Monday, July 17, 2006


I have just posted three articles by Erica Martenson that previously appeared in the Napa Sentinel who were gracious enough to give their permission to reproduce them in their entirety. Well, not really their entirety, as I changed the titles a bit.

These are here for a reason. Senate Bill 1056 is under consideration right now in Sacramento and requires a truly G(g)reen response. Yes, I don't care whether you use Green with a capital or a small letter. The response is required and hopefully some of our candidates can take this on.

SB 1056 would bring all root stock and agricultural seeds under state-wide controls. According to Deborah Rich in the SF Chronicle...
Mendocino, Marin and Trinity counties and the cities of Arcata and Point Arena already have bans or moratoriums on genetically engineered crops. If Florez's bill passes as amended, other local governments in California will lose their right to pass similar ordinances unless they do so within the year.

The vote in the Agriculture Committee was 8 - 0. There were no objections.

As Erica Martenson pointed out in her second article, there are risks for farmers, but as a group, the agricultural lobby in California is behind this, or at least the Farm Bureau is.
An initiative that would ban biotechnology in Sonoma County would have a devastating affect on agriculture and potentially shortchange farmers on future advances that could improve their lives and the lives of others, according to American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman.
The general view is that this is not just about farming, but about our future. I could not agree more. We have the right to have a voice in our future and Monsanto and the other big ag corporations want to take that away from us.

While this bill is very specfic about the ability to actually use genetically modified organisms in agriculture, it is just one part of an overall plan by big ag to remove all controls on their operation. Each of these is targeted at some level of government that can best be counted on to fold when corporate money is around.

The key issue on GMO's is really labeling and this is being fought on two fronts. As Martenson pointed out, Dennis Kucinich keeps introducing bill that would require the labeling of foods with genetically engineered ingredients. This bill never gets out of committee in Congress. However, in case you think that it might be a good idea for the State of California to require the labeling of such foods, they have a plan for that too. In early March, the SF Chronicle reported that "The House voted Wednesday to strip many warnings from food labels, potentially affecting alerts about arsenic in bottled water, lead in candy and allergy-causing sulfites, among others." So much for Federalism.

I am not done with my list becaue there is currently a bill in Congress that would do the same with toxic pesticides used in Agriculture. Again, in a July 13 story in the Chronicle we find that
House Republicans are pushing new legislation that could wipe out the ability of California and other states to ban or strictly limit the use of pesticides and toxic industrial chemicals that can jeopardize human health.

The measure, approved by a House committee Wednesday on a mostly party line vote, is the latest effort by the Republican-led Congress to block states from enacting environmental, public health or consumer protections that are more stringent than federal standards.

It does not take long to see the emerging pattern. So, what does that have to do with GMOs and SB 1056? It is simply that, without proper labeling, consumers will never know what they are buying. Besides the ABC polls quoted by Martenson, Rutgers University has done some polling that indicated that 88% the American Public favors such labeling.

Martenson has done a very good job of defining the dangers of uncontrolled use of ge material in agriculture. The instances of abuse are far too common to need repeating. Simply put, pollen does not know what a fence or property line means and there is no way to control the release of genetic material into the environment.

If this bill passes, the only winners will be Monsanto and the other producers of GMO agriculture. This is a gigantic field trial and we are the test subjects. If there were ever a time when we had a convergence of Green values: sustainability, ecological wisdom, community based economics, decentralizaion, personal and global responsibility.


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