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‘Monsanto Protection Act’ Quietly Passes Senate, Becomes Law

The act, which was inserted into the stopgap budget bill, tells the USDA it can go against court rulings to allow GMO cultivation. But is this a new power?

Satellite view of dozens of center pivot irrigation systems

Photo: NASA (Wikimedia Commons)

Democratic Senator John Tester of Montana was alone in his opposition to the so-called "biotech rider."

Last week the U.S. Senate quietly passed a provision allowing the U.S. Department of Agriculture to plant genetically modified crops even if a judge has ruled against it. On Tuesday, President Obama signed the act into law.

The provision, which critics have dubbed the “Monsanto Protection Act,” was part of larger piece of legislation designed to avert the shutdown of the federal government. It was proposed anonymously and not brought before the Agriculture or Judicial Committees.

Although the rider has angered environmentalists and proponents of organic farming alike, whether or not the USDA has actually been granted any new powers is uncertain.

It is not unprecedented for the department to give the green light for GMO planting against a judicial ruling. In 2010, for example, after a federal judge in California decided the USDA had not sufficiently studied the potential impacts of GMO sugar beet cultivation, Monsanto and Germany’s KWS lobbied for — and received — permission to plant anyway.

Regardless, the bill is set to expire in six months.

Read More:

  • Did Congress Just Give GMOs A Free Pass In The Courts? (NPR)
  • H.R. 933 Science Appropriation Act (OpenCongress)
  • Frankenveggies: Monsanto Protection Act passes Senate (Washington Times)
Liz Leslie

Liz Leslie is a journalist based in Bloomington, Indiana. When she's not writing about food, she's likely eating food. Or dreaming about food.

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