A drama worthy of Shakespeare is playing itself out on the greenbelt grassland surrounding Boulder, in Colorado. Organic-minded citizens of Boulder, billed as the #1 healthiest community in America are in a showdown with GMO, Monsanto’s genetically modified sugar beets.
Why? Six traditional (pesticide oriented) farmers want to make a profit growing Roundup Ready GMO sugar beets on public, open space land. A county planning staff, lead by former county commissioner Ron Steward has given the farmers their OK. In a budget constrained world, they view the farmers use of pesticide as helpful in countywide weed control, even if it comes with GMO beets.
However, this is strongly opposed by a volunteer commission that includes local, organic farmers. They suggest that many farmers are turning to profitable niche gardens. Traditional crop production, that includes GMO seeds and pesticides, is dwindling.
Then too, GMO opponents argue that the patented, Roundup Ready biotech seeds which do not reproduce, which require that farmers make an annual purchase of seeds from Monsanto, are not natural, nor good for public lands or public health.
What is the public will? The public will, in this debate, shows up at public hearings and stays until after midnight until the lights are turned out. It is volunteer, uncoordinated, and expressive. When they point to scientific articles that offer doubts and dangers of GMO it is ridiculed by GMO supporters: lobbyists and Monsanto staff, as “emotional mushiness.”
What role does emotion have in a rational, business minded world? If someone believes they will be healthier eating natural or organic products, then they are right.
Yes. We ARE what we think. And, we ARE what we eat.
In Boulder, the County Commissioners get to make the final decision: between the recommendations of their staff vs the Public Will. Like a marriage on the rocks, the Commissioners are being forced to choose between a loyal, money conscious staff, and an earnest public that wants them to protect their good health.
It would be a win-win, if the Boulder County Commissioners invited local, organic farmers to show traditional farmers how to move toward pesticide free crops. Short term subsidies would help with this transition.
In a New Economy, based on sustainability, Monsanto would be out of business, like most of the Detroit auto industry.