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Pima County schedules 5 public meetings on Monsanto

Pima County has scheduled five public meetings this month to take further comments on a controversial greenhouse that the Monsanto company plans to build near Marana.

The $100 million, seven-acre greenhouse would be used to develop and grow corn in an effort to cultivate new types of corn seeds, in part with genetically modified plants.

Even though the county says it has no control over whether the greenhouse can be built, Monsanto’s plan has drawn massive opposition. A petition in opposition was signed by about 1,100 people and drew 350 comments.

Most of the 51 people who spoke at a Nov. 22 hearing before the Pima County Board of Supervisors opposed the company’s presence, largely because of its history of producing pesticides such as Roundup and plans to create genetically modified crops.

Nevertheless, Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckleberry said state law prohibits the county from controlling agricultural property and that it essentially can’t stop the greenhouse. The company bought 155 acres at Twin Peaks and Sanders Roads in an unincorporated area of Pima County and completed the purchased in October, before the board meeting. 

The county is only being asked to recommend that a federal board in Washington D.C. approve a foreign trade zone in Pima County that would help Monsanto save hundreds of thousands of dollars in property taxes. The vote by supervisors will only be advisory; officials with the Commerce Department of the incoming Trump administration will make the final determination.

Now the unused property generates about $1,950 a year in property taxes for Pima County, Marana Unified School District, the Pima County Community College district and other entities. But even with a tax break due to foreign trade zone status, the greenhouse would generate up to $650,000 per year in property taxes. Monsanto is expected to spend  $95-$105 million building the large climate-controlled greenhouse.

The greenhouse is expected to create 20-30 full-time jobs and 30-50 part-time positions. Salaries would be modest, averaging $35,000 for part-time workers and $44,000 for full-time employees.

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Monsanto has had a cotton seed research and development site in Casa Grande since 2010.

The company is a Fortune 500 firm based in St. Louis, Mo., with 404 facilities in 66 countries around the world. Last year it  was purchased for $66 billion by the Bayer company of Germany, creating a massive conglomerate offering pharmaceuticals, health products and pesticides. Regulators still have to approve the takeover.

At the November meeting, the board postponed a decision on the foreign-trade zone recommendation until its meeting Feb. 21 in an effort to let Monsanto respond to the comments.

Meetings will be:

  • Jan. 9:  5 p.m., Oro Valley Public Library, 1305 W. Naranja Dr.
  • Jan. 19: 6 p.m., Quincie Douglas Center, 1575  E 36th St.
  • Jan. 17: 5 p.m., Ellie Towne Community Center, 1660 W. Ruthrauff Rd.
  • Jan. 13: 11 a.m. Green Valley Recreation Center, Las Companas Room, 565 Belltower Dr.
  • Jan. 18: 6 p.m. Pima County Housing Center, 801 W. Congress St.

The community meetings will include Patrick Cavanaugh, deputy director of the county's economic development efforts, as well as Monsanto representatives and subject matter experts, county officials said.

The county plans to appoint an Agricultural Science Advisory Commission monitor the Monsanto operation, officials said.

The county has also set up a web page with information on Monsanto's planned Marana facility.

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3 comments on this story

3
4 comments
Jan 5, 2017, 1:47 pm
-1 +1

After we successfully kick Monsanto out of Pima County before they contaminate us let’s turn our attention to making the County Administrator position an ELECTED position. This guy is making backdoor sweetheart deals behind our backs while we pay him from our taxes a salary of over $300k per year. That’s more than the Speaker of the House, the Senate Majority and Minority leader, and the mayors of every major city on the planet. This county has less than a million people. We can’t afford this self proclaimed emperor.

2
2 comments
Jan 4, 2017, 4:57 pm
-0 +1

Thank you for providing this information to the public.
S.

1
11 comments
Jan 4, 2017, 8:05 am
-0 +1

While considering Project Corn, the BOS might read this article from the journal Entropy about Monsanto’s signature product.  It concludes:

“The pathologies to which (Monsanto’s) glyphosate could plausibly contribute, through its known biosemiotic effects, include inflammatory bowel disease,obesity, depression, ADHD, autism, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, multiple sclerosis, cancer, cachexia, infertility, and developmental malformations…. Glyphosate is likely to be pervasive in our food supply, and, contrary to being essentially nontoxic, it may in fact be the most biologically disruptive chemical in our environment.”

The link to the entire article is http://www.mdpi.com/1099-4300/15/4/1416/htm.

It is also wrong to schedule the promised public meetings some 20 miles or more away from the Monsanto site where thousands of neighbors may be exposed to toxic chemicals.  One should be scheduled at Marana High School, just one mile from the proposed GMO factory.

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

In 2013, 90 percent of the U.S. corn crop came from genetically modified strains, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.