“Monsanto Rider” in Farm Bill Allows Planting of Genetically Modified Crops without Environmental Impact Studies
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Genetically-modified seeds could become more prevalent in American fields if legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives becomes law allowing farmers to bypass federal environmental protections.
Contained within a large agricultural appropriations bill, the so-called “Monsanto rider” would force the Secretary of Agriculture to grant a temporary permit for the planting or cultivation of a genetically engineered crop, even if a federal judge has first ordered an Environmental Impact Statement.
Getting a permit would not be difficult. A farmer or seed company would just have to ask for one, “and the questionable crops could be released into the environment where they could potentially contaminate conventional or organic crops and, ultimately, the nation’s food supply,” wrote Alexis Baden-Mayer and Ronnie Cummins for AlterNet.
Opponents of the rider include the Center for Food Safety, which said the change cedes “broad and unprecedented powers to industry.” It also said the bill would weaken the power of federal courts and the ability of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to regulate the nation’s food supply. The provision “would prevent a court from putting in place court-ordered restrictions, even if the approval were fraudulent or involved bribery.”
Representative Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon) has sponsored an amendment to kill the rider. DeFazio is backed by 38 organizations opposing the provision which would help not just Monsanto, but also Dow AgroSciences and Bayer CropScience.
Last year Bayer and its global affiliates had to pay U.S. rice farmers $750 million in damages to settle legal actions relating to allegations that their use of unapproved genetically engineered crops contaminated the nation’s rice supply.
To Learn More:
The 'Monsanto Rider': Are Biotech Companies About to Gain Immunity from Federal Law? (by Alexis Baden-Mayer and Ronnie Cummins, AlterNet)
U.S. House of Representatives Should Strike the Deceptive “Farmer Assurance Provision” (Sec. 733) (Center for Food Safety) (pdf)
Monsanto and FDA Fight Labeling of Genetically Modified Foods (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
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