Tucked into the GOP’s latest bid to gut the Affordable Care Act, the House passed a three-month extension on Friday of the Farmer Assurance Provision rider that circumvents judicial authority regarding the sale and planting of genetically modified crops.
Dubbed the “Monsanto Protection Act” by foes of the provision that was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in March, the legislation states that the United States Department of Agriculture will have final say over whether GMO crops can be planted and sold, rather than the courts, and shields companies like Monsanto and Dow Chemical from certain lawsuits.
Opponents of the provision blasted House Republicans for continuing to support what they see as an industry giveaway.
“It is truly disappointing that the House Republicans continue to push forward this overreaching and damaging corporate earmark,” Colin O’Neil, director of government affairs for Center for Food Safety, said in a statement.
In the Senate, the rider is staunchly opposed Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), while championed by Roy Blount (R-Mo.).
Now that the provision has been attached to H.J. Res 59, its chances of passing in the current bill are close to zero, lest Senate Democrats make the surprise move of torpedoing the president’s healthcare law.
Still, the lingering presence of the “Monsanto Protection Act,” which is set to expire on Sept. 30, has anti-GMO activists on edge.
“The American people deserve better than dirty politics, yet the Republican leadership continues to side with the agrichemical companies that the rider seeks to protect,” O’Neil said.