Boulder County to phase out GMO crops on public land

LONGMONT, Colo. - Boulder County authorities have decided to stop allowing genetically engineered crops to be grown on county-owned farmland.

County commissioners on Thursday directed staff to draft a plan for phasing out GMO crops. The decision ends years of debate between opponents of GMOs and the tenant farmers that grow them.

Since December 2011, tenant farmers have been allowed to grow certain varieties of genetically modified corn and sugar beets on land leased from Boulder County. That policy will remain in effect at least through the end of this year as county officials work out on how to implement the change.

The Board of County Commissioners didn't take a formal vote on Thursday, but their conversation indicated an eventual plan to transition away from GMO crops.

Some farmers are responding to the news.

"They ignored the input of their committees and they ignored the input of their staff. That's frustrating," said Scott Miller, a farmer who rents about 1000 acres of open space where he grows genetically-engineered (GE) corn.

Dan Lisco is also a GE corn farmer. He isn't happy about the commissioner's decision, but hopes they will keep the farmers in mind.

"Once that transition starts, it has to be slow, it has to be deliberate. That justifies [it] in the end -- it has to be profitable," Lisco said.

A spokesperson for the county said staff will be contacting the open space lease holders to make a plan to phase out GE corn and sugar beets. They aren't sure how long the process will take.


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