Posted on Categories Agriculture/Food SystemTags , , , , Leave a comment on Opponents of genetically modified crops alarmed at state law

Opponents of genetically modified crops alarmed at state law

Opponents of genetically modified organisms are sounding the alarm statewide over a new California law they contend could derail local efforts to regulate or ban not just GMOs, but all plants, seeds or crops grown in the state.
The controversy has drawn in the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, who are divided over whether to seek immediate action, and put North Coast lawmakers on the defensive over why they voted for the bill.
That includes state Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, who has long sought to label products in California that contain GMOs. The senator last week expressed dismay over the notion she may have unwittingly supported legislation that is now anathema to GMO opponents.
“Nobody raised any concerns about this bill,” which made changes to the innocuous-sounding California Seed Law, Evans said.
While GMO activists fear the new law could undercut local governments’ ability to restrict GMOs, they say it also could affect local officials’ power to regulate any type of seed or plant, ranging from wine grapes to marijuana.
Whether the changes actually accomplish what critics fear — granting the secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture authority over all ordinances enacted by local jurisdictions pertaining to seeds and crops grown in the state — is now the focus of intense review, including by county and state lawyers.
The ongoing controversy centers on a single paragraph inserted late into an Assembly bill to reportedly deal with a narrow conflict — over a proposed invasive plant policy in the city of Encinitas, in San Diego County. But the final legislation, AB 2470, has had a much wider fallout, leading GMO opponents statewide to wonder how the bill managed to fly so far off the radar prior to Gov. Jerry Brown signing it Aug. 25.
Read more at Opponents of genetically modified crops alarmed at state | The Press Democrat.

Posted on Categories Agriculture/Food System, UncategorizedTags , , , Leave a comment on New California law moves crop authority from county to state

New California law moves crop authority from county to state

EUREKA. A California law that will go into effect on Jan. 1 will transfer the authority to regulate seed and plant laws from counties to the state and has the potential to affect the ability of individual counties to ban GMOs.
The details on how the law would affect local ordinances that seek to regulate GMOs haven’t been evaluated yet, said Steve Lyle, the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s public affairs director.
Signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in August, California Seed Law — Assembly Bill 2470 — amends state Food and Agricultural Code sections relating to seeds.
The bill authorizes the California Department of Food and Agriculture secretary to adopt a list of plants and crops that the secretary finds are or may be grown in the state, according to the legislative counsel’s digest of the bill.
“The bill would also prohibit a city, county, or district, including a charter city or county, from adopting or enforcing an ordinance on or after January 1, 2015, that regulates plants, crops, or seeds without the consent of the secretary,” according to the digest.
Preexisting ordinances that restrict GMO crops — such as one in Arcata and Measure P, if it is passed by Humboldt County voters on Tuesday — would be grandfathered in and not affected by the law, Lyle said.
Counties looking to pass a GMO ban in the future could potentially be affected, he said.
“We would evaluate that on a case-by-case basis,” he said.
Measure P spokesman Bill Schaser said the California Seed Law makes it even more crucial for Humboldt County to pass the ballot initiative at this time.
via New Calif. law moves crop authority from county to state – Times-Standard Online.

Posted on Categories Agriculture/Food System, Sustainable LivingTags , Leave a comment on Heirloom Expo dazzles with plant variety

Heirloom Expo dazzles with plant variety

Reaction to the mountain of colorful, weirdly shaped squash and pumpkins he’d assembled at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds was enough for fifth-generation Illinois farmer Mac Condill to know Tuesday that he had done his job well.
As a exhibitor and presenter at the fourth annual National Heirloom Exposition in Santa Rosa, Condill’s goal, he said, was to showcase the diversity of the pumpkin family and highlight its historical role in feeding humankind.
Scores of visitors photographed his dazzling display of bright, bumpy and curly-cued squash, marveling at its variety in voices loud enough for him to hear.
“Mission accomplished,” said Condill, who grows 400 kinds of pumpkins, squash and gourds at his family farm in Arthur, Ill. “I think they’re an under-utilized, under-appreciated vegetable.”
The three-day expo is a celebration of odd and beautiful fruits of the earth that have proven themselves over generations to be worthy of preservation in a world where mass production, food science and corporate control threaten selection and genetic purity, organizers said.
Read more via Heirloom Exposition dazzles with plant variety (w/video) | The Press Democrat.