There is no Monsanto Protection Act

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During recent negotiations on the continuing budget resolution, farm state senators included a “Farmer Assurance Provision” rider, which critics have derided as the “Monsanto Protection Act.”

The provision codifies existing USDA practices and elements of a 2010 Supreme Court ruling that lower courts should not automatically prohibit the planting of biotech crop varieties, or the harvest and sale of biotech crops already planted, when their commercial approval is revoked for procedural reasons. Activists have mischaracterized the rider’s actual effect and have called on Congress to have it terminated.

“Section 735 of the Senate appropriations bill/ CR (continuing resolution) contains language to provide some predictability and assurance to farmers who plant biotech crops that have already been deregulated by USDA but are then subject to litigation by anti-biotech activists. The language in the CR was included in the House Agriculture Appropriations bill during the 112th Congress and has, therefore, been in the public domain for a number of months,” noted Richard Gupton, Agricultural Retailers Association, senior vice president of public policy and counsel.  

Gregory Conko, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, issued a statement that is quite critical of the protesting activists trying to stir up consumers who aren’t knowledgeable about agriculture or production of biotech crops. CEI is a nonprofit, public interest group that strongly supports free enterprise.

“For close to a decade, activists have used nuisance litigation to overturn the approval of biotech crops on the grounds that the U.S. Department of Agriculture improperly documented its evaluation of potentially negative “environmental” effects. Because the National Environmental Policy Act requires agencies to consider and fully document not only ecological impacts, but also any possible economic, social, cultural, historic and aesthetic effects, it offers fertile ground for bad-faith, obstructionist lawsuits for what amounts to mere paperwork violations.

“In the five NEPA lawsuits against biotech crop approvals filed to date, not a single harm to consumers or the environment were even alleged, let alone proved. So, activist claims that the rider lets USDA ignore a court finding of environmental harm are patently false. In fact, the rider only authorizes USDA to grant “temporary” permission for biotech crops to be planted, and only “subject to necessary and appropriate conditions … and requirements, including measures designed to mitigate or minimize potential adverse environmental effects, if any,” until the USDA’s paperwork irregularities have been corrected.

“Furthermore, the rider does not give USDA any new authority, since the department previously had issued exactly the same kind of temporary permits for farmers to grow biotech seeds they already had purchased. And in the 2010 case Monsanto v. Geertson Seed Farms, the Supreme Court ruled that courts should not automatically revoke a biotech crop’s approval when NEPA violations are found. So, all the Farmer Assurance rider does is codify existing case law and agency practice,” Conko wrote.

He further noted that the rider wasn’t slipped into the continuing resolution surreptitiously. Discussion within Congress has occurred off and on including during negotiations on the farm bill, and even provisions to give farmers even more rights related to planting biotech crops were discussed.

Conko’s added, “Given how abusive NEPA litigation has gotten and how disruptive these rulings are to farmers and the American food chain, enacting the Farmer Assurance Provision is the very least Congress should do to protect American agriculture.”

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Mark Wade    
California  |  April, 01, 2013 at 09:25 AM

An Average American Citizen Perspective: As a citizen, my knowledge of the issue(s) is based only on what I am told or by what I read. To date, there are multiple fronts deriding the ingestion of GMO foods based on reason and little science that I know of. I may take the information as only hearsay, however, there are LARGE numbers of Americans that are fearful of what may be happening to our food source grown in the U.S. based on the claims of its opponents. This does not help: 1. For close to a decade, activists have used nuisance litigation In the five NEPA lawsuits against biotech crop approvals filed to date - Five suits in about ten years would not be considered a nuisance when the suits are initiated by proponents for general American health. 2. Furthermore, the rider does not give USDA any new authority, - Everyone knows this already. The rider removes power(s). 3. Given how abusive NEPA litigation has gotten and how disruptive these rulings are to farmers and the American food chain - These comments by someone who has written a book on the matter carry little weight with the average American. He stands to make money in this business, this fact disqualifies ANYTHING he says in the American mind. So far, there has been little public scientific debate to prove either case. If GMO producers are essential to future agriculture production in the U.S., the case has not been made to the American public’s satisfaction. Challenge your opponent publicly and open the discussion. Prove yourselves beyond a shadow of a doubt, or be ready for public backlash.

April, 01, 2013 at 11:41 AM

Well said, Mark!!

April, 01, 2013 at 12:58 PM

Section 735 of the Senate appropriations bill/ CR may be proper, but the method with which it was introduced leads to doubt.

Hawaii  |  April, 01, 2013 at 03:44 PM

I too enjoyed the comment by Mark Wade. The communication on this issue is terrible with hysteria on one side and inadequate public response on the other. I would love to know how to find Mark Wade online.

Texas  |  April, 01, 2013 at 04:27 PM

My only concern with GMO is the inevitable spread of GMO genes into my organic crops. And then I'm not able to sue for damages as the genes are patented. If the GMO seed producers could contain their genetic material, let them grow it, label it and let the free market decide whether GMO is necessary or not.

Keith Edmisten    
North Carolina  |  April, 01, 2013 at 05:01 PM

Mark Check out the GMO fear mongers like Jeffery Smith, the anti GMO "researcher" Gilles-Eric Seralini sell books for a profit and seems to carry weight with most anti-GMO Americans. There has been a lot of scientific debate. I suggest you google Mark Lynas' speech at Oxford and listen to it if you don't think there has been enough debate for a reasonable person to think that much or the anti-GMO response is irrational.

April, 01, 2013 at 09:45 PM

not well said, but said nonetheless

Newark  |  April, 02, 2013 at 09:56 AM

Debate with anti-GMO activists makes no sense! There is no scientific result they are ready to accept as argument good enough to let GMOs to be marketed. Whatever you deliver - they are not satisfied, and demand more tests and more time... And of course - they want absolute ban for any GMO untill they change their mind, what is not going to ever happen.

New York  |  April, 02, 2013 at 10:47 AM

The largest concern about GMO and GE seeds is that they spread and take over other crops on farms that do not want them. Then Monsanto sues them for not paying for their patented seeds. Common sense is all you need to know that engineered food is bad for the various systems in our bodies. Processed food is bad for you, Engineered food is 10x worse especially because of the unknown side affects that will occur on a wide scale human intake of such food. My opinion is that it needs to be stopped now, researched on a very small controlled (Greenhouse/lab) environment. Have the families of Monsanto owners be the test pigs and see if it is actually safe. Then provide the accurate data that supports without a doubt the affects of ingesting Engineered Unnatural food.

Katherine Brock    
April, 02, 2013 at 12:53 PM

The most sensible comment I've read in the above comments was written by humananonymous. There are a LOT of red flags out there about human consumption of GMO food! Those who deny it or try to explain it away should ALL volunteer to be the test guinea pigs as well as anyone who stands to profit from development of this scourge. I doubt there would be willing volunteers from these two groups.

n.e. iowa  |  April, 02, 2013 at 12:59 PM

THAT'S what i would've said! perfect!!!

Illinois  |  April, 02, 2013 at 02:25 PM

As a farmer, retailer, and farm wife. I would be happy to volunteer not only myself but my family.

Indiana  |  April, 02, 2013 at 04:22 PM

Well said MissM! Genetically modified foods are not this weird frankenfood that mad scientists are inserting something into a corn cob with a syringe. That media stereotype saddens me. GM allows for farmers to use less pesticides on their crops, 'turns on' genes in the plants that allow for better utilization of water, and contributes to being able to produce more food on the same amount of land. GM actually helps farmers become more sustainable and help feed the world. There are thousands of plant scientists that dedicate their lives to studying crops, crop genetics, and how to "unlock" more yield potential from crops buy learning what genes activate certain growth, better water use, and other responses. These GM crops are not only used for food and animal feed, but also can be modifed to produce healthier cooking oils, environmentally safe plastics/paint/ink, among so many other uses. Like MissM, I'm not afraid to consume food derived from GM crops. GM crops have been grown for decades with no scientifically proven adverse health effects.

Minnesota  |  April, 02, 2013 at 07:30 PM

MissM well said indeed and as a farmer, father, and family man I would be happy to volunteer for the study as well. It saddens me that a large percentage of the American population is willing to form such strong opinions without doing any research on their own. For all of those so opposed to GM crops how many of you have actually reached out and talked to a farmer?

In the Business    
April, 02, 2013 at 11:05 PM

It is my estimation from my experience that Genetic Modifications have raised the average corn yield approximately 30 bushels/acre due to the control of devastating corn borers, 50 bu/a due to Corn Rootworms, and soybeans yields have been drastically increased due to (1.) Decreased herbicide carry over from soybeans to corn and in soybeans, (2) Decreased weed competition. In 2050, there will be 9 BILLION people on the Earth (2 Million more than there are now) to be fed with LESS LAND and LESS WATER. Without the yield preservation from GM, THERE WILL NOT BE ENOUGH FOOD TO FEED THE WORLD. So to put this in perspective, if you have 3 children, CHOOSE THE ONE YOU WOULD FEED WITHOUT GM Crops, because without them there is not enough food to feed all three. Furthermore, these product undergo EXTENSIVE testing to ensure they are safe prior to being introduced into the feed supply. Please just think prior to jumping on the "let's fight GMO bandwagon."

NJ  |  April, 03, 2013 at 02:10 PM

I care not if you like GMO or you don't, if they are safe or not. I want my food labelled. I want to know what's in it. I want to choose what I am putting in my body. If people want to eat GMO, they will, if not they won't but in the good old capitalist USA, they will vote with thier dollars. If you have a market for the GMO's you grow, you can sell them, if not you go belly up, but you don't have the right to force me to eat them by hiding them in my food. Finally, I am thoroughly disgusted that any piece of legislation is being passed where legislators don't personally know what is in it. They signed up to do a job, they have a high budget and they are well compensated. If they can't or won't do the work to do the job properly, get out of DC.

April, 03, 2013 at 03:24 PM


Valentine Dyall    
Europe  |  April, 04, 2013 at 03:48 AM

How absurd can you get. Writing a book now excludes someone from comment according to Mark Wade. He no doubt prefers opinions from illiterates who know nothing but cannot keep their opinions to themselves. Academic books usually yield so little in royalties that suggesting Mr. Conko "stands to make money" shows how little Mr. Wade understands of the life and riches of people who actually spend time doing their best to understand issues.

Kevin Folta    
Gainesville, FL  |  April, 06, 2013 at 06:34 PM

I'll volunteer too. No problem. In fact, 70% of what we eat comes from transgenics and I'm glad we have that. Keeps farmers in business and keeps prices down with less pesticide in the environment. What's not to like?

Wisconsin  |  April, 06, 2013 at 10:50 PM

It is beyond bogus to think people are going to go hungry because of anything to do with corn, so don't be so pretentious and overly dramatic. People would be more connected and better off growing their own gardens and fulfilling their own needs. No one is the gatekeeper of human survival, it doesn't matter what front you're putting on. The issue here is playing God and altering genetics haphazardly to get results that improve the bottom line and could careless about effects to the consumer. We do not need statistics to know that even the most well intentioned and genius geneticist cannot make guarantees as we are still only at the tip of the iceberg in understanding the field, no matter how much you may want to stand back and marvel at your creation. Furthermore, no citizen has the resources to do their own testing or direct a testing facility on the manner of their study, so you can just let that volley go past because its not even close to on target.

In the Business    
April, 09, 2013 at 05:17 PM

It is apparent that you are not even remotely in touch with the reality of modern agriculture. I would love for everyone to have thier own garden -- but it is not going to happen because too many parents think their food comes from grocery stores, not farms and are not teaching their children how to grow food because they don't know. These are the same people that blow their horn and cuss a farmer because he and his tractor has held them up for a few minutes while on his way to produce their food. In addition, do you have your own garden containing all the food you eat, cows to produce milk, chickens to produce meat/eggs, trees to produce nuts, citrus, etc? If so you are fortunate, not many people have the land, climate or time to do this. You are right - no one is the gate keeper of human survival, but 2% of the US population are farmers that feed 98% of our population and much of the world. Furthermore, your ignorance of the subject matter is obvious(I intend that not negatively - you just don't know what goes on to get a GMO approved.) Evidenced by the comment that no citizen has the resource to do thier own testing -- agreed, that is why there are companies that spend MILLIONS of dollars to test, retest, double check and triple check its performance and safety just to bring a product to market. We depend on the land for our living and have kids to feed just like you, so don't think we don't have the same concerns about safety.

IL  |  April, 14, 2013 at 05:34 PM

A friend of mine sent a web sight bashing Monsanto and the GMO's. They wanted us to plant organic. Then I find out they promote Pink Cantaloupes, they were bred for higher vitamins, Ain't that (GMO) vegetables ? I guess everything Great as long as the money flows to your pocket.

Dallas, TX  |  April, 21, 2013 at 07:37 AM

The Global community is steadily banning or restricting GMO's. Entire countries are banning them. While we, a country who demand detailed labeling of everything, find ourselves "fighting" unsuccessfully, just to get GMO's labeled. And when the U.S. passes legislation to protect companies from litigation? Wake up ! this is not some kind of unique accident, this is big money dictating our policies. "THAT" is why you hear people raising their voices. If it looks like a duck, it is probably a duck. Better to err on the side of transparency and caution when you are talking about the food supply.

April, 27, 2013 at 07:59 AM

I HAVE! I spoke with a family friend who is a life long multi generational small farmer. You know what he said? "round-up is safer than dish soap, you could take a bath in it." My jaw dropped, I couldn't believe he realy thinks its "safe as dish soap" so I did some research to see if he was right. Know what I found? I found that Monsanto claims it's "safer than table salt". WHAT?! How did they come up with that claim? Oh, I know, its because on the product information, it shows that in studies, 5000micrograms/kg of roundup is lethal to rats/mice. Table salt is lethal at some 3500(there about)micrograms/kg for mice/rats. Now tell me this, since when does something have to be lethal to be unhealthy? how does this prove its as "safe as salt"? It doesn't! Salt in smaller amounts are NECESSARY FOR HUMANS, I want PROOF that small amounts of this stuff is as safe as small amounts of salt... Major supporters of GMO crops, discredit research done by everyone who does them, but refuses to prove them wrong. All I'm asking for is TRUTH and the right to choose for myself based on that proof. As long as they keep givn the slip on this, I will suspect fowl play from the company that brought us agent orange and said it was safe.

Texas  |  May, 29, 2013 at 05:18 PM

Thats is absolute nonsense, your friend is either a liar or an idiot. If you have a pint make it but dont spread disinformation, and dont listen to your "friend" anymore

Illinois  |  May, 30, 2013 at 03:18 PM

Agreed. We have been using forms of biotechnology iN EVERYTHING FOR YEARS! All of a sudden some guy gets a wild hair to make money, cause a scare. So as you sit in your home filled with GENETICALLY MODIFIED elements, in your GMO cotton yoga gear, drinking your GMO coffee and wine (how do you think they get that perfect blend? duh!) I would like to see your "garden" with no water. The "chemicals" you speak of are nutrients already found in the soil is amazing what people who have never stepped NEAR a farm will come up with. I say STARVE. We have been eating this for have you..anything? *smh...

Illinois  |  May, 30, 2013 at 03:26 PM

I want all "organic" labeling the risks such as e-coli and salmonella. (fact- they put the same "chemical" nitrogen on their crops too) in the form of manure. Wash your salad down with some e-coli..I'd like to see that labeling. What? They didn't tell you that?

Will S    
June, 02, 2013 at 02:32 PM

I agree with Mark - the above article is undeniably biased in favor of Monsanto, which has a horde of lawyers, lobbyists, and paid-off politicians to do their bidding, frequently hounding hard-working farmers who haven't thrown in with them.

August, 04, 2013 at 10:05 PM

But, your first paragraph is completely false. Monsanto doesn't not sue people for this reason. Your second paragraph is a factually incorrect. GM commodities are known safe for twenty years. Where are you getting the 10X? Seems like you just made this up, how can you claim an order of magnitude when there have been harms attributed to extensively processed food and none ever attributed to GM products. Based on your vitriolic/hyperbolic screed this doesn't mean that you wish people who work for Monsanto well, does it? Well to answer the actual questions, it has been tested in greenhouse/lab conditions and there are no problems and have been no problems for 20 years or more. I and plenty of others have eaten GMO products and have found no differences between them and conventional cultivated produce.

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