Yes, ‘Protect Monsanto’

by Ramesh Ponnuru

Over at Bloomberg View, I defend the so-called “Monsanto Protection Act”:

If you have read anything about the “Monsanto Protection Act,” chances are what you have read is wrong.

The provision in question was part of a wide-ranging bill to keep the government funded that President Barack Obama signed into law in late March. Its horrified opponents think the legislation will furtively protect biotechnology companies, such as Monsanto Co., from legal action if they produce genetically modified organisms that have harmful side effects. They argue it would make federal courts “powerless to stop Monsanto,” and claim it was produced in a “hidden backroom deal” and “snuck” into budget legislation. Oh, and it also “shreds the Constitution.”

Actually, the law, which expires on Sept. 30, leaves both courts and federal regulators free to pull products they find dangerous. And the law’s real impact is modest. . . .

What the law really does, I explain, is protect farmers from disruption while courts dispose of nuisance lawsuits by green activist groups. And while the law is being treated as a midnight giveaway to corporations, not many people have noticed that those obscure lawsuits have their corporate fans too — as I go on to discuss in the column.

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