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USA - The intention of the Farmer Assurance Provision is to mitigate the effects of repeated and future litigation from anti-biotech activists who have been using the courts to impede the use of biotech crops

Alexandria, Virginia, USA
April 8, 2013

Source: American Seed Trade Association (ASTA)

Recently there has been significant press coverage regarding a provision in the government funding bill for fiscal year 2013 that was signed into law on March 26, 2013. Section 735 of the bill is called the Farmer Assurance Provision. The intention of the provision is to mitigate the effects of repeated and future litigation from anti-biotech activists who have been using the courts to impede the use of biotech crops.

It is important to note that much of the press coverage repeats inaccurate information spread by anti-biotech groups who have never proved their claims that biotech crops have caused harm to consumers and/or the environment. Below is accurate information on the provision and links to balanced articles about it.

The Farmer Assurance Provision does not protect USDA or any biotech company from litigation or any court action. It also does not prevent USDA from stopping the sale or cultivation of seeds. It does not change the FDA or EPA review process for biotech crops.

The provision codifies authority the Secretary of Agriculture has always had to implement so-called "remedies" in complying with judicial orders. Recently, this authority allowed USDA to issue a partial deregulation with conditions for sugarbeets while the department complied with a judicial ruling that threatened crops in the ground.

The Farmer Assurance Provision gives farmers the assurance that once they have planted an approved product, their ability to continue to grow and harvest their crop will not be unnecessarily jeopardized. In addition to ASTA, the American Soybean Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Sugarbeet Growers Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Cotton Council, National Association of Wheat Growers, Agricultural Retailers Association, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, Biotechnology Industry Organization, former Secretaries of Agriculture John Block and Mike Espy, and several state secretaries and commissioners of agriculture have all expressed support. These organizations recognize that the actions of anti-biotech groups are putting farmers at risk of losing their crops.

Lastly, this provision was not a surprise to anyone. It was part of the agriculture appropriations bill that was passed by both the sub-committee and the full House Appropriations Committee in June, 2012. The groups now saying it was snuck into the government funding bill have been aware of the language since that time.

Several thoughtful articles have been written about the facts and myths surrounding the provision.

More solutions from: ASTA - American Seed Trade Association*

Website: http://www.betterseed.org/

Published: April 8, 2013

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