November 29, 2012 by esarsea
A so-called “Monsanto rider,” quietly slipped into the multi-billion dollar FY 2013 Agricultural Appropriations bill, would require – not just allow, but require – the Secretary of Agriculture to grant a temporary permit for the planting or cultivation of a genetically engineered crop, even if a federal court has ordered the planting be halted until an Environmental Impact Statement is completed. All the farmer or the biotech producer has to do is ask, and the questionable crops could be released into the environment where they could potentially contaminate conventional or organic crops and, ultimately, the nation’s food supply…
Monsanto wants Congress to pass a law that would allow new genetically engineered crops to be planted even when courts rule that the US Department of Agriculture has approved them illegally. Federal courts have recognized the importance of “a farmer’s choice to grow non-genetically engineered crops, or a consumer’s choice to eat non-genetically engineered food”. Monsanto’s law would make that ruling meaningless.
Monsanto got their proposed law attached as a rider (Section 733) to the original House 2013 Agriculture Appropriations bill (H.R. 5973) by House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Kingston (R-GA). The bill with the rider passed out of the full House Appropriations Committee but never made it to the floor for a vote. On the Senate side, Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) does not support Monsanto’s rider and it was not included in the Senate’s Agriculture Appropriations bill. Congress left its work on the 2013 Agriculture Appropriations bill unfinished when it passed a 6-month extension of its budget in September and left town to campaign.
Now that Congress has returned, House Appropriations Chair Hal Rogers (R-KY) and Senate Appropriations Chair Dan Inouye (D-HI) have told their committees to prepare bills in hopes Congress will pass a full 2013 appropriations package during its lame duck session. An Omnibus Appopriations bill is being drafted now behind closed doors. This process won’t allow the public to see what’s in the bill until it’s ready for a vote. When the bill does hit the floor, amendments won’t be allowed — all the more reason to put pressure on Congress now to reject Monsanto’s rider.