- Four in all so far plus another authorizing funding under
a 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act. One is HR 875: "Food Safety Modernization
Act of 2009." Introduced in the House on February 4 by Rep. Rosa DeLauro,
(D, CT) whose husband has ties to Monsanto, with 39 co-sponsors, it's been
referred to the Agriculture and Energy and Commerce Committees for consideration
- -- discussion,
- -- possible hearings,
- -- "mark-up" to make changes and add amendments,
- -- then a vote on further action - to either table or
send to the full chamber for a vote, the regular procedure for House and
- The bill's text is deceptively innocuous. Its header
- "To establish the Food Safety Administration within
the Department of Health and Human Services to protect the public health
by preventing food-borne illnesses, ensuring the safety of food, improving
research on contaminants leading to food-borne illness and improving security
of food from intentional contamination, and for other purposes."
- Related bills include:
- S 425: "Food Safety and Tracking Improving Act."
Introduced on February 12 and referred to the Committee on Agriculture,
Nutrition, and Forestry. It purports: "To amend the Federal Food,
Drug, and Cosmetic Act to provide for the establishment of a traceability
system for food, to amend the Federal Meat Inspection Act, the Poultry
Inspections Act, the Egg Products Inspection Act. and the Federal Food,
Drug, and Cosmetic Act to provide for improved public health and food safety
through enhanced enforcement, and for other purposes."
- HR 814: "Trace Act of 2009." Introduced on
February 3 and referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee. It's:
"To amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, the Federal Meat
Inspection Act, the Poultry Inspection Act, and the Egg Products Inspection
Act to improve the safety of food, meat, and poultry products through enhanced
traceability, and for other purposes."
- HR 759: "Food and Drug Administration Globalization
Act of 2009." Introduced on January 28 and referred to the House Energy
and Commerce Committee. It's: "To amend the Federal Food, Drug, and
Cosmetic Act to improved the safety of food, drugs, devices, and cosmetics
in the global market, and for other purposes."
- If its critics are right, HR 875 (and the others) are
what Linn Cohen-Cole calls "Monsanto's dream bill" to proliferate
the world with GMO contamination and control its entire food supply.
- In 2007, F. William Engdahl wrote an important book on
the topic called "Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic
Manipulation." He explained how Washington and four agribusiness giants
plan world domination by patenting all life forms to control food production
globally - everything, crops and animals.
- In 2003, Jeffrey Smith's "Seeds of Deception"
explained the dangers of untested and unregulated GM foods exposing those
who eat them to potential health risks. Reliable studies show that rats
fed GM potatoes had smaller livers, hearts, testicles, brains, damaged
immune systems, and showed structural changes in their white blood cells
making them more susceptible to infection and disease than other rats fed
non-GM potatoes. They also had thymus and spleen damage, enlarged tissues,
including the pancreas and intestines, liver atrophy, and other serious
- Humans may be harmed the same way because GMOs saturate
our diet. Over 80% of all processed foods contain them as well as rice,
corn, soybeans, soy products, vegetable oils, soft drinks, salad dressings,
vegetables, fruits, dairy products, meat, and other animal products plus
an array of hidden additives and ingredients in products like tomato sauce,
ice cream and peanut butter.
- Because labeling in America is prohibited, consumers
don't know what they're eating or the risks from foods they believe safe.
It makes everyone part of a mass human experiment, the results of which
are unknown. Health problems may take years to show up. They'll be no way
to trace the cause, and they may be serious, irreversible, and potentially
- Wheat so far is GM-free, and according to an April 1
Reuters report, Monsanto formally withdrew "submissions for its genetically
modified wheat from all regulatory agencies except the US Food and Drug
Administration, a company spokeswoman said. The withdrawal is the last
step in Monsanto's (earlier) announcement that it would" delay but
not shelve plans to introduce the world's first GM wheat.
- Monsanto sought approval in America, Canada, Australia,
New Zealand, Russia, South Africa and Colombia. It's now delayed, not halted.
The company wants GM control over wheat and all other foods, but its official
pronouncements deny it.
- GMOs on the G20 Agenda
- According to Mark Henderson, science editor of the UK-based
The Times, GMOs may have been discussed by G20 leaders, specifically a
new genetically modified "super maize (with) the potential to not
only ensure an unending era of cheap food but to make the world's food
supply far more nutritious, while providing low cost energy, reducing environmental
degradation, and promoting sustainable agriculture."
- It's so ambitious, it's been dubbed "a multi F-ing
super food" because of its claimed potential. Take that with a grain
of salt, but according to Monsanto's CEO, Hugh Grant, in a press release:
"While not in anyway a silver bullet, this is a remarkable breakthrough
in terms of putting plentiful ultra-nutritious food on the world's table
while eliminating environmental overload and petroleum dependence...."
- The project's chief, professor Pingo Detritus, added:
"This breakthrough is of such monumental importance, that it's vital
that the G20 leaders now unite behind (it) and start to remove all regulatory
barriers." Critics need to back off as well.
- The Washington-based Biotechnology Industry Organization
said: "We don't need regulation of a technology that can feed, fuel
and heal the world. The G20 leaders need to recognize that GM....is the
solution" to a pressing world need. Company profits perhaps, not global
hunger and malnutrition.
- Past claims about nutrition were overblown, and as stressed
above, GMOs are hazardous to human health. To organic and other independent
farming as well to be explained below.
- Monsanto Answers Its Critics
- "Monsanto According to Monsanto" is a company
blog site. Responding to critics on March 20, it headlined, "HR 875:
Monsanto's Dream Bill - Or Just a Hallucination?" It dismisses the
notion that it's behind the bill that will "give incredible power
to Monsanto by criminalizing seed banking, requiring 24 hour GPS tracking
of animals, stripping away of property rights, and forcing industrialized
farming on America."
- Not so it says or that "Monsanto is behind the bill.
(Further), nowhere is there any mention of seed banks, loss of property
rights, or GPS tracking of animals. The bill seems to be nothing more egregious
than a well-intentioned effort to improve food safety laws and processes."
- The bill's presumed intentions will be discussed below,
but one thing is clear. Businesses, not politicians, write and/or control
virtually all legislation affecting them to assure their interests are
served. Monsanto is an influential Ag giant, directly involved in all food-related
laws, the company's denials notwithstanding. It's so powerful, it has virtual
veto power over anything related to its operations and laws affecting them.
- Yet it dismissively claims that the bill stems from "public
concerns with relatively recent incidents with peanut butter, ground beef,
(and) spinach, etc." False. The way to deal with these and related
problems is simply enforce existing laws, not enact new ones. They're not
because food giants object at a time they matter, not public health and
safety that's of no concern to lawmakers.
- Case in point: the USDA is woefully understaffed, under-budgeted,
and only perfunctorily carries out inspections. A recent OMB Watch report
highlights the problem. Headlined, "Federal Meat Inspectors Spread
Thin as Recalls Rise," it explains that USDA's Food Safety and Inspection
Service (FSIS) is charged with ensuring safe meat, poultry and eggs, but
its budget and staff haven't kept pace with its mandate.
- In FY 1981, it had about 190 workers per billion pounds
of meat and poultry inspected. By FY 2007, it was fewer than 88 or less
than half as many. Yet under federal law, FSIS must inspect all meat, poultry,
and egg products intended for commercial use. Its web site states: "Slaughter
facilities cannot operate if FSIS inspection personnel are not present
(and) Only Federally inspected establishments can produce products that
are destined to enter commerce."
- Reality, however, belies the mandate as processors and
manufacturers easily circumvent procedures, and according to inspectors
interviewed, understaffing and lax policies contribute to the problem.
An unsafe food supply results. Government policy is to blame, and current
legislation is for other purposes, not a way to fix things. HR 875 and
companion bills are for agribusiness, not improved food safety.
- Some Likely Truths about HR 875
- Several recent articles and the Pennsylvania Association
for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) offered their analyses. They believe
this and companion bills are vehicles to let agribusiness control the entire
US food supply, destroy independent local farming, and end the production
of healthy organic food. They may be right.
- Linn Cohen-Cole calls HR 875 "monstrous on level
after level - the power it would give to Monsanto (and other Ag giants),
the criminalization of seed banking, the prison terms and confiscatory
fines for farmers, the 24 hour GPS tracking of animals, the easement on
their property to allow for warrantless government entry, the stripping
away of their property rights, the imposition (of) "industrial"
standards, (and) planned elimination of (independent) farmers through all
(the above) means."
- It's no secret that Ag giants want all foods to be GMOs
so they have total control. It's an agenda going back decades that Engdahl
explained in his book. The science came out of US research labs in the
1970s when no one noticed or paid attention. It became apparent when the
Reagan administration decided to make America dominant in a friendly unregulated
environment, unmindful of safety and public health concerns, that's persisted
ever since under Republican and Democrat administrations.
- Monsanto is the dominant producer, a company with a long
record of fraud, cover-up, bribery, deceit, and disdain for the public
interest, yet it has enormous clout in Washington. In the 1980s, and especially
under GHW Bush, it got unregulated free reign for its operations. A Bush
Executive Order assured it. It ruled GMO plants and food to be "substantially
equivalent" to ordinary ones of the same varieties, such as corn,
wheat or rice. "Substantial equivalence" became the standard
for the GMO revolution by sweeping away all regulatory restraints in spite
of early concerns about safety that were confirmed overwhelmingly later
- PASA says don't be fooled by the bill's deceptive language
that hides its true intentions. Code words like "traceability, source
verification, and best farming practices with proven scientific results"
will force farmers to tag every animal (the requirement for industrial
farms is one per 800,000) and use drugs, pesticides and GM seeds.
- Already an Ohio state agricultural department swat team
raided an organic food coop. The same thing happened to Pennsylvania Mennonite
farmers and Wisconsin Amish ones. Other independents have been terrorized
by home break-ins, burglaries, and treetop helicopter over-flights scaring
animals to death. Conventional seed farmers like North Dakota's Rodney
Nelson have been sued by Monsanto for infringing on its patent rights because
wind currents landed GM seeds on his land. In Poland, pro-agribusiness
laws eliminated 60% of small farmers. Ones in the UK led to 60 suicides
and in India to over 180,000.
- From 1996 - 2004, worldwide GMO plantings expanded to
167 million acres, a 40-fold increase on 25% of global arable land. Over
two-thirds of US farmland grows GMOs, more than 106 million acres. Argentina
has 34 million acres, and production is expanding in Brazil, China, Canada,
South Africa, Indonesia, Spain, Eastern Europe, and wherever else Ag giants
have clout. They want it all, everywhere, and have complicit government
allies to help them, here and abroad.
- In Iraq, Paul Bremer's Order 81 covers patents, their
duration, and stated: "Farmers shall be prohibited from re-using seeds
of protected varieties or any (designated) variety." It gave Ag giants
absolute control over farmers' seed usage for 20 years. They're now GMO,
owned by the transnationals, and Iraqi farmers had to sign an agreement
to pay a "technology fee" as well as an annual license fee. Plant
Variety Protection (PVP) made seed saving and reuse illegal, and even "similar"
seed plantings can result in severe fines and imprisonment. Agribusiness
wants the same rights everywhere, including in America. If they get it,
the future of organic and independent farming will be threatened.
- PASA says HR 875 doesn't regulate, prohibit or penalize
private gardens or farmers markets directly. It focuses solely on ensuring
supermarket food safety. But it regulates seeds, harvesting, transporting,
seed storage facilities, and seed cleaning equipment under "food safety"
provisions to prevent contamination - from agricultural water and manure,
not pesticides, fertilizers, or unsafe GM seeds.
- Seed cleaning equipment is crucial as it's how organic
seed is saved. It's used after plants "go to seed" to separate
them from plant material so farmers can harvest and store them for future
plantings. HR 875 doesn't mention seeds but PASA believes its intent is
to criminalize their banking through code language and bill provisions.
Already, some areas of the country ban seed cleaning. Monsanto is likely
involved, and the scheme is to claim the equipment produces contamination.
- To prevent it, Ag giants want provisions that require
expensive storage facilities, per line of seed. Organic farmers can't afford
them, and this has nothing to do with food safety. But HR 875 claims it
- PASA says FDA and USDA targeted organic and other independent
farmers for years, at least since the early 1980s when high interest rates
drove many out of business. Today, pro-industry laws have the same effect
because Ag giants like Monsanto demand them. If they succeed, biodiversity
and organic farming are at risk along with public health and safety to
a greater degree than already given the amount of tainted and dangerous
foods allowed, not addressed in HR 875.
- While bill language doesn't prohibit organic or independent
farming, that's the likely aim. Its provisions are Ag business-friendly,
but destructive to small competitors by establishing heavy fines, imprisonment,
onerous rules, and letting regulators interpret them as they wish.
- Bill language also doesn't mandate a national animal
ID system (NAIS) but does it by claiming it's in current law. It's so deceptive
that Congress and consumer and food safety groups support it. But some
are industry funded so look the other way when they should know better.
- HR 875 and its companion bills are under consideration
in committees, not yet voted into law. Activists feel now is the time to
stop them before it's too late. Agribusiness wants total control over every
step in the production, processing, distribution, storage, and marketing
of foods to consumers.
- Using the ruse of food safety and security, they aim
to eliminate competition to have it all and replace wholesome foods with
unsafe GMOs. Congress is willing to go along. And why not. Representatives
like DeLauro get large Ag business contributions. In return, they assure
bills like HR 875 are passed. It's for concerned people to stop them.
- Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Center
of Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at
- Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com