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6-Regulation: Montville (USA) bans genetically altered seeds



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TITLE:  Montville bans genetically altered seeds
SOURCE: Bangor Daily News, USA
        http://www.bangornews.com/news/templates/?a=131154
DATE:   27 Mar 2006

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Montville bans genetically altered seeds

MONTVILLE - For the first time in Maine, a town has agreed to include a
ban on genetically engineered seeds in its land use ordinances.

At their annual town meeting Saturday, residents amended a resolution
that merely would have declared the town a genetically modified free
zone, and instead agreed to include a commitment to banning the altered
plants in its ordinances.

The resolution was included on the warrant by resident Kai George and others.

The original question asked if the town would vote to "protect its
agriculture and forest economies and private property from genetically
modified organism contamination by declaring Montville a GMO-free zone."

Diana Chapin, who operates a plant business in town, rose to suggest
amending the resolution to: "Shall the town include in its comprehensive
plan a policy that declares Montville a GMO-free zone and develop land-
use ordinances that support that policy?"

Chapin argued the resolution was more of a philosophical statement,
George said Sunday, and what was needed "was something with teeth."

With more than 100 people in attendance, George said, nearly all raised
their hands to vote in favor of the amended question. She called the vote
"a landmark decision for Maine."

Genetically modified seeds are planted in about 6,100 acres of Maine's
1.25 million acres of agricultural land, George said.

The fear of those opposing the newly developed seeds - whose DNA is
reconfigured to make the plants resistant to insects and weed-killing
chemicals - is that the pollen from mature plants will contaminate nearby
organic farms, or those traditional farms that do not want to use the
altered seeds.

Those who favor chemical-free agriculture also oppose the genetically
modified crops' reliance on herbicides; the seeds are altered so they are
impervious to herbicides, which can then be freely applied to fields to
kill weeds.

And those who believe in the health value of natural foods say the jury
is not in yet on genetically altered produce.

Monsanto company, a leading manufacturer and distributor of genetically
altered seeds worldwide, has become a lightning rod for opposition to the
new agricultural method.

George said that after many towns in Vermont passed ordinances banning
genetically altered seeds, the state's legislature in 2004 adopted a law
doing the same.

Some European countries have successfully banned genetically modified
seeds, despite strong opposition from the company.

And in Canada, Monsanto has sued a farmer on whose fields genetically
altered corn was found. The seeds are patented, George said, but the
farmer claimed the seeds drifted onto his fields, and said he opposed
their use.

"It's a worldwide problem," George said.

Genetically modified trees are also in development, she said, which may
become an issue in Maine's forest economy.

George said Montville was as likely a town as any to oppose the
controversial seeds.

"In Montville, there are a number of people who are concerned about
health issues, environmental issues and forestry issues," she said.

In other business, the town elected Amanda Walrad first selectman. She
defeated incumbent George Maendel. Randy Hayes was re-elected second
selectman and Amy Stairs was elected third selectman from a field of
three candidates.

Abby Hills was elected town clerk, and Hannah Hatfield was elected tax
collector and treasurer.




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