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HR 875 - Monsanto's Dream Bill or an Internet Rumor

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Message Brad Mitchell

A recent blog post entitled Monsanto's Dream Bill - HR 875 has created some ripples in the blogosphere and beyond. Several newspapers and even a radio station have picked up on it, and Monsanto has gotten a number of emails and phone calls.

The post claims Monsanto is behind the food safety Bill HR 875.  The article explains that the bill is sponsored by Democratic Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro and claims that her husband, Stanley Greenberg, "works for Monsanto". It goes on to describe how the bill would give incredible power to Monsanto by criminalizing seed banking, requiring 24 hour GPS tracking of animals, stripping away of property rights, and forcing industrialized farming on America.

The trouble with this article is most of what is stated within it is untrue. Most notable is the allegation that Monsanto is behind this bill.  The reality is that Monsanto does not even have a position on the bill. As far as Stanley Greenberg working for Monsanto - he did some contract work for Monsanto more than ten years ago.

I have  actually read HR 875, a claim the author apparently cannot make. Nowhere is there any mention of seed banks, loss of property rights, or GPS tracking of animals.  The bill seems to be nothing more egregious than a well-intentioned effort to improve food safety laws and processes. It was no doubt written in response to public concerns with relatively recent incidents with peanut butter, ground beef, spinach, etc.

The likely root of the offending blog post is a concern that food laws will make it more difficult to sell and process food that is grown locally.  That's a legitimate concern-especially for small enterprises that are hurt disproportionately by the fixed costs of regulation, which larger businesses can spread across more revenue.

I can't say whether HR 875 would be effective at improving food safety, or whether it would create unreasonable burdens on local production and sale.  But this is the discussion that needs to take place both in the blogosphere as well as in Washington.  Wild and unsupported allegations do nothing to further the policy goals of improving food safety or supporting local food production and sale.

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Brad is a Director of Public Affairs at Monsanto. Prior to coming to Monsanto, he was with the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources where managed the Department regulatory and environmental programs. Brad has been working in (more...)
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