Monsanto Protection Act

As stated under the Farmer Assurance Provision (Section 733), “Monsanto Protection Act” Section 735 of HR 933, In the event that a determination of non-regulated status made pursuant to section 411 of the Plant Protection Act is or has been invalidated or vacated, the Secretary of Agriculture shall, notwithstanding any other provision of law, upon request by a farmer, grower, farm operator, or producer, immediately grant temporary permit(s) or temporary deregulation in part, subject to necessary and appropriate conditions consistent with section 411(a) or 412(c) of the Plant Protection Act, which interim conditions shall authorize the movement, introduction, continued cultivation, commercialization and other specifically enumerated activities and requirements, including measures designed to mitigate or minimize potential adverse environmental effects, if any, relevant to the Secretary’s evaluation of the petition for non-regulated status, while ensuring that growers or other users are able to move, plant, cultivate, introduce into commerce and carry out other authorized activities in a timely manner:

Provided, That all such conditions shall be applicable only for the interim period necessary for the Secretary to complete any required analyses or consultations related to the petition for non-regulated status: Provided further, That nothing in this section shall be construed as limiting the Secretary’s authority under section 411, 412 and 414 of the Plant Protection Act. Retrieved April 26, 2013 from
Background of Monsanto Protection Act

According to, one of the reasons why there is a lot of controversy with this bill is due to the bio-tech rider inclusion which reignited a clash between the agribusiness industry and food safety groups. The Farmer Assurance Provision prevents activists from forcing farmers to abandon or destroy genetically modified (GM) or genetically engineered (GE) crops that have already received U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) safety approval.

Not only is the anger directed at the Monsanto Protections Act’s content, but the manner in which the provision was passed through Congress without appropriate reviews by the Agricultural or Judiciary Committees. The rider also interferes with our court system and the separation of powers. Retrieved April 27, 2013 from

This biotech rider was instead introduced anonymously as the larger bill progressed. This lack of transparency has led many food activists and the organization Food Democracy Now and the Center for Food Rightfully, to accuse the lobbyists and Congress members of backroom dealings. Retrieved April 27, 2013 from

Many are angered because this act bars Federal courts from being able to halt the sale or planting of controversial genetically modified (aka GMO) or genetically engineered (GE) seeds, no matter what health issues may arise concerning GMOs in the future. Retrieved April 27, 2013 from

According to Food Democracy, in the past, legal advocates have successfully won in court the right to halt the sale and planting of unapproved GMO crops while the approval of those crops is under review by a federal judge.

This dangerous new House provision, which is being called the Monsanto Protection Act, would strip judges of their constitutional mandate to protect consumer rights and the environment, while opening up the floodgates for the planting of new untested genetically engineered crops, endangering farmers, consumers and the environment. Retrieved April 26, 2013 from

Under the new legislation agricultural conglomerates that are involved with the production of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and genetically engineered (GE) seeds now have the approval to move forward and plant and sell man-made plants. Many questions remain unanswered about the safety, validation and health risks these products pose to consumers.

History of Genetic Engineering

The genetics of food has slowly been evolving over the past centuries. According to Peter Pringle, on page 10 of Food Inc, Gregor Mendel, the Moravian monk was posthumously acknowledged to be the father of modern genetics. Mendel was the first to understand the characteristics of height, color and shape. These characteristics determined the presence of determinant characteristics (genes) and that these characteristics could be either dominant or recessive. His research was based upon plants and he crossbreeds various varieties of hawkweed and peas. Mendel observed that hawkweed produces seeds without sex because they can be grown easily in large numbers and reproduction can be manipulated

Mendel picked common garden pea plants for the focus of his research. Pea plants have both male and female reproductive organs. As a result, they can either self-pollinate themselves or cross-pollinate with another plant. In his experiments, Mendel was able to selectively cross-pollinate purebred plants with particular traits and observe the outcome over many generations. This was the basis for his conclusions about the nature of genetic inheritance. Retrieved April 26, 2013 from

After Mendel’s death in 1884, researchers in the following countries, America, Australia, Europe and Russia were in a race to discover which gene or genes, governs asexual reproduction. According to Food, Inc page 15, it wasn’t until the 1980’s that the biotech revolution was brewing. It was during this era that the application of genetic engineering was being applied to crop plants, by allowing a desirable gene from one species to be inserted in another species. For the very first time genetic engineering permitted new weed killers to be designed along with plants especially designed to resist these herbicides.
What are GMO’s

According to the Institute for Responsible Technology, A GMO (genetically modified organism) is the result of a laboratory process of taking genes from one species and inserting them into another in an attempt to obtain a desired trait or characteristic, hence they are also known as transgenic organisms. This process may be called either Genetic Engineering (GE) or Genetic Modification (GM); they are one and the same.

Genetic engineering is completely different from traditional breeding and carries unique risks. In traditional breeding it is possible to mate a pig with another pig to get a new variety, but is not possible to mate a pig with a potato or a mouse. Even when species that may seem to be closely related do succeed in breeding, the offspring are usually infertile, ½ a horse, for example, can mate with a donkey, but the offspring (a mule) is sterile. With genetic engineering, scientists can breach species barriers set up by nature. For example, they have spliced fish genes into tomatoes.

The results are plants (or animals) with traits that would be virtually impossible to obtain with natural processes, such as crossbreeding or grafting.
How is genetic engineering done?

Per the Institute of Responsible Technology, NON GMO Shopping Guide, because living organisms have natural barriers to protect themselves against the introduction of DNA from a different species, genetic engineers have found ways to force the DNA from one organism into another.

These methods include but are not limited to using viruses or bacteria to "infect" animal or plant cells with the new DNA, coating DNA onto tiny metal pellets, firing it with a special gun into the cells, injecting the new DNA into fertilized eggs with a very fine needle, using electric shocks to create holes in the membrane covering sperm, and then forcing the new DNA into the sperm through these holes. Retrieved April 26, 2013 from

Benefits of the GE Seeds under the Monsanto Protection Act

In the PBS documentary, Harvest of Fear, advocates whom are in favor of using GM crops believe that GM foods will leave traditional crops in their dust. GM foods are known to have longer shelf life and many advocates feel they will be better for us, with some products already in the works benefiting our waistlines (low-calorie sugar beets and oils with lower saturated fat content, for example) and others bearing higher nutritional content (high-fiber corn and high-starch potatoes). Proponents of the Monsanto Protection Act state that farmers typically produce GM crops using fewer pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers.

Also, it is believed that GM foods have greater benefits for the world’s poor. Many supporters state in developing countries, malnutrition is a grave problem because people often have to rely on a single staple, such as rice, that on its own does not supply sufficient nutrition. Retrieved April 27, 2013 from

Pamela Ronald in the book Genetic Engineering, page 50 states GE crops are designed to resist pests, disease, drought, cold and flooding, which both reduces the amount of pesticides that need to be used and protects against crop failure, which is a big problem in starving countries.

Per review of a recent article in Discover Magazine, in 2011, genetically modified crops were cultivated commercially in 29 countries. The United States led the way with 170.5 million acres of commercial genetically modified crops grown, while Brazil, Argentina, India and Canada each grew more than 24.7 million acres.

By the year 2050, the world will have to produce 70% more food including an additional billion tons of cereals, to keep up with population growth. There has been much discussion about how to feed all of the people in the world. On page 55 of Genetic Engineering, one option that was explored was to develop more productive crops, not just better farming techniques, and many advocates feel genetic engineering has demonstrated great promise.

Another Advocate of the use of GE seeds is Microsoft Owner Bill Gates whom called for a "digital revolution" to alleviate world hunger by increasing agricultural productivity through satellites and genetically-engineered seed varieties. Retrieved April 27, 2013 from

In the video titled Bill Gates Tackles Controversy Over Genetically Modified Crops, Retrieved April 27, 2013 from Mr. Gates addresses GMOs and believes that improving resistance to drought with new seeds is important to feeding people in developing countries. His foundation is also working closely with DuPont and Monsanto on creating seeds for African farmers.

Negatives of the Monsanto Protection Act

According to the Huffington Post, this provision includes a biotech-rider that protects large corporations that produce genetically modified crops from federal courts and avoid regulatory review. This bill was written with Monsanto representatives whom fully support the bill. This provision lasts for six months and will die September 30th, 2013. Many have inquired why this is an issue since the provision only lasts six months. The main issue is that it imposes a serious restriction on the department of agriculture to protect the environment and consumers. Retrieved April 27, 2013 from

By approving this Act, President Obama is allowing Monsanto to be protected from any litigation involving health risks. Many food activists feel very strongly that if Monsanto truly believed there was no inherent safety risks associated with their products, they would not be fighting to be protected from any litigation, involving health risks. Many people including children have food sensitivities and have to be monitored closely to avoid serious health complications derived from eating peanuts, shellfish, etc.

According to PBS, some critics of GM foods feel the possibility exists that those responsible for genetically modifying food crops may unintentionally introduce a new allergen. Their concerns are attributed to the fact that genes can be introduced from unrelated species – for example, a fish gene can be put into a plant.

Therefore, if someone is allergic to shell fish and this type of fish gene was introduced into a plant and eaten by someone allergic to shellfish this can be deadly. Another concern is the potential harm to human health that bacteria in our guts could pick up antibiotic-resistance genes found in many GM foodstuffs. (Food geneticists often add such genes to GM plants as 'markers' to tell them which plants have taken up exotic genes.) If this transfer happens, in principle it could exacerbate the already worrisome spread of disease-causing bacteria that have proven able to withstand our antibiotics. Retrieved April 27, 2013 from

Per the Think Progress Organization, what is even more disturbing is the amount of influence that Monsanto has with the US Government. Monsanto’s board members have worked for the EPA, advised the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and served on President Obama’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations. They presided over multiple universities in various senior positions, including South Dakota State University (with whom Monsanto has a significant research agreement), Arizona State’s Biodesign Institute and Washington University in St. Louis.

The prevalence of Monsanto’s directors in these highly influential positions begs a closer look at how they’re able to push the pro-GE agenda within the government and influence public opinion. Retrieved April 27, 2013 from

In addition, there is lots of research alleging "safety,” of GE products but it's mostly tucked within the files of the companies that paid for it. There is no data from independent, long-term studies on the human health impacts from eating GMO crops with their altered genetic makeup.

According to Tree Hugger, the same companies prevent independent research on the efficacy and health impacts of their crop seeds. Many of the handful of intrepid researchers who do manage to carry out studies and dare to publish results showing problems with the GM approach face amazingly virulent reactions from the biotech community, and the institutional systems that depend on them for funding. Retrieved April 27, 2013 from

Future of Food

The future of our food supply in the US is under attack and quite scary. As a commodity the fight about GMOs is all whom controls the future of food and farming in America and abroad. Wenonah Hauter, the executive director of Food & Water Watch, refers to the fight about the future of food as Foodopoly. In the wake of the recently passed provision dubbed by critics as the "Monsanto Protection Act," large corporations will control the nations’ food production and limit how small farms operate.

This foodopoly will limit the ability of small farms to compete in the market and force many out of business. In addition, it will affect our decision making in regards to how consumers make choices in their local grocery store. Retrieved April 27, 2013 from

Who stands to benefit from the Foodopoly are DuPont, Monsanto, Lobbyists, Congress and food and seed companies. The U.S. bio-tech industry is also trying to influence Food Safety Organizations in various countries whom have bans on genetically modified organisms. These bans are a threat to Monsanto, food companies, special interest groups and lobbyists in the U.S. because they limit the profits of all these special interests and limit their ability to control the food supply of foreign governments.

In some countries such as Japan, no genetically modified crops are grown commercially. Japan, is perhaps one of the countries in the world with the strongest consumer opposition to "unnatural" GM foods. Retrieved April 27, 2013 From

According to Democracy Now, while on the campaign trail in 2007, presidential candidate Barack Obama promised to label GMO foods, if elected. He stated he would immediately implement country-of-origin labeling, because Americans should know where their food comes from. He also promised to let Americans know whether their food has been genetically modified, because Americans should know what they’re buying. His signing of the Monsanto Protection Act has certainly derailed the regulation of our food policies and given Monsanto an unfair advantage over the control of our food supply; and regulation over genetically modified organisms. Retrieved April 27, 2013 from

The passing of the Farmer Assurance Provision (Section 733), “Monsanto Protection Act” Section 735 of HR 933, has put the spotlight on the need for the strict regulation of genetically modified organisms (GMO) and genetic engineering (GE). Consumers have a right to know if their food has been genetically engineered or modified. The effects of suing GE crops are not known because there has not been a lot of research conducted to provide an in-depth analysis.

According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, Monsanto has become the sole owner of many of the very seeds necessary to support the world's food supply, an incredibly powerful position that no for-profit company should ever hold. In the October 7th, 2010 edition of the Ecologist, it was noted that since the mid-1990s just five biotech giants - Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, Dow and DuPont - have bought up more than 200 other companies between them to dominate our access to seeds.

These seed companies not only threaten the continuation of sustainable, renewable farming practices, their monopoly over the food supply threatens the health of every single person on the planet. According to Philip Howard from Michigan State University, the increasing power of seed companies is 'incompatible' with renewable agricultural practices such as saving and replanting seeds. He says one solution to restricting their control would be through banning the practice of granting patents on seeds, plants and genes.

According to the Ecologist News , the use of excessive seed patenting' by Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, Dow and DuPont is allowing them to control a large number of seeds and leading to an increase in seed prices and a decrease of seed choices for farmers. Retrieved April 26, 2013 from Retrieved from

If the Farmer Assurance Provision (Section 733), “Monsanto Protection Act” Section 735 of HR 933, is renewed within 6 months the GE crops will limit the number of seed choices for farmers and make them even more dependant upon the seed companies. Since our government is not looking out for the best interest of its citizens, all voters regardless of party affiliation need to hold the Congress and all elected officials accountable for their actions in the passing of the Monsanto Protection Act. If we all band together to protect the environment and our food supply domestically and abroad we can truly make a difference.

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