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[genet-news] BUSINESS & POLICY: Biotechnology industry spends over half a billion pushing controversial projects like GE food animals



                                  PART 1


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TITLE:   BIOTECHNOLOGY INDUSTRY SPENDS OVER HALF A BILLION PUSHING CONTROVERSIAL PROJECTS LIKE GENETICALLY ENGINEERED (GE) FOOD ANIMALS

SOURCE:  Food & Water Watch, USA

AUTHOR:  Press Release

URL:     http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/press/press-releases/biotechnology-industry-spends-over-half-a-billion-pushing-controversial-projects-like-genetically-engineered-ge-food-animals/

DATE:    17.11.2010

SUMMARY: "Over the last decade, top food and agriculture biotechnology firms and trade associations spent over half a billion dollars ? $572 million ? in campaign contributions and lobbying Congress in support of controversial industry projects like genetically engineered food animals, according to a new analysis by national consumer advocacy group Food & Water Watch. Political Action Committee contributions and lobbying expenditures by biotechnology interests more than doubled during this time."

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BIOTECHNOLOGY INDUSTRY SPENDS OVER HALF A BILLION PUSHING CONTROVERSIAL PROJECTS LIKE GENETICALLY ENGINEERED (GE) FOOD ANIMALS

Food & Water Watch Analysis Exposes Government Connections to Biotech Lobbyists; Despite Widespread Opposition, FDA may Approve First GE Food Animal on Nov. 23

Washington, DC ? Over the last decade, top food and agriculture biotechnology firms and trade associations spent over half a billion dollars ? $572 million ? in campaign contributions and lobbying Congress in support of controversial industry projects like genetically engineered (GE) food animals, according to a new analysis by national consumer advocacy group Food & Water Watch. Political Action Committee (PAC) contributions and lobbying expenditures by biotechnology interests more than doubled during this time.

?The public needs to know that despite their concerns with eating genetically engineered (GE) foods, there?s a powerful industry spending hundreds of millions to promote products like GE salmon,? said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. ?Over the last few months, our coalition has collected approximately 200,000 petitions from consumers who oppose FDA approval of genetically engineered salmon. Yet sadly, each of these consumers would have to pay nearly $3,000 to match the biotech industry?s lobbying influence.?

The analysis comes less than a week before the FDA will close its public comment period on the first GE animal to be approved for human consumption, AquaBounty salmon. The FDA could approve the controversial product as early as Nov. 23.

In addition to promoting GE foods, biotech lobbyists work to prevent foreign governments from banning or limiting the products and fight requirements that they be labeled for consumers.

FDA labeling of AquaBounty salmon has been a hotly contested issue. Despite consumer concerns, the agency currently does not require it. According to an NPR article published earlier this week, a survey of more than 3,000 people (conducted for NPR by Thomson Reuters) revealed that 9 out of 10 people believe GE foods should be labeled. The majority said they would not eat a genetically engineered fish, labeled or not.

Food & Water Watch?s analysis also exposed intricate relationships and financial connections between well-connected lobbyists and former high-ranking legislators who lobby Congress and the federal agencies. According to the analysis, food and agriculture biotechnology firms and trade associations have hired on as lobbyists at least 13 former members of Congress and over 300 former congressional and White House staffers through well-connected lobbying shops.

The consumer group?s analysis comes on the heels of its release of startling U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service emails (obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request) revealing the agency scientists? disbelief that the FDA would approve AquaBounty salmon. With regards to GE fish escapes, one Fish & Wildlife Service geneticist was quoted saying, ?Maybe they [the FDA] should watch Jurassic Park.?

?It seems the FDA is more interested in pandering to lobbyists then listening to the American public and the other federal agencies it is required by law to consult with,? Hauter said.

At least 30 House members and 13 senators have expressed concern with the FDA?s review process for GE salmon, with many calling for its outright prohibition.

On Monday, Nov. 22, a coalition of groups including Food & Water Watch, the Center for Food Safety, Friends of the Earth, the Organic Consumers Association, Food Democracy Now and CREDO Action will submit over 200,000 consumer comments to the FDA and President Obama, urging them to reject the approval of genetically engineered salmon.

Food & Water Watch works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainable. So we can all enjoy and trust in what we eat and drink, we help people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the importance of keeping shared resources under public control. 



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:   BIOTECH INDUSTRY GROUP SPENT $2.1M LOBBYING IN 3Q

SOURCE:  Business Week, USA

AUTHOR:  

URL:     http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D9JI0NFO0.htm

DATE:    17.11.2010

SUMMARY: "The Biotechnology Industry Organization spent just over $2.1 million lobbying the federal government in the third quarter on health care, agricultural, and economic issues affecting the biotech industry. That's about a 19 percent boost from just under $1.8 million it spent during the same period in 2009, according to a recent disclosure form. The spending marks a 5 percent boost from just over $2 million spent by the trade group during this year's second quarter."

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BIOTECH INDUSTRY GROUP SPENT $2.1M LOBBYING IN 3Q

The Biotechnology Industry Organization spent just over $2.1 million lobbying the federal government in the third quarter on health care, agricultural, and economic issues affecting the biotech industry.

That's about a 19 percent boost from just under $1.8 million it spent during the same period in 2009, according to a recent disclosure form. The spending marks a 5 percent boost from just over $2 million spent by the trade group during this year's second quarter.

The industry group, whose members include biotech drug developers like Amgen Inc. and a range of other biotech companies, lobbied on a very broad range of issues related to the industry. During the July to September period, the group focused on issues including agricultural biotechnology and genetically engineered animals, drug importation safety, bioterrorism preparedness, intellectual property, and biofuels.

The organization supports efforts to move forward the genetic engineering of animals, including salmon, citing the potential for providing sustainable food sources. Other issues include using genetic engineering to improve crop yields and resistance to environmental stresses.

The drug development industry remained a focus during the period, with issues ranging from tax credits and drug plan reimbursements, to federal funding of stem cell research and tax credits.

Besides Congress, the group lobbied the National Institutes of Health, Environmental Protection Agency, Agriculture Department, Health and Human Services Department, FDA and other agencies, according to a form filed Oct. 20 with the House clerk's office.

Among those registered to lobby during the period on behalf of BIO were: Bill Olson, former legislative assistant for Rep. John Shimkus, R.-Ill.; Patrick Carroll, former legislative assistant to Rep. Ray LaHood, R-Ill.; Sharon Bomer Lauritsen, former deputy assistant U.S. trade representative for agricultural affairs at the White House; Brent DelMonte, former counsel for the House committee on Energy and Commerce, focusing on food and drug issues; and Tom Dilenge, chief counsel and policy director for the House Homeland Security Committee and former senior counsel for the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Other lobbyists included Matthew O'Mara, formerly with the Foreign Agricultural Services of the USDA and David Edwards, a former staff member on the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. Lobbyists also included Matt Carr, a former Energy and Environment Fellow on the Senate Agriculture Committee for Sen. Tom Harkin, D.-Iowa.




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