The huge victories in defeating county anti-biotech initiatives in 3 of 4 California counties in the general election was a behind-the-woodshed whipping.
There is no other way to describe the wide margins of victory in defeating anti-biotech initiatives in Butte and San Luis Obispo counties. Humboldt County’s rejection was also a victory, even though the anti-GE crowd there admitted at the last minute that approving a law that would call for arresting dairymen who grow herbicide-resistant corn was not a good idea. They asked voters to reject the initiative. Nevertheless, 28 percent of the voters supported the ban. Humboldt’s anti-biotechers have said they will come back with a non-flawed initiative. After Nov. 2, that likely would be a flawed effort.
The anti-biotech radicals had the momentum early on, swaggering from their "big" victory last spring in Mendocino. Farmers and ranchers in Butte and San Luis Obispo were playing catch-up from the start of the campaign.
However, agricultural grassroots efforts came together quickly to counter many of the distortions spewed from the anti-GE groups. Biotech ban opponents also pointed out that many of the so-called locals supporting biotech bans were non-Californians supported by the Minnesota-based Organic Consumers Association and liberals from the San Francisco Bay area. Outsiders.
Experts like former Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore were brought in to scientifically and rationally refute many the anti-biotech crowd’s phony facts. Scientists from the California State University system as well as individuals from UC also refuted the so-called anti-biotech experts brought into California to bolster the anti-biotech effort.
The general public listened to the farmers and ranchers and their experts. The margins of victory say farmers and ranchers are more believable than outside radicals preaching fear to line their pockets with money.
As big as the victory was, you can bet the radical anti-biotech crowd will not disappear. However, the Nov. 2 election says they can be handled.
Not all of the 40 percent who voted to ban genetically modified crops in Butte and San Luis Obispo are radicals. There are still concerns about ag biotech, and ag leaders at least in Butte, San Luis Obispo and Humboldt realize they cannot rest with this one victory.
It must be heartening to those who worked so hard on the campaigns that they earned the trust of a majority of their urban neighbors. Farmers and ranchers realize they must continue to connect with California’s urban population on issues important to the production of food and fiber. They did it this time, and they can do it again.
For anti-biotech outsiders who have taken pleasure in California’s weather and hospitality for the past few months, enjoy the winters in Minnesota, Canada and San Francisco. And watch what you eat, it may contain dreaded biotech genes.