Northern California County Passes Anti-GM Initiative

Northern California’s Mendocino County yesterday passed a voter initiative that bans the growing of genetically modified (GM) crops. The surprising 56-44 percent victory capped the county’s most contentious and high-profile election ever, in which the initiative’s backers were outspent by a whopping 6-1 margin. Supporters of Measure H raised $93,525, while opponents marshaled $621,566 — $600,000 of which came from CropLife America, a Washington, D.C.-based industry group that counts GM giant Monsanto among its members. The initiative is likely to have little practical effect — there are no GM crops currently grown in Mendocino County, where the biggest cash crop is (presumably all-natural) marijuana — but the David vs. Goliath victory has enormous symbolic value, as it is the first anti-GM measure passed in the U.S., where efforts by industry to squelch protest have been fierce. “They got the money,” said triumphant initiative creator Els Cooperrider, “we got the people!”