USDA: A BROTHEL FOR AGRIBUSINESS
Monday, September 24, 2007
by Jim Hightower
Our federal regulatory agencies – designed to protect consumers, workers, and the environment from corporate profiteers – have instead become brothels on wheels, going to any length to accommodate profiteers.
One of the rolling accommodators is the U.S. agriculture department, which has been especially servile to Monsanto and other biotech giants involved in messing with the very DNA of our foods and feed crops. Monsanto makes a weedkiller called Roundup, but in addition to killing weeds, this toxic stuff also tends to kill the very crops that the weeds are crowding out.
Take alfalfa. Monsanto's white-smock lab techs have genetically altered alfalfa seeds to produce plants that – guess what? – absorb heavy doses of Roundup without dying. This means more sales of Monsanto's herbicide, while also creating a market for its "Roundup Ready" alfalfa seeds. Our ag department gave this Frankenseed its blessing two years ago without even doing an environmental impact assessment! The agency simply assumed that the enviro and economic impacts were not significant, essentially taking the word of the profiteer, Monsanto.
A watchdog group called the Center for Food Safety, however, was not so easy. It sued USDA for abrogating its regulatory responsibility – and a federal judge has now agreed. He said that USDA was "cavalier" in its quick OK, that it had not adequately considered the fact that the altered seed would contaminate organic alfalfa fields, and that the increased use of the herbicide would create superweeds. In a telling comment, the judge wrote: "One would expect that some federal agency is considering whether there is some risk to [genetically] engineering all of America's crops..."
Yeah... one would expect. But our government has become an accommodator, not a regulator. To learn more, call the Center for Food Safety: 202-547-9359.
"Agriculture Department Violated Law, Judge Rules," New York Times, February 14, 2007.
"Environmental regulation: U.S. courts say transgenic crops need tighter scrutiny," www.checkbiotech.org
, February 27, 2007.
"Federal Court finds USDA Erred in Approving Genetically Engineered Alfalfa Without Full Environmental Review," Center for Food Safety Press Release, February 14, 2007.
"Federal court halts genetically engineered alfalfa, field trials," www.naturalfoodmerchandiser.com
, February 20, 2007.
"Ruling Mat Block Biotech Alfalfa Planting," Pew initiative of Food and Biotechnology, February 20, 2007.