Signing of Monsanto Act causes controversy

US worried about genetically modified seeds and crops


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US President Barack Obama signed on Tuesday the HR 933 continuing resolutions which include a section that prohibits federal courts from stopping the sale and propagation of genetically modified seeds and crops in case safety tests raise concerns about health risks. Food, environment and consumer advocacy groups have expressed their strong disapproval of the resolution and warned that it will compromise the government’s ability to protect the food supply.

Section 735 that is also known as the “Monsanto Protection Act” by its opponents, says that federal courts will no longer have the authority to stop the sale and propagation of genetically modified seeds and crops if concerns about health risks arise during safety tests. The name of the act comes from the fact that senator Roy Blunt worked closely with Monsanto, a leading GMO corporation, to craft the language in the bill.

As the group Food Democracy Now states in its website: “This dangerous provision, the Monsanto Protection Act, strips judges of their constitutional mandate to protect consumer and farmer rights and the environment, while opening up the floodgates for the planting of new untested genetically engineered crops, endangering farmers, citizens and the environment.”

The provision is attached to a continuing resolution that only lasts for the next six months and has not yet been incorporated into federal law. However, fears that it will be formally adopted sometime in the future have caused great concerns. As a result, more than 250,000 people signed a petition asking Obama to veto the bill.

In response, Kelly J. Clauss, spokesperson for Monsanto has said to New Europe that  As a member of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) and the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA), Monsanto was pleased to join major grower groups in supporting the Farmer Assurance Provision including the American Farm Bureau Federation, the American Soybean Association, the American Sugarbeet Growers Association, the National Corn Growers Association, the National Cotton Council, and several others. 

"The point of the Farmer Assurance Provision is to strike a careful balance allowing farmers to continue to plant and cultivate their crops subject to appropriate environmental safeguards, while USDA conducts any necessary further environmental reviews.

"A broad bipartisan group of legislators in both the House and Senate have supported the provision dating back to June 2012, and it passed with broad bipartisan support," Clauss said.

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