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World's Eyes on Vermont for GE Crop Votes

GE Free VT Media Release:
Monday February 23rd, 2004 6:00 PM EST

World's Eyes on Vermont for Legislative Votes on genetically engineered crops:
Senate vote expected this week for a "Time Out" moratorium on GMOs

Montpelier, VT: As the Vermont state legislature enters the final week before the mid-session "crossover" deadline, votes are expected on bills both chambers to put limits on genetically engineered agriculture. 70 towns in Vermont have voted at annual Town Meetings to call for a moratorium on genetically engineered crops, and hundreds of Vermont farmers have signed on to a pledge not to grow GMOs. GE Free Vermont campaigners are gearing up for a week of advocacy and action culminating in a march and rally on Thursday while Monsanto testifies to lawmakers. Messages of support from farmer and consumer groups are pouring in from around the world as eyes are on Vermont to make a strong stand against the corporate biotech industry and for family farmers, safe food, and the environment.

At a packed Senate hearing last Thursday evening, Rebecca Beidler, a dairy farmer from Randolph, Vermont explained: "As a small farmer I know how difficult it would be to buffer your land from GE crops. The buffer zone required to protect my crops from GE contamination from a neighboring farm would be my entire acreage. Coexistence is not a solution for farmers like me. Its time for a Time Out on GMOs so the state's policy can catch up with the technology."

"I think that it's a farmer's right to farm without fear of GMO contamination and predatory lawsuits from multinational corporations," Meg Minehan, a mother and teacher from Andover Vermont urged Senators Thursday.

The GE Free Vermont Campaign learned last November that an organic corn crop was contaminated by genetically engineered crops planted near by. When a farmer is contaminated by GMOs from a neighboring farm, that farmer is liable for 'stealing' the patented genetic material, and is subject to lawsuits by powerful multinational corporations. Organic farmers can lose markets if GMOs are found in their crops. Citizens from around the rural state have rallied together for a strong state policy on GMOs, saying, "One Contaminated Farm is One Too Many!" and "Time Out on GMOs!"

Mendocino County, California, is voting on Measure H, a referendum on a GMO moratorium, and organizers from the Measure H campaign wrote this morning to say, "We are with you Vermont! Our vote is on Tuesday March 2. We all will prevail! www.gmofreemendo.com!"

Campaigners from GE Free New Zealand will hold a vigil in solidarity with GE Free Vermont on Thursday. The moratorium on GE in New Zealand was lifted recently, and New Zealanders are looking to the grassroots town meeting strategy of Vermonters as a model to keep their island nation GE Free. Solidarity statements and actions are expected from other GE Free campaigns around the world.

The GE Free VT Campaign plans an 11:00 AM march to the statehouse and 12:00 noon rally on the statehouse lawn Thursday. Monsanto corporate lobbyists will be testifying Thursday morning to the House agriculture committee.

The GE Free Vermont Campaign on Genetic Engineering is a statewide coalition of public interest groups, businesses, concerned citizens and farmers, who are organizing to oppose genetic engineering at the local, state and national level, and calling for a "Time Out" on GMOs. For more information: www.gefreevt.org 802.272.9536


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Doyle Canning
Organizing Director
Institute for Social Ecology
Biotechnology Project
1118 Maple Hill Road
Plainfield, Vermont 05667
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802.454.7138--office
802.279.0985--mobile
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http://www.nerage.org
http://www.biodev.org
http://www.gefreevt.org
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"If a bunch of radicals can scare an entire state into banning biotech food, Vermont may be just the first domino to fall..." ( consumerfreedom.com)

Contact: Amy Shollenberger, Rural Vermont 802.793.1114 Doyle Canning, GE Free VT 802.279.0985

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