tagged w/ imports/exports
If Oregon allows GM sugar beets to be deregulated, we may not stand a chance against full federal deregulation of all GM crops.
(SALEM, Ore.) - A public hearing is being held in Corvallis, Oregon this Thursday, November 17th to determine if Genetically Modified sugar beets will be deregulated in Oregon.
Meanwhile, the public comment period maybe just a local distraction giving way to full federal deregulation without any representation of organic and conventional crop farmers.
Let us not forget that the U.S House of Representatives, Committee on Agriculture held a formal hearing on Genetically Modified (GM) Alfalfa on Jan 20, 2011.
The hearing corresponded with an open 30-day comment period, designed to provide relevant testimony with regard to deregulation of Genetically Modified Alfalfa.
The democratic process neglected to include a single organic or conventional farming representative. Throughout the two hour hearing various legislators publicly humiliated the Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsak for even suggesting any compromise through talks with the organic and conventional communities. They all but ordered him to stand down his conversations with anyone but pro-GM enthusiasts (1:43:16).
Representatives left no seed unturned in honor of their allegiance to biotech crops and complete penetration into all foreign and domestic markets. In fact, Minnesota's Representative Collin Peterson referred to organic producers and consumers as "our opponents"(12:29).
Vilsak, even with his ties to Monsanto, was attempting negotiation with "so called Option 3" containing a minimal stop gap as an alternative to absolute contamination of organic and conventional alfalfa. In essence, planting barriers would have been implemented to maintain protective measures for the integrity of all seed varieties. Legislators blatantly mocked him and even pulled rank, saying that the Secretary of Agriculture does not have the authority to do anything but fully deregulate the crop without further ado. (35:38, 1:25:50, 1:29:15, 2:18:47)
It can be noted that Vilsak testified no less than three times that we were in the midst of the 30 day comment period, and in his opinion, the talks among all sides were providing necessary elements worthy of analysis for all agricultural markets concerned. (29:00, 1:44:00, 1:51:54)
The theme of the hearing centered around the economic burden of GM farmers if full deregulation didn’t go forth immediately (1:44:00). It was insisted by every representative that their loyalties were to the biotech community and that full deregulation was unquestionable without consideration for any form of barrier to protect other crops from cross contamination.
In regard to preservation of non GM crops, Texas Representative Michael Conaway begs the question, "how much of this is a definitional issue"? He questions organic standards and even insists that he "suspects that Genetically Engineered seeds will become the new organic". He blatantly suggests that legislative steps be considered to modify the language and thus re-define organic standards so that Genetically Modified crops can freely contaminate without restriction. He insists that it is merely a marketing issue and not an issue of health and safety. Conaway asks if we are just "hung up on the phrase organic, meaning something we grew ourselves in the backyard with whatever?"(2:33:00).
Concern was expressed by a number of speakers that GM crops are being promoted throughout the world as being no different than conventional crops, and if word got out that we established restrictive planting barriers, then it might be assumed that the GM crops were somehow different. That could put a damper on GM producers and their marketing potential. (30:45, 1:58:17, 2:18:47)
It was apparent, by the end of one sided discussion, that full deregulation and contamination remains unquestionable from the perspective of our democratic leaders. In other words, it is most notably a flagrant case of Contamination without Representation.
If Oregon allows GM sugar beets to be deregulated, we may not stand a chance against full federal deregulation of all GM crops. Public comments are being heard on Thursday from 4 PM – 9 PM at LaSells Stewart Center Construction and Engineering Hall 875 Southwest 26th St., Corvallis, Oregon.
Please see the full length video of the U.S House of Representatives, Committee on Agriculture forum on GM Alfalfa, Jan 20 2011.
http://agriculture.house.gov/hearings/hearingDetails.aspx?NewsID=1269If Oregon allows GM sugar beets to be deregulated, we may not stand a chance against... more
Last week, we wrote about the likelihood that the $300 billion 2012 Farm Bill would take shape weeks before 2012 even begins, in the form of a dashed-off bill swept into the larger "super committee"-driven deficit-cutting process. As this week starts, that troubling prognosis remains.
In fact, last week, several congressional aides told agriculture trade publication Agweek that lawmakers planned to "work through the weekend to try to complete a Farm Bill proposal for the super committee in charge of deficit reduction by November 1." But so far, nothing decisive has been announced.
This might explain why the food and farming advocacy site Food Democracy Now sent out an email this morning with the subject line "24 hours to stop the Secret Farm Bill." The site asked subscribers to call a short list of senators and congressmen and tell them to say "‘No' to the Secret Farm Bill," because "rushing this vital piece of legislation behind closed doors is unfair and undemocratic."
Sustainable food advocates have been struggling to adjust to this new reality. As the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) described it last week:
No hearings, no amendments, no debate. Under this scenario, we may have very little idea about what is in the Farm Bill until after it has passed ... It's hard to overstate how messed up this is. We now have an environment where highly paid lobbyists thrive and citizen's voices, along with real reforms, evaporate.
Oxfam American chimed in with a list of reasons Occupy Wall Street supporters aren't likely to appreciate this rushed Farm Bill:
1. It was negotiated to satisfy high powered industry lobbies that pay lots of money to influence the Ag Committee.
2. It's a giveaway to big industrial farms at the expense of family farmers.
3. It promotes unhealthy, unsustainable farming practices at the expense of sustainable farming.
4. It targets conservation and nutrition programs for cuts disproportionately.
The bill's details remain unclear, but we know it will involve $23 billion in cuts. One Republican senator from Iowa went on record last week saying he believed the committee would cut $15 billion from farm subsidies and $4 billion each from conservation and nutrition. Another House conservative told the press that the cuts would "reduce farm subsidies about 20 percent and cut conservation spending about 10 percent. Nutrition programs, including food stamps, would be cut about 1 percent."
Advocates for sustainable and local food movements have rushed out two bills of their own, to be included in the larger Farm Bill process. The Local and Regional Food Bill would bolster support for family farms, and "expand new farming opportunities and rural jobs, and invest in the local agriculture economy." The Beginning Farmer Bill would help new farmers get access to capital (the lack of which is a well-known roadblock for beginning farmers) using microloans, matched savings accounts, and similar strategies.
Whether these additions have a chance of passing, or are simply symbolic, remains to be seen. Meanwhile, California food, farming, conservation, and environmental groups have been lobbying hard to have some say in the proposed Farm Bill. But the state -- whose agricultural industry is said to produce more than 400 different crops, employ 800,000 people and generate annual revenues of $37.5 billion -- will most likely continue to be left out of the discussion. One reason is that California farms don't produce the bulk of those commodity crops -- like corn, soy, and wheat -- that farm bills tend to concentrate on.
More at the linkLast week, we wrote about the likelihood that the $300 billion 2012 Farm Bill would... more