Here is the “inside story” with complete details you need to know about what happened with HR 933, Continuing Resolution including the “Monsanto Protection Act” the President signed this week. I detail actions we took, what this means, and suggest steps for the future. Please read this to the end to be well-informed and please respond.
Send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm you received this message now, and feel free to leave your comments and suggestions. Thank you for thousands of encouraging emails and conversations about our work! If you want to unsubscribe, you must follow the link at the bottom of this email to do so because I have no control over the email server. Like, share, and participate in our facebook group www.facebook.com/proorganic.org which receives as many as over 200,000 views monthly and features a wealth of valuable information about food, health, regulatory affairs, gardening, and many inputs. We read every email and Facebook comment, and many of you know from experience that we answer personally when possible. Please know, our all-volunteer effort is funded solely and at great personal cost and risk by the Petition Author without any outside support or financial affiliation. Ours is a historic example of what citizens can accomplish when commitment and vision combine in action.
Your efforts and responses to our phone campaign request has been humbling and we cannot thank you enough. We estimate well over 60,000 calls were received by the White House this week, though some of you reported having to dial as many as 100 times to get through! What’s more, we arranged for the Food Democracy Now 250,000-plus-signer petition seeking Veto of HR 733 to be brought directly to the President’s personal attention. We received help at very high Administration levels and express our deep appreciation.
Proorganic.org does not speak for the entire Food Policy movement. However, aside from the White House itself, we were the most intimately involved with President Obama among all food policy organizations so this is a “from the horse’s mouth” account. This email serves to share elements of what happened this week with the goal of helping everyone concerned work together more effectively to achieve our goals.
First of all, you need to realize the Continuing Resolution is only a six month law. No part of this law lives beyond September 2013, no matter what it provides. You should take comfort in that, and heed this as a call to action for the future.
Second, you need to realize passing periodic Continuing Resolutions has been at the highest level of political importance for Presidents over the past 2 decades. Without passage, the Government shuts down, leading the nation into certain disaster. Whatever political objectives any President has, first and foremost, the government must be funded. For this reason, we did not promote a Veto campaign, but we helped Food Democracy Now in their Veto campaign because of our common long-term objectives.
Section 735 “Monsanto Rider” is reported by NY Daily News to have been written in concert with Mosanto by Sen. Roy Blount (R-MO), perhaps Monsanto’s biggest Senate contribution beneficiary. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) allowed the language to stand without consultation with the Agriculture Subcommittee, or any others, for that matter. This infamous action has been widely criticized in the strongest terms, even within the Senate. Sen. Mikulski’s Facebook page has dozens of comments in opposition. Unlike a typical “Rider,” the “Section 735” paragraph did not appear at the end of the bill. Because of this, the President could not issue a Signing Statement nullifying it. We know Mr. Obama consulted the White House Consul in detail to explore this possibility.
Most believe Section 735 of this bill violates the US Constitution’s “Separation of Powers” which provides for the Courts to maintain authority whenever cases are brought. This provision requires the Secretary of Agriculture to grant permits and temporary deregulation without Court intervention. Additional opinions suggest it violates the National Environmental Policy Act which calls for vairous Environmental Impact disclosures among other procedures.
This is the problem we face: The US doesn’t really have a National Policy on Food and Agriculture. Corporate interests and regulators have never been governed by a solid Policy framework. We need Policy that comes from a clear and sustained public debate followed by legislation towards sustainable, healthy, and scientifically legitimate Food Policy. While tens of millions of citizens are actively involved in various national debates about topics like abortion, and other hot button issues, Food Policy gets relatively minor attention, though literally everyone eats. Occasionally, some voices involved in Food Policy advocacy compete with each other – leading to potential fragmentation and dilution of our power. We must eliminate that as a factor, and work in concert like a well-tuned orchestra to be effective. A group of important leading Food advocacy organizations including ProOrganic.org is being convened by Center for Food Safety which will address strategy and tactics next week.
Our task over the next six months is to stimulate a vast national hot-button debate that puts tremendous pressure on all elected officials AND which leads to wise food-policy legislation. Some of this is already being drafted now. If that past year has taught us at ProOrganic anything, it’s that fighting Monsanto or the FDA is not leadership, it’s an understandable, but relatively ineffective reaction. Have to move beyond opposition towards proposition.
Leadership means we grow our movement to 100 million people who demand Food Policy and who use it as a litmus test for supporting elected officials’ ambitions. ANY President, Governor, Senator or Congressman would have to support us or face political failure. The outrage over Section 735 and its assault on the Constitution should be used to spark many more people to involvement and action. We absolutely have to use this moment wisely, because we just got “fifteen minutes of fame” and we can exploit this to our advantage.
Now it’s time to craft a crystal clear message that everybody can understand and get excited about. We have to get so many people involved in the debate that the message comes loud and clear to the all elected officials. At ProOrganic.org, we see this week’s events as an opportunity to stimulate a turning-point in the National conversation.
Thanks ever so much: You will hear from me again shortly.
Frederick Ravid, author http://signon.org/sign/tell-obama-to-cease-fda?mailing_id=10803&source=s.icn.em.cr&r_by=2984850