A provision in the Ag Appropriations bill that favors Monsanto and other GMO seed-makers has caused an uproar among GMO critics.
Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, who got that provision included, defends it, saying it will protect farm families. The provision was part of the continuing resolution signed by President Obama last month to fund the government.
In two past cases, farmers were stopped from producing crops approved by the USDA, Monsanto's Round Up Ready Alfalfa and Sugarbeets, that they'd already planted because of federal court decisions. Lawsuits led federal judges to halt the sale and harvest of those crops for further study.
"In both cases, higher federal courts eventually reversed the decision by the federal judge saying in fact, well, hey, USDA was right. It was legal to plant it. You should have been able to sell it. But by then, of course, those farm families had lost that years' income.
Blunt says there was no recourse for those farmers, "You couldn't sue USDA. You couldn't sue Pioneer Seed, or Monsanto, or anybody else. So, all the loss was on the part of farm families. That's why the Soybean Association, the Corn Growers Association, the Farm Bureau all believe that that's a provision that you need to protect farm families."
Blunt says this provision will protect farmers in the future amid pending litigation against seed companies.
"We all know enough about farming in Missouri to know that once you've dedicated your crop for that year that you can't go back and undo that decision. And, if you made it based on what the government told you that you should be able to do, you should be able to follow through with that decision."
Some critics of the measure say it's a back room deal that gives Monsanto and other GMO seed companies the power to demand deregulation of GMO crops.