Times-Standard: Petition Signatures Turned In

Petition to regulate GMOs gets support

Backers turn in nearly double required signatures for ballot

Jillian Singh

THE TIMES-STANDARD

Over 8,500 signatures collected by the Committee for a GMO Free Humboldt are being verified by the Humboldt County Elections Office to see if GMO restrictions will appear on the ballot this fall.

The Humboldt County Genetic Cont­amination Prevention Ordinance would prohibit “propagating, cultivating, raising or growing” genetically modified organ­isms that the ordinance defines as “being produced by manipulating DNA in a lab­oratory to overcome natural reproduc­tive barriers.” The ordinance would not prevent food made with genetically engi­neered ingredients from being sold in local grocery stores.

According to the elections office, 4,387 valid signatures are required to put the ordinance on the ballot. The committee submitted almost double that number on April 22. Humboldt County Assistant Registrar of Voters Kelly Sanders said the office has 30 business days to see if the signatures check out.

“If they do, we’ll notify the county Board of Supervisors, who will direct us to put the measure on the ballot for the November election,” Sanders said.

Humboldt County 3rd District Super­visor Mark Lovelace said he’s heard from both sides of the issue.

“There are a lot of agriculture produc­ers who feel they will be able to market their products better if the county is known as GMO-free,”Lovelace said.“I’ve heard corn is one of the most commonly genetically modified crops out there, so the ordinance passing would present cer­tain challenges for local producers to find non-GMO strains of corn to work in our climate. But non-GMO corn was grown here long before GMOs existed, so if the measure did come to be, old practices would have to be recreated.”

If the ordinance is passed, the Agricul­tural Commissioner’s Office will be responsible for enforcement, Humboldt County Agricultural Commissioner Jeff Dolf said.

“Now that the committee has submit­ted signatures, we will being developing reporting procedures and policies for enforcing the ordinance,” Dolf said.“Our office wants to make sure, if the ordi­nance does pass, we’re able to have vari­eties of corn that mature quickly enough in our climate and make good quality livestock feed for our dairy farmers. It’s important we’re able to locally produce as much livestock feed as we can since it’s expensive to import it.”

Jillian Singh can be reached at 441-0509 or

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