Biotech giant Monsanto was awarded a victory by lawmakers in Washington in June 2012 after a congressional panel voted to let farmers plant GMO crops made by the agriculture company despite pending legal proceedings.
Monsanto is the largest worldwide producer of GMO crops and runs a $ multi-billion global conglomerate.
A US House of Representatives committee sided with Monsanto Corporation and other biotech companies, including competitors Dupont Co., and supported the use, production of GMO on American farmlands. The ruling comes irrespectively of legal challenges and numerous court rulings that have hindered full-fledged approval of some GMOs.
The USDA would be required to permit modified crops to be planted and sold into the food supply after the agency’s approvals have been invalidated by a court, under a provision in the fiscal 2013 agriculture spending bill approved by the House Appropriations committee on June 20th, 2012.
One of the provisions in the Bill would allow companies like Monsanto to circumvent legal obstacles that have impaired the large commercialization of engineered crops, benefiting the world’s largest seed company. Planting would be permitted until USDA completes any analysis required by a judge.
Congress appears to want to reverse Monsanto Crop Bans by courts despite no environmental impact or safety analysis of crops being presented before GMO produce is sold or marketed.
“A stream of lawsuits” have diminished the amount of approvals and created uncertainties for companies developing the modified plants, James C. Greenwood, president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, whose members include Monsanto and Dupont Co., said in a June 13 letter to Congress, reported Bloomberg. “The regulatory certainty provided by this legislative language would address an immediate threat to the regulatory process.”
Monsanto has threatened small farmers in the US with hundreds of lawsuits for using genetically modified crops patented by Monsanto that have been carried onto their farms by wind and other elements of nature. Lately, Monsanto has threatened to sue the entire state of Vermont because lawmakers there were considering a bill that would force manufacturers to label products that are created either in part or in full from a GMO, reported RT News.
The bill is similar to the accommodation the USDA made last year in allowing farmers to plant Roundup Ready sugar beets while the agency completed a court-mandated environmental impact statement. U.S. U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White from California’s Northern District Court in San Francisco ruled in 2009 that the USDA’s approval of genetically-modified sugar beets was unlawful, and that no further plantings were permitted to take place until a proper safety assessment is conducted.
Monsanto products have been banned by individual countries in Europe, but have been reversed by the European union mainly due to the predominant power and influence that Monsanto wields.
In 2008, France banned the the strain MON 810 following public protests against the GM maize, but this was overturned by a French court in 2011. However, in March of 2011 the french government reinstated the ban with the then agricultural minister Bruno Le Maire saying the move was “to protect the environment”.
In May 2012 Poland has officially banned all plantings of Monsanto’s MON810, a genetically-modified (GM) variety of maize (corn) that produces its own built-in Bt insecticide in every kernel.
The decision comes after thousands of protesters recently took to the streets in demonstration of the undeniable fact that both MON810 and the chemicals applied to it are at least partially responsible for causing Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), the worldwide phenomenon in which entire swarms of honey bees disappear or turn up dead.
The Polish Agricultural Minister, Marek Sawicki, confirmed that the decree is in the works and it introduces a complete ban on the MON810 strain of maize in Poland who also explained to the press that pollen from MON810 appears to be responsible for further devastating the already dwindling bee population throughout the country and elsewhere.
A group of scientists in the United States is calling for federal intervention to deal with the threat posed by Monsanto’s GMO crops, and have petitioned the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) to address the issue head on. The group of 22 academic corn experts have focused attention to the immense failure of Monsanto’s genetically modified corn, which is developing mutated and resistant insects as a result of its widespread usage. Corn is used in a variety of ways including as a critical food staple, heavily used in ethanol production and animal feed.
The experts sent a letter on the 5th of March 2012 to the EPA warning the EPA of the long term corn production prospects and the dangers associated with the GMO crop failures.
They highlighted the lack of protection presented by GMO crops against rootworms. The EPA has already acknowledged that Monsanto’s GMO crops are creating resistant rootworms, which are now ravaging the GMO crops as they mutate to the biopesticide used known as Bacillus thuringiensis (BT). The EPA found that the resistant rootworms, which are evolving to resist the insecticide, are currently found Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota and Nebraska. After the EPA evaluated documented cases of severe crop damage as well as reports from entomologists, the EPA stated “Monsanto’s program for monitoring suspected cases of resistance is ‘inadequate’”. Essentially, the GMO crops are doing the opposite of their supposed purpose — leading to more damage from rootworms as they become mutated to resist the defense of the crops. Monsanto has answered by simply further genetically modifying the Bt, which research shows is extremely ineffective and lobbying congress and other regulatory agencies to persist with planting their GMO crop trials and marketing their products to the unsuspecting American public.
South Africa currently does not allow any imports of GM maize from the United States as the US has approved many more GM maize varieties for commercial growing than has South Africa without putting into place a mandatory traceability system. It is not possible for the South African authorities to enforce its zero tolerance for unapproved GMOs from the US as the risk of contamination is too high.