The Tribune against Measure Q
The Tribune posted an editorial stating their opposition to Measure Q on Saturday, October 16th, 2004. It describes the debate over the measure “boiling down to one sentence: ‘It shall be unlawful for any person or entity to propagate, cultivate, raise, or grow genetically engineered organisms in San Luis Obispo County.” The Tribune claims that “Measure Q is a poorly written ordinance with unintended consequences of banning research on life-saving medicines.” It begins with an effective strategy of stating arguments of the proponents and responding to each, but continues with an unconvincing list of reasons to vote against Measure Q and a conclusion that weakly ties the article together.
To open the editorial, the author questions proponent’s credibility. “Proponents say the ban would give county farmers protection from GE crops until all risks are known,” is argued by the statement, “The farming community by and large says that the ban will hurt them competitively if or when they decide to use GE seeds.” The supporters of Measure Q are questioned as to where they are getting their information if the people they are “protecting” feel the ordinance will hurt them. This is a successful strategy to convince the reader that advocates of the ordinance are untrustworthy.
The article supports its claim that Measure Q is a badly written ordinance by discussing the use of the broad term “organism” in the measure. It includes arguments from two credible sources, San Luis Obispo attorney Robin Baggett and the Washington D.C law firm of Arent Fox. The two agree that the use of the word “organism” implies both laboratory research as well as crops, therefore both would be banned. Baggett, a lawyer and president of the San Luis Obispo Vintners and Growers Association sent a letter to the Health Commission which stated “that the term ‘organism’ is defined as ‘any living thing, exclusive of human beings and human fetuses…and courts will enforce that definition.’” Adding strength to the argument that GE crops and GE medical applications are inseparable is that the Health Commission “has voted 7-3 not to take a stance on the issue.” Fox writes that, “all genetically engineered organisms are biological systems; a prohibition on growth or propagation is a prohibition on production, regardless of whether that growth or propagation takes place in a field or in a factory…Measure Q-04 unambiguously prohibits all commercial research and production of genetically engineered organisms.” The credentials of these sources solidify the claim.
In addition to the central controversy about the term “organism,” additional reasons are given to vote against the measure. The first includes two issues concerning the Cal Poly agricultural department. It argues that the measure is discriminatory against local farmers by making Cal Poly exempt from it. In order not to turn Cal Poly students and faculty off, the article also...