‘Monsanto Protection Act’ slips silently through US Congress

AFP Photo / Joe Klamar
AFP Photo / Joe Klamar

The US House of Representatives quietly passed a last-minute addition to the Agricultural Appropriations Bill for 2013 last week – including a provision protecting genetically modified seeds from litigation in the face of health risks.

The rider, which is officially known as the Farmer Assurance Provision, has been derided by opponents of biotech lobbying as the “Monsanto Protection Act,” as it would strip federal courts of the authority to immediately halt the planting and sale of genetically modified (GMO) seed crop regardless of any consumer health concerns.

The provision, also decried as a “biotech rider,” should have gone through the Agricultural or Judiciary Committees for review. Instead, no hearings were held, and the piece was evidently unknown to most Democrats (who hold the majority in the Senate) prior to its approval as part of HR 993, the short-term funding bill that was approved to avoid a federal government shutdown.

Senator John Tester (D-MT) proved to be the lone dissenter to the so-called Monsanto Protection Act, though his proposed amendment to strip the rider from the bill was never put to a vote.

As the US legal system functions today, and largely as a result of prior lawsuits, the USDA is required to complete environmental impact statements (EIS) prior to both the planting and sale of GMO crops. The extent and effectiveness to which the USDA exercises this rule is in itself a source of serious dispute.

The reviews have been the focus of heated debate between food safety advocacy groups and the biotech industry in the past. In December of 2009, for example, Food Democracy Now collected signatures during the EIS commenting period in a bid to prevent the approval of Monsanto’s GMO alfalfa, which many feared would contaminate organic feed used by dairy farmers; it was approved regardless.

Previously discovered pathogens in Monsanto’s Roundup Ready corn and soy are suspected of causing infertility in livestock and to impact the health of plants.

So, just how much of a victory is this for biotech companies like Monsanto? Critics are thus far alarmed by the very way in which the provision made it through Congress — the rider was introduced anonymously as the larger bill progressed through the Senate Appropriations Committee. Now, groups like the Center for Food Safety are holding Senator Mikulski (D-MD), chairman of that committee, to task and lobbing accusations of a “backroom deal” with the biotech industry.

As the Washington Times points out, the provision’s success is viewed by many as a victory by companies like Syngenta Corp, Cargill, Monsanto and affiliated PACs that have donated $7.5 million to members of Congress since 2009, and $372,000 to members of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

It remains unclear whether the bill’s six-month expiration means that the provision will be short-lived. Regardless, Food Democracy Now has begun a campaign calling on US President Barack Obama to veto the Continuing Resolution spending bill, which seems unlikely as HR 933 includes a sweeping amount of government funding.

Source: RT

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6 Responses to ‘Monsanto Protection Act’ slips silently through US Congress

  1. Susan Odiseos March 25, 2013 at 7:38 PM

    How can we allow corporate greed and a congress that allows itself to be bought as a means of getting re-elected cause our health and safety to be compromised? Montsanto, especially, Cargill and others are uncaring, terrible example of people who don’t follow the rules, let alone follow sound practices in the best interests of all human beings – especially farmers and consumers.
    Why this did not go before the Agricultural or Judiciary Committees for review speaks to the backroom deal that we must all protest!

    Reply
  2. DigitalChaos March 25, 2013 at 9:12 PM

    these are times you can see the true colors of those that are suppose to protect and serve the people . the bill has passed the senate and now awaits the president . http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/hr933

    read the the full text of the bill here : http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/hr933/text

    How can they pass a bill to protect Monsanto yet Fail to Pass
    S. 388: American Family Economic Protection Act of 2013
    This bill is provisionally dead due to a failed vote for cloture on February 28, 2013. Cloture is required to move past a Senate filibuster or the threat of a filibuster and takes a 3/5ths vote. In practice, most bills must pass cloture to move forward in the Senate.

    Reply
  3. Kimberly March 26, 2013 at 3:05 PM

    Why would anyone with a Christian heart allow such sick greedy Monsanto to think they are GOD. These people need to be stopped and so does the government. This is just plain evil, or can we say population control.

    Reply
  4. Vicki March 26, 2013 at 3:40 PM

    Let me guess, they want us (the general population) to eat their poison infested crap, but you know they are eating the best organic foods that they can find. I wouldn’t feed that crap to my dog or my worst enemy. Bite the big one Monsanto, in the end you’ll lose because all losers lose.

    Reply
  5. Tristan March 26, 2013 at 6:11 PM

    AAAAAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGGG!!!!!!
    So let me see if I got this straight. In order to pull off a last minute bubble gum fix to an over-hyped manufactured debt crisis our so called reps opted to hand over the health and safety of the world at large to Monsanto and Co. In all of this madness there was only one voice of dissent for the bastards to quietly ignore thus proving all but one to be either complicit or incompetent. Hope my very own SD rep Kristi Noem has a good pair of reading glasses cuz I for one am done kicking out a quick snarky commentary on an article and calling it good. Think it’s about time we remind the bastards that Monsanto can only sign their checks when we opt to keep them in our employ.

    Reply
  6. Pingback: Who would afford to put Obama in the Whitehouse? Monsanto. who owns your DNA.

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