Humboldt County voters had an opportunity to vote on a GMO free ballot initiative shortly after Mendocino county had passed their initiative in 2004. We lost that bid on a technicality that should have been vetted before it was submitted. Fortunately we had another opportunity to vote on Measure H in 2014 that was successful. Access Humboldt produced an interview with Bill Schaser and myself intended to educate the voting public on this issue, entitled Broken Promises, Lifting the Veil on GMO Foods
For reference our How We Grow for Seed page details some of issues with GMO’s that may affect the Humboldt county area, see copied below…
We were fortunate to have several incredible speakers, including Ignacio Chapela from UC Berkeley whose tenure struggle had gained alot of publicity. AND Access Humboldt was there to film his speech and archive it online: GMO’s Who Wins, Who Loses
Last but not least was a presentation by Howard Vlieger, Iowa farmer and stockman entitled Truth About GMO’s which can be found here.
Genetically modified seeds are scrupulously avoided. GM crops such as soybeans, canola and corn have been proliferating in industrial farming areas since the 1990’s leading to great concern over potential for contamination of neighboring crops. Soybeans are generally considered self-pollinating so the risk is practically nil, except for GM seed getting actually mixed in. Canola is insect pollinated and there may be rare instances of cross-pollination with other brassica species in areas where it is widely grown (not here). Corn is wind pollinated, hence involving the greatest risk of contamination but we’ve had the assurance of agronomists from UC Davis that the isolation distances at our remote growing site are far beyond the threshold of concern.
More recently the introduction of GM sugarbeets- also wind pollinated with even greater isolation distances required- has threatened producers of Beet and Swiss Chard seed (they are the same species- Beta vulgaris), particularly in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. Contamination has already been discovered in commercial seed lots and has very likely gone undetected in many instances. We feel certain that the varieties we offer are pure because of the isolation distances involved, there is no commercial Beta seed production in our locale, and our foundation seed predates the GM Beta vulgaris menace. We’ll continue to produce (and assist other growers in producing) pure seed lines in remote locations as this threat is being assessed. For home gardeners wanting to save seed however we advise caution and careful scrutiny of any Beta vulgaris plants near your location, whether planted, volunteer or naturalized.
Alfalfa is the latest crop of concern involving genetic pollution, but we have no commercial alfalfa in our small valley. We do have remnant stands of highly diverse alfalfa from which we will be offering seeds in the near future.