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Inside Story Americas

The controversial Monsanto Protection Act

Why has Obama approved a law giving immunity to the production and sale of genetically modified food in the US?

Last Modified: 02 Apr 2013 12:29
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It can be dificult to make an informed judgement on the safety of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) because of the impassioned reaction that greets each new study.

" Signing this bill into law in no way indicates President Obama supports these back-door hostage style negotiations. This is special interest politics and business as usual, riders in most pass legislations. Special interests behind these riders knew that the president had to signed this bill into law."

- Colin O'Neil, director of Government Affairs at the Centre for Food Safety 

At the very least, there is general agreement that much more research is required on a case by case basis into any potential health risks of GMOs.

With that in mind, the European Union (EU) has strict controls over their use, while doubts persist.

But in the US, President Barack Obama last week approved a law giving the production and sale of GMOs and Genetically Engineered crops, immunity from court intervention, even if health risks do emerge. 

Food safety campaigners have dubbed it the Monsanto Protection Act. And they are heavily criticising,not only the President, but the US Congress which they say failed to scrutinise the language of the bill which was reportedly crafted in collusion with Monsanto to be deliberately opaque.

So why did the US President Barack Obama sign the Monsanto Protection into law? And is this a positive step? 

Inside Story Americas, with presenter Shihab Rattansi, discusses with guests: Tom Philpott, the food and agriculture correspondent for Mother Jones magazine; and Colin O'Neill, the director of Government Affairs at the Centre for Food Safety.

We asked a Monsanto representative to join the programme but they declined.

The Palestinian narrative

A group called the American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) has unveiled adverts on parts of New York's transit system that compare Israel's government to South Africa's apartheid regime. 

The ads also call for a halt to the US government's $3bn annual aid to Israel. But the campaign has been criticised by local media groups - one even called it "particularly hateful". 

The Anti-Defamation League for its part also issued a report denouncing the AMP as "extreme".

So is the US public ready to hear the Palestinian side of the Middle East conflict?

To discuss this, Inside Story Americas, with presenter Shihab Rattansi, is joined by guest:Hatem Bazian, the chairman of the American Muslims for Palestine.

"Our campaign is intended to draw the attention of the American public, into a number of things. One is to really point to the failure of US foreign policy, as it relates to the Palestine-Israel issue.

"Second to highlight our continued funding of Israel, to the tune of $3bn even at a time were we have budget crisis and ... it seems that Israel's funding is untouchable ...."

"And third , which is as important, is to highlight the increasing presence of apartheid structures as separate structure that is effectively treaty the Palestinians in a completely different aspects of legality in the West Bank, but also one can mention in relations to the Palestinians who live in Israel proper."

- Hatem Bazian, chairman of the American Muslims for Palestine group


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Source:
Al Jazeera
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