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Hill writes: "Hidden among the cluttered news cycle of this election season is a crucial debate about genetically modified organisms (GMOs)."

Farmer spraying his crops. (photo: AP)
Farmer spraying his crops. (photo: AP)


A Farm Bill Only Monsanto Could Love

By Corey Hill, Yes! Magazine

05 October 12

 

Three provisions in the bill would make it more difficult to regulate the safety of genetically modified crops. Consumers fight back with a flurry of organizing.

idden among the cluttered news cycle of this election season is a crucial debate about genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

September 30 marked the expiration of the 2007 Farm Bill, and the 2012 replacement is now sitting in the House of Representatives. It is unlikely that Congress will vote on the bill until after the elections, so food-safety advocates are ramping up their outreach efforts around this issue in advance of any decision.

What's the big deal with the new bill? Most importantly, the House version of the 2012 Farm Bill contains three industry-friendly provisions, numbered 10011, 10013, and 10014. Collectively, they have come to be known as the "Monsanto Rider," and the name is entirely appropriate. If passed, this bill would make it more difficult to stem the tide of GMO foods hitting store shelves.

These three provisions in the 2012 Farm Bill would grant regulatory powers solely to the United States Department of Agriculture, preventing other federal agencies from reviewing GMO applications and preventing the USDA from accepting outside money for further study. The bill would also shorten the deadline for approval to one year, with an optional 180-day extension.

And here's the kicker: the approval time bomb. If the USDA misses the truncated review deadline, the GMO in question is granted automatic approval.

Though the average time for approval of GMO applications is now three years, the USDA has never denied a single one. Environmental activists currently have the ability to delay introduction of an iffy crop by keeping approval held up for months at a time pending further review. If the 2012 Farm Bill is approved with the Monsanto Rider, this tool is removed from the arsenal.

Food-safety advocates like the Organic Consumer Association point to polling that shows nine out of ten American consumers want GMO labeling, and to the strength of the organizing in favor of GMO labeling through California's Proposition 37 ballot initiative. The Organic Consumers Association and allied organizations like the Center for Food Safety are calling upon their membership base to let their elected officials know where they stand on this issue, through phone calls, letter writing, and protest.

"People understand that the GMO foods entering our food supply have not been safety tested," said Alexis Baden-Mayer, Political Director at the Organic Consumers Association. "There isn't enough science backing them, and people want to know when food is genetically engineered. That opinion is very strong, and hopefully members of congress will be paying attention to the widespread opposition, and they'll connect with voters. Hopefully, they'll understand that [voters] matter more than the campaign donors."

 

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+21 # BurlHall 2012-10-05 14:55
Since the gov't is in bed with the corporation, it is wise to KNOW where your food is coming from. Stay out of grocery stores as much as possible. If you are able to, don't buy unless you KNOW who raised what you are eating and how they raised it. In your area, tap into groups like Permaculture, Transition Town etc. There is information about this all over the net. I co-host a radio show called Envision-This! where we focus on this issue. For archived shows, visit http://blogtalkradio.com/envision-this. Look me up on Facebook, Burl Hall.
 
 
+21 # dovelane1 2012-10-05 15:57
As a person who has been growing as much of my food as possible, (living in northern Minnesota,) I appreciate your efforts to educate the ignorant.

The ignorant can be educated, but stupid takes a lot oonger, and is much more difficult.

And support your local farmer's markets.

The more people garden, the more they would appreciate where their food comes from, and how much time and energy it takes to grow it.
 
 
+6 # Texas Aggie 2012-10-05 23:10
Amen!
 
 
+1 # grandma lynn 2012-10-06 20:40
I've been making my own jam and jelly now for a few years. In a grocery store I have to stand and marvel at all the jars, there, and picture the trees and bushes that produce the fruits, the vines, and the hot sun beating on the pickers, and then the process and time to make it into jam. Even if the processing is by machinery and not human hand-work, the wealth of jam and jelly on a store shelf is incredible. I know the time and sweat it takes me to make jam from our rabpberries, peaches, grapes. Wow!
 
 
-15 # Texas Aggie 2012-10-05 23:25
On other discussions it is obvious that the majority of people have no idea of what the actual problems are. GM isn't a problem in and of itself anymore than a car is a problem itself and not the person driving it. The particular use that GM is put to is the problem.

Herbicide resistant crops are designed to increase the amount of herbicide spread into the environment, and according to another report has done so with abandon. This is not doing anyone any good. Insect resistant crops, on the other hand, are designed to reduce the use of insecticides in the environment, and, according to the same report, has done so quite significantly.

GM golden rice has been developed that would prevent blindness and early death from Vit A deficiency in East Asia of over half a million kids. Unless you're some sort of sicko, that is a desirable outcome. GM alfalfa that retains its digestibility longer has been developed allowing dairy farmers to get more milk production out of their own hay and silage. That is also a desirable outcome, but the "true believers" will still have a fit even though the increased digestibility comes by knocking out a gene, not by adding anything.


And the "true believers" who prattle about foreign genes and unnatural are also alive because back in the Dream Time some viruses left their DNA in primate genomes and those viral genes were co-opted by the organism and now are essential to human survival.
 
 
+7 # WolfTotem 2012-10-06 05:29
Is it not obvious that the primary problem is not GM research in itself but who is developing these things, how, and for what purpose?

Even before the development of GMOs there were disasters linked to the overcentralized use of single varieties of high-yield hybrids, especially in countries like China already prone to one-size-shoe-f its-all policies. But now, unbridled capitalism is reproducing the gross errors of the Communist States, and doing so far more effectively than they ever could.

Food and water monopolies in the hands of powerful for-profit corporations are potentially more terrifying than weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorists. The "mad scientist" plotting world domination has escaped from pulp fiction into the real world.

Try reading http://www.rodaleinstitute.org/fst30years and reflecting on basic priorities.

And beware of philentropists posing as philanthropists ...
 
 
+6 # Granny Weatherwax 2012-10-06 07:11
GM in and of itself is not the whole problem.
However pointing to some of the good sides (you forgot some, mainly good for the GM companies) does not remove a thing from the risks.
To list just two:

Pesticides produced by the GM plant as the one reason to modify the plant genome is not submitted to FDA oversight. Had it been sprayed by the farmer, it would. How moronic is that?

And an actually GM-specific issue, regardless of the intended effect:
how do you prove that by adding a GM characteristic you did not damage other traits of the plant?
The answer is: you can't. If you insert a gene without regard to where it falls, you may as well insert it in the middle of coding genes:

Start-Protein-Stop becomes

Start-Pro/Start-GM_trait-Stop/tein-Stop

leading to a good chance of deformed protein, also known as prion, i.e the cause for the BSE and probably Kreutzfeld-Jacob.

And of course this is a simple example assuming the GM trait is introduced cleanly - it can itself be damaged or get "typos"...

These guys prove their manipulation worked by showing the plant displays the GM trait - but they can't prove that it does not have adversarial effects.

They play God without a clue.
 
 
+5 # maverita 2012-10-06 08:08
They have gotten away with their wanton experimentation because of the wonderful benefits. None of which change the fact that industry-writte n laws make it illegal fo anyone in this country to experiment with or research these GM seeds without permission from the patent owner. Like granny weatherwax states, it can cause entirely new to nature proteins to develop. I suffer from multiple food allergies/sensi tivities and really noticed when GM food hit the markets. Since 2003-4, I cannot eat pork any longer, which I suspect is from the GM feed. Also had to quit eating all corn products not organic about that same time, as I was developing subcutaneous pockets of pus on my face. I have to prepare. 98% of my own food from organic sources or local farmers. I read somewhere that Allergies have increased some 270% since 2000? And I am blown away at how little awareness there is of the problem, even among we'll educated people and even more frightening, food handlers. I couldn't make it to the health food store in Houston and had to go to three grocery stores in Pearland to find any meat without hormones (another gift from Monsanto that will keep on giving). Talk to Everyone about it. Education is our only hope.
 
 
+1 # grandma lynn 2012-10-06 20:42
Is this by someone in the industry?
 
 
+12 # WolfTotem 2012-10-06 00:26
Kindly remember:

You are no longer a citizen.

You are a "consumer".

Cattle get no choice of feed - WHY SHOULD YOU?

Signed:
MONSANTO
"The World will be Our Dustbowl"
 
 
+6 # ladypyrates 2012-10-06 02:18
Thanks for the "heads up". I am very concerned,howev er, that I haven't heard much from CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers) in the way of protests against the farm bill. Have they been bought off? As they merge with "Oregon Tilth", they will become the biggest certifier in the country...it is very unsettling to think that they are abdicating their responsibility to the public in this matter.
 
 
0 # Eliza D 2012-10-06 07:35
What I don't understand is how so many people on this discussion board can so passionately support Obama, who has allowed the complete corporate takeover of our food supply to continue. While campaigning, he promised to work to stop GMOs, and has been utterly silent on this issue. Yes, we must grow more of our own food (I add more every year),but we must get these corrupt, indifferent politicians out of office. Let's do it in November. Green Party and Social Justice Party are two great ones.
 
 
+5 # maverita 2012-10-06 08:15
Honey, I am so pissed at Obama's handling of Dept. of Ag I could spit nails. And I tell all my Republican friends that his policies are to the right of Richard Nixon, since they don't seem to remember Dick brought us EPA, OSHA, Clean Air, Clean Water, etc... BUT if you live in a swing state, a vote for a third party now would be a vote for Romney and he is far worse than Obama. Never Vote Republican.
 
 
+5 # Eliza D 2012-10-06 11:12
Actually, I don't live in a swing state-I live in a blue one. You didn't read what I wrote-I never said I am voting Republican. But Obama's policies, such as appointing Michael Taylor,former Monsanto exec, to the FDA, as well as turning a blind eye to the utter devastation caused by Monsanto, Cargill, Bayer,et. al. are poisoning millions of people, including children. Children really rely on their parents for food, and generally don't have the tools to research the ingredients in what they eat. Romney may be more evil than Obama,but it is a propter hoc argument to say that, therefore, we should elect Obama. My reading and research suggests to me that we are in the end of days for planet earth, unless we make radical changes now. I don't see any evidence that Obama will do that. Fear of the unknown compels people to stay with him. I will vote my conscience, and for my children, who will inherit the cesspool we have allowed the Earth to become.
 
 
+2 # Kootenay Coyote 2012-10-06 08:23
The Fix, as they used to say, is In: & everyone human is Out.
 
 
+6 # Big Jake 2012-10-06 09:41
First the red herring. The Farm Bill will not expire until Dec. 31. If it does, the nation will automatically revert back to the 1949 Farm Bill which is a corrupted version of the 1937 Act. Monsanto and the boys including the grain trade---think Cargill, ADM, will not tolerate that. The damage to our national health caused by these products is not yet fully known but the rate of cancer and other debilitating illnesses is increasing. The survival rate for cancer is improving but the incidence rate is increasing---go od business for all concerned except “We, the People”.
It is interesting to note that under the old Farm Bill, the taxpayer cost was almost nil, rural prosperity was great and the result was a national economy that had low inflation, increasing personal and national income, a reduced demand for new debt. As you can see, the moneyed interests could not tolerate that. When that law expired in 1952, the course was set---a move to a totally debt based economy and here we are. The chemical invasion of agriculture was a post WWII phenomenon. The consequence has been a reduced health profile and a demand that we export our surplus and that has resulted in damage to our soil, a food deficient in nutrition and trillions of unrepayable debt.
To understand this more completely go to normeconomics.o rg. and do a little reading.
 
 
+4 # Big Jake 2012-10-06 09:47
Dear Ladypyrate, of course these institutions have been corrupted. The minute the USDA stuck its nose into organic agriculture trouble was bound to follow. The Monsantos' will do whatever to wreck this type of food production---it is an interference with the corporate model. The Farm bill has been used to empty out the countryside. It will continue to do so. Most likely a lame duch Congress will do whatever the corporate boys tell them and the farm groups like lap dogs will join in the chorus. It doesn't matter here if it is Democrats or Republicans although this mad dog new Right will most likely gut what is left of America as Intended.
 
 
+5 # Street Level 2012-10-06 10:06
I have not met 1 person who could name a GMO crop that has proven track record of being beneficial to the majority of creatures. NOT ONE! Does anyone really think that Monsanto really cares about blindness in Asia?
Don Huber discovered that GM alfalfa seeds can stay dormant in the soil for 20 YEARS and can contaminate further plantings at any time.
GMO's will not solve world hunger. Mono-cropping is folly. Round Up is a BIO-cide. We throw away HALF of our food in this country alone! It's WASTE. We need to look at the tonnage of food we throw away first. Monsanto only serves Monsanto.
 
 
+3 # Big Jake 2012-10-06 11:29
Texas Aggie, your name says it all. The past 60 years or so, the land gran univeristy system is the only one that I am aware of with the goal of destroying its own clientele. Your take on GMO,s and assorted chemicals is reflective of those who have been trained not to think. Too bad, a mind is a terrible thing to waste. Nobody knows the impact of either GMO's or our addiction to chemicals in the short run or the long term. Most indicators suggest that we have no idea about the consequences. Do you really thing that we should just turn the country over to whomever and let them all self regulate? It is imperative that we have APPROPRIATE rules for our society. They must be constantly revised and not reflect just some brain dead bureaucracy with silly or excessive rules but those that really do protect us--not only the environment but certainly finance and banking. It is the imposition of the industries will that has corrupted our system and not the left or the right. Romney is a reflection of the outcome.
 
 
+3 # pianosaurus rex 2012-10-06 13:34
I have a new slogan for this company:

Monsanto;

Changing Mother Earth into Love Canal for the entire world’s species.
 

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