Monsanto Protection Act goes too far

Holly New

Not too long ago, President Barack Obama signed HR 933 into law. Deep within Title VII, deceptively entitled “General Provisions,” lies a single yet terrifying paragraph known as Section 735.

This little tidbit of the law “effectively bars federal courts from being able to halt the sale or planting of GMO or GE crops and seeds, no matter what health consequences from the consumption of these products may come to light in the future,” according to Connor Adams Sheets of International Business Times. This is now being referred to as the Monsanto Protection Act.

In case you didn’t know, Monsanto is a multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation, primarily dealing with soybeans and corn. Basically, they produce the seeds for our food, and by food, I mean “food.” GMOs are genetically modified organisms, and GE stands for genetically engineered. Gross.

Sarah Parnass of ABC News wrote that under this law, “In the event that a seed is approved by the USDA [United States Department of Agriculture] but that approval is challenged by a court ruling, the seed can still be used and sold until the USDA says otherwise….” There is something very wrong with that.

Any withholding of crops is decided solely by the secretary of agriculture, the head of the USDA. It bypasses any sort of judicial review or even cries of public health concern. Not only does this put a lot of power in the hands of the USDA, but it gives seed producers a lot of flexibility in what kind of seeds are being produced. A lot of speculation has gone into the link between GMOs and health issues. Letting producers alter the seeds how they want doesn’t sound healthy to me.

The scariest part is how Monsanto plays into this.

According to Justin Wingerter of CBS News in St. Louis, “Politico has cited [Senator Roy] Blunt (R-MO), the ranking Republican on the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, as the rider’s chief advocate,” also saying that “Blunt told the online publication he even worked with Monsanto to craft the bill.”

Monsanto shouldn’t have any say in a bill that directly helps them. The government is supposed to protect its citizens, not its corporations.

Monsanto has the government eating out of its genetically modified hand. In January 2010, Obama appointed Michael R. Taylor as deputy commissioner for foods at the FDA. Taylor was the vice president for public policy for Monsanto from 1998 to 2001. The links between the government and Monsanto are too close for comfort.

Here in corn country, we have to think about our food. Farmers spray chemicals into our air and put poisons in our crops. One example is a breed of soybeans Monsanto has produced called Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield. It allows farmers to spray Roundup–yes, the weed killer–onto fields without killing the soybeans.

As growing season comes upon us, watching what we eat may take on a whole new meaning.