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With Newly Approved GE Potato on Horizon, Idaho Seed Preemption Bill Would Remove Essential Local Autonomy Regarding GE Crops, Pesticide Restrictions

March 17th, 2015
Center for Food Safety

March 17, 2015 (Washington, DC)—Center for Food Safety today opposed a bill in the Idaho State Senate that would strip away local governments’ fundamental power to protect its residents and local environment by preempting any local regulation over the “use of seeds” and “planting of seeds” of any kind.

“Preempting local authority, as this bill would do, only advances seed company interests over citizen rights,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director at Center for Food Safety. “H. 114 would take away the longstanding authority of Idaho communities to make their own decisions about genetically engineered crops, all the more important now given USDA’s recent approval of a controversial genetically engineered potato. Center for Food Safety strongly urges the Idaho State Senate to oppose H. 114.”

H. 114 is the agrichemical companies’ response to recent victories at the municipal level in other states to improve local oversight of pesticide use and genetically engineered (GE) crops. These efforts have been driven in large part by the desire to limit children’s exposure to pesticides as well as preventing economic harm to farmers that can occur as a result of transgenic contamination. This bill usurps the power of the people at local and county levels by prohibiting any local ordinance “relating to the cultivation, production, processing, registration, labeling, sale, storage, transportation, distribution, notification of use, use of seeds or planting of seeds.”

The bill would also have far-reaching consequences beyond the scope of genetically engineered crops, as it denies the rights of communities to make locally appropriate decisions about food and agriculture. The bill’s broad scope not only preempts local regulation of genetically engineered seeds, but could also preempt any restrictions on the use of neonicotinoid-treated seeds that can threaten honey bees and other pollinators. Finally, the bill’s prohibition on local notifications of use of seeds could deny the people of their right to information about their local food systems, eroding consumer confidence in Idaho’s agricultural sector.

At a time when other local governments are making great strides to enhance local regulation of agriculture, H. 114 would remove all local control of agricultural seed and crop production and processing in Idaho. The bill, which recently passed out of the House, is now being considered by the Senate.

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