ACTION ALERT ON GENETIC ENGINEERING
SUPPORT AB 541
Assemblyman Jared Huffman (6th AD) has introduced AB 541, The Food and Farm
Protection Act. The bill would establish California’s only state law related to genetic
engineering (GE) in agriculture and
protect California farmers, consumers, and the
food supply. AB 541 already has the support of many agricultural, environmental,
health, faith, and business organizations.
Please register your support for this bill by mailing or faxing a letter to the Ass
Agriculture Committee. A sample letter is provided below.
For more information on this issue, a copy of the full text of the bill, and a sample
letter of support for AB 541, please go to
OVERVIEW OF AB 541
The State of California has no policies regulating GE crops, and the federal
government is failing in its oversight role. Given this regulatory void, eight counties
attempted to pass local restrictions on GE crops, four of
which now have county
bans or moratoria on GE crop production in place. In the 2005/06 legislative session,
biotechnology and agribusiness interests sponsored a bill that would have pre
empted local authority over GE but failed due to a groundswell of opp
grassroots organizations, citizens, and elected officials around the state. AB 541 will
put in place a coherent policy that addresses the risk of GE contamination without
banning any GE crop.
AB 541 protects California farmers and the food s
upply in four ways:
1. Establishes the right of farmers and landowners to compensation for economic
losses due to genetic contamination of their crops
2. Protects farmers from being sued by a GE manufacturer if their crop is
contaminated by that company’s
3. Establishes a county
level GE crop notification process so that farmers can trace
contamination to the GE manufacturer
4. Protects the food supply by prohibiting the open
field cultivation of genetically
engineered food crops used to prod
uce drugs and biologics, such as hormones and
To read a longer summary of the issue, please refer to the Position Paper posted on
the web site of the Genetic Engineering Policy Alliance (
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Register your support for AB 541 by sending a letter to the Chair of the Assembly
Agriculture Committee, the Honorable Nicole Parra. A sample letter is included
below, though it is best to include your own statements a
nd perspectives if possible.
Letters can be sent by fax to (916) 319
2184 or by regular mail to the address in
the letter below.
It is very important that Assemblyman Huffman’s office also receive a copy of your
letter. Please send a copy for their re
cords Attn: Rebecca Darling
or fax 916
The Honorable Nicole Parra
Chair, Assembly Agriculture Committee
1020 N Street, Room 362
RE: AB 541 (Huffman)
Dear Assemblywoman Parra and Members of the Committee:
I am writing in support of AB 541, The Food and Farm Protection Act. [Describe your
organization, company, or farm here if applicable].
Currently, California h
as no laws in place to address the issue of genetic
engineering, yet citizens across the state have expressed concerns about the risks
the technology presents for farmers, consumers, the economy and the environment.
This bill represents a reasonable, respo
nsible and moderate way forward, without
banning the technology or restricting choice.
AB 541 importantly establishes the right of farmers and other landowners to recover
damages if their property is contaminated by GE crops, and it places the
ity for the economic harms that arise where it belongs
manufacturer, the owner of the GE seed or plant. The bill also protects farmers from
liability if they unknowingly become contaminated and use the contaminated crop.
Farmers who are victimiz
ed by genetic contamination should not have to fear legal
AB 541 also establishes a GE crop notification process where farmers and
researchers growing GE crops report the growing of their crops to their county
Agriculture Commissioners. As with
other useful agricultural statistics and notification
requirements, this would provide Agriculture Commissioners with the knowledge of
the presence of GE crops within their jurisdiction and enable the state to keep track
of how many acres of GE crops are
produced in each county.
Finally, AB 541 protects the food supply by implementing a ban on the open
production of food crops genetically engineered to produce drugs. No one wants
experimental hormones, vaccines or antibiotics in the food they serve th
The drugs being researched are all currently produced using safe, controlled
laboratory methods, and there is no need to risk the contamination of our food.
I urge you and the Assembly Agriculture Committee to consider this issue carefully,
d vote to support AB 541. It will be a vote in favor of farmers, Californians and the
[Name, title, organization or business]