jueves, abril 14, 2005

Environmental Commons

What is Environmental Commons?

Redwoods Environmental Commons encourages involvement in the democratic process to defend our environmental heritage - water, air, biodiversity, and genetic variability - known as 'the commons.' Conserving environmental quality is undeniably linked to the quality of our own lives - our health, the health of our ecosystems, and the health of future generations.

Environmental Commons works to preserve our natural areas, protect wildlife, and promote sustainable policies, environmental education, and informed democratic discussions. We are based in northern California operating on a local, regional, and state level.

Agribusiness Targets State Legislators
to Pre-empt Local Laws on Seeds


Contact: Brian Tokar, Biotechnology Project Director, Institute for
Social Ecology, Vermont, (802) 229-0087 briant@sover.net;

Britt Bailey, Director, Environmental Commons, California, (707)

Stephanie Weisenbach, Sustainable agriculture advocate, Iowa, (515)
556-4873 iowacleanwater@yahoo.com

Legislators in eight states have passed bills preventing counties,
towns and cities from introducing ordinances, resolutions, or other
legislation relating to agricultural seeds. These seed pre-emption
bills are an orchestrated industry response to recent local actions on
genetically modified organisms. For example, ballot initiatives in
three California counties have prohibited the cultivation of
genetically modified crops, livestock, and other organisms, and nearly
100 New England towns have passed various resolutions in support of
limits on genetically engineered crops.

“Pre-emptive seed laws serve the agribusiness industry by weakening
local laws and precluding the introduction of stronger protections in
the future,” said Britt Bailey of Environmental Commons. “They are
industry’s stealth response to a growing movement of people that are
seeking to protect their communities at the local level.”

“Over the past several years in Iowa, we’ve seen local control be taken
away for the benefit of the corporate hog industry,” said George
Naylor, an Iowa farmer and President of the National Family Farm
Coalition. “With this seed pre-emption legislation recently signed into
law, we are now losing our ability to protect ourselves from
irresponsible corporations aiming to control the agricultural seeds
planted throughout the state.”

In the past decade, the same preemptive strategy has been used by the
tobacco industry and the National Rifle Association to thwart local
efforts to introduce more stringent smoking and gun laws, respectively.
As Tina Walls of Phillip Morris & Co. admitted, “By introducing
preemptive statewide legislation, we can shift the battle away from the
community level back to the state legislatures where we are on stronger

See attached backgrounder (online at
www.environmentalcommons.org/seedlawbackgrounder.html) for contacts,
resources, and discussions of:

• Why this is a challenge to local rights.
• Who is behind this strategy of state pre-emption.
• Why this is a matter for wide public concern.
• What the legal precedents are for local action.

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