[env-trinity] GMO bans threatened: Legislators looking to overrule county efforts

Josh Allen jallen at trinitycounty.org
Mon Oct 3 09:19:23 PDT 2005

GMO bans threatened

Legislators looking to overrule county efforts




By QUINCY CROMER/The Daily Journal

Legislation presented by Senator Dean Florez designed to establish
uniform standards for the regulation of seeds and nursery stock in
California could possibly prevent individual counties from passing
ordinances to ban genetically modified crops, like the one passed in
Mendocino County last year.

Measures were introduced in February by Assemblymembers Simon Salinas,
D-Salinas, and Juan Arambula, D-Fresno, with a joint effort by Senator
Dean Florez, D-Shafter, to establish state standards for the regulation
of seeds. 

Salinas and Arambula canceled their hearing before the Senate
Agricultural Committee for Assembly Bill 1508 on June 30 and focus was
placed on Senate Bill 1056 authored by Florez. 

SB 1056 is designed to clarify that the California Department of Food
and Agriculture has sole authority over the approval of seed and nursery
stock use, preempting local ordinances designed to control genetically
modified crops. 


"This bill would state that these provisions of law relating to nursery
stock and seed are of statewide concern and occupy the entire field of
regulation regarding registration, labeling, sale, storage,
transportation, distribution, notification of use, and use of nursery
stock and seeds to the exclusion of local regulations," SB 1056 states. 

The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors wrote a letter in opposition
of AB 1508 to the Senate Agriculture Committee, stating that the local
genetically modified organism use and propagation ordinance predates any
proposed amendment to state seed law. 

"Further, the citizens of Mendocino County sponsored Measure H by
initiative process, which may not be undone or modified by local or
state authority," the letter dated June 28 states. 

According to Mendocino County Agricultural Commissioner David Bengston,
the measure is opposed because a large majority of voters approved
Measure H and a local GMO ban was implemented in March of 2004. 

"Since this county has voted by the initiative process to have a ban,
the board voted 4-1 to write a letter opposing the bill," Bengston said.
"The counties and cities basically oppose it because it would take away
their authority and power if they want to make individual bans in

According to Florez's office, local ordinances prohibiting genetically
modified crops create a "confusing patchwork of conflicting regulations
that impede farmers' ability to obtain the best seed for their
particular needs." 

"Critics of genetically modified seeds often overlook the positive
effects such modifications can have in reducing pesticide consumption
and protecting air quality. Many seeds are now genetically modified to
make the plants they grow more resistant to pests, reducing the amount
of harmful pesticides applied to produce we eat and released into the
air we breathe," a press release from Florez's office states. 

Mendocino County implemented the first anti-GMO ordinance in the nation
with Measure H receiving support from 57 percent of voters in March of

Trinity County became the second county in the nation to pass a ban
against genetically modified crops and more than 56,000 voters -- 61
percent -- in Marin County passed an initiative to ban GMOs in November.

An anti-GMO measure was defeated in Butte County during elections last
November with 61 percent voter disapproval, and 59 percent of voters in
San Luis Obispo County did not support banning genetically modified

Supporters of a GMO ban in Sonoma County gathered 45,000 signatures to
qualify the initiate for the upcoming ballot, which will be considered
by voters in November. 

According to Florez's office, proponents of SB 1056 assert that a
statewide policy will enhance economic growth and assure consumers of a
high level of quality control and 12 states have already passed similar
legislation in the past year. 

SB 1056 was approved by committee with a 6-3 vote on June. 28, and an
amended version of the bill was re-referred to committee on Sept. 2.

Quincy Cromer can be reached at udjqc at pacific.net . 


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