Standing room only for first public Monsanto Meeting

Published: Jan. 10, 2017 at 2:52 AM MST|Updated: Mar. 2, 2018 at 11:12 AM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Monday night was the first of several public meetings where folks had a chance to share their feelings on the proposed Monsanto greenhouse facility coming to unincorporated Pima County near Marana.

It was standing room only in the meeting held at the Oro Valley Library.

A representative from Monsanto attended the meeting to answer questions from the public.

Monsanto recently purchased a 155-acre unused agricultural site near Twin Peaks and Sanders roads. The company plans to invest nearly $100 million in a seven-acre greenhouse facility where it would develop and grow genetically modified corn.

Those against Monsanto building a greenhouse in Pima County said they're worried the company will have a negative impact on our environment with their use of pesticides and other chemicals.

"It's so unclear as to what affects it's going to have on our environment and also it's  kind of a pattern I'm seeing in the world where big money and big corporations are going to be in charge of everything," Tracy Taylor said.

"They have a terrible track record of how they pollute the groundwater which is precious here in Tucson – contaminating neighboring crops," Torrey Postal said.

Monsanto says the corn will be grown inside a fully enclosed glass greenhouse.

"Because the plants are inside a protected environment we expect to see very little if any weed competition because they are growing in pots. So, we expect the use of herbicides to be nearly zero, very low," Monsanto Product Strategy Leader, Amanda McClerren said.

Marana farmer, John Post was spraying pesticide almost weekly in the 90s and said that he experienced crop failure. He was apprehensive at first but now uses GMOs. He said it's amazing technology that changes agriculture for the better. He is in support of Monsanto coming to our area.

"They are a big company for a reason and that's because they produce a really good product that farmers around the world want to grow," Post said.

Tucson News Now spoke with the Monsanto representative and asked: "You don't believe there will be any negative consequences with Monsanto coming to Pima County?

"I don't. I think there's 30 years of history understanding GMOS and the really positive impacts on the environment – reduced carbon footprint is a big one," McClerren said.

The county cannot stop the farm by state law, but Pima County is prepared to give the company a tax package which many people object to.

Monday night's meeting was so full not everyone got a chance to speak before they had to lock up the library, but the board of Pima County Supervisors are putting on several more meetings over the next few weeks.
The following is a schedule of the meetings:

  • District 2: 6 p.m., Jan. 19; Quincie Douglas Center, 1575 E. 36th Street
  • District 3: 5 p.m., Jan. 17; Ellie Towne Community Center, 1660 W. Ruthrauff Road
  • District 4: 11 a.m., Jan. 13; Green Valley Recreation Center - Las Companas Room, 565 W. Belltower Drive
  • District 5: 6 p.m., Jan. 18; Pima County Housing Center, 801 W. Congress Street

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