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California Passes Strong Anti-GE Law

Monsanto's intimidation tactics no longer legal Sept. 29, 2008 - A landmark piece of legislation protecting California's farmers from liability was signed by Governor Schwarzenegger on Sept. 27, 2008. The bill, AB 541 (Huffman, D-Marin/Sonoma), was sponsored by a coalition of agriculture organizations and food businesses, and it is the first bill passed by the California legislature that 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 biotech 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 also establishes a mandatory crop sampling protocol to level the playing field when biotech companies investigate alleged patent or contract violations.

AB 541 was sponsored by a thirteen-member coalition including Community Alliance with Family Farmers, Earthbound Farm, California Certified Organic Farmers, and United Natural Foods Inc. It also had the support of the California Farm Bureau Federation which has traditionally opposed any restrictions or regulations for GE crops.

"AB 541 provides much needed protection for farmers who typically lack the resources to fight lawsuits brought by biotech conglomerates," stated Renata Brillinger, director of the Genetic Engineering Policy Project, the coalition sponsoring AB 541. "This is a good first step towards establishing that Monsanto - not farmers - is legally responsible for the economic, environmental and health harms caused by their patented and uncontrollable products."

Contact: Renata Brillinger, (707) 874-0316,

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GENETIC ENGINEERING POLICY PROJECT California Certified Organic Farmers · California Church IMPACT · Center for Food Safety · Center for Environmental Health · Community Alliance with Family Farmers · Earthbound Farm · Ecological Farming Association · Environment California · Good Earth Natural Foods · Occidental Arts & Ecology Center · Oakland Institute · Ocean Beach People's Organic Food Co-op · Pesticide Action Network North America · United Natural Foods, Inc.