By Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012

"The Farmers Assurance Provision" is the title of a rider, Section 733, inserted into the House of Representatives 2013 Agriculture Appropriations Bill. Somehow, as a farmer, I don't feel the least bit assured.

The only assurance it provides is that Monsanto and the rest of the agriculture biotech industry will have carte blanche to force the government to allow the planting of their biotech seeds.

In addition, the House Agriculture Committee's 2012 farm bill draft includes three riders -- Sections 1011, 10013 and 10014. These amendments would essentially destroy any oversight of new Genetically Engineered (GE) crops by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

If these riders had been in place during the review of GE alfalfa, Monsanto could have requested -- no they could have compelled -- the Secretary of Agriculture to allow continued planting of GE alfalfa even though a federal court had ruled commercialization was illegal pending completion of an environmental impact study.

Essentially, the riders would prevent the federal courts from restricting, in any way, the planting of a GE crop, regardless of environmental, health or economic concerns. USDA's mandated review process would be, like court-ordered restrictions, meaningless. A request to USDA to allow planting of a GE crop awaiting approval would have to be granted.

Wow, who's next to get in on a deal like this, the drug companies?

Not only will the riders eviscerate the power of USDA and the authority of the courts, but it will also permanently dismiss any input from other agencies, such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Fish and Wildlife Service or Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Does Congress really believe it has the right to remove the court's power of Congressional oversight? Doesn't that violate the separation of powers guaranteed in the Constitution?

The trade group behind the riders, Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), insists that the riders do not, in any way, reduce regulatory requirements for new GE crops. What? They only eliminate any oversight from the judicial branch -- that's sort of a big thing.

The approval process for new GE crops is not without its perceived delays. As limited as it may be, review takes time but getting new GE crops approved is a cakewalk.

StarLink corn and Liberty Link rice slipped through the approval process only to have major contamination and health issues after commercialization. Once a crop is in the USDA pipeline, approval is a near certainty.

BIO insists the riders are necessary to avoid delays in approval. Of course, delays cost them MONEY, which is obviously all they are concerned about. If they were concerned about environmental impacts, or food safety, wouldn't they request input from EPA and FDA?

So, the "Farmer Assurance " thing -- using farmers as their poster children -- is quite disingenuous. The biotech industry cares about farmers because farmers are their meal ticket.

Farmers are not stupid; we've learned that the promises of biotech were short lived at best and to various degrees, simply false. The new GE crops are basically the old GE crops, just redesigned to resist different, more toxic herbicides while having become less effective at killing insect pests.

No, the Farmer Assurance Provision and the Farm Bill riders -- are not about farmers, nor are they about speeding needed crops to the waiting public. They're about getting fast rubber stamp approval for new, profitable GE crops.

These riders are an effort to end run Congress, the Courts and the Constitution.

Corporate collusion with government is not new, but this takes it to a new level. By allowing corporations to subvert the Constitution, Congress is saying that corporate influence and profits are more important than the best interests of the people.

Corporations are not people, my friends, despite the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision.

Jim Goodman is a dairy farmer from Wonewoc, WI, and member of National Family Farm Coalition through the Family Farm Defenders.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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