Three county initiatives in California aimed at banning the use of genetically engineered crops were soundly defeated during the recent election. The two most significant measures, in Butte and San Luis Obispo counties, failed, 61-39 and 59-41 percent, respectively (a third measure, in Humboldt County, was deemed so badly worded that even supporters abandoned it before it too went down to easy defeat). An antibiotech measure did pass in Marin County, where genetically modified crops are not currently cultivated.
Biotech proponents hailed the Butte and San Luis Obispo results as indicating a comfort level with biotechnology among voters in agricultural counties. "Results of the Butte County vote prove that residents recognize the opportunities and advantages the technology presents and understand that the technology and research are here to stay," noted the county's Farm Bureau Vice President Ryan Schohr.
Opponents are not giving up. Activists have already organized campaigns to ban the use of biotechnology in a number of California jurisdictions, including Sonoma and Santa Barbara counties.