Jul 22, 2011

MedicalConspiracies- White House Pact with Industry to Push GE Plants

[Imperialism abroad = tyranny @ home?]

July 21, 2011
10:32 AM

CONTACT: Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER)

Kirsten Stade (202) 265-7337
White House Pact with Industry to Push GE Plants
High-Level Working Group Shielding Plan to Force GE Crops onto Wildlife

WASHINGTON - July 21 - In an effort to boost exports, the Obama White
House has entered into a joint venture with the agricultural
biotechnology industry to remove barriers to the spread of genetically
engineered (GE) crops, even on national wildlife refuges, according to
documents posted today by Public Employees for Environmental
Responsibility (PEER). Today, PEER sued the White House Trade
Representative, Office of Management & Budget (OMB) and the State
Department to force release of documents detailing their partnership
with industry.

Recent successful lawsuits brought by PEER with the Center for Food
Safety have underlined the incompatibility of GE crops with refuge
habitats, which has strengthened objections from GE-averse nations. The
Biotechnology Industry Association (BIO), whose most prominent member is
Monsanto, the world's biggest source of GE crops, approached the Obama
White House for assistance. In late 2010, the White House formed an
interagency "Agriculture Biotech Working Group" consisting of more than
35 officials from ten agencies to promote GE agriculture. This Working
Group includes officials from the White House and its OMB, Office of
Science & Technology Policy (OSTP), Council on Environmental Quality
(CEQ) and the Trade Rep. It also has officials from State, Justice,
Agriculture, EPA and FDA.

A central task of this Working Group is to legally insulate GE crops on
refuges from further litigation. Initially, it tried to pressure the
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, which operates the National Wildlife
Refuge System, to rescind its Ecological Integrity Policy, which forbids
GE planting unless found to be essential to accomplishing a refuge
purpose. Working with BIO, these officials then helped prepare
environmental assessments to start paving a legal path for GE plantings
on 75 refuges in 30 states.

"With all the environmental challenges facing this country, why is the
White House priority putting wildlife refuges under the thumb of
Monsanto?" asked PEER Staff Counsel Kathryn Douglass, who filed today's
Freedom of Information Act suits. "It is frankly depressing that the top
White House official for ecosystem recovery is hustling genetically
altered soybeans on slivers of land set aside for wildlife."

PEER has submitted Freedom of Information Act requests to most of the
agencies in the Working Group. Today's suits target three key agencies
which have not turned over any documents. PEER has obtained fragmentary
documents including a January 14, 2011 email from Deputy Interior
Secretary David Hayes relaying pressure from Agriculture Secretary Tom
Vilsack that refuges were "not being consistent in supporting
genetically modified crops." Perhaps more telling are decisions to
withhold records showing –

The depth of collusion with industry. OSTP, for example, is withholding
key portions of its correspondence with a BIO lobbyist on the grounds
that it reveals proprietary information;
What other actions the White House is pursuing to promote GE crops; and
Other unannounced industry partnerships the White House has spawned.

"We are on the ground floor of our climb to reach answers to these
questions," added Douglass, who is pursuing further record releases from
the other agencies involved. "One thing we do know is this Biotech
Working Group exhibits the opposite of the transparent, science-based
decision-making we were promised from this administration."

Read the PEER lawsuits

View the high-level interest in pushing GE crops on refuges

See the White House OSTP shielding messages from industry

Meet the White House Agriculture Biotech Working Group

Look at the refuges targeted for GE crops

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) is a national
alliance of local state and federal resource professionals. PEER's
environmental work is solely directed by the needs of its members. As a
consequence, we have the distinct honor of serving resource
professionals who daily cast profiles in courage in cubicles across the

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