By Doug Gurian-Sherman
March 25 2013
A short addition to the legislation passed last week to continue the funding of the U.S. government contained a gift for the biotech industry that could hurt the very farmers that the transnational seed companies love to cozy up to. It could also hurt the environment.
The so-called biotech rider (S. 735), attached to the continuing resolution in the U.S. Senate, was designed to override successful lawsuits. It would overturn rulings by the courts that have protected citizens from U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) actions that subvert the legal obligations of the agency to protect farmers and the environment.
These federal court decisions have recognized that the industry-friendly USDA has often improperly interpreted its responsibilities as a regulator under federal law. For example, it has failed to adequately protect non-GE farmers, including organic growers, from contamination that can seriously hurt their sales.
Johnsongrass is considered to be one of the world’s worst weeds and is a close relative of sorghum, a major crop in the U.S. and elsewhere. Gene flow from engineered sorghum to johnsongrass in the future could, in some cases transfer genes that could make it an even worse weed. James Henson @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database
The courts have also recognized that the USDA has not adequately taken into account the predictable development of herbicide resistant weeds, which lead farmers back to tillage that causes soil erosion, have reduced profits in some cases, and probably will lead to a new generation of GE herbicide-resistant crops that depend on more and more harmful herbicides like 2,4-D. The infestation of tens of millions of acres of farmland by resistant weeds, and the dramatic increases in herbicide use that have accompanied them, is vindication of the courts’ decisions.
Etiquetas: Biotech Rider, Doug Gurian-Sherman, en, UCS