Section 735/Monsanto Protection Act controversy
The activists opposing Section 735 farmer protection are the typical crowd that opposes almost anything related to GMOs. Opponents range from organic food advocates and small-farm activists to environmentalists, consumer groups and the American Civil Liberties Union. (A previous article about Section 735, "There is no Monsanto Protection Act," received many comments from people who are positive, without evidence, that GM-crop foods are dangerous to eat.)
The language was placed into the 240-page government funding bill in the Senate with no author attached. Even the groups who support the provision say they do not know who put it into the bill. Also, no one claimed credit during debate, noted Reuters.
The appropriations bill was passed on March 22 and signed by President Barack Obama on March 28—even though activists against Section 735 say they had gathered thousands of signatures opposing the biotech rider.
After more than a decade of GM crop production in the U.S., being a proponent of the technology that helps feed the world of today and will be key for the future, according to most farm groups, has become a hot potato for members of Congress.
Senior members of the appropriations committees in the House and Senate pointed at each other when asked who was behind Section 735. Two senators said the House panel was responsible because it backed the idea last year in a bill that failed to advance, Reuters noted.
A spokesman for Rep. Jack Kingston of Georgia, tabbed as the 2012 sponsor, said Kingston had no role this year. Speculation has since centered on Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, Monsanto's home state. His aides did not respond to Reuter queries, but he has accepted that he was instrumental in the rider and the original bill that passed Congress.
Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski "didn't put the language in the bill and doesn't support it either," said spokeswoman Rachel MacKnight. She said Section 735 was an unavoidable carry-over from House-Senate negotiations last fall.
MacKnight also made it clear that Mikulski has supported labeling of genetically modified foods and will fight for "valuable priorities, including food safety." The interpretation is that farmers cannot look to Mikulski for support about anything to do with GM crops.