Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Reply from Congressman Mike Honda re: Monsanto Rider

Dear :
Thank you for taking the time to express your thoughts about Section 733, known as the "Farmer Assurance Provision," of the Fiscal Year 2013 (FY2013Agriculture Appropriations bill. I appreciate hearing your concerns, and welcome the opportunity to respond to your comments.
Over the last decade, genetically engineered (GE) crop varieties in the United States have increased from 3.6 million acres to 165 million acres in 2010. GE varieties now dominate soybean, cotton, and corn production in the United States, and they continue to expand rapidly in other countries. The rapid expansion of GE crops has led to concerns about whether regulation and oversight of biotechnology are adequate, particularly as newer applications emerge that did not exist when the current regulatory regime was established.
Proponents of the "Farmer Assurance Provision" argue that its main purpose is to serve as an assurance for farmers growing genetically engineered crops which have completed the U.S. regulatory review process that their harvest will not be put at risk by subsequent legal disputesTo do so, this provision would limit the ability of non-GE farmers and others to defend themselves against potential contamination by GE strains. The provision would require the Secretary of Agriculture to grant, upon the request by a farmer, grower, farm operator, or producer, a temporary permit to continue to grow GE plants even if another authority such as a court has ordered a halt to such activities until the environmental impact of the crop growing activity can be determined.
Food safety is an issue which is dear to my heart, and during my time in Congress, I have supported measures to make sure that food is not only safe, but that we know exactly what we are consuming. I believe that consumers have a right to know if foods contain GE components, and I recently asked the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve labeling of GE foodsbelieve the "Farmer Assurance Provision" would violate the constitutional precedent of separation of powers by interfering with the process of judicial review, as well as overriding the Department of Agriculture's authority to evaluate the environmental, health, and safety aspects of GE crops. You can be sure that as the House continues its work on the Fiscal Year 2013 Agriculture Appropriations Bill, as well as a new Farm Bill, I will keep your strong views on this matter in mind.
Once again, thank you for taking the time to contact me about this important issue. Your comments help me to better represent the people of our Congressional District.

Michael M. Honda
Member of Congress

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