Genetic Engineering Policy Alliance Newsletter October 24, 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.
Two More U.S. Counties Ban GE Crops
In October, the Supervisors of two more counties passed ordinances restricting the production of GE crops within county boundaries.
Lake County, California
Lake County Board of Supervisors voted 3 - 2 on October 21st to ban the planting of all GE crops. This was the first reading of the ordinance, which will have its final reading in November. The ordinance includes a clause that allows the Supervisors to grant exemptions for specific crops. If Lake County gives final approval to the ordinance in November, it will become the fifth California county to adopt definitive, anti-GE legislation.
On October 8, the Hawaii County Council voted 9-0 in favor of a bill to ban all GE taro and coffee on the Big Island. At the hearing, one councilmember presented the results of a survey showing that 82 percent of 89 Big Island coffee farmers support the bill.
GE In the News
Bayer Faces 1,200 Rice Suits
October 15 2008
Bayer AG's defeat of a bid by U.S. rice farmers to sue the company as a group doesn't end the matter. The German producer of genetically altered seeds still faces 1,200 individual claims of crop contamination.
Farmers in five states sued after trace amounts of types of modified rice being grown experimentally by Bayer in Louisiana were found in rice raised for consumption. U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry in St. Louis in August refused to allow the claims to be combined in class-action suits, one per state. She may set a date tomorrow for the first individual trial.
While the farmers lost group leverage for forcing settlements because of the ruling, they may regain it should Bayer lose early trials, said Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor. If the facts are "very similar," early verdicts "might be applied to other cases" by the court, leaving only the amount of damages for juries to decide, he said. "That ups the ante for the first few trials," said Tobias, who teaches tort and product-liability law and is an expert on federal courts and civil procedure. "It might push the pressure to settle."
Don Downing, a St. Louis-based lawyer for the growers, said in a court filing last year that damages might exceed $1 billion. The figure will be lower because class-action status was denied, he said this month, declining to estimate the total.
Chile enters the list of countries contaminated with GE crops
A report from INTA has detected transgenic contamination of maize in the fields of central Chile. The presence of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) poses a risk to organic agriculture and the exports of conventional seeds from companies in central Chile. The contaminated corn was illegally sold in the market for human consumption and for seed.
The Institute for Nutrition and Food Technology (INTA) dependent of the University of Chile, has detected the presence of contamination in samples of maize growing nearby fields of transgenic maize for seed export. The samples were collected in the Region of O´Higgins, during the first months of 2008, from 30 different fields. "This study shows for the first time, that contamination does occur in the fields in Chile.
This is a very serious situation as the contaminated corn was grown illegally, was not approved for seeds by the Agriculture and Livestock Service (SAG)", nor for human consumption", says Maria Isabel Manzur from Fundación Sociedades Sustentables. During 2007, 216 cases of transgenic contamination were registered in 57 countries, which means that contamination is widespread in the world. The Director of the Programa Chile Sustentable, Sara Larraín, demanded the authorities to "reconsider their policies regarding transgenic crops, given the impossibility to control the contamination and the segregation of crops".
Sara Larrain, Programa Chile Sustentable
email@example.com / 09-3197588 (2097028)
María Isabel Manzur, Fundación Sociedades Sustentables
Patricio Larrabe - Óscar Letelier, Desarrollo Rural Colchagua
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