Monsanto Protection Act extension hidden in spending bill

The controversial provision nicknamed the “Monsanto Protection  Act” was included by House Republicans in the bill to approve funding that is  required to avoid a government shutdown.

The provision, set to expire, blocks judges from barring a  genetically modified organism from being planted, even if it is deemed unsafe.  Many nations have taken the opposite route and banned GMOs outright. The text of  the bill the provision is tucked away in was released on Wednesday by House  Appropriations Committee Chairman, and recipient of Monsanto campaign contributions in 2010 and 2012, Harold Rogers of  Kentucky. The provision was extended for three months.  

The controversial provision was almost  repealed, until Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri opposed the bill. Blunt received  campaign contributions in 2010 and 2012 from Monsanto.  Multiple petitions have been ignored, some of which had over 100,000 signatures.  The organizers of those petitions are not known to have contributed to the  Senator or the Chairman from Kentucky.

Monsanto is a massive biotech company  specializing in herbicides and genetically modified seeds; it officially objects to the nickname of the provision. It  should be noted that other companies will benefit from what is officially titled  as the Farmer Assurance Provision.

These large biotech firms patent their  genetically modified seeds. When the GMO crop’s pollen contaminates a farm  nearby, the farmer is then infringing on the patents of the corporation. Once an  organic farmer’s crop is contaminated, the farmer loses access to many export markets that have banned GMO products.

Farmers’ advocacy groups are taking  the battle over this practice to the Supreme Court. The case will challenge Monsanto’s aggressive  lawsuits over patents, and hopes to bar the biotech giant from suing farmers  whose fields have been contaminated by their product.

The battle over GMO labeling is heading to a ballot initiative in Seattle.  Advocates of GMOs oppose letting the consumer know if the food has been  genetically altered, but supporters of the proposal say the cost to redesign  labeling will be negligible. Initiative 522 will be on the November ballot, and  as with all political campaigns, money is at the heart of the issue with those  opposed to letting consumers know how their food is made raking in over 11  million dollars, with about 4.8 million dollars coming from Monsanto.

There is no clear end in sight in the  battle over genetically altered foods, but Senator Jeff Merkley has announced  that he will continue to fight against the reenactment of the “Monsanto  Protection Act.”


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