Mendocino anti-biotech petitions are turned in

Bee Metro Staff

Published Saturday, October 4, 2003

A landmark Mendocino County initiative to prevent the growing of genetically engineered crops moved closer to the March ballot Friday afternoon when backers submitted 4,147 signatures to county elections officials.

The number is probably enough to surpass the 2,579 valid signatures needed to get the initiative on the ballot. It could take up to six weeks for officials to validate the signatures.

If passed by voters, the initiative would make the county the first in the nation to ban biotech crops, none of which is known to be grown in the county.

The movement was started by the Mendocino Organic Network as a way to protect the county's large organic industry from contamination by genetically engineered crops.

The biotech industry is expected to oppose the initiative, which already is being copied by organic enthusiasts in neighboring counties.

"We are prepared for perhaps even a lot of money being spent out here to defeat it," said Allen Cooperrider, owner of Ukiah Brewing Co. and one of the main organizers of the signature-gathering campaign. "But we don't think it will work in this county."