'Monsanto Protection Act' slips silently through US Congress
The US House of Representatives quietly passed a last-minute addition to the Agricultural Appropriations Bill for 2013 last week - including a provision protecting genetically modified seeds from litigation in the face of health risks.
The rider, which is officially known as the Farmer Assurance Provision, has been derided by opponents of biotech lobbying as the “Monsanto Protection Act,” as it would strip federal courts of the authority to immediately halt the planting and sale of genetically modified (GMO) seed crop regardless of any consumer health concerns.
The provision, also decried as a “biotech rider,” should have gone through the Agricultural or Judiciary Committees for review. Instead, no hearings were held, and the piece was evidently unknown to most Democrats (who hold the majority in the Senate) prior to its approval as part of HR 993, the short-term funding bill that was approved to avoid a federal government shutdown.
Senator John Tester (D-MT) proved to be the lone dissenter to the so-called Monsanto Protection Act, though his proposed amendment to strip the rider from the bill was never put to a vote.
And from Salon:
The Food Democracy Now and the Center for Food are directing blame at the Senate Appropriations Committee and its chairman, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md. According to reports, many members of Congress were apparently unaware that the “Monsanto Protection Act” even existed within the spending bill, HR 933; they voted in order to avert a government shutdown.
“It sets a terrible precedent,” noted the International Business Times. “Though it will only remain in effect for six months until the government finds another way to fund its operations, the message it sends is that corporations can get around consumer safety protections if they get Congress on their side. Furthermore, it sets a precedent that suggests that court challenges are a privilege, not a right.”
The Question on Everyone's Mind: If Spring Came Early, What Will Summer Feel Like?
Wild Salmon Are Not Holding Up, Study Finds
Since 1964, the Mokelumne River Fish Hatchery in California has supplied the watershed with four to 10 million juvenile Chinook salmon each year. The hatchery began the practice as a way of countering the effects of dams that block migration and making sure that the salmon population remained viable. But recent research shows that the massive influx of hatchery-raised fish is masking the fact that wild fish populations are not holding up.
Endangered Species of the Day: A sedated Black Rhino is transported by air from South Africa’s Eastern Cape to a new habitat in the northeastern province of Limpopo as part of the WWF Black Rhino Range Expansion Project — an ambitious conservation campaign that aims to “increase the range and numbers of black rhino in South Africa.”
Nature conservation organisations are fighting an uphill battle to save the critically endangered species, as rumors of the rhino horn’s cancer-curing abilities fuel poaching that has claimed the lives of over 350 rhinos in South Africa this year alone.
There are believed to be fewer than 4,240 Black Rhinos remaining.
Spectacular Time-Lapse Video of Historic Dam Removal
For 98 years, the 125-foot high Condit Dam in southeastern Washington State held back the White Salmon River, creating a serene lake, but choking off the waterway to salmon. Wednesday, in an historic effort, the dam was dramatically breached, and ecologists hope the increased flow of water will restore the waterway to fish and other aquatic organisms, as well as the birds and mammals that rely on them.
When New York was founded in 1609, it was teeming with over 55 different ecological communities. The Wildlife Conservation Society’s Welikia Project seeks to recover traces of the city’s lost ecologies.
The project is branching out into the boroughs. Finally..Brooklyn..respect. Can’t wait to see what came before we all got here.
I really do like plants. Beautiful and functional, they are nature’s good design. Bring a plant to the office for a more cheerful and healthier 9-to-5.
"I think the environment should be put in the category of our national security. Defense of our resources is just as important as defense abroad. Otherwise what is there to defend?"-Robert Redford
From National Geographic:
As we watched from our Zodiac, this polar bear gave her cub a lift as she swam across the fjord, shaking herself dry after emerging from the water with her cub hanging on. Polar bear cubs have been known to occasionally ride on the backs of their mothers as they swim together in Arctic waters, possibly to reduce exposure to cold. - Philip Dien
What other way is there to start an environmental blog than with the first full-view photograph ever taken of our planet? The shot was taken on December 7, 1972 by Apollo 17 on its way to the moon.