1.Weed out bias on task force
2.BAN ON SONOMA COUNTY BALLOT A HOT BUTTON ISSUE
EXCERPTS: All applicants supporting Q [a ban on cultivating GMOs] were rejected, including two health commissioners. Yet of the five public citizens chosen for the task force, three were very active in the No on Q campaign.
The "Cal Poly crop scientist who's familiar with bioengineering" signed the ballot argument against Measure Q and sold genetically engineered corn at the SLO Farmers Market during the election.
The "farmer who sells his produce at farmers market" has only recently become a farmer. Previously, his professional life involved 25 years of research on GE crops.
The "retired doctor who also practiced dentistry" lobbied The Tribune editorial board to oppose Measure Q. (item 1)
There's a hot-button issue on the Nov. 8 ballot in Sonoma County that is attracting an anticipated record amount of funding... (item 2)
1.Weed out bias on task force
By Teresa Campbell
San Luis Obispo Tribune (California), Nov 2 2005
The Tribune's editorial on Oct. 28 referred to the last county Health Commission meeting as "the latest skirmish" in the debate over the safety of genetically engineered foods
Unfortunately, truth has been the casualty, not of the "skirmish," but of The Tribune's reporting.
No one from The Tribune has attended any of the Health Commission or GE Task Force meetings. They did not ask any SLO GE Free members why we felt the existing task force appeared biased or how we felt about the unanimous decision to add three (not two, as reported by The Tribune) new members. Contrary to the claim that we said the additions would "politicize the task force," we sent out a press release saying "... we are hopeful that a new era of cooperation can ensue between a public that has serious concerns regarding the safety of GE food and crops and a task force that has been at times openly hostile to those citizens." This quote even appeared in The Tribune prior to the editorial!
Although the task force isn't about Measure Q, an applicant's position on Q affected his or her acceptance to the committee. All applicants supporting Q were rejected, including two health commissioners. Yet of the five public citizens chosen for the task force, three were very active in the No on Q campaign.
The "Cal Poly crop scientist who's familiar with bioengineering" signed the ballot argument against Measure Q and sold genetically engineered corn at the SLO Farmers Market during the election. The "farmer who sells his produce at farmers market" has only recently become a farmer. Previously, his professional life involved 25 years of research on GE crops. The "retired doctor who also practiced dentistry" lobbied The Tribune editorial board to oppose Measure Q.
The unanimous vote clearly indicated real problems with the GE Task Force.
For three months, SLO GE Free tried unsuccessfully to learn how task force members were chosen. Asking to disband and recreate the task force using a transparent selection process was a legitimate option. The Health Commission has chosen to rebalance the task force.
The GE Task Force is, above all, a committee of our county Health Commission, including the 49,910 people who voted "yes" on Measure Q. A biased, unbalanced committee cannot look objectively at the genuine food safety concerns of these citizens. Stating that the task force will examine existing scientific research and present this data to the Board of Supervisors is a simplistic view of the challenges of any GE Task Force. If it were that simple, the job would've been done elsewhere and conclusions drawn long ago. Instead, this is an issue that needs to be open to public scrutiny and debate. For that reason, SLO GE Free members will not relinquish their rights as citizens, go home and "dial down the rhetoric," as requested by The Tribune, but we will look forward to the addition of three new task force members and hope for a true discussion on the safety of our food.
Teresa Campbell is a member of SLO GE Free and was a co-coordinator of the campaign for Measure Q.
Editor's note: Given the facts we had at the time we published the editorial, we believed members of SLO GE Free opposed the new committee designations. We have since learned otherwise and stand corrected on that point.
2.GENETICALLY ENGINEERED ORGANISM BAN ON SONOMA COUNTY BALLOT
CBS - SANTA ROSA (Bay City Newswire), 2 November 2005
There's a hot-button issue on the Nov. 8 ballot in Sonoma County that is attracting an anticipated record amount of funding, but it isn't one of the seven state propositions.
It's Measure M, a proposed ordinance that imposes a 10-year ban on growing, selling and distributing genetically engineered organisms in unincorporated Sonoma County. Nearby Mendocino and Marin counties have already passed similar measures.
There are no known genetically engineered organisms currently being grown, sold or distributed for human consumption in Sonoma County, but genetically modified corn is being grown for animal feed.
The ordinance excludes organisms that are part of federally or state-licensed medical or agricultural research that follows strict federal guidelines.
Total fund raising by both sides of the issue had exceeded $500,000 by early October, with the most intense phase of the campaigns still to come.
In the absence of any races for county and city government seats, and with the public reportedly lukewarm, if not downright disinterested, in the state propositions, Measure M might attract a sizeable voter turnout in Sonoma County in an otherwise off-year election.
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors has already tussled with the issue that has been billed as a fight between environmentalists and the county's traditional farm base. The board decided in July 2004 not to put the issue on the November ballot that year, and against outright approval of an ordinance supporting the ban.
GE Free Sonoma supporters then submitted more than 45,000 signatures on petitions in January to put the issue to a vote this month.
The supervisors, however, tasked the County Administrator's Office with drafting a report on the effect the proposed ban would have on county regarding legal expenses, emergency services, costs to implement and monitor, cleanup and restoration of land, and economic development.
Supporters of the measure include organic farmers, the Redwood Chapter of the Sierra Club, nutritionists, physicians and small and family farms and wineries.
They are calling for a "time out'' on genetically engineered organisms.
"Our children should not be used as guinea pigs for genetic engineering,'' supporters of the ban state in the county's voter information pamphlet.
Measure M opponents say it is the "largest threat to Sonoma County today,'' and has many unintended consequences.
"Read the fine print. Proponents of Measure M ignore the needs of local farmers and taxpayers,'' they argue in the information pamphlet.
Opponents include the Sonoma County Taxpayers Association, Sonoma County Farm Bureau and former Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner John Westoby.
The Sonoma County Counsel's impartial analysis of the measure states that while the ban is for 10 years, the ordinance may be amended by a unanimous vote of the Board of Supervisors after a public hearing. The board could also extend the ban another 10 years.
"The activity governed by this ordinance is also regulated by federal and state authorities, and to the extent that this ordinance is or becomes inconsistent with state laws, its enforcement would be limited,'' the county counsel's office said.