Monsanto, best known for its genetically engineered crops, had scored some victories early this year when President Obama signed a spending bill, HR 933 into law. Best known as the “Monsanto Protection Act” the decision bars the federal courts from being able to halt the sale or planting of controversial genetically engineered seeds, no matter what health issues may arise in the future.
Even though there were thousands of voters who signed a petition opposing the provision and White House protestors, President Obama endorsed the bill. Surprisingly, many members of Congress were unaware that the “Monsanto Protection Act” even existed within the bill they were signing. In fact, the provision’s language was written in collusion with Monsanto. Seattle attorney, Bill Markler, who has represented victims of foodborne illnesses in lawsuits against corporations, stated, “Any time you tweak with the ability of the public to seek redress from the courts, you create a huge risk.”
However, Monsanto has had some setbacks. Most recently, in early May, the Department of Agriculture has decided to subject crops to more stringent environmental reviews. In question are Monsanto’s dicamba-resistant cotton and soybeans. Currently, most of the corn, soybeans, and cotton grown in the United States are genetically engineered to tolerate the main herbicide-Roundup or glyphosate.
With the introduction of a stronger herbicide into farming, dicamba, many farmers are concerned that their corn and soybean crops would be destroyed. Consequently, Monsanto has prepared dicamba-resistant cotton and soybeans which could impact human health. Environmental opponents of Monsanto state that the approval of these herbicide resistant crops could spur even larger increases in the use of dicamba which is more damaging to the environment and human health than Roundup or glyphosate.
Monsanto called the delay for reviews from the Agriculture Department “unexpected,” since they were hoping to sell soybeans by next year and cotton by 2015. The Department hinted that the decision to approve these dicamba-resistant crops would rest on whether they are a plant pest risk. Environmentalists have pointed out that when environmental impact is secondary, then there are flaws in the regulatory system.
For more information: see Environmental Review to Delay Two Engineered Crops – New York Times.com (May 11, 2013)