Jackson MeadTuesday,2 April 2013

The Snap:

Last Tuesday, the country was duped. Obama signed HR 933, colloquially known as the “Monsanto Protection Act” into law. But that is not where we were duped. The mainstream media, once again manipulated by someone (liberals egged on by conservatives?), just like during the run-up to the Iraq War, drew away attention from the arguments in the SCOTUS regarding the Defense of Marriage act by attacking President Obama. Many of these attacks occurred on everyone’s favorite social media outlet — Facebook, accompanied by pictures of Obama and Biden depicted as surreptitiously saying they pulled one over on the people, and of a blond woman implying that the country was distracted by the DOMA debate, thus enabling the President to sign the bill into law without “hoopla.”

The Download:

On the surface it seems like a brilliant move by the far right — get the liberals to attack the President and make it seem like he slipped one past the citizenry while we were occupied with same sex marriage — a battle that they even realize they have no way of winning. The people at Democracy Now, surprisingly, also fell in line quickly stating that “members may not have realized” what they were voting on. What this move actually illustrates is that there are people out there who are masters at manipulating the media and social networks since “brilliance” and the “far right” are not terms to be used together, of late. They know that this is a classic case of “he who states it first is right,” no matter the evidence to the contrary — just as the case with WDMs in Iraq (for those of you that care — there are none).

I’ll be brief because to change the direction of a misinformed and manipulated public takes a long time. Years sometimes. Longer even than HR 933 is in effect.

First off, the provision that Obama signed into law was already part of the general agricultural appropriations bill that had been kicking around Congress in mid 2012. Which means at the very least most of the Congresspeople who cared, knew (as much as they can know anything in a law these days) and discussed the general provisions related to GMO/GE crops. The section does not specifically protect “Monsanto” by the way, but any manufacturer of GMO/GE crop seeds. What it protects them from is getting shut down, “soup to nuts,” when someone files a lawsuit alleging something about the genetically modified crop. That is, the company can continue to sell the GMO seeds and farmers can continue to grow the crops if a lawsuit is filed alleging the seeds are “bad” or are otherwise going to kill us.

Which is reasonable because if you are ADM, and Monsanto is kicking the pants off of you with their new “rust resistant” wheat seed (which has already been approved by the FDA), which all the farmers are buying because they want to make some money, put food on their table and buy presents for their dates, then you may be tempted to file a lawsuit. Without the protection of HR 933, ADM would be able to file a lawsuit and shut down the whole shebang while the lawsuit gets resolved. That could take years. Even if Monsanto’s seed proved to be harmless, during the entire time it took to reach that conclusion, Monsanto would be losing money on that line of products. How totally un-American!

Second, both houses voted for the bill as signed. Not everyone was a boy scout so let me remind you that both houses of Congress (the House of Representatives and the Senate) need to vote on and approve legislation before the President signs it into law. Both houses overwhelmingly voted to pass the legislation that the President signed into law (that is the last step for any law of the U.S., for you non-boy scouts). So while it may be convenient to blame Obama, the truth of the matter is that you should look no further than your Congressperson or Senator to direct your ire if you think the legislation is bad.

Finally, in a way, the President’s hand was forced on this because Congress attached this specific provision, which has nothing to do with the heart of HR 933, to the legislation — which is business as usual. The main part of the bill was for paying the government’s bills through October to avoid a government shutdown that would have occurred last Wednesday had it not been signed. That’s right, the law is effective until October — 6 months — which means that the government has money to run until then and which means that companies manufacturing GMO / GE products, like Monsanto (or ADM), are protected for ONLY the next 6 months from the effect of a lawsuit shutting the specific product line down. If the law does not get re-signed then, which I predict it will, these companies will no longer have the protection they need.

BTW, if the President had a “line item veto” then I would wholeheartedly suggest you go ahead and attack him for signing the legislation without vetoing the offensive provision. But, he doesn’t, so we are left, more often than not, with cases where things unrelated to the central tenet of any bill get signed into law — that is just just the way the government works.

One afterthought: what is so bad about genetically modified food anyway? You people were up in arms with the thought of “Twinkies” disappearing from the face of the Earth when Hostess went out of business. Though not genetically modified, I am sure that there are proven health risks to eating “Twinkies” whereas the health risks of GMO/GE food are yet to be found. As long as the food is labeled as such and we have a choice, I am OK with it. Think about it — we’ve been genetically modifying food for centuries on a macro level by selective breeding long before we even realized what we were doing.

Hat Tips:

House Vote, Senate Vote, Conservatives Lose on Gay Marriage,Democracy Now, Date A Farmer, Peas, Image Credit: Flickr

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