How the Monsanto Protection Act snuck into law

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Last week Congress passed HR 933, a short-term resolution to avoid a government shutdown. But tucked away in that bill was also a rider that had little to do with the fiscal challenges facing the country: its Section 735.

Dubbed the “Farmer Assurance Provision”, or per its opponents, the “Monsanto Protection Act”, it limits the ability of judges to stop Monsanto or the farmers it sells genetically modified seeds to, from growing or harvesting those crops even if courts find evidence of potential health risks. With the commercial interest of Monsanto (the world’s largest producer of genetically modified crops and seeds) above the authority of U.S. judicial system, activists fear the precedent is set.

One of the rider’s biggest supporters was Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). He worked with Monsanto to craft the language in the bill and reminds everyone that this is only a one-year protection. Opposing the inclusion of the rider was Senator John Tester (D-Mont.), who compared these provisions to giveaways, soon to be worth millions of dollars to a handful of the biggest corporations in this country. Starting with Monsanto.

President Obama signed the spending bill into law last Tuesday.

Credit photo: Cristian Baitg – Getty Images

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* Up for some thought-sharing on this topic?  

– Though the rider will only remain in effect in 2013, until the government finds another way to fund its operations, the message sent is that corporations can get around consumer safety protections if they get Congress on their side. As if court challenges are now a privilege and not a right anymore.

– With the nation’s fixation on the US Supreme Court hearing oral argument about California’s Prop 8, and with the focus on that specific spending bill being naturally placed on averting a government shutdown, it seems many members of Congress did not catch the sneaky presence of that provision in the legislation they were voting for.

. Is a short term necessity an acceptable justification for what could open the door to more and more personal interest over citizens’ needs’ abuses?

. Would all Congressmen knowing about the provision changed anything? Could this have started new rounds of discussions so all can agree on the full content of the bill (delaying the passing of said bill)? Would this have changed anything about their vote?

. The real question might be more about how far in favor of big companies’ interests Congress is ready to go on the subject in the future now that this first step has been taken?

Let us know… 

Note: On September 10, 2013, the Monsanto Protection Act was extended for 3 months…

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