Democracy and genetic engineering in California

The Center for Food Safety alerted us tonight that a bill to prevent counties from passing any laws pertaining to seeks and nursery stock, including genetic engineered seeds, passed the Assembly last Thursday and moves back to the state Senate this coming Thursday.

This is a bill state Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter is carrying on behalf of the biotechnology industry to make sure that the four California counties that have already passed anti-GMO measures remain the only four counties that will ever have a right to defend themselves against untested, gene-polluting genetically engineered crops.

The Center for Food Safety said,

The state government currently has no regulations for genetic engineering in agriculture ... Denying local governments the right to pass laws, especially when there are no state regulations, is unconstitutional and undemocratic.

We see the critical importance of more local measures to stop the spread of unwanted GMOs in the nation's largest and by far most diverse agricultural state when considering just the latest lawsuit filed against a biotech corporation, Bayer.

Of course, Assemblywoman Barbara Matthews, D-Tracy and chair of the Assembly Committee on Agriculture, voted with biotechnology against all farmers in the state who would prefer selling non-GMO crops to those trying to sell GMO crops to consistently resistent foreign markets. This is one more example of how big money makes stupid policy that puts transnational corporate profits before people and family business.

As seen in the article below, although California grows a type of rice that has not yet been genetically engineered, California growers joined this lawsuit, arguing that GMOs have no respect for fence lines -- genetic drift and GMO contamination of non-GMO crops is as well proven as global warming and other facts inconvenient to corporate power.

This is an issue of democracy, or more properly the loss of it. Al Gore put it well recently, when he said: "Questions of fact that are threatening to wealth and power become questions of power ..." -- Gore lashes Out at Media Consolidation, Jill Lawless, Associated Press, Aug. 28, 2006.

We urge you all to contact your state senators to ask them to vote against this bill for the enrichment of the biotechnology industry at the expense of many of the state's farmers and at the expense of the political process.

Published on Monday, August 28, 2006 by the Associated Press
Gore Lashes Out at Media Consolidation
by Jill Lawless


US rice farmers sue Bayer CropScience over GM rice
29 August 2006

LOS ANGELES: Rice farmers in Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and California have sued Bayer CropScience, alleging its genetically modified rice has contaminated the crop, attorneys for the farmers said.

The lawsuit was filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas in Little Rock, law firm Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll said in a statement.

The farmers alleged that the unit of Germany's Bayer AG failed to prevent its genetically modified rice, which has not been approved for human consumption, from entering the food chain.

As a result, they said, Japan and the European Union have placed strict limits on US rice imports and US rice prices have dropped dramatically.

A Bayer representative could not be immediately reached for comment.

US agriculture and food safety authorities learned on July 31 that Bayer's unapproved rice had been found in commercial bins in Arkansas and Missouri. While the United States is a small rice grower, it is one of the world's largest exporters, sending half of its crop to foreign buyers.

The genetically engineered long grain rice has a protein known as Liberty Link, which allows the crop to withstand applications of an herbicide used to kill weeds.

Japan, the largest importer of US rice, suspended imports of US long-grain rice a week ago.

The US Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration have said there are no public health or environmental risks associated with the genetically engineered rice.

The United States is expected to produce a rice crop valued at $1.88 billion in 2006. US rice growers are responsible for about 12 per cent of world rice trade. Three-fourths of the crop is long grain, grown almost entirely in the lower Mississippi Valley. California, the No 2 rice state, grows short grain rice.