Say ‘bye’ to BYE: Monsanto GM Corn to be subsidized by USDA Federal Crop Insurance Program (FCIC)

December 5, 2007

What’s wrong with this picture? The USDA Federal Crop Insurance Coorporation, a federal, US government agency, is offering significant insurance discounts to farmers who use Monsanto’s GM seeds. The Biotech Yield Endorsement (BYE) pilot program will allow the producer to receive a premium rate discount on non-irrigated corn for grain planted to hybrid varieties of corn that contain Monsanto triple-stack genetics. To receive the “premium rate discount” the approved farmer needs to plant 75-80% of their crops with Monsanto’s (and only Monsanto’s) GM seeds.

This is just the latest in a long history of questionable practices with both Monsanto, the US government, and the long standing relationship between the two. Is this legal? Is it ethical? Collusion? Corruption? A conflict of interest? What do you think?

Background info:

What is FCIC? The FCIC is part of the Risk Managament Agency (RMA) which serves under the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture). The United States Department of Agriculture is a United States Federal Executive Department (or Cabinet Department). “The USDA Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC) promotes the economic stability of agriculture through a sound system of crop insurance and providing the means for the research and experience helpful in devising and establishing such insurance. Management is vested in a Board of Directors, subject to the general supervision of the Secretary of Agriculture.”

As a Federal Agency the FCIC funded with your taxpayer dollars.

Who is Monsanto? Monsanto, the world’s largest developer of genetically modified seeds,  has also brought us Saccharin (aspartame), Astroturf, agent orange, dioxin, sulphuric acid, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), plastics and synthetic fabrics, research on uranium for the Manhattan Project that led to the construction of nuclear bombs, styrene monomer, an endless line of pesticides and herbicides (Roundup), rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone that makes cows ill), GM and “terminator” seeds. Last month Monsanto said it expects to double its profitability over the next five years as the company rolls out new strains of biotech crops. Annual gross profits are predicted to rise from $4.29 billion in 2007 to more than $8 billion in 2012.

Monsanto Press Release: (emphasis added)

Monsanto Corn Technology Approved for Innovative Crop Insurance Program: Risk Premiums Could Be Up to 24 Percent Lower for Farmers in Four-State Pilot

ST. LOUIS, Sept. 26 /PRNewswire– A new pilot program recently approved by the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC) will provide farmers an opportunity to pay lower premiums if they plant a majority of their corn acres using hybrid seeds that feature YieldGard Plus® with Roundup Ready® Corn 2 or YieldGard VT Triple™ technology from Monsanto Company (NYSE: MON).

The insurance product will be offered as a pilot program in cooperation with Western Agricultural Insurance Company and will be called the Biotech Yield Endorsement (BYE). Western Agricultural Insurance will make the program available to all other approved insurance providers to offer to their farmer customers.

The pilot program will be initially available in four states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Minnesota. Implementation of BYE has yet to be determined pending available resources and priorities for the deployment and administration of the program by the Risk Management Agency (RMA).

To be eligible for the program, a farmer must plant 75 to 80 percent of their corn acres with seeds featuring YieldGard Plus with Roundup Ready Corn 2 or YieldGard VT Triple technology. Refuge requirements must also be respected. Depending on the grower’s production history, amount of coverage purchased and other criteria, the farmer may be able to reduce the yield component of their premium up to 24 percent.

“As a technology provider, our goal is to create technologies that help farmers consistently deliver better yields, manage their production risk and capture more value from their corn fields,” said Robb Fraley, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer for Monsanto Company. “This program recognizes the consistently high yields that farmers using our technologies are able to deliver. We’re pleased farmers will be able to take advantage of this new insurance product.”

Under adverse conditions, Monsanto “triple stack” technologies, or seeds that feature three biotechnology genes, have exhibited higher yields and lower yield risk than conventional hybrids without the technology. These triple stack technologies are widely available to farmers and can be purchased through more than 250 corn seed companies that license the technologies.

According to 2006 harvest figures from the National Corn Growers Association, the four pilot states accounted for more than 50 percent of the corn acres harvested for grain in the United States. In 2007 there were more than 90 million acres of corn planted overall, representing the largest crop since 1944.

Monsanto Company is a leading global provider of technology-based solutions and agricultural products that improve farm productivity and food quality. For more information on Monsanto, see http://www.monsanto.com/.

NOTE TO EDITORS: YieldGard Plus with Roundup Ready Corn 2 and YieldGard VT Triple are registered trademarks of Monsanto Technology LLC.

SOURCE: Monsanto Company
Web site: http://www.monsanto.com

From the USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA):

Biotech Yield Endorsement
Oct 9, 2007

On Sep 12, 2007, the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC) Board of Directors (Board) approved a Biotech Yield Endorsement (BYE) pilot program submitted under section 523(d) of the Federal Crop Insurance Act (Act). RMA has received a number of questions regarding BYE:

Q: What is the BYE pilot program?
A: The biotech yield endorsement will allow the producer to receive a premium rate discount on non-irrigated corn for grain planted to hybrid varieties of corn that contain Monsanto triple-stack genetics. Over 250 companies currently license Monsanto’s triple-stack technology.

Q: Why does the BYE pilot program qualify for the premium rate reduction?
A: Monsanto has demonstrated that its specific triple-stack genetic traits, when used in combination, provide lower yield risk as compared to non-traited hybrids.

The triple-stack genetics protect against: (1) above ground lepidopteran pests (for example, moths, and their larvae); (2) below ground corn rootworm damage; and (3) weeds via spraying of glyphosate (for example, Round-up).

Q: When will the BYE pilot program be available to the public?
A: At this time, RMA is not certain if the BYE pilot program’s premium rate discount will be available beginning with the 2008 or 2009 crop year, as several implementation issues remain to be resolved.

Q: Are there any eligibility requirements for producers to receive the lower premium rate?
A: The main requirements are that producers will be required to purchase an individual yield or revenue insurance plan (APH, RA, or CRC) at a buy-up level of coverage, and plant at least 75 percent of their corn acres on an insured unit to a corn hybrid containing Monsanto triple-stack genetics. However, producers are still subject to current EPA refuge requirements.

Q:Where will the BYE pilot program be available?
A: The BYE will be available for non-irrigated corn in all counties in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, and Minnesota. Potential expansion in subsequent years to additional states or other crops will be subject to future submissions supported by adequate research, empirical evidence, and analysis, and be subject to Board review and approval.

Q: Who will be offering the premium discount?
A: Western Agricultural Insurance Company was a co-submitter of the BYE pilot program and will be making it available in the above listed states, but any other approved insurance provider authorized to sell and service Federal crop insurance in the approved states can elect to offer the discounted premium rate to a producer if the eligibility criteria are met.

Q: How much is the premium discount?
A: The average premium discount for coverage levels in the range of 70 percent to 75 percent (the most common in the pilot area) is around 20 percent under the actual production history (APH) plan of insurance, which insures only yield risk.For producers with revenue policies, the premium rate reduction would be less because the yield risk accounts for only a portion of the total risk and total premium rate.

The average reduction in premium rates across the entire book of business in the pilot area is likely to be about 13 percent when considering all policies. The discount will range higher for lower coverage level policies and vice versa for higher coverage level policies.

Q: Will the premium discount be the same every year?
A: Each year the premium discount will be reviewed and recalculated, as appropriate, based upon additional field test data from Monsanto and loss data collected by RMA.

Q: How do I sign up for the BYE pilot program?
A: All approved insurance providers who elect to offer the BYE pilot program will notify their insureds of the availability of the BYE pilot program and the eligibility criteria. If the eligibility criteria are met by the producer, the producer will automatically qualify for the premium rate reduction. This determination will be made at acreage reporting time. However, insureds will be subject to spotchecks or audits to ensure compliance with program requirements.

Q: What process did the Board use to approve the BYE pilot program?
A: BYE was originally presented as a submission under section 508(h) of the Act. However, after further review, it was determined that the submission actually fell under section 523(d) of the Act.

The submission was carefully reviewed by a panel of five expert reviewers, RMA and the Board. It was the majority opinion of the Board that: 1) the interests of producers were adequately protected within the pilot area; 2) the proposed rates of premium were actuarially sound; 3) the size of the proposed pilot was adequate; 4) the BYE pilot program would not unfairly discriminate among producers in the pilot area; and 5) if the pilot area were expanded, the BYE pilot program would not adversely impact the crop insurance delivery system, not reduce program integrity, still be actuarially appropriate, and not place an additional financial burden on the Federal government.

In addition, the Board also considered:

Whether the potential premium rate reduction is significant and meaningful (in the case of BYE, discounts in the yield component of premium rates were generally around 20 percent);
Whether the proposed reduction is significantly different from other discounts currently available, or is already accounted for in current premium rates;
That the basis for the reduction cannot be controlled by the producer or any outside third party;
That an established, reasonable and efficient process exists for independent verification that the producer qualifies for the reduction;
No unreasonable burdens occur with respect to the crop insurance delivery system, compliance monitoring activities, IT system modifications and data reporting requirements, and that premium rating approaches are transparent;
That the proposed reduction is based on credible data and sound analysis; and
There is a process to collect data on the performance of the proposed reduction so that it may be evaluated and adjusted annually as may be appropriate.

Q: Is the BYE pilot program submission available to the public?
A: Once a submission has been approved, any person can request the submission under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Any documents not exempt from release under FOIA will be provided.

Q: Is only Monsanto’s triple-stack genetically traited corn eligible for the premium discount?
A: Monsanto is the only organization to have made a submission under section 523(d) of the Act. However, any approved insurance provider can provide, or partner with a private entity to provide, a submission for a premium rate reduction under section 523(d) of the Act and it will receive consideration by the FCIC Board.

Q: Is the Board’s approval of BYE considered an endorsement by USDA or RMA of Monsanto’s triple-stack genetically traited corn?
A: Approval of the BYE pilot program is not an endorsement by USDA or RMA of Monsanto’s triple-stack genetically traited corn. All the approval means is that Monsanto’s triple-stack genetically traited corn demonstrated a reduction in risk that qualified for a premium rate discount. There may be other genetically traited corn could perform as well or better that the one covered by the BYE pilot program. Producers should consult with their seed dealers to determine the best seed for them.

For more information, please contact Shirley Pugh.

Last Modified: 10/10/2007

http://www.rma.usda.gov/help/faq/bye.html

Monsanto and the US Government:

1991: Margaret Miller was appointed Deputy Director of FDA by George Bush Sr. She oversaw the approval of the genetically engineered growth hormone rBGH. Prior to the appointment, she was one of Monsanto’s top scientists developing rBGH. At the FDA, she approved the same rBGH studies she previously led at Monsanto.

1991: A right-wing extremist, Clarence Thomas, was appointed to the Supreme Court, despite nationwide opposition. Prior to his appointment, Thomas was a lawyer for Monsanto, a notorious chemical polluter and ag biotech promoter. Thomas would later cast the decisive vote in 2000 on the Supreme Court, ratifying the stolen election that put George Bush Jr. into office.

1992: Michael Taylor was appointed FDA’s Deputy Commissioner for Policy, a role created to expedite the approval process of genetically engineered foods. Prior to his appointment, Taylor was an attorney for Monsanto. Taylor went on to become Monsanto’s Vice-President.

1993: Rufus Yerxa was nominated as U.S. deputy to the World Trade Organization. Prior to his apointment as one of the most powerful bureaucrats in the world regarding international trade policies, Rufus was Monsanto’s Chief Counsel.

1996: Michael Kantor was appointed U.S. Secretary of Commerce. At that time, Kantor was also on the Board of Directors of Monsanto.

2000: The White House appoints Carol Tucker Foreman as the sole “consumer advocate” on an international committee assessing genetically modified foods. Prior to her appointment, Foreman was a lobbyist for Monsanto.

2001: Anne Veneman was appointed head of the USDA, in charge of regulating, among other things, genetically engineered crops. Veneman previously served on the Board of Directors of Calgene, a Monsanto biotech subsidiary.

2001: Donald Rumsfeld was sworn in as Secretary or Defense. Rumsfeld was previously the CEO of the Searle pharmaceutical corporation, acquired by Monsanto.

2001: Linda Fisher was appointed Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Her regulatory chores included “enforcing” pesticide regulations, such as Monsanto’s herbicide, Roundup, commonly sprayed on GE crops. Fisher was previously Monsanto’s Vice-President of Government Affairs. Previously Fisher served as a high-level staffer for another biotech cheerleader, President Bill Clinton.

2002: George Poste was appointed head the bioterrorism division of Homeland Security. Previously, Poste was a Monsanto animal specialist. http://thescreamblog.wordpress.com/2007/11/01/monsanto-and-the-us-government/

For more information and to take action go to:http://http://www.organicconsumers.org/monlink.cfm#monsanto

Additional sources:http://http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=950DEEDB163EF936A35755C0A96F948260, http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Monsanto’s_High_Level_Connections_to_the_Bush_Administration, http://fooddemocracy.wordpress.com/2007/08/24/monsanto-the-bad-seed/, http://www.mindfully.org/Pesticide/Monsanto-Roundup-Glyphosate.htm

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4 Responses to “Say ‘bye’ to BYE: Monsanto GM Corn to be subsidized by USDA Federal Crop Insurance Program (FCIC)”

  1. josh Says:

    the reason monsanto is the only one able to use the BYE program is they are the only ones that have submittie dthe funds to do the testing.

  2. Meagan Says:

    For me, the greatest tragedy about Monsanto is the disparity between the wholesome public image they present whilst the facts, the actions, the reality of their destructive programs are diametrically opposed to environmental sustainability and human health. It pains me that the public at large is naiive to the dynamics of agribusiness with respect to Monsanto. More articles please!!!


  3. [...] 3. Support mandatory labeling of GM foods.  How about eliminating subsidies to companies that produce them? [...]


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