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September 14, 2000




New York Legislator Ken LaValle has introduced legislation
to ban GM plants from being planted in NY State for the next five

Following is a Newsday article on the subject from two days ago.
There is a Poll being conducted this week at a local newspaper on
the topic at:


I think politicians are sensitive to such polls, so I wonder if we the
word could be spread on this one.

The most worrisome statement is excerpted here:

"If passed, the legislation would call for an end to genetic research
statewide. It would not prevent farm goods
grown in other states from being sold in New York, LaValle said."

Full article:

09/13/2000 - Wednesday - Page A 4

Lawmaker Pushing For Unaltered Crops
Wants 5-year state ban on genetic modifications

by Samuel Bruchey
Staff Writer

Long Island farms have yet to sprout the kind of genetically enhanced
fruit trees tested in Western Canada that kill insects without
pesticides and produce big juicy apples that stay white hours after
being cut.

Nor poplar trees seen in Israel that practically shoots up from the
ground while consuming carbon dioxide to slow global warming.

In fact, farming in Long Island is dying the slow death of a fallow
field, with fewer acres used to harvest crops each year.

But genetic tinkering has resuscitated dreams of commercial viability.
"If we can develop crops people find desirable," said Bill Sanok,
Suffolk County agent for the Cornell Cooperative Extension, "There may
be a future for farming in Long Island." But that may never happen.

In a news conference yesterday amid fluttering stalks of corn behind
White Post Farms in Melville, State Sen. Kenneth LaValle (R-Port
Jefferson) proposed a five-year moratorium on all genetically modified
crops in the state.

"I don't want to deter science or technology," said LaValle, who
originally introduced the bill in March along with Assemb. John J.
McEneny (D-Albany).

"But we need to have a dialogue on this issue to make sure these crops
are adequately tested." While there have been no scientific studies
indicating any potential health risks associated with genetically
modified crops, not enough testing has been done to know for sure,
LaValle said. LaValle scheduled a public hearing on the issue at the
State University at Farmingdale at 11 a.m. today.

Although Suffolk produces the greatest amount of farm goods compared with
other state counties in terms of cash value including high-quality
vinifera grapes used in Chardonnay wines-very few Long Island crops are
genetically enhanced.

Even so, several environmental organizations have echoed the senator's

"We just don't know what the risks are," said Bob DiBenedetto, director
of Earthsave, of Huntington. But Howard Johnson, president of the Long
Island Farm Bureau, sees the legislation as a knee-jerk reaction to
unsubstantiated concerns.

"There is no hard evidence that genetic enhancement is unsafe," Johnson
said. "If they take away this tool from us, farmers are going to be at a
competitive disadvantage." Rather than harm farmers, LaValle said the
legislation would open new markets for organically grown crops.

If passed, the legislation would call for an end to genetic research
statewide. It would not prevent farm goods
grown in other states from being sold in New York, LaValle said.

Johnson sees this as an invitation for out-of-state farmers to nudge in
on demand for locally grown crops.

"They say they are trying to preserve farms in Long Island," said
Johnson, "but this is a smack in the face."

John Shanklin

Biology, Bldg 463
Brookhaven National Laboratory
50 Bell Ave.
Upton, New York, 11973

*** PLEASE NOTE CHANGE OF 516 area code to 631 ****

Phone: 631 344 3414
Fax: 631 344 3407
e-mail: shanklin@bnl.gov
web: http://bnlstb.bio.bnl.gov/biodocs/plantbio/shanklin.htmlx