Monday, 1 April 2013

Biotech rider is "very, very bad government"

Senator Jon Tester and Mother Jones journalist Tom Philpott summarize the problems with the new Senate rider that protects Monsanto technologies from particular consequences of review in the courts, on the TakeAway on National Public Radio today.

Senator Tester says in the audio below, "Congress screwed up....  This isn't the way our government is supposed to work."
As Tom Philpott, food and agriculture correspondent for Mother Jones, explains, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has to approve genetically-modified crops before companies could sell the seeds to farmers. In 2008 and 2009, the Center for Food Safety, along with other environmental groups, sued the USDA in federal court, claiming that the USDA approved two genetically engineered crops without a detailed environmental impact statement.

The Center for Food Safety won the suit in both cases, but the rider on this year's continuing resolution would bar environmental groups from suing the USDA for these purposes.
As with the proposed genetically modified (GM) salmon (covered earlier on this blog), my view is that GM supporters and opponents alike should speak up for adequate democratic review of these policies.  For GMO supporters in particular, it is foolish to try to slip these policies through Congress as riders to unrelated essential legislation.  A key part of the argument in favor of GM technology is supporters' claim that our government is capable of giving these technologies a scientifically credible, independent, and skeptical review.  It is unwise for Monsanto to protect its GM technologies from review by proving how easily our federal government can be manipulated.  This is the same government on which Monsanto and all other GM supporters depend to reassure the consuming public about the safety of GM foods.

Update (same day). Agricultural economist Darren Hudson says pretty much the same thing I do about this rider. I came across his post on a link from Jayson Lusk's blog.

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