I am sure I have read somewhere that you shouldn’t write publicly when your emotions are out of whack. Oops. I caught up on some of the news this week about the bill (H.R. 933) that passed Congress and it makes me sad. I don’t like being sad. Just to be frank, I am not super connected to the political world. I get 95% of my political news from John Stewart – I frankly don’t have enough time in my life to wade through most of the garbage that comes out of politicians mouths – I can’t blame them, the media scares them into groupthink. John Stewart hits the tip of the iceberg and if I find something interesting I will read some articles.
So when I heard about the provision that was added to H.R. 933 I got really angry. If you haven’t read the text it is below. From section 735:
“In the event that a determination of non-regulated status made pursuant to section 411 of the Plant Protection Act is or has been invalidated or vacated, the Secretary of Agriculture shall, notwithstanding any other provision of law, upon request by a farmer, grower, farm operator, or producer, immediately grant temporary permit(s) or temporary deregulation in part, subject to necessary and appropriate conditions consistent with section 411(a) or 412(c) of the Plant Protection Act, which interim conditions shall authorize the movement, introduction, continued cultivation, commercialization and other specifically enumerated activities and requirements, including measures designed to mitigate or minimize potential adverse environmental effects, if any, relevant to the Secretary’s evaluation of the petition for non-regulated status, while ensuring that growers or other users are able to move, plant, cultivate, introduce into commerce and carry out other authorized activities in a timely manner: Provided, That all such conditions shall be applicable only for the interim period necessary for the Secretary to complete any required analyses or consultations related to the petition for non-regulated status: Provided further, That nothing in this section shall be construed as limiting the Secretary’s authority under section 411, 412 and 414 of the Plant Protection Act.”
Anyways the gist is, if the government finds out that an approval for a genetically modified crop was acquired illegally, the USDA is required to ignore a court’s decision finding the agency approved a crop illegally until it can investigate more thoroughly”. Isn’t this backwards thinking? Shouldn’t it be, “lets see if it is healthy before distributing it” instead of “let’s distribute it until we find it is not healthy”. The US has routinely made big blunders in terms of public health – compare the number of substances banned the US by the FDA in cosmetic products vs in Europe.
Too many of the critics and supporters of the bill are worrying about the wrong parts of the issue. Details that the item was added anonymously and the provision was in there for more than a year. WHO CARES. The important part is why did it get into the bill? For critics, focusing on this insignificant pieces of information gives the supporters rebuttal power that detracts from the actual issues.
I read an article by Jon Entine on Forbes. His logic could be cut down by anyone with just a little bit of reasoning. For example,
To date, no court has ever held that a biotechnology crop presents a risk to health, safety or the environment
Since he doesn’t state it, I assume he means that we shouldn’t be worried that any crop ever will harm humans. Or that they have never done anything wrong, thus they could never possibly in the future. Both would be ridiculous claims. Take this scenario: What if a biotechnology company influenced the court’s decision by using money or power…just like Monsanto did by increasing the amount of money it has donated to Roy Blunt, senator from Missouri and the man who helped insert the provision. I am not saying that is true, but rather it is not that large of a stretch.
Too many people get stuck in the weeds and can’t see the overall big picture. Why would we subvert the judicial system’s power for big business? The more rulings I hear congress/supreme court, the more I am saddened. This reminds me of the “Corporations are people” debate. How could anyone not logically conclude that if you do not cap campaign donations by corporations, then politicians will be controlled by people with the most money (e.g. corporations).
Many people in the US believe capitalism is the perfect system. They are wrong. It is the best we have so far. One major downfall is that money is power and it rules all. Money has more influence than government (hence why senators take money and vote “on behalf” of companies).