Mikulski Statement Positive First Step; Senate Must Steer Clear from Biotech Rider in Future Legislation
Today, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski released a statement asserting her opposition to the controversial “biotech rider” her committee allowed in the Continuing Resolution (CR). The bill was signed into law on Wednesday by President Obama. The Center for Food Safety (CFS) appreciates the Senator’s public opposition to the rider and is confident that the Senator and her colleagues will ensure the rider is not included in future legislation.
“Senator Mikulski’s announcement is a welcome and essential voice in opposition to this ill-conceived corporate welfare rider,” said Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director for the Center for Food Safety. “As Chair of the Committee, Senator Mikulski will ultimately be responsible for the next Senate Appropriations bills; CFS is now optimistic that she will now take up the mantle of leadership on this issue.”
CFS is eager to work with Senator Mikulski on upcoming food and environmental issues, particularly given her strong legislative record on food safety and her dedicated support for consumers, family farmers, and the environment. CFS believes that Mikulski’s leadership will ensure that this rider does not see the light of day again.
"The American public has relied on Senate Democrats to be a backstop against dangerous policy riders like this," said Colin O'Neil, Director of Government Affairs for the Center for Food Safety. "We call on Senator Mikulski to continue speaking out against this rider and call on her to work with the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee to ensure that it is excluded from any future appropriations bills.”
The biotech rider – being referred to as the “Monsanto rider” and the “Monsanto Protection Act”– undermines the federal courts’ ability to safeguard farmers and the environment from unlawfully approved, potentially hazardous genetically engineered (GE) crops. Moreover, the rider represents an unprecedented attack on U.S. judicial review of agency actions and is a major violation of the separation of powers, an essential element of U.S. constitutional governance and law.
Going into effect March 28th, the rider will only be law for the 6-month life of the bill. The Senate and House are expected to take up FY2014 appropriations bills in the coming months and CFS will work to ensure this rider is not extended. Senators Tester, Boxer, Gillibrand, Leahy, Begich and Blumenthal have all spoken out against the rider, as well as other corporate “pork” earmarks, and offered an amendment to strike the rider from the Senate CR. Despite receiving calls and emails from hundreds of thousands of citizens opposing the industry-driven rider and supporting the amendment to strike it, the amendment was ultimately never voted on.
The Center for Food Safety will work hard in the coming months to keep the pressure on Congress to get the language removed later this year, when the government must pass its next round of funding legislation. This goal is supported by over 100 other groups and businesses including the National Farmers Union, American Civil Liberties Union, Sierra Club, Environmental Working Group, Stonyfield Farm, Nature’s Path, Consumers Union, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Public Citizen and dozens more.
About Center for Food Safety
Center for Food Safety is a national, non-profit, membership organization founded in 1997 to protect human health and the environment by curbing the use of harmful food production technologies and by promoting organic and other forms of sustainable agriculture. CFS maintains offices in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, California and Portland, Oregon. More information can be found at www.centerforfoodsafety.org.