Genetic Engineering Policy Alliance Newsletter - June 2007
This is the regular newsletter of the Genetic Engineering Policy Alliance. The Alliance is a network of organizations and individuals promoting precautionary policies on genetically engineered food and agriculture. We are united in our concern about the impacts of genetically engineered crops and foods on agriculture, the public, and the environment.
Federal Pre-Emption of Genetic Engineering
Update from the Genetic Engineering Policy Alliance
Members of Congress are currently considering the inclusion of federal Farm Bill language that would pre-empt state and local restrictions on genetic engineering and other agricultural regulations.
The House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry last week included a provision in the draft Farm Bill that reads “…no State or locality shall make any law prohibiting the use in commerce of an article that the Secretary of Agriculture has (1) inspected and passed; or (2) determined to be of non-regulated status.”
This sweeping language would override California’s pending legislation AB 541 (tabled in the Assembly Agriculture Committee until January 2008). It would also override several GE laws across the country, including the four county bans in California, a recent Washington law providing for the establishment of GE-free brassica production zones, and an Alaskan law requiring labeling of GE salmon. It could limit the ability of the rice industry in California and Arkansas to regulate rice varieties. GE-related regulations in more than a dozen states may be overruled by this language. It could also stop states from prohibiting the sale of USDA-inspected e.coli-tainted ground beef, as well as a variety of animal welfare state laws.
This language will next be considered in the full Agriculture Committee the week of June 20th. The Farm Bill will likely not be debated on the floor of the House, and the recommendations of the committee will likely prevail. The time to stop this pre-emption language is during the next three weeks at the committee level.
The following three members of the House Agriculture Committee can be contacted to voice your opposition to the pre-emption language. They will be most receptive to their own constituents and to representatives of agriculture, the food industry and business:
- Dennis A. Cardoza, CA (18th District - Stockton, Merced, Modesto)
- Joe Baca, CA (43rd District - Ontario, Rialto, Fontana)
- Jim Costa, CA (20th District – San Joaquin Valley)
The Genetic Engineering Policy Alliance will continue to track this issue and inform you of developments.
Farm Bill 2007: Update from the California Coalition for Food and Farming
There is a lot of action on Capitol Hill right now on the Farm Bill. The official drafting of the Farm Bill in Subcommittees starts the week of May 28th. A number of bills have been introduced in Congress that promote access to healthy foods and create new, profitable markets for small and mid-sized family farmers and ranchers. These bills will get thrown into the bigger Farm Bill pot and considered in different subcommittees.
Two bills particularly focused on healthy, local foods include: the Local Food and Farm Support Act, H.R. 2364 introduced in the House by Representative Earl Blumenauer (D- OR, 3rd) and FOOD for a Healthy America Act, S. 1432 introduced in the Senate by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D- NY).
These bills increase the availability and affordability of healthy and fresh foods in existing nutrition programs, increase fruits and vegetables in schools, reduce food miles, promote urban agriculture, remove barriers that have kept local farmers from selling products to schools, and support value-added agriculture and farmers markets.
More information on the Farm Bill and support of local, healthy, sustainable food and farming can be found at CalFoodAndFarming.org
Sign on to a Dear Colleague letter that will be sent to California Senators Feinstein and Boxer, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and the Chairman of the House and Senate Ag committees.
By Michelle Marvier, University of Santa Clara - Published in California Agriculture, UC Coop Extension newsletter, April – June 2007 issue
This comprehensive and balanced review of the state of pharmaceutical GE crop production and its implications is summarized as follows:
Crops are being genetically engineered to produce a wide variety of drugs, vaccines and other pharmaceutical proteins. Although these crops may open the door to less expensive and more-readily available drugs, there is concern regarding the potential for contamination of human food and livestock feed, as well as environmental harm.
The outlook for the production of pharmaceutical crops in California currently appears mixed. To date, 18 federal permits for field trials involving pharmaceutical or industrial proteins have been approved in California. However, the state’s farming community and general public have thus far rejected pharmaceutical crop production, and a handful of local governments have recently banned the cultivation of genetically modified crops, including pharmaceutical crops. In light of the many pros and cons, three major approaches — the precautionary approach, risk analysis and cost-benefit analysis — could be used to move the debate about pharmaceutical crops forward.
Each month, we profile a few Alliance members to help you get to know each other, understand why diverse organizations support the GE Policy Alliance, and give you a chance to describe your work. Please contact us if you would like to be featured.
Bon App étit Management Company is an onsite restaurant company offering full food service management to corporations, universities and specialty venues. Bon Appétit is committed to sourcing sustainable, local foods for all cafés throughout the country.
A pioneer in environmentally-sound sourcing policies, Bon Appétit has developed programs with Environmental Defense, the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch, the Humane Society of the United States, and other leading conservation organizations. Based in Palo Alto, CA, Bon Appétit has more than 400 cafes in 28 states, including Oracle Corporation, American University and the Getty Center.
Joining forces with the GE Policy Alliance has allowed the company to voice its criticisms of the use of genetically engineered organisms in the food system.
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