Everybody’s business

Square dealing through genetics.

Square dealing through genetics.

Heck, no, GMOs
A group of concerned citizens is launching a petition drive to get an ordinance forbidding the growth of genetically engineered organisms in Butte County on the Nov. 2 ballot.

The ordinance is necessary because the biotech industry has yet to come up with a way to prevent genetically modified crops from contaminating the crops of growers who prefer to remain GMO-free, said Scott Wolf of Paradise, who co-chairs Citizens for a G.E.-Free Butte. “We’re not against this technology ultimately,” he said. “We just want people to look at the risks and long-term consequences of this.”

Using a Mendocino County ordinance as a blueprint, the group wrote up the “County Ordinance Prohibiting Growing of Genetically Engineered Organisms” and submitted it to Butte County offices. The ordinance outlines health and economic risks of genetically engineered crops and would forbid their cultivation except in controlled lab or educational settings. Violations would be prosecuted similar to a public-nuisance charge.

The coalition of attorneys, academics, farmers and others had been considering drafting an ordinance for some time, but it was a talk by Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser that pushed them to action. After Schmeiser’s canola crop was contaminated by a genetically modified crop in a neighboring field, Monsanto sued the farmer for “using” its technology without paying for it. “For many of us, it stirred up a sense of moral outrage,” Wolf said.

The LaRocca wine family is already behind the ordinance, and organizers have scheduled a meeting with the Lundberg rice family to see if they’ll get on board, too. While the California Farm Bureau Federation supports GMOs, Wolf is confident that Butte County farmers value their independence enough to support the ordinance.

Even though the crops most likely to be genetically engineered are soy, corn, cotton and canola, there are fears that rice—a huge money-maker for Butte County—could be next. “That’s what’s really going to hit people here when it comes to the voting booth,” Wolf said. Japanese customers have already said they won’t buy genetically modified rice.

The petition drive will be launched on Saturday, April 17, with supporters asked to meet at Guzzetti’s Catering at 117 W. 14th St. between 8 and 10 a.m. The organizers hope to gather at least 6,146 signatures by May 13 to qualify the ordinance for the ballot.

Expending energy
Following up on an advisory measure passed by Chico State University students last spring, the school is bringing in experts to perform an energy audit. They’ll be on campus April 22, and a presentation will follow on May 5 at 10 a.m. at the Associated Students Bell Memorial Union Committee meeting.

Issues such as solar power and overall energy usage will be addressed as part of the effort to spend $32,000 to explore renewable energy options on campus.

Enron was supposed to conduct an energy audit here in 2000, but we all know what happened to Enron.

Joe mojo
Finally, the Trader Joe’s scoop. Oh, wait. Not so. For a second there, reading over the week’s fictitious business name statements from Butte County, I thought I had finally detected the presence of the natural-foods supermarket in our midst.

Instead, it’s Trader Jo’s Discount Liquor and Beer, to be located on the Olive Highway in Oroville and operated by Ranvir Singh of Marysville.

They may not be two-buck Chuck, but this Jo’s sure knows how to get attention.