GMO Free Marin

Measure B Initiative Text


Section 1. Findings and Purpose. The People of the County of Marin, desiring to protect our agricultural industry, our natural environment, the private property rights of our citizens, and the health, safety and welfare of our People, deem it advisable and appropriate to restrict the cultivation of genetically modified crops, livestock, and other organisms in our County.
a. Genetically modified life forms and products are being developed with precipitous speed, and have been introduced into the marketplace, often without the consumers' knowledge and before the potential risks and long term health and environmental effects of these products have been adequately studied.
b. Many companies and markets do not accept genetically modified food products. Further, the irreversible danger of contaminating and thereby reducing the value of neighboring crops by genetically engineered crops, creates a serious economic threat to farmers. Finally, the impact on our natural environment from genetically modified organisms, including pollen drift and contamination (GMO pollen can be carried a long distance by migrating and commuting pollinators), is unpredictable, uncontrollable, and has not received adequate study.
c. The Natural Systems Element, Agriculture and Food Section, for the 2004 Marin Countywide Plan supports sustainable agriculture and recommends a positive vision for the future of food and farming in our county including greatly improved agricultural viability.
d. For all of these reasons, the People of County of Marin find and declare that the propagation, cultivation, raising, and growing of genetically modified organisms in Marin County is a hazardous activity which constitutes a public nuisance subject to the abatement remedies and procedures set forth under Chapter 1.05 of the Marin County Code.
Section 2. Prohibitions. It is unlawful for any person or entity to propagate, cultivate, raise, or grow genetically modified organisms in Marin County, and any act in violation of this provision is declared to constitute a public nuisance.
Section 3. Exemptions. Nothing in this Ordinance shall make it unlawful for (1) state or federally licensed: medical research institutions, medical laboratories, or medical manufacturing facilities to engage in licensed medical production, or 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, or (2) any licensed health care practitioner to provide any diagnosis, care or treatment to any human patient.
Section 4. Definitions.
 (a) "Genetically modified organism" ("GMO") means an organism, or the
 offspring of an organism, the DNA of which has been altered or amended through genetic engineering.  
(b) "Genetic engineering" means altering or amending DNA using recombinant DNA technology such as gene deletion, gene doubling, introducing a foreign gene, or changing the position of genes, and includes cell fusion, microencapsulation, macroencapsulation, gene splicing, and other similar processes. Genetic engineering does not include traditional selective breeding, conjugation, fermentation, hybridization, in vitro fertilization, non-directed mutagenesis or tissue culture.
(c) "DNA" means deoxyribonucleic acid, the material naturally found within living cells which contains the genetic code and transmits hereditary patterns.
(d) "Organism" means any living thing, exclusive of human beings and human fetuses.
(e) "Commissioner" means the Agricultural Commissioner of Marin County.
(f) "Person" or "entity" means an individual, partnership, corporation, governmental agency or organization of any kind.
(g) "Indoors" means within a structure meeting the Requirements of the 2001 California Building Code, Section 304 for Group B Occupancies and a minimum of "Type III" construction.
Section 5. Enforcement.
 (a) The Marin County Agricultural Commissioner is hereby designated to enforce this Ordinance and may exercise such powers as may be necessary or convenient to carry out and effectuate the purposes and provisions of this Ordinance.
(b) The Agricultural Commissioner shall notify any person, corporation, or other entity that may be in violation of Section 2 of this Code section, that any organisms that violate this code constitute a public nuisance, subject to confiscation, destruction or quarantine and subject to the nuisance abatement penalties and procedures set forth under Chapter 1.05 of the Marin County Code.
(c) Any person, corporation, or other entity that receives notification under subparagraph (b) shall have fifteen (15) days to respond to such notification with evidence that such organisms are not in violation of this Code, or have been destroyed or entirely removed from Marin County.
(d) Upon receipt of any evidence under subparagraph (c), the Agricultural Commissioner shall consider such evidence and any other evidence that is presented or which is relevant to a determination of such violation. Within five (5) days of receipt of such evidence, the Agricultural Commissioner shall determine if the organisms are in violation of this code, or have been destroyed or removed.
(e) Upon making a determination that a violation of this code exists, or if no evidence has been submitted pursuant to subparagraph (c), upon reasonable notice, the Agricultural Commissioner shall thereafter promptly take all actions necessary to ensure that such organisms do not cause genetic contamination or other harm, including but not limited to the following: confiscation, destruction or quarantine. Such action shall be undertaken during daylight hours.
(f) Either the party effected by the enforcement or the Agricultural Commissioner may thereafter request a hearing provided such request is made in writing within thirty days thereafter. The hearing shall be held in accordance with the nuisance abatement procedures under Chapter 1.05 of the Marin County Code. Violation of Section 2 of this code is not entitled to the privileges and immunities set forth under section 23.03.040 of the Marin County Code exempting pre-existing agricultural activity from nuisance abatement.
(g) Any person or persons knowingly and willfully responsible for a violation of this Ordinance may be held responsible for administrative and abatement costs. Costs of enforcement shall not be imposed upon any person whose violation is not knowing and willful, nor shall costs be imposed for enforcement for crops planted or animals possessed in the County prior to the effective date of this Ordinance. The County Agricultural Commissioner shall submit an annual report to the Marin County Board of Supervisors which describes all complaints received and enforcement actions taken under this Ordinance.
(h) The provisions of this Ordinance are cumulative, and nothing in this Ordinance affects any other remedies any individual or government entity may have against any person resulting from a violation of this Ordinance.
Section 6. Severability. The provisions of this Ordinance are severable. If any provision of this Ordinance or its application is held invalid, that invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications that can be given effect without the invalid provision or application.