Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Gift to Monsanto

Congress’ big gift to Monsanto
By Tom Philpott
Mother Jones
July 2, 2012

Big Ag’s big bucks get results on GMO labeling

If you want your crops to bear fruit, you have to feed the soil. Few industries understand that old farming truism better than ag-biotech—the few companies that dominate the market for genetically modified seeds and other novel farming technologies. And they realize that the same wisdom applies to getting what you want in Washington, DC.

According to this 2010 analysis [1] from Food & Water Watch, the ag-biotech industry spent $547.5 million between 1999 and 2009. It employed more than 100 lobbying firms in 2010 alone, FWW reports, in addition to their own in-house lobbying teams.

The gusher continues. The most famous ag-biotech firm of all, Monsanto, spent $1.4 million on lobbying in the first three months of 2012, after shelling out $6.3 million total last year, “more than any other agribusiness firm except the tobacco company Altria,” reports [2] the money-in-politics tracker OpenSecrets.org. Industry trade groups like the Biotechnology Industry Organization [3]and Croplife America [4]have weighed in with $1.8 million and $524,000, respectively.

What fruits have been borne by such generous fertilizing of the legislative terrain? It’s impossible to tie the fate of any bit of legislation directly to an industry’s lobbying power, but here are two unambiguous legislative victories won on the Hill this month by Monsanto and its peers.

[Read More…]

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…]

Monday, June 11, 2012

Going backwards

What new 2,4-D-resistant crops mean - Going backwards
By Linda Greene
The Bloomington Alternative
June 10, 2012

On May 23, 2012, John Rowan, national president of Vietnam Veterans of America, sent a letter to President Barack Obama requesting his “immediate assistance in staying de-regulation of Dow AgroSciences much ballyhooed 2,4-D-resistant corn seed until an environmental impact study can be conducted and its subsequent results evaluated by scientists who are not affiliated with Dow AgroScience.”

Rowan is concerned about the use of the herbicide 2,4-D on 2,4-D-resistant–corn because it constituted half the ingredients in the defoliant Agent Orange used by the U.S. during the Vietnam War and is causing serious ailments in vets and Vietnamese civilians. Agent Orange was contaminated with dioxins, the most potent synthetic class of carcinogenic chemicals known, second only to radiation in potency as a carcinogen. Although most of the dioxins were from the 2,4,5-T half of Agent Orange, 2,4-D was also contaminated.

The deregulation, or approval for widespread planting, of 2,4-D-resistant corn and consequent increased use of the herbicide is relevant to Indiana, the fifth largest corn-producing state in the nation, according to Marti Crouch, a Bloomington biologist specializing in the interrelationships of agriculture and technology. She has recently focused on the environmental impacts of Roundup Ready crops (those resistant to Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup [glyphosate]) and the concomitant increased use of Roundup.

[Read More…]

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

USDA deregulates beets

USDA deregulates GMO sugar beets — again
By Mateusz Perkowski
Capital Press
June 06, 2012

The USDA has decide to again fully deregulate genetically engineered sugar beets that are resistant to glyphosate herbicides.

The agency has found that the crop doesn’t pose a plant pest risk and thus shouldn’t be subject to restrictions.

Once the USDA enters a final record of decision — most likely after a month — farmers will be able to grow the crop without current conditions, such as isolation distances from related crops and monitoring requirements.

It’s unclear how the agency’s decision to commercialize the crop will affect ongoing litigation over these partial deregulation measures, which biotech critics say are unlawful.

Oral arguments in that lawsuit are scheduled for June 22, but the full deregulation decision may raise the question of whether the case is moot.

The Center for Food Safety, which opposes the crop’s deregulation, is disappointed by the USDA’s finding that “Roundup Ready” sugar beets should be re-commercialized.

George Kimbrell, attorney for the group, said he disagrees with the agency’s claim that it lacks regulatory authority over biotech crops that are not considered plant pest risks.

“I think it’s a red herring,” said Kimbrell, adding that USDA has broad powers to regulate crops.

Transgenic sugar beets were originally deregulated by the agency in 2005 but that decision was overturned by a federal judge in California in 2009.

In 2010, the USDA announced partial deregulation measures that have since governed the crop’s cultivation.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

GE non-browning apple

Canada receives request for approval for GE non-browning apple
By Tom Karst
The Packer
May 16, 2012

Still facing market skepticism, Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc. is seeking Canadian approval for the genetically engineered ”Arctic’ non-browning apple.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is taking comments on a request for unconfined environmental release for commercial planting purposes in Canada.

The CFIA said it received the request for apple events GD743 and GS784, which have been genetically engineered to be non-browning.

In 2010, Okanagan Specialty Fruits submitted a risk assessment petition for non-browning apples to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

That represented the first petition for that the agency had ever received for a genetically engineered apple, and the request is still pending before the agency.

[Read More…]

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