A wise ballot measure

We applaud the efforts of those who’ve gathered signatures to qualify a November ballot measure asking Butte County voters if they want genetically altered crops grown on Butte soil. If enough signatures—6,146—are validated the matter will come to vote. In our thinking the jury is still out on the viability and safety of genetically altered crops. More independent research is needed.

The idea of altering crops for the good of humans around the world would seem to hold promise if done for the right reasons. But right now those reasons seem to be based purely on turning a profit. We are disturbed by the court decision in Canada that ruled for Monsanto who sued canola farmer Percy Schmeiser for “stealing” its genetically altered canola seeds, which had somehow migrated onto the farmer’s property.

The canola seeds were altered to resist heavy sprayings of another Monsanto product—Roundup weed killer. Schmeiser simply followed the farming practice he’s used for the past 40 years—collect the seeds from the best plants on his farm and save them for future sowing. Monsanto, which sued to take Schmeiser’s farm—something the Canadian Supreme Court rightly denied—is obviously in the genetic-alteration business more for profit than to benefit the human race.

And for these reasons, people are correct in questioning the wisdom of the GE movement and have the right to decide whether their county should be on the forefront of the effort. But let’s not rush to judgment and end up condemning a science that in the long run could save the lives of millions of starving people.