Monday, September 29, 2008

California Adopts GE Protections for Farmers

Good news came this weekend (which is amazing considering all that's going on). AB 541 was signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger on Saturday, September 27. The bill, a landmark piece of legislation, brings much-needed regulation to genetically engineered (GE) crops.

AB 541 indemnifies California farmers who have not been able to prevent the inevitable - the drift of GE pollen or seed onto their land and the subsequent contamination of non-GE crops. Currently, farmers with crops that become contaminated by patented seeds or pollen have been the target of harassing lawsuits brought by bio tech patent holders, most notoriously Monsanto. Further, if their contaminated crops cause harm to other farmers, the environment or consumers, they have not been protected from that liability. AB 541 provides protections for farmers from such liability.

The bill was unique in that it had some unlikely sponsors all working together including the Community Alliance with Family Farmers, Earthbound Farm, California Certified Organic Farmers, and the California Farm Bureau, that has opposed any regulations or restrictions for GE crops in the past.

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