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LOCAL Announcement :: Environment & Food

San Luis Obispo County Submits over 12,000 Signatures to go GE FREE

SLO GE Free submitted to the County Clerk-Recorder 12,091 signatures supporting a November ballot initiative regarding genetically engineered (GE) crops. Signature gathering began on the afternoon of May 12 with less than 50 volunteers. That number grew to over 100 people who have spent the last six weeks all over the county from health food stores, to beaches, farmers markets, churches and city sidewalks asking county voters to give themselves the option of keeping our county free of genetically engineered crops.
SLO GE FREE SUBMITS 12,091 SIGNATURES TO COUNTY RECORDER

(San Luis Obispo, Ca.) - Monday, June 28 SLO GE Free submitted to the County Clerk-Recorder 12,091 signatures supporting a November ballot initiative regarding genetically engineered (GE) crops. Signature gathering began on the afternoon of May 12 with less than 50 volunteers. That number grew to over 100 people who have spent the last six weeks all over the county from health food stores, to beaches, farmers markets, churches and city sidewalks asking county voters to give themselves the option of keeping our county free of genetically engineered crops.

This unprecedented effort makes it clear that SLO citizens care about what we eat and care about the purity of our local crops. Keeping our county GE free is good for our health and will give us an economic advantage because national and international markets are refusing to accept GE contaminated foods. American companies like Silk, McDonald's, Gerber Baby Food and Frito Lay are now proudly offering foods that are GE free.

SLO GE Free signature gatherers have enjoyed the process of talking one on one with thousands of SLO citizens. Henriette Groote had the pleasure of signing on a former Mendocino couple. Mendocino County was the first in the nation to vote last March to prohibit the growing of GE crops. This couple recently moved to SLO and was thrilled to again sign a petition that will help keep another California county GE free.

Eric Michielssen, proponent of the petition and owner of Clark Valley Farm in Los Osos, believes, “My mission as a farmer is to produce healthy and nutritious food for my community.? Because keeping the County GE free is essential to that dream, Eric has been out gathering signatures whenever possible.

Noah Smuckler, of Surfrider Association, has drawn inspiration from Canadian canola farmer Percy Schmeiser whose crops were contaminated by a neighbor's genetically engineered canola. Monsanto sued him for having its patented gene on his property even though he didn't plant it or want it. “When I have run low on energy during this drive I think back to Percy's situation and words, ? said Noah.

San Luis Obispo is part of an important statewide movement to keep California free of genetically engineered crops. After Mendocino's success in March, several other counties have joined forces to create public awareness about the importance of maintaining the purity of our food crops by working on similar initiatives. Marin, Butte, Sonoma, Humboldt, Alameda and Santa Barbara are working alongside SLO county forming a united GE free effort.

A Genetically Modified Organism, GMO, is a man-made organism created in a laboratory and patented by a corporation or the USDA. GMOs are created by a process called genetic engineering, or GE. GE is an experimental method that uses a virus or bacteria to infect the DNA of one species into another. This method is completely different from traditional plant breeding such as cross pollination or hybridization.

We've all heard of creating hybrids by crossing a broccoli and a cauliflower, or two varieties of roses, or two breeds of dogs. But GE is completely different. It is created when a gene from a totally unrelated species is shot into the genetic material of another species.

Here are some GE organisms that have been created in the U.S.:

* Rat and human genes in trout

* Spider genes in goats

* Human genes in corn or rice

* Mouse and human genes in potatoes

* Fish genes in tomatoes

* Cow or human genes in salmon

These combinations never occur in nature.

Scientists worldwide now admit that the rush to sell genetically engineered products has put people's health, property, and the environment at risk.

This is why 30 countries have banned, or propose to ban genetically engineered crops, including Japan and many European countries. American farmers planting non-GE crops are reaping rewards in terms of profits. From corn to papaya, non-GE varieties are selling 2 to 7 times higher than GE counterparts.

Because of pollen drift, seed dispersion from wind, insects, birds, and trucks, it is impossible to prevent contamination of GE to other crops. Clearly, keeping SLO GE Free will give an economic advantage to our county.
 
 


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