Genetic Engineering Policy Alliance Newsletter - August 4, 2008
Dear GE Network,
This is the 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.
TAKE ACTION! Ask Your Senator to Support AB 541
AB 541 is close to becoming California's first state law protecting farmers from the hazards of genetically engineered crops. Having already passed the Assembly, it has cleared its Senate committees and is ready to be voted on by the full Senate in August. Please let your Senator know that you support this bill!
AB 541 will enact protections for California farmers against frivolous lawsuits that intimidate and harass those who have not been able to prevent the inevitable - the drift of GE pollen or seed. It will level the playing field for farmers accused by agricultural biotechnology companies and other patent holders of contract violations, and discourage the practice of biotech companies sampling crops without explicit permission from farmers and prosecuting based on unverifiable testing results.
Please write or call your Senator no later than August 11th. To get contact information for your representative, see www.leginfo.ca.gov Note that faxes or phone calls are much more effective than emails. Please also forward this email alert to everyone you know in California to help gather support for the AB 541 support letter from organizations, businesses, and individuals.
AB 541 sample support letter
The Honorable [NAME]
RE: AB 541 (Huffman) - SUPPORT
I am writing in support of AB 541.
[Describe your organization, company, or farm here if applicable].
Currently, California has no laws in place to address the issue of genetic engineering (GE), yet citizens across the state have expressed concerns about the risks the technology presents for farmers, consumers, the economy and the environment.
AB 541 is a good first step towards addressing the many issues related to genetic contamination caused by GE crops and seeds. This bill will enact protections for California farmers against frivolous lawsuits that intimidate and harass those who have not been able to prevent the inevitable drift of GE pollen or seeds.
It will level the playing field for farmers accused by Monsanto and others of contract violations, and discourage their practice of sampling crops without explicit permission farmers and prosecuting based on unverifiable test results.
I urge you to consider this issue carefully, and vote to support AB 541. It will be a vote in favor of California farmers.
[name, title, organization or business]
New Fact Sheet Available
Now available on the GE Policy Alliance web site is a Rice Contamination Case Study fact sheet. It includes a chronicle of the disastrous contamination of the Southern U.S. food supply by unapproved GE rice varieties in 2006, as well as summary of the negative consequences for rice farmers and the entire rice industry.
GE In the News
Monsanto patent fight ensnares Missouri farm town
July 10, 2008
By Alan Scher Zagier, Associated Press
Soybean farmer David Brumback calls himself a loyal customer of Monsanto Co. His product of choice: genetically engineered seeds resistant to pesticides and weed killers. So when the biotech giant named Brumback and more than 100 other local farmers in a subpoena seeking five years of sales records, his first reaction was befuddlement. Then anger. "With Monsanto, you're guilty until you're proven innocent," he said.
Across rural America, Monsanto is known for aggressive legal efforts to protect its patent. Farmers who save and replant the patented seeds in subsequent growing seasons quickly hear from the company's lawyers -- and almost always lose, or settle out of court before trial.
Now Monsanto is raising the stakes against this so-called seed piracy with an unprecedented lawsuit against a farm co-op it accuses of aiding the illegal practice by cleaning seeds for use in future crops. That practice violates the contract between Monsanto and farmers which prohibits farmers from stockpiling seeds or selling second-generation seeds.
For the complete story: Forbes
International Report States GE Not the Answer to World Food Crisis
Sixty countries backed by the World Bank and most UN bodies yesterday called for radical changes in world farming to avert increasing regional food shortages, escalating prices and growing environmental problems.
But in a move that has led to the US, UK, Australia and Canada not yet endorsing the report, the authors said GE technology was not a quick fix to feed the world's poor and argued that growing biofuel crops for automobiles threatened to increase worldwide malnutrition.
The authors of the 2,500-page International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development [IAASTD] say the world produces enough food for everyone, yet more than 800 million people go hungry.
"Food is cheaper and diets are better than 40 years ago, but malnutrition and food insecurity threaten millions," they write. "Rising populations and incomes will intensify food demand, especially for meat and milk which will compete for land with crops, as will biofuels.
The unequal distribution of food and conflict over control of the world's dwindling natural resources presents a major political and social challenge to governments, likely to reach crisis status as climate change advances and world population expands from 6.7 billion to 9.2 billion by 2050."
The full IAASTD report is available at: IAASTD
Roundup may be less effective at killing weeds as CO2 levels increase
Genetically modified or Round-up Ready soybean constitutes about 80% of the current U.S. soybean crop. Although soybean growth is likely to increase with the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide, it is also likely that weed growth will increase as well. Researchers found that while Roundup Ready GE soybean growth was stimulated by enhanced carbon dioxide levels, weed growth was stimulated to a greater extent during years with normal precipitation. They concluded that rising carbon dioxide will have a significant effect on weed species, weed biomass and herbicide effectiveness.
Citation: Ziska, L.H., Goins, E.W. 2006.
Precipitation variabiilty and elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide & associated
changes in weed populations and glyphosate efficacy in Round-up Ready soybean.
Crop Science. 46:1354-1359.
GMO cross-fertilization by airborne pollen found at surprisingly large distances
The results of a "cross-fertilization trial" carried out in Hokkaido, Japan indicate that the national buffer zone guidelines for GM crop cultivation in Japan are inadequate for preventing genetic contamination. Of the crops tested (rice, soybean, corn, sugar beet and rapeseed), cross-fertilization of rice was confirmed at 600 m. The MAFF guideline for the buffer zone rice varieties is 30 m. The unrealistic nature of the MAFF guidelines has been thrown into sharp focus.
To read a summary of this research, go to: Hokkaido research
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Thanks for your interest and support!