Biotech Riders in the 2012 Farm Bill

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The Biotech Riders in the 2012 Farm Bill refer to sections 10011, 10013, and 10014 in H.R. 6083: Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2012 (the 2012 farm bill), a bill sponsored by Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK).

Section 10011

One Year Time Limit to Deregulate Biotech Crops

Section 10011 of H.R. 6083 establishes a one year time limit for the USDA to rule whether or not a genetically engineered crop is a plant pest. The USDA can ask for an additional 180 days to complete its review, but no more. If the USDA does not make a decision about the crop within that time period, the crop is automatically deemed "not a plant pest." The relevant section of the bill specifically reads as follows:

"‘(3) REVIEW PERIOD-
"‘(A) INITIAL REVIEW PERIOD- Not later than one year after the date on which the Secretary determines that a petition submitted under subsection (a) is complete, the Secretary shall complete the plant pest risk assessment and the environmental analysis required under paragraph (1) and issue a determination with respect to such petition under paragraph (2).
"‘(B) EXTENSION- The Secretary may extend the one-year review period referred to in subparagraph (A) for a petition for one additional period of not more than 180 days if the Secretary determines that additional review is necessary. The Secretary shall notify the person who submitted the petition, in writing, of the reasons for the extension and an estimate of the time period necessary to complete the review.
"‘(4) EFFECT OF FAILURE TO MEET TIME PERIOD- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, if after completing the plant pest risk assessment, but not the environmental analysis, required under paragraph (1), the Secretary finds that there is no reason to believe that an organism is a plant pest and does not grant or deny a petition submitted under subsection (a) with respect to such organism within the time period required under paragraph (3), such organism shall be deemed not to be a plant pest for purposes of this Act."[1]

The only exception is for plants that also produce their own pesticide, which are subject to regulation under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. In order for such a plant to become legal for commercial production (i.e. deregulated), it must be approved under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act as well.

"‘(5) EFFECT ON PESTICIDE REGISTRATION- In the case of an organism containing a plant-incorporated protectant (as defined in section 174.3 of title 40, Code of Federal Regulations, or any successor regulation) with respect to which an application for registration of the plant-incorporated protectant is pending under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (7 U.S.C. 136a et seq.), a determination made under paragraph (2) that an organism is not a plant pest or the deeming that an organism is not a plant pest under paragraph (4) shall not be effective until the registration of the plant-incorporated protectant contained in such organism is approved under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (7 U.S.C. 136a et seq.). If such registration is not approved, a determination made under paragraph (2) that an organism is not a plant pest or a deeming that an organism is not a plant pest under paragraph (4) shall not become effective."[1]

90 Day Limit to Deregulate Biotech Crops

Additionally, the USDA has only 90 days after the passage of the bill to complete its review of any biotech crop that has already applied for deregulation under the Plant Protection Act. If the USDA fails to act, then the crops are automatically deregulated. This is set out in the following paragraphs of the bill:

"(B) PENDING PETITIONS WITH A COMPLETED PLANT PEST RISK ASSESSMENT-
"(i) DEEMING OF CERTAIN PETITIONS- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, with respect to each covered petition, if the Secretary finds that there is no reason to believe that the organism that is the subject of such covered petition is a plant pest and the Secretary does not grant or deny such covered petition not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this section, such organism shall be deemed not to be a plant pest for purposes of the Plant Protection Act (7 U.S.C. 7701 et seq.).
"(ii) COVERED PETITION DEFINED- In this subparagraph, the term ‘covered petition’ means a petition submitted before the date of the enactment of this section under section 340.6 of title 7, Code of Federal Regulations, for a determination that an organism is not a plant pest for which a plant pest risk assessment and an environmental assessment have been published and a notice and comment period on each assessment has been completed as of such date of enactment."[1]

As of July 2012, the crops that would be subject to the 90 day limit include:[2]

Limit on Environmental Analysis

The language here sets out that, regardless of any other law on the books, the environmental analysis required by the Plant Protection Act is the only analysis examining the environmental impact of a genetically engineered crop required prior to deregulating that crop (i.e. legalizing it for commercial production by farmers). This is set out in the following section:

"‘(c) Applicability of Environmental Analysis Conducted for Petition to Determine Organism Not a Plant Pest-
"‘(1) EXCLUSIVE ANALYSIS PERFORMED- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the environmental analysis required under subsection (b)(1) and as specifically described in such subsection shall be the only analysis or procedure regarding the effects on the environment of an organism that is the subject of a petition submitted under subsection (a) required or authorized by law with respect to reviewing and taking action on such a petition.
"‘(2) PROHIBITION ON USE OF FUNDS FOR OTHER ANALYSES- No funds made available by any Act shall be obligated, expended, or used for any analysis or procedure regarding the effects on the environment of an organism conducted for purposes of this section other than the environmental analysis required under subsection (b)(1).
"‘(3) PROHIBITION ON SOLICITATION OF FUNDS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL ANALYSIS- The Secretary shall not require or solicit any financial assistance from a person submitting a petition under subsection (a) for any analysis or procedure regarding the effects on the environment of an organism or for any other analysis or procedure not specifically authorized by subsection (b)(1).
"‘(d) Use of Data From Permits for Purposes of Petition for a Determination That an Organism Not a Plant Pest- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Secretary shall use data collected under a permit issued by the Secretary under section 411(a) with respect to an organism, among other relevant data, for purposes of the review of a petition submitted under subsection (a) with respect to such organism.’.
"(b) Authority of Review for and Environmental Analysis Applicable to Permits- Section 411 of the Plant Protection Act (7 U.S.C. 7711) is amended--
"(1) by redesignating subsections (c), (d), and (e) as subsections (e), (f), and (g), respectively; and
"(2) by inserting after subsection (b), the following new subsections:
"‘(c) Limitation on Analyses and Procedures for Permits- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the analyses or procedures required under the regulations issued by the Secretary under the Federal Plant Pest Act and continued in effect in accordance with section 438(c) shall be the only analyses or procedures required or authorized by law with respect to reviewing and taking action on an application for a permit submitted under subsection (a).
"‘(d) Environmental Analysis Applicable to Certain Permits- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, in reviewing an application for a permit submitted under subsection (a) that is not excluded from environmental review under regulations issued by the Secretary in effect on the date of the enactment of this subsection (or any successor regulations), the Secretary shall conduct an environmental analysis described in section 411A(b)(1)(B). Such analysis shall be the only environmental analysis or procedure required or authorized by law with respect to reviewing and taking action on such an application.’."[1]

Section 10014

This section of the bill reads as follows:

"SEC. 10014. REPORT TO CONGRESS ON REGULATION OF BIOTECHNOLOGY.
"Not later than one year after the date of the enactment of this section, the Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, shall submit to Congress a report on the measures taken and proposed to be taken by the Secretaries and the Administrator to provide for balanced and appropriate regulatory oversight of agricultural biotechnology products, by--
"(1) reducing regulatory burdens on research conducted by academic institutions, small businesses, and public entities in developing lower-cost plant and animal sources of food, feed, fuel, and fiber developed through biotechnology, with special emphasis on minor use crops, orphan crops, and sources of protein;
"(2) identifying categories of products developed through biotechnology for which a history of safe use has been established and providing with respect to such products reduced data requirements, expedited review periods, exemptions from regulation, and other measures, as appropriate, based on sound science; and
"(3) developing and implementing a cohesive national policy for the low-level presence of agronomic biotechnology material in crops, including grain and other commodity crops, for food, feed, and processing."[1]

Lobbying

The corporations and trade organizations listed below lobbied on the Plant Protection Act in the leadup to the 2012 farm bill. Note that the amounts of money spent on lobbying listed below are the total amounts spent during the quarter and they represent every issue lobbied on, not just the Plant Protection Act, biotechnology, or the Farm Bill.

Following the passage of the 2007 Farm Bill, Monsanto began with lobbying on "Implementation of 2008 Farm Bill amendments to the Plant Protection Act" in the first quarter of 2009. For this, they paid Arent Fox LLP less than $5,000. The lobbyist was Stanley H. Abramson.

In the first half of 2010, Monsanto's focus changed, presumably due to lawsuits it was fighting over Roundup Ready Alfalfa and Roundup Ready Sugarbeets. In both the first and second quarters of 2010, Monsanto paid less than $5,000 per quarter to Arent Fox LLP for "Regulation of products of agricultural biotechnology under Plant Protection Act and National Environmental Policy Act." The lobbyist was Stanley H. Abramson.

In 2011, Monsanto changed its tactics slightly. It switched from Arent Fox to its own in house lobbyists as well as the lobby firm Russell and Baron, Inc. (later renamed The Russell Group, Inc.). On its in house lobbying reports for the second, third, and fourth quarters of 2011, Monsanto reports lobbying on "Biotech Regulations, Roundup Ready Alfalfa, Roundup Ready Sugarbeets, Plant Protection Act" to the U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, U.S. State Department, and the U.S. Trade Representative. The amounts spent on lobbying by Monsanto for those quarters were $1,710,000, $2,010,000, and $1,210,000, respectively. Monsanto also paid Russell and Baron, Inc./The Russell Group, Inc. $60,000 during each of the three quarters for lobbying on "Biotech Acceptance; Agriculture, Competition, and Related Issues; Advocacy for Plant Protection Act concerns" to the House, Senate, and USDA.

Monsanto's lobbyists working on this matter include: Michael Dykes, Scott Kuschmider, Michael Parrish, Michael Holland, Katharine Emerson, and Jeremy Stump. The Russell Group's lobbyists for Monsanto were Edward Barron, Tyson Redpath, and Randall Russell.[3]

In the fourth quarter of 2011, Monsanto was joined on the issue by The Dow Chemical Company, which spent $60,000 on lobbying done by Crowell & Moring LLP on "deregulation of genetically modified organisms under the Plant Protection Act." The lobbying was done by Patrick Donnelly and John Thorne and it was directed at the House, Senate, EPA, and USDA.

In the first quarter of 2012, the following organizations lobbied on the issue:

They might have been joined by the American Farm Bureau Federation, which spent $640,000 on all lobbying, including on "APHIS Plant Protection and Quarantine." Lobbying was done by Mark Maslyn, Kendra Keller, Dale Moore, Mary Kay Thatcher, Kevin Richards, and David Salmonsen.

Monsanto and Dow Agrosciences continued lobbying on the issue in the second quarter of 2012. Monsanto spent $1,520,000 in house and paid $80,000 to The Russell Group, Inc. Dow Agrosciences spent $220,000 in house. They were possibly joined by the American Nursery and Landscape Association, which paid the lobby firm O'Brien DC for lobbying on "plant protection issues in the farm bill."[4]

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Full text of H.R. 6083: Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2012, Govtrack.us, Accessed July 22, 2012.
  2. Petitions for Nonregulated Status Granted or Pending by APHIS as of July 25, 2012, USDA, Accessed July 25, 2012.
  3. Lobbying Disclosure Act Database, Accessed July 23, 2012.
  4. Lobbying Disclosure Act Database, Accessed July 23, 2012.

External resources

External articles