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U.S. Rep. Kucinich, Sen. Boxer aim to address farmer rights with GM crop legislation

(May 17, 2002 CropChoice news) Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D- Ohio) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) will introduce the Genetically Engineered Crop and Animal Farmer Protection Act next Wednesday, May 22. Its part of a larger package of legislation covering various aspects of genetically modified foods and crops, including labeling and liability.

Rep. Kucinich summarized what he saw as the need for the legislation to protect farmers: "Agribusiness and biotechnology companies have rapidly consolidated market power at the same time as the average farmer's profits and viability have significantly declined. Policies promoted by biotech corporations have systematically acted to remove basic farmer rights enjoyed since the beginning of agriculture. These policies include unreasonable seed contracts and the intrusion into everyday farm operations. The introduction of genetically engineered crops has also created obstacles for farmers, including the loss of markets and increased liability concerns. To mitigate the abuses upon farmers, a clear set of farmer rights must be established."

Farmer Bill of Rights

This bill provides several farmer rights and protections to maintain the opportunity to farm:

1. Farmers may save seeds and seek compensation from biotech companies for failed genetically engineered crops.

2. Biotech companies may not shift liability to farmers, nor require access to farmer's property, nor mandate arbitration, nor mandate court of jurisdiction, nor require damages beyond actual fees, or any other unfair condition.

3. Farmers must be informed of the risks of using genetically engineered crops.

4. Biotech companies may not charge more to American farmers for use of this technology, than they charge farmers in other nations.

5. Seed companies must ensure seeds labeled non-GE are accurate and provide clear instructions to reduce cross pollination, which contaminates other fields.

6. The EPA is required to evaluate the concern of Bt resistant pests and take actions necessary to prevent resistance to Bt, an important organic pesticide.

7. The bill prohibits genetic engineering designed to produce sterile seeds.

8. The bill prohibits loan discrimination based on the choice of seeds an agricultural producer uses.

For more information on this bills, please contact the office of Rep. Dennis Kucinich at 202.225-5871.