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Monsanto Protection Act Bill Slaps Consumers in the Face

Will the new law give GMO companies carte blanche to monkey with your food? Will the new law give GMO companies carte blanche to monkey with your food?

 

This spring, the agriculture sector has seen its fair share of action, with farmers and concerned citizens demanding justice after the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act was given President Obama's stamp of approval this March.

How could a customary piece of America's ongoing economic recovery strategy cause such a hubbub? The devil is in the details.

Deep within the bill, otherwise known as H.R. 933, is the Farmer Assurance Provision (Section 735), a paragraph directed to ensure a period of undisrupted short-term funding to the agricultural industry over the next six months.

Despite criticism from legislators that the provision was submitted secretively and without proper disclosure, drafts of the act have been active for nearly a year.

The section legally obliges the Secretary of Agriculture to "immediately grant temporary permit(s) or temporary deregulation" of non-regulated status crops to any farmer, grower, farm operator or producer, even if that status has been “invalidated or vacated.”

It also secures a farmer's right to "movement, introduction, continued cultivation, commercialization and other specifically enumerated activities" of seeds and produce, whether or not they are validated by the USDA, notwithstanding any other provision of law. The scary part? Non-regulated status is a legal distinction designated for products of biotechnology.

Although it may seem confusing as to why such a section has been haphazardly thrown into an Appropriations Act, the intent is clear. Biotech companies want security and a legal guarantee that their products will be both sold and received without litigation or regulatory action in what are still very fragile economic times.

In its defense, the bill has been touted as blanket protection for farmers wary of dabbling in GM crops that could later be destroyed by the USDA if research indicates they pose a significant health or environmental risk.

Despite criticism from legislators that the provision was submitted secretively and without proper disclosure, drafts of the act have been active for nearly a year.

Agriculture juggernauts such as the American Soybean Association have urged the passing of the provision since June 2012, when the law was first drafted as the FY2012 Agricultural Appropriations Bill.

"The provision addresses a costly vulnerability in the regulatory process for biotechnology that is discouraging innovation in agriculture and unnecessarily putting farmers at financial risk," the association lobbied. "Opponents of agricultural biotechnology have repeatedly filed suits against USDA on procedural grounds in order to disrupt the regulatory process...These lawsuits have also created tremendous resource constraints for the USDA and have resulted in significant delays in approval of new, innovative products that will help growers."

With the bill comes good and bad news.

The good: H.R. 933 expires September 30, 2013. While courts can't do much to stop the temporary issuing of invalidated and vacated permits, the bill does not exempt biotech companies from litigation if their product jeopardizes public health.

The bad: Legal precedent in favor of GMO and GE products has now been set, not to mention that after the fact suing of a biotech company means someone's health has already been compromised.

An international day of protest has been scheduled in 36 countries for May 25, 2013.

© Copyright RosebudMag.com, 2013



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Last modified on Friday, 24 May 2013 18:27

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