July 09, 2012
Congressional Friends of GMOs Sneak Rider into Appropriations Bill
by Robert Kropp
The rider will require that a permit for planting genetically engineered crops be issued even if a
federal court orders that the planting be halted.
SocialFunds.com reported last week on the findings of two genetic engineers
associated with Earth Open Source
relating to genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in foods. Citing "a large and growing body of
scientific and other authoritative evidence," their report challenged many industry claims
regarding product safety and other critical issues.
Also, Food & Water Watch reported late last year that over
the course of a decade the food and agriculture biotechnology industry spent nearly $600 million in
political contributions and lobbying "to ease the regulatory oversight of genetically modified
No legislator is better positioned to help his friends in agribusiness than
Georgia congressman Jack Kingston, who is chairman of the House agricultural sub-committee. The Center
for Responsive Politics reports that agribusiness has contributed almost $1.5 million to
Kingston's election campaigns since 1997; in the current cycle alone, the total already surpasses
The rider, the authors
state, "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
Last month, a coalition led by the Center for Food Safety (CFS) submitted a letter to the House Appropriations Committee,
warning that "the rider poses a direct threat to the authority of US courts, jettisons the US
Department of Agriculture's (USDA) established oversight powers on key agriculture issues and puts
the nation's farmers and food supply at risk."
"Reeling from federal court decisions that
have found approvals of several genetically engineered (GE) crops to be unlawful, the biotech
industry has quietly slipped a policy rider into the FY 2013 Agriculture Appropriations bill now
being debated in the House Appropriations Committee," the letter states. "Far from safeguarding
farmers, the only parties whose interests are 'assured' by this rider are those of GE crop
The extent to which most sustainable investors hold Monsanto stock in their
portfolios is unclear, but one such investor submitted a shareowner resolution with the company
this year. Harrington Investments
(HII) called on Monsanto to report on "material financial risks or operational impacts"
associated with its products, especially GMOs.
The resolution gained nearly six percent
support from Monsanto shareowners, which means that it can be re-filed next year.