Genetically Modified Crops Protected By New Budget Bill

Genetically modified crops are not just those that have been selectively bred, but they have had their DNA modified in some way as to make them more pest resistant and produce better yields. In many cases genes from other plants or even bacteria have been added to the DNA of a specific plant.

This process has caused great concern among some that question whether the plants with modified genes are safe for human consumption or if there may be any long-term effects from the continual eating of these plants. There have been numerous challenges to the use of genetically modified crops in the marketplace.

Companies such as Monsanto often control the patents on these genetically modified crops, but like pharmaceutical companies do on their name brand drugs. In 2011, the genetically modified seed also known as biotech seeds business generated over $13 billion. Needless to say it has become a major player in the agricultural world, and these companies are starting to exert their influence in Washington DC.

Political Action Committees working on behalf of biotech seed companies have been making significant contributions to politicians in the last few years. According to one report, the contributions since 2009 have been:

  • 7.5 million for current members of Congress

  • $372,000 to members of this Senate Appropriations Committee

  • $71,000 to Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), and Appropriations Committee member received more than any other member, and the second-most received by any senator.

Monsanto alone has contributed $540,000 towards campaign funds. American Crystal Sugar reportedly has contributed $3.3 million. Other biotech companies contributing to PAC’s include: Archer Daniels Midland, American Farm Bureau, Cargill, Minn-Dak Farmers Coop, National Cotton Council, Scott’s Miracle-Gro, Southern Minnesota Beat Sugar Coop, and Syngenta Corp.

That influence is so great that in the newly passed 2013 Continuing Resolution, which funds the federal government through the end of September, there contained a rider to protect companies like Monsanto. The rider known as the Monsanto Rider protects all genetically modified crops from any court order issued against their use. In other words if legal challenge to the safety of the use of any biotech seeds were to be raised in court, companies like Monsanto would be automatically issued a permit from the USDA allowing them to continue selling, cultivating, and planting the genetically modified crops in question.

Basically that means there is nothing that can legally be done to stop the biotech companies from producing, cultivating, and selling genetically modified crops that could be harmful to humans.

The rider was snuck into the budget bill by Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Normal procedure would dictate that such a rider would go through the Agriculture and or Judiciary Committees, but that did not happen in this case. Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of the Center for Food Safety commented about Mikulski’s actions, stating:

“In this hidden backroom deal, Senator Mikulski turned her back on the consumer, environmental, and fire protection in favor of corporate welfare for biotech companies such as Monsanto. This abuse of power is not the kind of leadership the public has come to expect from Senator Mikulski or the Democratic Majority in the Senate.”

With so much problem of obesity, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, being linked to poor diets, Americans are urged to eat more fruits and vegetables every day. Are those fruits and vegetables really safe to eat? Are they the products of genetic modification of the plant DNA? Could there be any long-term effects from the daily eating of genetically modified foods?

These are questions you need to ask yourself, because even if proven harmful they are now protected by federal law and will continue to be planted harvested, and sold to consumers like you and me. Welcome to the world of biotech foods. Eat at your own risk!