Monsanto's chair of the Stanislaus Board of Supervisors
We found this piece of biotech propaganda by Vito Chiesa, the chairman of the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors, to be an offense to everyone in that county who is not an agribusinessman. He misinforms the local public about a legislative sneak attack on biotech regulation by the industry, the so-called “Farmer Assurance Provision,” stuck on page 78 of a resolution that had to be passed if the federal government was to continue paying its bills. This might be a clue about how Chairman Chiesa practices politics on the Stanislaus board.
Chiesa certainly seems to be a political climber: president of the Stanislaus County Fair Board and the county Farm Bureau; a director of the Modesto Chamber o Commerce, a state director for California Farm Bureau; commissioner of the Children and Families commission; member of Stanislaus Council of Governments Executive Committee and Policy Board; member of California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley, member of the San Joaquin Valley Partnership board; member of LAFCO; alternate member of Emergency Medical Services board of directors; alternate member of Modesto Regional Fire Authority JPA; member of Hughson and Turlock oversight boards.
All that and he works on the family farming operation in Hughson. And the humble man of the soil has a bachelor of science degree in Agriculture from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. A scientist, too, no less!
A number of other scientists, who brains had not been washed by Cal Poly and the Farm Bureau, dubbed this bill Chiesa feels compelled to defend as the “Monsanto Protection Act” is not primarily a “conflict(s) that exists between farmers in government regulations. It is a conflict that pits agribusiness and the biotech industry, led by Monsanto, makers of RoundUp and producer of numerous genetically modified seed varieties against scientists that remain independent of agribusiness and the biotech industry, and most of all, the public – guinea pigs in a vast experiment to see if inadequately tested genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are healthy or cause long term damage.
Chiesa is a perfect member of the American ag/biotech goon squad, demanding less and less regulation in a country that is already a leader in regulatory negligence.
But the ag bullies’ fists are always accompanied by the Great Valley Whine: “The provision gives farmers like me the ability to protect our livelihoods — at least temporarily — from the seemingly endless onslaught of legal assaults mounted by opponents of biotechnology-improved crops.” – Modesto Bee, July 17, 2013.
We wonder how much the $70,289 plus perks (including health insurance for the family and retirement benefits) Chiesa is paid as a county supervisor protects “—at least temporarily –“ his livelihood. Of course “livelihood” is an agricultural code word for “standard of living,” and anyone who drives out Whitmore Road and some of the roads that cross it know that the farmers of Hughson – not to mention the county supervisors – have pretty high standards of living these days.
If only we are all so well protected by GMO crops. Instead, anyone with a real sense of self-preservation (rather than an ag-thug propaganda pitch) worries about what the ubiquitous corn syrup is doing to them beside making them obese.
Chiesa darkly mutters on: “The FAP authorizes the USDA to permit farmers to continue growing and harvesting their crops while "nuisance lawsuits" over regulatory technicalities and paperwork play out. This gives farmers a guarantee that the crops they plant will continue to be grown, subject to appropriate interim conditions set by the government, while those disputes are resolved.”
You could be excused, reading this, for assuming “nuisance lawsuits” was language in the provision. It is not. It’s just ag-thug-speak for lawsuits that challenge the safety of Monsanto’s latest GMO concoctions.
We thought the ag chemical industry set new lows of environmental negligence, but the genome grinders in biotechnology may be doing far, far worse things to our insides and the outside. We just don’t know and the reason we don’t know is because Monsanto and its ilk spend more money on lobbying, litigation and marketing than they spend on science. Never forget that in America the best investment of all – proven year after year – is a member of Congress. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-MO, who “worked with” Monsanto to write the provision, is Monsanto’s go-to guy in Congress. This corrupt peckerhead has pulled down enough graft already in his dismal history in the House and now the Senate to protect his livelihood for now, and the future is bright for the senator from Monsanto.
It looks like the ambitious Chairman Vito is beginning to set his sights on a piece of that biotech pie.
Badlands Journal editorial board
CHIESA: Farmers can still farm during biotech lawsuits…Vito Chiesa. Chiesa is a farmer.
Here in the Central Valley, we are no strangers to the conflicts that exist between farmers and government regulations.
Water shortages, land use agreements, permits, you name it; it would appear that agricultural and governmental interests are more comfortable as adversaries than they are working together.
However, there is an example where Congress and the Executive branches have worked together to benefit farmers: a provision included in Section 735 of a 2013 budget amendment, signed into law by President Barack Obama, called the Farmer Assurance Provision.
The provision gives farmers like me the ability to protect our livelihoods — at least temporarily — from the seemingly endless onslaught of legal assaults mounted by opponents of biotechnology-improved crops.
The FAP authorizes the USDA to permit farmers to continue growing and harvesting their crops while "nuisance lawsuits" over regulatory technicalities and paperwork play out. This gives farmers a guarantee that the crops they plant will continue to be grown, subject to appropriate interim conditions set by the government, while those disputes are resolved.
As the former president of the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau and a current Stanislaus County supervisor, I am well-versed in the problems facing Central Valley farmers. One of the most difficult aspects of working the land is mitigating uncertainty.
This is exactly why farmers depend on provisions like the FAP. It provides clear guidelines so we may proceed with the planting process with assurance. Bio-enhanced crops are becoming more and more prevalent in California and it is essential that farmers at least have the option of planting them without the fear of baseless reprisals.
The seeds in question are only those which have been subjected to rigorous USDA testing and found to be safe for both consumption and the environment. These seeds go through multiple government agencies for scientific and regulatory review.
Those who rail against biotech firms fail to recognize this fact. Instead, they file repeated and senseless litigation against the USDA over federal technicalities. And this political grandstanding can come at the cost of farmers' livelihoods.
In 2010, a solitary district court judge in Oregon ordered sugar beet farmers to pull their newly planted seed crops from the ground to comply with legal proceedings, but the order was successfully appealed and overturned. Had the court order not been overturned, 95 percent of the sugar beets in the country would have been in jeopardy in addition to the following year's production.
The FAP protects farmers by ensuring that such actions don't occur in the first place and still allows the government to retain oversight: The secretary of Agriculture already has authority to address relevant concerns regarding any biotech seed trait, and the FAP explicitly leaves that authority in place.
A number of agricultural organizations have recognized the inherent protections FAP provides the farming community, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Alfalfa and Forage Alliance and the national associations of wheat, cotton, sugar beet and corn growers. Former USDA Secretaries John Block and Mike Espy, and several state secretaries and commissioners of agriculture, agree that the FAP is a necessary protection.
Enhanced seeds are used extensively and produce much of the reliable, high quality food for which the United States is known. This includes the vast majority of corn, soybean and cotton crops, which all have been improved by biotechnology to be resistant to disease, pests, herbicides, drought etc.
These groups understand the simple premise behind the provision: Because so much of the agricultural industry relies on these crops, the FAP is vital in protecting our food supply and our economy from activists who will stop at nothing to prove a political point.
Everyone, including anti-biotech activists, is entitled to their opinion. This is mine: The FAP helps farmers throughout the Central Valley and California. I encourage our representatives in Congress to preserve this protective measure so we may continue to provide consumers the products we all rely on day-to-day without fear.
Monsanto Protection Act Signed By Obama, GMO Bill “Written By Monsanto” Signed Into Law
The Monsanto Protection Act, essentially both written by and benefiting Monsanto Corporation, has been signed into law by United States President Barack Obama. The infamous Monsanto Corporation will benefit greatly and directly from the bill, as it essentially gives companies that deal with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and genetically engineered (GE) seeds immunity to the federal courts, among other things.
The bill states that even if future research shows that GMOs or GE seeds cause significant health problems, cancer, etc, anything, that the federal courts no longer have any power to stop their spread, use, or sales.
There are of course arguments to be made that not enough research has been done yet to accurately determine the effects that GMOs have on human and animal health (though the research already done should make you stop and think). This bill sidesteps that completely though, and simply states that even if there are problems, that the federal courts can no longer do anything about it. And this bill is now law, thanks to President Obama and the U.S. Congress.
Some other interesting things to keep in mind:
- The bill was apparently written by freshman Sen. Roy Blunt in collusion with Monsanto, with them helping to craft the exact language of the document.
- “The Center for Responsive Politics notes that
to go towards his campaign committee between 2008 and 2012. The Money Monocle website adds that Blunt has been the largest Republican Party recipient of Monsanto funding as of late.”
- Many members of Congress were apparently unaware that the “Monsanto Protection Act” was a part of the spending bill that they were voting on.
- Obama had no problem signing it into law (not really a surprise, he’s been rather soft on GMO policy).
- The bill will only remain in effect for a limited time, but it’s a bad sign. With the ease that this bill passed, it’ll be interesting to see what future bills look like.
asks, “Who’s more powerful, the world’s largest producer of genetically modified crops or the U.S. government?”
“On Tuesday, Pres. Obama inked his name to H.R. 933, a continuing resolution spending bill approved in Congress days earlier. Buried 78 pages within the bill exists a provision that grossly protects biotech corporations such as the Missouri-based Monsanto Company from litigation.”
“In light of approval from the House and Senate, more than 250,000 people signed a petition asking the president to veto the spending bill over the biotech rider tacked on, an item that has since been widely referred to as the ‘Monsanto Protection Act.’”
“But Obama ignored [the petition],” as the
notes, “instead choosing to sign a bill that effectively bars federal courts from being able to halt the sale or planting of GMO or GE crops and seeds, no matter what health consequences from the consumption of these products may come to light in the future.”
GMOs, while they may cause problems for human health, are primarily a problem for other reasons, mostly to do with crop/genetic diversity and overly complex industrial systems. And also the fact that they
When taken in context though, GMOs are really just another in a long line of environmentally damaging practices that people have done for short term gain/profit. From the large-scale
, to sustenance farming, to modern imported-fertilizer/pesticide/herbicide/fossil-fuel dependent industrial agricultural, the trend has been consistent, GMOs are just another in that line of attempts to temporarily maintain/raise crop yields. Regardless of the type of agriculture or the location, there are limits to how long any land can remain productive, applying imported fertilizers, or utilizing GMOs, only provides, at best, a temporary halt to the land’s transition to non-productive “wasteland”, and to desertification.
'Monsanto Protection Act' Defended By Roy Blunt, Farm State Senator
WASHINGTON -- Senate Republicans objected to an attempt Thursday to repeal a controversial provision, informally dubbed the "Monsanto Protection Act," that could allow seeds deemed unsafe to be planted regardless of judicial order.
The provision was quietly slipped into law earlier this year and generated a firestorm once its substance became known. During debate on the farm bill Thursday, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) offered an amendment that would have repealed the measure, but it was blocked by Senate Republicans, led by Roy Blunt (R-Mo.).
Earlier on Thursday, in an interview with The Huffington Post, Blunt said that the point of the provision was to protect farmers who had already purchased seeds that were later deemed unsafe. "I was raised -- my mom and dad were dairy farmers. Once you've made a decision to plant a crop for that year, you can't go back and undo that decision," he said.
Requiring Monsanto or other seed companies to compensate those farmers for lost income wasn't a viable strategy either, the senator said, if the seeds had previously been permissible. "You can't sue them for selling a crop that the federal government said is OK to plant," he said.
The provision specifically allows the secretary of agriculture to block a judicial injunction and allow planting of particular seeds.
According to Blunt, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has called the provision redundant. "All that did was repeat authority that the secretary in a hearing the other day, before the Agri[culture] Approp[riations] committee the other day, said he already had. And it didn't require the secretary to do anything that the secretary thought was the wrong thing to do. Which is one of the reasons I thought it was fine," the senator said. "I checked with USDA, or my staff did, and USDA said, 'You know, we don't think you need to do that because we can already do it.' The other view of that was, Well, if you can already do it, then it makes everything come together, it's OK to restate authority they already had."
Still, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack "has asked the Office of General Counsel to review this provision to determine if it is enforceable," said Courtney Rowe, a USDA spokeswoman.
Meanwhile, Merkley's repeal effort has seen an outpouring of grassroots support. A petition announced by his office on Sunday has already garnered more than 130,000 signatures, and backing for the idea extends well beyond his Oregon constituents. A petition put out by Food Democracy Now, which organized a protest at the White House shortly after the "Monsanto Protection Act" became law in March, has also garnered close to 100,000 signatures, and a petition introduced on Wednesday by CREDO Action, an online progressive group with some three million members, has gathered almost 120,000.
"That's big for us, the fact that it went from zero to 100,000 just in 24 hours," Becky Bond, the head of CREDO, told HuffPost on Thursday. "People are really passionate about this issue. A lot of time, people feel helpless with regard to corporate decisions," she added. "The fact that there's someone in the Senate who's fighting for this is exciting to people, and they're eager to get their names on it."
A Merkley aide told HuffPost that the senator would again press for a vote on his repeal amendment next week, when the Senate returns from the Memorial Day break.
Bond said CREDO will be escalating the campaign over the Senate recess to increase pressure on senators to allow the measure to receive a vote during consideration of the farm bill.
Blunt argued that the agriculture secretary's use of his authority to overrule a bar on seed use had previously saved the sugar beet crop during a 2010 and 2011 battle over Monsanto seeds, which Monsanto ultimately won.
"If the secretary hadn't taken action and let those crops be harvested while he appealed," said Blunt, "95 percent of the sugar beet crop in the country would have not gotten harvested. Which would have raised food prices dramatically -- that's one bad result -- but it would have also put all of those farm families who had planted that crop in a situation where they had no crop to harvest and couldn't pay the loan. And not [just] the federal one, they couldn't pay the local one either."
Also on Thursday, the Senate voted overwhelmingly against another amendment to the farm bill that would have let states decide if they wanted to require food manufacturers to label products that contain genetically modified ingredients. The vote was 71 to 27.
"The concept we're talking about today is a fairly common-sense and nonradical idea," said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who sponsored the genetic modification amendment, in a statement just before the vote. "All over the world, in the European Union, in many other countries around the world, dozens and dozens of countries, people are able to look at the food that they are buying and determine through labeling whether or not that product contains genetically modified organisms."
A similar amendment introduced by Sanders last year was also voted down. He has promised to keep fighting for the measure.
UPDATE: 7:40 p.m. -- A Merkley aide responded to Sen. Blunt's argument:
"Senator Blunt is right that USDA does currently have the authority to issue temporary permits when a court orders the agency to go back and do further environmental review of a seed strain, but the important distinction is that this policy rider requires USDA to issue temporary permits for the sale and planting of these seeds. The language in the CR [the continuing resolution that contained the provision at issue] says USDA shall (i.e. must, no discretion allowed) issue temporary permits. It basically orders USDA to ignore the courts rather than allowing USDA to use reasonable discretion to decide on a case-by-case basis when it is appropriate to allow farmers to continue planting, and when it is not."
Public health lawyer
Is Outrage Over the Monsanto Protection Act a Turning Point for the Food Movement?
Posted: 05/23/2013 4:38 pm
In March, when I first
wrote about how the biotech rider -- called the Monsanto Protection Act by its vocal opponents -- undercut the constitutional concept of separation of powers, it seemed hardly anyone (other than the usual advocacy groups) was paying attention. But then a lot of people got mad, really mad.
Within a few short weeks the issue exploded in the mainstream media, with the surest sign the issue had hit the big time being (what else?) coverage by The Daily Show(hilariously titled, "You Stuck What Where?"). Another indication was outrage even from a Tea Party blogger.
Quick refresher: Biotech companies have to get permission from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to plant new genetically-engineered crops. In recent years, groups such as the Center for Food Safety have been gaining traction by filing lawsuits challenging federal approval, thereby stopping some novel crops from being planted when courts agreed that USDA failed to conduct proper environmental oversight.
Enter the biotech rider, an unprecedented end-run around such court decisions. The law -- conveniently snuck into the must-pass budget bill -- requires USDA to ignore a court order and allow the planting of new genetically engineered crops while the agency conducts further review, after which time it's likely too late to undo any harm. It would be like the Food and Drug Administration saying to food makers: go ahead and put those potentially dangerous food additives on the market while we keep studying them to see if they make people sick. (Okay, we do that too but only because we don't have laws against it.)
Despite political cynicism running at sky-high levels, this corporate power grab sent many people over the edge, like a collective yell of, "I am mad as hell and am not going to take it anymore." But it didn't happen by accident. It took hard grassroots efforts of groups likeFood Democracy Now! to take this issue to its constituents, raise bloody hell over it, and demand accountability from our elected representatives, that got this story to break through.
The Iowa-based group (comprised of two staff) delivered more than 300,000 petitions of outrage to Washington, D.C. They also started calling the measure the "Monsanto Protection Act" -- a smart use of framing to get attention, as "biotech rider" wasn't cutting it. Dave Murphy, executive director of Food Democracy Now! explains:
Republicans understand the importance of language -- that's why they say Obamacare and Clear Skies Initiative -- but Democrats, not so much. I nicknamed the rider The Monsanto Protection Act as soon as I saw Congress calling it the Farmer Assurance Provision. As a former conservative, I know it's important to tell the truth about what you're really fighting.
In the noisy aftermath, even Monsanto's hometown newspaper, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, published a scathing editorial blaming Missouri Republican Senator Roy Blount for "a sleazy bit of business" that "undermines the legislative process."
That's the good news: that when food industry lobbyists do something so over the top, we can marshal our resources to respond effectively. Even though we didn't win that particular battle, the outrage over Monsanto's colossal overreach did bring massive attention to the issue. And that message came through loud and clear both in the media and at least to some members of Congress.
Senator Barbara Mikulski, the Democrat chair of the Senate appropriations committee, (where the rider was slipped in) put out a defensive apology in the wake of the uproar, a move unheard of by politicians. Her spokesperson tried to explain: "Senator Mikulski understands the anger over this provision. She didn't put the language in the bill and doesn't support it either." What classic politician-speak: defending her vote by saying she doesn't support what she voted for. No matter, the statement alone points to the success of the backlash.
We've been hearing for some time now that the food movement needs to demonstrate some chops to gain more credibility, and I agree. We can't just be a small collection of writers and polite foodies talking to each other. The only way to beat back a powerful industry is to prove we have enough people outraged over our broken food system to hold our politicians accountable. During his 2008 campaign, President Obama promised to fight for labeling of genetically-modified foods. But now (according to close sources) his attitude is: "show me the movement."
With more than 6 million votes to label GE food in California for Prop 37, the ballot initiative that lost narrowly (48.6 to 51.4 percent) leading to the rise of at least 20 statesconsidering labeling bills, combined with the recent outrage over the Monsanto Protection Act, it appears that movement has arrived.
Now it's time for next steps, and we have a critical opportunity with the farm bill (once again) making its way through Congress. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) has introduced (along with several co-sponsors) an amendment (number 978) to the farm bill that would completely repeal the biotech rider. From Senator Merkley's statement on his proposal: "The Monsanto Protection Act is an outrageous example of a special interest loophole. This provision nullifies the actions of a court that is enforcing the law to protect farmers, the environment and public health. That is unacceptable."
Unacceptable is right, to an outraged senator and hopefully millions of other Americans. Now is the time to demonstrate our strength. Enough is enough. You can take action at Food Democracy Now!'s website here.
Citizens for responsibility and ethics in Washington
Washington, DC -- Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) released a 93-page report entitled Beyond DeLay: The 13 Most Corrupt Members of Congress, documenting the egregious, unethical and possibly illegal activities of the most tainted Members of Congress. For the first time, CREW has compiled and analyzed all these members’ transgressions in tandem with the federal laws and congressional rules they may have violated.
CREW has also launched a new website, www.beyonddelay.org, which details the tainted thirteen’s violations and encourages visitors, through the website, to contact their member of Congress to ask for an investigation of these members.
The 13 members are:
§ Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO)
§ Rep. Randy Cunningham (R-CA)
§ Rep. Tom Feeney(R-FL)
§ Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA)
§ Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO)
§ Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH)
§ Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA)
§ Rep. Rick Renzi (R-AZ)
§ Rep. Charles Taylor (R-NC)
§ Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA)
§ Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA)
§ Senator Bill Frist (R-TN)
§ Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT)
“CREW was compelled to research and release a report on these corrupt members because the ethics committees in both the House and Senate are completely inert," Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW said today. "Americans send their representatives to Washington to make laws, not to break them. We want to be clear with our report Beyond DeLay, that no one, not even Members of Congress are above the law."
Over the past year, the issue of Congressional ethics has taken on new resonance. Where questionable conduct was once shrugged off as Abusiness as usual," now both the public and the press are demanding greater accountability from Members of Congress. Leader Tom DeLay's ethics transgressions are just the tip of the iceberg.
At a time when a recent Gallup Poll reports only that 36% of those polled express approval of Congress, people are taking a harder look at the actions of their own representatives.
"It is time for our representatives to take their constitutional obligation to police themselves seriously, an obligation that members of both political parties have ignored to the detriment of the American people," Sloan said today.
Sen. Roy Blunt: Monsanto's Man in Washington
reported a couple of weeks ago, a recent Senate bill came with a nice bonus for the genetically modified seed industry: a rider, wholly unrelated to the underlying bill, that compels the USDA to ignore federal court decisions that block the agency's approvals of new GM crops. I explained in this post why such a provision, which the industry has been pushing for over a year, is so important to Monsanto and its few peers in the GMO seed industry. (You can also hear my talking about it on NPR's The Takeaway, along with the senator who tried to stop it, Montana's Jon Tester, and see me on Al Jazeera's Inside Story.)
Which senator pushed the rider into the bill? At the time, no one stepped forward to claim credit. But since then, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) has revealed to Politico's ace reporter David Rogers that he's the responsible party. Blunt even told Rogers that he "worked with" GMO seed giant Monsanto to craft the rider.
The admission shines a light on Blunt's ties to Monsanto, whose office is located in the senator's home state. According to OpenSecrets, Monsanto first started contributing to Blunt back in 2008, when it handed him $10,000. At that point, Blunt was serving in the House of Representatives. In 2010, when Blunt successfully ran for the Senate, Monsanto upped its contribution to $44,250. And in 2012, the GMO seed/pesticide giant enriched Blunt's campaign war chest by $64,250.
Blunt is also a magnet for PAC money from the agribusiness industry as a whole, OpenSecrets data shows. In 2012, agribiz PACs gave him $51,000—more than any other industry save for finance, insurance, and real estate (FIRE). In
, the year of his Senate run, agribiz PACs handed him over $243,000, more than any other besides the FIRE and energy industries.
The senator's blunt, so to speak, admission that he stuck a rider into an unrelated bill at the behest of a major campaign donor is consistent with the tenor of his political career. While serving as House whip under the famously lobbyist-friendly former House Majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) during the Bush II administration, Blunt built a formidable political machine by transforming lobbying cash into industry-accomodating legislation. In a blistering 2006
, Public Citizen declared Blunt "a legislative leader who not only has surrendered his office to the imperative of moneyed interests, but who has also done so with disturbing zeal and efficiency."
In a profile of Blunt published the year before, the Washington Post's Thomas B. Edsall wrote that Blunt had "converted what had been an informal and ad hoc relationship between congressional leaders and the Washington corporate and trade community into a formal, institutionalized alliance." According to Edsall, Blunt's relationship to the DC lobbying scene rivaled that of DeLay's, who would later be
. Edsall writes:
Both "Blunt Inc." and "DeLay Inc." reflect the growing importance of commanding multimillion-dollar funds and having reliable loyalists in Washington's lobbying community. Blunt and DeLay are fundraising powerhouses. Their political organizations use multiple fundraising committees, have rewarded family members and have provided an avenue to riches for former aides now in the private sector.
Blunt's connections to lobbyists extend to his family. His wife, Abigail Blunt, serves as head of US government affairs for the processed food giant Kraft. In 2012, the Hill placed Abigail Blunt on annual its list of "top lobbyists." That same year, Kraft joined Monsanto in shoveling cash into the effort to defeat California's Proposition 37, which would have required the labeling of GMO ingredients in food. Monsanto led donors in the effort with more than $8 million; Kraft
The two met while Abigail Blunt was serving as a prominent lobbyist for tobacco giant Philip Morris in the early 2000s. Their relationship drew controversy in 2002 when then-Rep. Blunt "unsuccessfully tried to insert a measure benefiting Philip Morris into the 475-page bill creating the Department of Homeland Security," as the Washington Post
at the time. Throwing a bone to Big Tobacco in a homeland security bill is about as bold as larding a funding bill with a rider that grants legal protection to novel GM crops.
And Blunt's son Andy Matt, now the US auto industry's top lobbyist, served as governor of Missouri in the mid-aughts. During his tenure there, Gov. Blunt earned the praise of the state's powerful biotech industry, which is anchored by St. Louis-based Monsanto. He was honoredwith an "Award for Leadership Excellence" by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), an industry group
Monsanto and its peers.
If Sen. Blunt plans to continue carrying Monsanto's water in the Senate, the company will have gained the allegiance of a wily and proven political operator.bi