Policies & Politics

Published on October 2nd, 2008 | by Meg Hamill


New California Law Protects Farms Against Genetic Engineering Threats

October 2nd, 2008 by

This is a guest post by Meg Hamill, a freelance writer who also works at LandPaths in partnership with the Open Space District of Sonoma County, California.

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

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About the Author

Meg Hamill has been working in the environmental non-profit field in Northern California for the past six years. She currently works as a naturalist for LandPaths (in partnership with the Open Space District) in Santa Rosa California. She teaches poetry in the public school through California Poets in the Schools (CPITS) and has traveled extensively throughout South and Central America, picking up Spanish along the way. In 1999 she completed a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. Meg holds an MFA in Creative Writing and has published two books of political/environmental poetry. Read more, buy books and e-mail Meg at www.meghamill.com.

  • I guess the proof of the pudding is in the size of the compensation that farmers get for being subject to this pollution. Shows that early fears about contamination were justified.

  • Uncle B

    American super capitalist government coming out against Monsanto and the likes? Fuck off! there’s gotta be a catch Bugs! we know better, the little guy has been shit under the heel of these bastards forever! No way Hose, I don’t trust it! We all know what to do when we are told to bend over! We even bring our own Vaseline to the event!

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