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GMO-Free Mendocino wins Lawsuit against Biotech Industry

Ukiah, Mendocino County (PRWEB) January 3, 2004

In a sweeping victory for Mendocino’s effort to ban the growing of genetically modified crops and food, a Superior Court judge refused today (Wednesday, Dec. 30) to change language in the upcoming March election ballot.

Earlier this month, California’s largest consortium of biotechnology,

agri-chemical corporations sued the County Elections Clerk as well as

the proponents of Measure H – the citizen-led initiative to make

Mendocino the first county in the nation to ban the growing of GMOs.

The lawsuit launched by the industry consortium of multinational

corporations attempted to prevent Mendocino County voters from reading

key ballot arguments in support of Measure H.

In today’s ruling, Superior Court Judge Leonard J. LaCasse decided not

to change a single word on the ballot in support of Measure H. His

judgment clears the way for the election ballots to be printed in time

for the March election – and uncensored.

“Judge LaCasse in his opinion recognized the effort for what it really

was – an effort to keep the truth from the voters of Mendocino

County,” said Ukiah attorney Susan B. Jordan, who represented the

Measure H citizen group pro bono. “Judge La Casse endorsed the

intelligence of the Mendocino County electorate and said they can read

the arguments, and they can decide for themselves.”

The group behind the lawsuit, the California Plant Health Association,

represents some of the biggest names in GMO production and the world’s

leading producers of herbicides and pesticides including Monsanto

Corporation, Dow AgroSciences, Bayer Corporation, Helena Chemical and


The biotech industry’s Sacramento-based law firm attempted to strike

sections of the election ballot arguments in favor of Measure H before

voters even had a chance to read the pamphlet.

For example, their attorney told Judge LaCasse that since

GMO-contaminated wine is not yet on the shelves, Mendocino County

voters should be prevented from reading that GMO-contaminated wine is

unmarketable in Europe and Japan.

But after it was revealed in court that there are 30 laboratory trials

of GMO-grapevines currently under development in California, it simply

underscored the need for Measure H as protection for the future of

Mendocino County’s agricultural economy.

“These corporations don’t care about Mendocino County,” said Els

Cooperrider, a local owner of the Ukiah Brewing Co. & Restaurant, who

was named in the lawsuit. “They don’t live here. They don’t work here

or own farms here,” she said. “We care about protecting our local

crops from future contamination from GMOs. These outside corporations

only care about profit and their multi-billion dollar industry.”

If approved by voters in the March election, Measure H will prohibit

the “propagation, cultivation, raising and growing of genetically

modified organisms in Mendocino County.” It is not a labeling law. And

Measure H does not affect food products found in the aisles of grocery

stores or livestock feed.

The initiative has drawn the support of Mendocino County Sheriff Tony

Craver, local physicians such as Dr. Marvin Trotter, who is Mendocino

County’s Public Health Director, and local families concerned about

the untested health risks of GMOs.

In addition, some of the County’s leading grape growers – both organic

and conventional, endorse the measure including Dan Fetzer, Frey

Vineyards, Roederer Estates and Hubert Germain-Robin of Redwood

Valley’s Germain-Robin, makers of world-renowned brandy and cognac.



Laura Hamburg/cell 707 621-0906


December 30, 2003


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