Forum Thread

the Monsanto Protection Act

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  • Center Left Democrat
    Democrat
    Flagstaff, AZ
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    This morning, I received a letter from the League of Conservation Voters that included a petition to repeal the "Monsanto Protection Act".
    The petition apparently was started by Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley:

    http://www.jeffmerkley.com/petition/monsanto-outrage/


    The junior senator from Oregon has some pretty impressive credentials. Not surprisingly, he's a Democrat:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeff_Merkley

    I've heard rumors about this act before, and snopes has confirmed that there IS some truth to it:

    http://www.snopes.com/politics/business/mpa.asp

    Now that I'm nearly 66, I don't get too worked up about a lot of topics (with the exception of gun control and the Tea Party) but would probably agree that this recent amendment should be a cause for concern, especially after I saw the image below:

    http://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-prn2/971256_611718058839176_1891337154_n.jpg

    Comments?
  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    Thanks Arizona --

    The articles are certainly more objective than the first round of news on this issue which condemned President Obama for signing the Monsanto Protection Act. I spent quite a bit of time on this a while back correcting misconceptions so I'll summarize those views again.

    As we now know, there is no such official act called the Monsanto Protection Act, but rather a rider attached to the Continuing Resolution to keep the government from shutting down. The Farmers Assurance Provision (the so called Monsanto Protection Act) was slipped in as a rider to the House version of the bill by Representative Jack Kingston of Georgia, Chairman of the House Agricultural Appropriations Committee. As per this Truthout article:

    The "Monsanto Rider": Are Biotech Companies About to Gain Immunity From Federal Law?

    "Whom do we have to thank for this sneak attack on USDA safeguards? The agricultural sub-committee chair Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) – who not coincidentally was voted "legislator of the year for 2011-2012" by none other than the Biotechnology Industry Organization, whose members include Monsanto and DuPont.

    "Aiding and abetting Kingston is James C. Greenwood, former US Congressman from Pennsylvania and now president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization. No stranger to the inner workings of Congress, Greenwood lobbied for the "farmers assurance provision" in a June 13 letter to Congress, according to Mother Jones and Bloomberg."


    The House version was then essentially accepted by the Senate under the tutelage of Republican Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, Monsanto's man in the Senate.

    Sen. Roy Blunt: Monsanto's Man in Washington

    While Kingston is Monsanto's man in the House, Blunt was responsible for inserting the same rider in the Senate's version of the Continuing Resolution. Blunt's wife is also a lobbyist for Kraft, one of the key contributors to defeat Prop 37 in California.

    Much of the blame [in addition to that cast at for Obama signing it] however was not initially directed at these elected politicians but rather against Democratic Senator Barbara A. Mikulski, Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, for allowing the rider to be included in the Senate version of the bill. However, Mikulski has pushed back:

    "In a statement, Mikulski's office said the senator "understands the anger over this provision. She didn’t put the language in the bill and doesn’t support it, either."

    "Senator Mikulski has a strong food safety record," the statement read. "As chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee, Senator Mikulski's first responsibility was to prevent a government shutdown. That meant she had to compromise on many of her own priorities to get a bill through the Senate that the House would pass."


    The Continuing Resolution (including Kingston's and Blunt's Monsanto rider) to keep the government from shutting down was sent to the President's desk on Tuesday, March 26th, just one day before Obama would have to take action to start shutting down government. The President does not have line item veto power. Both the left and the right at the time criticized Obama for signing the funding bill with the Monsanto rider attached, but what really was his option? Veto it and shut down the government? Just about everyone in Congress had gone home for the Easter recess.

    This is the way Congress works...and then blames.

    The good thing is that the Monsanto rider, because it is not a legislative act by itself, expires six months after signing. So it is a bit dishonest to say "repeal the Monsanto Protection Act" because there is no such act, and furthermore will automatically be void and defunct when the Continuing Resolution runs out on September 26th, or a little over three months from now.

    What we have to be wary of is that Kingston and Blunt can reinsert the rider into any bill and not just the government funding bill.
  • Independent
    New Hampshire
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    That is the way Congress works and it works the same way for both parties. The reason Congress refuses to limit attachments to the original bill subject is to get things passed that would not pass on their own.
  • Democrat
    Julian, CA
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    Since America has not been a Republic for at least a generation one should not be surprised by all this harmful legislation being paid for, written and passed by the Robber Barons and their Stooges.
  • Democrat
    Philadelphia, PA
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    And if it were not for the Robber Barons and their stooges and their ruthless way of doing business, we would not have enjoyed the growth of this Nation via our Industrial Revolution of the late 1800's thru the middle 1900's, there are no smooth and easy roads on the way to success and growth, and if your one of the ones that think the Government should take care of all us , just ask the Native Americans how that worked out for them.
  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    johnnycee Wrote: And if it were not for the Robber Barons and their stooges and their ruthless way of doing business, we would not have enjoyed the growth of this Nation via our Industrial Revolution of the late 1800's thru the middle 1900's, there are no smooth and easy roads on the way to success and growth, and if your one of the ones that think the Government should take care of all us , just ask the Native Americans how that worked out for them.
    johnnycee --

    I'm not sure what point you are making. The term Industrial Revolution generally applies to the period up to the about the mid 1800s, but certainly the advances in manufacturing, mining and other endeavors have continued right up to the present day. The period of the late 1800's up to the middle 1900's was also a period of industrial growth, but also at a price to the safety of the workers and the environment. I look at black and white photos of the period and see child labor being exploited. As the son of a miner, I can especially relate to the working conditions of miners, but the same could be said for all the factories and mills and farms of that period.

    With the union movement pushing for regulations, worker's conditions have improved immensely from that period...at least for most US workers...unless you're a migrant farm worker...or maybe a coal miner. I now read about the "China miracle" and how some corporate CEOs cite their success....while ignoring the price that Chinese are paying for their river and air pollution. And the long hours of Chinese workers in factories churning out Apple computers and other US consumer products.

    The corporations that exploited US workers and the environment in the 1800s and 1900s are now doing the same in China and 3rd world countries like Bangladesh. We should not envy China or Bangladesh for their cheap labor and abysmal working conditions.

    You mentioned Native Americans. I live in Colorado and am well aware of the history of how the "white man" stole their land and pushed them off into reservations far removed from the lands that they lived in for centuries, effectively depriving them of the means to support themselves. Yeah, I know how well that worked out for them, not only in Colorado but across the west.

    However, the topic is Monsanto, and one only needs to look at their global legacy to understand how their particular brand of corporate greed is destroying the fabric of the farming communities worldwide. Here's what they've been up to in India:

    Global Research, June 24, 2013: The Seeds Of Suicide: How Monsanto Destroys Farming
  • Democrat
    Philadelphia, PA
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    What I am alluding to is that Monsanto is not the first Corp. or a company for that matter, that exploited their workers for the sake of profits, unfortunately that is how the Corp. World exists, small or no profits equals no new investments which equals pissed off stock holders, which means a change at the top maybe forthcoming ,and as any CEO will tell you, that will not happen if he/she has anything to do with it.
  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    johnnycee --

    I agree with you on that point. Many Corporate CEOs are in an endless game of satisfying the greed of stockholders who demand unrealistic returns on their investments. It's not only annual earnings...it's quarterly earnings, and when those goals look like they might not be met, they start taking draconian measures to reduce costs. Employees are then seen as costs rather than assets for their skills and knowledge. So annual cost of living raises are deferred or reduced again and again...and benefits are reduced. Employee pension funds are no longer funded...and in some cases are raided. With staff reductions it's left to the remaining employees to "work smarter." Ha...that means longer hours with no more pay. I know...I've been there...it's why I retired early.

    That kind of mentality has led to the income inequality that we are experiencing today. As per the Economic Policy Institute's 2012 analysis,

    "From 1978–2011, CEO compensation grew more than 725 percent, substantially more than the stock market and remarkably more than worker compensation, at a meager 5.7 percent.

    Depending on the CEO compensation measure, U.S. CEOs in major companies earned 20.1 or 18.3 times more than a typical worker in 1965; this ratio grew to 29.0-to-1 or 26.5-to-1 in 1978 and 58.5-to-1 or 53.3-to-1 by 1989 and then surged in the 1990s to hit 383.4-to-1 or 411.3-to-1 by the end of the recovery in 2000.

    The fall in the stock market after 2000 reduced CEO stock-related pay (e.g., options) and caused CEO compensation to tumble until 2002 and 2003. CEO compensation recovered to a level of 351.7 times worker pay by 2007, almost back to its 2000 level using the option-realized metric.

    The CEO-to-worker compensation ratio based on options-granted, however, returned only to 244.1-to-1 in 2007, still far below its heights in 2000. The financial crisis in 2008 and accompanying stock market decline reduced CEO compensation after 2007–2008, as discussed above, and the CEO-to-worker compensation ratio fell in tandem.

    By 2011 the stock market had recouped much of the value it lost following the financial crisis. Likewise, CEO compensation has grown from its 2009 low, and the CEO-to-worker compensation ratio has recovered to 231.0-to-1 or 209.4-to-1, depending on the measurement of options."


    It is this kind of greed mentality multiplied thousands of times over in the endless quest to satisfy the insatiable demands of Wall Street financial analysts that contributes to our current state of slow economic growth...when the profits from improved productivity and longer worker hours are not shared with the workers but are rather added to the CEO's and top management's pocketbooks. Or perhaps also what the financial analysts call "adding shareholder value."

    I should also note that the Vanguard group is a major holder of Monsanto shares...
  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    Further on this topic, Robert Reich has a good article today on his website:

    Robert Reich, July 17, 2013: Why We Should Stop Subsidizing Sky-High CEO Pay

    Here's an extract:

    "What’s less well-known is that you and I and other taxpayers are subsidizing this sky-high executive compensation. That’s because corporations deduct it from their income taxes, causing the rest of us to pay more in taxes to make up the difference."

    "Last year 107 CEOs of Standard & Poor 500 companies got performance-based awards totaling $1.4 billion even though their companies showed negative returns relative to an index of all stocks, according to an analysis by Bloomberg Business.

    "Not only are shareholders taken to the cleaners by these maneuvers. So are you and I and other taxpayers."


    I think Robert Reich has nailed it.
  • Democrat
    Philadelphia, PA
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    I believe firmly in a capitalist society but when greed and power seeking industrialists overpower the economy to satisfy this need, then change is needed, there is no reason why on this planet ,that someone deserves to receive as a bonus a couple of million dollars for doing the job that you hired them for, and to fund that bonus on the backs of the workers is just flat out wrong, if we were to apply those standards to the supervisors of our firefighters, soldiers, law-enforcement personal and then tell those workers that because you have kept us safe, saved our homes from a fire and defended us from our nations enemies, we have to deduct from your salaries the cost of that bonus to your Boss, what do think would happen?