On Friday, September 20, the U.S. House of Representatives passed its version of the Continuing Resolution (H.J.RES.59), a bill to keep the government running through December 15. The bill will force a showdown with the Senate because it includes a provision to defund the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare.
But the Continuing Resolution is controversial for another reason. It extends the Monsanto Protection Act, officially referred to as the Farmers Assurance Provision, a law that gives biotech firms immunity from federal prosecution for illegally growing GMO crops.
Please call your Senators today and ask them to pass a clean version of the Continuing Resolution, one that doesn’t extend the Monsanto Protection Act.
You can say:
“I’m calling to ask the Senator to oppose the Farmers Assurance Provision, sometimes referred to as the Monsanto Protection Act, and to vote no on any bill, including the Continuing Resolution, which includes the provision.”
If you want to go into more detail, you can add:
“New GMOs aren’t regulated enough as it is. Even the American Medical Association complains that the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t safety test new GMOs for human health risks before allowing them on the market for human consumption. The AMA last year recommendedthat GMOs undergo mandatory premarket safety testing.
“The U.S. Department of Agriculture does conduct a mandatory review of new GMOs, but not for human health risks.
“The USDA is notorious for ignoring the impact new GMOs will have on organic and non-GMO farmers who experience serious economic losses when their crops are contaminated.
“In recent years, the courts have had to step in and stop the planting of new GMOs. The courts did this by requiring that the USDA complete a thorough Environmental Impact Statement before approving a controversial crop. The Monsanto Protection Act strips the court of its constitutional power to review executive branch decisions, which means the courts can no longer intervene in order to protect the public. Now, the USDA can rubber-stamp new GMOs and, even if serious harm could result, the court can’t stop them from being planted.
“I hope the Senator will work to stop the Monsanto Protection Act from being extended pastSeptember 30 and vote against any bill that includes it.”
The Monsanto Protection Act was first passed in March, when it was quietly and without debate slipped into the earlier version of the Continuing Resolution, a bill to fund the government throughSeptember 30. As Politico reporter David Rogers explained in his Monsanto Protection Actexposé, “Big Agriculture Flexes its Muscle,” the Monsanto-friendly rider was never voted on. Rogers, a seasoned political reporter, described how the Monsanto Protection Act became law “with little or no floor debate and in a period of turmoil.”
The backroom deal that made the Monsanto Protection Act law generated a public backlash. It was the subject of a Daily Show episode. And it helped spawn a worldwide March against Monsanto, reported on by the New York Times.
Because the Senate never voted on the Monsanto Protection Act, we don’t know where all of the senators stand on the issue. But here’s what we do know:
• Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) conspired with Monsanto lobbyists to write the law.
• Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), chair of the full Senate Appropriations Committee, publicly apologized for letting the Monsanto Protection Act slip through. But, she said, she had a responsibility to avoid a government shutdown.
• Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), tried for a vote to repeal the Monsanto Protection Act during the Senate Farm Bill debate.
• Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) blocked Merkley’s amendment.
• Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D- Mich.) promised Merkley that the amendment wouldn’t be renewed without a vote.
Can Sen. Stabenow keep her promise? We’ll find out this week when the Senate debates the new Continuing Resolution. While the focus will be on the House’s provision to defund Obamacare, we need every senator to know that it is not acceptable to include the Monsanto Protection Act in the new bill.
Please call your senators today. Ask them to reject extending the Monsanto Protection Act and vote no on the Continuing Resolution unless this blatant giveaway to the biotech industry is removed.