Tag Archives: science in sacramento

Science in Sacramento: Steps toward a ban on genetically engineered food in California

This post is part of a series called “Science in Sacramento” which examines how science effects California state policy and vice-versa.

Source: http://www.fitnraw.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/GMOTomato.jpgEarly in May, supporters of a proposed California ballot measure to label foods containing genetically modified food celebrated. They had surpassed their goal, turning in over 900,000 signatures to put a measure before voters in November. Given the topic’s contentious past, and because the number of signatures is double the amount required, California residents are very likely to be hearing quite a bit about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) until Election Day.

Some countries in Asia and Europe require labeling of any product containing genetically modified food, but similar progress has not been made in the United States. California would be the first state to begin the practice. Similar ballot measures in Connecticut recently and years ago in Oregon have proven unsuccessful. Because California health and environmental laws, like the ban on smoking, tend to set trends for the nation, opponents of genetically modified food from all over the US are hoping the law is passed in November.

Science in Sacramento: Researchers and gold miners

This post begins a series called “Science in Sacramento”, which will examine how science effects state policy and vice-versa.

Governor Jerry Brown’s recent line-item veto might have big consequences for… gold miners. Yes, gold miners. Though many California residents likely think of gold mining as an industry of the past, gold mines and other gold extraction endeavors continue to operate throughout California.

Modern miners rarely use gold pans or shovels, but rather a technique called suction dredging. After gravel from a river bed is loosened and pulled through a hose, the heavy gold is separated from the unwanted material by centrifugation. While efficient in collecting gold from riverbeds, the process has been shown to disrupt certain aquatic environments.

Peter Moyle, a professor at UC Davis, has studied the Klamath River and demonstrated that suction dredging irreversibly alters the life-cycle of Chinook salmon that spawn there. Moyle’s scientific research interests require him to observe fish in their native habitat; he initially realized suction dredging is a problem because he couldn’t see fish in rivers due to the sediment clouding the water. As a result of this and other research, a moratorium was placed on suction dredging for gold mining in California in 2009 until a comprehensive study could be conducted by the Department of Fish and Gaming.