corporations are consolidating their stranglehold over food and
food production, not just in the U.S.,
but also around the world.
own country is a very important market for them, since it is the
most lucrative market, but there is trouble brewing in the food
system and it involves strange diseases and maladies among young
and old that the medical establishment can’t seem to understand,
let alone resolve.
week, the press reported that a recent analysis of U.S. health data links ADHD (attention deficit
hyperactive disorder) with exposure to chemicals that are commonly
and widely used in the production of fruits and vegetables.
the research is not conclusive, researchers say that the study points
in the direction of chemical residues - pesticides, herbicides,
fungicides, and other chemicals that delay or speed up ripening
or preserve the food - that children consume when they eat the food.
researchers in public health (or individual health for that matter)
are required to prove so conclusively that something is dangerous.
The chemical and other industries that are involved in filling the
shelves of America’s supermarkets virtually have to prove
nothing before they are allowed to pour their products into the
environment - and onto and into humans.
the approximately 80,000 chemicals in use today, only several hundred
are tested to ensure that they are safe for people and for the environment
before they are put into routine use. The biosphere is full of such
chemicals and the result of their combinations, over time, is completely
unknown - perhaps unknowable. Yet, new chemicals continue to be
added to the brew.
do they all go? For the most part, they go directly into the bodies
of individuals, they go onto crop fields, into the air, and they
go into the groundwater. From the groundwater, they go into the
lakes, streams, and rivers, and then into the oceans. Casual observers
know that the oceans have been in serious trouble, even before the
monumental spill by British Petroleum in the Gulf
of Mexico that continues today.
problem that should continue to be a topic of heated discussion
in coming months and years is the use of genetically manipulated
- commonly known as “genetically modified” or GMOs - plants used
were developed as a way to corner the seed market, which, to a great
extent, has been accomplished by Monsanto, a St. Louis-based chemical
and seed transnational corporation. GMO plants (and, even, animals)
can be patented and profits can be made from them. Of course, Monsanto
has not managed to control of all seeds in the world, but they have
made great progress toward that end.
much as 70-80 percent of U.S.
corn seed is reported to be GMO, along with soybean seed, which
is said to be 91 percent GMO in the U.S.
That means that most of the prepared foods in America that contain either soy or corn are genetically
which holds patents on such crops, makes huge profits from the patents.
Their position as part of Corporate America helps to consolidate
their power over farmers and growers, as the national seed pool
is inexorably shrunk to include mostly their seeds and their chemicals,
which are needed to grow them.
study that is not scheduled to be released until July was recently
reported by Jeffrey Smith, author of Seeds of Deception,
in Huffington Post last month, who noted that experiments on hamsters
have shown severe damage from ingestion of GMO foods.
experiment, by two Russian scientific organizations, Smith wrote,
showed that “after feeding hamsters for two years over three generations,
those on the GM diet, and especially the group on the maximum GM
soy diet, showed devastating results. By the third generation, most
GM soy-fed hamsters lost the ability to have babies. They also suffered
slower growth, and a high mortality rate among the pups.”
pointed out that the problems did not show up in the first, or even
the second generation, but that the third generation was the one
that paid the price. The full study is likely to paint a broader
picture. While it’s true that hamsters are not people, the effects
of this study should give pause to those who wish to plunge headlong
into the full use of every genetically manipulated plant that can
be developed for general use as food for humans.
is this a special problem for those who live in cities? It is especially
a problem for the poor and working class Americans who live in cities,
because they usually don’t have the means or knowledge to seek out
non-GMO foods. They have few choices in supermarkets, when one is
available, so they eat more prepared and fast foods.
foods contain much of the genetically manipulated crops and they
are the ones that are hugely subsidized by the government, so they
can be sold more cheaply as fast foods and other prepared foods.
Again, the long-term effects are unknown.
the last two weeks, there was a story in a weekly farm paper that
described a “donation” of corn seed to 4,500 Haitian farmers. When
asked, who the donor was, the public relations woman said the donor
wished to remain anonymous, which immediately raises a flag of suspicion.
What kind of seed was donated? Were they genetically manipulated?
Tragedies like the January earthquake could enhance U.S. seed companies’ efforts
to spread their GMO seeds.
the same time, Marguerite Laurent (aka Ezili Danto), founder and
president of the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network (HLLN), has
questioned a donation of 475 tons of seed corn offered to Haitian
farmers by Monsanto. The company has reportedly told concerned Haitians
that the seed is not GMO, but many remain skeptical.
corporations are working to capture the seed market in every country
possible, even though the long-term effects on humans (and other
creatures) who eat the GMO foods are not known and may not be able
to be determined for two more generations.
so many questions remain about the use of GMO seeds for every crop
possible, their use is being encouraged and promoted by the U.S.,
presumably as a way of extending and enhancing Corporate America’s
economic hegemony over scores of other countries.
Barack Obama has named proponents of GMO technology to his administration
and they occupy important policy positions in his government.
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack was a strong proponent of GMOs
well before Obama nominated him.
Siddiqui is now the chief agricultural negotiator for the U.S. trade representative in the Obama Administration.
He formerly served as vice president for science and regulatory
affairs at CropLife America,
where he was in charge of issues related to crop protection chemicals
around the world.
CropLife, the powerful trade organization for producers and distributors
of “crop protection products,” otherwise known as pesticides, was
notable - before Siddiqui’s nomination - for its criticism of Michelle
Obama’s creation of an organic garden on the White House grounds.
It’s obvious why CropLife was critical.
Organic Consumers Association generated strong opposition to the
naming by Obama of former Monsanto lobbyist Michael Taylor as a
Food and Drug Administration senior advisor on “food safety.”
stated at the time: “Michael Taylor should not be a senior FDA food
safety adviser. The vice president for public policy at Monsanto
Corp. from 1998 until 2001, Taylor exemplifies the revolving door
between the food industry and the government agencies that regulate
long past the time when Americans should have had a full discussion
and debate on our food system and its effects on individual health,
public health, and the sustainability of our family farm agriculture.
Until that happens - and until people are educated thoroughly about
food production - Americans will continue to be the victims of a
system that for decades has put profits above individual and public
Americans have that debate and take action, all of the other countries
- like Haiti - that are victims of
the same forces, will benefit by Americans having reined in their
Columnist, John Funiciello, is a labor organizer and former union
organizer. His union work started when he became a local president
of The Newspaper Guild in the early 1970s. He was a reporter for
14 years for newspapers in New York State. In
addition to labor work, he is organizing family farmers as they
struggle to stay on the land under enormous pressure from factory
food producers and land developers. Click here
to contact Mr. Funiciello.