(Posted Tue. Apr 9th, 2013)
Apr. 9: On March 27, President Obama signed into law a bill funding the federal government for the remainder of the fiscal year. This appropriations bill included a provision to mitigate the effects of repeated and future procedural lawsuits from anti-biotechnology activists aimed at driving that technology from the marketplace. Section 735 of the bill was widely supported by many in agriculture including the National Corn Growers Association.
Since the Farmer Assurance Provision was signed into law, it has faced attacks in the media which have been largely based on a mischaracterization of its provisions. Off the Cob spoke with NCGA Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team Chair Jim Zimmerman to find out what this provision accomplishes, why it is important and how it will protect America’s corn farmers.
“What the Farmer Assurance provision does is temporarily protect growers who plant biotech traited crops that have already been approved by the U.S. regulatory system so that they can continue to grow and harvest their crops without threats from judicial proceedings,” he explained.
Zimmerman noted that this provision became necessary because of tactics employed by activists groups aiming to disrupt the use of biotechnology that had already been approved after extensive scientific testing.
“This provision mitigates the threat from repeat and nuisance litigation from anti-biotech activists that are using this tactic to drive the technology out of the marketplace,” said Zimmerman.
He noted that, despite reports that distort the facts, this provision does not infringe upon the ability of interested parties to challenge the government. Instead, it protects farmers who have acted in good faith.
“This provision does not restrict the right to challenge the U.S. regulatory system determination of a specific trait,” he said. “It does allow growers to operate within the confines of the original determination until a different determination is made.”
Noting that the heart of the issue is truly in the safety of our agricultural system, Zimmerman stressed that decisions on trait approval are based in sound science.
“What is really important to remember is that, to date, no court of law has ever found a biotech trait unsafe to consumers or the environment.”
To listen to the full interview, click here.