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S.182

Introduced by   Committee on Agriculture

Date:

Subject:  Agriculture; seed containing living modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to require seed manufacturers to identify as such any seed containing living modified organisms intended for introduction into the environment.  Such seed is also known as “genetically‑engineered seed.”

AN ACT RELATING TO IDENTIFYING LIVING MODIFIED ORGANISMS INTENDED FOR INTENTIONAL INTRODUCTION INTO THE ENVIRONMENT

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1.  6 V.S.A. § 611 is amended to read:

§ 611.  SERVICE FOR CERTIFICATION OF SEED; STANDARDS AND

            REGULATIONS

* * *

(c)  This chapter requires the identification of seeds modified by the presence of living modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology and intended for intentional introduction into the environment.  The purpose of such identification is to help to avoid through the use of such seeds any adverse effects on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity in this state.

Sec. 2.  6 V.S.A. § 641 is amended to read:

§ 641.  DEFINITIONS

As used in this chapter:

* * *

(5)  “Labeling” includes tags or other devices attached to, or written, stamped, or printed on any container or accompanying any lot of bulk seeds.

* * *

(9)  “Living modified organism” means any living organism that possesses a novel combination of genetic material obtained through the use of modern biotechnology.  “Living organism” means any biological entity capable of transferring or replicating genetic material, including sterile organisms, viruses, and viroids.  “Modern biotechnology” means the application of in vitro nucleic acid techniques, including recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and direct injection of nucleic acid into cells or organelles, or fusion of cells beyond the taxonomic family, that overcome natural physiological reproductive or recombination barriers and that are not techniques used in traditional breeding and selection.  In the context of this chapter, a living modified organism intended for intentional introduction into the environment is also known as a “genetically-engineered seed” or “genetically-engineered plant part.”

Sec. 3.  6 V.S.A. § 644 is amended to read:

§ 644.  LABEL REQUIREMENTS FOR AGRICULTURAL, FLOWER, AND

            VEGETABLE SEEDS

(a)  Each container of agricultural, flower, and vegetable seeds which is sold in this state for sowing purposes shall be labeled.

(1)  All labels shall include:

* * *

(E)  the name and address of labeler or distributor;

(F)  any living modified organism intended for intentional introduction into the environment.

* * *

(4)  For all seed containing a living modified organism intended for intentional introduction into the environment, the label or labeling shall specify the identity and relevant traits or characteristics of such seed, plus any requirements for their safe handling, storage, transport, and use, the contact point for further information and, as appropriate, the name and address of the manufacturer and distributor or supplier of such seed.

(b)  The commissioner may develop rules for labeling procedures consistent with the provisions of this section, which take into account:  origin, presence of weed seed, mixtures, hermetically sealed containers, coated seed, “crop seeds,” living modified organisms, hybrids, germination medium, and preplanted containers.

Sec. 4.  6 V.S.A. § 648 is amended to read:

§ 648.  INSPECTIONS

(a)  Inspection fees shall be paid to the commissioner by a manufacturer or processor which distributes seed in the state.  Fees shall be established as follows:

* * *

(c)  For those all seeds sold in containers of more than ten pounds, a the manufacturer or processor which distributes such seed in the state shall file a report shall be filed annually on January 15 with the commissioner on forms supplied by the commissioner regarding sales during the previous calendar year, and fees based on the 35 cent per hundredweight rate shall accompany the report.  Reporting periods are January 1-June 30 and July 1-December 31.  For seeds sold in containers of ten pounds or less, which contain seeds modified by the presence of a living modified organism intended for intentional introduction into the environment, the manufacturer or processor which distributes such seed in the state shall file a report annually on January 15 with the commissioner on forms supplied by the commissioner regarding sales during the previous calendar year.

* * *

Sec. 5.  LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE ON GENETIC ENGINEERING

(a)  Committee created.

(1)  A committee on genetic engineering (GE) is created, consisting of four members of the house appointed by the speaker of the house and four members of the senate appointed by the senate committee on committees.

(2)  The committee shall elect its chair and vice chair from its membership, and shall meet at the call of the chair.  The committee shall have the support of staff of the legislative council and of the joint fiscal committee, and of relevant agencies of state government.  Committee members shall be compensated for service on the committee pursuant to section 406 of Title 2.

(b)  Duties.  The committee shall study the consequences from, and possible regulation of, use in Vermont of GE seeds and plant parts for agricultural and any other purpose, including:

(1)  The understanding of scientists and other knowledgeable persons of the economic, environmental, and public health benefits and risks associated with GE applications to the domesticated and natural physical environment and to human food production.

(2)  Federal and state legal doctrines which determine the ability of a state government to regulate GE applications within its borders.

(3)  Consequences on the entire Vermont economy as a whole of use of GE applications by the Vermont agricultural sector:  the health and vitality of many Vermont businesses not directly involved in agriculture or food production nonetheless depend substantially on the high reputation of Vermont farmers for producing food that is safe and of the best quality when measured by conventional standards.  That is, Vermont entrepreneurs have succeeded, over a long period of effort and at considerable expense, in marketing all kinds of Vermont goods and services at premium prices because of being identified with the high reputation of Vermont agriculture.  Therefore, would use of GE applications by Vermont farmers undermine the marketing achievement of the larger Vermont economy?

(4)  The design of a state policy on GE applications, which shall include:

(A)  An analysis of the labeling of raw and processed food for human consumption sold in this state as to whether GE has been employed in the production of such food.

(B)  A feasibility and cost-benefit analysis of a Vermont agricultural sector, in whole or in part, free of the use of GE, plus a possible plan of public and private actions that could accomplish such an objective, including changes in product marketing, industry infrastructure, and sources of financing.

(c)  Report.  The committee shall report its findings and recommendations, including draft legislation, to the general assembly by January 15, 2004.

(d)  Consultation.  The committee shall consult with interested parties, including at least the following:

(1)  The commissioner of agriculture, food and markets.

(2)  Faculty, staff, members or representatives of:

(A)  Coulee Region Organic Producers Pool.

(B)  Dairylea Cooperative.

(C)  National Farmers Organization.

(D)  Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont.

(E)  Rural Vermont.

(F)  Green Mountain Dairy Farmers Cooperative Federation.

(G)  University of Vermont Center for Sustainable Agriculture.

(H)  University of Vermont Department of Community Development and Applied Economics.

(I)  Vermont Family Farms.

(J)  Vermont Farm Bureau.

(K)  Vermont Feed Dealers Association.

(L)  Vermont food consumer cooperatives.

(M)  Vermont Organic Farmers.

(N)  Vermont Safe Seed Initiative.

(O)  Vermont Small Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association.

Sec. 6.  EFFECTIVE DATE

(a)  Secs. 1, 2, 3, and 4 of this act shall take effect September 1, 2003.

(b)  Sec. 5 of this act and this section shall take effect on passage. 



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us