Monsanto Protection Act Signed Into Law

Heather Callaghan
Activist Post

Late last night, President Obama signed HR 933 into law with biotech rider Sec. 735 – dubbed the Monsanto Protection Act – still contained. Simply put, the rider hidden in the text of the Farmer Assurance Provision – and has nothing to do with Continuing Resolution spending (HR 933) – protects Monsanto from the court system should they want to halt illegally planted or hazardous genetically modified crops. The USDA already gives biotech companies like Monsanto the thumbs up, trusting Monsanto’s own safety evaluations. Now the court system cannot intervene, which could prove detrimental to farmers who are sued by Monsanto for patent infringement when their GM seeds contaminate those farmers’ fields.

The rider was passed despite efforts of phone calls, emails, and forms asking for veto made by over a quarter-million concerned Americans given very little time to do so before the “must-pass” spending bill slipped through the House and Senate. That number comes just from Food Democracy Now!’s alert alone. That does not include the many contacts made by people who read alerts from many other websites and organizations.

This left many shocked and outraged, but many others were not surprised. Even though the Obama family enjoys non-GMO organic fare, at least from the White House garden, the Administration is known for hiring former Monsanto employees like Michael Taylor to high-up food safety positions – a blatant conflict of interest. Almost half a million people asked Obama to cut FDA ties with Monsanto. Remember this clip (below) from 2007 of Obama promising to label GMOs?

Where do we go from here?

The sneaky slip of this rider and it’s quick passing has made the court system strangely helpless and some activists feeling deflated. It was a lot of last minute reading, scrambling, action – and now law, although we don’t know for how long. The spending resolution is for six months, but indefinite riders have a way of sticking around. What did we do before this storm?

We tried to reach out to friends and watched where our food dollars went. Changed the market stream, where it really shows. As difficult as it is, it’s more important than ever to refuse support for food companies that use GMO ingredients. We can continue to let Congress know that we are watching – no more selling us out, or else they should be out. No more spending money for things we don’t want, things that are shown to cause harm. We aren’t buying any of it.

Food Democracy Now! has created a petition form demanding Obama sign an executive order to label GMOs like he promised back in ’07. This may not be the best route as executive orders are abused and many us don’t want any more on the agenda. I would have to agree with the consensus that petitions often go ignored – but they still let leaders know that you’re upset, active, and paying attention.

Thank you, Food Democracy Now! for the alert campaign that helped inform so many people, people who may not have known about the hazards of GMOs before. They attended a march today in front of the White House, sending a clear message.

You can stand with folks like these everywhere on May 25th in the March Against Monsanto – add your city to the list if you’d like to organize one.

Can’t wait? Then send a message to Michael Taylor (FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods) with Occupy-Monsanto’s Eat-In on the FDA lawn, April 8th.

March Against Monsanto May 25th:

FDA Eat-In to Label GMOS April 8th:

Activist Post’s previous report:

A rider (Sec. 735) that would prevent courts from halting illegally planted GM crops (sometimes courts find fault with USDA-approved GM fields) was slipped into the Senate Continuing Resolution spending bill HR 933. It blind-sided an angry populace last week, giving little time to voice complaint before it was to go through the Senate.

Last Wednesday morning, HR 933 passed with the new rider dubbed by activists as the Monsanto Protection Act therein. The rider has nothing to do with proposed government spending to keep it running for the next six months. But it is unknown whether this incongruous rider will last six months or permanently.

According to, the only thing left before the bill becomes law is the President’s signature. Food Democracy Now! is asking you to join the more than 200,000 people who used their forms to contact Obama and Congress in an effort to strip the rider. This is not a petition. And those are only the people who used their site – countless other organizations alerted activists in the last two weeks.

If this “must-pass” bill gets signed into law, it would be the point of no return for unhindered Monsanto havoc. They would trump federal court power and courts would not be able to use authority to stop sales or planting of any illegal or hazardous genetically modified crops. Strange for biotech giants to want this rider, as the USDA already gives them unheeded approval without safety testing of their crops. Rider (Sec. 735) clinches Monsanto power – if the USDA or court system wants to halt GM crops or revoke approval, they cannot. It’s also an open backdoor to whisk in future approvals.

This action is detrimental to farmers who want to fight against Monsanto’s patent infringement lawsuits, those for the preservation of organic crops against GM contamination, and our export economy, as so many other countries have adopted GM bans. This Monsanto-driven rider is simply an industry ploy to continue to plant GM crops even when a court of law has found they were approved illegally – But it’s being voted on urgently.

What can we do? Multiple options – follow these easy steps:

Food Democracy Now! was pivotal in the alerts and created a new form letter in the following link here:

  • If you don’t like the pre-formatted letters, then consider using them as a guide and write your own.
  • Better yet, respectfully contact the White House. 
  • Follow this link to enter your info and find your reps, senators, and contact the White House – guided info is there to help with your phone call. 
  • Or, you can call the Congressional switchboard at (202) 224-3121
  • To reach the White House to call President Barack Obama’s line: (202) 456-1111.
  • Remember that it is activists who call it the Monsanto Protection Act – it’s Section 735 of HR 933 that we want stripped
This is not a petition and this is not ‘slacktivism.’ Sneaky, hidden riders that are quickly voted through leave us few options and little time. But you can lend your voice. Whether it passes or not, that’s another bridge to cross with other actions awaiting. The political and corporate biotech leaders are doing very little to gain back trust, but we can let them know we are watching, voting, and have had enough. 

This could be our last chance to stop Monsanto from corporate rule and full immunity. Tell President Obama here to block Sec 735, and Contact your Member of Congress to express your outrage at granting a blank check for Monsanto – Every voice counts!

Senator Jon Tester (an organic farmer), joined by Senators Boxer, Gillibrand and Leahy introduced an amendment (#74) to strike the dangerous rider from the CR. You can still voice your support for reviewing the Tester amendment – reportedly ignored and not added when this bill passed the Senate. Even if the Tester amendment voting is over with – make your opinion known to your Congress people, Obama, and let your Senators know your disappointment. It couldn’t be easier with pre-formatted letters that go directly to your Senators.

Food Democracy Now! reports that there are 13 crops waiting for approval. The USDA is known for sweeping in approvals, letting Monsanto do their own safety evaluations, and taking their word. And,

The floodgates are literally open for Monsanto, DuPont and Dow Chemical’s new GMO crops that are resistant to more toxic chemicals like 2,4-D, Agent Orange and dicamba that will replace failing Roundup Ready GMO crops. 

According to legal experts, this provision would create a precedent-setting limitation on judicial review and is a dangerous assault on fundamental federal and judicial safeguards needed to protect America’s farmers, citizens and the environment from the wanton approval of Monsanto’s new GMO crops.

Don’t forget to thank the Senators who stood up and supported the Tester amendment if you live in  Montana, California, New York, Vermont, Alaska or Connecticut – Senator Tester and his co-sponsors Senators Boxer, Gillibrand, Leahy, Begich and Blumenthal introduced the amendment to strip Section 735 from the bill.

Previous report from Food Democracy Now!:

Clearly Monsanto and the biotech industry are getting desperate and want to try an end run around a growing movement of farmers and citizens who are rejecting their products and calling for GMO labeling in an effort to make sure their new GMO crops can evade any serious scientific or regulatory review. 

In classic form, the biotech industry has cleverly hidden their toxic plan under the deceptive title of a “Farmer Assurance Provision” (Sec. 735). In truth, the “Monsanto Protection Act” would allow the biotech industry to continue to flout American legal precedence and violate the constitutional separation of powers set forth by our Founding Fathers. 

In short, the “Farmer Assurance Provision” is the greatest threat to farmers’ and citizens’ rights that Monsanto and the biotech industry has ever devised and it must be stopped – today! 

This current rider is a response to the successful lawsuits that farmers have filed to prevent the sale, distribution and cultivation of GMO sugarbeets and GMO alfalfa, both of which were forced to stop from being planted while the USDA finalized full environment reviews.  

Now, the new provision included in the Senate Continuing Resolution spending bill will allow biotech seed and chemical companies to openly skirt even minimal protections of human health and environmental concerns. 

We need your help to make sure your Senator demands that Appropriations Chairman Mikulski pulls this dangerous and unconstitutional rider, and support any amendment that would strike the biotech rider from the new Continuing Resolution.

Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund is also alerting of another rider and urging contact to Senators to oppose the Monsanto rider and support of the Tester Amendments:

ANTI-COMPETITIVE RIDER (Section 742) – Livestock & Poultry Impact

The anti-competitive rider (section 742) deals with a law from the 1920s, the Packers and Stockyards Act (“PSA”), which was intended to provide protections against anti-competitive behavior in the livestock and poultry industries. In essence, the PSA was the Sherman Antitrust Act for agriculture. Although the PSA is a good statute, the USDA never properly implemented it. And that failure over the years has allowed large corporations to practice a variety of abusive, unfair, and deceptive practices that undermine the free market. 

A coalition of family farmer, independent rancher, and consumer groups fought for a provision in the 2008 Farm Bill directing the USDA to issue implementing regulations under the PSA. And we won. But the fight wasn’t over. The big meatpackers managed to hamstring many of the proposed regulations. And now they want to completely eliminate the few protections we did get, leaving the meatpackers free to continue their abusive practices that hurt farmers.

‘Monsanto Protection Act’ would keep GMO crops in the ground during legal battles, Daily Grist, June 29, 2012


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Image: author modified Dees Illustration overlay of Capitol

Heather Callaghan is a natural health blogger and food freedom activist. You can see her work at and Like at Facebook.

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