Mendocino has become the first county in California – and the USA - to ban the cultivation of genetically modified organisms.
Residents voted last week to pass Measure H which now makes it illegal to raise any genetically altered plants or livestock in this northern California county.
The residents’ victory has stunned opponents, mainly bio-tech giants who spent nearly US$700,000 to block the measure from being passed. In the months before the election CropLife America alone, one of the industry trade groups which represents Monsanto, Dow and Dupont, spent over US$600,000 in attempts to block the measure and are very concerned about the recent vote.
According to CropLife America’s Allen Noe, ‘We have to do something. If every county started regulating what we do, the industry would grind to a halt.’ He added that the group is looking into ways of overturning the measure.
Supporters of Measure H, including major Mendocino wineries such as organic producer Fetzer, are rejoicing. Wine industry experts feel that labelling their products as GMO free will give Mendocino producers an effective new marketing strategy.
Laura Hamburg, spokesperson for Measure H supporters, said ‘This is a preemptive strike’ and added there would be more battles ahead. She said similar initiatives were being planned in other California counties including Sonoma and Humboldt.
Written by Kerin O’Keefe