Toxic Biotech Provisions of the Farm Bill

US_Capitol_Building_FlagIf you thought that the regulatory framework for regulating genetically engineered crops in the United States was weak before, the new proposed changes in Sections 10011-10014 of the  House Agriculture Committee’s discussion draft of the 2012 Farm Bill, will practically eviscerate the oversight function of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Earlier this month, consumer advocate group, Center for Food Safety (CFS), wrote a letter to the Chair and Ranking Member of the House Committee on Agriculture, urging Congress to strike provisions which will create “serious risks to farmers, the environment and public health  by forcing the  rushed commercialization of GE crops and eliminating meaningful review of their impact.” CFS identified these provisions as follows:

  • Outlaw any review of GE crops’ impacts under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA), or any other environmental law, or by any agency other than USDA.  For example, harm to protected species could occur without any input from expert wildlife agencies.
  • Prohibit other agencies from offering expert input in the review process and instead limit review to solely USDA under the Plant Protection Act.  However, meaningful review would likely be eliminated by this rider, as USDA’s analysis of potential harmful impacts is barred from informing any approval decision. The agency is also barred from using its broader statutory authority granted in the PPA of 2000 and instead is limited to its old 1957 Federal Plant Pest Act authority.
  • Force the backdoor approval of GE crops, even if USDA has not reviewed and approved them, through unreasonably short deadlines, which, if not met by the agency, would default to immediate approval and commercialization.  The provisions would also bar any agency funds from being spent on impacts analysis beyond the riders’ narrow and time-forced approval.
  • Codify a dangerous national policy of allowing transgenic contamination in crops and foods, risking loss of GE-sensitive domestic and export markets and loss of biodiversity.
  • Limit EPA’s oversight of biotech crops engineered to produce or contain a pesticide by forcing the agency to choose the least burdensome choice for industry, regardless of environmental consequences.

Given the amount of attention paid to Congress by members of agricultural biotech industry, these measures, which no doubt respond to industry complaints about the process that the industry helped to establish in the first instance, surprise few people by now. But someone has to send a memo to the industry PR machine telling it to stop trying to convince the public that GM foods are strictly regulated by government. That argument was not true before and it certainly would not be true if these measures are passed.

Outlaw any review of GE crops’ impacts under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA),
the Endangered Species Act (ESA), or any other environmental law, or by any agency other than
USDA.  For example, harm to protected species could occur without any input from our expert
wildlife agencies.
o Prohibit other agencies from offering expert input in the review process and instead limit review to
solely USDA under the PPA.  However, meaningful review would likely be eliminated by this rider,
as USDA’s analysis of potential harmful impacts is barred from  informing any approval decision.
The agency is also barred from using its broader statutory authority granted in the PPA of 2000 and
instead is limited to its old 1957 Federal Plant Pest Act authority.
o Force the backdoor approval of GE crops, even if USDA has not reviewed and approved them,
through unreasonably short deadlines, which, if not met by the agency, would default to immediate
approval and commercialization.  The provisions would also bar any agency funds from being spent
on impacts analysis beyond the riders’ narrow and time-forced approval.
o Codify a dangerous national policy of allowing transgenic contamination in crops and foods, risking
loss of GE-sensitive domestic and export markets and loss of biodiversity.
o Limit EPA’s oversight of biotech crops engineered to produce or contain a pesticide by forcing the
agency to choose the least burdensome choice for industry, regardless of environmental
consequences.
  • Sixty8miles

    Stop buying their food. 

  • Sixty8miles

    Stop buying it, Stop eating it and STOP support the companies who use them in their inGREEDients. 

  • http://twitter.com/dpea400 Donald Peacock

    While bulk production numbers show questionable results for GMO’s…nutrients, why we eat, are way down