March 28, 2013

With Nation’s Eyes Elsewhere, President Obama Signs Monsanto Protection Act into Law. ~ Kevin Macku

Photo: Richard Masoner

Update: And here’s Waylon’s rebuttal, which includes Kevin’s response: Dear Liberals: it’s not “King” Obama’s fault—it’s ours. And also: the facts about the bill in question.

Meanwhile, at the White House…

While we were out changing our Facebook profile photos; while we were listening to every scrap of information from the Supreme Court like it was leaked from the last season of Girls or Downton Abbey; while we talked and debated and de-friended anyone with views opposing our own about gay marriage left after the Chik-fil-A Issue, President Obama signed into law HR 933, including the last minute amendments dubbed “The Monsanto Protection Act.”

In response to the Act’s passing in the House and Senate last week, 250,000 people signed a petition speaking out against Section 735, the eleventh-hour tacked-on provisions made to the Agriculture Appropriations Bill allowing the U.S. Department of Agriculture to overrule judicial rulings which may prevent the planting of a genetically-modified crop, even if that ruling is on a basis of potential health risks from the consumption or use of GMO produce or seeds coming to light.

This one snuck by me. No mention on the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, not even the staunchly anti-Obama Fox News. In fact, in doing the research for this article, several of the reports suggest that many of the folks in Congress didn’t know the amendments existed, much less the American electorate. Furthermore, according to Salon, the Agriculture and Judiciary Committees weren’t even given proper time to adequately review the amendments; the implication is that Congress was simply voting to prevent government shutdown. For all we know, that’s just pleading ignorance.

This is not how we should be doing law at the highest level in this country.

I spent several months in college waiting until the last day before a big paper was due before writing it down half-assedly and shooting for a passing grade. I was a theater student; honestly, what did I care about my Astronomy mid-term exam so long as it didn’t wind up failing me? But I’m not paid Congress’s salary. So if I didn’t remember the dude with the silver nose, fine; I wasn’t putting potential health risks on the table by failing to do my job adequately or ethically.

So the bill only lasts six months, yes, this is true, but we’re setting a dangerous precedent. With its passing in Congress and the President’s signature, our government is effectively saying to big businesses that consumer safety is a non-issue when Congress is on your side. Amid suspicions of corruption and lobbyist influence, this is a recipe for disaster.

And who among us can imagine what Congress is planning those next six months, or if they’ve even begun planning at all? First there was the potential government shutdown in 2011; then the fiscal cliff; then the financial sequester. Six months from now, we’re going to face the same situation yet again, and the media will be given a cute name to call it, and we’ll panic and listen to NPR and cower with our loved ones and fantasize about the absolutely worst-case scenario.

For every major civil liberty victory we achieve, we turn around and see that Wall Street is richer, the environment has taken another hit, we have to take another job or another loan, and how could it get any worse?

How could it get any worse?

There’s no point in fantasizing about it. Stop. It’s talking and dreaming about the worst-case scenario that got us into this mess in the first place.

Instead, share the message. A single presidential term ago, this option was not so widely available the way it is now. The way we fight back against the secrecy of back-room politics is by exposing them. Facebook is a new tool. Between cat videos and singles ads, we can share information faster than ever before.

In under a week, 250,000 signatures were gathered in what has turned out to be a futile attempt to get the President to side with the people instead of big business. But the President has shown that the promise of campaign funds and big business mean more to him than, let’s say, the protection of our children. Now we must call on him to hold up to his promises, the promises upon which we agreed to vote for his serving as our President.

Here is a link from Food Democracy Now allowing you to call upon the President to issue an executive order forcing America to join over 60 other nations in making the labeling of GMOs a mandatory practice.

If you changed your profile picture, you can share an article. If you have the time to tell someone why gay marriage should be changed or remain the same, you have the time to read about what Capitol Hill is doing when you’re not looking. If you have time to watch a clip on Youtube, you have time to sign a petition.

Of course, it’s always an option to do nothing as well, but let’s be honest; how good was that college paper you wrote last-minute, really?

I dare you to do better.

Kevin Macku is a 20-something fledgeling yogi with a love of words. He is a trained actor who occasionally appears in local movies and on stage. His preferred methods of expression are based in movement: Suzuki’s Training for the Classical Actor, Viewpoints and Butoh to name a few, all of which benefit from the practice of yoga. In the midst of a rigorous physical practice, he discovered he was undergoing a spiritual transformation, and began to document the experience. These entries can be found at http://doafy.posterous.com/. Kevin himself can be reached at [email protected], or you can now “like” his page on Facebook!


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Ed: Kate Bartolotta

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