Last year, 22 state legislatures passed bills addressing agricultural biotechnology, which concerns the development of genetically modified crops. Although economically important, such crops are politically controversial–and targeted by some antibiotech activists–because they may pose risks to consumers and ecosystems.
Lawmakers in 36 states introduced 130 pieces of legislation dealing with agricultural biotechnology, according to a Jan. 10 report by the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology in Washington, D.C. Only about 50 such bills were introduced in 2000, estimates Pew Initiative Director Michael Rodemeyer.
Some of the 2001 bills ban or regulate certain genetically modified crops or regulate the labeling of foods made from such crops. And to curb activists excesses, 29 percent of the bills introduced–and 70 percent of those passed–establish penalties for willful destruction of such crops.