Chapter 7.31


7.31.010    Findings.

7.31.020    Definitions.

7.31.030    Prohibition.

7.31.040    Exemptions.

7.31.050    Reevaluation by Board of Supervisors.

7.31.060    Enforcement.

7.31.070    Severability.

7.31.010 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 nongenetically 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 nongenetically 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. [Ord. 4830 § 1, 2006].

7.31.020 Definitions.

For the purposes of this chapter, unless the context otherwise indicates, the words and phrases below are defined as follows:

(A)    “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.

(B)    “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.

(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 to discharge, emit or liberate any genetically engineered organism or the product of a genetically engineered organism into the open environment. [Ord. 5304 § 7, 2019; Ord. 4830 § 1, 2006].

7.31.030 Prohibition.

It is unlawful for any person to propagate, cultivate, raise, or grow any genetically engineered crop. Any act in violation of this prohibition is declared to constitute a public nuisance. [Ord. 4830 § 1, 2006].

7.31.040 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. [Ord. 4830 § 1, 2006].

7.31.050 Reevaluation by Board of Supervisors.

In its discretion, the Board of Supervisors may consider the ongoing need for the prohibition on genetically engineered food crops contained in SCCC 7.31.030. If the Board of Supervisors 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 Board of Supervisors may consider factors including, but not limited to, the following:

(A)    Whether the State of California and/or the Federal government has implemented and effectively enforced its own regulatory system that regulates genetically engineered crops;

(B)    Whether field trials of genetically engineered crops are required to be contained to prevent contamination of organic and nongenetically engineered crops and weedy relatives;

(C)    Whether 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)    Whether genetically engineered seeds and rootstock shall be required to be labeled so that farmers and gardeners can choose whether or not they want to grow genetically engineered crops; and

(E)    Whether the types and location of the genetically engineered crops currently being grown and tested in Santa Cruz County shall be communicated to the Agricultural Commissioner and available to the public upon request. [Ord. 5304 § 7, 2019; Ord. 4830 § 1, 2006].

7.31.060 Enforcement.

(A)    It shall be the duty of the Agricultural Commissioner and their designees to enforce this chapter.

(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 $1,000 or by imprisonment in the 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 the land, building 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 County may summarily abate, or abate pursuant to Chapter 1.14 SCCC, any public nuisance and the County Counsel or the District Attorney, upon order of the Board of Supervisors, 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)    Any person who creates or maintains a public nuisance in violation of this chapter shall be liable for the costs of abatement that shall include, but not be limited to:

(1)    Costs of investigation;

(2)    Costs of removing genetically engineered crops from the open environment, cleanup and restoration of the environment;

(3)    Cost of County employee enforcement time;

(4)    Court costs; and

(5)    Costs of monitoring compliance.

(G)    Should an enforcement action be filed by the County 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. [Ord. 5304 § 7, 2019; Ord. 4830 § 1, 2006].

7.31.070 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. [Ord. 4830 § 1, 2006].