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Boulder County, Colorado’s open space is . . . home to more than 19,000 acres of crops that find their way into beer, bread, and beef sold throughout the state.
Under a 2011 agreement with area farmers and the county, more than 1,000 of those acres are being used to grow genetically modified sugar beets and corn made to be used with the pesticide Roundup. But that could soon change.
The 2011 cropland policy is up for renewal, and if history is any indication, it will be a fierce fight. Farmers want to expand the list of allowable GMO crops, while anti-GMO activists want to see GMO crops banned entirely from open space lands.
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A vote by the county’s three commissioners later this year could further one of two visions: a Boulder County populated by dozens of small, organic farmers driving sustainable agri-tourism, or a Boulder County moving to the forefront of science and technology in agriculture, feeding the world while using fewer of its precious resources.
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More than $800,000 has been spent by the county so far on infrastructure to support new farmers and those who are making the transition to organics. These farmers also receive half off their rent for five years. This supplements the loss of income caused by growing a crop that requires intensive labor without reaping the benefit of higher profits commanded by organic certification.
Still, 19 of 24 organic farmers who took advantage of the county’s program have failed in the past five years — frustrating both conventional farmers (who see it as proof organic farming isn’t viable) and anti-GMO advocates (who say the county needs to be doing more to support fledgling farmers).
Read full, original post: Boulder County’s policy for GMOs on open-space farms up for renewal