Effort to wipe out organic farming.. is this happening in YOUR state:

Bill on DNA-altered crops reaps organic outrage By KRISTIN COLLINS, Staff Writer
RALEIGH, NC-- The idea of rearranging the DNA of plants once sounded like the stuff of science fiction.
Today, man-made plants that repel pests or survive heavy doses of weedkiller cover 3 million acres of North Carolina farmland -- and state agriculture leaders are paving the way for more.
A bill likely will pass in the legislature this session that will stop local governments from banning genetically modified crops, as three California counties have done. The bill, requested by the Department of Agriculture, passed in the Senate on Friday, the last major hurdle to its success. The House, which passed the bill in May, must agree to a few changes to make it final.
No North Carolina county or city has tried to ban the crops. But the bill has created a maelstrom among those who say that genetically engineered crops pose a danger to the food supply and could destroy organic farming.
"They're really playing with Mother Nature in a pretty perverse way," said Ken Dawson, an organic vegetable farmer from Orange County. "We don't know what the consequences are."
The outrage is heightened by a new genetically modified crop in North Carolina that, unlike most others, is intended to go directly into the food supply.
This year in Washington County, a California company planted 75 acres of rice implanted with a human gene that produces proteins found in human milk, saliva and tears. The company plans to extract the proteins and use them in food products that they say could help infants in the Third World.
Those who oppose the crops say they can easily cross-pollinate with organic and conventional crops, destroying rare heirloom varieties and making natural food almost extinct.
Now, as the bill awaits final passage, state leaders are in the middle of a rowdy debate over the future of high-tech agriculture.
"Research and science has moved agriculture from the horse and plow and very low yields to very efficient operations that can meet the world's food demands," said state Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler, who grows genetically modified soybeans on his Guilford County farm. "I don't know that we can afford to stop doing that."
Genetically modified crops are the products of biotechnology companies, which have figured out how to add genes to plants' DNA to make them resistant to pests or to the weedkiller Roundup.
Farmers, who pay the companies for the rights to use the patented seeds, say the mutant crops make farming easier and more efficient and cut down on the use of pesticides and herbicides. Ninety-five percent of cotton, 87 percent of soybeans and 52 percent of corn grown in North Carolina this year are genetically modified, according to the Department of Agriculture.
Right now, most genetically modified crops do not go directly into the food supply. Most of the soybeans and corn are used for livestock feed, not sold in grocery stores. But their uses are expanding.
Troxler is among many state agriculture leaders who say that genetically modified crops provide the best hope for keeping farmers in business in difficult times -- and for feeding the world on less and less land.
Troxler said the Agriculture Department asked for the bill, which is similar to those being floated in several other states. It would give the state Board of Agriculture, which Troxler chairs, sole authority to outlaw plants.
He said the push comes at the request of seed dealers, farmers and agribusiness companies that were concerned about what they saw in California and New England -- where "genetically engineered free" movements have gained steam.
"The public is very misinformed," said Wade Byrd, a Bladen County corn farmer. "We're going to use fewer pesticides and have a safer food product when we get more of these crops on the market."
In California, several counties have held referendums on whether to ban the plants locally. Three have been successful. In Vermont, more than 80 local governments have passed resolutions barring them. And in Maine, one town has passed a resolution, and others are considering similar action.
In North Carolina, where no such movement has gained a foothold, state officials said they thought the bill would pass without fanfare. It slid through the House in May with only one dissenting vote.
But advocates of organic farming got wind of it soon after, and it didn't have such a smooth road in the Senate. On Thursday, a Senate committee amended the bill to create a study commission that will examine the risks and benefits of genetically engineered crops. It also added two new members to the state Board of Agriculture: an organic farmer and a consumer advocate.
Tony Kleese, head of the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, which promotes organic farming, said the new bill is better -- but still not palatable. He said it will all but assure that genetically engineered crops can spread unchecked.
He said allowing local governments to create zones where genetically engineered crops aren't allowed could protect organic crops from being contaminated by wind-blown pollen. Now, that right will be taken away, regardless what the study shows.
Kleese and other organic advocates say genetically engineered crops haven't been studied enough to prove they're safe. Europeans shun them, banning any U.S. product that contains them.
They call the bill the work of giant biotech companies -- such as Monsanto, a Missouri company that owns the rights to most of the genetically modified seeds used on American farms -- that want to protect their profit margins.
"Do we want these companies to own our food supply from seed to plate?" Kleese said. "The more of these kinds of laws that go into effect, the more the balance tips to genetically engineered crops. We need to ask a lot of hard questions before we continue down this path."
Sen. Charlie Albertson, a Duplin County Democrat, was one of the bill's sponsors.
He said it's unrealistic to think that organic farmers, who sell vegetables and fruits at a premium, can feed the masses. He said the expansion of genetically engineered crops will ensure an abundant and affordable food supply.
"The truth is, organic crops are out of the reach of most people who are buying produce," Albertson said. "We can't grow them at the expense of genetically modified crops. These crops offer the best hope in the world to feed hungry people."
Staff writer Kristin Collins can be reached at 829-4881 or snipped-for-privacy@newsobserver.com. www.newsobserver.com
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More Than Just a Food Fight
By Zack Pelta-Heller, AlterNet. Posted August 4, 2005.
Fifteen states have passed laws preventing bans on biotech foods. Sounds harmless enough -- but green activist groups are protesting the proposed legislation as an affront to local democracy.
The debate over genetically modified organisms just got a lot hotter in California. Last month, Democratic State Senator Dean Florez introduced an amendment that would effectively remove a community's control over its food supply. http://www.organicconsumers.org/biod/monsantolaws080405.cfm
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A battle of values between organic growers and hi tech agriculture will eventually surface in nearly every state.
The irony is that the fear of genetically altered crops motivates more people to choose organic produce. These political battles can potentially increase the market niche for organically grown produce.
To create zones where genetically engineered crops aren't allowed is a positive and safe step and should not be seen as a threat to the future of hi tech agriculture. In fact, Monsanto and other high tech growers should welcome such measures that can demonstrate their objective view of the big picture - including the need to give society ways to protect themselves from potential harm.
What should be a greater concern is some ill-motivated techy like hackers and terrorists who may create a genetically modified weed that will invade and destroy major crops and wildlands around the world. A super-weed that can laugh at Roundup and outgrow the most invasive weeds we see today. Maybe this type of super-weed will be designed and released by accident, while attempting to create bountiful crops for human consumption?
________ Ergonica: Talk about weeds - www.ergonica.com
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That's already old news:
    http://www.enn.com/today.html?id 73
A twelve foot tall weed that spreads like dandilions and is resistant to Roundup and other herbicides. Fast growing too... Gak!

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If mildew dies. We will be soon to follow. Rot is of import. Not pretty but life. Sterile world will be just that.
My hope is that the super weed stir fries well.
Bill
--
Garden Shade Zone 5 S Jersey USA in a Japanese Jungle Manner.39.6376 -75.0208
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The threat of invading horseweed in farms in California and several other states is a good lesson on how weeds can learn to adapt to Roundup and any other environmental change.
These weeds were not genetically modified, but the crops they invaded were designed by Monsanto to withstand their own product Roundup (Roundup-Ready crops).
Now maybe Monsanto will use their scientific wizardry to come up with a new solution, maybe a new type of Venus Fly-Trap that attacks specific weeds, like horseweed, as well as bugs and possibly terrorists, as well?
________ Ergonica: Talk about weeds - www.ergonica.com
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This reminds me of the fools who controlled the sugar and pineapple plantations in Hawaii. Rats where destroying the crops so some dumbass decided it would be a good idea to introduce the Indian mongoose to control the rat population...only thing was rats are primarily nocturnal and the mongoose aren't! Instead of controlling the rat population the mongoose became another pest and are all but decimating the local endemic bird population by eating their eggs. I think of all the states Hawaii has the longest endangered and extinct species list.
Nature has it's checks and balances when we start to meddle in it we only, for lack of a better word, f*ck it up. "Wildlife mangament" is a total oxymoron.
Layne
wrote:

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Agriculture tends to mess up native flora and fauna, as well. Hi teck ag, moreso than organic. The cost to mother earth for her human children is very high. For an interesting paper on the toll of agriculture on evolution, see this page http://www.ergonica.com/downloads.htm .
Ultimately, the more we tinker with nature the more likely we will see the day when the more simple species (weeds and bugs) will ultimately recover all that the intelligent predators and consumers have taken.
_______ EWIRM: Pull out weeds respectfully. www.ergonica.com
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