Genetic Modification Wins: Rogue USDA Hands It All to Monsanto
Get ready for Monsanto's poisonous GM plants to be released without any regulation. The USDA is abdicating its role in controlling many of these plants.
by Heidi Stevenson
10 July 2011
Just as the truths of genetically engineered crops have started to leak out to the general public, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has pulled off a carefully-designed plot to give the entire ballgame to Monsanto. They have handed Monsanto the ability to sell their Roundup Ready grass seed, and have done it in a manner that will allow them to sell nearly every other GM product they devise with absolutely no limitations.
This has been accomplished by a clever and clandestine plan, one that initially appeared to support serious restrictions on genetically modified plants—but, as demonstrated by a sneaky late-Friday declaration, was actually designed to give Monsanto virtually everything.
Late last Friday—when news tends to take a holiday—the USDA quietly issued a press release stating that they will not regulate Monsanto's Roundup Ready Scotts Kentucky Bluegrass.(1) By not regulating it, they are allowing it to be sold without any regulation of any sort.
Monsanto will be able to sell its glyphosate-resistant grass seeds at will. You can expect to see corporate entities, like golf courses, plant those seeds and then madly spray soil-sterilizing glyphosate everywhere.
Then, as their GM seeds start to cross-breed with yours, you can expect Monsanto to demand that you pay them for infringing on their patents. Just as farmers, whose crops have been adulterated by Monsanto's seed pollen, are forced to pay Monsanto for growing those adulterated crops, there is no reason to believe that homeowners should expect to be exempt from Monsanto's rapaciousness.
USDA Decides Not to Regulate
What is both remarkable and frightening is that the USDA did not approve Monsanto's grass. Instead, their division, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), stated:
APHIS has confirmed that organisms used in generating Scotts' variety of GE Kentucky bluegrass are not considered to be plant pests, and Scotts did not use a plant pest to genetically engineer the Kentucky bluegrass. Moreover, the glyphosate tolerance is caused by a single gene insertion, which does not create a new species of Kentucky bluegrass. In addition, APHIS has no reason to believe that the GE Kentucky bluegrass itself is a plant pest. Accordingly, the Scotts GE bluegrass variety is not a regulated article under APHIS' biotechnology regulations... [Emphases mine.]
In a nutshell, the USDA says:
How We Got to This Point
Doug Gurian-Sherman is a senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists' Food and Environment Program. In a recent interview with Mother Jones magazine's Tom Philpott(1), he said that back in the '50s, the Plant Pest Act gave the USDA authority to restrict the introduction of organisms that might harm plants. According to Gurion-Sherman:
The Plant Pest Act was always just a regulatory hook to give the USDA authority to regulate engineered crops. Everyone—the industry, industry watchdogs, the USDA—always knew it was a fiction.
The genetic engineering industry accepted it, because according to Gurion-Sherman, they knew it was little more than:
...a fig leaf. They could say that their crops are regulated and have been deemed 'safe' by the USDA.
They also knew that, once the fiction of a GM plant being a direct pest was stripped, they would be left virtually unregulated.
But another regulation was tossed into the works in 2000. The Plant Protection Act extended the Plant Pest Act to include a noxious weed status, meaning that any plant that threatens to go wild and become a dangerous weed could be controlled by the USDA. This, though, just slowed the deregulation down a bit.
The Scotts corporation recently sent a letter to the Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack stating:
Because Kentucky bluegrass itself is not a plant pest, no plant pest components will be involved in the transformation, and the native plant genomes that will be used are fully classified, there is no scientifically valid basis for concluding that transgenic Kentucky bluegrass is or will become a plant pest within the meaning of the Plant Protection Act.(3)
As Gurion-Sherman told Mother Jones:
If the companies don't use plant pests [in development of GMOs], then the USDA ostensibly doesn't have a legal hook to regulate the crops.
On the first of July, the USDA sent a letter to Scotts. They capitulated completely to the Scotts letter's claim:
Because no plant pests, unclassified organisms, or organisms whose classification is unknown were used to genetically engineer this variety of GE Kentucky bluegrass, APHIS has no reason to believe it is a plant pest and therefore does not consider the Kentucky bluegrass described in the letter dated September 13, 2010 to be regulated un 7 CFR part 340 and is not subject to the plant pest provisions of the PPA [Plant Pest Act].(4)
USDA, Rogue Agency
The USDA could easily have declared genetically modified Kentucky bluegrass to be a noxious weed. The Center for Food Safety did, in fact, request that they do so. It would have been a perfectly logical step to take. Grasses of all sorts—and Kentucky bluegrass is no exception—have light and easily dispersed pollen. Thus, the likelihood of polluting existing strains is very high—in fact, it's virtually certain. Like most other grasses, Kentucky bluegrass grows and spreads rapidly. There is already an example of a genetically engineered grass becoming a noxious weed: Roundup Ready bentgrass is already a scourge in Oregon.
And the USDA admits it!
In a document released on Friday, the same day that they refused to regulate GM Kentucky bluegrass, the USDA stated:
The analysis concludes that Kentucky bluegrass species P. pratensis (including GE and non-GE) can be considered for regulation as a Federally listed noxious weed.(5)
Their analysis even goes on to document that non-GM Kentucky bluegrass has already proven to be a noxious weed.
A court had ordered the USDA to complete its environmental impact study on GM beets, but the USDA ignored the order and went ahead with their approval. Now, after thumbing its nose at the courts, the USDA has given Monsanto free rein to poison the soil and people with its GM seeds.
This is a statement included in the USDA's document explaining why they are not going to regulate GM Kentucky bluegrass as a noxious weed! They used the sleight-of-hand declaration that the GM version is "essentially the same" as the non-GM version.
In other words, their logic reads like this:
Only a rogue agency would presume to use logic that runs like that! It's obvious that the USDA set out to loose genetically-engineered crops on the world.
So, you can get ready for even more toxic poisons to be used against the coming plague of glyphosate-resistant plants that have gone wild. You can also anticipate that Monsanto will follow through on its plan to make every person in the world pay them tribute.
Even when farmers have actively tried to prevent it, Monsanto has been declaring that any farm plants with their toxic genes belong to them. When you don't find their plants quickly enough to weed them out, expect a bill demanding payment.
After all, when you rule the world, you can exact whatever tribute you want.
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