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Boulder GMO City Resolution

CI T Y O F B O U L D E R

OPEN SPACE BOARD OF TRUSTEES AGENDA ITEM

MEETING DATE: August 23, 2000

(Agenda Item Preparation Date: December 8, 2000)

AGENDA TITLE: Transgenic Crop (Genetically Modified Organisms) Policy


REQUESTING DEPARTMENT: James C. Crain, Director Open Space/Real Estate

Bryan Pritchett and Andy Pelster, Presenters


FISCAL IMPACT: None


PURPOSE

To address the issue and concerns related to growing genetically modified
organisms (crops) on City Open Space lands.

BACKGROUND

The issue of genetically modified organisms being grown on Open Space lands was
recently raised at the July 26, 2000, Open Space Board of Trustee’s meeting. The
Board directed staff to ensure that such organisms were not being grown on Open
Space properties and return with a draft policy.

Also, the Boulder County Commissioners held a study session on this issue on
June 8, 2000, to gather information for the formulation of broad direction
related to genetically modified organisms.

Genetically modified organisms are defined as organisms (plant, animal, or
bacteria) that have been genetically engineered by the insertion of a foreign
(extrinsic) gene. They are plants that have not acquired their characteristics
through normal plant reproductive mechanisms. These organisms are typically
referred to as "transgenic”.

ANALYSIS

Conventional plant breeding techniques (cross-pollination, etc.) involve the
controlled transfer of genes that lead to the expression of the desired traits.
Biological reproductive processes limit which organisms can be successfully
cross bred. This barrier has been overcome by genetic engineering technology
that allows plant breeders to insert genes from completely unrelated organisms
to create transgenic crops.

Most transgenic crops have been developed to lower production cost or to enhance
product quality. Transgenic crops that are currently available to farmers have
genes that allow the crop to be herbicide tolerant or pest resistant. Having
this genetic resistance reduces the amount of herbicide or pesticide applied to
the crop, thus reducing the growers cost of production. There are also perceived
environmental benefits because of the reduced need for pesticide application.

Although there are human and animal health concerns, the most controversial
issue relative to transgenic crops is their long-term environmental impacts. The
risk with insect resistant crops is that non-target insect species will be
harmed and the target insect species will become resistant to the toxin produced
by the transgenic crop. Similarly, herbicide resistant crops may cross pollinate
with wild relatives and create herbicide resistant weeds.

While the department has never addressed the issue directly, the department's
current policy is that the risks of growing transgenic crops on Open Space
outweigh potential benefits and that no transgenic crops or plants will be grown
on Open Space. There are no transgenic crops being grown on Open Space property
at this time. However, approximately 20 acres of herbicide tolerant corn were
grown in 1998.

To address these issues and concerns, Open Space staff have taken the following
steps:

1) A letter (Attachment A) will be sent to each lessee, reinforcing the
producing transgenic crops on Open Space is not permitted, and securing lessees'
concurrence with this provision;

2) As leases expire, and as new leases are created, we will insert language
explicitly precluding transgenic crop production, and ensuring that only plants
that have acquired their characteristics through conventional plant breeding
techniques may be grown;

3) Resource Specialists will follow through by approving crops to be planted.

PUBLIC COMMENT AND PROCESS

This item is being heard at this public meeting, advertised in the Daily Camera.

STAFF RECOMMENDATION

Staff recommends adoption of these steps as the interim policy direction for the
Department.

Submitted by:
James C. Crain, Director
Open Space/Real Estate

ATTACHMENTS:

A. Draft letter to lessees (not included in this html version)


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*Operator shall not grow transgenic crops on the property. These crops have been
genetically engineered to express a desired agronomic trait. Only plants that
have acquired agronomic trait(s) through conventional plant breeding techniques
may be grown.