Last week we sent an emergency email to our subscribers about a terrible biotech rider attached to the big must-pass Appropriations bill that would let GMO crops be planted even when a court has ordered a stop. The Senate rejected this provision in the past—but now they may be accepting it as part of some back-room deal that was struck.
Since last week, the Senate has been debating a Continuing Resolution (CR) for the big Appropriations funding bill (H.R. 933). Sen. Tester (D-MT) and three colleagues introduced an amendment to strike the biotech rider. Yesterday the Senate voted (63-35) to end debate on its version of the CR. They narrowly met this margin—60 votes are required to end debate on a bill. And unfortunately, the GMO rider is still in this final version of the bill. The Tester amendment to remove the language was not included in the final agreement to proceed and sadly will not voted on.
Now the Senate will hold an up-or-down vote, possibly as early as today, on whether to pass the CR. This means it’s very likely the CR will be passed with the rider in it. This is the same rider we’ve told you about before—the so-called Farmer Assurance Provision (Section 735) of H.R. 933—that will strip federal courts of the authority to halt the sale and planting of illegal, potentially hazardous genetically engineered crops while USDA is performing an environmental impact statement. If this provision becomes law, it will be a huge blow to the justice system, completely overriding judicial safeguards that protect both farmers and the public, and rendering judges’ rulings irrelevant. This biotech-driven rider is simply an industry ploy to continue to plant GMO crops even when a court of law has found they were approved illegally.
Sad to say, we were thrown under the bus with this amendment. It was included at the last minute and no senator is willing to take responsibility or be accountable for the amendment. The language came from the Senate Appropriations Committee, chaired by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (who has always been our ally on these issues in the past), and we can only guess that this issue was used as a bargaining chip and she got something in return for including the rider. We called the office of Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), who is the ranking member of the Appropriations Committee, to find out who is behind the amendment, but they did not comment.
It’s not just that the biotech industry was extraordinarily sneaky to include the rider in this “must pass” funding legislation—the CR is a stopgap bill to avert a government shutdown next week and keep agencies operating through September 30, and this includes funding for the Pentagon. It also shows how much power the industry has— Congress is clearly dancing to their tune to allow the CR to be used this way.
Once the CR passes the Senate, it will move to the House and Senate conference committee to resolve any differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill. Since this rider was not in the House version of the bill, there’s a slim possibility the rider will not be in the final duly passed version.
The general consensus on the Hill is that once the Senate acts, the House Appropriations Committee leadership is prepared to take the modified Senate CR directly to the House floor, possibly as early as Thursday. This is why urgent grassroots action is required to ensure that does not happen.
Action Alert! Send your message TODAY to both chambers of Congress, and insist that the GMO language be removed. It has no place in a must-pass appropriations bill, and it’s a blatant, underhanded maneuver by biotech industry to thwart the protections of our legal system. Please send your message immediately!
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