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Center for Food Safety Denounces Dangerous "Biotech" Earmark in Senate-passed Spending Bill

March 20, 2013
Center for Food Safety

Center calls rider “corporate welfare” for Monsanto and other biotech companies

The Center for Food Safety (CFS) condemns the inclusion of a dangerous corporate earmark, the “biotech rider,” in the Senate-crafted Continuing Resolution (CR), which passed today on the House floor.  The rider undermines the federal courts’ ability to safeguard farmers and the environment from 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.
While there are no definite fingerprints for whoever is responsible for the rider, the earmark was allowed under the direction of Senator Barbara Mikulski, the Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee (D-MD).  Congress has held no hearings on this controversial biotech rider and many Democrats in the Committee were unaware of its presence in the CR. Additionally, Mikulski and the Senate Appropriations Committee failed to bring this rider in front of the Agriculture or Judiciary Committees, disregarding their expertise and jurisdiction and in blatant violation of common practice.
“In this hidden backroom deal, Senator Mikulski turned her back on consumer, environmental, and farmer protection in favor of corporate welfare for biotech companies such as Monsanto,” said Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of the Center for Food Safety.  “This abuse of power is not the kind of leadership the public has come to expect from Senator Mikulski or the Democrat Majority in the Senate.”

Once the bill takes effect on March 28th, the rider will only be in effect for the life of the 6 month CR.  CFS intends to launch a major campaign to make sure this deception is not included in the next round of appropriations bills.  CFS and its allies are confident that the food movement will ensure that this abusive rider is absent from any future legislation.
CFS applauds Senator Tester and his co-sponsors Senators Boxer, Gillibrand, Leahy, Begich and Blumenthal for their efforts to pass an amendment stripping the biotech rider and other corporate “pork” earmarks from the CR.  Despite receiving calls and emails from tens of thousands of citizens opposing the industry-driven rider and supporting the amendment to strike it, the amendment was ultimately not successful.  CFS calls on all Senators to join with Senator Tester and his co-sponsors to ensure that this egregious form of corporate welfare is not included in any future Appropriation bills.

Over 100 of the nation’s top organizations and businesses have opposed Sec. 735, 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.

Exact language can be found on page 80 of the Senate CR, Sec. 735.

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