The House of Representatives passed a highly controversial addition to the Agricultural Appropriations Bill for 2013. The passed provision protects the producers of genetically modified seeds from litigation resulting from health risks posed by the GMOs.
Critics of the bill describe it as “Monsanto Protection Act” because it makes the biggest producer of GMOs immune to litigation and prosecution, even if its production causes health problems to consumers. Moreover, the addition to the Bill strips the federal courts of the authority to protect the US citizens from dangerous GMOs by restricting the planting and sale of genetically-modified seeds. RT reports that the controversial provisions should have gone through a review procedure performed by either the Agricultural Committee or the Judiciary Committee, but no hearings were held.
Washington Times described the approval of the “Biotech Protection Act” as a major success for biotech companies like Cargill, Monsanto and Syngenta Corp. Investigative journalists point out that the biotech sector has donated over 7.5 million dollars to members of Congress since 2009, so the approval of the controversial legislation is a result of a serious lobbying effort.
Food safety groups like the Center for Food Safety accuse Senator Mikulski, the chairman of Senate Appropriations Committee, of making a “backroom deal” with the biotech industry. He is criticized for including the “Monsanto Protection Act” in a short-term funding bill that was approved in order to avoid the shutdown of the federal government.
There is hope that Barack Obama will block the new legislation and food safety activists have begun a campaign calling for a veto on the Continuing Resolution spending bill in which the controversial additions are included. However, it is highly unlikely that the President will veto a bill that ensures the continuity of financing for the federal government. Vetoing the Continuing Resolution spending bill will force a shutdown of multiple federal agencies and departments. The biotech lobbyists managed to link the addition, which protects companies like Monsanto, to a piece of legislation required to keep the government running. The American citizens will have to accept the fact that there are companies that can poison their food with impunity because the Congress decided that the wellbeing of the biotech sector is more important than the safety of ordinary Americans.