Organic Consumers Association

Don’t Let Congress Give Your Money to Monsanto!

Remember the Monsanto Protection Act? Well, Monsanto’s minions in Congress have a new one for you: The Monsanto Promotion Act.

Now that the IRS has filled the government’s coffers, Congress gets to decide how to spend your hard-earned money.

TAKE ACTION! Ask your Member of Congress and Senators to remove the Monsanto Promotion Act. Tell them you don’t want your taxes to be spent on corporate welfare or industry propaganda, especially not to promote Monsanto’s GMOs!

The U.S. House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee has decided that:

$3,000,000 shall be used by the Commissioner of Food and Drugs, in coordination with the Secretary of Agriculture, for consumer outreach to promote understanding and acceptance of agricultural biotechnology and biotechnology-derived food products and animal feed, including through publication and distribution of science-based educational information on the environmental, nutritional, food safety, economic, and humanitarian benefits of such biotechnology, food products, and feed.

Wow, with legislation as crazy as this, it’s hard to know where to start.

We’re going to take $3 million out of taxpayers’ pockets to promote the products of an industry awash in profits it makes from poisoning our food, soils and water, and contributing the lion’s share of greenhouse gases to our overheated planet?

$3 million? In an age where fights over the budget deficit regularly bring the government to the brink of shut-down and loan defaults? In a country where 41.8 million Americans live in food-insecure households and more than 500,000 are homeless?

$3 million to market Monsanto’s products, when our country’s crumbling infrastructure is hurting U.S. competitiveness and our decaying school buildings are affecting our children’s ability to learn?

In 2015, big food, farm and biotechnology companies and trade associations working to prevent labeling of food containing genetically engineered ingredients spent $101.4 million just lobbying Congress. The U.S. prepared foods industry spends $1.68 billion on advertising each year.

These corporations don’t need our money, they’ve got plenty of their own. And since when is the U.S. government in the business of providing free public relations services to highly profitable corporations?

Most Americans believe GMO foods and the chemicals used to grow them are unsafe. Not an unreasonable assumption, given that GMOs aren’t safety tested and 99.7 percent of the GMOs grown in the world today are engineered to either absorb an herbicide (like Monsanto’s Roundup with the active ingredient glyphosate, a probable carcinogen) or produce an insecticide.

Maybe Congress should appropriate $3 million to actually investigate the safety of the GMOs we’re already eating?

We know of no other program like this designed to convince skeptical consumers that any particular technology is safe. The government doesn’t do this for fracking or nuclear power or cell phones. There’s no reason to do it for GMOs.

There are risks and downsides to nearly all technologies no matter how beneficial. To publish and distribute information only on the benefits of something isn’t very scientific. It’s biased and misleading.

As for “the environmental, nutritional, food safety, economic, and humanitarian benefits of … biotechnology,” this is the most galling of all the proposed reasons for this $3 million-giveaway to Monsanto. Most of the so-called “benefits” of Monsanto’s GMO crops have long been debunked.

Monsanto says that GMOs benefit the environment by reducing pesticide use. But even the most biased industry-backed studies admit that the only reductions are in insecticide sprays from the adoption of genetically engineered plants that produce their own insecticides (this doesn’t decrease consumer exposure) and that the use of herbicides has gone up. U.S. government data confirms that GMOs have increased pesticide use overall.

While a few nutritionally-enhanced GMOs like Golden Rice have been in development for more than a decade, none have been commercialized or proven to increase nutrition or improve health or food insecurity. The problem of hunger isn’t that we can’t produce enough nutritious food for everyone to eat without biotechnology. The problem is that we waste and fail to equitably distribute the food we have. But, there’s plenty of evidence that agroecology (organic and regenerative agriculture) can create food security by increasing the yields of small-scale farmers and making farming more resilient in the face of climate change.

The “Monsanto Promotion Act” is nothing more than a propaganda campaign waged by the U.S. government, on behalf of the biotech industry, and paid for by you.

TAKE ACTION! Ask your Member of Congress and Senators to remove the Monsanto Promotion Act. Let them know that you don’t want your taxes to be spent on corporate welfare or industry propaganda, especially not to promote Monsanto’s GMOs!