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E-M:/ Release: Controversial Seed Bill Passes Senate

Immediate Release:

March 30, 2006


Claire O’Leary, MOFFA and Sierra Club Genetic Engineering Committee, 248-335-4140, mobile: 248-613-8803

Michelle Lutz, Organic Farmer, 810-387-4365 

Kate Madigan, Michigan Environmental Council, 517-487-9539


Bill to Strip Local Control of Michigan Food Passes Senate

            Controversial Bill Would Prohibit Controls on Genetically Engineered Crops

Lansing — Today, the Senate passed a bill that would take away the ability of local governments to regulate genetically engineered seeds. Senate Bill 777, was held up in the Senate Agriculture, Forestry and Tourism Committee for months after strong opposition from Michigan farmers, consumers, scientists, and environmental groups swelled against it.  The bill now heads to the House, where it is expected to be taken up in April. Groups are urging House members to oppose this bill.

“Taking away voters’ rights is a serious threat to democracy,” said Claire O’Leary, member of the Sierra Club’s national Genetic Engineering Committee and Michigan Organic Food and Farm Alliance. “This is especially troubling given that genetically engineered crops raise serious public health and environmental concerns and they are not adequately regulated at the State or Federal level.”  

Testimony given by dozens of Michigan citizens opposing the bill demonstrated the controversy surrounding this issue and the many concerns about genetically engineered crops. These concerns include risks to public health, the potential for contamination of conventional or organic crops, the inadequate federal regulations of genetically engineered crops, the development of herbicide resistant “super weeds”, and the liability and economic threats posed to farmers. 

“Genetically engineered seeds pose many legitimate concerns,” said Michelle Lutz, organic farmer in Southeast Michigan. “Local citizens deserve the right to determine how this technology is applied in their communities and what is grown in their fields. This bill would take away those rights.”


Lutz added that SB 777 would eliminate a way for organic farmers to protect their crops from contamination by genetically engineered crops, by passing local ordinances.


Senator Liz Brater (D-Ann Arbor) introduced an amendment that would have required the state to study the issue more closely and recommend the best way for our state to address these crops. The amendment was defeated 20-16. Groups are now urging House legislators to oppose this bill, and instead pass a bill to study these issues.  

“There have been no attempts to regulate genetically engineered crops in Michigan to date, so there is no need to prevent local regulations of these crops before our state fully evaluates their implications,” said Kate Madigan, Deputy Policy Director for Michigan Environmental Council. “Rather than passing measures to stop local regulation of genetically engineered crops, a wiser step would be to create a workgroup to study these controversial issues.”

Kate Madigan

Deputy Policy Director

Michigan Environmental Council

119 Pere Marquette, Suite 2A

Lansing, MI 48912

517-487-3606 x21