[permaculture] [Fwd: [SANET-MG] GMO Alert in NC]

Lawrence F. London, Jr. lfl at intrex.net
Sat May 7 00:05:24 EDT 2005


Perhaps coming soon to a state near you..............

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: 	[SANET-MG] GMO Alert in NC
Date: 	Fri, 6 May 2005 17:34:48 -0500
From: 	Cricket Rakita <cricket at SAVINGOURSEED.ORG>
Reply-To: 	Sustainable Agriculture Network Discussion Group 
<SANET-MG at LISTS.IFAS.UFL.EDU>
To: 	SANET-MG at LISTS.IFAS.UFL.EDU
References: 
<E05D4BC99C4B244D9B295322976D4C2701EF0E6C at if-srv-exchbe01.ad.ufl.edu>



News Release
May 6, 2005

Seedy Business
Ag-biotech industry seeks to prohibit local regulations in NC

Members of the North Carolina General Assembly have filed a flurry of 
bills drafted by corporate agribusiness to preempt local regulations 
that might restrict genetically modified crops.  House Bill 671 [link 
here] and its counterpart Senate Bill 631 [link here] were recently 
introduced by the House and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairs, Rep. 
Dewey Hill (Dem.), and Senator Charles Albertson (Dem.), with support 
from the NC Department of Agriculture (NCDA). Another bill, Senate Bill 
681, sponsored by Senator David Hoyle (Dem.) and Tom Apodaca (Rep.), 
also proposes to prohibit local regulation of forestry and agricultural 
activities.

Goodness Grows in North Carolina? HB 671 and SB 631 aim to prevent 
towns, counties or cities from passing any ordinance or resolution to 
control any kind of plant or plant pest.  “This is a draconian measure 
that would usurp local control by making the NC Department of 
Agriculture the only body in North Carolina with the authority to 
regulate plants,” said Michael Sligh, of RAFI-USA in Pittsboro.

The bills are not a home grown initiative, but part of a nationwide 
agribusiness effort.  Similar bills, containing identical language, have 
cropped up in at least nine other states as part of an orchestrated 
campaign by industry to prevent citizen initiatives like those passed in 
three California counties last year that prohibited cultivation of 
genetically modified crops.  “These bills represent a pledge of 
allegiance to Monsanto,” said Hope Shand, Research Director of ETC Group 
in Carrboro, “and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture was quick 
to take the pledge, followed by their friends in the General Assembly. 
But what’s good for Monsanto isn’t necessarily what’s best for local 
communities.”

The Plot Thickens: The issue has immediate relevance in eastern North 
Carolina where Ventria Bioscience is now growing an experimental plot of 
rice engineered with synthetic human genes (to produce lactoferrin and 
lysozyme proteins found in mother’s milk) on a farm adjacent to the NCDA 
Tidewater Research Station in Plymouth (Washington County).  Two earlier 
attempts by Ventria to grow its genetically modified “pharma rice” –a 
crop that yields pharmaceutical proteins for use in medicines – were 
rejected by farmers, food companies and environmentalists in California 
and Missouri because of concerns that the pharma rice could 
cross-pollinate with conventional rice, contaminating the food chain. 
In April 2005, California-based Ventria Bioscience requested a permit 
from the US Department of Agriculture to grow up to 70 acres of 
genetically modified “pharma rice” on two plots in eastern North Carolina.

While the bills aim squarely to preempt local restrictions of 
genetically modified organisms (GMOs), the innocuous language never 
mentions genetic engineering. The ambiguous text creates additional 
concerns.  For example, invasive plants and noxious weeds are a serious 
problem across the state, threatening native ecosystems.  They can also 
have a huge impact on local economies, from aquatic invasives clogging 
drinking water intakes to noxious weeds forcing major weed control costs 
on farm and forest production.  This bill would eliminate local 
authority to take swift action to deal with invasive plants.  The 
legislation would also prevent other state agencies – such as 
Environment or Public Health – from restricting plants in any way.

Squelching Unanswered Questions: Questions about genetically-modified 
crops and trees are abundant – whether they are economically beneficial 
or harmful, whether they threaten public health, how to manage “drift” 
of genetic material onto neighboring crops and native ecosystems– all 
these questions spark hot debate in the scientific and policy-making 
arena.

One option for squelching this debate is to eliminate local control, 
confining the discussion to an industry-friendly Department of 
Agriculture.  Just as the hog industry won legislation in North Carolina 
to prohibit local jurisdictions from keeping out super-sized hog farms, 
the Gene Giants are attempting to muzzle public debate in North Carolina 
by eliminating local options for the protection of the economy and 
public health – and state officials so far seem more than willing to comply.

Action Alert:

Take Action: Stop North Carolina from taking the Monsanto Pledge!

Members of the North Carolina General Assembly have filed a flurry of 
bills created by biotech industry to prevent any local regulations that 
might restrict genetically modified crops.  House Bill 671 [link here] 
and its counterpart Senate Bill 631 [link here] were recently introduced 
by the House and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairs, Rep. Dewey L. 
Hill, and Senator Charlie Albertson, with support from the NC Department 
of Agriculture. Senate Bill 681, sponsored by Senator David Hoyle (Dem.) 
and Tom Apodaca (Rep.), also proposes to prohibit local regulation of 
forestry and agricultural activities.

HB 671 and SB 631 aim to prevent towns, counties or cities from passing 
any ordinance or resolution to regulate any kind of plant or plant pest, 
giving the NC Department of Agriculture sole authority to regulate 
plants in the state.  While the bills aim squarely to prevent local 
restrictions of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), the innocuous 
language never mentions genetic engineering. The ambiguous text 
generates additional concerns, because it would eliminate t local 
authority to restrict sales of invasive plants or noxious weeds.  The 
bills represent little more than a pledge of allegiance from North 
Carolina’s leaders to the ag-biotech industry, with little concern for 
local communities.

The bills are not a home grown initiative, but part of a nationwide 
agribusiness effort.  Similar bills, containing identical language, have 
cropped up in at least nine other states as part of an orchestrated 
campaign by industry to prevent citizen initiatives like those passed in 
three California counties last year that prohibited cultivation of 
genetically modified crops.  While there are currently no organized 
campaigns for such bans in North Carolina, the bills side-step serious 
questions about the safety of GMOs and potential impacts on non-GMO and 
organic farmers, who currently have no protection from genetic “drift” 
and contamination from GMO crops.

Don’t let North Carolina cede local control to the Gene Giants – contact 
your legislators now to protect the rights of towns, counties and cities 
to regulate plants for the protection of the local economy and public 
health!

Take Action:  Concerned citizens need to take action immediately.  HB671 
is on the calendar for Monday, May 9th. Urge your representatives in the 
NC General Assembly to to REJECT House Bill 671 and Senate Bill 631 – An 
Act to Amend the Plant Pest Law to Preempt Local Regulation of Plants 
and Plant Pests, and SB 681.  Find your representative at: 
http://www.ncleg.net/GIS/Representation/Who_Represents_Me/Who_Represents_Me.html

Go here to read the text of preemption bills:

HB 671: 
http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/Sessions/2005/Bills/House/HTML/H671v2.html

SB 631: 
http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/Sessions/2005/Bills/Senate/HTML/S631v1.html

SB 681: 
http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/Sessions/2005/Bills/Senate/HTML/S681v1.html

Concerned citizens should also contact the NC Department of Agriculture, 
and the Bill’s sponsors:

Steve Troxler
Commissioner, NC Department of Agriculture
steve.troxler at ncmail.net
Tel: 919 733-7125

Rep. Dewey L. Hill, Chair, House Agriculture Committee
NC General Assembly
Deweyh at ncleg.net
Tel: 919-733-5830

Senator Charles W. Albertson
NC General Assembly
Tel: (919) 733-5705
Email: Charliea at ncleg.net


Talking Points
*	REJECT House Bill 671 and Senate Bill 631 – “An Act to Amend the Plant 
Pest Law to Preempt Local Regulation of Plants and Plant Pests.”
*	Don’t take away the right of local jurisdictions to restrict plants 
and plant pests as necessary to protect the local economy and public health.
*	This bill does nothing to promote North Carolina’s economy or protect 
its citizens – it is simply a plank in the national agribusiness agenda.
*	Whatever your position on genetically-modified crops, we don’t want 
our leadership to be Monsanto’s lap dog!
*	Does this bill affect you or your land directly?  Are you concerned 
about genetic drift harming organic or non-GMO crops, or your 
timberland?  Be sure to mention your personal concerns.

For Further Information:

For further information on the implications of preemption bills for 
organic farmers:

<Due to the public nature of this forum, I have taken names out of this 
message.   Please contact me individually if you are interested in 
finding out more information>




Cricket Rakita
Saving Our Seed Project Coordinator
Carolina Farm Stewardship Association
49 Circle D Dr.
Colbert, GA  30628
home/work:  (706) 788-0017
fax:  (706) 788-0071
cell:  (706) 614-1451
web:  http://www.savingourseed.org
email:  cricket at savingourseed.org







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