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6-Regulation: Future efforts of Californian GMO ballots may deal with labeling and blocking state law

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        Backers of ban on bioengineered crops regroup after failure at
        Future efforts may deal with labeling, blocking state law
SOURCE: San Francisco Chronicle, USA, by Jim Doyle
DATE:   10 Nov 2005

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Backers of ban on bioengineered crops regroup after failure at polls
Future efforts may deal with labeling, blocking state law

Supporters of the defeated ballot initiative to ban genetically
engineered crops in Sonoma County vowed Wednesday to pursue additional
strategies to block biotechnology's advances into farming.

But the initiative's chief author, Dave Henson, said he has no plans to
pursue another ballot measure to ban bioengineered crops.

Measure M, which would have established a 10-year moratorium on the
cultivation, sale or distribution of bioengineered crops, seeds and
organisms, was flatly rejected by Sonoma County voters.

Opponents of Measure M got off to a strong start, garnering a 3-to-2 lead
in the 76,433 absentee votes counted. The initiative drew support from
outlying precincts, especially in west Sonoma County. But with all
precincts counted, it failed by a decisive ratio of 55.6 percent to 44.4

"The Farm Bureau and biotech companies will spend whatever it takes and
say whatever it takes to defeat these initiatives ... to make sure that
these 'GE-free zones' don't spread," Henson said. "We got over 60,000
votes in this county for yes on M. A couple of months ago, there were
probably 200 people who could have given you an educated opinion about
genetic engineering."

His campaign rallied more than 500 volunteers, including salmon
fishermen, conventional and organic farmers, restaurateurs and

Henson said future campaigns may focus on securing labels for genetically
modified organisms in food products and lobbying to defeat state
legislation that would pre-empt counties from outlawing such crops.

Marin, Mendocino and Trinity counties have such bans. A dozen or so
California counties have passed resolutions promoting genetically
modified crops.

Critics of Measure M included the Sonoma County Farm Bureau, the
directors of the Sonoma County Grape Growers Association, and the Santa
Rosa and Petaluma chambers of commerce.

"I believe that the electorate spoke out for agriculture in Sonoma
County," said Rob Muelrath, a consultant for the opposition, "and that
family farmers and ranchers in Sonoma County will continue to have the
choices they need to sustain their operations."

Lex McCorvey, who heads the County Farm Bureau, credited the opposition's
victory with "slowly building momentum based on science and facts."

Together the two sides reported raising more than $900,000. Opponents
appeared to outspend supporters by almost 2 to 1, relying heavily on TV
and radio ads.

Henson said one turning point in the campaign involved a decision by the
Redwood Empire Veterinary Medical Association to oppose Measure M. The
group warned that the initiative could prevent livestock and pets from
receiving certain vaccines, which Measure M's supporters denied.

"They'll have to sit back and analyze what direction they'll go in,"
McCorvey said of Measure M's sponsors. "We also realize that this is
their nucleus in Sonoma County. That's why it's important that it's
stopped here."


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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