These are the stories to watch around Marana in 2017.
Monstanto’s plans to put a greenhouse and research facility on recently purchased land just outside of the Marana town limits has already caused a lot of ire.
The agricultural firm, controversial for its genetic engineering of seeds and its business practices, is seeking to lower its tax rate by establishing a foreign trade zone. As part of the deal, Monsanto negotiated with Marana Unified School District to make up for some lost revenues. The $500,000 deal made a lot of financial sense to the school district but has drawn the ire of some parents and anti-GMO activists.
Several area farmers have said that they already use Monsanto seeds and that the genetically modified product has drastically reduced the use of pesticides in the area and has made the crop yield increase.
The Pima County Board of Supervisors will hear more about the proposed foreign trade zone, as well as studies on the environmental impact of the facility, at a February meeting. Ultimately, though, the Board of Supervisors will only make a recommendation regarding the the establishment of a foreign trade zone; the federal government actually grants the designation.
Considering the land purchased by Monsanto was owned, in part, by Marana Town Council Member Herb Kai and is within half a mile of Marana High School, this story may continue long into 2017.
One of the latest controversies of the year may be one of the bigger stories of 2017. Marana High School banned students from displaying the Confederate Flag on school grounds