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Letter to Secretary Vilsack - Concerns about GE Permits in Hawai'i

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today wrote to Department of Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack to express concerns about the implications of Section 735 of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act. Section 735 requires the Secretary of Agriculture to issue a temporary permit allowing the cultivation of certain genetically engineered (GE) plants. This authority expires on September 30, 2013.

"I am very concerned about the implications of section 735, which requires the Secretary of Agriculture to grant the right to continue growing and shipping a genetically engineered (GE) plant while other regulatory procedures have yet to be completed, or court challenges resolved," wrote Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. "This provision ultimately suppresses the right of Americans to seek legal recourse to address potential environmental, economic, and health damages that could occur from a GE food product."

Section 735 allows GE plant cultivation even if a federal rule or environmental impact statement has yet to be completed. The Secretary of Agriculture is required to issue a permit if a GE grower makes a request.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has been a long-time supporter of mandatory labeling for products containing GE ingredients and passed a resolution while serving in the Honolulu City Council to require GE labeling.

Full text of the letter is below.

April 11, 2013

Honorable Thomas Vilsack

Secretary of Agriculture

U.S. Department of Agriculture

1400 Independence Ave., S.W.

Washington, DC 20250-0002

Dear Secretary Vilsack:

I am writing regarding section 735 of H.R. 933, the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013, which was signed into law (P.L. 113-6) on March 26, 2013.

I am very concerned about the implications of section 735, which requires the Secretary of Agriculture to grant the right to continue growing and shipping a genetically engineered (GE) plant while other regulatory procedures have yet to be completed, or court challenges resolved. This provision ultimately suppresses the right of Americans to seek legal recourse to address potential environmental, economic, and health damages that could occur from a GE food product.

In light of possible impacts resulting from section 735, I am requesting to be notified of any permit issued under this authority for a grower's operation in the State of Hawaii. Additionally, I am requesting that section 735 be reviewed for any legal issues. The automatic nature of the provision, without respect for agency discretion or judicial review, is extremely troubling.

I look forward to hearing from you on this important issue.

Sincerely,

Tulsi Gabbard

Member of Congress


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