US Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) has issued a statement expressing her regret for letting this year’s Agriculture Appropriations bill — an annual continuing resolution spending act — be signed into law.
“Senator Mikulski understands the anger over this provision. She didn’t put the language in the bill and doesn’t support it either,” begins a statement from her office dated Friday, March 29.
Section 735 of the bill strips federal courts of the authority to terminate the planting and sale of genetically modified seed crop no matter the concerns of consumers’ health.
The legislation largely shields agriculture giants Monsanto from litigation, hence its critics naming it the “Monsanto Protection Act.”
“It is not the purview of Tea Party Patriots to comment on the merits of GMOs – that is a discussion and debate for experts and activists within that field,” wrote Dustin Siggins, who blogs for Tea Party Patriots, on the group’s website.
“From the perspective of citizens who want [an] open, transparent government that serves the people, however, the so-called ‘Monsanto Protection Act,’ Section 735 of the Continuing Resolution, is one heck of a special interest loophole for friends of Congress,” Siggins went on to say.
The Center for Food Safety is placing blame for the measure’s covert introduction with the Senate Appropriations Committee and its chairman, Sen. Mikulski.
Mikulski however, has only served as chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee since last December when she inherited the role after the passing of Sen. Dan Inouye (D-Hawaii).
A statement was released by her office last week explaining the senator’s situation.
“It was originally part of the Agriculture Appropriations bill that the House Appropriations Committee reported in June 2012, and it became part of the joint House-Senate agreement completed in the fall of 2012 before Senator Mikulski became Appropriations Chairwoman,” it reads.
“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.
“Her hands were tied by the negotiations that had previously happened,” said Colin O’Neil of the Center for Food Safety. “We recognize that the tough spot she was in.”
O’Neil did add however, that a person in Mikulski’s place would usually be expected to stop such provisions from being put into law.