Last week the Senate passed its version of the Farm Bill by a vote of 64 to 35. Despite the hard won battles by Food Democracy Now! and our allies, the bill’s passage is another sad reminder that our elected officials in Washington, DC are continuing to place the interests of corporate lobbyists over the wellbeing of the American people.
Nowhere was that more evident than the vote against the Sanders’ “Consumers Right to Know About Genetically Engineered Food Act” (amendment S. 2310) that would have clarified state’s rights to label genetically engineered foods. Rather than stand up for the rights of Americans, 73 U.S. Senators chose to vote against your basic Right to Know what’s in your food.
Today the assault on our rights continues in the House of Representatives, where a provision was added to the House Agricultural Appropriations Bill that would strip federal courts of their authority to halt the sale and planting of an illegal and potentially hazardous GMO crop. This new provision, called a “rider”, would allow biotech companies to continue to sell their unapproved seeds to farmers, who could plant them while important legal appeals are taking place, instead of halting the planting of the unapproved crop until the court settled the appeal as has been done up until now.
In classic form, the biotech industry has cleverly hidden their toxic plan under the deceptive title of a “Farmer Assurance Provision” (Sec. 733). In truth, the language in this provision is nothing short of a “Monsanto Protection Act” that would allow this company to continue to flout American legal precedence and violate the constitutional separation of powers set forth by our Founding Fathers.
In short, the “Farm Assurance Provision” is the greatest threat to farmers’ and citizens’ rights that Monsanto and the biotech industry has ever devised and it must be stopped - today!
This provision is being debated this week in the House of Representatives and we need your help today. Click here to stop the Monsanto Protection Act and tell your member of Congress to stand up for your rights and the Constitution!
According to legal advocates at the Center for Food Safety, this provision “would create a precedent-setting limitation on judicial review” and is a “dangerous assault on fundamental federal and judicial safeguards”.
This current rider is a response to the successful lawsuits that farmers and groups like Center for Food Safety have filed on preventing the sale, distribution and cultivation of GMO sugarbeets and GMO alfalfa, both of which were forced to stop from being planted while the USDA finalized full environmental reviews. But once again, Monsanto and the biotech industry are working behind the scenes to shred vital legal rights simply so they can make endless profits.
If allowed to pass, the Monsanto Protection Act would:
- Violate the constitutional precedent of separation of powers by interfering with the process of judicial review.
- Eliminate federal agency oversight to protect farmers, consumers and the environment from potential harms caused by unapproved biotech crops.
- Allow Monsanto and biotech seed and chemical companies to profit by overriding the rule of law and plant their untested GMO crops despite no proof of their safety for the public and environment.
No matter what you believe about GMOs, the fact is that corporations should not have the right to fundamentally undermine our basic rights and constitutional freedoms in their relentless pursuit of profits. Even the consideration of this dangerous provision is a sign of just how much power Monsanto has over our federal government and how far the biotech industry will go to force its genetically engineered food on to the American public.
If allowed to pass, the Monsanto Protection Act will only open farmers and the agricultural economy to very real and significant harm from cross-contamination events. Currently, the Plant Protection Act requires the USDA to regulate GMO crops to protect “the agriculture, environment and economy of the United States”. As a result of previous lawsuits, the USDA is required to complete court-mandated environmental impact statements (EIS) prior to the sale and planting of GMO crops, but even the USDA has shown little regard for this law.
Now, the new provision set forth in the FY 2013 House Agricultural Appropriations Bill will allow biotech seed and chemical companies to openly skirt even minimal protections of human health and environmental concerns.
Fortunately, Congressman Peter DeFazio (OR-D) will introduce an amendment this week that will strike the “farmer assurance provision” currently included in the Agriculture Appropriations Bill and we need your help to make sure your member of Congress supports this important amendment to stop the Monsanto Protection Act.
Join Food Democracy Now! and our allies to help stop the Monsanto Protection Act. It’s time that our elected officials start putting our rights over the profits of Monsanto and biotech companies.
Thanks for participating in food democracy,
Dave, Lisa and the Food Democracy Now! Team