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6-Regulation: Oregon (USA) Senate considers 'biopharm' crops ban

-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Senate considers 'biopharm' crops ban
SOURCE: Associated Press, by Niki Sullivan / Corvallis Gazette-Times, USA
DATE:   9 Apr 2005

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

Senate considers 'biopharm' crops ban
Lawmakers mull temporary halt to growing biologically engineered foodstuffs

SALEM -- Lawmakers are considering a temporary ban on growing food crops
in Oregon that are biologically engineered to produce drugs or chemicals,
such as vaccines.

Supporters of the bill say it would protect Oregon farmers from
potentially harmful crop contamination. Opponents say the bill is an
attempt to ban biologically engineered crops in general.

Oregon would become the first state to ban the crops, called
biopharmaceuticals or biopharms, under a bill that was brought up for its
first hearing Friday in the Senate Environment and Land Use Committee.

Currently in Oregon, genetically modified bentgrass is grown in Central
Oregon and several varieties of insect-resistant corn are commercially
available for farmers to grow.

But biopharm crops are a different type of genetically modified organism
that represent a small percentage of U.S.-grown biologically engineered

To create the crops, genes from other organisms are spliced into the
plant -- usually corn -- that prompt it to produce the desired chemical
compound, such as an anticoagulant or vaccine.

None are currently grown in Oregon, but the ban would prevent
pharmaceutical companies from looking to put fields here.

"Plant species grown for use as food for humans or animals should not be
grown to produce drugs and industrial chemicals," said Chris Schreiner,
quality control director for Oregon Tilth, Inc., a nonprofit organization
that certifies organic farms.

Schreiner compared biopharm crops to DDT, a chemical used more than 30
years ago because it was found to be toxic to humans and animals.
Schreiner said the effects of DDT could have been avoided if the chemical
wasn't "widely promoted and used prior to our full understanding of their
toxic effects."

The bill would not ban growing other genetically modified organisms, but
some warned that biopharm crops could contaminate food crops and have
other unforeseen biological consequences that would tarnish the image of
Oregon-grown foods.

"There is too much potential for leakage of these genes into the human
food supply," said Bitty Roy, a biology professor from Eugene.

Roy said the risks and benefits of such crops needs to be more carefully
studied before they are grown in the open air.

But others said the bill could cut off future economic benefits for
Oregon's farms and research facilities, and that the federal government
should create policy instead of a patchwork of state laws.

"This is a science discussion and these crops need to be grown under the
best management practices," said Katie Fast of the Oregon Farm Bureau,
but she said there's no reason to ban the crops altogether.

She said the bill could negatively affect Oregon's research facilities by
prohibiting them from growing experimental crops that could be medically

Katie Coba, director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture, said the
agency has no official position on the bill, but that "it's important to
remember that biopharming is regulated in the U.S. by the federal
government," and that new guidelines are expected in one to two years.

She also said biopharm crops are "not the scary stories that we've
heard," and said an example could be genetically enhancing a tomato to
provide more health benefits.


73rd OREGON LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY--2005 Regular Session

NOTE:  Matter within  { +  braces and plus signs + } in an amended
section is new. Matter within  { -  braces and minus signs - } is
existing law to be omitted. New sections are within { +  braces and plus
signs + } .

LC 1205

Senate Bill 570

Sponsored by Senators SHIELDS, GEORGE, BATES, MONNES ANDERSON (at the
request of Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility)


The following summary is not prepared by the sponsors of the measure and
is not a part of the body thereof subject to consideration by the
Legislative Assembly. It is an editor's brief statement of the essential
features of the measure as introduced.
Prohibits growing, raising or cultivating certain genetically engineered
plants. Imposes civil penalty for violation, not to exceed $25,000.
Applies to period commencing August 1, 2005, and ending July 31, 2009.
Declares emergency, effective on passage.

Relating to crops; and declaring an emergency.
Be It Enacted by the People of the State of Oregon:

SECTION 1.  { + Sections 2 to 4 of this 2005 Act may be cited as the
Oregon Genetically Engineered Pharmaceutical and Industrial Crop Act. + }

SECTION 2. { + As used in this section and section 3 of this 2005 Act:
(1) 'Genetically engineered' means that genetic material has been changed
through modern biotechnology in a way that does not occur naturally by
multiplication or natural recombination.
(2) 'Industrial crop':
 (a) Means, except as provided in paragraph (b) of this subsection,
genetically engineered plants that are designed to produce industrial
products, substances for use in industrial products, industrial or
research chemicals, or industrial or
research enzymes.
 (b) Does not mean a crop that is genetically engineered to produce:
  (A) A greater or lesser quantity of a chemical or enzyme that naturally
occurs in the plant; or
  (B) A chemical or enzyme that is generally recognized as safe by the
federal Food and Drug Administration.
(3) 'Modern biotechnology' means:
 (a) Recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid, the direct injection of nucleic
acid into cells or organelles, and other in vitro nucleic acid techniques;
 (b) Fusion of cells beyond the taxonomic family, if the fusion:
  (A) Overcomes natural physiological, reproductive or recombination
barriers; and
  (B) Is not used in traditional breeding and selection; and
  (c) Any other process within the definition of 'modern biotechnology'
adopted by the Codex Alimentarius Commission of the United Nations Food
and Agriculture Organization and in effect on the effective date of this
2005 Act.
(4) 'Pharmaceutical crop' means genetically engineered plants that are
designed to produce human or veterinary drugs or biologics. + }

SECTION 3.  { + A person may not grow, raise or cultivate a
pharmaceutical crop or industrial crop:
(1) In an outdoor environment; or
(2) Using a plant species that is commonly grown for use as food for
humans or animals. + }

SECTION 4.  { +
(1) The State Department of Agriculture shall administer and enforce
section 3 of this 2005 Act. The department may impose a civil penalty for
a violation of section 3 of this 2005 Act. The penalty may not exceed
$25,000. The department may consider each day of a continuing violation
to be a separate violation that is subject to a separate civil penalty.
(2) In imposing a civil penalty under this section, the department shall
consider the following factors:
 (a) The gravity and magnitude of the violation, including the actual or
potential threat to health, safety or well-being of humans or animals.
 (b) The amount of any benefit the person realized from the violation.
 (c) The past history of the person incurring the penalty.
(3) If the department determines that action is necessary to collect a
civil penalty imposed under this section that has become final and no
longer subject to appeal, the department may bring an action in any court
of competent jurisdiction to collect the penalty. The department is
entitled to recover all attorney fees, costs and disbursements incurred
by the department in bringing the collection action. + }

SECTION 5.  { + Sections 1 to 4 of this 2005 Act become operative August
1, 2005. + }

SECTION 6.  { + Sections 1 to 4 of this 2005 Act are repealed July 31,
2009. + }

SECTION 7.  { + This 2005 Act being necessary for the immediate
preservation of the public peace, health and safety, an emergency is
declared to exist, and this 2005 Act takes effect on its passage. + }


European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

Hartmut MEYER (Mr)
In den Steinäckern 13
D - 38116 Braunschweig

P: +49-531-5168746
F: +49-531-5168747
M: +49-162-1054755
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