Through a bit of last minute subterfuge, a bill is headed to the Governor’s desk that will undermine seed sovereignty and benefit Monsanto. Thanks to Tewa Women United and NM Food and Seed Sovereignty Alliance we have the details for the bill and the phone number for calling the Governor to ask her to veto this bill.
Sorry, couldn’t get this alert out until this morning as …..we are on vacation….. But seed sovereignty is vital to preserving GMO free agriculture and we provide both background information and specific speaking points with the Governor’s phone number. Corporate lobbyists couldn’t pass legislation to seize control of seed sovereignty, so they waited until the last minute, dropping it in one sentence into HB 2. We need to ask the Governor to line item veto that language.. Back in Santa Fe tomorrow. Batteries recharged. Paul & Roxanne.
Retake Our Democracy on KSFR, Saturday, March 23, 8:30 a.m. We will be in Pledge Week mode and I will do a live show with Hannah Laga Abram, a student leader of the Santa Fe Sunrise Movement (Green New Deal) and the student strike For the Future last Friday. Also in studio will be Rep. Andrea Romero and City Councilor Renee Villarreal. We will talk about student advocacy, the Green New Deal, and how we might be able to advance GND principles at a state and local level. Since it is Pledge Week, we’d really like to have a ton of calls and donations between 8:30-9 a.m. this Saturday. I don’t know about you, but it is really hard for me to remember to listen in to the show. It is always 9:30 and Roxanne and I go…”we forgot to listen….” So how about you all put 8:30 Saturday in your phone alarm and then call in to the studio at 428-1393 and make a donation. It is always great to have a bunch of Retake supporters making calls and contributions.
The Promise to Protect, Saturday in ABQ. The Promise to Protect is full day training designed to prepare you to back up your commitment to resist fossil fuels where you live and prepare to take creative action along the Keystone XL pipeline route when called upon by Indigenous leaders. With millions of dollars being poured into fossil fuel projects each year and TransCanada planning to begin building the pipeline this June, we must be ready to mobilize and fight back to protect our land, water and climate. This training will educate, empower, and elevate the voices and skills of community members to resist and push out extractive oil and gas companies. After the training, community members will be equipped with the knowledge and support necessary to organize their own actions to stop the fossil fuel industry and, if invited by Indigenous leaders, be prepared to take immediate action on the route of Keystone XL. RSVP now to save your spot. Click here for more info and to sign up. While the site describes a Saturday session, I have been told the session will be repeated on Sunday.
Seed Sovereignty Threatened by HB 2 and Monsanto: Urgent Call to Action. Tell the Governor to Veto
One of the curiosities of the legislature is that at the end of the session, legislators can slip amendments into bills at the last minute or substitute bills are introduced disguised as something else. And in moments like this, corporate lobbyists are adept at advancing their corporate goals when no one is looking. Well, HB 2 is one example and below is a guest blog from the NM Food and Seed Sovereignty Alliance.
During the 2018 session, a bill with the words “seeds” and “preemption” in the title caught the attention of farmers and seedsavers in New Mexico. The bill appeared to be the handiwork of the biotech industry, which was attempting to prevent local governments from enacting regulations on the cultivation of seeds. The opposition to the bill was swift and strong. Tribal officials and farmers, who advocate for protecting heirloom/landrace seeds from cross-contamination by genetically engineered seeds, mobilized against the bill, and it was tabled in its first hearing. This bill was revealing about the national agenda of the biotech industry to preempt local laws and about the extent of opposition from grassroots organizations comprised of gardeners, seedsavers, and farmers.
One might ask why a pharmaceutical corporation such as Bayer would be pushing for this bill in New Mexico. It has been reported in recent months that Bayer and Monsanto are seeking a merger, and Monsanto is well known as the dominant transnational corporation that aggressively develops and markets genetically engineered seed. Beyond that, Monsanto has aggressively “protected” its seed patents by suing farmers who were inadvertently contaminated with Monsanto’s DNA. Farmers are rightfully concerned about having Monsanto, or Bayer-Monsanto, as a neighbor. In addition to the risk of contamination, genetically engineered seeds (also known as genetically modified organisms or GMOs) have been associated with the emergence of “superweeds” that evolve to resist the herbicides in GMO seeds.
So, why did these corporations want to pass a preemption bill in New Mexico? First, it is important to explain the term “preemption.” Preemption is a strategy used by industry to enact laws at the federal or state levels to preclude local governments from enacting regulations, specifically if those regulations are more stringent than state or federal laws. Several other states have enacted laws that preempt local governments from enacting ordinances regulating seeds. In the US, 29 other states have enacted preemption laws that prevent local counties and cities from regulating the cultivation of seeds.
The likely reason that Bayer and Monsanto are pushing preemption is that the industry wants to prevent local governments from passing regulations that restrict, prohibit, or otherwise regulate the cultivation of genetically engineered seeds. There are several reasons for local governments to enact local regulations, including protecting existing farmers, especially those cultivating native, heirloom, or organic seeds, from cross contamination from GMO seeds. At this point in time, there have been no local governments in New Mexico that have enacted or proposed enactment of such ordinances, but it appears that industry wants to preempt their ability to do so before local governments have an opportunity to even consider any ordinances concerning seeds.
HB 161 proposed to amend the “New Mexico Seed Law” in Chapter 76, which was enacted in 1967. The Seed Law sets forth the laws for certifying seeds for commercial sale to ensure that, when consumers purchase seed, the seeds meet standards for purity and germination rates and also that the seeds are properly labeled. The Seed Law also defines the certification agency for implementing the Seed Law from the NM Department of Agriculture and the NMSU Cooperative Extension Service. The law currently does not appear to include explicit language that outlines jurisdiction that regulates the location of the cultivation and production of seeds.
Around the US, there are some states, such as California, where local governments have enacted ordinances that restrict the cultivation of GMO crops. In Hawaii, counties enacted ordinances banning GMOs and/or pesticides/herbicides but those were overturned in the federal courts. Whether local governments can adopt ordinances regulating or banning depends on the specific language in state laws, where there may be expressed preemption or where state law occupies the field. In cases where it is not specific whether state law completely occupies the field, there is concurrent jurisdiction, in which local governments have some ability to regulate, provided it does not conflict with state law. It appears that HB 161 was an attempt to change state law to completely preempt local governments presumably because local governments in New Mexico may have some jurisdiction to regulate GMOs.
The NM Food and Seed Sovereignty Alliance was founded in 2006 and is a collective of organizations and traditional farmers from Pueblo and acequia communities dedicated to protecting native seeds from contamination from cross pollination from genetically engineered seeds, or GMOs, genetically modified organisms. The Alliance includes Tewa Women United, Honor Our Pueblo Existence, the Traditional Native American Farmers Association, and the NM Acequia Association.
Paul & Roxanne