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Michigan Senate Votes to Kill Local Communities Right to Ban Genetically Engineered Crops

 LANSING - The Michigan Senate signed off on legislation Thursday that aims to block local regulation of genetically modified crops.

The bill, which heads to Gov. Jennifer Granholm, would pre-empt local governments in Michigan from adopting ordinances that regulate or ban the planting of seeds, including genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

But it includes an exception allowing for local regulation if the bipartisan state Commission of Agriculture agrees the seeds will hurt the environment or public health.

If a local government tried to ban the planting of seeds, the state Agriculture Department also would have to hold a public hearing and issue an opinion on whether environmental or public health effects will occur.

The Senate voted 24-12 to sign off on changes to the bill made by the House earlier this week.

Five California counties and cities have restricted farmers from growing genetically modified crops since 2004. Fourteen states have since passed laws barring similar measures.

Republicans have said federal regulators are better equipped to regulate GMOs than are local counties or townships, and have argued that landowners should have the right to plant what scientists have determined is safe, free from local interference.

But some Democrats have said GMOs threaten public health because its long-term effects are unknown.

Copyright © 1994-2005 South Bend Tribune

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