Yesterday, March 26, while I was happily biking to my local farmers’ market to buy dinner ingredients from local organic vendors, Obama signed into law bill H.R. 933, which contained the rider known as the Monsanto Protection Act. This bill gives Monsanto and other biotech companies complete immunity to any safety act in place on either the federal or state level. It grants the Department of Agriculture the ability to veto any judicial ruling that halts the planting or sale of GM seeds due to safety concerns, effectively overturning the principles of judicial review and check and balances. Hoping to avoid the furor it knew would arise, Big Ag quietly attached the rider to a budget legislation meant to prevent a government shutdown when the previous budget expired. Faced with the coming budget crisis, the legislation was certain to pass, along with any riders attached, and Monsanto took advantage of that fact. Despite a petition circulated by Food Democracy Now that garnered over 200,000 signatures, Obama failed to veto the rider when he signed bill H.R. 933 into law. Obama, who promised during his first campaign to label GMOs, whose wife is a health food activist, who eats from his very own organic garden on the White House grounds, has given Monsanto dominion over his countrymen and their food.
The news is even worse for Marylanders. The rider was introduced anonymously while the bill was under review by the Senate Appropriations Committee, which is chaired by our own Senator, Democrat Barbara Mikulski. Instead of forwarding the rider to the Agricultural or Judiciary Committees, whose branches are directly affected by its contents, Mikulski allowed it to slip through without even reviewing its language or provisions. It’s easy to criticize the president, so far away behind his white walls and bodyguards. Betrayal from your home state is harder to ignore, and wounds much more deeply.
What does this mean for us, the people? It means that the purses of biotech companies like Monsanto, Dow, and DuPont are more important to our government than our safety. It means that not only are we denied the right to know what’s in our food, we are denied the assurance of that said food is safe to eat. It means that eating organic is more important now than ever. Most importantly, it means it’s time to get angry, get active, and get LABELED.
Food Democracy Now has started another petition expressing their outrage at Obama’s betrayal and demanding that he protect his constituents by labeling GMOs. While I’ve lost any trust in our government that remained in my being, I can’t give up hope yet. This country was built on the will of the common people; if one revolution can start a country, surely another can save it. If not, well, I hear the waves are great in Australia – and so are the labeling laws. Maybe I’ll learn to surf.