Pages tagged "SB 434"
Update on Oregon GE Liability Bills & Canola Bill
Before the session started, Cultivate Oregon and our coalition partners were able to find sponsors in both the House and Senate for identical GE Liability Bills, an updated version of the bill that first was introduced in 2017. Having identical bills in both chambers is a safety mechanism—if the bill doesn’t move on one side, it hopefully will move on the other side, which is the case this year. While we initially thought the Senate version would have more support, it actually was the House version, HB 2882, which made it past the April 9th deadline and is currently being worked on. It is not a bad thing per se that the Senate version SB 434 is “dead.”
HB 2882 was scheduled for a perfunctory Work Session on April 3rd and the bill was moved from the Judiciary Committee to the Rules Committee. This alone should be considered a win because the legislature is overwhelmed with thousands of bills and many pieces of legislation don’t make it past the deadline, regardless of the merits. The Speaker of the House helped move the bill forward and we are appreciative of the Speaker’s support. Rep. Holvey, a longtime champion of GE issues, is the Chair of the Rules Committee and is willing to schedule a hearing when the bill is ready.
What's a work session? A Work Session is different from a public hearing in that no testimony is taken from the public, unless invited, although the public may attend the work session.
Is the bill moving? We are fortunate that the democratic leadership, and some key Senators, recognize the need for something to be done about GE contamination in Oregon. That said, opposition forces have peppered the legislature with many concerns about the bill. For example, that holding patent holders and manufacturers liable for GE contamination will have a chilling effect on business in Oregon; that GE contamination isn’t a problem in Oregon; that other legal remedies exist; that this is an issue that should be managed solely through “farmer to farmer” handshakes; and that there could be negative, unintended legal consequences. We don’t agree with these concerns and are working hard to counter them in both chambers. In the meantime, Speaker Kotek has asked Rep. Wilde to work with the coalition to address these concerns and come up with a version of the bill that can garner broad support. We are hoping that we can find a way forward that still puts liability on the chemical corporations behind GE technology. This is the first time that we have had an ally in the legislature directly working with us so it is a big step forward and Rep. Wilde has been engaging and genuinely open to learning more about this topic.
What exactly happened to SB 434? We were assured from our Chief Senate sponsor, Sen. Frederick, that the Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Prozanski, would schedule a hearing. Sen. Prozanski even signed onto the bill and has long been a supporter of GE issues. However, Sen. Prozanski became concerned that there is not a sufficient legal nexus between GE contamination and manufacturers or patent holders. While this is disappointing, Sen. Prozanski committed to holding an Informational Hearing followed by a Work Group because he does see the need to “draw a line in the sand” with GE issues but wants to make sure that he does so in a way that he is comfortable with. Our Chief Sponsor in the Senate has gotten pieces of legislation out of Work Groups before, so ultimately, this is also a step in the right direction and could allow for our voices to be heard in a less-rushed environment, as well as for a group of allies to convene to further push the issue. We will balance continuing to work on the House version while simultaneously addressing potential future solutions with Sen. Prozanski in the Senate.
It often takes multiple tries to get legislation passed, so while some of you may be feeling disappointed, we making progress and the House bill is still moving! We also found new Republican allies this session. Rep. Findley and Rep. Stark are supportive and we hope to find more bipartisan buy in. We also are working with an exciting new coalition partner, Oregon Organic Coalition, and through this relationship, we will be attending quarterly meetings at ODA. These are really great developments.
What exactly does the bill do? HB 2882 will create a cause of action for liability against patent holders or licensed manufacturers for GE contamination events in Oregon. The bill will not pit farmer against farmer. The parties that will be held responsible are the corporations behind genetic engineering, not the farmers who use them since in some instances, contamination is out of the hands of the farmer who planted the seed or cannot be attributed to any one farm. GE contamination, and the threat of contamination, costs farmers--including Oregon farmers--billions of dollars. It is time to level the playing field and hold the corporations behind the technology that is responsible for this contamination accountable. Learn more about HB 2882 on our website.
What you can do: Please do make sure to contact your legislators and tell them that you are concerned about GE contamination in Oregon and increased canola acreage in the Willamette Valley and want protections for our specialty seeds. You can find your representatives here. Also, if you haven’t done so already, fill out our support form and let us know if you are able to write testimony or testify in person once a hearing is scheduled. Sometimes we don't get much notice so it's helpful to have a list of supporters on hand. Please also continue to share information about HB 2882 on social media, and learn as much as you can about GE contamination events in Oregon and the risks they pose to farmers and our specialty seed industry.
What About Canola? As for the limit on 500 acres of canola allowed in the Willamette Valley that will sunset in July, SB 885 will keep the status quo in place and was voted out of committee in early April.
We thought that the bill was going to go directly to the Senate Floor, but at the very last minute ODA attached a cost to the legislation which means that it had to be referred to the Ways and Means Committee to ensure that there is room in the budget for the bill. Senate Dembrow, the sponsor, said that he is confident that the bill will get out of Ways and Means and head to the Senate floor for a vote. ODA is also still convening meetings with the Canola Rules Advisory Committee (RAC) to work on an agency-led solution instead of a legislative mandate. We are attending the RAC meetings and tracking this issue closely.
Photo by Raquel Pedrotti on Unsplash
French, German farmers destroy crops after GMOs found in Bayer seeds
Another incident of GE contamination in France and Germany reported on 2/6/2019.
Our two bills, SB434 and HB 2882, will address the issue of GE contamination in Oregon by holding patent holders or licensed manufacturers accountable when GE organisms are found on land without permission of the owner or lawful occupant. These bills WILL NOT pit farmer against farmer. The parties that will be held responsible are the corporations behind genetic engineering, not the farmers who use them since in some instances, contamination is out of the hands of the farmer who planted the seed.
Learn more about these bills here.
Bayer said on Wednesday that farmers in France and Germany were digging up thousands of hectares of rapeseed fields after traces of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) banned for cultivation were found in seeds sold by the company.
GMO crops are widely grown across the world, but they remain controversial in Europe, where very few varieties are authorized for growing and some countries like France have completely outlawed their cultivation, citing environmental risks.
Checks by the French authorities during the autumn showed minute quantities of GMO seeds, estimated at less than 0.005 percent of the volume, in three batches of rapeseed seeds sold under the Dekalb brand, Catherine Lamboley, Bayer’s chief operating officer for France, said.
Dekalb was previously a Monsanto brand before the U.S. company was taken over by Bayer last year.
The GMO found, which is a rapeseed variety grown in Canada, is not authorized for cultivation in Europe, although it is allowed in imports destined for food and animal feed, Lamboley said.
Bayer issued a product recall but some of the seed had already been sown, representing about 8,000 hectares in France and 2,500-3,000 hectares in Germany, which are in the process of being dug up, Bayer said.
It was not yet known what caused the contamination of the rapeseed seeds, produced in Argentina in a GMO-free area, Lamboley said.
Protect the Specialty Seed Industry in Oregon
Cultivate Oregon and coalition partners are back in Salem to protect Oregon agriculture and the specialty seed industry by creating accountability for genetically engineered (GE) contamination events in Oregon! SB 434 and identical bill HB 2882 have been filed and have been placed in the Judiciary Committee in both the Senate and House. It is possible that we will need to call upon you to help us support these bills in the next couple of weeks. You can help by submitting testimony, traveling to Salem to testify at a hearing along with our lobbyist and other coalition members, and/or adding your name to our public list of supporters. So please sign up for our newsletter and action alerts to stay updated.
SB 434 and HB 2882 hold patent holders or licensed manufacturers accountable when GE organisms are found on land without permission of the owner or lawful occupant. These bills WILL NOT pit farmer against farmer. The parties that will be held responsible are the corporations behind genetic engineering, not the farmers who use them since in some instances, contamination is out of the hands of the farmer who planted the seed. GE contamination, and the threat of contamination, costs farmers, including Oregon farmers, billions of dollars. It is time to level the playing field and hold the corporations behind the technology that is responsible for this contamination accountable.
Sponsors and sign-ons of these bills include: Sen. Frederick, Sen. Manning, Sen. Dembrow, Sen. Prozanski, Sen. Gelser, Sen. Golden, Rep. Marsh, Rep. Helm, Rep. Sanchez, Rep. Holvey, Rep. Hernandez, Rep. Nosse, and Rep. Gomberg.
We’re not doing this alone--Our Family Farms, Center for Food Safety, Oregonians for Safe Farms and Families and Friends of Family Farmers are involved in this important work to ensure that we have a specialty seed industry for generations to come.
As many of you know, GE contamination is a one-way contamination and the burden falls on the farmer who needs to fence it out, which can be impossible in some geographic regions. Further, the legal precedent is not favorable for a farmer who is inadvertently contaminated by somebody else's GE crop. GE contamination is often irreparable. For example, the GE bentgrass infestation in Malheur and Jefferson counties is now the responsibility of the state since the federal government deregulated bentgrass, so there no longer are any legal teeth to hold Scotts and Monsanto responsible for this ongoing contamination.
Oregon is an incredibly unique seed growing region and it is important that we protect this legacy. Oregon is one of the top five vegetable seed producers in the world, owing to the state’s fertile valleys and temperate climate. Specialty seed growers in the state grow radish, cabbage, onion, Swiss chard, squash, beets, grasses, among others, for seed, which are planted by farmers around the world. Our specialty seed industry is worth at least $50 million dollars annually with room for growth if the right protections are in place. Ensuring that Oregon has a robust specialty seed industry that includes organic seed production will help create an environmentally and economically resilient food system, especially in terms of adaptive seeds that will help fight climate change.
Why is this legislation needed:
- Federal regulations are inadequate.
- There are no statewide GE regulations in Oregon.
- All counties, exception Jackson County, are preempted from making decisions about what type of seeds are grown in their jurisdiction.
- The ban on growing canola in the Willamette Valley sunsets later this year. Canola poses exceptional threats to a wide variety of organic and conventional vegetable seeds and as of right now, it is unclear how ODA will address this before the ban sunsets. Potential GE canola contamination unfortunately hasn’t been a large part of the official discussion, and even non-GE canola seed was recently found to be contaminated. As a result European farmers are ripping up their crops and won’t be able to use the fields for two years. See: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-gmo-bayer-idUSKCN1PV1RG
Read full text of both bills and track them here:
SB434 - https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2019R1/Measures/Overview/SB434
HB 2882 - https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2019R1/Measures/Overview/HB2882
Read testimony from last year’s bills here (first public hearing) and here (second public hearing).