Measure P is an ordinance which will prohibit the growing or raising of GMOs in Humboldt County. You can read the full text of Measure P here: Humboldt Co Genetic Contamination Prevention Ordinance
You can read the official Ballot Title & Summary, prepared by the County Counsel, here: Official Ballot Title & Summary
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do we need Measure P in Humboldt County?
We need Measure P for a number of reasons, but perhaps the biggest reason is to support our local family farmers! Family farmers know that pollen and seeds from GMO crops planted miles away can be carried on the wind or by insects and end up contaminating their fields. It is illegal to save the seeds of traditional crops once they have been contaminated by GMOs, and the crops themselves can no longer be sold into the growing market for non-GMO food. Most Humboldt County farmers specialize in natural, organic and non-GMO products, so the future of our local agricultural economy may depend on minimizing the risk of GMO contamination. The only way to do that is to stop growing GMOs altogether.
What is a GMO? Is it the same thing as a hybrid?
Genetically engineered organisms, often called “genetically modified organisms” or GMOs, are produced by manipulating DNA in a laboratory to overcome natural reproductive barriers. The resulting organisms contain genetic codes which could not have been created through natural processes and which therefore pose unique risks. The most widespread GMOs today are crop plants engineered to resist the effects of certain herbicides or to produce their own insecticides. Hybrids and other varieties produced through conventional breeding are not GMOs and would not be affected by this ordinance.
Is it true that Measure P bans the use of genetically engineered vaccines in animals, such as the rabies vaccine for dogs?
No. Measure P only prohibits the “propagation, cultivation, raising or growing” of GMOs. Vaccination does not fall under any of these categories. In fact, Measure P specifically states that it does not apply to animals injected with GMO drugs. Furthermore, our neighboring counties of Trinity and Mendocino and Humboldt County’s own City of Arcata have all had the same prohibitions in place for the last 10 years, and no one has ever been prevented from vaccinating an animal in these places.
Is it true that Measure P will ban many common non-GMO crop varieties, but will exempt common GMO crops?
No. Measure P contains a highly technical and precise definition of GMOs. This definition was developed in consultation with national legal and scientific experts on GMOs, and it reflects current law and science. Everything commonly considered a GMO would be covered by Measure P, while nothing that is not commonly considered a GMO would be covered. See also “What is a GMO?”
Does the ordinance ban GMOs in grocery stores, or GMO animal feed in feed stores?
No, this is a carefully targeted ordinance which will affect only the growing or raising of genetically engineered plants or animals in the county. It will not keep local stores from selling genetically engineered products.
Does the ordinance affect lab research at HSU or private labs?
No, research contained within a laboratory is specifically exempt from the ordinance.
Does the ordinance affect vaccines or other medicines, or medical research?
No, medicines are specifically exempt from the ordinance, along with anything else involved in providing people with medical care.
What will people currently growing GMOs do?
They will have a one year grace period to harvest or destroy their crops.
How will the ordinance be enforced?
The Humboldt County Agricultural Commissioner will enforce the ordinance based on information provided through reports from members of the public and any other information that comes to his or her attention. The opportunity will be provided for anyone accused of growing GMOs to provide evidence showing that they are not before the Commissioner takes any action.
What are the penalties for violating the ordinance?
A violation of the ordinance will be considered a public nuisance. That’s because, like other public nuisances, growing GMOs poses a threat to the public – in this case, the threat of irreversibly contaminating non-GMO organisms on other people’s properties. Therefore, if the Agricultural Commissioner determines that GMOs are being grown in violation of the ordinance, those crops or other organisms will have to be destroyed or removed.
Who will pay for enforcement of the ordinance?
Just as in any other case involving a public nuisance, enforcement costs resulting from a violation of this ordinance will be subject to “cost recovery.” That means the county will hold a hearing and require the violator to pay back the county for any reasonable costs of enforcement.
What do farmers think about the ordinance?
Many of our strongest supporters are farmers! This ordinance will help ensure that all of our farmers can have access to the growing market for GMO-free products. It will protect organic farmers, who are not allowed to grow GMOs, but whose crops can be contaminated through no fault of their own. It will also help protect the right of all farmers to save their own seeds – a right which can be put at risk by GMO contamination.
Will home gardeners be affected by the ordinance?
The ordinance applies to everyone equally. However, genetically engineered seeds and plants are not currently sold in the home garden market, so the ordinance won’t really change anything for small scale, non-commercial gardeners.