'Monsanto Protection Act' slips through
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 Ã¢ÂÂMonsanto Protection Act,Ã¢ÂÂ 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 Ã¢ÂÂbiotech rider,Ã¢ÂÂ 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.
Previously discovered pathogens in MonsantoÃ¢ÂÂs 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 Ã¢ÂÂbackroom dealÃ¢ÂÂ with the biotech industry.
As the Washington Times points out, the provisionÃ¢ÂÂs 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.
Here is a link that might be useful: Who's your Daddy