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Monsanto Protection Act Included In New Spending Bill

(Ryan Grim)  House Republicans will include an extension of the so-called Monsanto Protection Act in the spending bill designed to avert a government shutdown, according to text of the legislation released Wednesday by House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.).

The Monsanto measure was originally enacted into law in March by being slipped into the previous spending resolution, which is now set to expire.

Since its quiet passage, the Monsanto Protection Act has become a target of intense opposition. Monsanto is a global seed and herbicide company that specializes in genetically modified crops. The law effectively prevents judges from placing injunctions on genetically modified seeds even if they are deemed unsafe. Monsanto has argued that it is unfair to single out the company in the nickname for the law, which is officially known as the Farmer Assurance Provision, when other major agribusiness players also support it.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) has waged a campaign against the measure and told HuffPost he plans to fight its reenactment.

“The proposed House continuing resolution includes an extension of the Monsanto Protection Act, a secret rider slipped into a must-pass spending bill earlier this year,” Merkley said. “I will fight the House’s efforts to extend this special interest loophole that nullifies court orders that are protecting farmers, the environment, and public health.”

Colin O’Neil, a lobbyist for the Center for Food Safety, said in a statement, “It is extremely disappointing to see the damaging ‘Monsanto Protection Act’ policy rider extended in the House spending bill. Hundreds of thousands of Americans called their elected officials to voice their frustration and disappointment over the inclusion of the ‘Monsanto Protection Act’ this past spring. Its inclusion is a slap in the face to the American public and our justice system.”

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But Jennifer Hing, a spokeswoman for the House Appropriations Committee, said the panel doesn’t expect the Senate to balk at the inclusion of the Monsanto provision. “We have received no indication that this is a concern,” she said. “It’s a very traditional [continuing resolution] in every sense of the word. It simply continues existing law. Anything that was enacted in FY13 continues to be enacted.”

The latest continuing resolution — a Capitol Hill term for a bill to keep funding the government until a new budget is passed — would last through Dec. 15, at which point a new CR or a more robust spending bill would be needed to avoid a shutdown.

Hing said the only significant changes the spending bill would make to existing law were included so that federal agencies could manipulate their budgets under sequestration “to continue government functions that would otherwise have catastrophic, unintended, or irreversible impacts on government programs.” For example, agencies would be able to maintain current staffing levels on the border and prepare for bio or chemical weapons attacks.

Continue reading @ Huffington Post

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