(MintPress) – “Once again, Monsanto and the biotech industry have used their lobbying power to undermine your basic rights. We need you to contact Congress and tell them you are outraged,” writes Food Democracy Now, a grassroots group representing roughly 350,000 American farmers and citizens in a recent post.
Section 735 of H.R. 933 grants special rights to large agricultural organizations, like Monsanto, reducing government oversight of genetically modified (GMO) crops that many consumer advocates believe are harmful to human health.
The controversial “biotech rider” was slipped into House legislation Thursday during discussion of unrelated legislation designed to avoid a government shutdown March 27.
Monsanto has been embroiled in a spate of legal conflicts, most recently filing a $23 million lawsuit against hundreds of independent farmers last month. Monsanto filed the suit to protect seed patents, a claim rejected by farmers who say they bought seeds legally, often from third party vendors.
For food safety advocates, the most concerning aspect of the bill is decreased government oversight of genetically modified organisms (GMO) prevalent in Monsanto seeds which have been found to increase people’s risk of cancer. The bill specifically instructs “the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to ignore any judicial ruling regarding the planting of genetically modified crops.”
House Resolution 933 also authorizes the USDA to grant “temporary” permission for GMO crops to be planted, even if a judge has ruled that such crops were not properly approved.
The legislation further reduces already lackadaisical regulation of GMO crops widely cultivated by farmers across the United States.
Roughly 70 percent of corn farmland and 93 percent of soy farmland in the U.S. are planted with crops genetically engineered to increase crop yields and resist pests. Dozens of common food items found at supermarkets across the U.S., including tomatoes, salmon, potatoes, sugar beets and squash contain some GMO material.
Despite efforts by Monsanto to silence scientific criticism, mounting independent research shows that GMO crops are harmful to human health.
Dr. Gilles-Eric Seralini, a professor of molecular biology in France, conducted a two-year $4 million study linking the growth of tumors in rats to Monsanto’s genetically modified maize known as “NK603.”
Seralini and his team of researchers have been smeared by major corporations seeking to undermine the credibility of their findings. Seralini was an outspoken critic of GMO foods before the study, raising suspicion of his objectivity.
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