‘Monsanto Protection Act’ to be voted on by Congress

84famonsanto Monsanto Protection Act to be voted on by Congress

The US House of Representatives is expected to weigh in on theAgricultural Appropriations Bill for Fiscal year 2013 this week,and included within the act lies the “Farmer Assurance Provision,”a small subsection that has so far earned opposition from hundredsof thousands family farmers, environmental interest groups andother advocates. Those hoping to defeat the bill have gone so faras to dub the provision the “Monsanto Protection Act.”Small time agriculturists have increasingly spoken out againstbiotech companies in recent years, as giants like Monsanto havemade millions off of genetically engineering crops that traditionalplants simply can’t match up with. Additionally, Monsanto has takena slew of farmers to court over questionable patent infringementsuits, almost always winning the help of high-powered attorneys.Now if the Farmer Assurance Provision is approved by Congress, GMOcompanies will once again be allowed an advantage from theirfriends in Washington.If the provision is approved this week, biotech companies won’thave to wait for federal approval to test and plant laboratory-madecrops, instead being allowed to carry on with even selling suchcrops until the government elects to tell them otherwise.“The provision would strip federal courts of theauthority to halt the sale and planting of an illegal, potentiallyhazardous GE crop while the US Department of Agriculture (USDA)assesses those potential hazards,” explains a letter to theHouse that has been signed by dozens of food businesses andretailers, as well as interest groups and agencies representingfamily farmers. “Further, it would compel USDA to allowcontinued planting of that same crop upon request, even if in thecourse of its assessment the Department finds that it posespreviously unrecognized risks.”The group Food Democracy Now has started a campaign on their ownand is asking opponents of the bill to sign on with an amendment tothe appropriations bill, the DeFazio Amendment, which would ensurethat judicial oversight will continue to apply to GMOS.The Farmer Assurance Provision, says the group, “strips therights of federal courts to halt the sale and planting ofgenetically engineered crops during the legal appealsprocess.”“The judicial review process is an essential element of USlaw and serves as a vital check on any Federal Agency decision thatmay negatively impact human health, the environment or livelihoods.Yet this provision seeks an end-run around such judicial review bypreemptively deciding that industry can set its own conditions tocontinue to sell biotech seeds, even if a court may find them tohave been wrongfully approved.”In the letter undersigned by the ACLU, National OrganicCoalition and others, the signees say,“Far from safeguarding farmers, the only parties whoseinterests are ‘assured’ by this rider are those of GE cropdevelopers.”Monsanto has already proven it has friends in Washington, as alandmark patent case currently before the Supreme Court is expected to go in favor of the biotech giants. Nowopponents of the pro-GMO provision in the appropriations bill arecalling the amendment the “Monsanto Protection Act” and hope that agrassroots campaign will keep the industry leaders from having onemore unfair advantage over small time farmers.Meanwhile, the market value for Monsanto Company hit a 52-weekhigh on March 11, and is expected to continue with that kind ofmomentum throughout 2013, predicts Zacks Consensus Estimates.

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‘Monsanto Protection Act’ to be voted on by Congress

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