Senate funding bill won’t include ‘Monsanto Protection Act’

By Julian Hattem - 09/25/13 02:06 PM ET

The Senate bill to keep the government funded will drop a controversial provision that food safety advocates warn lets agricultural giants avoid judicial oversight.

The provision, dubbed the “Monsanto Protection Act,” was extended under the House’s continuing resolution passed last week. Under the Senate bill, it will expire at the end of the month.

Opponents of the measure, which allows biotechnology companies to sell genetically modified seeds even if a court blocks them, cheered the news.

“This is a major victory for the food movement and all those who care about openness and transparency in their government,” Dave Murphy, the executive director of Food Democracy Now, said in a statement. “And a sign that our voices can make the difference when we are effectively organized.”

Murphy’s group had been circulating an online petition to end the provision, which was originally trucked into the government’s current funding bill but has since become a central point of contention in the fight over regulation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). 

Food advocates claim that the measure was a gross intrusion on the judicial branch and a handout to agricultural giants that could jeopardize the safety of America’s crops.

“This is a victory for all those who think special interests shouldn’t get special deals,” Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) said in a statement on Tuesday evening. “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.”

Supporters say that the measure, formally known as the Farmers Assurance Provision, is necessary to protect farmers from endless legal complaints by opponents of GMOs that hold up critical research.

Farmers have long used genetically modified seeds that are crafted to be resistant to herbicides, but critics warn that their safety is unproven. 


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