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6-Regulation: New York (USA) bill would require labeling of genetically modified seeds

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TITLE:  Bill would require labeling of genetically modified seeds
SOURCE: Associated Press, by Mark Johnson
DATE:   12 Feb 2006

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to read more about the New York GMO bill please go to:

Bill would require labeling of genetically modified seeds

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Lawmakers in Albany want New Yorkers to know not just
what they're eating, but what they're planting as well.

A bill introduced in the Legislature would require the labeling of all
seeds that include genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

Organic farmers fear having their crops tainted from birds, insects or
wind that could transmit pollen from GMO crops while many consumers fear
there isn't enough information available on the long-range consequences
of eating genetically modified foods or on their environmental impacts.

"Organic food is considered healthy because it's natural. The one thing
genetically modified food is not is natural," said Sarah Johnston,
executive director of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New
York, which represents 650 farms. "Farmers are in some cases purchasing
genetically modified seeds unbeknownst to them. At the very least, people
need to know what they are purchasing."

The measure, one of several bills around the country relating to
genetically modified crops, is backed by the New York Farm Bureau and the
Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York.

Democratic Assemblyman Peter Rivera, a sponsor of the bill, said that
since GMO crops are patented, farmers also fear they could be sued for
patent infringement. Republican state Sen. James Seward is sponsoring the
bill in the Senate.

"Really there has not been enough testing done on the effects genetically
modified crops have on people, the environment and animals," said Maureen
Knapp, whose family owns an organic dairy farm in Preble, about 20 miles
south of Syracuse. "We grow crops to feed our animals and we do have
conventional farmers all around us growing (pesticide resistant) corn.
It's scary."

According to the Organic Farming Research Foundation, about 2 percent of
the U.S. food supply is grown organically. Sales of organic products have
shown an annual increase of at least 20 percent, the fastest growing
sector of agriculture, the organization reported. The growth has come
even though organic foods cost more to produce that conventional crops.

"The organic movement has grown tremendously because of consumer demand,"
said John Bunting, a grass-based dairy farmer in Delaware County. Organic
farmers "want to guarantee to the consumer that they are in no way
involved in GMOs."

To get their organic certification, farmers are required to use organic
seed and required to make sure their vegetable crops aren't contaminated
with GMOs.

Genetic technology has been widely used by major seed companies such as
Monsanto Co. to promote insect resistance or herbicide tolerance in
crops. About 80 percent of the U.S. soybean crop and 50 percent of the
corn crop is genetically modified, said Michael Fernandez, executive
director of the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology.

A 2004 study by the initiative found that state legislatures are
increasingly debating issues surrounding biotechnology's use in agriculture.

The number of bills and resolutions introduced by state legislators
nationwide addressing biotechnology and farming rose 7 percent to 130 in
2003 from 121 in 2001, according to the study.

Rivera is also sponsoring a bill that would make manufacturers of
genetically engineered plants and seeds liable for damages caused as a
result of cross-contaminating crops, seeds or plants, including wild
plants. A similar bill is now being considered in Vermont.

In Hawaii, the Legislature is debating a bill to require companies to
make public disclosures of locations of crop fields and test sites of
genetically modified crops and to specify the types of genetic tests

On the Net:
Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology:
Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York:


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