Published on October 2nd, 2008 | by Meg Hamill2
New California Law Protects Farms Against Genetic Engineering Threats
California passes its first law protecting farmers who have not been able to prevent GE contamination of their non GE crops.
We’ve all heard the horror stories: A farmer’s crop is contaminated by Genetically Engineered (GE) seeds, and that farmer is subsequently harassed and brought to court by the biotech patent owners (such as Monsanto) of those seeds. In some cases, that farmer has also been held liable for contaminating other farmer’s crops with his own unintentionally contaminated crop. Just this week, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a landmark piece of legislation, protecting California’s farmers from just such liability.
It is the first bill to be passed by the California Legislature that brings regulation to the Genetically Engineered (GE) crops. The bill, AB541 (Huffman, D-Marin/Sonoma) protects and compensates farmers who have not been able to prevent GE contamination of their non-GE crop. AB541 was sponsored by a coalition of agriculture organizations and food businesses, including California Certified Organic Farmers, Earthbound Farm and the California Farm Bureau Federation.“AB 541 provides much needed protection for farmers who typically lack the resources to fight lawsuits brought by biotech conglomerates,” stated Renata Brillinger, director of the Genetic Engineering Policy Project, the coalition sponsoring AB 541. “This is a good first step towards establishing that Monsanto – not farmers – is legally responsible for the economic, environmental and health harms caused by their patented and uncontrollable products.”
The bill also requires mandatory crop sampling when the biotech patent owners investigate alleged violations.
Source: Organic Consumers Association
Photo Source: Photo from Flickr.com under a Creative Commons License