Sunday, December 16, 2012

Congress Handing the Farm to Monsanto

© Gaia Health Blog
Congress Handing the Farm to Monsanto
Dec 16, 2012 | Heidi Stevenson

Once a GM crop has been planted, Pandora’s box has been opened. Congress plans to prevent any and all USDA oversight of genetically engineered crops, turning it into nothing more than a rubberstamping agency for Agribiz.

The United States Congress is selling out the American people with their approval of the intentionally misnamed “Farmer Assurance Provision” of the 2013 Agriculture Appropriations Bill. Worse, these riders overstep Congress’ authority, just as the executive office—the president—has been drastically overstepping his authority with the oppression of raw milk and raids on health food shops.

Food Democracy Now has more accurately dubbed Section 733 as the “Monsanto Protection Act” because it effectively removes all ability for either governmental agencies or the people to control GMOs, genetically modified crops. This bill:
  • Removes the power of the courts to restrict planting of GM crops, no matter what the potential effects on the environment, human or animal health, or even economics.
  • Makes irrelevant any oversight of the USDA in regulation of GMOs.
  • Forces the USDA to grant any request of Monsanto and their ilk.
  • Prevents any other agency from being involved in providing input into GM crops, including the FDA, the EPA, and the Fish and Wildlife Administration.
This is in violation of the US Constitution, which allows only limited congressional oversight of the courts. They can be involved in determining the structure, administration, and jurisdiction of the courts. However, Congress does not have the authority to control how, or whether, courts can rule. Yet, that is precisely what they’re attempting to do: control courts’ ability to rule on the issue of GMOs. It is, quite simply, a violation of the separation of powers—one of the most critical and significant controls placed in the Constitution.

Even if a GM crop has been shown to require more examination for potential harms, as was the case with GM sugar beets, this rider would prevent any court from ruling on prevention of planting. It also would require the USDA to approve its planting. As we all know now, with Frankenstein weeds and genetically contaminated crops, once GM crops have been planted, Pandora’s box has been opened.

Yet, Congress has just turned the USDA into nothing but a rubberstamping agency, required to approve any GMO planting when requested. They are utterly ignoring their duty to the people and their country, instead focusing solely on their paymasters in Agribusiness.

Considering the USDA’s track record, all the GM corporations stand to gain is a bit of time. The USDA seems to have never seen a genetically modified organism that it didn’t like. However, time is money, so the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), which is simply an outfit that lobbies on behalf of the GM industry, pressed Congress to eliminate even the bit of oversight that accomplishes nothing more than slowing the approval process down.

Of course, they also framed the bill as being for the benefit of farmers, which is far removed from the truth. Real farmers know that GM crops are not created for their benefit. Instead, they’re created to ensnare farmers into returning to the Agribusiness corporations. Once they succumb to the GM myths created by Agribiz, they’re stuck. They can no longer save seeds. No matter how much harm is done by GM products, they can no longer purchase any seeds from anyone but their new masters.

Writing in The Progressive, as farmer Jim Goodman sums up these riders to the House of Representatives 2013 Agriculture Appropriations Bill :
These riders are an effort to end run Congress, the Courts and the Constitution.

Corporate collusion with government is not new, but this takes it to a new level. By allowing corporations to subvert the Constitution, Congress is saying that corporate influence and profits are more important than the best interests of the people.
For an erudite discussion of the problems with this open letter, titled U.S. House of Representatives Should Strike the Deceptive “Farmer Assurance Provision” (Sec. 733), which was signed by this well respected group of wide-ranging organizations:
  • ACLU
  • Alliance for Humane Biotechnology
  • Bluefestival
  • Center for Biological Diversity
  • Center for Food Safety
  • CROPP Cooperative
  • Cuatro Puertas
  • Earthjustice
  • Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance
  • The Federation of Southern Cooperatives
  • Food and Water Watch
  • Food Democracy Now
  • Friends of the Earth
  • Go Wild Campaign
  • Institute for Responsible Technology
  • LabelGMOs.org
  • Loka Institute
  • Midwest Environmental Justice Organization
  • National Cooperative Grocers Association
  • National Family Farm Coalition
  • National Organic Coalition
  • Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Association
  • Northeast Organic Farming Association - Connecticut
  • Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance
  • Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides
  • Organic Consumers Association
  • Organic Seed Alliance
  • Organic Trade Association
  • Organic Valley Family Farms
  • PANNA
  • PCC Natural Markets
  • Public Citizen
  • Rural Vermont
  • Sierra Club
  • Sustainable Living Systems
  • Truth in Labeling Coalition
  • Union of Concerned Scientists
  • United Natural Foods Inc.
  • Former Congressman Jim Bates

Sources:

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