Kudos to the voters in Marin County!

They passed a measure in 2004 banning the cultivation of genetically engineered plants and animals there.

The measure passed by a large margin - 61 percent to 38 percent - handing another blow to the biotechnology industry, which is already bombarded with criticism from around the world.

The measure makes it illegal for anyone to "propagate, cultivate, raise or grow genetically modified organisms" in the county. Medical research and treatment using GEs are exempt from the ban if it's done in a secure indoor laboratory.

Renata Brillinger, director of Californians for GE Free Agriculture, a coalition of sustainable farming, environmental, and consumer organizations fighting genetically engineered agriculture in the state:
"If you look at eight months ago, there was basically no discussion about this (GE agriculture) in California. I think this is really the beginning of a locally-based movement.

The GE-free movement in California turned up a notch in 2004 when voters in Mendocino became the first county to prohibit the cultivation of GE crops. Then the Trinity County board of supervisors passed a similar law.

Opposition to the four measures on Tuesday's ballot was funneled through the local farm bureaus. The big biotech companies kept a very low profile during the recent campaigns, a shift from the Mendocino measure, when industry lobbying group CropLife International spent around $600,000 - six times more than organizers.

And in Sonoma County organizers are gathering signatures to qualify for a special election in June 2005.

by Kathryn Gillick
Faultline, California's Environmental Magazine

November 04, 2004