A Friend In Need: Poor, Beleaguered Biotech Industry Gets Congressional Protection From Bullying Consumer Advocates And Demented Public Interest Groups
Jul 12th, 2012 | By NathanF | Category: Agri-Giants and GMOs, Food, Top Headline | Print This Article
These are not the easiest of times for the pesticide companies, the food manufacturers, and the seed vendors who are responsible for the biotechnology revolution in agriculture. Sure, corporations like Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta, and Bayer are making profits off of biotech that run into the tens of billions, but that does not compensate for the fact that these beneficent business operations are not getting the appreciation they deserve for introducing genetically modified crops and foods to consumers around the world.
Not only are they being unfairly accused of peddling dangerous products by irresponsible scientific authorities and other assorted hacks who obviously hate the free enterprise system, but the biotech corporations are also being forced to deal with kook organizations that insist foods containing genetically engineered ingredients should be labeled as such, so the public will have the right to not to buy those foods if they so choose. Oh, the temerity! And perhaps even worse, the companies selling GMO products and the farmers purchasing their seeds have on a couple of occasions been forced by the courts to put a moratorium on the growth and distribution of certain GM crops because of questions that have been raised about their safety by various nervous nellies and other nattering nabobs of negativity. Can you imagine, judges actually having the authority to stop the biotech industry from selling its untested miracle products just because there is a possibility that they might cause an environmental catastrophe or may have the ability to damage human health? Hard to believe, I know.
Thankfully, however, while the American public has not been giving the biotech industry the unconditional love they deserve, the industry has many loyal friends in Congress that have been doing everything they can to make up for this oversight. In just the past few weeks, the House and Senate have each made moves designed to protect GMO companies from the busybodies and ingrates who have been trying to make things difficult for these poor beleaguered multinational conglomerates.
What the Public Doesn’t Know Couldn’t Possibly Hurt Them – Could It?
Before passing the latest farm bill, the United States Senate had to beat back an attempt by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to attach an anti-GMO amendment to this legislation. This initiative would have forced the federal government and its regulatory agencies to recognize the right of state governments to compel food manufacturers selling GM foods in their states to put labels on those items so citizens would know exactly what they are buying. Up until now, it has been left to the FDA to handle the regulation of GMOs, and their support for the biotech industry on this question has been unequivocal – since there have been scores of scientific studies carried out (all paid for by the GMO companies themselves, so we know they are legitimate) conclusively proving that foods containing genetically engineered ingredients are safe for human consumption and could not possibly harm the environment, the FDA has wisely concluded that the public should not be told if the foods they are buying contain GM ingredients or not. And since the public has no right to know this information, it therefore makes no sense to sanction the passage of state laws mandating labeling.
Some have mistakenly argued that since the Tenth Amendment in the Bill of Rights states that “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people,” and since the Constitution does not specifically mention the regulation of genetically modified crops and food products anywhere (the Founding Fathers weren’t time travelers, after all), it should be left up to the states to decide for themselves whether or not GM foods should be labeled if sold within their borders. This line of reasoning is mistaken, however, because the Tenth Amendment makes it clear that powers not explicitly reserved to the federal government should belong to either the states or to the people, and as everyone knows, multinational corporations like Monsanto and Bayer are actually persons just like you and me—the Supreme Court has said so. And since these corporate people have made it clear they don’t want GM foods labeled, this cancels out the states’ right to decide the issue, which should automatically throw everything back to the federal government and the FDA where it belongs.
Fortunately, three-quarters of the U.S. Senate saw the wisdom in this line of reasoning, and they stood up for their friends in biotech and sent Sen. Sanders’ amendment down to a crushing 73-26 defeat. It had to be particularly heartwarming for the GMO companies to see more than half of the Democrats in the Senate vote in their favor, which shows that despite all of their rhetoric about sticking up for the average Joe against the big, bad corporations, deep down most of them realized who their true friends really were. So three cheers to everyone in the Senate regardless of party affiliation who had the courage to stand up and say no to the 93 percent of Americans who support GMO labeling according to the latest poll.
Now, thanks to the defeat of this anti-GMO amendment, if the November ballot initiative in California in which that state’s citizens will vote “yes” or “no” on labeling does actually pass, the biotech firms will be in good position to fight against this law in court. The outcome of any lawsuit on this question may be in some doubt, but at least the GMO industry will have the chance to defend themselves against the thuggish tyranny of that nine-tenths of the American population that believes its right to know what is in the food it is eating should somehow trump the GMO industry’s right not to tell them a single thing about that if they don’t feel like it.
Order In The Court!… “I’ll Have A GM Hamburger With GM Fries And A rBGH Milk Shake To Go, Please”
The House of Representatives also felt a responsibility to help out the poor besieged biotech industry, so they decided to do it by passing legislation that will protect GMO sellers and producers from the terrible repression of judicial review. Under the current system, consumer groups or other interested parties can file an injunction in court against the release of certain GMO seeds onto the market, and they can stop farmers from distributing any crops they grow from those seeds if some kind of evidence is found to suggest that the GMO products in question may cause problems in the environment or may represent a threat to human health. In recent years activists and non-GMO using farmers have successfully persuaded the courts to intervene and halt the cultivation and sale of genetically engineered sugar beets and alfalfa, pending the outcome of environmental impact studies that would investigate the possibility of these crops cross-pollinating with non-GMO crops growing in neighboring fields. But the House Appropriations Committee is looking to put a stop to this kind of nonsense, and in order to do so, they have now added a section to the latest agriculture appropriations bill called the Farmers Assurance Provision.
If accepted by the House as a whole – which is probably a mere formality – this provision would strip the courts of their right to intervene once crops are in the field and farmers are depending on being able to get them to market. It is important to note that while this new addition to the appropriations bill has the strong support of the biotech industry, it is not their profit margins they are worried about in this case. Rather, they are only standing up for the interests of innocent farmers who have planted GM crops and who need to know their access to world markets will be assured – hence the name, Farmers Assurance Provision. The fact that biotech companies might make a little more money if the courts are prevented from issuing injunctions is not relevant in this instance, and should not be taken into account when trying to determine the motivations behind this latest piece of legislation.
Clearly, judicial harassment of honest farmers who of their own free will have chosen to plant genetically modified seeds is an outrageous infringement on their civil rights. Non-GMO farmers who are worried about cross-pollination can solve this problem easily by selling their farms and buying new land somewhere else. And as for the possibility of new information being discovered that might connect already-planted GMO crops with health problems in human beings, there have been an enormous number of biotech industry-sponsored studies that have proven all GMO products are safe and that this could never happen, so obviously this problem is a figment of people’s overactive imaginations. And if by some chance a GMO product that really did present a health threat somehow got out into the marketplace, the government could always expand Obamacare to cover the doctor’s costs of anyone who got sick following their consumption of foods made from that crop. The bottom line is that farmers who have invested their time, energy, and money in producing GMO crops should not be asked to make sacrifices just because some hysterical environmentalist, whining neighboring farmer, kvetching consumer advocate, or namby-pamby nutritional expert suddenly decides to raise a stink about some potential problem that probably isn’t real, and likely wouldn’t be that bad anyway even if it was.
Our Founding Fathers Would Be Proud
In the most recent polls, Congressional approval ratings have been hovering somewhere between 10 to 20 percent. This is a testament to the fact that sometimes our elected officials must do the right thing regardless of how the public feels about it, and this is clearly the case when it comes to their ongoing determination to protect the biotech industry against the evil conspiracy being perpetrated against it by organic farmers, consumer advocates, European food scientists, anti-corporate activists, 93 percent of the American public, and the rest of the motley assortment of ne’er-do-wells and chronic troublemakers who refuse to acknowledge all the good things that genetic manipulation of the food supply is bringing to the world. In protecting their friends at Monsanto, DuPont, Bayer, and Syngenta from the anti-science irrationality and the envy that is interfering with these corporations’ public-spirited attempts to achieve total domination of the planet’s food supply, Congress is choosing what is right over what is popular, and for this they deserve a round of applause and a hardy chorus of “hip hip hooray!” from all of us. And despite what the nattering nabobs might say, pay no attention to the hundreds of millions of dollars that biotech companies will spend on lobbying and campaign contributions over the next few years – this should be seen as a token of appreciation only, and not as an attempt to buy continued unconditional support and slavish obeisance.
Meanwhile, we can only hope that someday the rest of America will wake up and realize how important the biotech companies are to the economy and to our collective well-being. But until that day arrives, it will be left up to our elected representatives to carry the ball for us, which they will continue to do no matter how much contempt and derision they bring upon themselves as a result of their tireless and unsparing efforts to promote and protect the interests of the biotech industry.
This, folks, is the stuff of which heroes are made.
©2013 Off The Grid News