Ballot wording kept

By Mike Lee -- Bee Staff Writer

Published Wednesday, December 31, 2003

A Mendocino Superior Court judge won't strike sections of the voters pamphlet that the state's farm chemical and biotech companies say are misleading, according to a ruling made public Tuesday.

That means backers of a ban on growing genetically modified crops in Mendocino County will keep their original language that warns about the dangers of genetic contamination for organic farmers and the environment.

The proposed ban, on the March 2 ballot, would be the first of its kind the nation.

A lawsuit filed last week on behalf of the California Plant Health Association -- a trade group that includes large biotech firms such as Monsanto -- said some wording submitted by ban backers was false and should be deleted.

Judge Leonard LaCasse said the statements "were more hyperbolic than blatantly false." He added that pamphlet statements submitted by foes of the ban were "at least equally provocative."