One of the provisions in the Farm Bill passed by the House Agriculture Committee would limit the legal roadblocks which can currently be used to delay approval of genetically engineered crops. The so-called “biotech rider” has drawn opposition from a number of organizations who say it weakens safeguards and greatly reduces the public’s ability to challenge the approval of new biotech crops. The Center for Food Safety states: “Ceding broad and unprecedented powers to the industry, the rider poses a direct threat to the authority of the U.S. courts, jettisons the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s established oversight powers on key agriculture issues and puts the nation’s farmers and food supply at risk.”
Cathleen Enright, PhD, Executive Vice President, Food and Agriculture with the Biotechnology Industry Organization says the law in no way reduces the regulatory requirements a product must go through before gaining approval, it merely would eliminate the extensive, baseless procedural lawsuits which have been used to delay approvals. Enright says the measure would not limit or eliminate any legitimate lawsuit. Enright says up to 2002 it took an average 180 days to get a decision on a product, “Now we are looking at two to five years or even longer.” She says as a result, small innovative companies can’t afford to go through the lengthy process.
We did request an interview with someone with the Center for Food Safety but they replied: “Unfortunately we don’t have anything to report on at this time.”