The following entry on agriculture in Boulder County was written by my wonderful friend, Robert Davis. He has worked for USAID helping poor countries around the world to address their agricultural problems. I defer to him, because he knows this subject better than nearly anyone else in the county...
(Declaration: the author has a M.Sc. in Agronomy and a Ph.D. in Economics and served on the first GMO panel advising the County Commissioners)
There has been a lot to digest recently on the saga of the County Commissioners’ drive to rid county agricultural lands of the detested GMO crops. When the Commissioners’ say they want to learn what would be “feasible, practical and cost-effective,” they are ludicrously ignoring the aim of every commercial farmer on the county agricultural lands to have exactly this kind of farming program. This whole process is a patent attempt to replace the current commercial agriculture with organic farming. Having largely failed in an earlier attempt to encourage organic farming through generous subsidies, the County is mounting a frontal assault on the row crop farming practiced on the contested 2,000 acres.
Just look at the language that has been in the Boulder air for years condemning ‘factory farming” GMO crops, Monsanto, corn culture etc. The words “sustainable” and “non- sustainable” are invoked as though we all know what they mean when in reality none of us know what they mean. The only way to find out what is sustainable is through practice and that is exactly what the row crop farmers and the organic farmers are doing. The experiment is ongoing. Let’s all be transparent about this. The Commissioners are responding to a constituency that has poetic visions about what agriculture on County lands should look like. In this they are going head to head with the Masters of Reality who are currently farming the commercial ag lands.
I would give the poets their own plots to play with and let the commercial farmers do what they do best: feasible, practical and cost-effective agriculture and tell the Commissioners to get off their anti-science crusade. Indeed, there is no sound science that says GMO crops are bad for people or the environment. There is no sound science that says that organic produce and organic field crops are superior to non--organic produce and field crops. If some customers are willing to pay a premium price for organic products, then let the market speak. But there is no justification for going outside the market and using the political process to impose organic farming on all the rest us.