Whose Side Is the USDA Really On?

September 20, 2011
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monsanto compensationIt’s supposed to help organic farmers. But it’s more likely to be just another sneaky way to help Monsanto. New Action Alert!

Last week, USDA secretary Tom Vilsack gave a clear directive to his department’s new Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture (AC21): come up with a plan to compensate organic and conventional farmers whose crops become contaminated because of genetically engineered foods.

This directive is clearly intended to sound like it will help farmers. But we think it is actually intended to help Monsanto. To see why we think this, a bit of background.

The committee is comprised of a broad spectrum of interested parties: organic scientists and organic trade organizations, conventional farming industry reps (including makers of high-fructose corn syrup), DuPont, agriculture experts, genetic engineering companies, lawyers, and a few concerned individuals.

As we reported recently, courts have increasingly been siding against GE and biotech farming when surrounding farms and products become contaminated. Bayer CropScience recently agreed to pay up to $750 million to farmers in the Midwest to settle lawsuits over its contamination of the US rice supply.

This is in sharp contrast to the past when Monsanto was suing nearby farmers whose crops were contaminated for theft of product and using the threat of suit to intimidate and silence.

Could this possibly mean, asks Marion Nestle in her Food Politics blog, that instead of Monsanto suing organic or conventional farmers whose crops get intermingled with patented GM varieties, Monsanto might now have to treat organic farmers fairly and pay them for the damage caused by the contamination? Or does the USDA actually have in mind a new protection scheme for Monsanto—a legal shelter that will limit Monsanto’s future monetary damages?

This isn’t the first time that our crony capitalist-inclined government has created a system protecting industry from liability. You may recall our stories on “vaccine courts” like the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, a no-fault system that compensates individuals harmed by vaccines. By denying the right to file lawsuits, it’s a way to protect the vaccine industry from potentially huge financial damages. Will this USDA compensation plan for GE crop contamination be just another gift to the biotech farming industry?

Tom Vilsack does not admit to being a crony of the biotech industry. The secretary was quoted as saying, “I have no favorite [type of agriculture] here,” but other statements—and past actions—make it clear that this is not a truthful statement. Today’s USDA acts virtually as an agent of Monsanto and other big GE companies. So do other government agencies which want to promote the export of this “American” product, as Wikileaks documents show.

Consumers, by contrast, have been voicing their objections to genetically engineered foods, and some elected officials are listening. In June, the House of Representatives amended the agriculture spending bill and prohibited the FDA from spending money to approve genetically engineered salmon. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) recently said she would attempt to do the same for the Senate version of the bill.

ANH-USA strongly advocates for clear labeling on all genetically modified foods to give consumers an informed choice, a position which the American public strongly supports. Citizen activists have organized the Right2Know March—a massive sixteen-day march from New York City all the way to the White House to demand GMO labeling. The march takes place from October 1 to October 16; they are looking for walkers, bikers, drivers, volunteers, cheerleaders, hosts, and supporters, so be sure to visit their website for details.

Today please contact Congress and USDA secretary Tom Vilsack and tell them America will not stand for any USDA’s attempt to shield the GMO industry from liability when their products contaminate surrounding organic and conventional crops. Please take action now!

TO SEND YOUR MESSAGE TO CONGRESS AND THE USDA

Click THIS LINK to go to the Action Alert page. Once there, fill out the form with your name and address, etc., and customize your letter. We have a suggested message for you, but please feel free to add your own comments to the letter.

We’d also love to hear your comments about this article—just add your thoughts below—but remember that the messages below are only seen by our ANH-USA readers and not the USDA.

26 Responses to “Whose Side Is the USDA Really On?”

  1. Kevin McQuin says:

    USDA want money and we can give them because we are non-informed!!!

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  2. Laurie says:

    All of these issues are about preserving our freedom to choose what we will eat, what type of healthcare we choose, what insurace we want if any, and what we want our tax dollars to be used for…….and right now both Democratic and Republican parties are ignoring the will of the people to retain their freedoms that are supposed to be protected by the Constitution. I agree with the others who mentioned how Dr. Ron Paul has continued to be an OUTSPOKEN DEFENDER of the Constitution and the rights of the citizens to decide these matters for ourselves. He has NOT succumbed to the bribe money of the big agri, bit pharma, or big corporations. He keeps writing bills that protect our liberties including the right to have non-GMO foods. VOTE for RON PAUL for President. Join the Campaign for Liberty and send a message to the Congress that they work for us or they will get voted out!

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  3. Pamela says:

    I have to take exception to this portion of one of your statements: “…crony capitalist-inclined government…”. Capitalism is based upon fair competition to keep prices at a reasonable level and encourage new and diverse product development. Government being in bed with Corporate America, coddling them and pretty much handing them whatever they want at the expense of consumers is ANYTHING BUT Capitalism. That, combined with a government that seeks to monitor and control every aspect of the People’s lives, is precisely how Fascism gets a foothold. And this country gets more Fascist every day, whatever parts aren’t Socialist. Either way, kiss Capitalism and Democracy goodbye….they’re both dying a slow painful death.

    The USDA is NOT on the side of organic farmers any more than the FDA is on the side of the public. They are both primarily concerned with keeping BigAgriBiz, BigPharma and Big Chema happy…and that triad makes us sick and keeps us sick, by design. The fundamental principles by which Capitalism functions have become so butchered, twisted and skewed in this country that it’s almost a joke to even say that word here anymore…..a sad joke about a distant past when life here was good. It’s not anymore and because of the permanent damage these three *Bigs* have done to our ecology and personal DNA, it’s very unlikely that it will ever be good here again….and at the rate they’re toxifying the rest of the world, it’s equally unlikely life will ever truly be good anywhere on Earth again. If the madness stopped today, factory farming was abolished, chemicals and drugs were no longer *leaked* into the groundwater, all GMOs were destroyed and cannabis planted everywhere these demonic plants from Hell ever grew and these crops plowed into the ground every growing season for enough years to restore the integrity of the soil, we MIGHT have a chance to recover, but common sense, integrity, decency and a love of fellow man and home planet would have to suddenly take hold of the evil-doers….and what are the chances of THAT? Greed driven monsters don’t suddenly become human.

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  4. rita Butler says:

    “As in private industry if you are not doing your job, then it is time to be fired without any compensation including unemployment! No retirement, severance insurance just like the rest of the free world.

    Incompetence is not a good reason to recieve unemployment” unless you happen to be a CEO or top financial excutive then you will get a huge bonas for running your company into the ground and defrauding investors.

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  5. Lyle Peterson says:

    I don’t understand what the broohaha about genetic engineering is all about. It has been going on since the beginning of man. The handsomest neanderthal picks the prettiest female neanderthal, they mate and produce more good looking neanderthals. Why do you suppose people today don’t look like neanderthals. Genetic engineering is the answer. It isn’t done in a lab but it does occur.

    Have you ever seen a corn field with signs every 50 or 100 feet. Each sign is a label for another variety of corn. Every year the seed corn producers tout their new and more vigorous, hardy and productive variety. What is that all about? It’s genetic engineering. It’s been going on forever and it will continue with the intervention of the USDA or any other government agency. Even the courts won’t stop it or even slow it down.

    Take a long look at what they call “genetic engineering” and you will realize that some genius put a name on something that has been around for a long time. The name makes it a target. Every hysterical thinker in the world is taking shots at it. Without the name they wouldn’t have anything to aim at.

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    • robin says:

      You obviously don’t understand the difference between natural selection & Genetic Engineering.Cave men made choices, that is completely different from scientifically altering the GENETIC structure of a plant or animal, changing it permanently & irreversibly. Do you know that GE plants produce seeds that are sterile? That means that the seeds are worthless, they will not grow. They also contaminate nearby crops, dominate & poison them, changing the “Organic” crops forever. Is this starting to make sense to you?

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  6. David Shelton says:

    So long as our government officials and related agencies continue to overlook the tremendous damage being done by genetic manipulation, we will have to assume the responsibility for educating them and forcing them to respect the will of the people. Write them. Phone them. Vote them out of office. Elect Ron Paul. Support his efforts to break the back of corporate control of our government.
    Stop the wars. Stop trying to police the world and in so doing make enemies of other countries while enriching defense contractors. We have to let our government know that we are in control, not Monsanto and other international entities, and that this insanity must end.

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  7. thurstjo63 says:

    So basically what the USDA wants to do is to have us pay for the damage caused by their crops on family farms and the environment!?! It’s at once mind boggling and not surprising. At the same time that we attack this directly through campaigns focused on members of congress, we also need to support the only candidate who consistently votes for and supports freedom of choice for over 20 years, Ron Paul.

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  8. Theresa says:

    thank you for speaking out on this subject. We need to continue to get this info out and i will be posting it on facebook and twitter! Keep uo the great work!

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  9. SmilingAhab says:

    “our crony capitalist-inclined government”
    That should be ‘government-inclined crony capitalism’. Look at where the private money flows – to the USDA, which never had such overreach of the small at the sparing of the large before, or the FDA, which was mostly fair in its treatment of drugs and foodstuffs before PhRMA just totally took it over.

    It’s corporatism that is wearing the government like a hand-puppet. So don’t hate the hand-puppet – HATE THE HAND! Hate the big corporations that destroy small businesses and write the laws or destroy government when it’s non-compliant, don’t hate a government twisted into its own pale reflection.

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  10. Joseph C Moore, USN Ret says:

    The actions of the USDA, FDA being against the wishes of the general public are patently criminal.

       0 likes

  11. Amy Reber says:

    stop the poisoning

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  12. I am pleased that there is an organization that is trying to support the rights of the people of this country. I am also pleased to see that actions are being taken to limit the damage that mega businesses and corrupt government agencies are doing to the U.S. and other countries around the world. There has been enough research done to show the world that GE seeds, plants and animals are not the way to insure the food supplies of the planet. Let us hope that more of our elected officials wake up and realize that the best way to insure their security is to see to ours, no matter what feild said security takes place, be it the right to eat what we want or in any other area.

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  13. Harlan Riley says:

    The lack of Minerals in the Food we eat is causing all the Sickness in U.S.A., Started with the plowing the Ground, and rausing crops that depleted the minerals in the ground in from three to ten years. Since the begining of the 1900″s, the proper ratio of the original minerals was not put back in the ground that Life depended on. Ocean Water has the same ratio of minerals the original farm land so can be used to refertize the ground. So the lack of minerals is causing our sickness.

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    • clouds says:

      it’s simple they are on the side of Satan as our nation is being fed junk food and our fda are killing our children with over sugar consumption causing diabetes and heart infections along with them being the number one highest contributer to the war on drugs when there poison is worse than any form of marijuana yes I believe they are also pushing milk like it was from a mother no it’s from animals end the fda and start making people healthy by eating natural foods not all the other things that haver nothing to do with a garden!
      “Amen’

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  14. Jayne Pitchford says:

    Make sure ;you do your job of protecting American farms that employ our labor and save our ozone, and not swindling us all of an organic future with Monsanto at the realm.

       0 likes

  15. Harlan Riley says:

    The lack of Minerals, 90+ in the Ocean and original Land is the problem causing all the sickness in U.S

       0 likes

  16. Dewey Fish says:

    Ohhh Wait… I have a great Idea… Grow All Organic Fruit and Veggies but be sure to grow Organic Corn and Soy and cotton… them when they get contaminated by monsantos poisons Press a Law Suit against Them… That would bring them to their knees in no time at all…

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  17. Shireen Parsons says:

    “Whose Side Is the USDA Really On?” Are you kidding??

    Like all our regulatory agencies, USDA is on the side of, and in the pocket of corporations — agribusiness corporations, sewage sludge corporations, bio-engineering corporations, chemical fertilizer corporations.

    Our regulatory agencies were not created to protect human and environmental health. They were created to ensure maximization of corporate profits by legalizing harms to the environment, human health and traditional farmers, and to protect those corporations from interference by we, the people.

    Do you really think Congress and the USDA give a hoot what we want?

       0 likes

  18. Sofia Byrne says:

    I like the letters sent and the content. Send more :-)

    Thank you

       0 likes

  19. Carol Argabright says:

    Please do NOT pay compensation for crops contaminated by GMO seeds. Monsanto’s wreckless GMO program is gravely irresponsible and the company needs to pay for their follies! The taxpayer is not an insurer for corporate irresponsibility. GMO crops are poorly researched and European countries (and even third world countries!) are wary of accepting them.

    Tax payers are already being held responisible for out of control government spending and we certainly do NOT need to be responsible for ruthless, profit greedy corporations. If Monsanto is so fond of GMO foods and if they are truly as safe as their company sponsored “studies” claim, where is the fear of litigation coming from?

    I am tired of the USDA supporting mammoth corporate farming interests over the common American they are supposed to be representing. Stand up for us–make these lousy corporations be financially responsible for their products and we will all be safer for it.

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  20. Nan Kell says:

    Monsanto is killing its American citizens and its allies around the world as a result creating dangerous and destructuve GMO foods being eaten by victims including newborns who are being posioned in wombs – This is murder !!
    And it must be stopped
    We the People of United States of America have the rights to vote on GMO foods ballot
    Let us put Monsanto in prison for life or face death penalty
    God will not forgive those who harm the one;s life

    LET’S PLACE THE BALLOT in 2012

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  21. Deena Parry says:

    Another reason everyone needs to participate on 10/16/11 rally. Bring your friends and family in Los Angeles to the Federal Building from 12 to 4. Our voice is getting louder and louder on this issue!

       0 likes

    • Lisa Barnes says:

      Are there more satellite demonstrations in other parts of the country besides NYC to DC and L.A.??
      I live in central Florida and wish something could be organized. I think that is a good idea in the future so that more citizens can realistically express their solidarity and concerns on this very dangerous threat to our health. I can get fired up mentally about this as I do , but due to obligations here can not march on Washington in Oct.

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  22. Glenn Ross says:

    This sounds like another classic case of the regulators are too close to the industry to properly administer complete and thorough regulation.

    As in private industry if you are not doing your job, then it is time to be fired without any compensation including unemployment! No retirement, severance insurance just like the rest of the free world.

    Incompetence is not a good reason to recieve unemployment.

       0 likes

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