California voters created a 13,734-square-mile non-GMO zone
- Sonoma County voters approved a ban on GMOs and won by nearly 12 percentage points during nationwide elections Tuesday, SFGate reported.
- Sonoma County is the sixth in California to pass legislation banning GMO use in local agriculture. That list also includes Santa Cruz, Mendocino, Humboldt, Trinity and Marin.
- Sonoma County connects Marin to Mendocino, Humboldt and Trinity, which means last week's vote officially created a 13,734-square-mile non-GMO cultivation zone, the largest such area in the United States.
Local goverments in other parts of the country, such as Hawaii and Oregon, have also sought to ban GMO cultivation, but with less success than these six California counties. Hawaiian counties passed GMO bans that federal judges later overturned, and a county in Oregon passed a ban in 2014 that legislators later deemed invalid because of conflicts with a state law.
But California now has a significant swath of land and soil legally protected from GMO contamination. The fact that this large GMO-free zone is located in California is also significant, since the state is a major agricultural producer for the rest of the country.
This could have mixed implications for manufacturers, depending in part on their stance on GMO ingredients. For manufacturers that have switched or plan to switch to using non-GMO ingredients, this zone could mean better accessibility to certified farmers and ingredients.
The opposite is true for manufacturers who support the use of GMO ingredients. If more counties, particularly in California, continue to pass these GMO bans, manufacturers could lose access to a significant portion of the farmland that once cultivated their genetically-modified crops.