GENET archive


6-Regulation: Lake County (USA) debate on GE alfalfa moratorium continued to September

                                  PART I
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TITLE:  GMO debate continued to September
SOURCE: Record Bee, USA, by John Jensen,1413,255%257E26901%257E3023862,00.html?search=filter
        file attached: 20050824_NWS_NEWS2.jpg
DATE:   23 Aug 2005

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GMO debate continued to September

Phil Murphy, at podium, advocates that the Lake County Board of Supervisors
adopt a moratorium on genetically-modified alfalfa during Tuesdays meeting.
(Record-Bee/John Jensen)

LAKEPORT -- The Lake County Supervisors' meeting Tuesday morning was filled
with local citizens who came to participate in a discussion on allowing
genetically modified organisms (GMOs) into the county.

In the crowded board chamber several advocates shared their rationale for
supporting an ordinance that would put in place a 30-month moratorium on
genetically modified alfalfa planting and cultivation in Lake County. Farm
Bureau Executive Director Chuck March spoke in opposition to the proposed

Board Chair Ed Robey began calling for an end to the GMO discussion as soon
as the allotted 50 minutes had passed. Robey said he did not realize the
issue would take so long.

After the brief yet lively discussion, the board continued the hotly debated
genetically modified organism (GMO) issue to 1:30 p.m. Sept. 13.

Proponent Phil Murphy presented on behalf of the Coalition for Responsible
Agriculture (CRA), arguing that Lake County should not be utilized as a
test bed for genetically modified crops.

Murphy, a Kelseyville organic pear and walnut grower, argued that studies
performed by University of California, Davis and others hold little weight
because of the revolving door phenomena in which consultants to biotech
company Monsanto sometimes work for UC Davis and vice versa.

However, Murphy did use one point made in a university study, which
established that contamination of neighboring crops occurred when pollen is
dispersed into adjacent fields.

March called the debate a "very philosophical issue," and expressed
opposition to the moratorium on the grounds that the Farm Bureau would not
support a ban or moratorium. "It is not the position of the Farm Bureau to
support the use permit process," he said, which the ordinance would

"We recognize use as an individual choice and private property right," March

March's position support the efforts of state Sen. Dean Florez's Senate Bill
1056, which came about after Mendocino County banned the use of GMOs. SB
1056 would remove the county's ability to place a moratorium on the alfalfa

Florez's amendment reads, in part, "no ordinance or regulation of any
political subdivision 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 field crops."

District 3 Supervisor Rob Brown questioned Murphy as to which parts of the
UC Davis study should be accepted if the study was biased overall.

"It's not as black and white as some see it," Brown said. "Who will perform
independent testing, if we are not going to trust the tests performed by
Davis? You claim they are tainted."

Murphy countered that while he did not have a ready solution for independent
testing of the controversial alfalfa, the government has permitted items
that are later recalled because they injure humans. His concern revolved
around the government relying upon manufacturers to perform testing on
products they sell.

Murphy provided examples of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for
drugs such as Vioxx and Celebrex, which were later pulled from shelves
after health issues arose.

"Look at the drugs the FDA has approved. Why was that allowed to happen?"
Murphy asked. "What the FDA did is they told the drug industry to perform
tests; that is what has happened in the biotech industry."

Murphy summed up his position on a cautionary note reminiscent of letting a
genie out of a bottle. "Most of the decisions you make are reversible," he
said. "This is the type of decision that once you allow this material in
here you cannot reverse your decision.

"You get to make this decision once."

Murphy continued, "Down the road you can change your mind, in 30 months you
can let this expire or extend it."

Brown pointed out that even if the county had a moratorium, that would not
stop trucks from bringing in GMO food products.

"Is the ag commission going to be responsible for every load of alfalfa
brought in?" Brown asked. "If it is not enforced, then what do you do?"

Murphy replied, "Well, you could ban all GMOs."

                                  PART II
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TITLE:  Protect Lake County from the GMO giants
SOURCE: Record Bee, USA, letter,1413,255%257E33813%257E3025603,00.html
DATE:   24 Aug 2005

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Protect Lake County from the GMO giants

In its guest commentary in Friday's Record Bee, the Farm Bureau presents the
ultimate pro-technology argument: If it seems cool, let's go with it and
damn the consequences. It seems that we daily are forced to live with these
consequences, most recently demonstrated by the Vioxx (and related drugs)
fiasco. In terms of the possible negative unintended consequences, equating
a genetically modified feed crop with camera phones and palm pilots is
flat-out chilling.

The Farm Bureau chooses to rely on an alphabet-soup list of federal agencies
that have "approved" glyphosate-resistant alfalfa. I would hope that the
board of supervisors doesn't rely on purported regulatory oversight
famously controlled by the industry being regulated. I would also point out
that the test-data fed the federal agencies was produced and controlled by
Monsanto, the patent holder for glyphosate-resistant alfalfa.

In a global market for agricultural products, any area such as Lake County
that can produce organic and GMO-free crops will have a leg up. Any dispute
about whether a proposed GMO product will or will not require a greater use
of herbicides or contaminate non-GMO crops should be resolved in favor of a
moratorium so that the effects of the proposed product can be studied free
of Monsanto's control in the wild, so to speak.

Importantly, the proposed ordinance proposes a 30-month moratorium on one
product. Although the Farm Bureau accuses us of using scare tactics, it is
the Farm Bureau itself that uses the scare tactic of international
starvation should any checks and balances be placed on the GMO industry.
Lake County should reject the Farm Bureau's response and instead get a
handle on how GMO alfalfa plays out in the real world before it
contaminates non-GMO alfalfa in Lake County forever.

Steve Elias

                                  PART III
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TITLE:  In the future they'll laugh
SOURCE: Record Bee, USA, letter,1413,255%257E33813%257E3025604,00.html
DATE:   24 Aug 2005

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In the future they'll laugh

Fears of GMOs as "Frankenfoods" is groundless. Plants have been genetically
manipulated by farmers since the New Stone Age.

In the beginning, farmers had to manipulate plants through naturally
occurring mutations. This continued for centuries. Then, in the 20th
century, scientists discovered that they could create as many mutations as
they wished through irradiating seeds. This genetic manipulation led to the
first patent on a new strain of seeds, caused by irradiation, in the 1940s.

Today, scientists have found an even easier way to genetically manipulate
plants by inserting specific genes. The production of plants by this method
is more efficient than the hit or miss process used in irradiating seeds.

The hysteria over GMOs reminds me of the first microwave ovens that were
produced for consumers in 1967. Many people refused to buy or eat
microwaved foods because they thought they were radioactive. People would
laugh at someone who said that today because we know microwaved foods are
safe. In the future, people will laugh at the thought that GMOs were once
considered dangerous.

Charles Moton

                                  PART IV
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TITLE:  They're working for Monsanto
SOURCE: Record Bee, USA, letter,1413,255%257E33813%257E3025604,00.html
DATE:   22 Aug 2005

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They're working for Monsanto

Got a good chuckle out of the Farm Bureau response to the proposed
regulation of Roundup ready Alfalfa in Lake County. It was truly classic!
Instead of attempting to refute the multitude of reasons put forth to
justify the proposed ordinance, the main tactic employed was to change the
subject to the much broader issue of all biotechnology.

They can't say this new alfalfa won't mean more poison being used here,
because it will. They can't say that contamination of other growers' crops
isn't a real problem because Monsanto's own studies show it is. They can't
say that the increase in herbicide use won't lead to poison-resistant weeds
sooner because they know it will. They can't say that the main active
ingredient in Roundup is safe because there are piles of evidence to the

The Farm Bureau does say that "not a single person or animal has gotten sick
from eating biotech food or feeds," though recently revealed studies done by
Monsanto show that rats fed their genetically modified corn had liver and
thyroid cancer, along with blood cell abnormalities.

The Farm Bureau is also quoted in the Record-Bee as saying, "This is just a
technological way to increase production using less pesticides," an absurd
statement that turns reality on its head. Of course our local Farm Bureau
is against regulation of a genetically modified crop, since their positions
are handed down from the state Farm Bureau where support of the biotech
companies is automatic due to their financial interdependence.

That's why our own Farm Bureau urges us to support an Assembly bill that
would take control away from Lake County and give it to Sacramento when it
comes to genetically modified crops. Another case of them working for
Monsanto, while local growers and environmentalists work for Lake County.

Philip Murphy

European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

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

P: +49-531-5168746
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