Opponents of genetically modified organisms (GMO) celebrated this week after the U.S. Senate dropped a controversial provision allowing agricultural companies to ignore judicial rulings.

The Farmers Assurance Provision, which critics labeled the “Monsanto Protection Act,” would have allowed biotechnology companies like Monsanto to sell GMO seeds to farmers even after a court blocked their sale.

But members of the Senate prevented the plan from being included in a House continuing resolution used to keep the government-funded.

“This is a victory for all those who think special interests shouldn’t get special deals,” Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) said in a statement. “This secret rider, which was slipped into a must-pass spending bill earlier this year, instructed the Secretary of Agriculture to allow GMO crops to be cultivated and sold even when our courts had found they posed a potential risk to farmers of nearby crops, the environment, and human health.”

Dave Murphy, executive director of Food Democracy Now, called the Senate’s action “a major victory for the food movement and all those who care about openness and transparency in their government.”

Murphy and other food advocates believed the provision would have resulted in harmful GMO products reaching American consumers.

Industry backers said the measure was necessary to protect farmers from repeated lawsuits by GMO opponents that can stall research and development of new crops.

-Noel Brinkerhoff

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