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Vermont Governor Threatens to Veto Popular GE Crops "Polluter Pays" Liability Law

  • Vermont Governor Threatens Veto on Biotech Ban Law
    Legislation allows manufacturers of genetically engineered seeds to be liable for damages if their products drift into the fields of neighboring farmers.
    By John Vogel
    4/28/2006

This week, the Vermont House and Senate passed a resurrected compromise bill allowing manufacturers of genetically engineered seeds to be liable for damages if their products drift into the fields of neighboring farmers. Last year, a slightly different bill was buried in the House.

This time, the legislation exempts corn and soybean seed manufacturers. It's headed to the desk of Governor Jim Douglas, who is expected to veto it.

The issue of who controls the use of genetically modified seed and plants has been intensely debated in Vermont for more than 1.5 years. But aside of corn, there's little research evidence suggesting pollen drift from GMO crops. The legislation would give farmers who don't want to use modified seeds an avenue to recover damages if pollen from modified plants drift into their crops. The bill allows them to sue a seed manufacturer, claiming the drift was a private nuisance. Claims could be filed only with proof of total losses exceeding $3,500.

The legislation still confuses terms of "genetically altered", "genetically modified" and "genetically engineered". What constitutes proof is still subject to question, as is administrative funding. 

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