Vermont Towns Begin Voting on Genetically Engineered Foods

Vermont Towns Begin Voting
on Genetically Engineered Foods

Associated Press.
December 16, 2001

Putney to vote on resolution about genetically engineered foods

Voters will have an opportunity on Town Meeting Day to decide whether
genetically engineered foods should be labeled and whether there
should be a moratorium on such foods while they're studied.

The select boards in Dummerston and Guilford both adopted resolutions
on the issue, the board in Putney decided to leave it up to voters.

"We were originally just trying to bring this resolution in front of
the select board," said Jennifer Cragin, member of the Genetic
Engineering Action Group. "They felt it would be better served by
going in front of the whole town." According to Andy Robinson,
chairman of the Putney select board, an unofficial survey was
conducted of the board.

"We're split on the issue," he added. "There's one that would support
it, one that would not and one who was in the middle. Because of that,
and the possibility that it would be tabled, the group felt it would
be better to bring it in front of the whole town as a warrant article
and get it passed."

Genetically engineered foods are typically plants created with other
species, such as bacteria. The process is different from crossbreeding
plants or animals to create a hybrid in that the plants and the other
species are not related.

One effect of engineering foods is to produce a plant that is more
resistant to insects or disease, said Susan Davidson, coordinator of
the Vermont Genetic Engineering Action Network.

The resolution that Dummerston and Guilford passed called for the
select boards to petition the Food and Drug Administration,
Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Agriculture to
ensure that all genetically engineered foods are labeled clearly, that
liability be assigned to the developers of such foods, that
genetically engineered material be researched and regulated and that
the agencies establish a moratorium on genetically engineered foods
until they are proven safe.

However, the resolution proposal in Putney will call on the state's
congressional delegation and state officials to take action.

Cragin thinks that there is enough support in Putney for the
resolution to be passed. Other towns around Vermont will also be
deciding similar resolutions on Town Meeting Day, she said.

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