Way back in 2003, the European Union infuriated United States agricultural exporters by requiring all food and animal feed products linked in any way to transgenic crops to be clearly labeled as “genetically modified” (GM).
Currently, despite widespread controversy and protest surrounding the potential health and environmental risks of growing and using GMOs, the U.S. has still refused to restrict their use or implement labeling laws.
This comes as no surprise, however, when you consider that the companies most invested in producing GMOs have gone to painstaking lengths to make sure they have friends in the highest of places.
In 2001, J.E.M. Ag Supply v. Pioneer Hi-Bred, 534 U.S. 124 granted large biotech corporations like Monsanto extensive patent protection over genetically modified seeds. It might surprise you to learn that this case was authored by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, a former lawyer for Monsanto.
In Monsanto v. Geertson Seed Farms, No. 09-475, the U.S. Supreme Court will review a California appellate court decision ruling that the USDA illegally approved Monsanto’s GM sugar beets without determining whether organic farmers, consumers or the environment would be adversely effected.
Despite an obvious conflict of interest, Justice Thomas has refused to recuse himself, and has instead decided to reserve his power to rule on the GM sugar beet case.
Roundup Ready sugar beets were engineered by Monsanto to tolerate exposure to that corporation’s weed killer. Commercial production of Roundup Ready sugar beets can result in genetic contamination of organic and conventional crops, increased use of Roundup and other herbicides, and loss of consumer choice to buy products with sugar not derived from GE beets.
The case was passed to the Supreme Court in early March after federal district Judge Jeffrey White of the Northern District of California denied a preliminary request by a coalition of organic seed growers, and conservation and food safety groups seeking a temporary ban on genetically engineered (GE) sugar beets and sugar beet seeds.
While Judge White denied the preliminary injunction, he indicated that a permanent moratorium would likely be granted as soon as a full environmental review conducted by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service was completed.
Justice Thomas’ insistance to rule on this matter is suspicious, especially since Justice Stephen Breyer has already recused himself from the case because his brother, U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer in San Francisco, issued the initial 2007 ruling against Monsanto.
With thousands of lives and the health of our soil and water supplies at risk, it is unacceptable to allow this federal-corporate “back scratching” to continue any longer.
Take Action by Asking Justice Thomas to Recuse Himself from Supreme Court GMO Sugar Beet Case
Image Credit: Sugar Beet in the Field - biggreenboulder.com