health risks,” he says.

When asked about possible actions to pull back on taxpayer-paid open space purchases, Smith says GM Know would be holding a press conference on that topic in the next few days.

He described the cropland policy approved by the commissioners as being written by county open space staff and simply rubber-stamped by the commissioner-appointed Cropland Policy Advisory Group.

Another activist opposed to GMOs, Sarah Larrabee, told Boulder Weekly that one option is for voters to rescind money they have shelled out for open space purchases.

They say all six individuals running for commissioner seats being vacated by Ben Pearlman and Will Toor are opposed to GMOs, which could mean changes will be in the works after next year’s election.

Mary VonBreck, campaign manager for GMO Free Boulder, says her group had productive meetings with the commissioners and farmers in the last couple of weeks and reached some common understanding. She says that while she anticipated the “yes” vote on allowing GM sugar beets, she was pleasantly surprised by the commissioners’ decision to disallow other GM crops.

VonBreck adds that she was also encouraged by the commissioners advocating for Colorado’s congressional delegation to push for the labeling of genetically modified foods.

She says her group’s future agenda items, in addition to advocating for labeling, include removing GMOs from tax-funded school lunches.

VonBreck says her group doesn’t support pulling funding from open space purchases because of the decision.

“Politically, that was the best thing they could do,” she says of the commissioners’ decision to allow only GM corn and sugar beets on a case-by-case basis. “We kind of understood that sugar beets were in the bag. … Considering that politics is always a compromise, allowing genetically modified sugar beets, we saw that coming.”

VonBreck says a partial victory came when the commissioners decided to go against their staff and preclude other GM crops.

She adds that her group plans to work with farmers and try to create market opportunities that guide them away from needing to grow genetically modified foods.

“A lot of the discussions we started in the last couple of weeks with the county and the farmers made it into the discussion, so we were pleased with that,” she says, adding that “our way or the highway” is not the way to approach the argument.

“I don’t think either side likes being told that,” VonBreck says.

Respond: letters@boulderweekly.com

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It sounds like Vonbreck is pushing for lobbying engagements. 


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What kind of a community do we live in when the voices of outside interests trump that of the people who live here. Both the biotech industry and the GMO Free Boulder crowd dominated this discussion, while the voices of the people were ignored.

I am ashamed of my representatives. In the end, they had ears only for the rhetoric that was put before them by a multibillion dolllar industry and the lobbist that the other monied interests in this community supplied.

They were elected by "the people". In the end, they are no different than any other "elected official" in this country, supporting the monied interests and abondoning the people. 

The 99% have been abandoned once again, this time, right here on our own Open Space which we, the people, bought and paid for. The time has come to expose the elephant in the room. Our representatives do not represent us.




It's like Ward Churchill said when the twin towers were hit. First it was viewed by the press as "senseless",  then it was "because they hate our freedom"-- Ward said it couldn't be both reasonlesss and for a reason at the same time.  Well you can't oppose the use of GMO's and say some are OK.  That only reveals your ignorance of the subject.  I would guess that Mary Vonbreck is smarter than that.  She is just going the route of political expediency.  Well Monsanto took sugar beet seed from 0 to 95% GMO in 2 yrs. And they just got a big hand up on their next GMO product with the help of Boulder thanks to Mary. Mary VonBrek is risking my future with her fraudulent support of GMO free ag. and I won't stand for it.  She strategically undermined the popular opinion of the majority of sincere anti-GMO Boulder advocates,  coersing them with an improved survey over the faulty one from the county,  but she tricks no one.  She tried to get some milage out of GMknow with her full page ads,  but we don't buy what she is selling.  She might as well be a shill for Monsanto,  in fact she probably is.

DOWNRIGHT DIABOLICAL.  Shame on you Mary Vonbreck.