Thursday, October 3, 2013

Governor Kitzhaber Ignores Constituents, Sides With Monsanto, Syngenta

by Tami Canal

Ignoring the will of his constituents, Governor John Kitzhaber has signed off on 5 bills that were presented in a special session Monday. Inclusion of the Senate Bill 863 has raised many questions as this session's focal point was public pensions and taxes. Environmental groups and local food activists are livid that a provision they believe would allow more genetically modified organisms to creep into Oregon farms sailed through the state’s legislature on Wednesday. “The rights of farmers to protect their crops from unwanted GMO contamination and the rights of consumers to make informed purchases should never have been at issue during a special session dealing with PERS and revenue reform,” said the Oregon Environment Council, the Oregon League of Conservation Voters and five other groups in a statement released Wednesday night. “Trading away environmental protections in unrelated legislative negotiations is an all too common practice that’s bad for not just democracy but also the people of Oregon.

Pure politics, as well as possible financial gain, are to blame for this latest violation to the people of Oregon. Kitzhaber himself acknowledges that GMO has nothing to do with the special session. "The random factor, the free radical, was the GMO bill, which I would be the first to acknowledge has nothing to do with the purposes for which I originally called the session," Kitzhaber said. "I wish I could tell you there was a rational reason for it to be in there, but there isn't -- except apparently the Republicans needed it to get enough votes."

Last week, Syngenta donated $5,000 to the FirstVote PAC and the secretary of state's campaign finance database shows that Monsanto, the world's largest seed producer and a key opponent of new limits on GMO crops, recently gave $6,000 to FirstVote. In turn, FirstVote is a group closely allied with the agricultural industry.  Paulette Pyle is listed as one of the PAC's directors.  She is also a longtime lobbyist and official with Oregonians for Food and Shelter, which is supported by a variety of agricultural companies, including pesticide manufacturers. FirstVote is a regular contributor to several legislators.  Most recently, it's given to three Democrats who are usually key supporters of the agricultural industry: Reps. Brian Clem of Salem and Brad Witt of Scappoose and Sen. Betsy Johnson of Scappoose. Monsanto and Syngenta have been regular contributors to FirstVote and the Farm Bureau Political Action Committee, which also donates directly to candidates.  Monsanto has given $135,000 since 2007 while Syngenta has given $51,244 in cash and donated items over that same period of time.

Oregon, along with the world, will speak out against this corruption on October 12. The international March Against Monsanto takes to the streets yet again to expose the atrocities of Monsanto, Syngenta, and their counterparts and to raise public awareness on GMO and the toxicity they cause to people and the environment.

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