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Farmers Pressing State Attorneys General to Stop
Frankencrops Onslaught

11/21/00

Farmers to Attorney General Hatch: We Need Protection from GMOs

Attorney General in agreement with LSP that GMO companies should be
liable for damage caused by genetically engineered seed

Saint Paul, MN Farmer-members of the Land Stewardship Project (LSP)
met with Attorney General Mike Hatch today to explain their concerns
over genetically modified organisms. Chief among LSP's concerns are
making sure that the manufacturers of products containing genetically
modified organisms (GMOs) are held liable for contamination of non-GMO
crops.

"The companies who produce and sell GMO seeds created the problem and
they should be held liable," said LSP member and Winona-area farmer
Jim Riddle. "These companies create a product they know will trespass
onto the fields of farmers who don't want it and then try to walk away
from responsibility when there is a problem. After all, they are the
ones profiting from this mess."

LSP commended Attorney General Hatch on the strong action he has taken
to protect farmers who planted StarLink corn, and encouraged him to
take further action to protect farmers who find themselves in the
midst of an agricultural system contaminated by GMOs. The Attorney
General agreed that more needs to be done to protect farmers.

"I'm very concerned about how these GMO seeds are being marketed, the
contracts farmers planting them are signing, and who should be liable
for the loss GMO contamination causes," said Hatch, "We want to see
that Minnesota farmers are protected and that liability is placed
where it belongs."

LSP met with Attorney General Hatch as part of the Farmer-to-Farmer
Campaign on Genetic Engineering. This is a collaborative effort among
family farm organizations in eight states to promote the farmer
perspective on genetic engineering. Besides Minnesota, farmers from
South Dakota, Montana, Missouri, Illinois, Indian, Kentucky and
Vermont are participating in this campaign. Family farm groups in
each of these state are calling on their respective Attorneys General
to fill a policy vacuum caused by national inaction.

"The full extent of farmers' legal liability resulting from growing
and marketing GMO crops is unclear," said Lynn Hayes, an attorney with
the Farmers' Legal Action Group, which also participated in Tuesday's
meeting with Attorney General Hatch. "What is clear is that farmers
may face substantial liability for violations of GMO contracts,
contamination of neighbors' crops, or infringement of the companies'
patents. Before planting GMO crops, farmers should fully understand
their responsibilities and evaluate the risks of potential liability."

Organizations participating in the Farmer-to-Farmer Campaign are
asking state Attorneys General to:

Issue legal opinions on the extent to which farmers and/or seed
companies are liable for damages caused by GMO contamination of
non-GMO crops, failure to segregate GMO crops; GMO contract
violations; and patent, licensing, and registration infringements.

Support legislation that places liability for all economic and
environmental damages caused by GMP seeds on companies who develop
and manufacture them.

Investigate legislation that places liability for all economic and
environmental damages caused by GMO seeds on companies who develop
and manufacture them.

Investigate GMO marketing practices in their states to determine
whether farmers are properly advised of the liability risks and their
responsibilities associated with growing GMO crops, and the adequacy
of segregation procedures at all stages of the marketing chain to
ensure compliance with requirements for the various domestic and
export markets.

Participate in meetings with farmers to inform them of the legal
issues related to production and marketing of GMO crops.

Investigate whether companies developing, manufacturing and marketing
GMOs are violating antitrust laws, and issue a legal analysis of the
impacts of concentration.

In Minnesota, the Attorney General's office has been asked to examine
the state rules and permitting procedures that regulate GMO crops.

The Land Stewardship Project is a private, nonprofit membership
organization dedicated to fostering an ethic of stewardship for
farmland, to promoting sustainable agriculture and to developing
sustainable communities. LSP has offices in the Minnesota communities
of Lewiston and Montevideo, as well as the Twin Cities.

Contact:
Jim Riddle, farmer, Winona, 507-454-8310
Paul Sobocinski, farmer, Wabasso, 507-342-2323

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