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Organic Consumers Association

Senate CR to Strip Monsanto Rider

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Politics and Democracy page and our Millions Against Monsanto page.

A controversial legislative rider added by Monsanto to the Agriculture Department budget last spring will no longer be effective after Sept. 30 under a draft stopgap government funding bill being drafted by Senate Democrats.

The provision touched off a storm last spring as critics accused Monsanto of "court-stripping" to protect its sales of the genetically modified seeds for which the St. Louis-based giant is a pioneer in commercializing.

The continuing resolution approved by the House last week would extend the rider without comment for the first months of the new fiscal year. But the Senate substitute, to be unveiled Wednesday, will explicitly go back and make clear that that Monsanto-backed provision will end this month.

"That provision will be gone," said Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), confirming the change to POLITICO. The Center for Food Safety, a Washington-based non-profit, welcomed the decision as "a major victory for the food movement" and "sea change in a political climate that all too often allows corporate earmarks to slide through must-pass legislation."

"Short-term appropriations bills are not an excuse for Congress to grandfather in bad policy," said Colin O'Neil, director of government affairs for the Center.

The whole dispute has been overshadowed by the larger fight over Republican efforts to use the same CR to cut off funding needed by President Barack Obama to implement his health care reforms. But for many environmental and food safety groups, the so-called "Monsanto Protection Act" -as the rider was called-became a major cause last spring, generating a huge amount of Internet traffic and calls on Obama to veto the agriculture budget.

Caught in the middle was Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) who had inherited legislative agreements made under her predecessor, the late Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii). Mikulski promised then that she would do everything she could to terminate the provision with the new fiscal year. But the CR posed its own challenges since typically the leadership simply extends current spending and related provisions for the life of the resolution.



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