The Farmer Assurance Provision (FAP)–dubbed the “Monsanto Protection Act” by its critics–has been dropped from the Senate’s most recent short-term funding bill, seven months after being controversially introduced. The FAP was a budgetary provision that would have allowed farmers to continue growing genetically modified (GM) crops, even if a court had prohibited their use. The legislation was written by Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) in conjunction with the Monsanto–a move that earned him some severe criticism.
The charge to have the FAP removed from the spending bill was led by Senators Babara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.). Opponents of GMO agriculture have praised the senators for their work on the issue, with Elizabeth Kucinich, policy director for the Center for Food Safety, stating: “One week ago, I asked, ‘Who pulls more weight on Capitol Hill? The agricultural companies like Dow and Monsanto, or the food movement?’ thanks to the leadership of Senator Barbara Mikulski we now know the answer: the food movement.”
In a statement, Sen. Merkley said, “This is a victory for all those who think special interests shouldn’t get special deals. This secret rider, which was slipped into a must-pass spending bill earlier this year, instructed the Secretary of Agriculture to allow GMO crops to be cultivated and sold even when our courts had found they posed a potential risk to farmers of nearby crops, the environment, and human health.”
Monsanto has responded to the expiration of the FAP by claiming that it “was needed to offset the impact of a small, well-funded group of special interest activist groups using the legal system to try and block growers from having access to biotechnology, period. They have also said that the debate that has been generated around this issue “shows the need to address the larger problem – abuse of the legal process by activists.”