White House Pact With Industry To Push Genetically Engineered Plants
THURSDAY, 21 JULY 2011 09:40 PRESS RELEASE SCIENCE AND ENVIRONMENTAL

WASHINGTON—(ENEWSPF)–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.

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