Last month’s decision by the Boulder County Commission to phase out GMOs on publicly-owned open space was a monumental decision. In an age where special interests seem to dominate political policy, it was a surprise to see that the will of the citizens still holds weight. Yet the reaction from Paul Danish, who angrily entered the commissioners’ race for this November, calling the decision “an attack on scientific agriculture,” and the editorial by the Camera’s Dave Krieger claiming the commissioners “bowed to popular fears” paint a very different picture. I’m sorry Paul and Dave, but I have to disagree.
With so many of our citizens, non-profits, and county employees working tirelessly to increase access of healthy local food into our school cafeterias, low-income communities, and daily shopping habits, is it not appropriate that the use of our public lands also follows this aim? If the county health department is actively encouraging phasing out processed sugars from our diets, is it not appropriate that their production also be phased out from our public lands? The decision was not an attack on science, it was an investment in the values of Boulder County.
The decision was also an investment in an alternative form of science called regenerative agriculture, one that many climate experts have agreed is our greatest chance to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and return it to our soils. My own research into carbon sequestration has led me to conclude that it occurs most efficiently in healthy ecosystems, with plants and soil biology working together. Like the commissioners, I am less concerned about the gene manipulation technology than I am with the chemicals associated with current GE crops. Spraying glyphosate, coating seeds with neonicotinoids, and relying on petroleum-based nitrogen fertilizers are all crutches designed to make farming in unhealthy ecosystems viable. What the commissioners proposed is a transition period where we research ways to increase the health of our public lands to a point where these crutches are no longer necessary.