Monday, November 18, 2013

Oh, Snap!: Food Stamp Cuts Halted In Missouri

By Andrew Kuhn

            On October 24th in Jefferson City, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon announced the withdrawal of a proposed rule to modify the state's waiver under Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The proposed cuts would have eliminated 9% of the states budget, leaving local food pantries to serve meals at $1.30 per person.
            "Ensuring state-administered food assistance programs operate as effectively and efficiently as possible is an important priority of my administration," Governor Nixon stated in a press release "With greater certainty about what the federal funding level for the food stamp program will be after last week's budget agreement, we have made a determination that the appropriate course of action is to maintain the policy that is currently in place."
            These cuts were proposed to adjust for the planed $40 billion in SNAP cuts over a 10 year period across the United States. Two Farm Bills worked through the House of Representatives, H.R. 2642 was passed to the senate on a 216-208 vote and H.R. 1947 was passed on a 36-10 vote. On June 10 the 2013 Farm Bill passed 66-27. Roy Blunt (R-MO), voted in favor of the bill, while Claire McCaskill (D-MO) voted against the bill. 
            Debbie Stabenow, the author of this legislation states “Reforming agriculture programs will save taxpayers billions of dollars while helping Michigan farmers, ranchers and small businesses create jobs, because we worked across party lines to streamline programs, we were able to save tax dollars while investing in initiatives that help boost exports, help family farmers sell locally and spur innovations in new bio-manufacturing and bio-energy industries." Ironically, Stabenow was born, raised and educated in Michigan. These innovations she refers to are loopholes for Monsanto. Section 735, dubbed The Monsanto Protection Act is an anonymously introduced provision, not seen by all Senators before voting, that gives the bio-tech giant immunity from federal courts halting the sale or planting of genetically modified crops and prevents activists from persuading courts to force US farmers to abandon and destroy Genetically Modified Organism crops already stamped with the United States Department of Agriculture's safety approval. What it does not include are any requirements or regulations that GMO be labeled for consumers.
            Center for Food Safety has accused Senator Mikulski (D-MD), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee of a  “backroom deal” with the biotech industry, who donated $372,000 to this committee alone as reported by the Washington Times. In that same report it was noted Monsanto has “donated” 7.5 million to the Capitol Hill revolving door since 2009.
            “Only an evil genius could have dreamed this up,” claims Scott Faber of the Environmental Working Group.
            Monsanto gained infamy in the 70s for their patent product, Agent Orange, a bio-weapon that has done irreparable damage to Vietnamese farms and citizens. Now their patent GMOs, or “genetically modified organisms,” saturate 80% of processed foods in the US today. These are plants or animals, genetically engineered with DNA from bacteria, viruses or other plants and animals. This genetic variance is otherwise not possible in nature.
            The environmental impact of these crops, pesticides and herbicides on our soil and water could persist for generations. “Despite bio-tech industry promises, none of the GMO traits currently on the market offer increased yield, drought tolerance, enhanced nutrition, or any other consumer benefit,” reports
            The sale of these products have been banned or regulated in over 20 countries, including five US states.
            The Farm Bill is one example of how the “Federal Government favors the big guy over the little guy … an egregious example of cronyism,” said Senator Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin, as quoted by Missouri Association for Social Welfare (MASW) in a release written by Glenn Koenen Chair of MASWs Hunger Task Force. 
            Monsanto's global headquarters is here in St Louis on Olive and Lindbergh, where several participated in Marched Against Monsanto twice this year in step with some two million worldwide.

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