How an Anonymous Rider Functionally Deregulated GMOs

Monday, April 01, 2013

greenmarket, farmers market, crown heights (Fred Mogul/WNYC)

Last week, Congress and the president managed to avoid a government shutdown with a continuing resolution that funds the federal government for the next six months. 

Unbeknownst to most lawmakers, a last-minute rider, nicknamed the "Monsanto Protection Act," found its way, anonymously, into the continuing resolution before President Obama signed it last Tuesday. 

Senator Jon Tester, Democrat from Montana, was outraged. "These provisions are giveaways worth millions of dollars to a handful of the biggest corporations in this country and deserve no place in this bill," he said.

As Tom Philpott, food and agriculture correspondent for Mother Jones, explains, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has to approve genetically-modified crops before companies could sell the seeds to farmers. In 2008 and 2009, the Center for Food Safety, along with other environmental groups, sued the USDA in federal court, claiming that the USDA approved two genetically engineered crops without a detailed environmental impact statement. 

The Center for Food Safety won the suit in both cases, but the rider on this year's continuing resolution would bar environmental groups from suing the USDA for these purposes. 

The Monsanto Company declined The Takeaway's request for an interview, but they released the following statement:

As a member of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) and the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA), we were pleased to join major grower groups in supporting the Farmer Assurance Provision including the American Farm Bureau Federation, the American Soybean Association, the American Sugarbeet Growers Association, the National Corn Growers Association, the National Cotton Council, and several others.  

The point of the Farmer Assurance Provision is to strike a careful balance allowing farmers to continue to plant and cultivate their crops subject to appropriate environmental safeguards, while USDA conducts any necessary further environmental reviews.  The attached letter, submitted by the industry in June 2012, should provide you with additional information and context about what the provision is intended to accomplish. 

A broad bipartisan group of legislators in both the House and Senate have supported the provision dating back to June 2012, and it passed with broad bipartisan support.  


Tom Philpott and Senator Jon Tester

Produced by:

Jillian Weinberger

Comments [12]

Beverly Wittmer from VALPARAISO INDIANA

So glad to see your group looking out for regular citizens. What action can be done? Is the March against Monsanto still on for May 25th? Can we march on Washington sometime? We would need bus or airline volunteering to get us there and a hotel chain for overnight stay. Most of us have no money. I'd like to March there also against budget priorities, taking money away from elderly and poor to balance the budget. Surely there are other things we spend tax money on that can be eleminated. The baby boomer did not misuse that money that was paid in and thrown away while we were busy working and raising families.

May. 13 2013 02:36 PM
Monte Hines from Andalusia, IL. Zone 5a

Suggest you interview Dr. Don Huber and that he testify to Senate!

Don Huber ( Bio Link --> )

Professor Don Huber: Messing with Nature ~ The Perverse Effects of GMO's 4-5-2012

Don Huber, Agricultural Scientist and Expert in Microbial Ecology

One Radio Network Interview

His work and presentation is very convincing. Impressive individual!!!

We are lucky to have this great man telling truth to power... must listen interview!

This is a worse problem than tobacco corporation corruption and deceit!

See Additional Links:

With much regards and respect,
Monte Hines Retired Ag Enginner

Apr. 04 2013 03:17 PM

Senator Roy Blunt, a Republican from Missouri, actually worked with Monsanto to create the language that would be inserted in the bill. (That’s right: A Senator actually worked with a private company to create a law that allows a product to be sold to consumers regardless of any health hazards associated with it.)

Read more: Monsanto Rider Slips Past Congress, Allowing the Company to Avoid Litigation Involving GMOs | Inhabitat - Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building

Apr. 02 2013 10:21 PM
James Blakeley from Palm Springs, CA

One one hand, the Pres. Obama and members of congress espouse the need to cut entitlements in order to cut costs which are driven largely by increases in health care costs. On the other hand they give a major chemical company a get-out-of-jail-free card to mess with our food supply and be exempt from consequences. Certain sources have argued that the world population needs reduction to one billion persons from the current seven billion plus. Is there truth to that proposition and are our leaders complicit? According to what I have read, a diet of genetically modified corn kills rats. We need to elect polititians who are truly interested in the well-being of the citizens.

Apr. 02 2013 05:41 PM

It smells like drug war McCain's war on marijuana:

(a) In General.–The Secretary may prohibit or restrict the importation, entry, exportation, or movement in interstate commerce of any plant, plant product, biological control organism, noxious weed, article, or means of conveyance,

Apr. 02 2013 08:12 AM

Sleazy IS as sleazy Does. that's the nature of Riders added in the dead of night by unseen/unknown hands. And if it gets added to a fast-tracked bill -- like a Continuing Budget Resolution that keep the Gov't going for another 6 months -- well, Perfect -- it'll pass Congress with the Rider intact and be veto-proof on the President's desk.

Of course, even though Sen Tester tried to stop it -- well somehow his amendments never made it to the floor for a vote.

And then the blame shifted to Obama for signing the CR.

Are these Monsanto operatives worth their weight in gold -- or what?

But then -- it's a hollow victory that's only good for 6 months. Monsanto got another Big Black Eye that they brought on themselves. And you can bet every piece of legislation from now on will be double-searched for more Riders. And there might be a Congressperson or two who will think twice about letting such sleazy back-door un-american deals go through.

For shame, Monsanto!

Apr. 01 2013 09:23 PM
Darold K Smith from North Texas

Unfortunately, this is how our government works at all levels. It's all about big moneyed special interests. Individuals no longer have much practical effect on the political process.

At the federal level, it's the army of special interest lobbies, both identified and anonymous and public (such as, US Chamber, NRA, big banks, ....) that buy legislators and influence regulatory rule making. Then there are the patriotic sounding "Think Tanks" that are nothing more than official sounding propaganda machines, such as Heritage Foundation, Americans for Prosperity, Liberty Institute. Then there are devious organizations that coordinate implementation of laws from the bottom up through state legislatures. ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council), sponsored primarily by corporations and right-wing agenda groups, actually create "model" legislation and "assist" state law makers in getting them implemented at the state levels. One such law getting recent public opinion is the "Stand your ground" law. Where this law is now in effect, there is an increase in homocides: "More significantly, we find the laws increase murder and manslaughter by a statistically significant 7 to 9 percent, which translates into an additional 500 to 700 homicides per year nationally across the states that adopted castle doctrine." (

To see how this law has propogated, see:

Fortunately, we now have a lot of organizations that are attempting to expose what is going on, but without much funding, with powerful and pervasive well funded media "commentators" with selectively reported and very biased "freedom, liberty, moral, ...." issues. These are parctically the only sources of (dis)information for a large part of the public.

Apr. 01 2013 01:24 PM
Karl Haro von Mogel from Madison, WI

The Provision was not secretly or anonymously added to the bill. We know exactly where it came from:

Apr. 01 2013 01:07 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

I had to check out this story from other sources. I thought The Takeaway was pulling a practical joke on its listeners,"An unanimous Senator puts in a last minute rider into the resolution to stop the "cliff from hanging" while protecting Monsanto?
Wow, goes to show you how in this country, there is no need for practical jokes anymore. All one has to do is report the news as is.

Apr. 01 2013 10:44 AM
red pimpernel from Lower Manhattan

This is sooo UNAMERICAN. How is it possible that a "Government for The People etc. etc...." even contemplates the possibility for an ANONYMOUS SENATOR(???) to insert a provision in a law that is passed (in the middle of the night)without anybody realizing said provision is there? And cannot be undone??? Are we nuts? Or just complicit? And why the "reasonable sounding" Farmer-Senator on the show was not grilled over observing the Senate code of silence and not telling the listening public the name of this anonymous? It should be plastered over every media wall! Scandalous programming over a scandalous story. Will Obama sign the Monsanto Forever Act? Stay tuned... or not, if programs are so lame

Apr. 01 2013 09:34 AM
Kevin Leach

Look at Monsansto's history of suing farmers for reusing seeds, suing others for claiming their food products are non genetically modified, going after seed companies to monopolize seed availability in foreign and domestic. Yet they want exemption from lawsuits.
Of course this follows other exemptions given to large industry, such as the oil and gas industry's exemption from the Clean Water Act.

Apr. 01 2013 09:19 AM

This legislation is another example of "Trickle Up" - How we in America redistribute our wealth and control to the upper class.

Apr. 01 2013 09:13 AM

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