Biotech battle in California

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Growers in Sonoma County, California are working hard to prevent the county from becoming the fourth one in the state to ban the use of biotech crops, including biotech corn for cattle feed. Mendocino, Marin and Trinity counties have already banned the crop technology.

Similar bans are allegedly poised for proposal in a dozen more California counties next year, including Sacramento, Yolo, Placer and Nevada counties.

But the controversy doesn’t stop there. For example, the municipalities of Arcata, Calif., and Point Arena, Calif., have banned the growing of biotech crops inside their city limits. However, voters in Butte, San Luis Obispo and Humbldt counties rejected proposed biotech bans. And nine counties have passed resolutions in support of biotech.

With nearly 600,000 acres of biotech crops grown in the state, ban opponents insist the move will put them at a competitive disadvantage. So Sonoma county ag interests have raised cash to fight the local ballot initiative, and state ag organizations have mobilized to create a political organizing effort, Web site and fundraising operations.

Ultimately, Sonoma County voters will decide during the November election whether to approve the 10-year moratorium on biotech crops.

Meanwhile, a state legislator is working to prevent future county bans, saying that the debate belongs at the state level, not within individual counties.

Sacramento Bee, Monterey County Herald

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