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Congress's Big Gift to Monsanto

Web Note: Although this is a good article, the representative of Food and Water Watch, Tony Corbo, is incorrect in stating that the California Ballot Initiative on GMO Labeling will likely be nullified, based upon the argument that states can't require more rigorous labeling than the FDA does. Numerous states ALREADY require more rigorous labeling than the FDA on foods, including Alaska, which requires labeling on GMO salmon. For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page, Millions Against Monsanto page, and our California News page.

If you want your crops to bear fruit, you have to feed the soil. Few industries understand that old farming truism better than ag-biotech-the few companies that dominate the market for genetically modified seeds and other novel farming technologies. And they realize that the same wisdom applies to getting what you want in Washington, DC.

According to this 2010 analysis from Food & Water Watch, the ag-biotech industry spent $547.5 million between 1999 and 2009. It employed more than 100 lobbying firms in 2010 alone, FWW reports, in addition to their own in-house lobbying teams.

The gusher continues. The most famous ag-biotech firm of all, Monsanto, spent $1.4 million on lobbying in the first three months of 2012, after shelling out $6.3 million total last year, "more than any other agribusiness firm except the tobacco company Altria," reports the money-in-politics tracker OpenSecrets.Org. Industry trade groups like the Biotechnology Industry Organization and Croplife America have weighed in with $1.8 million and $524,00, respectively.

What fruits have been borne by such generous fertilizing of the legislative terrain? It's impossible to tie the fate of any bit of legislation directly to an industry's lobbying power, but here are two unambiguous legislative victories won on the Hill this month by Monsanto and its peers.