Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) confirmed on Sunday that he is proposing an amendment to the upcoming farm bill that would eliminate the "Monsanto Protection Act."
Officially known as the Farmer Assurance Provision, the controversial agricultural provision was surreptitiously tucked into budget legislation -- passed by Congress in March and signed into law by President Barack Obama -- that was intended to avoid a government shutdown. The provision, which the public at large caught wind of only after the bill's passage, allows agricultural companies such as Monsanto to ignore court orders against selling genetically-engineered seeds.
As HuffPost's Ryan Grim explained last week:
Federal courts have recently ruled that the U.S. Department of Agriculture had failed to consider the potential harm some genetically engineered crops may have, and acted too hastily in approving their sale. The industry fought back with the [Monsanto Protection Act], preventing the enforcement of court rulings.
Monsanto, which does significant business in genetically-modified seeds and recently fought a successful Supreme Court battle to protect its interest in them, was reportedly involved in crafting the legislation.
Merkley sent an email to supporters on Sunday, in which he called the measure "one of the most outrageous special interest provisions in years," and declared his intention to kill it.
Merkley's full email stated:
It's one of the most outrageous special interest provisions in years.
Written anonymously, the Monsanto Protection Act allows corporations to sell genetically-modified seeds even when federal courts have blocked them from doing so.
Think about that: We have a process for making sure that genetically-modified seeds aren’t sold, planted and grown until we know that they don’t pose a threat to other crops or to humans.
The Monsanto Protection Act overrides that process. It lets Monsanto and others ignore a court order designed to protect other farmers, the environment, and human health.
That's just wrong.
And even worse, the Monsanto Protection Act was passed in secret, stuffed quietly into the budget bill that averted a government shutdown.
That's why I've proposed an amendment to the Farm Bill that would repeal the Monsanto Protection Act. Please join me - and demand a vote in the U.S. Senate that would end this outrageous special interest override of judicial decisions.
-Senator Jeff Merkley
An aide for Merkley previously signaled the senator's intention to repeal the bill last week.