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6-Regulation: Biotech executives feel threatened by California rice bill



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TITLE:  A) Biotech executives feel threatened by California rice bill
        B) Assembly Bill No. 2622: Farm products: rice seed certification
SOURCE: A) Knight-Ridder Tribune, USA, by Dale Kasler
           edited and sent by Agnert, Canada
        B) State of California, Legislatice Counsil
           http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/postquery?bill_number=
           ab_2622&sess=CUR&house=A
DATE:   A) September 2, 2000
        B) November 13, 2000

------------------ archive: http://www.gene.ch/genet.html ------------------


Biotech executives feel threatened by California rice bill

In a dispute with what this story calls implications for California 
biotechnology and the Sacramento Valley's rice industry, some biotech 
executives were cited as saying a bill that passed the California 
Legislature recently could make it difficult, if not impossible, to sell 
genetically engineered rice in the state. The story says that the bill, 
awaiting Gov. Gray Davis' signature, would establish standards for keeping 
different varieties of rice separate from each other—and would impose a fee 
on the sale of certain types of seeds.

Although the bill doesn't specifically mention biotech or genetic 
engineering, and the bill's backers say they are merely trying to help 
California rice growers market their products worldwide, some in the 
biotech industry believe the measure is targeted at them. David Higgins, 
states affairs manager for rice-seed manufacturer Aventis CropScience Inc. 
was quoted as saying that under the bill's standards, "biotech rice will be 
characterized as bad rice."

The story says that the controversy raises the biotech debate to a new 
level. The industry, already under siege from environmental and food-safety 
groups, now apparently is locking horns with some of its own customers: 
farmers. The bill, AB 2622, was sponsored by the California Rice 
Commission, a trade group representing growers and millers. Peggy Lemaux, a 
biotech expert at the University of California, Berkeley, was cited as 
saying rice growers are leery of antagonizing customers, particularly in 
foreign markets where biotech foods have a bad reputation, adding, "It's 
taken a while for California rice to gain acceptance in Japan," she said. 
"(Growers) don’t want to lose that market."

About 40 percent of California's $320 million-plus rice crop is exported, 
much of it to Japan, where anti-biotech bias is strong. Higgins said the 
commission is "trying to protect the status quo. They're trying to live in 
the past, and that's where they’re going to be stuck when this technology 
is introduced. "I'm a little worried about California's future as far as 
biotechnology is concerned," Higgins said.

                               *****


B) Assembly Bill No. 2622: Farm products: rice seed certification
[Approved by Governor September 22, 2000. Filed with Secretary of State 
September 23, 2000.]

the entire document can be downloaded at the web page indicated above

Article 2. Definitions
55009. "Characteristics of commercial impact" means characteristics 
that 
may adversely affect the marketability of rice in the event of commingling 
with other rice and may include, but are not limited to, those 
characteristics that cannot be visually identified without the aid of 
specialized equipment or testing, those characteristics that create a 
significant economic impact in their removal from commingled rice, and 
those characteristics whose removal from commingled rice is infeasible.

Article 5. Commercial Impact Rice
55050. Except as provided for in Section 55052, no person may plant, 
produce, harvest, transport, dry, store, or otherwise handle rice 
identified as having characteristics of commercial impact, except in 
compliance with the provisions of this chapter and the regulations adopted 
under it. Regulations shall be adopted by the secretary, in accordance with 
Section 55022, to accomplish all of the following purposes:
(a) Maintain the integrity and prevent contamination of rice which has not 
been identified as having characteristics of commercial impact.
(b) Prevent the introduction of disease, weeds, or other pests.
(c) Ensure that persons selling, offering for sale, or otherwise 
distributing seed for the production of rice pursuant to subdivision
(a) of Section 55040 or bringing rice identified pursuant to subdivision 
(a) of Section 55040 into the state for processing notify the commission of 
the location of planting sites and of the dates and procedures for 
planting, producing, harvesting, transporting, drying, storing, or 
otherwise handling of the rice.
(d) Ensure that persons receiving rice having been identified pursuant to 
subdivision (a) of Section 55040 produced outside the state for processing 
notify the commission of the location of the receipt and of the procedures 
for processing, transporting, drying, storing, or otherwise handling the 
rice to prevent commercial impact to other rice and the spread of weeds, 
disease, or other pests.
(e) Enforce the restrictions and conditions imposed on the planting, 
producing, harvesting, transporting, drying, storing, or otherwise handling 
of rice identified pursuant to subdivision (a) of Section 55040.
(f) Encourage research and development of new types of rice.


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