Proof that agri-business biotech giant Monsanto has learned from the greatest shyster a.k.a. lobbyist K Street has ever known, is evidenced in last week’s fiscal legislation to avert a federal government shut down. Monsanto successfully inserted into H.R. 933: Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act a provision that exempts their genetically modified foods from litigation. Can you imagine Congress telling the Food and Drug Administration that new medications do not need to pass safety trials before coming to market and nobody could sue for harm caused by a new drug? This is the poison pill Congress has asked the American public to swallow in order to avoid a government shut down. Monsanto is free to engineer and grow genetically modified food products, and if they prove harmful to Americans, Monsanto cannot be sued. This leaves most rational Washington outsiders shaking their heads and wondering: How did Monsanto achieve such a feat? Answer: Hire a lobbyist! In the clip below, Jack Abramoff, the most notorious lobbyist of them all tells the world how to buy a congressman and how to get nefarious legislation inserted into innocuous legislation.
This deal stinks so bad that the Chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee who allowed this bill to be ushered through Congress and dropped onto the desk of the President, has come out and publicly apologized for the language inserted into the bill by Monsanto’s home state senator. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) is credited with crafting the Monsanto Protection Act language and adding the rider into the appropriations bill. We know Monsanto has contributed nearly $65,000 to great Senator from Missouri, but a better question might be: How many of his staffers have been offered future jobs with Monsanto or their lobbying firm? Until Congress acts to close the revolving door between lobbying firms and congressional offices, we will continue to see these types of riders added into every bill that sees the light of day in the capitol building.
Despite all the rhetoric, finger-pointing and apologies, there are a couple of positives coming out of this politically charged situation. Passage of the so called Monsanto Protection Act has reenergized food safety advocates and their supporters. Groups like Food Democracy Now will use this bill as a rallying cry to keep their agenda in the public consciousness. Not only did Monsanto give food safety advocates a plethora of free media, they made a major mistake by adding their coveted exemption to a bill that expires in six months. The Monsanto Protection Act will expire in six months time and you can expect a renewed fight to ensue over this issue. Until then be vigilant, call your congress person to complain, and watch out for the trick play Monsanto may have planned.
image credit (AP Photo/Greenpeace/Melvyn Calderon)