Understanding the “biotech rider”

On Tuesday President Obama signed into law HR 933 – the Continuing Resolution that would fund the government through the end of the fiscal year. 

Some groups have rallied against one specific section of the CR; Section 735, referred to as the “biotech rider”. 

Dave Murphy of Food Democracy Now, an Iowa based pro-GMO labeling group claims the provision will enable biotech lobbyists to ensure new GMO crops can evade any serious scientific or regulatory review.  “The passed act means that Monsanto or a farmer could call on the Secretary of Agriculture to re-regulate those crops,” he says.  “Under this provision he would be forced to allow those crops to be planted.”

AUDIO: Dave Murphy, Food Democracy Now (5:08mp3)

In conference call Wednesday, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says that is not how he interprets the language.  “I don’t see it other than a process of Congress trying to give farmers some confidence that when they get an ‘okay’ from the agriculture department that they can plant a crop and then some judge comes along with an injunction saying you can’t harvest that crop because USDA screwed up and issues an injunction and then the farmers are forced to destroy their crop,” he says. 

Grassley says the amendment has less to do with protecting large biotech companies – and more to do with giving farmers certainty that they will be able to harvest the crop they planted if its regulatory status comes into question. 

AUDIO: Chuck Grassley (3:50mp3)

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    Read: ‘Scientist Under Attack-Monsanto Tumbles Down’


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    Opponents of genetically modified food are outraged over a provision they have dubbed the “Monsanto Protection Act,” Section 735 of HR 933 which was signed by President Barack Obama after being added to an essential spending bill without congressional hearings.

    The rider strips the power from federal courts to halt the sales and planting of genetically modified foods even if health concerns arise, according to Food Democracy Now, a food-safety advocacy organization.

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