Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Farmers Debate Over Bio Crops

"Organic and conventional farmers find themselves on opposite sides of the fence as the Legislature considers a bill that would make manufacturers of genetically modified seeds liable for damages if their products spread to other crops.

Some supporters of the bill, sponsored by Rep. James Schatz, D-Blue Hill, said it would protect farmers' ability to control what they grow whether they use organic or conventional methods.

But opponents said the bill could cause some manufacturers to remove their products from Maine, depriving conventional farmers of tools they use.

Seth Kroeck of Crystal Spring Community Farm in Brunswick, a supporter of the bill, feels that not enough is known about crops whose genetic material has been scientifically altered to produce particular traits, like resistance to rot or pests. Organic growers could lose their certification if their products mix with genetically modified plants, he said.

"Genetically modified crops are getting more powerful. You put that up against organic food, which is growing as a market," Kroeck said in a telephone interview. "We're going to start banging up against each other really soon."

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