Palaces For The People
Saturday, December 27, 2003
 
Yahoo! Groups : ERAS-ag Messages : Message 8 of 11

From:
Date: Sat Dec 27, 2003 2:25 pm
Subject: Monsanto Fedayeen Sabotaging Freedom in Mendacino

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Because ephemeral news items can provide facts which
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==============================

http://www.pressdemocrat.com/local/news/25gmo_b1.html

Judge to rule on Measure H wording

Opponents of ban on genetically altered crops in
Mendocino County call language misleading

December 25, 2003

By LORI A. CARTER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

UKIAH -- In the first shot of what is fast becoming a
full-scale war over genetically modified plants, a
Mendocino County judge Wednesday heard arguments over
what voters should be allowed to read about a March 2
ballot measure that would ban biocrops.

Superior Court Judge Leonard La Casse is expected to
issue a ruling by next Friday in a lawsuit filed by
supporters of genetically engineered farming.

Their lawsuit challenges ballot arguments by
proponents of Measure H, which would make Mendocino
County the first in the nation to ban cultivation of
genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

On Wednesday, lawyers representing Measure H opponents
-- including the biotech lobbying group California
Plant Health Association -- sought to delete three
instances of what they argue is false and misleading
ballot language.

Susan Jordan, the attorney for three Mendocino County
residents named in the suit, countered that the
arguments are truthful and that removing them would
infringe on voters' free speech rights.

La Casse asked several questions that suggest he may
be leaning toward allowing the proponents' proposed
language.

"How much does the court need to get involved in
competing ballot arguments?" he asked at one point.
"Unless it's something completely outrageous, do we
need the courts to be micromanaging campaign
arguments?"

Robert McWhorter, a Sacramento lawyer for the biotech
group, argued that voters may be led astray by "scare
tactic" wording Measure H proponents submitted.

At issue in the suit are three statements in the
ballot argument for Measure H. The statements were
scheduled to be printed in official pamphlets sent by
the county to every registered voter before the
election.

One statement contends that "GMO-polluted wine is
unmarketable in Europe and Japan." A second states
that "organic farmers and wineries will lose organic
certification" if their crops become contaminated by
modified organisms. The third says that "GMOs will
irreversibly contaminate native plants and trees."

The wording seems absolute and suggests inevitability,
McWhorter argued.

"That is not the case," he said.

"Voters are intelligent," Jordan countered. "They can
read the arguments and can make up their own minds."

The lawsuit was filed against three Mendocino County
residents who signed the ballot statement and County
Clerk Marsha Wharff, who is responsible for printing
ballot pamphlets containing the arguments in favor of
Measure H. It seeks to delete the three statements
from the county ballot pamphlet.

Beyond the lawsuit, the greater issue is whether the
movement to ban genetically modified organisms can
gain a foothold in Mendocino County, where there are
150 organic farmers and wineries, Measure H supporters
said.

Biotech giant Monsanto Corp., a client of California
Plant Health Association, spent $1.5 million last year
to help defeat an Oregon ballot measure to force
labeling of genetically modified foods.

"We respect what they're doing here," said Steve
Beckley, president of the Sacramento-based
association. "But we think it's bad policy on a local
level."

Ron Epstein, a Mendocino County resident named in the
suit and a professor of environmental ethics at San
Francisco State University, said the local initiative
has national implications.

"There are hundreds of billions of dollars at stake
for them and they will stop at nothing. That's why
they're here," he said.


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