Sonoma County Voter Success Leads To Largest GMO-Free Zone In U.S.

sonoma-600x363By Amanda Froelich

It’s taken some time for word to spread due to the focus on Presidential-elect Donald Trump, but on November 8th, voters in Sonoma County successfully passed Measure M to make growing genetically modified crops illegal.

Measure M passed 55.9% to 44.1% in the county, and led to the largest ever GMO-free zone in the U.S. being formed. Jumboldt, Marin, Mendocino, Santa Cruz, and Trinity Counties have all successfully banned the cultivation of GMO crops in the past. Now, a total of 13,734 square miles is GMO-free, reports Sustainable Pulse.

Karen Hudson, the campaign manager for Measure M, told SF Gate: 

“What’s exciting is, we have a northwest coast GMO-free growing zone that’s growing, and Sonoma County is the missing link.” 

“The fact is, more and more people want non-GMO food, and our local farms have a right to grow without contamination. It’s that simple,” she said in a statement.

Originally called the Sonoma County Transgenic Contamination Ordinance, the ballot initiative bans all GMO crops and seeds from being grown or used in unincorporated areas of the country. Reportedly, farmers who are now growing GMO crops or who have already purchased genetically modified seeds for next season will be allowed to continue growing this season as a grace period before the ban is implemented.

This monumental Measure was passed despite opposition by the Biotech industry. In fact, supporters of the ban raised a total of $255,000 to ensure it passing – making it one of the most expensive ballot initiatives in the history of Sonoma County. Those who supported the ban include organic dairy farms, natural food co-ops, and heirloom seed companies.

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The county has come a long way since a similar measure was voted on ten years ago. At that time, $850,000 was raised, but it was eventually voted down by a ten percent margin. At present, citizens in Sonoma County can feel good about contributing to a region which is now the largest GMO-free zone in the U.S.

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