Nature 428, 107 (11 March 2004); doi:10.1038/428107b
Californian county bans transgenic crops
[SAN DIEGO] A rural county in northern California voted last week to
become the first county in the United States to ban the planting of
genetically modified crops.
Voters in Mendocino County, 130 kilometres north of San Francisco,
approved the ballot initiative on 2 March by 56% to 44%, despite a
US$700,000 campaign against the ban by supporters of the technology.
Similar ballot initiatives are planned in nearby Humboldt and Sonoma,
and activists in half a dozen other counties in California are
considering similar actions.
A state-wide ballot initiative is also being pursued in North Dakota
against the planting of genetically modified wheat. The initiative is
being led by a group of wheat farmers who say the crop could contaminate
other strains and sabotage their export markets in countries such as Japan.
The grass-roots drive in Mendocino County was led by Els Cooperrider, a
retired cancer researcher, and her husband Allen, a former zoologist,
who run an organic brewery there. No transgenic plants are currently
grown in the county, where grapes for wine are the main crop.
Peter Bradford, a cattleman and president of the Mendocino County Farm
Bureau, says the vote was in part driven by "a fear of science and big
corporations". Grape growers will probably use the ban as a marketing
tool, he adds.
Agricultural corporations are considering a legal challenge to the
county ban, or pursuit of state wide legislation to overturn it.
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