Changes Made to Nebraska
Seed Law LB 263 passed on May 18, 2009. This is a preemption law that changed the Nebraska Seed Law and strips local control of seeds. Extensive information was published in the previous issue. Thank you to all those of you that took your time to contact your Senators to express your interests in this issue.
Proposed Changes to the
Nebraska Seed Law
Section 1 reads: "No political subdivision shall prohibit or in any other manner regulate any matter relating to the registration, labeling or sale of seeds based on the type, nature, or genetic makeup of such seeds. No political subdivision shall prohibit or in any other manner regulate any matter relating to the storage, transportation, distribution, notification of use, planting, or cultivation of seeds that are in addition to or in conflict with the Nebraska Seed Law and any rules and regulations adopted and promulgated thereunder."
A brief phone call or email to your Senator is needed to help prevent this from this passing. It has been advanced from committee and has been designated a Speaker Priority Bill. Tell them specifically how this can have a negative impact on your health. Let them know why organic foods are important to you. If you are a farmer, tell them specifically how this can have a negative economic impact on your business. Let them know about the significant growth in the organic industry and that this is a bad bill.
Local Control of Our Food
A community's food policies should be determined by public support and local policymakers, not by agribusiness lobbyists in backrooms of the state legislatures.
LB 263 would prohibit counties, towns and cities from passing any local regulation on seeds. Similar legislation has swept through state governments across the nation since 2005. Several states have introduced legislation removing local control of plants and seeds, and many of these states passed the provisions into law.
The uniformity of the language in each of the bills indicate that this is a coordinated attempt to undermine the growing grassroots Genetic Engineering (GE)-Free movement. In 2006, a similar bill was proposed in the Nebraska legislature. It was defeated due to vigilant citizen action. Your voice is needed now.
Why should people of Nebraska be concerned?
The bill would cause a negative economic impact on organic farmers taking away democratic rights to legislate against damages caused by contamination of genetically engineered seeds.
In the fall of 2002, a contamination incident involving ProdiGene’s pharmaceutical-producing crops catapulted Nebraska agriculture onto CBS Evening News (11/13/02). One incident involved the USDA-mandated destruction of 500,000 bushels of contaminated soybeans in Nebraska and $3.5 million in liability for ProdiGene. Local governments should have the right to protect the farming community from irresponsible corporations such as ProdiGene.
A report released in December 2005 by the USDA’s Inspector General said the department lacks basic information on where field tests are or what happened to crops after harvest. The USDA has failed to properly oversee field trials of genetically engineered crops, including plants designed to produce chemicals for medical and industrial uses. During the inspector general investigation, auditors found that two large harvests of pharmaceutical crops remained in storage at test sites without the USDA's knowledge or approval.
Nebraska’s anti-corporate farming law has been overturned. This leaves Nebraska more susceptible to out of state corporations purchasing land to have their experimental GE crops planted in Nebraska.
The current situation of corporate control and lack of oversight affects all farmers, both non-GE and GE farmers. Nebraska shouldn’t be stripping away the rights of local governments to protect the farmers in their communities.
What is preemption?
Preemption is a legislative action in which higher levels of government (state or federal) undermines local control by stripping local government authority on issues of health, safety and welfare, and is a threat to participatory democracy. Preventing local decision-making contradicts the legitimate and necessary responsibilities of cities, towns, and counties.
LB 263 contains extremely broad and sweeping preemptive language, and more than simply affecting the ability of communities to make decisions about GE in agriculture, it eliminates local control of our food supply.
Please contact your Senator today.
This bill is now a Speaker Priority Bill.
Call your Senator:
The Capitol switchboard is 471-2311.
The Nebraska Legislature is
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