Big Food Death Rattle: Legislative Protectionism Reveals Corporate Desperation

Can you smell the desperation wafting out of the Capitol building in Washington DC?

[Update: The Senate fails to pass their version of the pro-GMO$ DARK Act on March 16, 2016. Remain vigilant!]

The chemical industry and their government minions are attempting to hustle corporate protectionism legislation through the Republican-controlled Congress this week, a situation that amplifies the metaphorical death rattle of these conventional agriculture forces. Demanding that legislators quickly pass a law that props up their tottering industry reflects a profound weakness backed up by a mounting pile of broken promises and minimization of health threats. Poor GMO$: only Congressional minions love these corporate foods not because of their taste but because of the money they think they’ll get by supporting legislation that helps industry foist them on the public. Carcinogenic vegetable soup, anyone?

Advocate_PromoteOrganics_smDespite oligarchical pressures, the US economy remains largely capitalistic which means it generally responds to consumer demands. In a growing segment of the US food industry, producers of organic foods can hardly keep up with consumer demand for GMO$-free food produced without excessive pesticides and herbicides. We’ve repeatedly heard how there isn’t enough arable organic farmland to meet the exploding demand in the market for organic foods. Clearly, US consumers are hungry for good flavor and healthful foods.

Advocate_AvoidGMO$_smThe flip side? Over 90% of Americans want to know what’s in their food despite the fact that the industrial food system doesn’t want to tell them about the carcinogenic glyphosate residue on the wheat used to make sandwiches for millions of American children every day or the carcinogenic formaldehyde inherent to GMO soy. These are but two examples among many. Although we’ve been told that genetic modification is a precise science, it’s actually quite sloppy. Its production sometimes creates unintended consequences such as a soy plant that cannot release formaldehyde during the growing cycle as non-GMO soy does. Consumers are not looking to buy GMO$: they want to know what foods contain them so they can avoid them.

The efforts by the conventional agriculture chemical industry to force feed the country GMO$ and other foods dosed with glyphosate and other carcinogenic chemicals demonstrate how much consumers won’t choose this food when given the option. No senator can ignore the undeniable evidence that the subsidized agriculture chemical industry doesn’t care if its products poison farmers, their families, the field workers, and the end consumer not to mention the ground water and the entire ecosystem. Those who want to pretend that GMO$ and their associated herbicide glyphosate aren’t harmful to human health sound very much like Iraq war supporters who still think we found the infamous weapons of mass destruction and that Iraq plotted to destroy the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Low-cost Academics with Their Integrity for Sale

When the GMO$ industry must purchase academics like Dr. Kevin Folta to help cloud the facts about negative effects on human and environmental health, you know the industrial food business model has a serious problem. Dr. Folta of the University of Florida’s Horticultural Sciences department acknowledged a $25,000 unrestricted grant from Monsanto by writing an email to a Monsanto executive that read, “I’m glad to sign on to whatever you like, or write whatever you like,” and “I promise a solid return on investment.” As Steve Druker demonstrated in his exhaustively-researched exposé Altered Genes, Twisted Truth: How the Venture to Genetically Engineer Our Food Has Subverted Science, Corrupted Government, and Systematically Deceived the Public, scientists with dollar signs in their eyes have helped ramrod through untested GMO technologies and products on an unsuspecting public for over 30 years. We had a chance to interview this soft-spoken yet passionate advocate at the National Heirloom Expo in September 2016.

Steve Druker with Central Coast Foodie

Steve Druker and me at the National Heirloom Expo in Santa Rosa

Remember how betrayed many Americans felt after learning that so many on-camera military experts—given ample prime media time throughout the Bush administration’s war mongering years to make their case for war—were paid propagandists for Bush’s Pentagon? Much like the argument that the US was manipulated by the George W. Bush administration into war and worse with lies and deceptions, the GMO$ industry has purchased many, many people in Congress and academia to help put a positive spin on a reckless, dangerous technology not to mention many individuals and organizations in the media. Why do they have to buy so many people if their products are so wonderful and live up to their hype (“Feed the world!” “Drought tolerant!” “Golden Rice!”)? The scientists are lying about GMO safety like the generals and the feds did with Iraq.

In Dr. Jane Goodall’s forward to Druker’s battering ram of research, she claims that his is the most important book in the last 50 years. Yvon Chouinard and Patagonia also oppose untested GMO$, perhaps because of what they’ve witnessed with the radical RoundUp experiment of rural Argentina which has seen rates of birth defects sky rocket and track together with the intense application of chemicals on GMO crops in recent years. Author and documentary director Jeffrey Smith also met with us at the National Heirloom Expo and provided us with an avalanche of health problems stemming from glyphosate in 12 minutes flat!

When GMO$ supporters suggest that the jury is in on this technology because this industry has told us through their financially-invested scientists like Penn State University’s Dr. Nina Fedoroff how super safe and super awesome their products are, are they simply ignoring opposing voices and trying not to see the counter evidence? In fall 2015, The New England Journal of Medicine argued that more research must be done about how GMO$ and glyphosate effect human health. The medical doctors who authored this article are not alone in witnessing an uptick in weird diseases over the past 30+ years with all the untested GMO products getting hurriedly approved by the FDA. They can see that there’s something terribly wrong with the food in our country because of the illnesses, allergies, and deaths stemming from this radical change in the food system that they encounter every day. Doctors who see patients can’t pretend to not see the problems that the GMO$ scientists don’t want to see for fear of losing access to their Monsanto money gravy train.

Choose Organic and Biodynamic Produce to Avoid GMO$

Despite the passive-aggressive barriers against organic foods built into the US food system—Farm Bill subsidies lavished on the large industrial food system players while smaller organic producers struggle with excessive fees and production regulations designed to kill competition through the Food Safety Modernization Act—more Americans, especially younger farmers, choose to embrace organic and biodynamic production. Given the higher prices consumers are willing to pay for organic products, it’s unsurprising that some of the larger companies that own organic brands might drift toward ever higher economies of scale—including to the point where they’re raising thousands of dairy cows in what sure looks like a factory farm—and then slap the “USDA Organic” label on their products. Mark Kastel of the organic industry watchdog Cornucopia Institute met with us in Ojai, California, in March 2016 for a quick interview about how to protect the integrity of the organic food system from corporate dilution and borderline mislabeling.

Although the chemical industry moved into the agriculture field when the world rejected the inhumanity of chemical weapons, they needed new markets once they couldn’t use their chemicals to kill humans quickly. By switching to agriculture, they could still use their chemical technology to kill bugs and weeds in a version of Apocalypse Now based not in the jungles of Vietnam but in the country’s arable farmland. The Farmer Veteran Coalition, profiled in the excellent documentary Ground Operations, is just one proactive group helping soldiers recover from war and develop financial autonomy through pursuit of sustainable agriculture. Especially because so many conventional agriculture chemicals shape-shifted from weapons of human warfare to biological warfare against weeds and pests, soldiers know better than the rest of us about the importance of avoiding spraying and over spraying such chemicals around themselves and their families. Look for the Homegrown by Heroes label and support proactive veterans and their families who choose health by avoiding chemicals from the industrial food system.

Contact your senators and Congressional representative about voting against any bill that would hide carcinogens in our food! The pro-GMO$ legislation slithering through Congress along with the terrible TPP and TTIP trade deals are loud signals that consumers cannot be convinced to use these repulsive products unless forced to through obfuscation.

Swanton Berry Farm north of Santa Cruz features organic, union-grown products

Swanton Berry Farm north of Santa Cruz features organic, union-grown products

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