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Montana senator cuts pro-Monsanto bill

FARGO — U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., recently received praise from organic producers and others for removing the Monsanto Protection Act from a bill that ended the government shutdown Oct. 16.

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The law, formally the Farmer Assurance Provision, had been inserted into bills since March. It is designed to prevent federal courts from banning the planting of genetically modified organism (GMO) crops such as corn, sugar beets and soybeans. These crops already have GMOs, mostly to make the crops resistant to the herbicide glyphosate (Roundup) or to certain pests.

Ryan McCormick, president of the Montana Grain Growers Association, and a farmer from Kremlin, Mont., says his group has a position in favor of biotech solutions to insert drought resistance and other traits into wheat.

“I think GMOs are the future of agriculture and the direction we’re heading if we’re going to feed the world with population projections that are coming. I think companies like Monsanto have to have the expectation of a real return so they can continue to do research.”

McCormick says the grain growers have been “at odds with Sen. Tester on the GM industry from the beginning,” but work with him on other matters. “Opposing views are part of the game politically,” he says.

On the other hand, Billings, Mont.-based Northern Plains Resource Council members say removing the provision protects organics and others who don’t want to use GMOs, or don’t want to be sued if their crops unintentionally pick up traits through pollination or other means.