Federal courts recently ruled that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) did not conduct a thorough review of certain genetically engineered crops it had approved. Before genetically modified crops can be planted, USDA is required to evaluate each strain and assign it a “non-regulated status” under the Plant Protection Act.

Merkley said the Monsanto Protection Act requires USDA to grant temporary permits to farmer to plant genetically modified crops, even if the crop was found to be potentially harmful by a court. 

Merkley’s amendment would fully repeal the Monsanto Protection Act, which he said overrides the judicial review process. 

Monsanto is one of the largest seed and farming companies within the United States and has been criticized by environmental groups who argue its genetically modified seeds deplete soil and harm small farming businesses.

On Monday, the Senate will begin considering S. 954, a $955 billion, five-year farm bill. Senate leaders have said the Senate isn't expecting to finish work on the bill this week, but it won't start the process until the immigration bill is ready.

The House has a $940 billion farm bill that cuts spending by $39.7 billion over 10 years — $20.5 billion are cuts to food stamps. The House bill likely won’t get a floor vote until June.