Saturday, February 18, 2006

Dangerous genetically modified crops legislation being introduced by Michigan Republicans

Christopher Bedford, President of the Sweetwater Local Foods Market up in Montague, MI sent an email this morning that made the hair stand up on the back of my neck. Republicans in the Michigan House are attempting to pass legislation that will stop local authorities from blocking the planting of genetically modified crops. In other words, these guys are trying to block any opposition to large scale bio-engineered industrial agriculture. Their goal is simple, crush small farmers. If you understand anything about ecological diversity, or if you ever took Economics 101, you can plainly see this is a stupid move.

Mr. Bedford's letter:
In December of 2005 and January of this year, a coalition of small farmers, environmentalists, consumers concerned about food safety, and health experts temporarily stopped a bill to prohibit local regulation of seed in the Michigan Senate. This bill, SB 777, introduced by Senator Gerald van Woerkom of Muskegon -- Chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Forestry, and Tourism, would stop Townships and Counties from prohibiting the planting of GMO crops (Genetically Modified Organisms) in their jurisdiction. Several counties in California have already passed such ordinances.

Now Michigan Representative Neal Nitz (R-78th District, and Representative John Proos (R- 79th District, are quietly circulating a House version of SB 777 to recruit co-sponsors. It is their intention to introduce and pass this bill in the House BEFORE any one can organize a resistance. This stealth approach to passing dangerous, unfair legislation is essentially undemocratic and wrong.

People who support the right of farmers to protect their crops from GMO contamination from pollen drift, who are concerned about the potential environmental and health costs of the untested GMO technology in crops (in effect, we all are guinea pigs in this test)and who want to be able to differentiate local food production through non-GMO strategies should email Reps. Nitz and Proos as soon as possible to protest their undemocratic maneuver.

Demand an adequate time for the public to comment on this legislation. Demand hearings where all sides on this issue can be heard -- not just the pro-GMO words of Farm Bureau and the agribuisness corporations. This decision to ban local control is too important to be done behind closed doors.

Citizen opposition temporarily stopped SB 777. We need to do the same in the House.

It is continually made apparent to me that the Michigan's Republican led legislature does not have the best interest of Michiganders at heart, has no intention of benefiting anyone but their own bottom line, and has no interest in the future generations who will inherit this state. Every last one of them should be kicked out of office for their sheer lack of understanding of basic economic and ecological principles that would lead to long term sustainable economic growth in this region. These guys do not see the damage they are doing.

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