If ever there was an example of corporations turning elected representatives against the interests of the American people, it’s in a provision protecting genetically modified foods that was tucked into a spending bill signed Tuesday by President Obama.
It’s doubtful that many politicians even realized that what’s being called the “Monsanto Protection Act” by critics was included in H.R. 933.
Section 735 of the bill, officially called the Farmer Assurance Provision, is a giveaway to agriculture corporations, including biotech giant Monsanto, which apparently helped write the bill. The provision essentially eliminates any possibility of plaintiffs or even of courts to seek redress should the current wave of genetically modified foods flooding grocery stores turn out to be bad for people after all.
Genetically modified, or GMO, foods have been making their way into the nation’s food chain for years, but their presence on store shelves has greatly expanded in recent years. Not only do GMO foods typically go unlabeled for direct human consumption, but they are being fed to the farm animals that provide the nation’s meat supply.
Critics have said that the GMO foods have not been adequately tested and that Americans are effectively being used as guinea pigs and risking their health while Monsanto and other biotech companies grow fabulously wealthy.
Monsanto in particular in recent years has angered many farmers and food producers because of its hard-knuckle practices and near-monopoly dominance of the seed business. More and more, farmers have no choice but to get their seeds from Monsanto, which also does its best to prevent its customers from storing seeds and breeding their own strains of crops as farmers have done through natural methods for centuries.
The result is that our entire food chain is being reduced to dependence on only the strains of seeds that Monsanto provides and controls.
According to the International Business Times, the “Monsanto Protection Act” signed into law without fanfare Tuesday bars federal courts from halting sale or planting of GMO seeds regardless of any health issues that may be recognized in the future.
This means the Department of Agriculture, which works closely with Monsanto, would be able to ignore court rulings against GMO foods.
A Republican senator, Roy Blount, cooperated with Monsanto representatives to craft the provision’s language, which was inserted into what was supposed to be a spending bill averting government shutdown, according to the New York Daily News.
So once again, Congress’ inability to approve a budget, members’ laziness about reading what they are actually voting on, and collusion with wealthy campaign contributors have combined to screw over the rest of us.
Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety, took Democrats and Sen. Barbara Mikulski in particular to task for working with Monsanto and not doing their homework on this rider: “In this hidden backroom deal, Sen. Mikulski turned her back on consumer, environmental and farmer protection in favor of corporate welfare for biotech companies such as Monsanto. This abuse of power is not the kind of leadership the public has come to expect from Sen. Mikulski or the Democrat Majority in the Senate.”
Actually, I’d say it’s exactly what most of us expect, but both parties gorged themselves from this trough.
But don’t stop the blame train at Congress. While the media told us the nation was fixated on gay “marriage” arguments at the Supreme Court, President Obama had been given a petition with more than 250,000 voters’ signatures asking him to oppose the “Monsanto Protection Act.” A horde of protesters against the rider were demonstrating at the gates of the White House as Obama signed the bill.
So much for the voice of the people.
The provision will only be in force for six months because of the limits of the overall bill, but you can bet something similar will be tucked into another spending bill or other piece of legislation before this expires.
Seattle attorney Bill Marler, who has represented victims of foodborne illness, told the N.Y. Daily News, “I think any time you tweak with the ability of the public to seek redress from the courts, you create a huge risk.”
Now if history is any indication, Monsanto is going to have several “experts” leave comments below telling us there’s absolutely nothing wrong with GMO foods, as they have done with past articles written on related topics. I’m interested in hearing what the rest of you readers think about this under-reported potential threat to our health, so leave a comment.