Sunday, October 20, 2013

Surprise Small Victory in the End-Shutdown Bill

They'll be back, of course, with even more campaign cash for cooperative congress critters, but for the moment, there's a ray of hope for those of us who value safe, available, affordable food.

Zoe Carpenter at The Nation:
Other than re-opening the government and averting a global financial crisis, one good thing about the funding bill passed last night was that it put an end to a corporate giveaway known colloquially as the Monsanto Protection Act.

Formally called the Farmer Assurance Provision, the measure undermined the Department of Agriculture’s authority to ban genetically modified crops, even if court rulings found they posed risks to human and environmental health. Republican Senator Roy Blunt worked with the genetically modified seed giant Monsanto to craft the initial rider, and it was slipped into a funding resolution that passed in March. There was concern that an agreement to end the shutdown would extend the provision, which is set to expire at the end of the month.

Jon Tester, a farmer and Democratic Senator from Montana, removed the measure from the bill yesterday. “All [the Farmer Assurance Provision] really assures is a lack of corporate liability,” Tester argued in March. “It…lets genetically-modified crops take hold across the country – even when a judge finds it violates the law.”

  Meanwhile, Monsanto is facing at least 16 lawsuits for failing to contain genetically modified wheat, which was found growing on an Oregon farm earlier this year. Concerns about the company’s aggressive patent policies and their implications for food sovereignty are global: this summer, Chileans protested a law protecting GMO manufacturers, and activists rallied in dozens of countries this weekend as part of the second “March Against Monsanto” demonstration. 

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