Anti-GMO protesters have jumped all over the Farmer Assurance Program, saying it's designed to preclude biotech companies like Monsanto from lawsuits.
In reality, the program helps farners avoid financial ruin when lawsuits are filed after the planting of approved seeds.
One would think that a person protesting GMOs in food would know what a GMO is.
Judging by a recent Memphis Commercial Appeal article, it appears not. All you need is a snappy slogan on a makeshift sign and an anti-GMO attitude.
Knowledge need not apply.
The article tells us about the horror that grips a Memphis lady when she discovers that food at her local grocery “had been genetically modified by agriculture companies.”
Armed with this dangerous bit of information, she becomes coordinator for Memphis’s March on Monsanto, though her grasp of modern agriculture falls a bit shy of the top shelf.
“I am passionate about keeping chemicals out of our foods,” she said, holding a “Hell No GMOs!” sign. “I want to spread the awareness. People deserve to make their own food choices and know what’s in their food.”
You read that correctly. She apparently believes that GMOs are some kind of chemical. Or maybe she was railing against chemicals the week before and got her talking points mixed up.
Or maybe she’s just synaptically challenged.
According to the article, “more than 150 people gathered at the First Congregational Church on Cooper to protest the Farmer Assurance Provision nicknamed the Monsanto Protection Act.”
Protesters said the law “gives Monsanto and others power to ignore court orders to stop selling (GMO) seeds to farmers, and it shields the companies from lawsuits if people get sick.”
But the Farmer Assurance Provision is not about that at all. It allows farmers to plant an approved seed without having to worry about a frivolous lawsuit biting them on the backside later. For example:
After USDA approved Roundup Ready alfalfa in 2005, the anti-GMO group Center for Food Safety contended that the government hadn’t adequately evaluated the potential environmental consequences. In 2007, the U.S. District Court in San Francisco agreed and prohibited Monsanto from selling Roundup Ready alfalfa.
“This was incredibly disruptive to thousands of farmers who had planted alfalfa, which is a perennial crop so does not have to be reseeded each year,” Jon Entine, of the Genetic Literacy Project said. “The confusion and patchwork of conflicting regulations, court decisions and labeling requirements dealt a sizable economic blow to one of the country’s most important export crops. The ongoing chaos was exactly the kind of commercial uncertainty that anti-GMO forces were hoping to manufacture.”
Wisely, the Supreme Court overturned the lower court’s injunction.
The Farmer Assurance Provision builds on this decision, protects farmers and preserves the freedom to innovate for ag industries.
Meanwhile the Memphis protester continued to be a fountain of misinformation, telling the Commercial Appeal reporter, “Rats that were fed GMOs developed tumors and other illnesses.”
She is wrong again and in my book, a much bigger threat to the sustainability and safety of the U.S. food supply than a mere GMO could ever be.