Jim Goodman: Monsanto Gets Its Way in Ag Bill

“The Farmer Assurance Provision” is the title of a rider, Section 733, inserted into the House’s 2013 agriculture appropriations bill. Somehow, as a farmer, I don’t feel the least bit assured.

The only assurance it provides is that Monsanto and the rest of the agriculture biotech industry will have carte blanche to force the government to allow the planting of their biotech seeds.

In addition, the House Agriculture Committee’s 2012 farm bill draft includes three riders – Sections 1011, 10013 and 10014. These amendments would essentially destroy any oversight of new genetically engineered (GE) crops by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. If these riders had been in place during the review of GE alfalfa, Monsanto could have requested — no, they could have compelled — the secretary of agriculture to allow continued planting of GE alfalfa even though a federal court had ruled commercialization was illegal pending completion of an environmental impact study.

Essentially, the riders would prevent the federal courts from restricting, in any way, the planting of a GE crop, regardless of environmental, health or economic concerns. USDA’s mandated review process would be, like court-ordered restrictions, meaningless. A request to USDA to allow planting of a GE crop awaiting approval would have to be granted.

Wow, who’s next to get in on a deal like this, the drug companies?

Not only would the riders eviscerate the power of USDA and the authority of the courts, but they would also permanently dismiss any input from other agencies, such as the Food and Drug Administration, Fish and Wildlife Service or Environmental Protection Agency.

Does Congress really believe it has the right to remove the court’s power of congressional oversight? Doesn’t that violate the separation of powers guaranteed in the Constitution?

The trade group behind the riders, Biotechnology Industry Organization, insists that the riders do not, in any way, reduce regulatory requirements for new GE crops. What? They only eliminate any oversight from the judicial branch — that’s sort of a big thing.

Read more here: http://host.madison.com/ct/news/opinion/column/jim-goodman-monsanto-gets-its-way-in-ag-bill/article_6838dd62-4640-11e2-a3d3-001a4bcf887a.html

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