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Abbott and Gillam report: "Efforts to write benefits for biotech seed companies into US legislation are sparking a backlash from groups that say the multiple measures would severely limit US oversight of genetically modified crops."BLURB

A provision included in the 2013 Agriculture Appropriations bill would allow biotech crops to be planted even if courts rule they were approved illegally. (photo: Generation Green)
A provision included in the 2013 Agriculture Appropriations bill would allow biotech crops to be planted even if courts rule they were approved illegally. (photo: Generation Green)

Battle Looms Over Monsanto Rider on Capitol Hill

By Charles Abbott, Carey Gillam, Reuters

19 July 12


fforts to write benefits for biotech seed companies into U.S. legislation, including the new Farm Bill, are sparking a backlash from groups that say the multiple measures would severely limit U.S. oversight of genetically modified crops.

From online petitions to face-to-face lobbying on Capitol Hill, an array of consumer and environmental organizations and individuals are ringing alarm bells over moves they say will eradicate badly needed safety checks on crops genetically modified to withstand herbicides, pests and pesticides.

The measures could speed the path to market for big biotech companies like Monsanto and Dow Chemical that make billions of dollars from genetically altered corn, soybeans, cotton and other crops.

"They are trying to change the rules," said George Kimbrell, senior attorney at the Center for Food Safety, which has lawsuits pending against government regulators for failing to follow the law in approving certain biotech crops. "It is to the detriment of good governance, farmers and to the environment."

As early as next week the U.S. House of Representatives could take up one of the more controversial measures - a provision included in the 2013 Agriculture Appropriations bill known as Section 733 that would allow biotech crops to be planted even if courts rule they were approved illegally.

Opponents call it the "Monsanto Rider" because Monsanto's genetically altered alfalfa and sugar beets have been subject to court challenges for illegal regulatory approvals.

Georgia Representative Jack Kingston, the powerful chairman of a House Appropriations subcommittee, backs the measure, while U.S. Representative Peter DeFazio, who sits on the House Natural Resources Committee, has said he will try to kill it.

Even more sweeping changes limiting the U.S. regulatory system for GMO crops have been added to the 2013 U.S. Farm Bill, and biotech crop defenders say they have broad support for the changes. The current system is too cumbersome and slow for biotech companies trying to bring new technology to U.S. agriculture, and lengthy legal requirements currently in place invite costly lawsuits, they say.

The most popular biotech crops are those altered genetically so they withstand dousings of herbicides and resist pests. New technologies in development are aimed at making crops more drought tolerant and resistant to more types of weed killers.

"You've got farmers who have seeds in the barn and need to get seeds in the ground," said Karen Batra, a spokeswoman for the Biotechnology Industry Organization. "There is bipartisan support for all of these reforms in a broad context. Members from both sides agree (as does the administration) that reforms are needed."

US Farm Bill Fight

Although the appropriations measure limiting judicial authority over GMO crop regulatory actions raised the ire of opponents, the Farm Bill measures drawn up by the House Agriculture Committee are fueling vociferous opposition.

Last week 40 food businesses, retailers, family farmers and others sent a protest letter to House Agriculture Committee leaders calling on them to strike pro-biotech provisions added to the draft of the U.S. Farm Bill. The measures followed several court rulings that regulators did not follow legal requirements in approving some biotech crops, and would nullify just such legal requirements in the future.

Environmental hazards associated with biotech crops, including the rapid rise of "superweeds" that cannot be killed with traditional herbicides, would not have to be taken under consideration by regulators in new approvals, the critics say.

A controversial new type of corn developed by Dow Agrosciences, altered to allow more liberal spraying of the widely used 2,4-D broad leaf herbicide, could sidestep regulatory hurdles currently in place and gain swift approval under the new law. A different herbicide-tolerant GMO crop in the pipeline could also be fast-tracked if the measures become law.

The measures compress the time frame and scope of topics for review of crops and force backdoor approval of GMO crops if the USDA fails to meet the deadlines, critics say. Also, most notably, they would allow for the first time an acceptable level of contamination of conventional crops by biotech crops without recourse.

"The Farm Bill riders together would eliminate the much needed review of these novel crops, forcing hasty approvals in advancing the chemical industry's interests in selling their products," the National Family Farm Coalition, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Center for Environmental Health and others said in a letter sent July 11 to House Agriculture Committee leaders.

The National Grain and Feed Association last week also expressed alarm, saying it and grain handlers, millers and processors and some food industry players are worried the measures could have "unintended consequences in domestic and export markets."

Easier and Faster

Monsanto, Dow and other defenders of the planned changes say they will make the regulatory process easier and faster while ensuring biotech crops are safe and effective.

"If the United States and the world are to reap the benefits of plant biotechnology, we need timely and science-based authorizations of the innovative biotech products that are in the technology pipeline," said Dow spokeswoman Kenda Resler-Friend. "Weed resistance challenges are getting worse by the day - compounded by the drought at hand - so it is essential to get technology into the hands of farmers who desperately need it."

Dow's application to commercialize a new herbicide-tolerant corn called Enlist has been with the USDA for more than three years.

Alongside corporate players, several farm and biotechnology trade groups have been pushing both the Farm Bill measures and the Section 733 addition to the appropriations bills.

These supporters say they need the 733 provision in particular to limit court action against biotech crop approvals so farmers can plant a crop without fear. Lawsuits have routinely delayed the sale of some biotech varieties worth billions of dollars for the industry.

The USDA approved Monsanto's Roundup Ready alfalfa, genetically altered to tolerate treatments of the company's Roundup herbicide, in 2005, for example. But environmental groups and some seed companies sued the USDA in 2006 and successfully forced the agency to rescind its approval after a federal court found the department had violated environmental law by failing to do a thorough environmental review before approving the product. A Supreme Court ruling in 2010 cleared the way for limited planting pending environmental reviews.

Planting of Roundup Ready sugar beets was also held up in court when a federal judge determined the USDA had illegally approved the crop without performing a full environmental review.

The appropriations language as well as language in the Farm Bill would reduce a court's ability to hold up biotech crops.

"Litigation from anti-biotechnology groups has caused uncertainty for growers and has been a drain on USDA resources for several years," said Monsanto spokesman Tom Helscher. "This provision provides an important assurance for farmers planting crops which have completed the U.S. regulatory process."

Monsanto, the world's largest seed company spent $6.37 million on Washington lobbying last year and $1.4 million so far this year, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

Dow Chemical spent $830,000 last year on lobbying on agricultural issues.

It is not clear if the Farm Bill or the appropriations measure will be taken to a vote by the House of Representatives before the August recess. They debate could linger into the November election, or beyond.

The Center for Food Safety, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, the Natural Resources Defense Council and other public interest groups held a press briefing Tuesday in Washington calling the the policy changes "dangerous."

"No one seems to be sure what is going to happen and when. It is a constant threat," said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety and also George Kimbrell's uncle. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+51 # Lisa Moskow 2012-07-18 12:17
The thing with this is that once Monsanto gets its noxious products out there, there
is no going back.

Obama could remedy the dislike his former supporters now feel towards him, by taking a strong position against Monsanto. Of course the entire administration has been bought off by Monsanto and their ilk so it would take some courage to do this.
+13 # JessJuan-d-Ring 2012-07-18 13:55
Quoting Lisa Moskow:
... it would take some courage to do this.

Yes, but unfortunately thus far he hasn't shown enough of it to win back his former supporters, many of whom now feel that his 2008 "CHANGE" message was nothing more than cynically scripted marketing. I'm afraid that unless he does indeed show a willingness to change course via this and a few other key decision points, a critical percentage of his base will have been lost for good- and his campaign can not afford such losses.
+18 # JessJuan-d-Ring 2012-07-18 14:00
I forgot to mention that in his choice of Tom Vilsack as Ag. Sec'y, Obama already had signaled that he was aligned with big agribiz instead of sustainable agriculture. Quite disappointing and also ironic when you consider how seemingly dedicated his wife is regarding urban gardens and healthy produce, etc.
-2 # John Locke 2012-07-18 17:25
JessJuan-d-Ring : With Obama it has been one disappointment after another, he goes where the money is!
+5 # KittatinyHawk 2012-07-18 20:01
They have been fed lies, now signed into World Org for Hunger, they signed to feed America because all those good companies like GM...Cheerios and so many more in your kitchen said they would help feed the world.
However, they didnot tell him we the Hollywood Farms are buying up all organic Farms cause we want that money and intend to make them non organic. Then Gates, Travolta and so many more pushed to feed Africa. I understand why we should be feeding the world.
Now OB is not a scientist, he is not a biologist, nor has he or his wife spent the last 30 years farming so how do you expect him to know the difference in seeds?

Monsanto has been doing this for thirty years so where have you all been? I know I have filed, filled enough petitions and letters. I have marched against..were you there?

Most of the drop the ball on Chemicals in food has been going on since ReaGun Bush Years that is a fact since I have been protesting here in Pa and DC against these seeds. I grow heirloom, organic or nothing.
Her gardens are to show you what you, your family and community can grow. I do not see her promoting Monsanto. When she was on Letterman I believe was asked about organic.I would have to back track but small scale growing is a different ball game if you consider what a 20x20 garden can produce vsCommercial/In dustrial Farming does grow and has been for decades.
If you look at farm seeds they are coated..not mine
+18 # Papá Kokopelli 2012-07-18 15:05
The other day someone on this site put up a list of the Obama administration people who had worked for Monsanto, and it was appalling, but the list overlooked the Supreme Court, where if I´m not mistaken, none other than Clarence Thomas had been something like CHIEF COUNSEL for Monsanto for years. So yeah, the fix is in. Big time.
+4 # seakat 2012-07-18 18:32
Umm, Papa, you can't blame Clarence Thomas on Obama.
+1 # Papá Kokopelli 2012-07-19 09:32
True. I meant to refer to the government as a whole, and should have worded it more clearly.
+9 # John Locke 2012-07-18 17:24
Lisa Moskow: Its time to develop co-op farms this can be done all over the country and just stop buying from the local grocery store! They have these in Utah but it is controlled by the Mormon Church!
+4 # KittatinyHawk 2012-07-18 20:06
There have been cooperative farms since the 50's where have you been? There are many good ones still alive and well if you look for them Local Harvest is good place to find local farms, then go from there. Dave's Garden another good source of growers, seed collectors and traders.
+1 # John Locke 2012-07-19 08:30
KittatinyHawk: I am refering to more local farms like neighborhoods, where the families are close to it and share in the planting and harvesting. We buy from local farmers when we buy produce alot of our local products come from small Colorado farms
+2 # KittatinyHawk 2012-07-18 19:52
Not the entire administration but all rethugs
+37 # barkingcarpet 2012-07-18 12:42
Monsanto IS the antichrist! Pure evil, morally bankrupt, and environmentally destructive.
+13 # Barbara K 2012-07-18 12:50
I hope that Monsanto gets its wings clipped, so to say. There are a lot of people being made ill by the poisons in their food, and I am one. Stomach and digestive illness for 2 1/2 years now. They finally figured out that it is the poisons on our food; especially wheat and in the seed of wheat as well. It is wrong in so many ways to allow Monsanto and others to poison us this way by poisoning our food and shortening our lifespan. I wish that we could force these things to the vote of the people. At least we are not being paid to allow these poisons to continue.
-2 # John Locke 2012-07-18 17:27
Barbara K: THe only way that Monsanto will ever get its wings clipped is by the People, it won't be by the Government and it definately won't be by Obama!!!
+1 # Pancho 2012-07-18 19:12
Just a question. I am not aware that Montsanto peddles wheat seed like it does soybean seed, sueing anyone who wants to keep their seed and replant.

So, I just called my wheat farmer neighbor. She has about two square miles in wheat (1280 acres). She said that you can keep your own wheat, and replant, or that you can buy it from a certified seed dealer, but she does not believe that Montsanto has a piece of the action.

Is there a reason you believe that is not correct?
+2 # KittatinyHawk 2012-07-18 20:14
I do not understand how they can go after farmers on heirloom, seed collecting. If farmer no longer wants to grow Monsanto seed who can make him is what I want to know.
There are excellent European Seeds, American Seeds...we do not have to depend on Monsanto.
Farmers get subsidized for not growing so take a year off, fertilize with clean fertilizer. Try some new plantig ideas...grow grasses, amaranth (I do this for my chickens and it reseeds, it can be controlled, it looks great and revitalizes soil. We can eat it also) then there is Deer Plot seeds...radish, turnip, brassica. It enriches the soil, feeds game. there are alternatives but Many Farmers are Greeeeeeedddddyyyyyy.

And we will all pay for that in the cannot blame OB for their greed they hate democrats.
0 # John Locke 2012-07-19 08:34
KittatinyHawk: But you can blame Obama for getting deep in bed with Monsanto! I have already posted the Monsanto Obama White House Revolving door names. And Obama's posture to coerce Africa to only use Monsanto seed!
0 # KittatinyHawk 2012-07-18 20:09
If you notice Barb, there is a list of some of the org I told you about. If you contact them they will share lots of information with you about how you can get involved large or small scale. Probably let you know if there are groups, farms, coops near you

We have been fighting Monsanto, Dow for thirty years. We had thousands in DC in around 91 We were on TV since Mr Locke shows how much he is not in touch. OB must support Sanders as well as the other Democrats getting on board. Problem is Unity on issues like these.
+1 # X Dane 2012-07-18 23:27
Hi KittatinyHawk, I admire what you are doing. And I admire you. One really learns a lot of things on this site.I also like Barbara K. She has a lot of guts. I feel bad for her, because of that terrible governor, and all the misery he is causing the citizens of his state. Which state do you live in?
0 # DiscernerOfTruth 2012-11-30 13:53
I wonder if you aren't a victim of the fusarium fungus that can be so troubling in wheat, especially where wheat in rotated into fields where Bt corn (and its toxin) were planted. The nausea and vomiting are the prime symptoms in both human and animals that eat it.
+18 # pbjammin 2012-07-18 12:56
So the battle is with Monsanto, the corporation whose addition of herbicide to seeds has killed off the bees as they try to pollinate. The dirty secret is out: these new seeds don't need bees; but you have to buy new seeds every year--do we want these chemical corporations to own our food supply?
+3 # John Locke 2012-07-18 17:29
pbjammin: Ever hear the term eugenics... what a way to control the population... Monsanto and its killer food lines!
+2 # KittatinyHawk 2012-07-18 20:16
Their seeds do not need bees but the Earth, flowers, trees and us honey eaters do need them

And if the seeds do not need bees then they are sterilized seeds only good once.
Then farmers cannot keep, cross and produce better seeds themselves....i f the seeds are sterile then they will kill other seed eaters including songbirds....Mu ch bigger picture...which will include you, your kids and so on....
+1 # Texas Aggie 2012-07-18 21:28
Before getting hysterical, it would be a good idea to find out what you are hysterical about. Monsanto isn't adding herbicides to anything, especially the seeds. What it is doing is making the plants that grow from its seeds resistant to the effects of herbicides that the farmers spray on their crops to eliminate weeds so the herbicides don't kill the crops, too.

And the same observation applies to the article. The tone and the statements are reminiscent of the birthers attacking Obama. If you want to stop Monsanto, which in my opinion is an excellent goal given their business model, then it is much better to have actual, based in reality, talking points rather than the silly quasireligious type arguments that abound in the discourse.

Raising the hobgoblin of "super weeds" makes it sound like the only thing standing between the super weeds and the destruction of life as we know it is herbicides and once the weeds are resistant to herbicides, they'll eat New Jersey. Actually the sooner they become resistant, the sooner farmers will stop spraying herbicides, which is the real problem.
+1 # Texas Aggie 2012-07-18 21:29
Complaining that GM crops would be allowed to "contaminate" conventional crops while ignoring that hybrid crops have been doing the same for decades is foolish.

To make the vast preponderance of your argument that rules are being ignored without also stating why those rules are important just looks childish and accomplishes nothing.

If you REALLY are concerned about the environmental effects of your food, then you need to push regulations that focus on that, not on some "it-ain't-natur al" type of argument and quoting bogus research articles.
+2 # X Dane 2012-07-18 23:52
That is why so many Indian farmers are committing suicide. They are poor, and they HAVE to buy new seeds every year. It is bankrupting them, and they are killing themselves at an alarming rate.

It is also frightening to see how many bees are dying. Do these idiots not understand HOW important the bees are?
+15 # cordleycoit 2012-07-18 13:22
Powerful Georgia Congressman owned by the chemical industry. This slave auction of members of Congress has to be ended it is degrading and obsecene. People ought not to allow these persons in public lest they infect children with their greed.
+11 # Merschrod 2012-07-18 13:46
It is not as though the process for review is unknown, or it has not been around for years. The problems arise when the biotech firms take short cuts and the USDA does too, that they open themselves up for litigation.

If they would just do decent science and due diligence, then they would have the products on the market and many more in the pipeline. Unfortunately, the record shows sloppiness and unintended health and ecological consequences can be the result and once these biological organisms are in the environment they can go "bananas." They are engaging in subprime mortgages on our future ecosystem!
+30 # Street Level 2012-07-18 14:11
Section 733 truly is "Pandora's Box" and Monsanto knows this. What Monsanto also doesn't disclose is that some GM crops take more water, glyphosate destroys the soil by promoting uncontrollable fungi like fusarium, it locks up nutrients like manganese in the crop leading to malnourishment, and farmers are on their own when they get sued for contaminating a neighbor's crop. If a farmer sells his field, the GE plantings must be disclosed and the buyer has a built in obligation to Monsanto. How's that for "solving hunger". (Don Huber) and
We can't even export this stuff, NOBODY wants it.
+7 # Barbara K 2012-07-18 14:28
Street Level: Yes, they also don't disclose that livestock have died from their poisonous feeds. We don't stand much chance, do we?
+3 # KittatinyHawk 2012-07-18 20:22
There used to be reports of wild, game that was dying, mass amounts of birds but that has been squashed.
Here in Pa Corbett has stopped research and reports on any wildlife ... Fracking in his pocket We have poisoned water here in Pa He stopped water being brought in by Gas Co. Nice Guy and Republican not an OB guy
+3 # KittatinyHawk 2012-07-18 20:20
We did export this stuff to thrid world countries in the sixties and seventies but chemical corporations kept making chemicals and now they need somewhere to go with them We are eating poison from other Countries so what goes around does come around
0 # DiscernerOfTruth 2012-11-30 13:46
I find it quite curious that Don Huber's colleagues have tried to discredit him. He is someone who has no equal above him. It must be that the money the colleges/univer sities get to do further research (and perhaps hold patents to) that plays into this.
+7 # bobaka 2012-07-18 14:17
The fatter the population becomes, the less likely they are to be physically involved in growing their own food. The elites have to provide cheap food for the people penned up in the bizarre urban hellhole lifestyles.Peop le are helplessly codependent on the supermarket which is what the elites want as they charge a buck for what costs a dime.Centuries have passed with urban concentration camps dependent on elitist production of all means of existence support. Roundup kills and that accomplishes the elites policy of inducing disease covertly from all directions. Everybody dies of diseases induced by the corporations and their agriculture.
+4 # BeaDeeBunker 2012-07-18 15:09
This issue with the USDA combined with what has been recently revealed about FDA spying on staff whistle blowers, only proves that the FOX has succeeded in fattening up all the chickens, and then got the government to make it a law that says only the FOX can guard the chicken coop! Amazing...the greatest fiction writer could not have come up with such a perfect scenario.
Recently a delivery truck pulled up to office of the FOX that is guarding the chicken coop, and delivered a thousand cartoons of face napkins. It seems the FOX is planning a huge eating spree, and wants to maintain a clean and neat mouth and chin area while he indulges in his easily won, but unjust rewards.
+4 # carolsj 2012-07-18 16:51
They're in a hurry because they know if the truth is out they will be stopped. The plants survive being doused with poison, and then we eat them. Will WE survive the poison? The disaster coming is when the weeds and bugs become immune and the GM crops fail. By then it will be almost impossible to grow the normal plants also. No bees to pollinate, super bugs eating everything. Maybe we can eat the super weeds with a tasty dressing of Roundup. Monsanto and our politicians are willing to destroy the food chain for some quick profits. We are dependent on the Middle East for our oil. Soon we will be dependent on Europe for our food, and you can bet it won't be cheap.
+6 # Pancho 2012-07-18 19:04
If I'm not mistaken, some superbugs are already becoming immune to the pesticides being forced upon us through our food supply.
+3 # KittatinyHawk 2012-07-18 20:25
Birds dying
+5 # KittatinyHawk 2012-07-18 20:24
Everything has to go thru Liver, Kidney sooner or later we will die. Liver is least organ to be donated.
I just would like Monsanto, Republicans to sit down on TV with some of us present and watch them eat these seeds popped like corn, frack water to wash it down.
+9 # Kathymoi 2012-07-18 17:36
This rider is such a blatant display of elected representatives turning their backs on the voters and representing the bilion dollar corporation instead, at cost to the consumer, the environment, and ethical government, even representationa l government.
-5 # Vern Radul 2012-07-18 20:24
Now look, time is running short. The election is only a scant few months away now and this is getting serious.

If enough people don't smarten up and start clapping and cheering soon, or even sooner, a republican might win who will do all the same things that Obama has been doing for years.

No one wants to have have to spend 4 years pretending all over again to be opposed to most of what Obama has been doing since his inauguration while getting 4 years of the policies they've been cheering the past 3 years, even though cognitive dissonance could probably be treated with proper medication anyway.

Eating Monsanto's frankenfoods is good for the economy of Obama's supporters.

Having the environment die and the food supply poisoned is a small price to pay to re-elect Obama.

Slash snark.
0 # DiscernerOfTruth 2012-11-30 13:32
The real enigma to this whole subject is that this subject never came up in the presidential debates, and changes that should be made are unlikely; there are simply too many 'balls in the air' to attempt to take the present system down. The rules the FDA set up as to approving, say, Bt corn, was: provide research and proof that the Bt toxin produced in the plant won't pass on to animals or humans. This was not established through scientific testing procedures, and the ecosystem is reaping the effect of this illegally-obtai ned approval. Some of the ill effects are: animals consuming GMO grains have huge abortions/ferti lity problems;the grain takes up far less nutrients, hence we and animals suffer from malnutrition; the soil gets contaminated with it. The Bt toxin, produced by the plant, is eaten by both domesticated and wild animals, and is passed onto us when we eat them. It is in our gut, if we eat it; and for now, there is no known way to get rid of it.

The great collusion between the patent owners of aluminum-resist ant GMO seeds and their chemicals, and, the world's chem-trail system is so evident. All of this may have been planned before HAARP got built, military subs were communicated with, before battlefields were 'seen' so drones could take out 'enemies', or weather and cloud formations changed.
Somewhere in the world's anal-ness of wanting to be so weed-free (instead of say eating them), we have our present scenario.

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