GENET archive


6-Regulation: Nine US states limit local GMO regulations

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

TITLE:  9 US states limit local GM reg's
        US States Passing Laws to Block Local GMO-Free Ordinances
SOURCE: The Non-GMO Report 5 (4), USA / posted by Ellinghuysen News
DATE:   Apr 2005

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9 US states limit local GM reg's
US States Passing Laws to Block Local GMO-Free Ordinances

At least nine US states, including Pennsylvania, Georgia, North Dakota,
Iowa, Idaho, Indiana, Oklahoma, Arizona, and West Virginia have either
passed or introduced legislation that would preempt local cities and
countries from restricting the sale of genetically modified seeds.

The bills are viewed as a nationally coordinated attempt to block GMO-
free ordinances similar to those approved by citizens in Mendocino and
Marin counties in California in 2004.

In March, Iowa's House of Representative passed a bill, House File 642,
that would preempt "a local governmental entity...from adopting or
enforcing legislation which relates to the production, use, advertising,
sale, distribution, storage, transportation, formulation, packaging,
labeling, certification, or registration of agricultural seed." A similar
bill was introduced into the Iowa Senate.

State Representative Sandy Greiner (R-Keota), who introduced HF 642,
argued the bill is needed to make seed regulations uniform statewide
instead of a "patchwork" of local regulations.

Mona Bond, of the Agribusiness Association of Iowa, which lobbied to
introduce the bill, said, "The bill is not about GMOs, it's about seed.
Farmers shouldn't be prohibited from growing what they want to grow."

"Legislate by and for the biotechnology industry"

However, opponents say HF 642 aims to protect producers of genetically
modified seed. Sate Representative Mark Kuhn, (D-Floyd) called the bill
"an attempt to legislate by and for the biotechnology industry." Kuhn
said the real issue is the economic damage caused to family farmers by
market rejection of GM crops.

State Representative John Whitaker (D-Van Buren) sees the bill as a
further erosion of local control over controversial agricultural
practices, such as genetically modified crops and hog confinement
facilities that raise significant health and environmental concerns.

"Soon, large corporations will be replacing small grain farmers because
they can't compete. This devastates rural communities and Main Streets,"
said Whitaker.

Roger Lansink, an organic farmer, said, "What if some areas want to
establish a GMC free zone for economic advantage? These bills will shout
the door to that possibility."

LaVon Griffieon, a farmer who produces GM seed, worries that the bill
would allow unregulated planting and contamination from crops engineered
to produce pharmaceuticals.

Officials at Vedic City, an Iowa town that has an ordinance requiring the
sale of organic food only, also oppose the bill. "We believe very
strongly in organic because organic does no harm to the environment,"
said Mayor Robert Wynne.

Aims to stop FMO-free initiatives

Opponents also charge that the main purpose of the bill is to block GMO-
free ballot measures similar to those passed in Mendocino and Marin
counties in California last year.

Citizens in those counties enacted local bans on cultivation of GM crops.
"What it really is, is an attempt to prevent, in Iowa, what has happened
in California, where counties have banned the growing of genetically
engineered crops," said Jeffrey Smith, director of the Institute for
Responsible Technology, based in Fairfield.

In early March, the House and Senate agricultural committees approved
their respective versions of the seed bill, and the full House passed it
by 70-27. If the Senate approves the bill, Governor Tom Vilsack is
expected to sign it into law.

During a House debate, Kuhn introduced an amendment to the bill that
would allow for the creation of "identity preserved" production zones for
producing organic and non-GM crops, but the measure was voted down 62-35.

Bills passed in PA, GA, ND; other states enacting legislation

If passed, the Iowa seed bill would be the fourth such legislation passed
in the United States. Last December, Pennsylvania passed House Bill 2387,
which states, "no ordinance or regulation of political subdivision or
home rule municipality may prohibit or in any way attempt to regulate any
matter relating to the registration, labeling, sale, storage,
transportation, distribution, notification of use or use of seeds."

In February, Georgia passed Senate Bill 87 that prohibits local
governments from regulating "seeds." In early March, the North Dakota
legislature passed a similar bill, Senate Bill 2277, by a 69 to 25 vote.
Ken Bertsch, seed commissioner with the North Dakot State Seed
Department, acknowledged that the bill aims to prevent passage of
Mendocino-type ordinances. "There is concern that what happened in
California could happen here, and that absent this type of legislation
there could develop a patchwork of different ordinances that could be
difficult to enforce," he said.

Similar seed bills have been introduced and are working their way through
legislatures in Idaho, Indiana, Oklahoma, Arizona, and West Virginia.

"Organized by big industry players"

Language in all the seed bills is similar, containing words such as
"registration, labeling, sale, storage, transportation, use, and
notification of use: of see. NO bills mention "genetically modified," or
"biotechnology" though Idaho's House Bill 38 states that local
regulations "are often not based on principles or good science," a
thinly-veiled reference to Mendocino County's rejection of GM crops.

Does the similar language indicate a coordinated nation wide effort to
pass such legislation? Joseph Mendelson, legal director at the Center for
Food Safety, thinks so. "I'm sure that it is organized by big industry
players who are fearful that the California strategy (GMO-free
initiatives) may spread," he said.

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

TITLE:  Bill banning local rules for crops approved
SOURCE: DesMoines Register, USA, by Jonathan Roos
DATE:   30 Mar 2005

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Bill banning local rules for crops approved

Gov. Tom Vilsack is expected to sign a bill that precludes local
governments from banning the planting of certain crops, such as seeds
that have been genetically modified.

The Senate completed legislative action on House File 642 by voting 33-16
in favor of the bill on Tuesday.

The "pre-emption" bill gives the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land
Stewardship final authority on seed grown in Iowa.

Supporters say that means cities and counties can't bar the planting of
genetically modified, organic or any other type of seeds.

"I think this is a good first step in the regulation of agricultural
seed," said Sen. Tom Rielly, an Oskaloosa Democrat.

Critics suggested that local government powers were being sacrificed to
satisfy the biotech industry and other large agricultural interests.
"When you vote for this bill, you're voting against home rule. . . .
You're voting against your locally elected officials," said Sen. Keith
Kreiman, a Bloomfield Democrat.

Senate Democratic leader Michael Gronstal of Council Bluffs, a supporter
of the bill, said he expects Vilsack, a Democrat, to approve the legislation.

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

TITLE:  Indiana moves to protect biotech seed
SOURCE: Brownfield Network, USA, by Gary Truitt
DATE:   24 Mar 2005

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- audio information:
- more about HB1302:

Indiana moves to protect biotech seed

A bill to restrict a local government's ability to ban the planting of
biotech seeds is advancing in the Indiana General Assembly. HB1302,
authored by Representative Eric Gutwein of Rensselaer, passed the Senate
Agriculture Committee on Wednesday and will now be considered by the full
Senate. The bill gives the State Seedsman in the Office of the State
Chemist the sole authority to regulate the seed industry in the state.
This prevents local communities or counties from passing laws restricting
the use of certain types of seeds in their area.

Gutwein said this measure is needed to protect agriculture from a growing
threat. "There are special interest groups that are against biotechnology
and they are moving to get local governments to pass laws restricting the
use of this technology in a local area," he told the Senate Ag Committee
on Wednesday. Several communities in California have already passed such
local ordinances although no such efforts have yet been made in Indiana.
With over 80% of soybeans grown in Indiana coming from Biotech seeds,
such restrictions could be devastating. Cress Heizer, with the Indiana
Grain and Feed Association, said it is vital that regulation of the seed
industry be kept science-based.

The bill does provide an opportunity for local governments to appeal to
the State Chemist in cases of particular local circumstances. Heizer says
this leaves the door open for local communities to be involved in the
process if there is particular local issue involved. Lt. Governor Becky
Skillman has released a statement in support of the measure. "We are
supportive of this measure. It would create a system analogous to how the
state handles other inputs," Skillman's office said. The Indiana Soybean
Growers Association has also backed the legislation noting that such
protection exists for the pesticide and fertilizer industries and should
be afforded the seed industry. The bill now goes before the full State Senate.


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