The Corporate Immunity Prevention Act


  • The biotech giant Bayer (Monsanto) has lobbied Congress over the past year to advance legislation that could shield the company from billions of dollars in lawsuits related to its weed killer, Roundup, which has been linked to cancer in frequent users.

  • The House version of the Farm Bill contains a section drafted with Bayer's assistance that could halt some lawsuits against Roundup.

  • Bayer has also worked to reshape federal, state, and local laws to block future lawsuits, with recent bills in Idaho, Iowa, and Missouri potentially immunizing the company from allegations that its chemicals cause cancer.

  • Key politicians involved in this effort include Reps. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) and Jim Costa (D-Calif.), both members of the House Agriculture Committee.

Introduction: In response to growing concerns about corporate influence on legislation and the potential for companies to evade accountability through immunity protections, Heal Earth proposes the Corporate Immunity Prevention Act. This legislation aims to strip companies of immunity laws and ensure they remain accountable for harm caused by their products and practices.

Context: High-profile cases have underscored the need for legislative reform to prevent corporations from using financial and political power to secure legal protections that shield them from liability. Bayer’s efforts to obtain immunity for its Roundup herbicide, linked to cancer, have highlighted the dangers of such practices.

Immunity protections are also a significant issue in other sectors. For example, the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 granted vaccine manufacturers broad legal immunity from lawsuits related to vaccine injuries and adverse effects. While this law aimed to ensure vaccine availability and reduce litigation costs, it has led to concerns about accountability and adequate safety monitoring.

Provisions of the Corporate Immunity Prevention Act:

  1. Elimination of Immunity Protections:

    • Immediate Removal of Immunity: Strips companies of immunity protections previously granted by laws, including those related to product liability, environmental harm, and safety violations. This includes revising or repealing specific laws that provide such protections, such as the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986.

  2. Prohibition on Immunity Lobbying:

    • Ban on Lobbying for Immunity: Prohibits companies from lobbying for or supporting legislation that seeks to grant or extend immunity from liability. This includes blocking efforts to influence laws that would shield companies from accountability for damages or harm caused by their products or operations.

  3. Disclosure and Transparency:

    • Mandated Transparency: Requires full public disclosure of lobbying activities related to immunity protections. This includes detailed reports on lobbying efforts, involved companies, and financial contributions supporting such lobbying.

  4. Penalties and Enforcement:

    • Severe Penalties: Imposes substantial fines and other penalties on companies found in violation of these provisions. This includes the suspension of business licenses and potential criminal charges for executives involved in illegal lobbying activities.

  5. Legislative Oversight:

    • Mandatory Reporting: Establishes a requirement for lawmakers to report any interactions with lobbyists regarding immunity protections to an independent oversight body. This ensures all lobbying activities are documented and subject to scrutiny.

  6. Review and Reform of Existing Immunity Laws:

    • Comprehensive Review: Calls for a thorough review of existing immunity laws, including those related to vaccine manufacturers, to assess their impact on public health and safety. This aims to balance the benefits of innovation with the need for consumer protection and accountability.

  7. Public Awareness and Advocacy:

    • Educational Campaign: Launches a campaign to inform the public and advocacy groups about the risks of immunity protections and encourages reporting of suspected violations. Establishes protections for whistleblowers who report illegal activities.

Impact and Objectives: The Corporate Immunity Prevention Act seeks to ensure that companies cannot evade responsibility through immunity laws. By removing these protections, the Act aims to uphold corporate accountability, protect public health, and safeguard the environment. It addresses both the immediate need to eliminate immunity from recent lobbying efforts and the broader issue of accountability in sectors like vaccines.

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