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Debunking the conspiracy theories regarding the so-called Monsanto Protection Act

130316stopgmos

A recent post HERE dealing with what I called the “science deniers” of the political left included this passage:

What role does science play in the left-wing opposition to golden rice and other genetically modified crops? None. Study after study has shown no detectable deleterious effects on human health from genetically altered foods. And two studies published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition have shown that golden rice is an even better vehicle for delivery of vitamin A than spinach, the wonder vegetable.

That stuff is brought to mind by THIS PIECE about a widespread conspiracy theory among liberals and mainstreamers alike  regarding the supposedly evil folks at Monsanto:

The past week has seen a tsunami of stories about the so-called “Monsanto Protection Act,” more accurately known as Section 735 of HR 933. It’s a tiny provision attached to a massive agricultural spending bill signed into law by President Obama last week.

According to detractors, Section 735 is the “most dangerous food act ever” and a “terrifying piece of policy.” Why? Because, among other claims, it purportedly allows biotech companies to sell seeds that can cause serious consumer health problems.

Just as shocking, activists claim, the provision was secretly written by Monsanto, stealthily inserted into the bill in the dead of night by its Congressional backroom lackeys and then placed on the desk of President Barack Obama, who is so in hock to biotech special interests that he sold out the public and signed the bill, rider intact, therefore undermining American democracy. No kidding. That’s the way even mainstream bloggers and news outlets discuss this legislation. “Monsanto teams up with Congress to shred the Constitution,” shrieked one Huffington Post headline. Hundreds of thousands of angry anti-GMO protestors have signed online petitions expressing their outrage.

Let’s separate the facts from the fury.

The “stealth” claim is just plain wrong. This provision was drafted last year and has been in printed versions of the bill that have been circulating widely in Washington for more than nine months; no one, least of all hyper-vigilant anti-GMO watchdogs, were caught by surprise. For example, Stonyfield Farm, a division of Dannon that makes organic dairy products and is actively engaged in a range of anti-technology agricultural issues, ran a blog post last fall demonizing the provision that its opponents now claim was written behind a veil of secrecy.

The Stonyfield blog post raises the second gross mischaracterization now making the rounds: allegations that the provision would benefit the biotech industry at the expense of consumer health. For example, Russia Today news claims the rider “would strip federal courts of the authority to immediately halt the planting and sale of genetically modified (GMO) seed crop regardless of any consumer health concerns.” This characterization is hokum.

To date, no court has ever held that a biotechnology crop presents a risk to health, safety or the environment. But make no mistake: it’s not because the courts or the government approval process is lax. Just the opposite. Getting approval for any transgenic crop or food is like running a torturous gauntlet, both arduous and bureaucratic, with companies are required to provide years of internal and independent data, which are then carefully reviewed by various government agencies.

Beyond that, the USDA cannot approve a new seed variety until it conducts an Environmental Assessment (EA). This is the point in the process where anti-biotech activists and lawyers do their best to gum up the works in hopes of generating a critical mass of negative public opinion.

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6 Comments

  1. Expdoc

    Stopping the research and thwarting the food production technology that companies like Monsanto have produced could impact millions if not billions of lives.

  2. I have difficulty believing and trusting the USDA. Growing vitamin pills isn’t the answer to an obese nutrition starved population. How do people shop for their food? Center aisles loaded with expensive processed packaged sodium laden sugary delights or around the perimiter where food can be obtained in its natural state providing many health benefits. Unfortunately money dictates our groceries crowding out farmers who could produce more healthy and wholesome foods as opposed to soy and corn oil.

  3. Brian Opsahl

    Yea, which way, Doc, good or bad, just one little teeny tiny microb can kill millions of people if they don’t follow all those safe guards built in by our Government….correct..!!

    On sixty minutes the head of FDA said that she wouldn’t trust whats comming out of the pharmaceutical companys or whats comming out of processing plants…scary very scary

  4. It’s a bit stupid just to blame thing kind of thing of liberals, conspiracy theories are rampant throughout all areas of the political spectrum. It makes your article difficult to digest when you open it with such obviously bias statements when you are trying to prove a point. I for one don’t believe the conspiracy, but I can’t take any persons argument seriously if they bring totally unnecessary political bias into the arena where there is no need for it.

  5. Allen

    This guy…I don’t know what to say. “Liberal” reporter. Shill more like. Courts do not determine if a product is a risk to health, tests do. Sir, you cannot determine whether something is a risk to human health in 4 years..sorry. Sorry to disappoint you and your Monsanto buddies. The average petition take 4 to five years. No long enough. No court HERE as determined Monsanto products to be unsafe. But try using them in Europe. Monsanto OWNS us, owns the courts and owns the media…and obviously owns you. Before you post your Monsanto propaganda at least be a half way decent journalist and do your research.. Thanks

  6. Well said Allen. Thank you!

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