Letters to the Editor

San Juan County: no place for ‘Franken-crops’ | Letters

I am writing as the sponsor of Initiative 2012-4, which, if passed, will prohibit the raising of genetically modified organisms in our county.

I have been farming in San Juan County for the last 20 years. Farming is my livelihood. I presently raise vegetables, herbs, grain, beef, lamb and pork. I am one of a group of local farmers and concerned citizens who support this initiative and believe it is a very important issue that not only would protect our farmers’ livelihoods but also our environment and health.

Mr. Hinigson is mistaken in his claims of the effects of Initiative 2012-4 (“GMO-free county is laughable”, March 14, Journal, pg. 6). The definition for GMO does not include what Mr. Henigson refers to as selective breeding, hybrids(F1), improved apple varieties, our hay fields or any other crops or animals that he refers to.

Specifically, GMO refers to organisms whose DNA has been altered in a way that does not happen in nature. For example, we now have tomatoes with arctic flounder genes. These GMO plants require FDA, USDA and EPA approval for their production and subsequent use.

We are not against genetic improvements. As farmers and gardeners, we encourage them and make them every time we save our own seed. We believe we should rely on these selective breeding practices and improved varieties that Mr. Henigson refers to—not GMOs.

Along with GMOs come patented plants and animals. Farmers across the country are losing their ability to continue selective breeding of their own as their crops become contaminated with GMO DNA. When this happens, from pollen blowing in from a neighbor’s field, for instance, any seed containing that DNA becomes the property of the patent owner. It does not matter if the contamination is of no fault of the farmer, he will be in violation of patent law by using his own seed.

One of the main purposes of this initiative is to protect the rights of our farmers to selectively breed, grow and maintain pure and natural seed, produce and livestock feed, uncontaminated by a neighbor’s GMO crop.The following websites provide excellent information on issues and dangers of GMOs: http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/... http://responsibletechnology.org/

Ken Akopiantz/Lopez Island



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