It’s said that politics make strange bedfellows.
None stranger than the union of Food Democracy Now and the Tea Party Patriots.
The unlikely allies are united in their opposition to a small bit of language that was tucked into the emergency spending bill which Congress passed and President Obama signed that keeps the federal government operating through the end of the fiscal year.
The controversial rider, the so-called ‘Monsanto Protection Act,’ was quietly and anonymously inserted into the agricultural appropriations portion of the 587 page budget document as it wound its way through Congress. The provision allows biotech companies like Monsanto to ignore pending safety reviews and even federal court rulings on the dangers of their genetically modified seeds. Plants can stay planted and seeds can continue to be sown and sold, and the companies can’t be sued over any damages that result when the crops are consumed. Unless there’s a veto or a court rules it to be an unconstitutional usurpation of judicial review, the provision will last until the spending bill expires at the end of September.
This ugly little bit of legislation was eventually proven to be the work of Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo), who represents Monsanto’s home state, is a frequent recipient of Monsanto campaign donations, and is a lawmaker with a long record of using legislative tricks to benefit special interests. It somehow appeared in the Senate version of the budget without committee review or debate, and many in Congress claim to have been unaware of its inclusion. It slipped in under the nose of Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md), who distanced herself with the statement “As Chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee, Senator Mikulski’s first responsibility was to prevent a government shutdown.”
A common enemy. Sort of.
The Tea Party is protesting the Monsanto Protection Act because it’s rife with abuses of power, special interest loopholes, collusion, and corruption. Tea Partiers aren’t all that worried about the environmental impact and possible health risks of genetically engineered and modified organisms, and in fact their official position is that “It is not the purview of Tea Party Patriots to comment on the merits of GMOs.” But we need to worry about all of it.
The upshot of the legislation is that we’re going to be eating whatever is already out there. And the GMOs and seeds that are already in the ground have this year’s growing season and harvest to spread their funky coding in seeds, pods, spores, and pollen that blow across the land and flow into our water. We have no assurance of consumer safety— there are no independent, long-term studies investigating how this new genetic experiment affects our health, environment, and future food security—and no legal protections or recourse.
Food for thought:
After a recent earthquake in Haiti, Monsanto made a donation of 475,000 tons of genetically engineered and treated seeds to the devastated farmers of the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere. They chose to burn them rather than plant them.
Join environmentalists, food activists, and even Tea Partiers in the fight to overturn the Monsanto Protection Act.
Add your name to the petition at Food Democracy Now where they are on their way to a million letters of support.