Action Alert: Tell Congress to Dump the Monsanto Rider

Congress is back in session, and it has to address how to fund the government in the coming year. The dangerous “Monsanto” rider is still on the table for the 2013 Appropriations bill, and we need to stop it!

Though cloaked in “farmer-friendly” language, this “farmer assurance provision” is simply a biotech industry ploy to continue to plant genetically modified (GMO) crops even when a court of law has found they were approved illegally. The provision undermines USDA’s oversight of GMO crops and interferes with the U.S. judicial review process. It is also completely unnecessary and offers “assurance” only to biotech companies like Monsanto, not farmers.

We need legislators who are willing to stand up and say no to this dangerous rider! Representative Peter DeFazio (D- OR) has authored a “Dear Colleague” letter opposing the biotech rider and is urging his colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives to join him. Please tell your Representative to support the DeFazio Dear Colleague letter opposing the biotech rider!

In addition, Senator Inouye, as Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, is in a key position to stop this rider. We need everyone to ask their Senators to urge Senator Inouye to stand firm against the rider.

There is only a short period of time for Congress to resolve the Appropriations Bill before the end of the lame duck session. Please take action today!

TAKE ACTION

1) Contact your US. Representative, and urge him or her to sign on to the DeFazio letter opposing the biotech rider in the 2013 Appropriations bill. If you don’t know who represents you, you can find out online at www.house.gov or by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.

Message: My name is ___, and I am a constituent. I am calling to urge Representative ____ to strongly oppose the “farmer assurance provision,” section 733, currently included in the House Fiscal Year 2013 Agriculture Appropriations bill. Congress must protect the few safeguards we have in place for genetically engineered crops, not eliminate them to appease a handful of chemical companies. I urge my Representative to sign on to the letter by Representative DeFazio opposing the biotech rider.

2) Contact both of your U.S. Senators, and urge them to ask Senator Inouye to stand firm and not allow the biotech rider in the Senate version of the 2013 Appropriations bill. If you don’t know who represents you, you can find out online at www.senate.gov or by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.

Message: My name is ___, and I am a constituent. I am calling to ask that Senator ____ to strongly oppose the “farmer assurance provision”, section 733, currently included in the House Fiscal Year 2013 Agriculture Appropriations bill. I ask that my Senator urge Senate Appropriations Chairman Inouye to oppose this dangerous and non-germane rider. Congress must protect the few safeguards we have in place for genetically engineered crops, not eliminate them to appease a handful of chemical companies.

MORE INFORMATION

Though wrapped in a “farmer-friendly” package, the biotech rider (section 733) is simply an industry ploy to continue to plant GMO crops even when a court of law has found they were approved illegally.

The provision is intended to force USDA to grant temporary permits and deregulations of GMO crops even if a Federal court rules that USDA hadn’t adequately considered the environmental or economic risks to farmers. This would negate any meaningful judicial review of USDA’s decisions to allow commercialization of GMO crops.

If a GMO crop approval was shown to violate the law and require further analysis of its harmful impacts (as several courts have concluded in recent years, for example with GMO alfalfa and GMO sugar beets) this provision would override any court-mandated caution and allow continued planting and commercialization while further review takes place.

The judicial review process is an essential element of U.S. law and serves as a vital check on any federal agency decision that may negatively impact human health, the environment, or livelihoods. Yet this rider seeks an end-run around such judicial review by preemptively deciding that industry can set its own conditions to continue to sell biotech seeds, even if a court may find them to have been wrongfully approved.

Further, it forces USDA to approve permits for such continued planting immediately, putting industry completely in charge by creating loophole approvals tailored to counter any “inconvenient” court decisions for the industry. USDA’s duty is to protect the interests of all farmers and the environment, a duty that would be eliminated by this provision.

The provision is also completely unnecessary. No farmer has ever had his or her crops destroyed following such a court ruling. Every court to decide these issues has carefully weighed the interests of farmers, as is already required by law.

You can read the rider here: appropriations.house.gov/uploadedfiles/bills-112hr-fc-ap-fy13-agriculture.pdf (see page 86 of the pdf)

This rider effectively guts the few existing protections against the spread of dangerous GMO crops. Please help us stop it!