Consensus grows: voters should reject biotech bans
» November 1, 2004 «
A growing list of academic and scientific organizations and elected officials urges voters to reject initiatives to ban agricultural biotechnology. Voters in four California counties-Butte, Humboldt, Marin and San Luis Obispo-will vote tomorrow on measures to prohibit production of biotech crops and animals.
In San Luis Obispo, the Cal Poly College of Agriculture Advisory Council voted unanimously to oppose that county's anti-biotech initiative, Measure Q. The council said the measure jeopardizes the university's ability to remain "on the cutting edge of new technologies."
"Biotechnology is one of a number of new technologies transforming agriculture around the world," the council said. "Its benefits to agricultural practices, environmental impacts and consumer products continue to evolve and promise a competitive edge for U.S. agriculture."
The anti-biotech initiatives have also drawn opposition from the California State University Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology and from the American Society of Plant Biologists.
University experts say the consensus of scientific opinion and evidence is that biotechnology-derived foods and feeds present no new or unusual dangers to the environment or human health.
Researchers say biotech crops bring environmental benefits by helping farmers around the world boost their productivity and grow crops in more ecologically healthy fields while allowing much more efficient use of resources.
The Butte County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously last week to oppose the biotech ban on that county's ballot, Measure D.
"We salute the Butte County supervisors for clearly stating that family farmers must have access to the technology needed to provide consumers with the safe, affordable food they demand," California Farm Bureau President Bill Pauli said.
"The consensus of scientific and academic thinking is clear," Pauli said. "Biotech crops promise benefits to people's health and to the environment. California should encourage innovation, not stifle it. Biotech crops can help farmers care for natural resources while they provide healthy food and jobs for Californians."
The California Farm Bureau Federation is the state's largest farm organization, representing more than 89,000 members statewide.
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