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Choma reports: "'The power of Monsanto, whether in the halls of Washington, or in farm country, should not be ignored,' said Environmental Working Group spokesman Alex Formuzis. 'Monsanto comes armed with some of the deepest pockets and a bench of influential lobbyists, which makes the coalition's efforts over GMO labeling on behalf of consumers a very tough fight indeed.'"

Genetically modified (GM) crops. (illustration: Melvyn Calderon/Greenpeace)
Genetically modified (GM) crops. (illustration: Melvyn Calderon/Greenpeace)



Monsanto's Deep Roots in Washington

By Russ Choma, Open Secrets

12 May 12

 

t's planting season, which brings to mind one of the most ubiquitous names in agribusiness: Monsanto.

Love it or hate it - and there are plenty of people on either side - the company controls much of the agricultural market, and also sells products for the suburban yard such as the weed-killer Roundup. Roundup is the core of Monsanto's agricultural breakthrough: The company produces genetically modified seeds that are resistant to the herbicide, making it easy for farmers to spray whole fields of soy or corn and kill only the weeds. Food production made easy.

On the flip side, environmentalists and organic food fans maintain there are too many unknowns and potential dangers involved with genetic modification. Monsanto, which last year had revenues of $11.8 billion, has become their bogeyman.

But such efforts as grassroots petitions and proposed legislation to require at least the labeling of genetically modified food have thus far withered on the vine next to Monsanto's deeply rooted Washington presence, which has proved resistant to most lines of attack.

According to OpenSecrets.org data, in the first three months of this year, Monsanto spent $1.4 million lobbying Washington - and spent about $6.3 million total last year, more than any other agribusiness firm except the tobacco company Altria.

Monsanto's interests in Washington are diverse. It lobbied bills ranging from the American Research and Competitiveness Act of 2011, which would extend tax credits for companies doing research, to several bills that would change the way the Department of Homeland Security handles security at chemical facilities - chemicals being a big part of Monsanto's product portfolio.

And just as important as Monsanto's legislative agenda for 2011 and 2012 is its regulatory one: the company's lobbying reports list the departments and agencies it visited to talk to federal bureaucrats and appointees as they wrote rules to implement and enforce Congress' handiwork. That explains why Monsanto reports having lobbied the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and many other executive branch offices.

The FDA currently is the target of a petition signed by more than 1 million people, according to a sponsor known as Just Label It, asking the agency to require that genetically engineered food be labeled as such. The petition, sponsored by a coalition of environmental and food groups, is an attempt by activists to make an end-run around Monsanto's Washington operation - a necessity because their lobbying dollars pale in comparison to the cash spent by Monsanto and others in the industry. For instance, one of the coalition members, the Environmental Working Group, has spent just $82,000 on lobbying this year - or about 5 percent of Monsanto's total.

"The power of Monsanto, whether in the halls of Washington, or in farm country, should not be ignored," said Environmental Working Group spokesman Alex Formuzis. "Monsanto comes armed with some of the deepest pockets and a bench of influential lobbyists, which makes the coalition's efforts over GMO labeling on behalf of consumers a very tough fight indeed."

Another upcoming matter of great interest to Monsanto: the new farm bill, an omnibus piece of legislation that sets the nation's agricultural policy and deals with nearly every aspect of the country's farming and food industries. The current bill expires in 2013; when it went through Congress, Monsanto filed more lobbying reports on it than any other organization. The process of piecing together a new proposal is already well under way.

The company's access to members of Congress who are likely to be key in shaping the final legislation may be eased by the contributions of its very active PAC, the Monsanto Citizenship Fund. Already this cycle it has spent $383,000. The biggest recipient of that money so far is Rep. Frank D. Lucas (R-Okla.) who has received $20,000 from Monsanto's PAC - $10,000 for his campaign committee and $10,000 for his leadership PAC. Lucas happens to be the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee - no farm-related legislation is passed without his say-so.

Monsanto has hedged its investment with the agriculture committee, though - it also gave $13,500 to Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), the top-ranking Democrat on the committee. So far this election cycle, Monsanto's PAC has given $77,500 to 17 members of the House agriculture committee, or their leadership PACs.

 

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+37 # bbaldwin 2012-05-12 15:44
How can Monsanto ignore a petition signed by 1,000,000 people. I am one person who for 20 years suffered from one of their food additives. It wasn't until a close friend of mine started having the same symtoms as I did, and then another friend, we were all drinking the same thing. No more and all three of us have been well since. Big PACs can kill people.
 
 
+35 # Syacht 2012-05-12 17:04
That's an easy question! They are here to make money ~~ at any cost ~~ and they DO NOT CARE A WIT about you or me or any person whatsoever.
 
 
+9 # zippybob 2012-05-13 06:08
They are the evil Empire
Zippy
 
 
+11 # Peace Anonymous 2012-05-13 10:53
Quoting bbaldwin:
How can Monsanto ignore a petition signed by 1,000,000 people. I am one person who for 20 years suffered from one of their food additives. It wasn't until a close friend of mine started having the same symtoms as I did, and then another friend, we were all drinking the same thing. No more and all three of us have been well since. Big PACs can kill people.

How can Monsanto ignore 1,000,000 people? Easy $.
Next question; Big PACs kill people? Have you been to Iraq?
 
 
+30 # Garrett Connelly 2012-05-12 16:29
Monsanto has executives working in almost all the important departments of the US administration. It recently bought Blackwater so it also owns the most powerful private army on earth. Microsoft, a member of ALEC, followed up with a hefty purchase of Monsanto stock.
 
 
+15 # redjelly39 2012-05-12 22:55
Its the Banks that own the Corporations that own our Government who make the laws & control We the People...
There are 2 movies that are worth viewing.

1st: "Idiocracy" Is a comedy that has more prophetic properties than comedic ones. In the movie "Brawndo" buys the EPA, FDA, FCC and others and makes their sports drink the only thing available and it replaces water. This is a tongue in cheek movie but you will be horrified when you realize we are already well on our way down that path...
PS: This was a FOX movie and they didn't know what the movie was about. When they saw it, they quickly realized it was pointing out their base were the ones being made fun of, FOX tried to stop the release. When that failed, they demanded more editing and once all that was done, they only released the movie into a few theaters with NO advertisement. The movie was out of most theaters a week later.

2nd: "Thrive" This is a serious movie that breaks down everything regarding our Energy, Food, Health, Finances, Education & our Rights. This is the most important movie I know of right now. Please watch & share.
http://www.thrivemovement.com/the_movie
 
 
+10 # Doggone 2012-05-12 23:36
I completely agree about the movie Thrive. It is the most important movie to see about what is happening NOW. A wake up call and very informative. It is offered free online.
 
 
+2 # redjelly39 2012-05-14 00:20
My friend Nassim Haramein is in the movie Thrive. It is well done and EVERYONE needs to watch this movie as it is packed with well researched and valuable information. It is a top notch production and flows in a logical manner.
Thrive Movie
 
 
+6 # Grout4cake 2012-05-13 06:32
Guess chemical warfare will be greatly accelerated
 
 
+27 # cordleycoit 2012-05-12 16:48
Monsanto owns the Farm Belt politicians along with Con-Agra. They the politicians get to their knees when the man with the Monsanto envelope comes into their office and will sell out the health, safety and farms of America to let our food chain be adulterated by this multi national. It takes real organizing to save the food chain from greedy profiteers.
 
 
+5 # Charlie Peters 2012-05-12 17:47
GOOGLE: Prop 87 (510) 537-1796

Bill Clinton, Al Gore & Senator Obama supported the California 2006 Prop. 87, a GMO corn ethanol welfare program.

Bill, Al, have changed opinion on the ethanol mandate, I wonder if Obama will make this the time for CHANGE?

I support a waiver of the ethanol mandate, voluntary use of ethanol in my gas.

Federal ethanol policy increases Government motors oil use and Big oil profit.

It is reported that today California is using Brazil sugar cane ethanol at $0.16 per gal increase over using GMO corn fuel ethanol. In this game the cars and trucks get to pay and Big oil profits are the result that may be ready for change.

We do NOT support AB 523 or SB 1396 unless the ethanol mandate is changed to voluntary ethanol in our gas.

Folks that pay more at the pump for less from Cars, trucks, food, water & air need better, it is time.

The car tax of AB 118 Nunez is just a simple Big oil welfare program, AAA questioned the policy and some folks still agree.

AB 523 & SB 1326 are just a short put (waiver) from better results.

GOOGLE: Prop 87 (510) 537-1796
 
 
+26 # Grout4cake 2012-05-12 18:03
And who did Obama pick to head the FDA ? none other than a Michael Taylor, Monsanto lobbyist , attourney and prior VP.

Obama has hired the fox to guard the henhouse in this case as in so many other of his Cabinet picks?

Despicable
 
 
0 # disgusted American 2012-05-13 17:32
Quoting Grout4cake:
And who did Obama pick to head the FDA ? none other than a Michael Taylor, Monsanto lobbyist , attourney and prior VP.

Obama has hired the fox to guard the henhouse in this case as in so many other of his Cabinet picks?

Despicable


Now that you've said that, hope you don't vote for him. Better to stay home or vote for Jill Stein or Rocky Anderson. Otherwise, you are talking out of both sides of our mouth.

Just sayin'
 
 
+18 # walt 2012-05-12 18:13
We all saw the health care insurance lobby spend millions to fight the Affordable Care Act. No surprise that Monsanto spends millions fighting against the wishes of the people for safe food.

Only the Europeans, "socialists" as they are called by the GOP, has stood up to Monsanto on behalf of the people. Round-Up, for example, has been banned for decades in most EU countries.

Don't expect that here in the "land of the free" where the corporate structures overpower the people every time.

Government of, by, and for the moneyed powers!
 
 
+2 # disgusted American 2012-05-13 17:40
[quote name="walt"]We all saw the health care insurance lobby spend millions to fight the Affordable Care Act. No surprise that Monsanto spends millions fighting against the wishes of the people for safe food.

Wrong. the health care insurance lobby spent millions to have the mandate in Obamacare and virtually wrote the law. In fact, first and foremost at White House meetings was Karen Ignani, CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans. Obama said all stakeholders were at those meetings. Were you invited? I wasn't.

Max Baucus (D-MT) headed up one of the senate committees re nat'l health insurance at that time and hire Liz Fowler, former head honcho for Wellpoint which is BCBS to work for him and help write the bill. (I forget her title when she was with Wellpoint - may have been a CEO but was up there on the totem pole if not.)

Now insurance companies are helping Sibelius determine the coverage of the plans at the Exchange. The cheapest so far is 60/40 with a large annual per person deductible and coinsurance after you meet the deductible. And the premium won't be cheap even though it's subsidized. Can you afford to use this crappy coverage?

Start looking into how Obamacare works before 2013 cuz if it's not quashed by the Supremes, you won't believe what was done to you in the disguise of affordable health care for all. I've given details on RSN after several health care articles.
 
 
+13 # Archie1954 2012-05-12 18:30
Amazing how money buys Congressional votes. What a perversion of the US political system. Do any members of Congress just vote to do the right thing for their constituents regardless of whether or not they receive something of monetary value?
 
 
+13 # Vardoz 2012-05-12 18:33
We are being assaulted from all sides because big money buys off our reps and protectiive agencies. The hea;th, safety and welfare of the people are no longer a considersation. The polluters are in charge and there is no interest in stopping them regardless of the consequences. They are taking us all on their suicide mission. The idiots are in control.
 
 
+15 # Mesa 2012-05-12 19:15
It is interesting that smoking was attacked and blamed for every disease known to man, but pesticides get a free pass to poison the people. Their poisons are in your furniture, your bedding, your carpets, your draperies, and under your kitchen sink, and even in your children's pajama's, but that's okay. I THINK NOT! I believe that Monsanto's chemicals are to blame for the proliferation of ADD in our kid's, along with the other diseases that afflict our children that weren't around 60 to 70 years ago. It's like plastic, I always knew it wasn't any good for you to drink out of, or use to heat food in a microwave. And now they have come out and pretty much admitted that it wasn't good for foods used in human consumption.Any thing produced in a labratory is not natural, with pesticides being at the top of the list.
 
 
+11 # MindDoc 2012-05-12 19:21
Not specific to Monsanto only (though they are clearly the 800 pound gorilla in the room), and not political in the sense of blame-pointing - by coincidence this report (below) just came out about the deceptive claims for "natural" food origins in 'health' food, 'natural' cereal etc. Relevant because one of the largest stakeholders in all of this 'engineered' food is... Monsanto. Obviously, along with energy and weaponry, food is quite an important commodity to control, supply, regulate, etc.

FWIW (and a bit shocked to see my beloved "Kashi" cereals on this list too.... the truth about today's 'natural' food, fwiw:
Implications for regulation, or lack thereof, are clear.
Investigative report on 'natural' foods these days (thanks to the big processors and genetic/chemica l engineers) - :

http://bit.ly/J7GZGM

So how might this have come to be, despite consumer 'protections'?
 
 
+13 # jwb110 2012-05-12 20:16
Perhaps the Monsanto Lobbyists should be treated the way the Radical Right treats those they think own abortion clinics?
 
 
+8 # Grout4cake 2012-05-13 06:35
Is there a Monsanto Watch ? If not we need to create one.
How does one go about it?
 
 
+12 # Interested Observer 2012-05-12 21:55
Revoke the right to patent life.

Start suing Monsanto and its users for polluting non-customer's fields with modified seeds, instead of giving Monsanto the right to claim theft or infringement when patented seeds find their way into non-customer fields. This invariably occurs by either negligent transportation practices, sloppy planting, or natural incursion. This is the weapon they have been using to drive self-sufficienc y and genetic diversity out of agriculture and the marketplace in order establish an mono-culture monopoly. It is time that Monsanto stopped having its cake and eating too at the expense of a robust agricultural gene pool.

Life is unpatentable. Once a life form is set loose in the world, the results are beyond our control or ability to predict.
 
 
+4 # panhead49 2012-05-13 09:54
Quoting Interested Observer:
Revoke the right to patent life.

Start suing Monsanto and its users for polluting non-customer's fields with modified seeds, instead of giving Monsanto the right to claim theft or infringement when patented seeds find their way into non-customer fields. This invariably occurs by either negligent transportation practices, sloppy planting, or natural incursion. This is the weapon they have been using to drive self-sufficiency and genetic diversity out of agriculture and the marketplace in order establish an mono-culture monopoly. It is time that Monsanto stopped having its cake and eating too at the expense of a robust agricultural gene pool.

Life is unpatentable. Once a life form is set loose in the world, the results are beyond our control or ability to predict.


Before one could 'sue Monsanto' around here the Right To Farm laws would need to be revoked first. It's what our local supervisors hide behind every time GMO's get brought up. They've even hid behind it when it comes to cannabis cultivation in a state that has allowed it for medicinal purposes. Then you'd need to be a winner of the multi-state lottery - no lawyer would take on Monsanto pro bono.

So what are we working on - is it the 5th or 6th mass wipe-out of life on this planet?
 
 
+2 # Peace Anonymous 2012-05-13 10:51
Control of the regulations and the regulators by the .01%. Nothing can compare to freedom and democracy.
 
 
0 # Garrett Connelly 2012-05-13 20:18
There is a another way, reform US democracy and provide an example for the entire planet. How? Write in None of the Above. Modern, fully functional democracy should have a check box for None of the Above. Urge all your friends who have given up on voting to register and write in None of the Above. Then listen to a debate between peoples candidates like Jill and Rocky and vote for the honest, clear thinking progressive of your choice in the new election following victory by None of the Above.
 
 
+5 # jayjay 2012-05-13 21:33
Well, well, well, looks like Monstranto has the USG by the cojones. And as far as the repugnicants go, it's all right. After all, they don't want the USG to "go European", you know, where GMOs are outlawed and they have national health insurance. After all, that would be totally opposed to the "Amerikan way," eh?
 
 
+4 # Mardi Gras 2012-05-14 05:00
I can't read about Monsanto without feeling great horror.
Monsanto is anti-life!
 

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