There’s a trick in politics for getting something to pass through without much hassle. You attach it to something relatively noncontroversial and then just be really, really quiet about it. That’s what happened with something opponents are calling the Monsanto Protection Act.
It was hidden deep within the last continuing resolution. President Obama signed it, and folks were a little deluded if they thought he wouldn’t. The problem wasn’t so much what it was hidden in, butwhat was hidden there.
This provision, one that has so many people up in arms, makes it impossible for the courts to put a stop to the use of genetically modified crops regardless of health risks those crops might present to humans.
Monsanto is the largest producer in the world of GMO crops. This provision gives them a level of protection that other corporations don’t enjoy…and shouldn’t either.
Our current system isn’t one of true free trade. Instead, it’s one where large corporations carve out legislation favorable to them, often at the expense of their rivals. In Monsanto’s case, there really aren’t any rivals, so they can just protect their mutant crops in general. Now, I’m a bit unconvinced about whether GMO crops are a health risk, though I do welcome more science on the subject. It doesn’t matter.
The fact is, the courts serve in part as a consumer protection agency. If a product is faulty, the courts order them off the shelves. This is a good thing as the courts hear arguments on both sides and make a decision. By hamstringing the courts, it means we have to rely on agencies like the FDA. Unfortunately, the director of the FDA, Michael Taylor, had ties to Monsanto prior to taking over the agency. Pardon me if I consider him as less than reliable on this front.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen corporations use legislation to protect their bottom line. Energy producer Enron was a big proponent of cap and trade. Walmart supporter the employer mandate provision of Obamacare. The reason is that they could take these regulations and survive. Their competition? Not so much.
This is the power of pull, a heinous abuse of our system. They use their money to hire lobbyists who woo politicians into backing their pet projects and create an environment where they get larger, their competition disappears, and barriers are created to prevent new competition to enter the workplace.
When will we actually see this stopped? Both parties are responsible for this, but to them it’s just politics as usual.