Thierry Vrain is an organic farmer in Comox, BC. Here are his thoughts on the US farm bill
In the midst of the worst drought to hit american agriculture, it is business as usual in the US. The chemical giants Monsanto and Dow are quickly pushing their climate-ready crops to market (genetically engineered drought-resistance – although I hear they don’t work) via the Farm and Agriculture Appropriations Bills. The addition of several new biotech-friendly provisions to both bills works against small organic family farms and instead pave the way for widespread, unregulated genetically modified organism (GMO) contamination throughout the food supply. In the Agriculture Appropriations Bill, dubbed the “Monsanto Rider,” the Secretary of Agriculture is required to grant a temporary permit for the planting or cultivation of a GM crop, even if a federal court has ordered the planting be halted until an Environmental Impact Statement is completed. Additionally, any review of genetically engineered crops’ impacts under the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, or any other environmental law, or by any other agency other than the U.S Department of Agriculture would be outlawed—and the USDA must allow continued planting of that same crop upon request, even if they find that the crop poses previously unrecognized risks. Never mind the legalese and technical stuff. What this means is that while we were busy tickling the chemical giants, they have become the law of the land. Their genetically engineered and untested crops cannot be stopped through the courts and the governments of North America are obviously impotent to protect their citizens. It seems like the tobacco companies of the 60’s – who knew very well the dangers of their product – have morphed into chemical giants that cannot be stopped. But this time it’s the whole food supply that is at stake. In France – where food is revered, and in other European countries, they cut them down – zero tolerance.