Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Good news: Clean money bill and GE crop bill pass in CA

Here's an update on a previous post: last week, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed two pending bills into law, AB 583 (Hancock), the California Fair Elections Act and AB 541, providing protection for farmers through regulation of genetically engineered crops.

The California Fair Elections Act will establish a pilot program for voluntary public funding of Secretary of State candidates in 2014 and 2018. It still needs to be approved at the ballot box in a referendum slated for June, 2010.

The California Clean Money Campaign will now work on educating voters on the benefits of public funding, where candidates for office in the most recent election cycle spent more than $400 million on the race.

AB 541, which was sponsored by a coalition of agriculture organizations and food businesses, indemnifies California farmers who have not been able to prevent the inevitable drift of GE pollen or seed onto their land and the subsequent contamination of non-GE crops.

Currently, farmers with crops that become contaminated by patented seeds or pollen have been the target of harassing lawsuits brought by biotech patent holders, most notoriously Monsanto. Further, if their contaminated crops cause harm to other farmers, the environment or consumers, they have not been protected from that liability. AB 541 gives farmers protections from that liability and establishes a mandatory crop sampling protocol to level the playing field when biotech companies investigate alleged patent or contract violations.

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