Don't Forget About Genetic Engineering
Back in '01-'02, well before Oceans as Wilderness, our environmental focus was on genetic engineering. While there were some victories associated with that campaign, the issue has not gone away. The following action alert came from one of our environmental grantees in California. Hopefully, more states will follow suit.
Support New Legislation Protecting Communities and Farmers from Genetically Engineered (GE) Crops
Assemblymember Jared Huffman (6th AD) has introduced AB 541, The Food and Farm Protection Act. The bill would establish California’s only state laws related to genetic engineering (GE) in agriculture and protect California farmers, consumers, and the food supply. The Environmental Defense Center has endorsed AB 541, and the bill is quickly gaining support from other agricultural, environmental, health, faith and business organizations.
WHAT: AB 541 - Food and Farm Protection Act:
Send comments to Assembly Agriculture Committee
WHERE: The Honorable Nicole Parra
Chair, Assembly Agriculture Committee
1020 N Street, Room 362
Sacramento, CA 95814
Fax: (916) 319 – 2184
ALSO please send copy to:
Assemblyman Huffman Jared Huffman
Fax: (916) 319 - 2106
OVERVIEW OF AB 541
The State of California has no policies regulating GE crops, and the federal government is failing in its oversight role. Given this regulatory void, eight counties attempted to pass local restrictions on GE crops, four of which now have county bans or moratoria on GE crop production in place. In the 2005/06 legislative session, biotechnology and agribusiness interests sponsored a bill that would have pre-empted local authority over GE, but failed due to a groundswell of opposition from grassroots organizations, citizens, and elected officials around the state. AB 541 will put in place a coherent policy that addresses the risk of GE contamination, without banning any GE crop.
AB 541 protects California farmers and the food supply in four ways:
- Establishes the right of farmers and landowners to compensation for economic losses due to genetic contamination of their crops
- Protects farmers from being sued by a GE manufacturer if their crop is contaminated by that company’s GE product.
- Establishes a county-level GE crop notification process so that farmers can trace contamination to the GE manufacturer
- Protects the food supply by prohibiting the open-field cultivation of genetically engineered food crops used to produce drugs and biologics such as hormones and antibiotics.
To read a longer summary of the issue, please refer to the Position Paper posted on the web site of the Genetic Engineering Policy Alliance.
It is very important that Assemblymember Huffman’s office also receive a copy of your letter. Please send a copy for their records Attn: Rebecca Darling or fax 916-319-2106.
[With thanks to the Environmental Defense Center; Photo: Organic seedlings and ladybug. By: Free]