What do France and San Juan County have in common?
A ban on genetically modified organisms, that what.
Local voters embraced Proposition 2012-4 by a wide margin in the Nov. 6 election, as the citizen-led initiative banning production of GMOs captured 61 percent of votes tallied Tuesday's initial election results.
With 8,877 votes counted, "Yes" votes outnumbered "No" votes by 5,183 to 3,329.
"I'm proud to live in a county that could see the immense benefit of passing this forward-thinking initiative," said GMO-ban supporter Marta Nielsen of Orcas Island, an organic farmer who raises chickens.
Proposed by organic farmers and others, the GMO ban makes it unlawful to propagate or grow plants or animals in San Juan County that have been genetically modified and provides for penalties and destruction of such organisms.
San Juan Island's Larry Soll, a molecular biologist, was disappointed but not surprised that the initiative passed. "The practical effect on San Juan Island is not large because the few plants that have been genetically modified are unlikely to be planted here," Soll said. "I think this is a misdirected initiative."
Here's a link to a recent opinion piece about the GMO by Ken & Kathryn Akopiantz, primary sponsors of the initiative.