Take Action: Farm Bill’s “Farmer Assurance Provision” Threatens Organic Farming (UPDATE: “Monsanto Protection Act” Passes)
By Scott Stobbe
This month, Congress will vote to pass the FY 2013 Agriculture Appropriations Bill. Section 733 of the bill, ironically dubbed the “Farmers Assurance Provision,” has sparked widespread outcry and concern from the organic farming community for its ability to render the public and government virtually powerless in any attempts to stop GMO crop cultivation.
The “Farmer Assurance Provision”–more aptly described by Food Democracy Now as the “Monsanto Protection Act”– would strip the authority of federal courts to halt the sale and planting of illegal, potentially hazardous genetically engineered crops while the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) assesses potential hazards.
The bill gives biotech companies free rein to plant, harvest and sell GMO crops before they are even deemed safe by the USDA. Worse, if any GMO crops are found harmful by a court of law, the USDA is forced to allow continued planting of the proven dangerous crops. The provision goes even further and bans the court from suggesting that the USDA take action against any agricultural policies that may be harmful to the environment or farmers.
“This provision has nothing to do with farmers, and everything to do with the biotech industry’s sales,” said Dena Hoff, vice president of the National Family Farm Coalition. “Far from safeguarding farmers, it evades the law of the land and endangers their way of life and their livelihoods. The only parties whose interests would be assured are the corporations developing biotech crops.”
Dozens of organizations including the ACLU, Sierra Club, Center For Food Safety, Earthjustice, National Organic Coalition, Organic Consumers Association, Organic Valley Family Farms, and many more have come together to fight for the removal of the “Farmers Assurance Provision” from the bill. Together they have signed a letter to Committee chair Harold Rogers (R-KY) and the Committee’s ranking member Norm Dicks (D-WA) requesting the removal of this provision which you can read here: US House of Representatives Should Strike the Deceptive “Farmer Assurance Provision”
Why is this issue of such concern to us?
The Gerson Therapy’s effectiveness relies on the ability to use organic non-GMO non-chemically treated produce. It is vital that the rights of organic farmers is protected and their crops are in turn protected from cross contamination and “superweeds” created by GMOs, chemical pesticides and monocropping. The harder it becomes to obtain quality organic produce, the harder it will be to make the Gerson Therapy available to those seeking an alternative treatment to their ailments.
Monsanto Protection Act Passed, Signed into Law
Unfortunately, the Monsanto Protection Act has passed, and was signed into law on Tuesday. It was quietly tucked into the Agricultural Appropriations Bill. Salon reported:
“The provision was passed through Congress without appropriate review by the Agricultural or Judiciary Committees. The biotech rider instead was introduced anonymously as the larger bill progressed…
According to reports, many members of Congress were apparently unaware that the “Monsanto Protection Act” even existed within the spending bill, HR 933; they voted in order to avert a government shutdown.”
This law is a big setback for health and organic farming advocates. But there’s no use wallowing in despair. If you’re angry, take action! Spread the word, educate and inform others around you. Sign petitions, protest, and make your voice heard!
In the wake of HR 933, Food Democracy Now is circulating a new petition, demanding mandatory GMO labeling. Over 250,000 people have signed the petition so far.
Marketing & IT Coordinator
The Gerson Institute