GE contamination is a one-way contamination and the burden has always fallen on the farmer who needs to fence it out, which can be impossible in some geographic regions. Further, the legal precedent is not favorable for a farmer who is inadvertently contaminated by somebody else's GE crop.
Who should bear the burden of contamination by GE plants? The farmer who is trying to grow organic Swiss chard seed for other farmers and gardeners? Or the landowner who has been infested by hard-to-eradicate GE creeping bentgrass? SB 434 and HB 2882 will hold patent holders or licensed manufacturers accountable when GE organisms are found on land without permission of the owner or lawful occupant. These bills WILL NOT pit farmer against farmer. The parties that will be held responsible are the corporations behind genetic engineering, not the farmers who use them since in some instances, contamination is out of the hands of the farmer who planted the seed.
Oregon is an incredibly unique seed growing region and is one of the top five vegetable seed producers in the world. Our vegetable specialty seed industry is worth at least $50 million dollars annually with room for growth if the right protections are in place. Governor Brown recently spoke in the Capitol Rotunda about wanting to maintain Oregon's standing as a leader in organic production. Ensuring that Oregon has a robust specialty seed industry that includes organic seed production, is integral to this goal and will also help create an environmentally and economically resilient food system.
GE contamination, and the threat of contamination, costs farmers, including Oregon farmers, billions of dollars. It is time to level the playing field and hold the corporations behind the technology that is responsible for this contamination accountable. Please join me in protecting farmers and our specialty seed industry by supporting SB 434 and HB 2882.