The deadly Monsanto Rider has passed as part of the 2013 Continuing Resolution, which funds the government through September.
This sneaky addition to the bill is a major victory for the biotech food industry. It strips federal courts of their power to restrict the planting and sale of genetically modified seeds even if they find they should not be planted. If a judge orders the USDA to complete an environmental impact assessment on a specific GMO crop, that doesn’t stop it from being planted.
The USDA would be required to give Monsanto or other GMO firms a temporary permit to keep selling, cultivating and planting those crops while the review is conducted.
It essentially eliminates the only legal tool environmental advocates have for slowing down or stopping the use of new genetically modified crops.
It opens the door to the entry of a raft of GMOs awaiting approval, including Frankenfish, the first genetically engineered animal.
Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee did not bring the rider in front of the Agriculture or Judiciary Committees, as would usually be the case. Many Democrats on the committees say they didn’t know the Rider was in the budget bill.
And John Tester’s (D-MT) amendment to strip the Monsanto Rider from the budget bill never came up for vote.
"In this hidden backroom deal, Senator 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 Senator Mikulski or the Democratic Majority in the Senate," says Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of the Center for Food Safety.
The Center for Food Safety says it will "launch a major campaign" to make sure this deception is not included in the next round of appropriation bills." Sec. 735 is opposed by many organizations, including the Environmental Working Group, Consumers Union, Public Citizen, and the National Farmers Union.
PACs that support GMO crops have made the following campaign contributions since January 1, 2009, according to MapLight’s analysis:
- 7.5 million for current members of Congress
- $372,000 to members of the Senate Appropriations Committee
- $71,000 to Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), an Appropriations Committee member received more than any other member, and the second-most received by any senator.
Who are the pro-GMO groups that made these contributions?
Besides Monsanto, which has contributed $540,000, there’s Syngenta Corp, Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland, Scotts Miracle-Gro, Minn-Dak Farmers Coop, Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Coop, National Cotton Council, American Farm Bureau, and the biggest contributer, American Crystal Sugar at $3.3 million.
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