Stand-off looms over U.S. plans to cut GMO crop oversight

Efforts to write benefits for biotech seed companies into U.S. legislation, including the new Farm Bill, are sparking a backlash from groups that say the multiple measures would severely limit U.S. oversight of genetically modified crops.
From online petitions to face-to-face lobbying on Capitol Hill, an array of consumer and environmental organizations and individuals are ringing alarm bells over moves they say will eradicate badly needed safety checks on crops genetically modified to withstand herbicides, pests and pesticides.
The measures could speed the path to market for big biotech companies like Monsanto and Dow Chemical that make billions of dollars from genetically altered corn, soybeans, cotton and other crops.
“They are trying to change the rules,” said George Kimbrell, senior attorney at the Center for Food Safety, which has lawsuits pending against government regulators for failing to follow the law in approving certain biotech crops. “It is to the detriment of good governance, farmers and to the environment.”
As early as next week the U.S. House of Representatives could take up one of the more controversial measures – a provision included in the 2013 Agriculture Appropriations bill known as Section 733 that would allow biotech crops to be planted even if courts rule they were approved illegally.
Opponents call it the “Monsanto Rider” because Monsanto’s genetically altered alfalfa and sugar beets have been subject to court challenges for illegal regulatory approvals.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/17/us-usa-agriculture-biotech-idUSBRE86G0XF20120717

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