GE Free VT
MARCH 8, 2004
 2:00 PM
Amy Shollenberger, 802.793.1114
Doyle Canning, 802.279.0985
78 Vermont Towns Against Genetically Engineered Crops; Tuesday VOTE on GE bill: First-in-the-Nation to Hold Biotech Corporations Accountable for GMO Contamination
MONTPELIER, VT - March 8 - Vermont Senators will vote Tuesday on the Farmer Protection Act, a bill to hold biotech corporations liable for unintended contamination of conventional or organic crops by genetically engineered plant materials. GE Free Vermont farmers and supporters will be present at the State House in their signature red shirts tomorrow to witness the historic decision. The grassroots uprising of support for a Time Out on genetically engineered crops was galvanized last Tuesday with the passage of an additional eight town-level resolutions supporting measures on genetically engineered agriculture. On March 2nd Weathersfield, Thetford, Chelsea, Hyde Park, Middlesex, Bennington, Shaftsbury, and Rutland passed anti-GMO resolutions as Mendocino County, CA passed the first-in-the-nation ban on the cultivation of genetically engineered crops. The GE Free Vermont Campaign continues to receive messages of support from farmers groups in Mendocino, Albania, New Zealand, Australia, South Asia, Hawaii, and around the world.

“The Farmer Protection Act is a cutting edge proposal to preempt predatory lawsuits against Vermont’s family farmers by biotech companies like Monsanto,” said Dexter Randall, a 7th generation conventional Dairy farmer from Troy, Vermont. “These corporations are writing the rules in their own interests at the national and international level, and using their patented GMOs as a tool to contaminate and control farmers. Tomorrow Vermont’s Senators are voting to put farmers first and show that a little state can make a big statement against corporate greed.”

The Farmer Protection Act was passed out of the Senate Judiciary committee with a 6-0-0 vote on February 27th and is scheduled for a floor vote Tuesday. Senator Vincent Illuzzi (R - Essex-Orleans), who drafted the bill, and Committee Chair Senator Richard Sears (D - Bennington) have added an important amendment to the Act, which will ensure that Vermont’s farmers are not liable if their crops are contaminated with GMO material.

“The Sears-Illuzi amendment defines ‘genetically engineered seeds or plant parts’ as different from conventional seeds or plant parts. This is unprecedented and undermines the industry’s claim that GE products are the same as traditional products,” said Amy Shollenberger, Policy Director at Rural Vermont. “The amendment says that a person who is found to have ‘trace amounts’ of genetically engineered material shall be indemnified by the manufacturer if they are sued. In other words, it protects a farmer from being sued by the manufacturer if the farmer’s crops are contaminated with GMO material.”

The GE Free Vermont Campaign on Genetic Engineering is a statewide coalition of public interest groups, businesses, concerned citizens and farmers, who are organizing to oppose genetic engineering at the local, state and national level, and calling for a “Time Out” on GMOs.