Sunday, November 6, 2011
56% would vote to ban GMOs on Boulder County open space
By Laura Snider
Boulder Daily Camera
November 06, 2011
New survey commissioned by anti-GMO group
If asked on a ballot whether genetically modified organisms should be allowed on open space land, 56 percent of Boulder County residents would vote to ban such crops, according to a new survey commissioned by a local anti-GMO group.
Thirty-percent of respondents would vote to allow them, while the rest of the 600 survey respondents were undecided.
Those results contrast with an earlier public opinion survey that was sponsored by the county, which seemed to indicate that Boulder County residents were more split on the issue.
The Boulder County survey asked voters generally what they thought about GMOs, but the survey never directly asked respondents whether they would vote to ban the plants.
When Mary VonBreck, an organizer of the group GMO Free Boulder, read the results of the county survey, something didn’t seem right. So the group hired Kupersmit Research to do a second survey.
“It just didn’t ring true,” VonBreck said of the survey. “In the course of the last couple of months, there have been so many people signing petitions (against GMO crops). … We just wanted to know, are we in the majority or aren’t we?”
Boulder County Parks and Open Space has been working for more than a year to create a plan for how the department should manage the cropland it oversees. Among many other recommendations, the current draft of the Cropland Policy recommends that farmers be allowed to grow GMO crops if they can prove that the benefit outweighs the risk.
On Monday, the public is invited to an open house to learn about the draft policy, and during the following week, both the Parks and Open Space Advisory Committee and the Food and Agriculture Policy Council will weigh in on the document. The county commissioners will make the ultimate decision, possibly in December.
The survey commissioned by GMO Free Boulder uses a similar sample size to the one commissioned by the county, and the geographic spread of the respondents also is similar. Aside from the findings about how residents would vote on a ballot, the new study also showed that 62 percent of respondents “somewhat” or “strongly” disapprove of allowing farming on open space that uses GMO crops.
VonBreck said she hopes that the people who will soon make a decision on the Cropland Policy pay attention to the new survey.
“This survey was much more transparent and the answers were very direct,” she said. “(County officials) have to make a decision, and they need real information.”
David Bell, Boulder County’s agriculture division manager, said his department is open to the information provided in the new survey as they are open to all forms of public comment.
“It’s another piece of information that we can use as we go through this process,” he said. “We’ve been very open to receiving public comment.”
County Commissioner Will Toor also said he’s open to reviewing the survey — which he had not yet seen — but he emphasized that he and the other commissioners will rely on a wide range of information when making a final decision.
“We’re not going to make a decision based on the original survey or a second survey,” he said. “It’s just useful information among lots of other useful information as you try to sort through the impacts on the land. … There’s an awful lot to sort through in understanding different snapshots of public opinion — and this is certainly an important part.”