Friday, March 29, 2013

CBS News: Obama Signs "Monsanto Protection Act" into Law, GMO Opponents Furious

The "Act" is actually the Section 735 of H.R. 933 "Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013" which enables the US government to fund itself without passing any budget until the end of the fiscal year (September 30, 2013):

Sec. 735. In the event that a determination of non-regulated status made pursuant to section 411 of the Plant Protection Act 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, subject to necessary and appropriate conditions consistent with section 411(a) or 412(c) of the Plant Protection Act, which interim conditions shall authorize the movement, introduction, continued cultivation, commercialization and other specifically enumerated activities and requirements, including measures designed to mitigate or minimize potential adverse environmental effects, if any, relevant to the Secretary’s evaluation of the petition for non-regulated status, while ensuring that growers or other users are able to move, plant, cultivate, introduce into commerce and carry out other authorized activities in a timely manner: Provided, That all such conditions shall be applicable only for the interim period necessary for the Secretary to complete any required analyses or consultations related to the petition for non-regulated status: Provided further, That nothing in this section shall be construed as limiting the Secretary’s authority under section 411, 412 and 414 of the Plant Protection Act.

As CBS News (3/28/2013) puts it:

Critics slam Obama for "protecting" Monsanto

There's no love lost between Washington and the American public, it seems, five days after Congress for the first time in years managed to handle a budget-related issue without reaching the brink of crisis.

Protesters have descended on Pennsylvania Avenue outside the White House this week, enraged at a potentially health-hazardous provision they allege lawmakers inserted surreptitiously into a continuing resolution (CR) that will fund the government through the remainder of the fiscal year. The bill sailed through the Capitol on Friday; President Obama signed it into law on Tuesday.

Opponents have termed the language in question the "Monsanto Protection Act," a nod to the major agricultural biotech corporation and other like firms geared at producing genetically modified organisms (GMO) and genetically engineered (GE) seeds and crops. The provision protects genetically modified seeds from litigation suits over health risks posed by the crops' consumption.

Food safety advocacy groups like Food Democracy Now, which collected more than 250,000 signatures on a petition calling for the president to veto the CR, argue not enough studies have been conducted into the possible health risks of GMO and GE seeds. Eliminating judicial power to halt the selling or planting of them essentially cuts off their course to ensuring consumer safety should health risks emerge.

Seeking a "balance" to the newly minted law, Food Democracy Now has shifted its tactics to encouraging supporters to sign and send letters to Mr. Obama, chiding him for signing the legislation despite that refusal to do so would have expired the federal budget and triggered a government-wide shutdown this week.

Part of the template for the letter reads: "In an effort to balance this violation of our basic rights, I am urging you as President to issue an Executive Order to require the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods, something that you promised farmers while on the campaign trail in 2007. It is urgent that the U.S. government rectify the 20 year old politically engineered loophole and allow for open and transparent labeling of genetically engineered foods," the letter continues, "a basic right that citizens in 62 others countries already enjoy."

Other groups have aimed their ire toward the more worthy target, criticizing Congress for slipping the language into a must-pass bill without review by the Agricultural or Judiciary Committees. The International Business Times reports that the Center for Food Safety is putting in the hot seat Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., chairwoman for the Senate Appropriations Committee, for not giving the amendment a proper hearing. According to Salon, many members of Congress who voted to approve the bill were unaware the language existed.

(Full article at the link)

Seeking a "balance"? It's amusing that Food Democracy Now is urging the president to use an Executive Order to mandate GMO labeling. As if campaign promise is something that any candidate should fulfill once in office. As if the president cares, when his food safety czar is a former vice president of Monsanto. And an Executive Order?

I'd love to know who put this section into the bill, though.

CBS says "refusal to do so [sign the bill] would have expired the federal budget and triggered a government-wide shutdown this week", as if it is a really bad thing. Very funny.

The proposition that would have required GMO labeling in California was soundly defeated in the November 2012 election by an extremely well-funded, out-of-state industrial lobby headed by Monsanto.


Antony said...

I'd like to say, "OK, let the people put down their collective foot and vote the president out of office!!" but they've only just elected him!! Ditto in Japan with Abe and the nuclear restarts we are about to experience here. What's the answer? I don't know. Simply cave in to corporate feudalism???

Anonymous said...

Half the country didn't even vote, and those who voted, nearly half didn't vote for this guy.

Food Democracy Now people have only themselves to blame, as they are the ones who have likely voted for him twice now.

Antony said...

True, but all I'm trying to say is that if you don't like something how do you stop it? You can't, it seems.

Anonymous said...

Great... after liabilty waivers for banks (too big to fail) and nuclear industry now we have waivers for GM food too. On top of not being protected by the law, citizens are as well denied labeling information that would allow them to vote with their wallet -- same story for both Fukushima and GM.
This seems more and more the democracy of Athens, whereby citizens had rights but slaves of course did not.


arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

Or look at Cyprus. Some entities are too evil to fail.

All those international vulture hedge funds who bought subordinate (i.e. there is no collateral) debts of Cyprus banks at a fraction of the par value got bailed out last year by ECB, tripling and quadrupling their money. That was the reason for depositor haircut this time. Depositors is the most senior creditors of any bank anywhere, but since ECB bailed out the junior lien holders first (who should have been the second to last) there was no buffer to protect the depositors.

Anonymous said...

Well, like I always say... law is created by the rich to protect themselves at our expense. Sadly, everybody else sees law as perfect infallible guidelines that everyone MUST follow for society to function.

Also, voting is a joke and evil entities can't fail because they created the system and have the power to bend it as they see fit. We have no choice but to go along with whatever bullshit they throw at us.

Anonymous said...

"...The provision’s language was apparently written in collusion with Monsanto. Lawmakers and companies working together to craft legislation is by no means a rare occurrence in this day and age. But the fact that Sen. Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri, actually worked with Monsanto on a provision that in effect allows them to keep selling seeds, which can then go on to be planted, even if it is found to be harmful to consumers, is stunning. It’s just another example of corporations bending Congress to their will, and it’s one that could have dire risks for public health in America..." From...

Elsewhere I read Senator Roy Blunt who attached the bill as a rider, received like $64,000 for his election campaign from Monsanto. In his self-defense was that the legislation is only good for a year then expires...(But you know how that goes once a foot is in the door).

Anonymous said...

anon at 5:38:
"Food Democracy Now people have only themselves to blame, as they are the ones who have likely voted for him twice now."
Voting is choosing the candidate you agree most with in terms of the overall picture. Regardless of who one votes for, there will always be issues/actions of that person or the political party one disagrees with. Expecting it otherwise is unrealistic.

Generally, while I have no idea if this is what happened here (currently have not time to follow US politics), I'd offer this as food for thought: the thing to really be upset about is the system that allows the practice to combine completely unrelated issues into one bill to basically "slip one by" or even strong-arm your opponents.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't matter who you would have voted for this "law" would still have passed.

The whole corrupt system needs someone to press CTRL+ALT+DEL

Anonymous said...

Gawd, Liberals are really stupid.

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