URGENT: Don’t Let the GMO Industry Make an End Run around the Courts!June 26, 2012
We just have a few days to stop this lawlessness among our own lawmakers.
Congress is close to approving a sneaky, pro-GMO rider to an important funding bill, and it may become law without most people realizing it—unless you take action NOW. The GMO industry has inserted the worst kind of crony capitalist rider in support of genetically engineered crops into the FY 2013 Agriculture Appropriations bill, and we weren’t able to stop it last week in committee. The bill will likely reach the full House later this week, so it is vital that all of us contact our congressional representatives immediately and voice our opposition! This is our last chance to stop this extraordinarily bad legislation in the House.
As we explained last week, the pro-GMO amendment would strip federal courts of the authority to halt the sale or planting of illegal, potentially hazardous genetically engineered (GE) crops while USDA is assessing potential hazards. In other words, even if a court said to halt the sale or planting of the genetically engineered crop until a USDA environmental impact statement was completed, the crop planting could still go forward!
Further, the provision would compel USDA to allow continued planting of that same crop upon request, even if USDA finds that the crop poses previously unrecognized risks. That’s right—the provision specifically mandates that the Secretary of Agriculture shall, upon request by a farm operator or producer, immediately grant a temporary permit authorizing the crops to be planted or cultivated, even if a court has called a halt until an Environmental Impact Statement is completed. They’re calling it the Farmer Assurance Provision (Section 733). But far from safeguarding farmers, the only parties whose interests are “assured” by this rider are those of GE crop developers, in particular Monsanto, the company which we believe is almost certainly behind it.
This rider is a response to the recent federal court interventions we’ve been telling you about, preventing the sale, distribution, or cultivation of non-regulated GE sugarbeets and GE alfalfa while full environmental evaluations are being done. If passed, courts would be barred even from stopping GE crops whose approval had been won by fraud or bribery.
- This is an appropriations bill, and this rider has nothing to do with appropriations. This is an attempt to sneak an unrelated provision into a must-pass bill in the hope that it won’t be noticed. While we believe the entire provision is a dangerous one, at a minimum it should have been presented in a bill of its own, to give it the full public exposure such a controversial subject deserves. We suspect the reason it wasn’t done this way is because it could never pass on its own—and they know it.
- It could cause substantial harm to farmers—not to mention the agricultural economy. The provision would allow non-GE crops to be contaminated by neighboring GE crops, without proper environmental studies being performed. Seeds, crops, and foods that are contaminated with GE material cannot be sold in many international markets. Agricultural commodities contaminated by GE crops that have not been approved for commercial use in the US are particularly shunned.
- As we all know by now, but most of the public doesn’t yet, GE crops are not at all safe. Remember the rats fed GE corn which seemed fine for two generations but in the third generation were sterile? There is by now massive evidence that GMO foods are not safe, but the biotech industry is determined to silence scientists as well as the media on this subject.
- The USDA already rubber stamps the approval and deregulation of GE crops. This rider, by law, provides USDA with even greater authority to continue to do so, with complete disregard of the courts or legal process.
- The “excuse” for the bill is to prevent farmers from having to rip up planted beds. But this is moonshine. It has not happened before, nor would it happen under current law.
Congressman Peter DeFazio, D-OR, is preparing his own amendment to strike the pro-GMO rider from the bill. We need to get an avalanche of messages to Capitol Hill supporting the DeFazio amendment and explaining just how lawless the pro-GMO rider is.
Please contact your congressional representatives TODAY—there’s not a moment to lose!