Monsanto Protection Act Being Pushed by House Republicans

monsanto_act_republicansInclusion of the so-called “Monsanto Protection Act,” a highly controversial measure that involves genetically modified (GM) seeds, is being pushed into the spending bill by House Republicans. Monsanto is a titan in the field of GM crops.

The Farmer Assurance Provision, which has been nicknamed The Monsanto Protection Act, was a rider that was slipped into the prior spending resolution, now nearing expiration, according to the Huffington Post. House Republicans are including an extension—intended to stop a government shutdown—according to legislation just released by House Appropriations Chairman, Hal Rogers (Republican-Kentucky).

Many consumers strongly object to consuming GMO foods and have long sought foods that are non-GMO, such as certified organic meats that are non-GMO fed, and non-GMO crops. Because of consumer outcry, companies have been voluntarily labeling their products. Yet, GMO labeling has become a contentious issue in the food business with some two-dozen states pending on a decision regarding labeling requirements. The biotech industry has been fighting against GMO labeling with intense lobbying.

The issue of GM crops, and the animals fed those crops, is gaining traction. A new study revealed some potential health problems associated with GM crops and involved a study conducted with Australian scientists and United States researchers. A group of 168 newly weaned pigs were studied with half fed a diet of GM corn and soy grain; the other, conventional feed. The researchers found that pigs fed a diet of GM grain had significantly increased stomach inflammation when compared to the pigs who consumed conventional feed and GM-fed females pigs’ uteri measured at 25 percent heavier than non-GM fed pigs. That study was published in a recent issue of the peer-reviewed Journal of Organic Systems.

GM crops are used in the U.S., Latin America, and other countries and biotech seeds are altered genetically to grow into crops that have a high tolerance for herbicides and pests. Critics say that the DNA changes that create the so-called “transgenic plants,” derived from DNA from other bacteria and species, also creates new proteins that can lead to the digestive issues seen in this study. These adverse health effects could potentially occur in humans who consume these crops, Reuters noted.

We also previously wrote that another study linked GM corn to cancer in rats. That study found that rats fed a diet of Monsanto’s GM corn, or who were exposed to Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer, suffered from tumors and multiple organ damage, according to a French study, wrote Reuters previously. The lead researcher for this study has a reputation for being an industry critic, which is expected to spark even more controversy over GM food crops.

Meanwhile, the law in question stops judges from placing injunctions on GM seeds, regardless of the seeds’ safety. Monsanto argued that singling out its name is unfair because other agribusinesses support the Provision, the Huffington Post reported. Senator Jeff Merkley (Democrat-Oregon), has fought hard against the measure, telling the Huffington Post that he plans to fight re-enactment. “The proposed House continuing resolution includes an extension of the Monsanto Protection Act, a secret rider slipped into a must-pass spending bill earlier this year,” Merkley said. “I will fight the House’s efforts to extend this special interest loophole that nullifies court orders that are protecting farmers, the environment, and public health.”

In a statement, Colin O’Neil, a lobbyist for the Center for Food Safety, said, “It is extremely disappointing to see the damaging ‘Monsanto Protection Act’ policy rider extended in the House spending bill. Hundreds of thousands of Americans called their elected officials to voice their frustration and disappointment over the inclusion of the ‘Monsanto Protection Act’ this past spring. Its inclusion is a slap in the face to the American public and our justice system,” according to the Huffington Post.

Senator Merkley and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (Democrat-Michigan) publicly opposed the provision in future legislation, speaking on the Senate floor: “The Monsanto Protection Act refers to a policy rider the House slipped into the recently passed continuing resolution and sent over to the Senate. Because of the time-urgent consideration of this must-pass legislation—necessary to avert a government shutdown—this policy rider slipped through without examination or debate,” the Huffington Post reported.

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