However, a small provision hidden within the hundreds of pages of proposed changes—Section 735—is causing serious concern regarding the power of elite corporations over branches of the government, and the general health and wellbeing of U.S. citizens.
Section 735, entitled the “Monsanto Protection Act,” essentially means that the Monsanto Corporation, a multinational agricultural biotech company and leading producer of genetically engineered (GE) seed, is now immune from federal court jurisdiction.
The provision effectively strips federal judges of their constitutional duty to protect farmer and consumer rights. The bill states that if GE seeds or genetically modified (GMO) foods cause serious health problems—cancer, Alzheimer’s, etc.—in the next year, the highest judicial branch of our government, the Supreme Court, is powerless to stop the manufacturing, sales, and distribution of Monsanto products. This legislation also applies to future research on GE and GMO foods.
According to a statement by the Nature Society: “Theoretically, one million studies could find that Monsanto’s latest creation was causing a massive cancer wave and under this law Monsanto could continue to peddle the crop to the public. The federal courts would (or will) be helpless to stop Monsanto, effectively giving Monsanto power over the entire branch of the United States government.”
The Monsanto Protection Act was quietly inserted into the emergency budget bill by Missouri Senator Roy Blunt, who worked directly with Monsanto to craft the exact wording of the document. Sen. Blunt received over $64,000 for his campaign from the Missouri food giant, and is the largest Republican recipient of Monsanto funding. Sen. Blunt is also a ranking member of the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies.
In a statement defending the bill, Sen. Blunt said, “What it says is if you plant a crop that is legal to plant when you plant it, you get to harvest it. But it is only a one-year protection in that bill.”
Interestingly, many members of Congress were completely unaware of the Monsanto Protection Act prior to its legalization, and have now come out against the policy.
“These provisions are giveaways, pure and simple,” said Senator John Tester, a Montana Democrat opposed to the legislation. “[It] will be a boon worth millions of dollars to a handful of the biggest corporations in this country.”
The questions arising from this controversial new policy is who’s more powerful, the world’s largest producer of genetically modified crops or the U.S. government? And if the federal court’s duty is to protect the rights of American citizens, how does the Monsanto Protection Act accomplish this?
For now, lawmakers and opponents to the new bill wait for an answer.