I used to think I could grow organically on my own small farm and not worry about what other people were doing. Never did I want to become fanatical or political! Then 2 things happened.
- 1) My bees died last year and I did a lot of reading and research on the bee problem. I have come to agree with those who say that the bee die off is probably due in large part to pesticide contamination. The newer pesticides (neonicotinoids) are systemic, meaning every part of the plant contains the pesticide including the pollen of any future crops or weeds on the affected soil. Clothianidin (one neonicitinoid) can persist in the soil for up to 100 years!!! (it has a half-life of 19 years) These are widely used in Boulder County and everywhere else. (I had no idea how widely)
- 2) I lost 1200 pepper and tomato seedlings due to herbicide contamination in the worm castings I bought and used in my organic soil mix. Most likely from barley straw or horse manure the worms ate. The herbicide persists for 2-7 years in the contaminated fields and in the straw and manure from those fields. This was a real waker-upper for me!
Even those these 2 events aren't directly related to GMO's, they are all tied together in the new chemical and biotechnology approach to farming and if I don't get involved I will feel like a co-conspirator. My well-intentioned neighbors who farm conventionally need to hear how their practices affect me and the rest of the county (and world).
I'm now wondering if it's even possible to grow organically. Even when making my own compost from my own animals who eat our own uncontaminated hay. Where will organic home gardeners get seeds, mulch, compost and uncontaminated water if things keep going this way? The pollen from the contaminated GMO and herbicide and pesticide treated plants spreads more each day. The honeybees will be gone unless neonicotinoids (the systemic pesticides that are killing pollinators) are banned now.
It's up to us citizens of Boulder County to decide if we want GMO's planted on our Open Space property. This will be a HUGE undertaking.
I have been at the planning meetings, and they are not even close to going in the direction of banning GMO's at this point.
My vision is that we try to persuade the commissioners to phase out the GMO's in 2 years time, ban the pesticides that are killing the bees and other pollinators, and only allow organic farmers to farm the Open Space land within 5 -7 years. This may sound grandiose to some, but I think the people of Boulder County will be willing to devote their time and money to see it through.
I have felt a sense of hope from talking to those who are willing to put some energy towards making Boulder County a safe place to grow. It's inspiring to me.
Farmer's can't do it all. PLEASE educate yourself on the issues (they ARE complicated) and if you agree that GMO's are a bad idea here are some ways to get involved:
1) Contact the Boulder County Commissioners. They are the ones who will ultimately decide. email: firstname.lastname@example.org
2) Get in touch with the GM- KNOW citizens action group http://www.no-gmo-boulder.com/ and join their protest on September 6th.
Please sign their petition and donate money.
3) Get informed on what has taken place at the planning meetings so far August 17th and August 8th. I thought I was reasonably informed but have been very surprised at the depth of the problems. I feel that my farm may no longer be viable as it is in 5-20 years if nothing changes.
4) Help educate your friends and neighbors who feel that the GM crops and current pesticides and herbicides are somewhat benign. Keep in mind the conventional farmers and home gardeners who use these methods truly believe they are doing no harm.
5) Come to the planning meeting on September 1st. At this meeting the public will get to give their input. (The meeting will be in Longmont in the evening. I'll try to post the details as it gets closer)
People all over the United States are watching to see what we will do. Let's show them that we can stand up for what we believe in one corner of the world. The implications will spread far and wide and people everywhere will be inspired.
ps. Stay tuned and I will post the facts about GMO's that have convinced me that they are a terrible idea.