Big Ag Is Big Money For Congress: Monsanto Spends $2.5M Lobbying In 2015
Published in partnership with MintPress News.
WASHINGTON — Monsanto spends millions of its billions of dollars in annual revenue on lobbying and hiring some of Washington’s most notorious firms to ensure that laws continue to favor the agribusiness giant’s profits.
OpenSecrets.org, a project of the Center For Responsive Politics, reported that, as of July 21, Monsanto had already spent over $2.5 million dollars on lobbying this year. The corporation is on track to meet or beat last year’s 2014 spending total, which reached $4,120,000. Yet it doesn’t appear to be on pace to break the record the company set for itself in 2008, when it spent $9 million on lobbying.
At the federal level, Monsanto’s millions are spent to ensure Congress passes laws that work in the company’s favor. The corporation lobbied heavily for the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015, better known to food safety activists as the “DARK Act,” which would overrule hundreds of local laws regulating the labelling of foods containing genetically-modified ingredients with a still undeveloped USDA program.
The agribusiness giant also lobbied for the “STRONG Patent Act of 2015,” which Peter J. Toren, an intellectual property lawyer, argues would actually make it more difficult for small businesses, inventors and universities to defend their innovations and collect earnings from their technological innovations.
Monsanto is also a staunch supporter of the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would help Monsanto elbow its way into more international markets that have resisted their products.
At the state level, Monsanto supports efforts to pass “Right to Farm” bills, which shield agriculture giants from environmental laws by establishing industrial farming as a constitutional right. To pass these bills, the company partnered with notorious corporate-legislative think tank the American Legislative Exchange Council.
Monsanto has spent $870,000 so far this year to outsource its lobbying work to some of Washington’s largest and most influential firms.
Of that total, $150,000 went to Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, a massive legal and lobbying firm often referred to as just WilmerHale. WilmerHale gained notoriety for its depiction in “A Civil Action,” a book and popular film of the same name that chronicles firm’s defense of Beatrice Foods against accusations that the company’s intense water polluting activities in Woburn, Massachusetts, caused cancer and immune-system disorders among residents. Similarly, Monsanto recently defended itself against accusations that its chemicals have had long-term, deleterious effects on the environment.
Another $100,000 went to Akin Gump, a national lobbying firm known for its influence on D.C. politics. Presidential candidates from both the Democratic and Republican Parties currently employ Akin Gump for its ability to reach Washington’s most powerful, as revealed earlier this month by Dan Wright at Shadowproof. Monsanto officials are known to have close ties with the Obama administration, including in the FDA, so it seems likely the corporation will seek to ensure those ties are maintained in the next administration as well.