Boulder citizens! Poll: GMOs on our Public Lands?

Via elephant journal
on Dec 15, 2011
get elephant's newsletter

County Commissioner Ben Pearlman thinks 71% of voters equals a fringe group.

Cliffnotes: One day left for public comment, which the Commissioners are largely ignoring anyway (though they’ve listened to hours of bought-and-paid-for out-of-state testimony by Monsanto & Friends). Three days after that of deliberation. Then, decision. At this point, our guess is Will Toor will vote to remove GMOs from our lands (that we pay for). Cindy Domenico is on the fence, but probably will vote with Monsanto. Ben Pearlman, who we’ve liked and respected for years, has given every indication that he’s already made his decision: to forgo a powerfully symbolic moment of “health and environmental responsibility” and vote to protect six farmers’ “right” to continue to plant untested GMOs on public lands. ~ Waylon Lewis, ed.

PS: Happy ending? We somehow win next week? Elephant Journal will follow this little blog up and make just as much noise appreciating our representatives, including Mr. Ben Pearlman, for serving the greater commonwealth against corporate and out-of-state interests. ~ ed.

Let’s make some noise! The only hope at this point is to go nuts on FB, twitter, email lists…really make it clear it’s not just “a few nutty old hippies” who feel this way.


Via Arron Mansika—a great example of the sort of local natural products entrepreneur who has done a good deal to make Boulder famous and financially stable:

If you were an elected public servant, would you like to know what 71% of your voters are thinking? Of course you would. In politics, that’s a huge percentage in agreement.  And, as an elected official with such insight, would you then call that sizable majority “a fringe”?  You would if you’re Ben Pearlman.

Boulder County Commissioner Pearlman has marginalized the will of the citizens he’s been elected to represent when it comes to GMO on publicly-owned Boulder County Open Space.  A study this October conducted by Denver-based Kupersmit Research and GMO Free Boulder revealed that a whopping 71% of Boulder County voters said they would prohibit the farming of genetically-modified crops on Boulder County Open Space.

Isn’t 71% enough to sway this elected official?  Well, no. Instead, Ben repeats,

“this is a fringe of our community.”

Suspending the scientific debate, the varying economic views, the studies on what makes Boulder thrive, and in fact, suspending all intellectual and emotional dialogue, how can a community get through to its representative when he somehow convinces himself that 71% is a fringe?

If you’re in the 71% fringe, let Ben know you’re a real person with real concerns.  Then contact his colleagues, too:

Ben Pearlman:  [email protected]
Cindy Domenico:  [email protected]
Will Toor:  [email protected]

General phone: 303-441-1688

Share this blog on your Facebook Wall. Tag “” so we can see the support coming in. Tweet this blog with hashtag #elej so we can keep track. At this point, our job as a community—not merely a fringe group—is to make some noise. Let’s strike one for We the People vs. this bottomline-focused out-of-state corporation.

See more here:


About elephant journal

elephant journal is dedicated to "bringing together those working (and playing) to create enlightened society." We're about anything that helps us to live a good life that's also good for others, and our planet. >>> Founded as a print magazine in 2002, we went national in 2005 and then (because mainstream magazine distribution is wildly inefficient from an eco-responsible point of view) transitioned online in 2009. >>> elephant's been named to 30 top new media lists, and was voted #1 in the US on twitter's Shorty Awards for #green content...two years running. >>> Get involved: > Subscribe to our free Best of the Week e-newsletter. > Follow us on Twitter Fan us on Facebook. > Write: send article or query. > Advertise. > Pay for what you read, help indie journalism survive and thrive.


16 Responses to “Boulder citizens! Poll: GMOs on our Public Lands?”

  1. elephantjournal says:

    Waylon Lewis Please, Boulder, need you on this one. Public Comment is closing tomorrow (and seems to have largely been ignored thus far). Vote here, spread the word, make noise. Let's ask Ben and Cindy and Will to vote for the public interest.

    Will Toor
    Hi, Waylon. I am still mulling over the issues, as I am sure Ben and Cindy are. I don't know what conclusions each of us will come too, but I am sure that we will each be making the decision that we believe is in the best interest of the la…nd and people of Boulder County. We have received a huge volume of input – from public testimony, from a sustainable agriculture literature review that Hunter Lovins and Natural Capitalism Solutions conducted for us, from reams of journal articles that have been submitted, staff analysis, conflicting recommendations from 3 different advisory boards, multiple conversations with organic and conventional farmers, and in my case from hours spent reading National Academy of Sciences reports. I think this is a complicated and nuanced issue, that good people who care about the public interest can come to different conclusions on.

    Jonathan Sackheim ‎@Will Toor – so Ben Pearlman doesn't have horns? Darn. Nuance is a pain. 🙂

    Waylon Lewis Will, appreciate you and Ben and Cindy, always.

    That said, I think Boulder has once again the chance to take a step back and say "let's allow a corporation to patent something as basic as food" and put that on public lands when and only when it's been proven to be safe. After all, this is food. This is Boulder. These are public lands. I'm a moderate on many issues, but this once, while nuanced (you're far more well-educated on this, as are Ben and Cindy) is a clear case of common good vs. the good of a few. I hope you and Ben and Cindy will help Boulder serve the rest of the US an an example of foresight.

    In any case, thank you for your service—and, as I said in the blog, we're happy to update with thanks to Ben should he care to reopen his mind on the matter.
    5 minutes ago · LikeUnlike
    Waylon Lewis Jonathan—Ben's a good person, I don't doubt that for a second. Monsanto, on the other hand, is neither good nor a person.

    Valeri: I understand the need to hear all sides, but when one side can't give you long-term, independently investigated and scientifically reviewed conclusions on the safety of their products, do they deserve much of a voice? Esp when they're lobb…ying for use on our public lands.

    This is a huge vote, and a vote on the side of safety is the ONLY vote. I sympathize with the farmers, but that will never sway the uncertainty surrounded Round Up ready seeds.

  2. EvanFromHeaven says:

    If we had ballot initiatives at the County level (as we do in the City of Boulder and in 24 states including Colorado) we would have voted to ban GMOs from Open Space years ago. 71% is a huge majority.

    The best plan to get ballot initiatives in ALL jurisdictions -every town, county, state AND the nation, is led by famed former Senator Mike Gravel ( ) and endorsed by: Patch Adams, Noam Chomsky, Daniel Ellsberg, "Granny D" Haddock, Julia Butterfly Hill, Ralph Nader, Coleen Rowley, Pete Seeger, Cindy Sheehan and Howard Zinn:

    This plan improves ballot initiatives in several ways, including a provision like Oregon's successful Citizen Initiative Review: This gets much better information to voters and reduces the influence of money on initiatives.

  3. meatpietatters says:

    We don't have ballot initiatives at the County. If we become a home rule county there are many more public options available to us. As such, as a community, we could mobilize the citizens and ban these maniacal mutant plants from open space. I truly believe that the majority of citizens wants no part of Monsanto in our midst.

  4. meatpietatters says:

    Who the hell wants GMOs in their food?

  5. h4x354x0r says:

    I'm not from the area, so I don't have much right to influence the commissioners there, but I would like to share a little "food for thought" so to speak, about Monsanto and their GMO crops: "The bugs that ate Monsanto"

  6. zaneedwards says:

    Boulder will make people jump over fences to get approval for creating educational programs, create a small addition to your home, has strict habitation laws, and enforces vehicle emissions regulations…all which negatively effect and keeps out lower income people from Boulder. Yet, will probably allow GMO growing by some big corporation. Yes, Boulder, the land of dreams only available for those with $$$.

  7. zaneedwards says:

    Also there are the rules Colorado creates for people receiving government assistance, as well as the failing drug and alcohol programs that they outsource to private corporations who, yes surprise, are there not to help but to collect your money.

  8. Arron Mansika says:

    To clarify this discussion, I will now distinguish what I did write and what I did not write. I clearly provided my original piece as just one person involved in the natural products community. I'd like to see lots of voices from lots of community members. I made no claim to speak for anyone other than myself. Also, I did not ever use the word shame. I see no strategic value in alienating the very people we in this community want and need to work with collaboratively. I do maintain that the majority of Boulder County citizens want GMO's off their open space, and I recognize the herculean effort our commissioners have undertaken to understand the complexities of this issue and the people it impacts.

  9. JinpaG says:

    Now, just a test comment … sorry if this goes through and there's no real content … and just trying to post ANYthing to see if it the site will accept my comment. Thanks, G

  10. JinpaG says:

    All right, let's try this again: A sane voice … not in the wilderness, but in the farmlands of Kansas:

    This interview with Wes Jackson was published in the October, 2010 issue of The Sun Magazine. If you follow the link below, you can read a portion of it. To read in its entirety, you must either find the magazine in your local library (I think Boulder Public Library carries it), or order the back issue online, or find someone else who has it and will lend it to you.

    "Farmed Out: Wes Jackson on the Need to Reinvent Agriculture":

    "Wes Jackson is a plant geneticist, president of the Land Institute, and, at age seventy-four, one of the godfathers — along with farmer and author Wendell Berry — of the sustainable-agriculture movement.

    "Jackson holds a PhD in genetics from North Carolina State University and established one of the country’s first environmental-studies programs at California State University, Sacramento. Dissatisfied with the confines of academia, he returned to Kansas in 1976 to found the Land Institute. His other books include New Roots for Agriculture (University of Nebraska Press) and Altars of Unhewn Stone: Science and the Earth (Wooster Book Co.). His latest book, published in September by Counterpoint, is Consulting the Genius of the Place: An Ecological Approach to a New Agriculture. In 2000 Jackson received the Right Livelihood Award, known as the 'alternative Nobel prize.'"

    Cheers … happy reading, Gabrielle

  11. elephantjournal says:

    The original title was mine entirely.

    I think it was clear as such, since my editor's statement came first. I personally apologize if you've been put in an uncomfortable situation—as you said, you didn't say what I said, you said what you said. I'm sorry if that line wasn't more clear.

    That said, politics aside, if a public rep goes against the clear will of the people, she/he/me/you should be ashamed. I'm on the board of New Era, which helped (barely) pass Yes on 2B 2C, and I would personally have been ashamed if I had pushed against the people, and for Xcel. Obviously that issue, too, was more nuanced than that—but at the end of the day the choice was clear.

    GMOS on public land is a complex question, too. But here's some simple thoughts: GMOs have not been tested long-term to be safe for We the People, in the same way asbestos was not at the time of widespread use tested to be safe. Products should only be available to the public if they've been tested to be safe. That simple.

    We are allowing corporations seeking profits to monkey around with the DNA of food, or food as God intended it. That's wrong. That simple.

    Farmers have a right to use GMOs on their land. On public lands, however—lands that We the People have bought with our tax dollars—we have the right to ask them to take their GMO crops elsewhere. This is not a case of people vs. farmers. Most local farmers are anti-GMO—and there's an outstanding local market for organic and local food.

    The strategic value of speaking truth to power, directly, has been demonstrated for many years in politics. I must be done precisely, and carefully—but a leader of our community who votes against the people he or she has sworn to serve is prepared to feel the pressure of the public. And it's our job to apply that pressure.

    That said, I've known Ben a little for a long time, and like him and respect him. As I said, above, I'm happy to publicize a Thank you Ben sort of article if he or others re-open their mind on the matter (by all reports, his mind has been made up for some time).

    It's time to draw the line against GMOs and monied, hyper-organized out-of-state interests—if we can't do so in Boulder, who will stand up for real food rights? Once again we've been presented with the chance to lead America in a responsible direction.

    Which way will Will, Ben & Cindy lead us?



  12. Tom says:

    People need to understand that the intensive spraying of the biocide Glyphosate is destroying essential micro organisms in the soil. Consequently,the nutritional value and safety of the plants is being compromised. This does not even consider the fact that weeds are becoming resistant to mass spraying.

  13. elephantjournal says:

    Yah, sorry, some comments have been "deleted by administrator" this week without our involvement…we've emailed Intense Debate about the problem, but haven't heard back. ~ Waylon

  14. OfTheSoil says:

    A group of concerned citizens created the Citizens Cropland Policy as an alternative to the policy being put forth by the staff at Parks and Open Space (which recommends continued use of GMOs and associated chemical inputs). The Citizens Policy has been submitted to the Commissioners. Take a few minutes to read this (they made it easy by putting it in a side-by-side table so you can compare it to the POS policy). It is a good plan for how to move forward. If you agree, and you are a citizen of Boulder County, you can endorse it.

  15. […] Clearly, the most contentious issue in this process has been the debate about genetically modified food crops. […]