Michigan Debates Monsanto Bill
- The Associated Press, 4/25/2006
LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The state House passed legislation Tuesday that aims to block local regulation of genetically modified crops but includes an exception if the Michigan Commission of Agriculture signs off on the regulation.
As approved by the Senate, the measure would have pre-empted local governments from adopting ordinances that regulate or ban the planting of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.
But the House version, approved on a 74-32 vote by the Republican-controlled chamber, would let governments ban seeds if they find the seeds will hurt the environment or public health and the bipartisan Commission of Agriculture agrees.
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 legislation now heads back to the GOP-controlled Senate.
Five California counties and cities have restricted farmers from growing genetically modified crops since 2004. Fourteen states have since passed laws barring similar measures, prodded by large seed companies and an increasing number of farmers who plant genetically engineered products.
Republicans have said federal regulators are better equipped to regulate GMOs than are local counties or townships, and they 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 and organic farmers, who worry about losing their "organic" certification because genetically modified crops could contaminate their fields.
The seed bill is Senate Bill 777.
On the Net:
Michigan Legislature: http://www.legislature.mi.gov