BIO Statement: Vermont House of Representatives Affirms Protection for Farmers

WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 4, 2006) -- Sean Darragh, Executive Vice President for Food and Agriculture of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), released the following statement regarding defeat of SB 18 and adoption of liability protection for farmers.

“Vermont House lawmakers have voted to preserve for farmers the right that generations of Vermont farmers have enjoyed: the freedom to grow the crops that will best enhance their yields, reduce their environmental footprint, and boost their financial well-being.

“The defeat of the Senate passed ‘Farmer Protection Act’ is a vote against the anti-biotechnology, anti-farming interests that have misleadingly sought to ‘protect farmers’ from crops improved through biotechnology.

“As former St. Albans cooperative president Harold Howrigan correctly noted, ‘It was an insidious marketing trick to call this bill the Farmer Protection Act.  The title is deliberately confusing to well-meaning individuals.  In reality, it was more a Lawyer’s Full Employment Act than legislation to protect farmers.’  There is no documented case of any farmer in Vermont suffering economic loss from biotech crops.  To the contrary, a study released in November by the National Center for Food and Agriculture Policy, found that by planting biotech corn varieties in 2004, Vermont farmers increased the state's food production by more than 2 million pounds, improved farm income by $152,000 and reduced pesticide use by 15,000 pounds.[1]

“By rejecting strict liability language, the Vermont House has codified liability protection for Vermont’s farmers that will allow them to continue to adopt new farming practices as they become available, and remain competitive with farmers across the nation,” Darragh concluded.

BIO represents more than 1,100 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and 31 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products.