Monsanto

Monsanto: The Problem with Factions

The Founding Fathers believed in the multiplicity of interests. They believed that self-interest was the best way to control the perils of a faction within the scope of a republican government. But there are times in our exceptional American system when our government contributes the growth of overwhelmingly powerful factions. Some of these come from the agricultural sector.

Monsanto is one of them.

The food giant received substantial approval from our government. The corporation did everything that the law permitted it to do. All branches of government deemed it right and it’s not just President Obama.

The media and the social media especially i.e. Facebook activists believe that Obama sat down with Monsanto and rigged an appropriation bill that allows Monsanto farmers to continue planting GMO seeds that are disputed in court.

As Politico reported, Section 735 of the bill states that the Secretary of agriculture “shall, notwithstanding any other provision of law… immediately grant” temporary permits to continue using the seed at the request of a farmer or producer wanting such a stewardship program.” This is definitely strong language. This “rider”-an addition to the budget bill- is nothing new, however.

The Monsanto issue has been unravelling for many years. These food activists tend to forget that the disputed GMOs are opted from the court’s jurisdiction because of no legal standing. In fact, Monsanto was brought to the Supreme Court, and everything was settled.

In Monsanto Co. v. Geertson Seed Farms (2009), the Court decided that Monsanto did not “pose any appreciable risk of environmental harm” in a 7-1 majority opinion.  They decided that there was no immediate injury from their GMO seeds. As Justice Scalia wrote in Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife (1992), in order to have legal standing the petitioners must show “concrete” injury, or evidence to show that supports their claim. The Monsanto ruling is consistent with cases like Lujan.

Both of these cases refer to Article III of the U.S. Constitution which requires appellants to show injury. The Court was correct. This was not in their jurisdiction. The Roberts Court can’t do anything about it.

Some believe that Monsanto does not have an overwhelming influence in our government. George Mason Professor Jon Entine is one of them. He points out that the FDA needs to approve all GMO seeds and, therefore, the federal court’s judicial review is not necessary. However, FDA officials are tied to Monsanto. Michael R. Taylor is one of them who currently serves as the deputy commissioner  of the Office of Foods. He’s also the former Monsanto vice president of public policy.

It’s not as clear as Entine paints it to be. The Obama Administration is somewhat connected to Monsanto. On the other hand, Obama is not the one that added the controversial provisions in the appropriations bill.

So if it is not the Court’s fault, Obama didn’t sit down with Monsanto to craft the “rider,” who’s left? Congress.

The Monsanto debacle originated in Congress. Both parties ignored the monopolization of the agriculture corporation. Now that the issue peaked, statesman are coming forward in support of more oversight.

Some of those lawmakers include Senator John Tester (D-MT), and Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR). The one senator that activists should target is Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO).

Blunt, quite bluntly, seems to work more for Monsanto than for the public good of the American people. In fact, the Republican senator was the one that architected the “rider” or the Section 735 in the appropriations bill.  His Monsanto contributions escalated from $10,000 in 2008 to $64,250 in 2012. There are many congressmen that benefit from Monsanto. In fact, here’s the list of congressmen and senators that receive substantial sums of campaign contributions.

This is not a partisan issue. Legislation needs to be simpler and less susceptible to “riders” like the one from Senator Blunt. Bills need to be shorter so that people in Washington D.C. can read the bill and prevent any wrongful provisions from becoming law.

Congress needs to step up its game. All branches of government should serve the public good, it just seems that our government is more interested in serving the interests of corporations like Monsanto. That’s problematic. Our government should not accommodate to the interests of one faction. That’s what the Founding Fathers objected to the most.

Yes, Facebook activists have a point. Even though Monsanto has been an issue for a long time, and Obama didn’t compromise with the corporation, it is our duty as active citizens to speak out and stand up to self-interested groups.

As Federalist No. 51 says, “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition.” It’s time to counteract Monsanto’s ambition.

Click here for a full list of senators that voted for the bill: http://thedcpost.com/?p=25620

Congressmen: http://votesmart.org/bill/votes/43151#.UWXYIqsjq88

UzarowiczLong

Alex Uzarowicz | Knox College | @AUzarowica

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One Response

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  1. Daniel DeFonce
    Apr 30, 2013 - 04:57 PM

    Monsanto = cronysim + agricultural monopolization
    Agri-business should not be lawfully allowed to domineer over and coerce small-time agricultural producers and family farms. Laws should be enacted to inform consumers of which foods are GMOs and to prevent big-business from bullying private growers and distributors. Monsanto should not be permitted to undermine diversity and competition in agricultural commerce.

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