GENET archive


REGULATION / PLANTS: Minnesota (USA) bill seeks to protect wildrice from GMO contamination

                                  PART I
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TITLE:  Bill seeks to protect wild rice
SOURCE: West Central Tribune, USA
AUTHOR: Mike Longaecker
DATE:   16.03.2007

Bill seeks to protect wild rice

ST. PAUL -- Passing legislation to protect wild rice should be a "moral
imperative" for fellow legislators, a Bemidji lawmaker said Thursday.

"I will hardly sleep until it is passed," Rep. Frank Moe said of his two
bills in the Minnesota Legislature.

Moe, a Democrat, is sponsoring legislation that -- by tightening
regulations on the research community -- would strengthen similar laws
passed last year, he said.

If any researcher in the nation files a permit to release genetically
altered wild rice, a Minnesota environmental board would have to be notified.

That board would then have to alert several state groups, including
tribal leaders and the Legislature, according to Moe's legislation. Laws
passed in 2006 designated Minnesota's Environmental Quality Board as the
coordinating agency between state and federal activities regarding
genetically engineered organisms.

Moe's bill also calls on the board to draw up rules requiring
environmental impact statements before a permit could be issued in
Minnesota, while a second bill calls on the Department of Natural
Resources to complete a wild rice management study.

Several testifiers spoke up Thursday during a House Environment and
Natural Resources Committee meeting supporting the bill, saying it is
important to preserve the purity of wild rice.

The significance of wild rice to the Objibwe culture can't be stressed
enough, they said.

Leech Lake Tribal Chairman George Goggleye Jr. told panel members that
wild rice profits have helped put clothes on his back.

"That money allowed me to have new clothes for school" when he was a
boy, Goggleye said.

But he and others noted that the value of wild rice far eclipses
financial benefits.

"This rice is spiritual to us," said Steve Blake, a member of the Red
Lake tribe and chairman of the Twin Cities American Indian Movement.
"It's medicine to us."

Despite talks with Moe, some provisions in the bills couldn't be
reconciled, two opponents said.

Bio-technology lobbyist Tom Keliher told committee members that
regulations called for in the bill would throw up roadblocks for
researchers and could set a legal precedent for people seeking
protection from other grains.

But Allen Richardson of the White Earth Land Recovery Project rebuked
those claims, saying a precedent already exists in Hawaii.

The committee approved the bill, which will next be heard in the House
governmental operations committee.

Tainting wild rice, Goggleye said, is unholy to tribal members.

"It is morally right in our mind to be kept the way it is," he said.

To genetically mutate the rice, Goggleye said, would be "disrespectful
to the first people who inhabited this land."

Blake, who said he had some wild rice in his car, said he knows
firsthand experience of the food's healing powers. He told legislators
he recently had a double-lung transplant. Wild rice, he said, helped him
through the process.

"Uncle Ben's rice is not going to work," Blake said.

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                                  PART II
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TITLE:  State Plant Board ban on rice now permanent
SOURCE: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
AUTHOR: Nancy Cole
DATE:   15.03.2007

State Plant Board ban on rice now permanent

The State Plant Board on Wednesday voted unanimously to make permanent
its emergency rules that ban the planting of Cheniere rice in 2007 and
2008, and required all rice used for planting in 2007 to be tested for
Bayer CropScience's Liberty Link traits. The board also unanimously
approved regulations to establish a voluntary commercial bait and
ornamental fish certification program. After an August announcement by
the U.S. Department of Agriculture that traces of a genetically
engineered rice variety known as LLRICE601 had been discovered in U.S.
long-grain rice supplies, almost half of U.S. rice exports have faced
either bans or testing requirements.

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