In our efforts to fight obesity and be generally healthy individuals we watch what we eat, make sure to exercise and drink lots of water. As a general rule we try and eat more vegetables as part of a balanced diet. What some of us tend to overlook is the quality of our food. We assume that because the fruits and veggies we eat are naturally grown there is nothing else to worry about. The problem is that we have been mislead into thinking that traditionally bred seeds and genetically modified (GM) seeds are the same, and thus both make same quality foods. We also believe that washing our foods prior to consumption clears all the pesticides and harmful chemicals on them. But, if it was that safe to consume GM foods and to clear out pesticides then why is there such an effort from our federal government to protect multinational biotech, chemical and GM seed producing companies from court rulings and concerned health activists who would like to see GM foods go through safety assessments to evaluate their safety? The more you look into GM foods and multinational biotech companies the more it seems that our government is more concerned with biotech companies like Monsanto and their profits, than the health and safety of our food supply. Our government’s concerns with the welfare of companies like Monsanto becomes apparent when there exists very little regulations protecting consumers from Monsanto’s products in comparison to the amount of protections for Monsanto’s welfare.
Monsanto is a multinational chemical and Biotech Company and the world’s largest seed company. It mostly works on developing chemical products for farming and landscaping. Furthermore, it produces a number of synthetic pesticides such as DDT, PCBS, Agent Orange, rBGH (Bovine Growth Hormone) and RoundUp. Over the years its focus has shifted on bio-engineered seeds and Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). In recent years scientific research has noted that many environmental and health related problems can develop with Monsanto’s products making them unsafe. For example, in resent studies French scientists announced that in their study of Monsanto’s GMO NK603 corn and the herbicide Roundup on rats, they discovered that these products were linked to severe organ damage, dramatic increases in mammary tumors and premature death. The results of this comprehensive peer-reviewed study led Russia to temporarily ban the sale and import of the GMO corn (Dave Murphy). Countries like Brazil, Peru, Haiti, India, Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland and Switzerland have banned or have halted the use of Monsanto products. However, Monsanto operates freely in the United States primarily due to its close ties to the FDA and its lobbying efforts. Why else would countries around the world require that GM foods go through safety assessments, labeling and regulations except for the U.S?
In fact, countries around the world require that GM foods be labeled as such, but not in the U.S. People with stakes at Monsanto and other biotech companies claim that there is nothing different between crops gown from their seeds and traditionally bred seeds, but are ready to pour money into preventing consumers to have transparency regarding their food. Also, they make the claim that we need such technologies in order to feed our growing population, but as scientific research notes “GM seeds do not produce higher yields than conventional seeds. GM crops also require more chemical spraying than conventional crops, and weeds are developing tolerance to Monsanto’s own product RoundUp” (FoodFirst.com).
One of the things that makes it easy for companies like Monsanto to succeed in not allowing for transparency regarding their products is the revolving door and multi-million dollar lobbying efforts and campaign donations that help skew our justice system to favor Monsanto’s business. For example Tommy Thompson, the U.S. Secretary of Health, Larry Combest, Chairman of the House Agricultural Committee, and John Ashcroft, Attorney General, have all received hefty campaign donations from Monsanto. The problem with food safety and transparency is that Monsanto’s lobbyists, lawyers and board of directors, have infiltrated our government, and now serve or have served as Supreme Court Justices (Clarence Thomas), U.S. Secretary’s of Agriculture (Anne Veneman), and Secretaries of Defense (Donald Rumsfeld). The revolving door, is what is threatening our food supply and it is not an issue where republicans and democrats gravely differ. In fact, in 2010 President Obama’s administration appointed Michael Taylor, a former vice president for Public Policy for Monsanto, as the deputy commissioner of foods for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Monsanto’s influence is very evident in our current affairs. In the recent budget deal there were a lot of losers; mainly working class people and the elderly. Some of the winners were not people, but multinational corporations (surprise!). In the case of genetically modified seeds this portion of the bill dubbed “The Monsanto Protection Bill” would have the US Department of Agriculture “approve the harvest and sale of crops from genetically modified seed even if there is a court order saying the environmental studies on the crop were inadequate”. Furthermore, “[i]t will allow farmers to plant, harvest and sell genetically engineered plants even if the crops have been ruled upon unfavorably in court” (Takepart.com). In times where important public safety nets are being tugged and pulled this portion of the budget deal seemed to have just crept up in there without anyone making a fuss over it. According to the Center for Food Safety, the Senate Appropriations Committee held no hearings on the Monsanto Protection Act. Things such as these are made possible thanks to the multi- million lobbying efforts of biotech companies. Back room deals like this one succeed at the expense of the citizens of the United States and the environment for the sake of the corporate welfare of such companies and the campaign donations that will be and have been given to senators.
The actions taken by government officials to say fuck the people and rule in favor of multinational corporations who care less about the long term implications of their products on people and the environment for the benefit of high profits speaks poorly of our government whose duty it is to protect us and not the interests of multinationals. But hey, when the money received for campaign donations is good, government officials are willing to threaten the safety and stability of our food supply. Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that to counter the “Monsanto Protection Bill” our current administration will make the labeling of GM foods mandatory, because chances are it won’t happen, especially when so many of Monsanto’s former employees are now working from within our government.
Takepart.com – Fri, Mar 22, 2013 http://news.yahoo.com/monsanto-protection-act-sneaks-spending-bill-180416331.html