By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Wednesday, February 3, the Alabama House Committee on Agriculture and Forestry passed a bill, House Bill 30, making the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries the sole authority for the regulation of seeds in Alabama. The bill was sponsored by House Agriculture and Forestry Committee Chairman David Sessions (R-Grand Bay).
Chairman Sessions said this bill would prohibit any local government from banning farmers in their jurisdiction from using genetically modified organisms (GMOs) for seeds for their crops. It is going to take innovation and biotechnology to
Representative Sessions said that it is going to take innovation and biotechnology to feed a growing global population. GMOs are the best thing that ever happened to agriculture. Genetically engineered crops are used in every phase of our lives, even the bushes and shrubs in your yard are now genetically modified. All this bill is doing is putting the jurisdiction with the Agriculture Department. Counties and municipalities can not pass unconstitutional ordinances that put an undue hardship on farmers. HB 30 puts the restrictions and ordinances where it belongs, with the Agriculture Department.
Representative Artis J. “A.J.” McCampbell (D-Livingston) asked if this had been a problem.
Chairman Sessions said that it has come up out west. We deal with GMO seeds all the time; but there is a fear factor. Some European Countries have tried to block American imports and have used a ban on GMOs to try to keep those crops out of their country. Some of that has come back over here. Some towns and counties have banned GMOs as a result and then were sued by the farmers. This is good for the local governments as well because the courts have ruled in favor of the farmers. The counties are good with this but the municipalities have some issues.
The bill was given a favorable report unanimously and now goes to the full Alabama House of Representatives.
The bill states that these matters, “Are of statewide concern and occupy the whole field of regulation regarding the cultivation, harvesting, production, processing, registration, labeling, marketing, sale, storage, transportation, distribution, possession, notification of use, planting, or other use of seeds. The entire subject matter of this chapter shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Board of Agriculture and Industries and the Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries. Except as otherwise specifically provided in this chapter, no law, ordinance, rule, regulation, or resolution of any county, municipality, or other political subdivision of this state may prohibit or in any way attempt to regulate any matter relating to the cultivation, harvesting, production, processing, registration, labeling, marketing, sale, storage, transportation, distribution, possession, notification of use, and planting of seeds. Any law, ordinance, rule, regulation, or resolution in conflict with, in addition to, or supplemental to this chapter, is declared to be invalid and of no effect.”