The Agricultural Department sent a budget to the White House last week, with orders from the meat industry and agricultural giant Monsanto on how Secretary Tom Vilsack should do his job. Monsanto, a company known for its controversial and potentially dangerous genetically engineered crop seeds, has been under fire for years for putting profit over consumer need and safety.
The agricultural budget given to Vilsack outlined specific industry demands, one being that Vilsack should withdraw implemented regulations that protect chicken growers under contract with larger chicken processors. In addition, Vilsack was told how to respond should a court challenge one of the genetically modified seeds produced by Monsanto. However, the Monsanto Protection Act was slyly slipped into the funding measure that was approved by the U.S. Senate last week to avoid government shutdown. The Act allows the planting and growing of these genetically engineered crops, even if a court initially ruled that the engineered crops were not adequately approved.
Vilsack’s department reacted to the budget by saying, “Secretary Vilsack has asked the Office of General Council to review this provision as it appears to pre-empt judicial review of a deregulatory action which may make the provision unenforceable.”
Opponents of the demanding budget, such as the Center for Food and Safety, described the industry budget as “corporate welfare”. According to Bill Snapes, an attorney on the council at the Center for Biological Diversity simply stated, “Monsanto flexed its muscle and won”.
The impact that this budget will have on the agricultural industry is not clear, but marks a victory for Monsanto and other companies who manufacture genetically engineered crops. The budget is set to expire on September 30.
Krysta Loera is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire.