USA: Legislators mull biotech wheat liability, Monsanto fights back
A US senator is fighting to make biotech companies liable for contamination of crops grown near fields of GM grain.
Senator Bill Bowman plans to introduce a bill giving farmers in North Dakota the right to sue biotech companies for damages if their wheat is contaminated by biotech grain, reported the Associated Press.
Bowman said wheat farmers need some way to collect damages if their organic or non-biotech crops are contaminated, especially in a windy state. "There is no question in my mind [...] that this is going to cross-pollinate with our varieties of spring wheat. The extent of that only time will tell," Bowman said.
The bill limits damages to the costs incurred by a farmer's crop becoming contaminated. Nevertheless, a Monsanto spokesman criticised the planned bill, saying it would pit farmer against farmer and lead to biotech companies avoiding North Dakota altogether.
The spokesman further added that responsibility for planting GM crops in a way that would prevent spread lay with the planting farmer.
The measure was not endorsed at a meeting of the Legislature's Agriculture Committee earlier this week, so Bowman plans to introduce it himself next year. The committee did endorse a different bill establishing a state board to monitor how GM wheat develops. The board will comprise farmers, grain industry officials and state officials.
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