Apr. 7, 2005 – The Vermont Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill to protect farmers who do not raise genetically modified (GM) crops from damages associated the mixing of modified crops with their own. The legislation, which now moves to the state House, seeks to remedy what have long been some of the anti-GM movementâ€™s strongest complaints against the industry.
Evidence continues to mount that genetically modified crops often cross-pollinate and transfer their engineered genes to nearby, non-GM fields, and that the purity of traditional strains is becoming increasingly contaminated with genetic material from gene-modified plants. Critics of the biotechnology industry have warned that crop varieties, cultivated over generations to survive in diverse farming situations, are severely threatened by the introduction of GM plats.
With the long-term safety of genetically modified organisms still hotly debated around the world, many farmers see an economic future in preserving their traditional strains and meeting the growing demand for non-GM food. Vermontâ€™s Farmer Protection Act would hold companies liable for lost revenues if cross-pollination rendered non-GMO farmers unable to sell their crops at the premium prices paid for non-GMO or organic varieties.
Additionally, some biotech companies have aggressively protected their ownership of their strains by suing farmers who wind up with GM crops through cross-pollination from nearby fields. Vermontâ€™s legislation would prevent companies from pursuing those farmers.