Below is a call to action to Stop Monsanto’s Sneak Attack on Organic & Non-GMO Farmers!
Tell Congress to Strike Sec. 733 from Agriculture Appropriations Bill
A vote on an amendment offered by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) to strike Monsanto’s rider from the appropriations bill was expected this week, but will likely be delayed until after the July 4th recess (which lasts this whole week). Let’s use this time to spread the word and send tens of thousands of letters to Congress!
Reeling from federal court decisions that have found approvals of several genetically engineered (GE) crops to be unlawful, a dangerous rider has been inserted into the FY 2013 Agriculture Appropriations bill (Sec. 733).The rider would strip federal courts of their authority to halt the sale and planting of an illegal, potentially hazardous GE crop and compel USDA to allow continued planting of that same crop upon request.
Wrapped in a “farmer-friendly” package, the so-called “farmer assurance provision” represents a serious assault on the fundamental safeguards of our judicial system and would negatively impact farmers, the environment and public health across America.
In addition to being completely unnecessary, the rider represents an unprecedented attack on U.S. judicial review, which is an essential element of U.S. law and provides a critical check on government decisions that may negatively impact human health, the environment or livelihoods. Congress should not meddle with the fundamental principles of our Constitution – the separation of powers and the checks and balances among the three branches of government.
This provision must be stricken from the FY 2013 Agriculture Appropriations bill on the following grounds:
- Apparent unconstitutional violation of the separation of powers. Judicial review is an essential element of U.S. law, providing a critical and impartial check on government decisions that may negatively impact human health, the environment or livelihoods. Maintaining the clear-cut boundary of a Constitutionally-guaranteed separation of powers is essential to our government. This provision will blur that line.
- Judicial review is a gateway, not a roadblock. Congress should be fully supportive of our nation’s independent judiciary. The ability of courts to review, evaluate and judge an issue that impacts public and environmental health is a strength, not a weakness, of our system. The loss of this fundamental safeguard could leave public health, the environment and livelihoods at risk.
- Removing the legal brakes that prevent fraud and abuse. In recent years, federal courts have ruled that several USDA GE crop approvals violated the law and required further study of their health and environmental impact. These judgments indicated that continued planting would cause harm to the environment and/or farmers and ordered interim planting restrictions pending further USDA analysis and consideration This outlandish provision would prevent a federal court from putting in place court-ordered restrictions, even if the approval were fraudulent or involved bribery.
- Unnecessary and duplicative. Every court to decide these issues has carefully weighed the interests of all affected farmers, as is already required by law. No farmer has ever had his or her crops destroyed as a result. USDA already has working mechanisms in place to allow partial approvals, and the Department has used them, making this provision completely unnecessary.
- USDA shut out as well. The rider would not merely allow, it would compel the Secretary of Agriculture to immediately grant any requests for permits to allow continued planting and commercialization of an unlawfully approved GE crop. With this provision in place, USDA may not be able to prevent costly contamination episodes like Starlink or Liberty Link rice, which have already cost farmers hundreds of millions of dollars in losses. The rider would also make a mockery of USDA’s legally mandated review, transforming it into a ‘rubber stamp’ approval process.
- Back-door amendment of statute. This rider, quietly tacked onto an appropriations bill, is in effect a substantial amendment to USDA’s governing statute for GE crops, the Plant Protection Act. If Congress feels the law needs to be changed, it should be done in a transparent manner by holding hearings, soliciting expert testimony and including full opportunity for public debate.