Santa Cruz, CA Ordinance Establishing a Moratorium on Genetically Engineered Crops

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Santa Cruz, CA, US

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Type: Ordinance

Status: Adopted on 9/12/06

Source File:


BE IT ORDAINED By the City Of Santa Cruz as Follows: Section 1. Chapter 6.10 is hereby added to the Santa Cruz Municipal Code to read as follows:

Chapter 6.10


Sections: 6.10.010 Findings. 6.10.020 Definitions. 6.10.030 Prohibition. 6.10.040 Exemptions. 6.10.050 Revaluation by the city council. 6.10.060 Enforcement. 6.10.070 Severability.

6.10.010 FINDINGS. A. There is inadequate regulatory monitoring and oversight of genetically engineered crops by the federal and state government necessary to ensure public health and environmental safety. The planting of genetically engineered crops is not required to be publicly disclosed to any federal, state or county agency.

B. Health testing of the effects of exposure to genetically engineered organisms in food is not required by any government agency. The lack of comprehensive safety testing leaves a potentially dangerous scientific void in the knowledge available about the short and long-term health effects of genetically engineered foods.

C. Farmers and gardeners who choose not to grow genetically engineered crops currently have no clear legal recourse if their non-genetically engineered crops are contaminated by genetically engineered pollen or seeds.

D. There is currently no legal requirement to label genetically engineered seeds or rootstock, thus limiting farmers’ or gardeners’ choices.

E. Currently, adequate safeguards do not exist to prevent genetically engineered contamination of non-genetically engineered crops, plants, insects, domesticated animals, wildlife and wildlands, that can result from forces of nature and human causes. The resulting impacts on ecosystems are unknown.

F. This ordinance is exempt from review under the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) pursuant to California CEQA Guideline 15308 in that this ordinance constitutes an action to protect the environment. The ordinance will protect the environment by prohibiting the planting and production of genetically engineered crops which may pose an environmental threat to organic and other crops that are cultivated in the City.

6.10.020 DEFINITIONS. For the purposes of this chapter, unless the context otherwise indicates, certain words and phrases used in this chapter are defined as follows:

A. “Genetically engineered crop” means a crop that has been created or modified through genetic engineering. It does not include nonliving or nonreproducing organisms or products.

B. “Genetic engineering” means a process or technology employed whereby the hereditary apparatus of a living cell is altered, modified or changed so that the cell can produce more or different chemicals or perform completely new functions.

C. “Person” means any individual, firm, partnership, trust, corporation, company, estate, public or private institution, association, organization or group, and any representative, officer, employee or agent of any of the foregoing.

D. “Release” means a discharge, emission or liberation of any genetically engineered organism, or the product of a genetically engineered organism, into the open environment.

6.10.030 PROHIBITION. It is unlawful for any person in the City of Santa Cruz to propagate, cultivate, raise, or grow any genetically engineered crop. Any act in violation of this prohibition is declared to constitute a public nuisance.

6.10.040 EXEMPTIONS. The prohibition contained in this chapter shall not apply to the planting or production of genetically engineered pharmaceuticals and industrial compounds done in state or federally licensed medical research institutions, medical laboratories, or medical manufacturing facilities engaged in a licensed medical production, and medical research involving genetically modified organisms provided such activities are conducted under secure, enclosed indoor laboratory conditions, with utmost precautions to prevent release of genetically modified organisms into the outside environment.

6.10.050 REVALUATION BY THE CITY COUNCIL. In its discretion, the City Council may consider the ongoing need for the prohibition of genetically engineered food crops contained in section 6.10.030. If the City Council determines that the prohibition is no longer necessary it shall amend this chapter in a manner consistent with that determination. In making its determination, the City Council may consider, among other factors, the following factors:

A. If the State of California and or the Federal Government has implemented and effectively enforced its own regulatory system that regulates genetically engineered crops.

B. If field trials of genetically engineered crops are required to be contained to prevent contamination of organic and non-genetically engineered crops and weedy relatives.

C. If liability regulations are promulgated that protect organic and conventional farmers and gardeners from contamination by genetically engineered crops, where the financial costs of contamination are borne by the producer of genetically engineered seeds and, only if negligence is found, by the grower of the genetically engineered crops.

D. If genetically engineered seeds and root-stock shall be required to be labeled so that farmers and gardeners can choose whether or not they want to grow genetically engineered crops.

E. If the types and location of the genetically engineered crops currently being grown and tested in the City of Santa Cruz and elsewhere in Santa Cruz County shall be communicated to the Santa Cruz County Agricultural Commissioner and available to the public upon request.

6.10.060 ENFORCEMENT. A. The City Manager or the City Manager’s designee may enforce this Chapter. In addition, the Santa Cruz County Agricultural Commissioner may enforce this chapter, and all designated officers of the Agricultural Commissioner may likewise enforce this chapter and each and every provision thereof.

B. Any person, whether as principal or agent, employee or otherwise, who knowingly violates or causes or permits the violation of any of the provisions of this chapter, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof, shall be punishable by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars or by imprisonment in the Santa Cruz County jail for a term not exceeding six months or by both such fine and imprisonment. Such person shall be deemed to be guilty of a separate offense for each day during any portion of which any violation of this chapter is committed, continued or permitted by such person and shall be punishable as herein provided.

C. Any use of land, buildings or premises, established, conducted, operated or maintained contrary to the provisions of this chapter, shall be, and the same is declared to be, a violation of this chapter and a public nuisance.

D. The City may summarily abate, or otherwise abate pursuant to Title 4 of this Code, any public nuisance under this Chapter and the City Attorney may bring civil suit, or other action, to enjoin or abate the nuisance.

E. Each day any violation of this chapter continues shall be regarded as a new and separate offense. The remedies provided in this chapter shall be cumulative and not exclusive.

F. Should an enforcement action be filed by the City pursuant to this chapter, no action shall be taken on any application relating to the property upon which the genetically engineered crops were located until the violation has been resolved.

6.10.070 SEVERABILITY. The provisions of this chapter are severable. If any section, paragraph, sentence, phrase or word of this chapter is declared invalid for any reason, that decision shall not affect any other portion of this chapter, which shall remain in full force and effect. Section 2. This ordinance shall be in force and take effect thirty (30) days after its final adoption.