The Wrath of Grapes
Ban on Biotech Crops Makes the Ballot in a California County
Voters in Northern California’s Mendocino County will be the first in the nation with a chance to rebuff growers of genetically modified (GM) crops. Local anti-biotechnology activists gathered enough signatures to secure a spot on the March ballot for an initiative that would ban the raising of GM crops in the county. The campaign was started by the owners of an all-organic brewpub and framed as a way to protect the county’s organic wine-grape industry from genetic contamination. The initiative is largely symbolic at this point, as there are no GM crops currently being cultivated in Mendocino County, nor are there are any commercially available GM versions of wine grapes or any of the county’s other major crops. Still, the biotech industry could try to beat the measure; it spent millions in Oregon last year to squash a ballot measure that would have required the labeling of GM food.