Organic farmers and opponents of GMO crops scored a big victory Tuesday when US Senate leaders announced they would let the so-called Monsanto Protection Act expire at the end of the month and not work to renew it.
Under the act, which was passed in March, Monsanto, Syngenta, DuPont and other makers of genetically modified seeds would be shielded from lawsuits, even if the crops cause harm.
US Senator Jeff Merkley (D.-Oregon) announced the news in a press release, saying Senate Democrats were deleting the act from the continuing resolution that had passed the House.
“This is a victory for all those who think special interests shouldn’t get special deals,” Merkley said. “This secret rider, which was slipped into a must-pass spending bill earlier this year, instructed the Secretary of Agriculture to allow GMO crops to be cultivated and sold even when our courts had found they posed a potential risk to farmers of nearby crops, the environment, and human health. I applaud the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have worked hard to end this diabolical provision.”
Members of both parties have been friendly to GMO seed makers. President Obama signed a continuing resolution in March that contained the Monsanto Protection Act, which had passed a Republican-controlled House and Democratic-controlled Senate. The USDA is filled with former biotech giant officials who were appointed by President Obama.
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Missouri Senator Roy Blunt, a Republican, put the farmer assurance provision (also known as the Monsanto Protection Act rider) into the bill.
The act again was part of a continuing resolution that passed the House earlier in September. Continuing resolutions keep the government funded when there is no budget passed.
The anti-GMO movement is growing in America. As previously reported by Off The Grid News, a large group of farmers and food advocates are taking their fight against Monsanto to the US Supreme Court, seeking to halt the company’s GMO seed patents claims and to prohibit more lawsuits against land owners who have had their crops contaminated by genetically modified seeds – instances when the land owners did not want GMO plants.
“We have been farming for almost forty years and we have never wanted anything to do with Monsanto,” said Jim Gerritsen, an organic seed farmer in Maine and president of the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGTA). “We believe we have the right to farm and grow good food the way we choose. We don’t think it’s fair that Monsanto can trespass onto our farm, contaminate and ruin our crops and then sue us for infringing on their patent rights. We don’t want one penny from Monsanto. American farmers deserve their day in Court so we can prove to the world Monsanto’s genetically engineered patents are invalid and that farmers deserve protection from Monsanto’s abuse.”
The biotech industry’s desire to garner seed patents is a growing concern for not just farmers, but anyone who lives in the United States and eats food. During a 2007 Iowa campaign stop, then-candidate Obama told the crowd that Americans have a right to know what’s in their food.
“Here’s what I’ll do as president,” he said in a clip available on YouTube. “I’ll immediately implement country-of-origin labeling, because Americans should know where their food comes from. We’ll let folks know whether their food has been genetically modified, because Americans should know what they’re buying.”
Obama, though, has been a big disappointment to GMO opponents, essentially doing the opposite of what he pledged.