One of the most difficult, and often overlooked, aspects of genetically engineered crops are that they are fully capable of “contaminating” crops nearby, or even several miles away.
Canola and corn are two of the biggest offenders, with pollen drift causing changes to nearby organic and non-GMO crops. Because of even trace amounts of contamination, organic and non-GMO farmers worry about being rejected by overseas markets, where GMOs are not tolerated. The financial consequences can be disastrous.
Some farmers even worry about lawsuits from pollination over drift from “patented” plants.
Because of these and other concerns, many organic and non-GMO farmers find themselves surrounded and constricted by their GMO-growing neighbors. But now, many local governments are changing the landscape, exploring bans on GMO crops on behalf of their citizens.
U.S. Court of Appeals Votes to Allow GMO Bans
On Friday, Nov. 18, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a long-awaited decision on GMO crop bans, voting as to whether federal and Hawai‘i state laws preempt Hawai‘i counties’ authority to regulate the use of GMOs and pesticide use.
The court ruled that federal law, the plant Protection Act to be specific according to this article from the website Sustainable Pulse, does not prohibit the passing of local laws to either regulate or ban commercially-grown GM crops. Proposed bans will be allowed to go forward.
“Today’s decision to allow states and counties to ban or regulate GM crops is an important victory for GM-free seed sanctuaries and small communities and farmers around the country,” said George Kimbrell, senior attorney for the Center for Food Safety.
Maui County had previously passed a GMO ban that was later ruled invalid; the area is a large testing ground for Monsanto and Dow Chemical — on grounds that the county itself did not have the proper authority.
The Maui ban was originally passed in large part because of the potential harm to farmers and the environment.
The court asserted the following according to the article: “the cultivation and testing of GM plants raise several well-documented concerns;” later adding, “transgenic contamination has previously caused significant economic impacts on farmers of conventional, non-GM crops.”
Environmental concerns such as harm to beneficial plants and animals caused by the increased use of pesticides also was cited, as well as the growing threat of herbicide-resistant “superweeds” that have sprung up, (with Monsanto and other companies’ only response being to utilize more and more toxic chemicals).
The court’s final declaration is as follows: “the regulation of commercialized crops, both of GM and traditional varieties, remains within the authority of state and local governments.”
For more on the landmark decision, check out the full article from the Pulse by clicking on this link.
You can also read about the recent Sonoma County, California GMO ban by clicking here.