Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Dangerous Farm Bill provision

Farm groups and public interest advocates join forces to oust dangerous ‘Biotech Provision’ from agriculture spending bill
The True Food Network
June 19, 2012

Hidden rider poses unprecedented constitutional assault, blocks USDA authority and denies GE crop safeguards

The Center for Food Safety (CFS) and a coalition of farm, food safety, environmental and consumer advocacy groups today formally submitted a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations voicing strong and immediate opposition to the so-called “farmer assurance provision” (Section 733) that was quietly inserted in the FY 2013 Agriculture Appropriations bill. Ceding broad and unprecedented powers to industry, the rider poses a direct threat to the authority of U.S. courts, jettisons the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) established oversight powers on key agriculture issues and puts the nation’s farmers and food supply at risk.

Flying under the radar as committee debate starts today, the “farmer assurance provision” is engineered to strip federal courts of the authority to halt the sale and planting of illegal, potentially hazardous genetically engineered (GE) crops while the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) assesses potential hazards. It also would inexplicably force USDA to allow continued planting of a GE crop even if a court of law identifies previously unrecognized risks. In addition, Section 733 targets vital judiciary oversight over USDA approvals by barring courts from compelling USDA to take action against agriculture policies that may harm farmers and the environment.

The coalition letter identifies the rider as a deliberately designed attempt to exchange long-established policies of good governance and lawful, impartial public review for the guarantee of control and profitability by a handful of biotech companies.

[Read More…]

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

House biotech proposal

US House biotech proposal would bypass courts-critic
June 05, 2012

WASHINGTON - A provision in a U.S. House bill would allow farmers to grow genetically modified crops while court battles are under way to decide if the plants are safe, said a biotech skeptic on Tuesday, calling the idea an unprecedented muzzle on federal judges.

The one-paragraph provision, buried in a funding bill for the Agriculture Department, obliges USDA to approve cultivation of a biotech crop while USDA completes “any required analyses or consultations” to decide if the crop is safe to plant.

“We can’t find a single legislative precedent to this,” said Andrew Kimbrell, of the Center for Food Safety, which frequently sues the government over its approval of biotech crops.

Kimbrell said the provision would prevent judges from issuing injunctions against cultivation while courts decide if a crop poses a risk.

[Read More…]

Friday, January 6, 2012

Alfalfa challenge rejected

Judge rejects challenge to biotech alfalfa
By Mateusz Perkowski
Capital Press
January 05, 2012

A federal judge has rejected allegations by biotech critics that USDA violated environmental laws by fully deregulating transgenic alfalfa.

U.S. District Judge Samuel Conti has refused to overturn the agency’s approval of the crop, which was genetically engineered to withstand glyphosate herbicides.

The biotech trait was developed by the Monsanto Co. and allows farmers to spray glyphosate directly over alfalfa, leaving the crop undamaged while killing weeds.

In his Dec. 5 ruling, Conti repeatedly said that arguments against the crop’s commercialization were unpersuasive and lacked merit.

The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, or APHIS, took a “hard look” at transgenic alfalfa’s potential effects, as required under federal environmental law, he said.

“None of the purported deficiencies raised by plaintiffs in this area, considered independently or holistically, provide sufficient grounds to set aside APHIS’s deregulation determination,” said Conti.

The Center for Food Safety, which opposed the crop’s deregulation, vowed to challenge the ruling in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

[Read More…]

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