Stop Shielding Genetically Modified Food Companies

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Target: Senator Jeff Merkley and members of Congress

Goal: Don’t allow biotech food companies to bypass court orders against new genetically modified organisms by continuing to sell the product under investigation.

Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley recently pledged to repeal a provision that allows genetically engineered food companies to bypass court orders preventing the sale of genetically modified seeds regardless of any health risks. The provision is officially called the Farmer Assurance Provision, but is more popularly known as the Monsanto Protection Act, namely because it benefits biotech food companies while putting the health of consumers and the environment at risk. Before the provision was “snuck” into the short-term funding bill quickly passed by Congress earlier this year, any new genetically modified organisms (GMOs) would need to be approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). If the USDA decided to legally challenge the approval in court, the company would be forced to stop the sale and planting of the GMO. Under the new provision, however, the companies like Monsanto ignore any court orders and continue to produce and sell the GMO under investigation.

Merkley explains the danger behind the Monsanto Protection Act in a recent email, “We have a process for making sure that genetically-modified seeds aren’t sold, planted and grown until we know that they don’t pose a threat to other crops or to humans. The Monsanto Protection Act overrides that process. It lets Monsanto and others ignore a court order designed to protect other farmers, the environment, and human health.”

Merkley announced plans to introduce an amendment to the Senate farm bill that would repeal the provision that serves as a loophole to Monsanto and other biotech food giants. His announcement comes at a crucial time as soybean and agricultural lobbyists will most likely attempt to reinsert the provision into the new farm bill. Sign the petition below to support Senator Merkley’s vow to repeal this dangerous law and ensure protection for people and the environment, not corporate interests.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Senator Merkley and members of Congress,

We applaud Senator Merkley’s pledge to repeal the Farmer Assurance Provision. This provision allows biotech food corporations to ignore any court orders and continue to produce, plant, and sell the genetically modified organism without official approval by the USDA. This blatant corporate loophole effectively elevates companies like Monsanto to a level that is above the law by providing them with protection from litigation. Even worse, it does so by putting family farmers, the environment, and the American people at risk.

The Farmer Assurance Provision–more accurately known as the Monsanto Protection Act–is dishonorable and dangerous both in its content and the way in which it was written and passed into law. The short-term funding bill passed by Congress to prevent a government shut-down earlier this year was seized by biotech food giants and certain members of Congress as an opportunity to quietly pad the legislation for their own benefit. Even Senator Roy Blunt, who has received funding from Monsanto numerous times, has openly admitted to working with the company to write the rider and ensure its passage. This only further compounds the outrageous nature of the Farmer Assurance Provision.

We remind members of Congress that their responsibilities lie in representing the people of the United States, not serving corporate interests. Companies do not deserve immunity from the very laws that are meant to protect the health of citizens and the environment. We demand that the Farmer Assurance Provision be repealed and that it be excluded from all future farm bills.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Viriditas via Wikimedia Commons

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