GENET archive


2-Plants: New alliance formed to defend Californian campaigns toban GE crops

                                  PART I
-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  4 Calif. Counties to Vote on Biotech Food
SOURCE: Associated Press, by Paul Elias / Miami Herald, USA
DATE:   14 Jul 2004

------------------- archive: -------------------

4 Calif. Counties to Vote on Biotech Food

SAN FRANCISCO - Organizers in four counties have gathered enough
signatures to place anti-biotechnology measures on their November ballots.

Activists in Marin, Humboldt, Butte and San Luis Obispo were galvanized
by a Mendocino County law passed in March that bans genetically modified
plants and animals.

Organizers in several more California counties are collecting signatures
in hopes of qualifying their own anti-biotech measures in early 2005 and
activists in other local municipalities in Hawaii, Vermont and elsewhere
are also circulating petitions and urging politicians to pass similar

Activist and biotech proponents are increasingly battling over
genetically engineered crops and animals at the state and local level.
More than 100 pieces of legislation in support and against biotechnology
were introduced in state legislatures across the country last year,
according to the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology.

The growing piecemeal legislation of biotechnology in local
municipalities is exactly what the industry had hoped to stem when it
spent $700,000 in a failed attempt to defeat the Mendocino measure.

The Washington D.C.-based Biotechnology Industry Organization said the
industry is already heavily regulated by three federal agencies and that
local laws will merely confuse industry and consumers alike. Spokeswoman
Lisa Dry said the lobbying outfit hasn't decided on an opposition
strategy to the anti-biotech measure this November.

The Mendocino law has had little practical effect because no genetically
modified crops or animals are raised in the sparsely populated Northern
California county. Nor are any grown in the four counties expected to
vote on bans in November.

In fact few food crops in California, the country's largest farming
state, are genetically modified.

Still, the ballot measures underscore the growing tension between
consumers and the biotechnology industry. Some 167 million acres of
biotech crops were planted worldwide in 2003, an increase of 15 percent
over the previous year.

Yet European consumers are widely entrenched in their aversion to
genetically modified food and pockets of similar resistance are popping
up in the United States, where nearly all the country's soy and half the
corn is genetically modified with bacteria genes to resist pests or the
popular Monsanto Co. weedkiller Roundup.

Cotton, canola and papayas are other approved crops, and researchers are
experimenting with dozens of other plants. No genetically engineered
animals have been approved for human consumption, but an application to
market biotech salmon designed to grow faster than normal is pending
before federal regulators.

Biotech opponents argue that not enough research has been done to ensure
biotechnology causes no health and environmental damage.

Others argue that biotechnology companies, which patent their creations
and require farmers to pay for a technology license to use genetically
engineered seeds, are disrupting thousands of years of farming practices
throughout the world and destroying cultures in developing nations.

The industry counters that the negative effects are nonexistent, pointing
out that not a single stomach ache has been reported since the Food and
Drug Administration first approved genetically engineered crops for human
consumption 10 years ago. Moreover, they note that crops genetically
engineered to resist weeds and bugs enable farmers to decrease pesticide use.

                                  PART II
-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

SOURCE: Organic Consumers Association, USA, Press Release
DATE:   13 Jul 2004

------------------- archive: -------------------


As more than a dozen California counties launch campaigns to ban the
growing of genetically altered crops, a new alliance was announced today
to battle the rising threat from the biotech industry.

Called the BioDemocracy Alliance, the group combines the resources and
key staff of two groups: GMO Free Mendocino and the Organic Consumers

"We formed the BioDemocracy Alliance specifically to beat back the
biotech bullies who want to undermine the rights of California counties,
to prohibit the growing of genetically altered crops," said Ryan Zinn,
Campaign Coordinator of the Organic Consumer Association. "Whether it's
in the courtroom, the statehouse or in the campaign trenches, we're here
to support these counties and to protect our hard-won victories."

The Organic Consumer Association is the nation's largest public interest
group dedicated to a healthy and sustainable food system. With more than
90,000 California network members alone, the organization is committed to
the BioDemocracy Alliance's mission to defend and promote the fledgling
county campaigns across the country.

The other partner in the new alliance is GMO Free Mendocino -- the
grassroots organization that ran the successful campaign to make
Mendocino County, California the first county in the nation to ban the
growing of genetically engineered crops.

Now the symbolic heart of the GMO-resistance movement, Mendocino County
inspired enormous momentum statewide, and across the nation through the
passage of Measure H. More than a dozen California counties and several
counties outside the state have launched similar campaigns or initiatives.

"With the Measure H victory, we are committed to defending Mendocino's
landmark vote and spreading GMO-Free county initiatives across the
state," according to Doug Mosel, campaign coordinator for GMO Free
Mendocino and BioDemocracy Alliance spokesperson.

The new alliance will be instrumental in fighting the money and clout of
the biotech industry lobby -- which has repeatedly threatened to
undermine Measure H and referring to the anti-GMO county movement now
sweeping the state as the "H Bomb." After Mendocino's historic vote,
Allen Noe, spokesperson for industry heavyweight CropLife America told
reporters: "We're looking at a number of things to remedy the
situation.... a court challenge to Mendocino's ban, an attempt to pass
state legislation to prevent counties passing such bans or persuade the
federal government, which regulates biotech products, to halt local bans."

Now sources in Sacramento are reporting that the biotech industry is
actively seeking sponsors for a bill in the state legislature that would
preempt the right of counties to ban genetically engineered crops.

"The Alliance is set to spread GMO-Free zones across the state and take
on the Biotech giants with BioDemocracy," said Katrina Frey of Frey
Vineyards and GMO Free Mendocino.

County Contacts

GMO Free Mendocino County
Els Cooperrider
Laura Hamburg

GE Free Marin County
Frank Egger

GE Free Butte County
Susan Sullivan
Scott Wolf

GMO Free Humboldt County
Martha Devine

GE Free San Luis Obispo County
Ryan Rich

Ryan Zinn, Organic Consumers Association, 415-271-6833
Doug Mosel, GMO-Free Mendocino, 707-485-6672 or 707-391-6368

                                  PART III
-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  GMO battle next for agriculture
SOURCE: Western Farm Press, USA, by Harry Cline
DATE:   12 Jul 2004

------------------- archive: -------------------

GMO battle next for agriculture

MADERA, Calif. -- Australian viticultural researchers have reported
identifying genes in wine grape varieties that are highly resistant to
powdery mildew and are working to transfer those genes to highly
susceptible varieties.

If successful, according to University of California viticulture farm
advisor for Madera County George Leavitt, that offers great promise for
California grape growers to reduce pesticide use.

For example, Rubired is highly resistant to powdery mildew, but Carignane
is not. If the genes that trigger powdery mildew resistance can be
extracted from Rubired and inserted into new plantings of Carignane, it
could mean growers would not have to treat as often for powdery mildew
and sulfur may be all they would need, according to Leavitt.

However, it may be a race that may end in a dead heat or a dead issue.

If the Australians are successful, that would make the gene-inserted
powdery mildew susceptible variety a genetically modified organism (GMO)
and environmental radicals want to ban GMOs from California agriculture.

They have succeeded in banning GMOs in Mendocino County via a ballot
initiative last spring. Humboldt County has a similar ballot initiative
on an upcoming ballot.

"GMO technology offers the best opportunity grape growers have to reduce
pesticide use," Leavitt told growers and pest control advisers at a
recent powdery mildew field day in Madera, Calif.

Leavitt said that movement is spreading from Mendocino and Humboldt
counties to larger grape growing areas like Sonoma, Santa Barbara and San
Luis Obispo.

"GMOs are going to be the next big fight for agriculture in the next five
years," said Leavitt. The battle will focus on row crops like cotton and
corn, but it will spill over into permanent corps if efforts like those
under way in Australia are successful.

Leavitt also believes the battle will eventually end up in court.

"I believe regulating GMOs is a federal responsibility, not county
ordinances," he said.


European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

Hartmut MEYER (Mr)
Kleine Wiese 6
D - 38116 Braunschweig

P: +49-531-5168746
F: +49-531-5168747
M: +49-162-1054755
E: coordination(*)
W: <>

   GENET-news mailing list