The Income Gap in this country has not only affected lower wages and diminished good paying jobs, it allows a small plutocracy to determine governmental policy. Policies that slowly remove representative government, “even if they are proven to be dangerous to human health.”
They say a picture is worth a thousand words.
Now that I have your attention let me lead you down that winding path that led to this gruesome result for this piglet. This is not an act of nature but is the result of human meddling. It didn’t have to happen but will continue to do so unless people like you and I get involved in how our government is supposed to operate. Yes, sadly, this all comes down to how apathy on the part of the American voter opens the door for abuses like this.
Thomas Jefferson once said that “An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people.” This observation was aimed at keeping forces more powerful than the common man and woman from exploiting their privileged status, allowing them economic and political advantages that the rest of us couldn’t attain. The fear of course is that once rooted into the system where only a very powerful select group of people were in control then the will of the people could easily be manipulated and dismissed.
This piglet’s deformity likely came about from a food source genetically modified by the bio-chemical giant, Monsanto. How they were able to reach a state that allowed such a condition to manifest itself is the point to be made in this post.
This [deformity] is the result, Ib Pedersen, a Danish pig farmer claims, of feeding the animals a diet containing genetically modified (GM) ingredients. Or more specifically, he believes, feed made from GM soya and sprayed with the controversial herbicide glyphosate.
Pedersen, who produces 13,000 pigs a year and supplies Europe’s largest pork company Danish Crown, says he became so alarmed at the apparent levels of deformity, sickness, deaths, and poor productivity he was witnessing in his animals that he decided to experiment by changing their diet from GM to non-GM feed.
The results, he says, were remarkable: “When using GM feed I saw symptoms of bloat, stomach ulcers, high rates of diarrhoea, pigs born with the deformities … but when I switched [to non GM feed] these problems went away, some within a matter of days.” SOURCE
Individuals like Pedersen who raise animal stock along with researchers independent of Monsanto’s labs who study the affects of GM products and those few people who put voice to these concerns in various media forms have been warning us for years that genetically modified organisms do pose a threat to the health of all species that consume such products. They are not the end-all, be-all salvation for feeding the world’s hungry as its manufacturers claim. So why has there been insufficient government effort to investigate these concerns?
On their website Monsanto has assured us that the chemical agent glyphosate that is used to control weeds to protect GM plants “has been the subject of hundreds of health, safety and environmental studies. Regulatory agencies around the world have concluded that glyphosate herbicides pose no unreasonable risks to human health and the environment when used according to label directions.”
Also on their website Monsanto likes to tout the awards the U.S. government has bestowed on them. In 1987, when Monsanto was known as Genetech, they won the National Medal of Technology, the highest honor for technical achievement. This award they claim has been won by “[v]ery few agricultural technologies.” In 1996 they were awarded the Presidential Award for Sustainable Development and the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award ”for environmentally responsible systems used in the manufacture of glyphosate herbicides.”
Such recognition appears impressive and should give credence to Monsanto’s claim about how wondrous their GM products are. So why do critics keep challenging this perception and why does a government who awards Monsanto these accolades for its alleged virtues not seem to be listening to these concerns?
In 1996, when Monsanto won the Presidential Award for Sustainable Development and the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award, several relevant White House administrative positions were filled by people who either had former high positions at Monsanto or were awarded a lucrative job at the bio-chemical giant immediately following their departure from the Clinton administration. There were a total of nine people who fit this role and are listed below
Margaret Miller – A Monsanto Chemical Lab Supervisor before she became the FDA’s Deputy Director for Human Food Safety
Marcia Hale – assistant to the president for intergovernmental relations before landing a spot as Monsanto’s Director of International Government Affairs
Mickey Kantor – Secretary of Commerce who gained a spot to Monsanto’s Board of Directors following his tour of duty with the Clinton administration
Virginia Weldon – WH-Appt to CSA, Gore’s SDR who later became Monsanto’s VP for Public Policy
Josh King – Director of Production for Presidential Events in Clinton’s office of communications then later worked as Monsanto’s director of international government affairs
David Beier – Was Head of Government Affairs for Genetech before it became Mansanto. Later he became VP Al Gore’s Chief Domestic Policy Advisor
Carol Tucker-Foreman – Was a Monsanto lobbyist before being appointed as Clinton’s White House-appointed Consumer Advisor
Linda Fisher – Vice President of Government Affairs for Monsanto after she served in the Clinton and Bush EPA
Lidia Watrud – formerly a manager and new technologies coordinator at Monsanto before working at both the EPA and the USDA under the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations
Similar alliances existed under Reagan and both Bushes as they do today under the Obama administration. Here’s a full list of these alliances under each administration.
Those “[r]egulatory agencies around the world [that] concluded that glyphosate herbicides pose no unreasonable risks to human health and the environment” were and are likely monitored and administered by people who appear to have strong ties with those who have manufactured and sold glyphosate herbicides to an unsuspecting consumer. But just in case GM products actually do pose a risk to human health and the environment, Missouri Senator Roy Blount, attached an amendment to the 2013 Agricultural Appropriations Bill that “prohibits federal courts from banning the sale and planting of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), even if they are proven to be dangerous to human health.” Booyah! Got your back Monsanto.
Michael Taylor is currently Obama’s Deputy Commissioner for Foods at the FDA for the Obama Administration
BID ADIEU TO DEMOCRACY
Representative government envisioned by the framers of the Constitution and the people they represented in that day is no longer a reality. At best it’s a facade of that once noble dream. What we have here with Monsanto is similar with corporate special interests in all fields. Washington is a revolving door for corporate lobbyists and those who serve in the Executive branch and the halls of Congress. What passes as the voice of the people is really a minority voice of those who are able to influence legislators with lucrative offers of money and power in the private sector.
The claims made by Monsanto and others who promote genetically modified crops have been ably disputed for years. Those claims and the arguments that contradict them can be found at the Earth Open Source website that provides “an evidence-based examination of the claims made for the safety and efficacy of genetically modified crops”.
It comes as no surprise then why the legitimate criticisms of Monsanto and their GM products have fallen on deaf ears of those very people who are expected to hold themselves to a standard that demonstrates their responsibility to more than a few select wealthy special interests. But this example merely highlights the larger problem we have today in American politics and is aptly summed up in the words below of social critic George Monbiot
“ … I don’t blame people for giving up on politics… When a state-corporate nexus of power has bypassed democracy and made a mockery of the voting process, when an unreformed political system ensures that parties can be bought and sold, when politicians [of the main parties] stand and watch as public services are divvied up by a grubby cabal of privateers, what is left of this system that inspires us to participate?” SOURCE
Long before the TeaParty extremist were elected to office our government in Washington was already dysfunctional in terms of representing the interests of the American people. Pandering to special corporate interests was often concealed by asserting that the free markets were what made America great through research and development and job creation. Government interference of any sort we’ve been told would only hamper any further accomplishments of this sort. Over a half century ago Eisenhower’s Secretary of Defense Charles Wilson, the former CEO of General Motors exploited this perception best in his Senate confirmation hearing when he conveyed the personal belief that “what was good for the country was good for General Motors and vice versa”.
No doubt the free markets have played a vital role in elevating the U.S. to a position of prominence in the global political arena. American capitalist entrepreneurs have led the world in innovations that have made life easier and richer for many. But this didn’t happen without the help of a democratic form of government of, for and by the people who enabled it to prosper though government grants, tax breaks and subsidies along with the allocation of resources that rightfully belonged to us all. But as corporate capitalism grew from its early years in the new republic, democratic principles have been undermined, leading to a transformation that now threatens our republican form of government as corporations and their CEOs influence policy to the detriment of not only U.S. citizens but other people around the world.
So giving up cannot be an option. Defeating the obstacles that crony capitalism puts in front of us can be accomplished in part by voting for candidates and initiatives that put people before profit. Caving in to forces that seem beyond our capacity to overcome is not a path that the everyday men and women of the past chose, and neither should we. Let the simple words of Supreme Court Justice William Brennan offer some inspiration.
Toward the end of his tenure, when he was writing an increasing number of dissents on the Rehnquist Court, Brennan was asked if he was getting discouraged. He smiled and said, “Look, pal, we’ve always known — the Framers knew — that liberty is a fragile thing. You can’t give up.” And he didn’t.
If these words don’t motivate you then let the picture of the deformed piglet remind you of what is at stake if we don’t continue to fight the plutocrats and their backing of a corporatocracy to replace our democracy. The disregard for human values that tend to underlie the decisions made by the for-profit industries who influence federal, state and local policies cannot be ignored any longer. These wealthy elites may have the money but we have the numbers and the time if we will just persist as those who came before us did that formed a new democracy and later defeated the Robber Barons of the Gilded Age.