Boulder County, Colorado will completely phase out genetically modified (GMO) corn and sugar beets, and neonicotinoid insecticides on county-owned land.


According to the Daily Camera, commissioners voted 2-1 last week to approve the latest version of a transition plan that bans the cultivation of GMO corn by the end of 2019 and GMO sugar beets by the end of 2021. Neonicotinoids, which have been widely blamed for the declines of bees and other pollinators, will also be phased out within five years on county properties.

GMO corn and sugar beets are the only GMO crops grown on county-owned land, accounting for 1,200 acres, or eight percent, of Boulder County's leased open space in 2015.

The plan, however, leaves open the possibility for Boulder County to consider growing GMO crops with traits that do not rely on the use of pesticides.

Commissioner Elise Jones, who voted for the transition plan, noted that she is not concerned about the safety of GMO crops specifically but the effects of the pesticides used on some of these crops.

"Let's acknowledge: This is not an easy issue; it's not a simple one," Jones said.

But commissioner Cindy Domenico dissented, commenting that "the science on [genetically engineered] crops is not settled."