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How Congress let Monsanto off the hook

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Strike all after the enacting clause, and insert in lieu thereof:

SHORT TITLE  SECTION 1. This Act may be cited as the ""Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013''.

Link:  http://docs.house.gov/billsthisweek/20130318/BILLS-113hr933eas.pdf

8 SEC. 735.
In the event that a determination of non-regulated status made pursuant to section 411 of the Plant Protection Act is or has been invalidated or vacated, the Secretary of Agriculture shall , notwithstanding any other provision of law, upon request by a farmer, grower, farm operator, or producer, immediately grant temporary permit(s) or temporary deregulation in part, subject to necessary and appropriate conditions consistent with section 411(a) or 412(c) of the Plant Protection Act, which interim conditions shall authorize the movement, introduction, continued cultivation, commercialization and other specifically enumerated activities and requirements, including measures designed to mitigate or minimize potential adverse environmental effects, if any, relevant to the Secretary's evaluation of the petition for non-regulated status, while ensuring that growers or other users are able to move, plant, cultivate, introduce into commerce and carry out other authorized activities in a timely manner : Provided, That all such conditions shall be applicable only for the interim period necessary for the Secretary to complete any required analyses or consultations related to the petition for non-regulated status: Provided further, That nothing in this section shall be construed as limiting the Secretary's authority under section 411, 412 and 414 of the Plant Protection Act.  Pages 78, 79


TRANSLATION:  If the Secretary of Agriculture has lifted regulations on "measures designed to mitigate or minimize potential adverse environmental effects" (genetically modified seeds/organisms - GMO) and those have been struck down ("invalidated or vacated" likely by a court due to public hazard, safety issues, etc.) the Secretary shall (not may, can, or should) immediately deregulate and allow use of GMOs.  This will be consistent with 411(a) and 412 (c) of the Plant Protection Act below.  Section 412 (b), scientific justification made transparent, is not required as part of the deregulation.  This is a temporary mandate ("shall") for the Secretary.  It has to be temporary since Congress and the president cant' get away with permanently barring court action to protect the public or permanently denying scientific input.

The phrase "measures designated to mitigate of minimize potential adverse environmental effects" is, it seems, tied to the term "biological control mechanisms" in the Plant Protection Act below.  This link is to a USDA decision to approve a Monsanto "biological control mechanisms" - genetically engineered corn.  (USDA approval of Monsanto corn: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/brs/aphisdocs/04_12501p_pea.pdf)


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REFERENCED REGULATIONS ABOVE "411 (a) and 412 (c)":  These sections of the Plant Protection Act are referenced in the amendment on the Secretary's powers.  Section 411 (a) specifies who can import "any plant pest" unless authorized to do so "in accordance with" regulations.  But the first phrase, "Except s provided i subsection (c)" [411] lets the Secretary off the hook for any existing regulations by granting him the power to simply declare an exception and allow "any plant pest" in the country.  The legislation just passed takes science out of the equation as indicated by the exclusion of section 412 (b) concerning scientific input.   Note that subsection (b) requires  that regulations are "based on sound science and are transparent and accessible."  The Secretary of Agriculture "shall", by the new law just passed, abrogate the scientific requirement tied to regulation in this instance.


(a) Prohibition of Unauthorized Movement of Plant Pests.--Except as  provided in subsection (c), no person shall import, enter, export, or  move in interstate commerce any plant pest, unless the importation,  entry, exportation, or movement is authorized under general or specific  permit and is in accordance with such regulations as the Secretary may  issue to prevent the introduction of plant pests into the United States or the dissemination of plant pests within the United States.

(c) Authorization of Movement of Plant Pests by Regulation.--(1) Exception to permit requirement.--The Secretary may issue regulations to allow the importation, entry, exportation, or movement in interstate commerce of specified plant.[Added]


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Link:  http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-106publ224/html/PLAW-106publ224.htm

    (a) In General.--The Secretary may prohibit or restrict the  importation, entry, exportation, or movement in interstate commerce of  any plant, plant product, biological control organism noxious weed,  article, or means of conveyance, if the Secretary determines that the prohibition or restriction is necessary to prevent the introduction into  the United States or the dissemination of a plant pest or noxious weed  within the United States.

  (b) Policy.--The Secretary shall ensure that processes used in  developing regulations under this section governing consideration of import requests are based on sound science and are transparent and accessible.

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