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(IPS) US Activists Outraged Over So-Called Monsanto Protection Act

This article first appeared on the Inter-Press Service website at: http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/04/u-s-activists-outraged-over-so-called-monsanto-protection-act/

ATLANTA, Georgia, Apr 28 2013 (IPS) - Food safety advocates are outraged over revelations that U.S. Congress and President Barack Obama approved an act that includes a provision purporting to strip federal courts of the ability to prevent the spread of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

 The provision in the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013 requires the U.S. Department of Agriculture to issue temporary permits allowing the continued planting of GMOs by farmers, even when a court rules that the agency erred in its environmental impact review of the GMOs.

The provision, which activists call the Monsanto Protection Act, is one for which the multinational corporation Monsanto has been lobbying Congress for at least a year. The legislation passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Mar. 6, 2013 and the Senate on Mar. 21, with Obama signing the legislation five days later on Mar. 26.

Revelations of the provision, which was buried in the 587-page spending bill (HR 933, under Division A, Title VI, Section 735), have increased public awareness and interest in the issue of GMOs in the United States.

The provision states that if “a determination of non-regulated status…is or has been invalidated or vacated, the Secretary of Agriculture shall, notwithstanding any other provision of law, upon request by a farmer, grower, farm operator, or producer, immediately grant temporary permit(s) or temporary deregulation in part”.

Industry control

U.S. Senator Jon Tester, a Democrat from Montana and one of the only family farmers in Congress, spoke out against the provision on the floor on the Senate. 

“The United States Congress is telling the Agricultural Department that even if a court tells you that you’ve failed to follow the right process and tells you to start over, you must disregard the court’s ruling and allow the crop to be planted anyway,” Tester said.

“Not only does this ignore the constitutional idea of separation of powers, but it also lets genetically modified crops take hold across this country, even when a judge finds it violates the law,” Tester said, describing the issue as “once again, agribusiness multinational corporations putting farmers as serfs”.

Meanwhile, activists are holding Senator Barbara Milkulski, a Democrat from Maryland, partially responsible, as she was the committee chair who allowed the amendment and could have addressed the provision in Congressional hearings

In a statement, Mikulski’s spokeswoman, Rachel MacKnight, defended her. “Senator Mikulski understands the anger over this provision. She didn’t put the language in the bill and doesn’t support it either.”

“As Chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee, Senator Mikulski’s first responsibility was to prevent a government shutdown. That meant she had to compromise on many of her own priorities to get a bill through the Senate that the House would pass,” MacKnight said.

Because the provision is temporary, it will likely come up for reauthorisation in September 2013, an opportunity for public opposition that activists are relishing.

“The USDA has working mechanisms in place to allow for partial deregulation for those crops,” Colin O’Neil, director of government affairs for the Centre for Food Safety, noted in an interview with IPS.

“At best, it’s unnecessary and duplicative. At worst, it takes oversight away from the USDA and puts it in the hands of the industry,” O’Neil said of the provision.

The centre has concerns about how the USDA has used temporary deregulation in the past, such as with genetically modified sugar beets. Both genetically modified alfalfa and sugar beets have been held up in court in the past over National Environmental Policy Act challenges. 

“While we have argued that the USDA isn’t adequately protecting farmers and the environment, the rider will essentially prevent the USDA from safeguarding farmers and the environment because it forces the agency to comply with industry demands,” O’Neil said.

Future benefits

Monsanto has proposals for numerous GMO crops in the pipeline that could be affected by this rider.

“I think the Monsanto Protection Act and how it was passed and how it was slipped into law is just another example of how this company operates, how they manipulate our democracy, and they buy off our elected officials,” Dave Murphy, founder of Food Democracy Now, told IPS.

“This is another example of how…they choose to operate within the rules of a democratic society. They’re like the mafia, they go in and write the rules the way they want them to be,” Murphy said.

“Monsanto really did themselves a major disservice by slipping this into a continuing resolution,” he said.

Monsanto, which does derive benefit from the provision, responded in a statement, saying its critics have an “interesting narrative, worthy of a B grade movie script”.

“Virtually none of the people protesting actually read the provision itself. Those who did, found a surprise: It contains no reference to Monsanto, protection of Monsanto, or benefit to Monsanto. It does seek to protect farmers, and we supported the provision,” Monsanto wrote.

Senator Roy Blunt, a Republican from Missouri, inserted the provision, or “rider”, into the spending bill, according to Politico. Monsanto is based in St. Louis, Missouri.

(END/2013)


Comments (5)

Laura Good Devereaux
Said this on 4-30-2013 At 04:26 pm

For progressive action to be taken on this issue, it must become an item on the President's political radar screen.  At least two major petition drives have garnered wide national support in favor of food policy that, at a minimum, requires the labelling of genetically modified foods. Despite knowledge of this national sentiment, the President has thus far not only NOT placed the research of, debate about, or response to the publpublirrespondingerespondingsrespondinositivelydrespondingdrespondingrrespondingerespondingsrespondingsrespondinespondingdrespondingrrespondingerespondingsrespondingsrespondingirespondinespondingrrespondingerespondingsrespondingsrespondingirespondingnrespondinespondingerespondingsrespondingsrespondingiresbut hasdingdrespondingrrespondingerespondingsrespondingsrespondinespondingdrespondingrrespondingerespondingsrespondingsrespondingirespondinespondingrrespondingerespondingsrespondingsrespondingirespondingnrespondinespondingerespondingsresprrespondingerespondingsrespondinositivelydrespondingdrespondingrrespondingerespondingsrespondingsrespondinespondingdrespondingrrespondingerespondingsrespondingsrespondingirespondinespondingrrespondingerespondingsrespondingsrespondingirespondingnrespondinespondingerespondingsrespondingsrespondingiresbut has rtndingdrespondingrrespondingerespondingsrespondingsrespondinespondingdrespondingrrespondingerespondingsrespondingsrespondingirespondinespondingrrespondingerespondingsrespondingsrespondingirespondingnrespondinespondingerespondingsresp

Jorge
Said this on 6-17-2013 At 06:16 pm

Another unintelligible comment from LGD...

Laura Good Devereaux
Said this on 4-30-2013 At 04:32 pm

Post appears to be garbled.

Jayson Smith
Said this on 4-30-2013 At 05:15 pm

hey... just to make a point.. at truly how underhanded this is.   has anyone realized that this supposedly temporary provision that will not be up for public review until september... gives monsanto almost a whole planting year to spread itis gmos freely.  maybe thats the whole plan... by next year it will not matter because almost every crop will be contaminated with their patented life cycle seeds... and they will turn  legal screws and have every crop in the country paying them royalties.  if this doesent overturn now.. by september they already win.

Steve Swimmer
Said this on 4-30-2013 At 07:22 pm

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German WWII chemical warfare is alive and well with Monsanto's RoundUp. 
 
The cholinesterase poisoning properties of Glyphosate (RoundUp) are well known to the chemical warfare crowd. The chemical name for glyphosate is N- (phosphonomethyl) glycine. A substance composed of two chemical parts, 1) an organophosphate part connected to, 2) the glycine part.  
 
A toxicant property of organophosphates is their ability to depress levels of protective enzymes in our blood.  
 
These are substances that poison enzymes and weaken the body’s natural ability to detoxify various environmental poisons in a manner analogous to how depressed antibody levels allow viruses to damage the body.  
 
Glyphosate is a cholinesterase inhibitor for two reasons. First, it is known that organophosphate nerve gases used in chemical warfare are typically organic compounds which have an odd number of chemical bonds attached to phosphorous (glyphosate phosphorous has 5 chemical bonds). This bonding configuration generally causes cholinesterase enzyme poisoning.  
 
Second, glycine itself reportedly can depress Cholinesterase enzymes.  
 
In direct laboratory experiments exposing Roundup to our vital enzymes, the results are clear: Glyphosate indeed is a serious cholinesterase inhibitor.  
 
Today, the world-wide medical community is collectively calling for decreased use of anti-cholinesterase agents. Yet, here is Monsanto, pumping the world full of its highly profitable poison.  
 
The people most susceptible permanent injury and death by Monsanto’s cholinesterase inhibiting poisons are pregnant women, newborn babies and the elderly. Within these demographics, it does not take much of the poison to rub out human life.

“The herbicide’s active ingredient, glyphosate, kills almost everything”  
 
RoundUp is not a Monsanto invention.

It is no more than a copied left over WW11 German war gas purposefully designed as a weapon of mass destruction to kill people in vast numbers with very little effort. Monsanto knows this only too well and covers this part up in order to make unbridled sales.  
 
Now, the only difference is: Monsanto sells it in smaller quantities, to kill insects and weeds.  
 
Roundup is glyphosate; and, when pyrolized (burned) RoundUp produces acetonitrile which is methyl cyanide gas.  
 
The DEA wanted to spray RoundUp massively in Afghanistan on drug crops; but, realized the Taliban could steal the RoundUp and use it to make Cyanide weapons of mass destruction.  
 
Still, it won’t be long before some terrorist gathers barrels of roundup for a mass destruction attack somewhere; most probably, right here in our own backyard, where roundup is easily obtained.

Monsanto is plying our Great Nation with Cyanide free radicals and our government is covering for them. 
 
Does Monsanto make you feel any better now?

Very unfortunately for our Great Nnation: Chief Justice John Roberts has already sided with Monsanto: and, Justice Clarence Thomas, a former Monsanto lawyer, will following his usual "Scalia" path. Thus, it looks like the "fix' is in; and Monsanto will win out over the American Farmer. 
 
By the by, as a side bar: speaking of Justice Clarence Thomas: Anyone see Django?  
 
"Stephen" subservient to his Master, is a lot like Justice Clarence Thomas endlessly bowing to his Master Justce Scalia.  
 
Certainly, everyone can see Justice Clarence Thomas in Django. Clearly, all throughout the “Stephen” parts, the Justice Thomas similarities are absolutely striking.  
 
Here, the Justice Clarence Thomas of our Great Nation’s slave era, “Stephen” played with such realism by Mr. Jackson was so stunning and so on target: The portrayal cannot be mere coincidence. Both Mr. Jackson and Mr. Tarantino are really smart and as on top of things as they are, no way they made such a close likeness, unless by design.  
 
Probably wishing to keep this under the table, they may well deny they did it on purpose; still, look at the character similarities between “Stephen” and today’s version of the same man, Justice Clarence Thomas; and, then, I’m sure you will agree with me: they had to do that with purpose.  
 
And, what a good job was done. From this day forward Justice Thomas and "Stephen" are forever connected; and, now, we all know exactly what kind of kindred "rats" they really are.  
 
Good work, Mr. Jackson. Clearly the memory of Dr. King is still within you. Many thanks and much respect for you and Mr. Tarantino.  
 
But, I just have to ask: did you study the movements and attitudes of Justice Thomas in order to capture him so completely in “Stephen”?

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