Another Victory for Monsanto

April 10th, 2013 | Simcha Weinstein | Comments Off on Another Victory for Monsanto

transitionNearly three weeks ago, on March 24, the “Farmer Assurance Provision, Section 735” rider was quietly slipped into the Agricultural Appropriations provisions of HR933, the Continuing Resolution spending bill designed to avert a federal government shutdown.

The bill passed both houses of Congress unanimously and was signed into law by President Obama on March 29. Many lawmakers were reportedly unaware of Section 735’s existence. In fact, rather than undergoing a formal committee hearing, the rider was anonymously inserted as the larger bill worked its way through Congress igniting allegations of collusion and corruption. Its origins remain hazy, but Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., has publicly claimed that he “worked with” Monsanto to secure the rider. While the formal name of the rider (an additional provision added to a bill) is the Farmer Assurance Provision, it is more frequently referred to as the Monsanto Protection Act – and for good reason.

The rider states that the U.S. Department of Agriculture “shall, notwithstanding any other provisions of law, immediately grant temporary permits to continue using the [GE] seed at the request of a farmer or producer [Monsanto].” The bill effectively requires the USDA to give Monsanto a green light to promote GMO seeds.

Even if a court review determines that a GMO crop harms humans, Section 735 allows the seeds to be planted once the USDA approves them. Public health lawyer Michele Simon says the Senate bill requires the USDA to “ignore any court ruling that would otherwise halt the planting of new genetically-engineered crops.” This effectively bars federal courts from being able to halt the sale or planting of controversial genetically modified or genetically engineered seeds, no matter what health issues may arise concerning GMOs in the future.

The rider’s wording is so controversial that even USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack called on the Office of General Council to review it, noting, “It appears to pre-empt judicial review of a deregulatory action which may make the provision unenforceable.”

Prior to the bill’s passage, 13 new GMO seed crops awaited USDA authorization. Now these endorsements are almost certainly guaranteed, even though previous legal challenges overturned USDA sanctions of other GMO crops. No doubt Monsanto and other GMO companies will use the next six months to fast track their new seeds.

Genetically modified foods are overtaking our food supply, and this is not just radical rhetoric. Nearly 80 percent of nonorganic processed foods, including those labeled “natural,” contain genetically engineered bacteria, viruses, antibiotic-resistant genes or imported DNA. Through ownership of patents on 90 percent of all GE seeds, Monsanto effectively controls most of the U.S. food supply… and apparently effectively owns a good portion of the United States Congress.

This is not how things are supposed to work. Very scary… and very wrong.