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article imageNew bill could make biotech companies immune to federal courts

By Anne Sewell     Jul 11, 2012 in Environment
An amendment to the Agricultural Appropriations Bill would not just allow, but would require the Secretary of Agriculture to grant permits for planting of GM crops, even if a federal court has given an injunction against it.
In a move that would allow Monsanto and other biotech companies to do whatever they want, if this amendment is passed issues like damage to farmers or consumers, court orders, crop contamination or U.S. Department of Agriculture studies will all fall by the wayside.
Anti-GMO organizations, including Food Democracy Now are calling for a petition against the bill which they state, “fundamentally undermines the concept of judicial review and would strip judges of their constitutional mandate to protect consumer rights and the environment, while opening up the floodgates for the planting of new untested genetically engineered crops, endangering farmers, consumers and the environment.”
On the Food Democracy Now website they state that the amendment, which is called a “Farmer Assurance Provision” (Section 733), would effectively strip the rights of federal courts to halt the sale and planting of genetically engineered crops during the legal appeals process.
Calling it the "Monsanto Protection Act", Food Democracy Now says it would strip judges of their constitutional mandate to protect consumer rights and the environment. In the meanwhile it would also "open the floodgates" for the planting of new untested genetically engineered crops, which would endanger farmers, consumers and also the environment.
Representative Peter DeFazio, who is a supporter of labeling of GMO products, has been attempting to push through an amendment which would kill this dangerous rider. With the support of organizations like Organic Consumers Associations, Center for Food Safety and others, their warnings are circulating on the Internet, gathering attention and support, but people are asking if this be enough to do the job.
The Center for Food Safety claimed in a recent statement that, "Ceding broad and unprecedented powers to industry, the rider poses a direct threat to the authority of U.S. courts, jettisons the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) established oversight powers on key agriculture issues and puts the nation's farmers and food supply at risk."
The House’s draft Farm Bill is scheduled for Committee mark-up on Wednesday, July 11 at 10am EDT.
Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety says, “This is yet another chilling example of the chemical industry’s ongoing campaign to irreversibly alter and control our food supply while they pad their pockets. Every member of the Agriculture Committee has something to lose here if they don’t cut through the deception and reject this direct assault on USDA’s authority and the long-term integrity of our food supply.”
Tom Philpott of Mother Jones says that the agricultural sub-committee chair, Jack Kingston, is responsible for this dangerous amendment which, many argue, has nothing to do with agricultural appropriations. Apparently, Kingston was also voted "legislator of the year for 2011-2012" by the Biotechnology Industry Organization, whose members include DuPont and Monsanto.
There is media speculation that the House of Representatives will discuss this issue on July 11, and will vote on this bill on July 23rd. Anti-GMO representatives are saying that if this passes, the amendment in the 90-page document will mean GMOs for consumers, major losses for farmers, and of course huge profits for the biotech companies.
Concerned readers can add their name to a petition run by causes.com here and another by Food Democracy Now here.
More about Monsanto, Gmo, Genetically modified, Genetically engineered, Food
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