Obama signs Monsanto Protection Act! It's Time to Label GMOs!
We regret to inform you that President Barack Obama has signed H.R. 933, which contained the Monsanto Protection Act, into law. President Obama knowingly signed the Monsanto Protection Act over the urgent pleas of more than 250,000 Americans who asked that he use his executive authority to veto it. President Obama failed to live up to his oath to protect the American people and our constitution.
Today we’re calling on President Obama to issue an executive order to call for the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods.
Not only is GMO labeling a reasonable and common sense solution to the continued controversy that corporations like Monsanto, DuPont and Dow Chemical have created by subverting our basic democratic rights, but it is a basic right that citizens in 62 other countries around the world already enjoy, including Europe, Russia, China, India, South Africa and Saudi Arabia.
There's a lot being said about it, but here are five terrifying facts about the Farmer Assurance Provision -- Section 735 of the spending bill -- to get you acquainted with the reasons behind the ongoing uproar:
1.) The "Monsanto Protection Act" effectively bars federal courts from being able to halt the sale or planting of controversial genetically modified (aka GMO) or genetically engineered (GE) seeds, no matter what health issues may arise concerning GMOs in the future. The advent of genetically modified seeds -- which has been driven by the massive Monsanto Company -- and their exploding use in farms across America came on fast and has proved a huge boon for Monsanto's profits.
But many anti-GMO folks argue there have not been enough studies into the potential health risks of this new class of crop. Well, now it appears that even if those studies are completed and they end up revealing severe adverse health effects related to the consumption of genetically modified foods, the courts will have no ability to stop the spread of the seeds and the crops they bear.
2.) 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.
3.) Many members of Congress were apparently unaware that the "Monsanto Protection Act" even existed within the bill they were voting on. HR 933 was a spending bill aimed at averting a government shutdown and ensuring that the federal government would continue to be able to pay its bills. But the Center for Food Safety maintains that many Democrats in Congress were not even aware that the provision was in the legislation:
“In this hidden backroom deal, Sen. [Barbara] Mikulski turned her back on consumer, environmental and farmer protection in favor of corporate welfare for biotech companies such as Monsanto,” Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety, said in a statement. “This abuse of power is not the kind of leadership the public has come to expect from Sen. Mikulski or the Democrat Majority in the Senate.”
4.) The President did nothing to stop it, either. On Tuesday, Obama signed HR 933 while the rest of the nation was fixated on gay marriage, as the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument concerning California's Proposition 8. But just because most of the nation and the media were paying attention to gay marriage doesn't mean that others were not doing their best to express their opposition to the "Monsanto Protection Act." In fact, more than 250,000 voters signed a petition opposing the provision. And Food Democracy Now protesters even took their fight straight to Obama, protesting in front of the White House against Section 735 of the bill. He signed it anyway.
5.) It sets a terrible precedent. Though it will only remain in effect for six months until the government finds another way to fund its operations, the message it sends is that corporations can get around consumer safety protections if they get Congress on their side. Furthermore, it sets a precedent that suggests that court challenges are a privilege, not a right.
“I think any time you tweak with the ability of the public to seek redress from the courts, you create a huge risk,” Seattle attorney Bill Marler -- who has represented victims of foodborne illness in successful lawsuits against corporations -- told the New York Daily News.
In a bill full of defense and homeland security sections, it appears special interests have tucked in a shelter for themselves to continue selling licensed seeds to farmers though it’s coming to light these seeds were illegally USDA approved. Is it a case of retro-active ass-covering? H.R.933 is 120 THOUSAND words, read it at your leisure. The part we’re most interested in is Section 735
The text of H.R.933 is available quite openly and a search in your browser for 735 will point you to the section in the above screenshot. FoodDemocracyNow.com has a petition to withdraw the Section from the bill. Sites are lit up with the plea to sign – what are you signing?
To, “Eat Hard,” as we suggest, means to know what’s going mouthward to your face. It all starts with farmers and in the case of food and farmers, smaller is sometimes better. The jargon in Section 735 references the Plant Protection Act from 2000 and sections 411, 412 and 414 which is all way over the head of laymen affecting smaller farmers while continuing to provide steady business for larger companies. You can find a PDF of those sections in the Plant Protection Act here.
Tax day is fast approaching. Irony: citizens paying tribute to a corrupt, murderous government. Think of the careful steps you must take to be accurate and truthful when reporting your taxes; only to be received by a lying group of 'leaders' who serve themselves.
I'd love to consume more organic but I have two problems. First, it's way more expensive. Second and more important, most of the 'organically' grown fruits and vegetables I encounter look like they've got AIDS. Small , shriveled , sallow and generally crappy. I see people in the supermarket all the time. Morbidly obese with carts full of non-GMO, organically certified, potato chips and ice cream. It's only a piece of the health pie to eat organic. Maybe one day Monsanto will delve into the 'organic' field.
It’s a Monsanto Government
by Burkely Hermann / June 5th, 2012
In the movie Inside Job, one person interviewed says the current U.S. government is now a “Wall Street government” because of the revolving door between the financial services industry and those that regulate the industry. This means that those in power are on the side of Wall Street. The same can be said for Monsanto, which is really a chemical company. Key figures in the regulatory bodies like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) have, according to Rense.com, “held important positions at Monsanto” before working in those regulatory bodies or have held them “after their biotech related regulatory work for the government agency.” As a result, the government has become one with Monsanto in terms of favorable policy. The reason for this collusion was hinted at in Clifford D. Corner’s book, A People’s History of Science. Corner pointed out that government is often in collusion with those they are regulating.
The problems of Monsanto have been highlighted by activists especially with the prominence of the internet in social activism. But, the real focus on genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) and genetically-modified (GM) food began a while ago. Simply, GMOs can be defined as new organisms created by altering DNA of existing organisms; an attempt to make an organism desirable. More and more people are concerned about GMOs because the effects on health are unknown, they could create super-bacteria, such organisms could be allergic to certain genes and it is possible all foods could become toxic. In the movie, Food Inc., one farmer cleaned his seeds of GMOs (he grew non-GMO crops, but everyone around him had them) and was sued by Monsanto for supposedly violating their patent.
In recent times, these problems have not been solved because of the revolving door with GMO companies. In the Obama Administration, connections with Monsanto have intensified. A U.S. government initiative published in 2010, the “Southern Africa FY 2010 Implementation Plan,” calls for “the need for increased cooperation [on]… GMOs… through support of a harmonized regional bio-safety framework, standardized regional sanitary and phytosanitary… measures, and trade” including “national-level implementation of the harmonized system [to]… increase trade and private sector investment in seeds across the region and allow smallholder access to improved seeds.”
This would allow the American government to keep the revenues of GM crops growing from their revenue of about $76 billion in 2010, according to the April 2012 National Bioeconomy Blueprint.
In March 2010, President Obama’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology talked about GMOs with 100 other observers from the public. More than a year later, in May 2011, Tikkun magazine criticized Obama for pushing the USDA to deregulate GM alfalfa and sugar beets in America despite court orders to the contrary, warning that since sugar beets are about “50 percent of the sugar Americans use in their coffee, cereals, and desserts” it would adversely affect Americans.Tikkun warned the Obama Administration that this deregulation will mean “the end of the organic meat and organic dairy industries.” The validity of the statement is unsure, but Tikkun still highlights a good point. Supposedly, according to the U.S. government, “oversight systems have been developed to identify and reduce any environmental risks that might be associated with [the]…use [of GMOs]” but the question remains if the government can be fully trusted with that task.
The Center for Responsive Politics questions that trust. One of their projects, OpenSecrets, wrote in a 2010 blogpost that “… a close… look at the FDA reveals a close relationship between FDA personnel and private sector professionals that represent big agricultural companies.” President Barack Obama has appointed several people who were related to such a big agricultural company, Monsanto. USDA Secretary Tom Vislack did not necessarily work for Monsanto, but he favored GMOs as Governor of Iowa (i.e. in 2002 he wrote a letter to biotech groups chastising them for not growing GM corn and was supported by GMO-front groups. The Organic Consumers Association, when it opposed Vislack’s nomination in November 2008 (who was consequently confirmed by the Senate), declared he was a shill “for agribusiness biotech giants like Monsanto.” A Washington Post article in March 2011 proved this point, noting that Vislack approved GM alfalfa and corn for being used for ethanol and approved GM sugar beets. This was a step back from his previous policy to broker an agreement between the organic food groups and the GMO lobby. However, the USDA under Vislack’s management has approved every single GMO-based crop: they haven’t denied a single one.