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Californians for GE-Free Agriculture Newsletter (April 2004)

On March 6th, Mendocino county residents passed a historic measure that bans the
planting of GE crops. People in many other counties throughout California are now
working hard to pass measures similar to Mendocino County's successful Measure H.

Organizers in Butte, Marin, San Luis Obispo, Sonoma and Santa Barbara counties are
getting ready to file measures to ban GE agriculture in their counties. In Humboldt
County, signatures are already being collected.
CALIFORNIANS FOR GE-FREE AGRICULTURE NEWSLETTER
NUMBER 3 - APRIL 2004

"I think this is the best outcome that we could have hoped for here. The rice
commission passed this onto the (department) without adequate input from growers
and without any input from the public. All of those people need to comment.
Obviously, there is no emergency."

Colusa County rice grower Greg Massa, as quoted in an April 10th San Francisco
Chronicle article after the CDFA denied Ventria's emergency proposal to plant
pharmaceutical rice.

-------------------------------------------------

IN THIS ISSUE:

1. CDFA Rejects Pharmaceutical Rice
2. CAL GE-Free Organizer Training August 2-6, 2004
3. Mendocino and beyond
4. Help build a strong Cal GE-Free volunteer network

--------------------------------------------------

1. CONGRATULATIONS ARE IN ORDER! CDFA Rejects Pharmaceutical Rice.

On Friday, April 10th, the California Department of Food & Agriculture denied an
emergency request by the California Rice Commission (CRC) to allow Ventria
Biosciences to plant pharmaceutical rice in southern California.

Farmers, consumers and even groups in Japan, California's largest rice export
market, barraged the CDFA office with an overwhelming flood of comments against the
CRC's recommendation to fast track the normal approval process.

The Japan Rice Retailers Association stated in a letter to the CRC:

"From the viewpoint of rice wholesalers and retailers in Japan, it is certain that
the commercialization of GM rice in the US will evoke a distrust of the US rice as a
whole among Japanese consumers, since we think that it is practically impossible to
guarantee no GM rice contamination in non-GM US rice. As you know, most Japanese
consumers react quite negatively to GM crops.

If the GM rice is actually commercialized in the US we shall strongly request the
Japanese government to take necessary measures not to import any Californian rice to
Japan."

Citing lack of public input and a lack of federal permits, the CDFA turned down the
plan and sent it back to the CRC.

With your help, commitment and dedication, Ventria's pharmaceutical rice has been
shelved. The decision is a major victory for California agriculture and is an
exciting step in a sustainable direction. This achievement joins a growing list of
victories in our fight against genetically engineered agriculture in California and
beyond. Congratulations… and THANK YOU!


2. CAL GE-FREE ORGANIZER TRAINING AUGUST 2-6, 2004.
Help build on the Ventria victory!

In the wake of victories in Mendocino and Sacramento we are focusing our efforts on
building a strong network of activists throughout the state. Apply today and
attend a Regional Organizer Training with Californians for GE-Free Agriculture.

Learn the skills needed to organize against genetic engineering at a five-day
training session August 2-6, 2004 in beautiful Sonoma County. Held at the
Occidental Arts & Ecology Center www.oaec.org , we will provide food,
accommodation and a stipend for travel expenses.

You will leave the training with essential community organizing, campaign planning,
media outreach and public speaking skills that will prepare you to embrace the
challenge of keeping our state GE-free. You will also take with you a draft plan of
action, plus the confidence and skills needed to make it happen. You will also have
time to enjoy and explore the beautiful OAEC grounds

We are looking for people who: can actively participate in the Cal GE-Free network
as a regional organizer for one year and commit 20 hours per month, have a strong
commitment to sustainable agriculture, good communication skills, and are willing to
work on both local campaigns and collaborative statewide efforts. We will give
priority to groups of 2-4 people who live in the same region and will be attending
the training together.

We invite you to fill out an application today. Do it soon though as space is
limited. We will accept applications until all of the spaces are filled.

JOIN OUR TEAM OF ORGANIZERS by filling out an application form in one of three ways:

On our website: www.calgefree.org/training.shtml
Send an email to info (at) calgefree.org
Call us at 415-561-2523 to have an application mailed to you.

Please fill out an application today!


3. Mendocino and Beyond.

On March 6th, Mendocino county residents passed a historic measure that bans the
planting of GE crops. People in many other counties throughout California are now
working hard to pass measures similar to Mendocino County's successful Measure H.

Organizers in Butte, Marin, San Luis Obispo, Sonoma and Santa Barbara counties are
getting ready to file measures to ban GE agriculture in their counties. In Humboldt
County, signatures are already being collected.


4. Help us build a strong Cal GE-Free volunteer network.

Californians for GE-Free Agriculture is focusing its efforts on building a network
of volunteers throughout the state. With a network of thousands we will be able to
promote healthy, sustainable farming and have the grassroots power to support
farmers in rejecting GE crops in California. There are many ways you can support
our campaign.

---Let us know about upcoming events in your area where you can help with tabling
and outreach. We can send you materials and sign up sheets to distribute and also
put you in touch with others in your area. Earth Day is this month and is a
tremendous opportunity to get the word out about this campaign. We would love to
have a presence at as many events as possible.

--- Get together with others in your area to promote Food Democracy by organizing an
educational event in your community. We are currently touring the state, giving
educational talks and holding organizing meetings with groups who are interested in
getting involved in our campaign. Help us connect with church groups, student
activists and other organizations where you have affiliations.
 
 


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