Senate Democrats are drafting a government funding bill that would allow the so-called "Monsanto Protection Act" to expire at the end of the month.
According to the New York Daily News, the Republican-supported Farmer Assurance Provision rider will expire on Sep. 30 because it was attached to to the previous Continuing Resolution, and Democrats have no plans to renew it. In a last-ditch effort, Republicans have attached the rider to H.J. Res. 59, the Republican bill to defund Obamacare, but that law stands virtually no chance of passing in the Senate.
The House Republican's government funding bill, which passed in the House last week, contains a three-month extension of the Monsanto Protection Act, which shields companies like Monsanto and Dow Chemical from legal action resulting from Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) crops. The Act also places the authority of whether or not GMO crops can be grown and sold domestically into the hands of Federal Department of Agriculture rather than with the courts or public referendum. The Democratically-controlled Senate is making no plans to work to keep the rider active beyond its current expiration date.
Sen. Jeff Merkley said in a statement, "This is a victory for all those who think special interests shouldn’t get special deals. This secret rider, which was slipped into a must-pass spending bill earlier this year, instructed the Secretary of Agriculture to allow GMO crops to be cultivated and sold even when our courts had found they posed a potential risk to farmers of nearby crops, the environment, and human health. I applaud the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have worked hard to end this diabolical provision.”
Prompted by the concerns of constituents, Merkley joined with Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Roy Blount (R-MO) in opposing the three-month extension. The lawmakers were applauded by the Center for Food Safety's director of government affairs, Colin O'Neil, who heaped scorn on the Republicans who supported the rider.
“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 to the NYDN.