Today, Oregon's Senator Jeff Merkley announced that he would put forward an amendment to the Senate farm bill that would repeal a controversial provision of the recently-passed continuing resolution known as the "Monsanto Protection Act."
"The Monsanto Protection Act is an outrageous example of a special interest loophole," said Merkley. "This provision nullifies the actions of a court that is enforcing the law to protect farmers, the environment and public health. That is unacceptable."
To avoid public scrutiny, the "Monsanto Protection Act" was quietly and anonymously inserted into the continuing resolution passed this March to avert a government shutdown.
In several recent lawsuits, federal courts have ruled that USDA had not conducted the appropriate review of certain genetically engineered crops it had approved. Before genetically modified crops can be planted, USDA is required to evaluate each strain and assign it a "non-regulated status" under the Plant Protection Act. This action allows that particular genetically modified strain to be planted.
The controversial rider requires USDA to grant a temporary permit to any farmer, upon request, to plant genetically modified crops, even if the crop was found to be potentially harmful by a court. This rider explicitly grants the USDA the authority to override a judicial ruling stopping the planting of a GMO.
Senator Merkley's farm bill amendment would repeal this "Monsanto Protection Act" rider in its entirety.