After 7 hours of testimony and debate, members of the Boulder County Food and Ag Policy Council recommended against allowing the cultivation of Roundup Ready sugarbeets on county open space land by a vote of 10-3
With dozens of citizens present for the hearing, public testimony began at 5:30 and stretched well into the 11 o’clock hour. 45 members of the community were present to oppose a request by 6 farmers to allow the cultivation of the beets. 11 farmers and other community members supported the farmer’s request.
The six farmers have argued that they need to plant GMO beets to remain competitive, since the modified seeds increase yield and decrease pesticide and labor costs. Proponents of GMO sugar beets also say that the crop requires both less herbicides and less plowing than conventionally-grown crops, ultimately protecting soil fertility.
In the end, the majority of council members were not swayed by those arguments, at least not in the face of vigorous public opposition. But even council members who voted against the beets seemed to agree with council member Matt Pierce on one point: the public doesn’t seem to know much about farming.
The county commissioners will make the final decision at their meeting Aug. 25, taking into account the conflicting opinions of the council and the Parks and Open Space Advisory Committee, which voted to recommend the genetically modified sugar beets at a meeting last week.
Tune into the Pulse on Monday to hear audio of some public comments both for and against the proposal. We will also have clips of State Women’s Committee member Amber Clay’s testimony before the Council.