1.TAKE ACTION: Farm Bill Could Cripple State Food Safety Agencies, Preempt Laws on GE Crops
2.Groups say bill voids local bans on altered food
3.Michael Pollan on the potentially corosive power of the farm bill
EXTRACT: The smorgasbord of incentives and disincentives built into the farm bill helps decide what happens on nearly half of the private land in America... The health of the American soil, the purity of its water, the biodiversity and the very look of its landscape owe in no small part to impenetrable titles, programs and formulae buried deep in the farm bill. (item 3)
1.Farm Bill Could Cripple State Food Safety Agencies, Preempt Laws on GE Crops
House Agriculture Committee to Consider Language in the Farm Bill that Would Deny State's Rights to Protect Citizens from Risky Foods
Please take action by June 25, 2007. Thank you.
Dear Food Safety Friends,
I thought you might be interested in this Center for Food Safety e-activism campaign. The House Agriculture Committee is currently considering language in the House version of the 2007 Farm Bill that would pre-empt state's rights to protect its citizens from experimental GE crops and foods, and could eliminate a state's authority to take action in cases of food contamination.
It only takes a minute, please send an email today! This language will be considered by the House Agriculture Committee as early as June 26th.
2.Groups say bill voids local bans on altered food
By Steve Johnson Mercury News, 20 June 2007
A coalition of 40 consumer, environmental and other groups Tuesday petitioned Congress to delete a provision in a proposed farm bill that they claim would nullify California and other state laws governing food safety and genetically engineered crops.
At issue is a section in the bill before the House Agriculture Committee that "prevents a state or locality from prohibiting an article the secretary of agriculture has inspected and passed."
The advocacy groups - including Consumers Union, Sierra Club, Center for Food Safety and Californians for GE-Free Agriculture - said the provision was quietly slipped into the bill a few weeks ago. The House Agriculture Committee is expected to consider the bill shortly after the July 4 holiday.
If the measure passes, the groups argued, it could render ineffective county laws dealing with biologically manipulated crops once the U.S. Department of Agriculture has reviewed and OK'd the crops.
The groups also claimed the measure could bar county health inspectors from condemning contaminated or otherwise substandard supermarket meat if the USDA had approved the product. But an aide to the House Agriculture Committee said that was not the provision's intent, adding that the bill probably would be amended to make it clear that local inspectors could reject bad food.
In California, four of the state's 58 counties - Santa Cruz, Marin, Mendocino and Trinity - have approved bans or other restrictions on genetically ngineered crops. At least 16 other counties have rejected such measures or passed resolutions supporting such crops.
Contact Steve Johnson at [email protected] or (408) 920-5043.
3.The Way We Live Now
You Are What You Grow
By MICHAEL POLLAN
The New York Times, April 22 2007
. . To speak of the farm bill's influence on the American food system does not begin to describe its full impact - on theenvironment, on global poverty, even on immigration. By making it possible for American farmers to sell their crops abroad for considerably less than it costs to grow them, the farm bill helps determine the price of corn in Mexico and the price of cotton in Nigeria and therefore whether farmers in those places will survive or be forced off the land, to migrate to the cities - or to the United States. The flow of immigrants north from Mexico since Nafta is inextricably linked to the flow of American corn in the opposite direction, a flood of subsidized grain that the Mexican government estimates has thrown two million Mexican farmers and other agricultural workers off the land since the mid-90s. (More recently, the ethanol boom has led to a spike in corn prices that has left that country reeling from soaring tortilla prices; linking its corn economy to ours has been an unalloyed disaster for Mexico's eaters as well as its farmers.) You can't fully comprehend the pressures driving immigration without comprehending what U.S. agricultural policy is doing to rural agriculture in Mexico.
And though we don't ordinarily think of the farm bill in these terms, few pieces of legislation have as profound an impact on the American landscape and environment. Americans may tell themselves they don't have a national land-use policy, that the market by and large decides what happens on private property in America, but that's not exactly true. The smorgasbord of incentives and disincentives built into the farm bill helps decide what happens on nearly half of the private land in America: whether it will be farmed or left wild, whether it will be managed to maximize productivity (and therefore doused with chemicals) or to promote environmental stewardship. The health of the American soil, the purity of its water, the biodiversity and the very look of its landscape owe in no small part to impenetrable titles, programs and formulae buried deep in the farm bill.
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