Stop Biotech Companies from Gaining Immunity from Federal Law

Target: President Obama and members of the United States Congress

Goal: Remove protection provisions for biotech companies from proposed legislation and stop the sale and planting of GMO crops before they are tested for safety.

The United States Senate recently approved a spending bill that includes a provision to allow biotechnology companies to plant and cultivate genetically modified crops that have not yet been subject to review for health and environmental impacts. This so-called “Monsanto Rider” (Sec. 735 of the spending bill HR 933) requires that the Secretary of Agriculture grant permits for farming genetically engineered crops, regardless of whether the crops have been reviewed for health effects or environmental impact. Permits for planting must be granted even if a federal court has ordered the planting be halted. This means that even the federal courts will not be able to stop Monsanto and other large biotech firms from planting unproven, potentially dangerous crops. It is necessary to act now and block the Monsanto rider.

This bill sets dangerous precedent for Monsanto, DuPont, Dow Chemical and other large biotechnology firms to evade any serious scientific or regulatory review of their GMO crops and experiment with them without restriction. This could prove to be very dangerous as they could plant new GMO crops that will replace previous, failing GMOs and create a whole new generation of super weeds. It also sets the dangerous precedent of planting crops before the effects on human health are understood. The passage of Section 735 of the bill undermines the public’s basic democratic rights in favor of corporate welfare.

The passing of this provision also undermines the supremacy of federal law by allowing a limit on judicial review.  Federal and judicial review are meant to protect the interests of citizens, including farmers, consumers, and the environment, from harm. If this provision allows corporate interests to trump public interest and strip citizens of federal protection under the law it paints a dark picture for the future safety of our food and environment. The public was not given appropriate opportunity to respond to this provision. The bill has now moved back to the House of Representatives after being approved by the Senate for final review.  Now it is up to President Obama to stand up for the public and veto this bill.


Dear President Obama and members of the House of Representatives,

A provision in the Senate Continuing Resolution spending bill HR 933 was included that will prevent courts from stopping illegally planted genetically modified crops. The rider (Sec. 735) will allow large biotechnology companies to plant their experimental GM crops before they are subject to review, regulation and testing for human and environmental safety. The bill was rushed through Congress and did not allow the public appropriate opportunity to comment on the bill that affects the future safety of its food and the capacity of the US courts to protect it.

This bill sets a dangerous precedent to undermine the judicial review process, which is an essential part of U.S. law and a crucial part of our system of checks and balances. The so-called Monsanto Rider (section 735 of the bill) forces courts to allow biotech companies to plant GMO crops even if the court has found the crops not to have gone through the appropriate level of regulation and USDA approval. This is an attack on judicial review based on the special interests of large biotech companies at the expense of the wellbeing of the public. The bill is in the House of Representatives for final review and after that it is up to President Obama to stand up for the public and veto this bill. President Obama, please veto this bill.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Luther Blissett via Wikimedia Commons

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