California has no laws on GM and needs them / Action alert (24/6/2006)

1.California has no laws controlling GM and needs them

1.Santa Cruz County outlaws genetically engineered plants
COMMENT: Laws governing commercial produce critical, but backyard crops may still be at risk
Deborah Rich,
San Francisco Chronicle, June 24, 2006

Monsanto's purchase of Seminis, the world's largest developer of fruit and vegetable seeds, in 2005 is probably part of a push to extend genetic engineering technology into commercially grown fruits and vegetables.

Under such brands as Seminis, Asgrow, Petoseed and Royal Sluis, Seminis supplies 3,500 seed varieties to 155 countries.

In the 1990s, soon after Monsanto developed the ability to cut bacteria genes and paste them into corn and soybean genomes, the company went on a buying spree, scooping up regional and national corn and soybean seed companies. Monsanto now dominates the biotech industry with its seeds or licensed traits present on 88 percent of the acreage planted with genetically engineered crops worldwide.

Without state regulation, when engineered fruits and vegetables reach the market, consumers who don't want them will have to buy organic.

But even organic and backyard produce may not be safe. DNA from engineered plants has spread over longer distances than previously expected and contaminated regular crops through wind and pollinators such as animals, birds and people.

Under current federal law not even genetically engineered seed has to be labeled. Conceivably, growers could unknowingly buy and plant genetically engineered seed. (Bags of seeds of varieties genetically engineered to produce their own toxins do have to bear a label identifying active and inactive ingredients.)

The inadequacies of federal regulations are becoming increasingly apparent. In December 2005 the Department of Agriculture reported that its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service -- the agency charged with controlling and monitoring genetically engineered test plots -- frequently does not know where genetically engineered tests are planted, if pollen containment protocols are in place or how test material is being disposed of.

And although genetically engineered modifications of fruits and vegetables important to the state's agriculture are poised to enter the field, California has no laws or regulations governing genetically modified organisms.


On 28 June, the California State Assembly Agriculture Committee will consider a bill (SB 1056) that will take away local government authority over seed regulation. If passed, this bill will override restrictions on GM crops and seeds.

In 2005, a groundswell of organizational and citizen response stopped the California pre-emption attempts - help prevent the passage of this bill once and for all.

1. Call, email or fax your own Assembly member to ask them to oppose SB1056. True Food Network http://www.truefoodnow.org/ has set up an online action page or use the sample letter at http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=6650

Call your local elected officials and encourage them to do the same.

2. Attend the Assembly Agriculture Committee hearing in Sacramento on 28 June to voice your opposition (for details, contact Becky at 510-647-3733 or [email protected])

3. Forward this email to everyone you know in California and urge them to take action!

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