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Boulder County residents debate on GMO policy

Posted: 7:10 PM, Feb 29, 2016
Updated: 2016-03-01 02:10:54Z

Boulder County Commissioners are asking their residents what to do about the genetically engineered crop policy that bans the growth of most GE crops on county open space.

The county currently leases 1,197 acres of open space to farmers. Those farmers can grow GE corn and sugar beets, but are prohibited from any other types of engineered crops. The current policy was passed in 2011. Boulder commissioners held a similar public input session that lasted 10 hours, until 4 a.m. This time, commissioners are cutting off the meeting at midnight, but started five hours earlier.

Opinions were split at the Monday meeting.The county commissioners are not making a decision, yet. The policy isn't up until the end of 2016.

More than 130 speakers signed up to weigh in on the policy debate.

"GMOs are used in 80% of all processed foods in America," said David Laskarzewski, a Boulder resident and GE opponent. "Without mandatory GMO labeling, there is no traceability, liability or accountability."

On the other side were many farmers from the county. John Schlagel has operated his farm for decades and currently leases some of his land from the county.

"A ban on GMOs or responsible pesticide use would result in a significant step backwards in sustainable agriculture in the county," Schlagel said.

There were pro-GMO lawyers and professors on both sides arguing their points.

Commissioners have three courses of action, they can decide to keep the current policy, ban GMOs outright on county land or allow all GMO crops.

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