|For a while there in
California, it looked as if the people were headed for a period of
democratic rule, but that was early in the game of
see-if-we-can-label-genetically-modified-foods, as the majority of
people told pollsters they had wanted.
The position of
Corporate America on GMOs is like their position on the harmful effects
of tobacco (they held that one at bay for decades, saying there was no
proof that tobacco caused harm).But that was before the
corporate rulers flexed their muscles and poured on the propaganda
through advertising and public relations. Proposition 37, which
called for the labeling of genetically modified foods and ingredients
in the marketplace, went down to defeat on Election Day, but only after
an amazing amount of money was spent by the opponents of labeling, a
who’s who of corporations which have cornered the markets in so many
things that Americans buy every day.
It appeared that Corporate America had plans for the campaign, but they
took their time. At first, it appeared that the proponents of
labeling were going to have a relatively easy time of winning the
day. After all, the polls were with them and they had raised
enough money to get the word out on the meaning of labeling and the
rationale for it. The people seemed to understand the issue.
Then, the corporations likely had their meetings to plan the assault on
the proposition and the sponsors and supporters of the labeling law,
and they literally dropped the hammer on them. A $46 million pot
of advertising money magically appeared, dwarfing the mere $8 million
that was raised by supporters of labeling, and the result is old news.
That kind of disparity in expenditure is hard to overcome.
Although the labeling proposition was defeated, it wasn’t by a wide
margin, so the truth did hold somewhat, even in the face of an all-out
assault on it by the corporations, many of which even masquerade as
some of the “good guys.” A few of the companies which provided
some of the biggest chunks of money even sell organic foods (at the
other end of their corporate structure, no doubt). At least
someone in those outfits must have felt just a little bit conflicted
about the whole propaganda thing, since the organic standard does not
allow genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
It was the decision of
the corporations that the people do not need to know that they are
eating foods that contain GM ingredients or that the foods themselves
are genetically manipulated.But, it was the decision of the
corporations that the people do not need to know that they are eating
foods that contain GM ingredients or that the foods themselves are
genetically manipulated. And they set out to convince just enough
of the supporters of the labeling law that it will be bad for
them. One of the ways, the corporations warned, is that the food
will cost more if food companies are forced to label GMOs. Their
scare tactics worked, as they have done with other laws, such as our
infamous “anti-terror” laws.
The corporate mantra has been that “no one has proven GMOs to be
harmful to the people who eat GMO food products.” Likewise for
those who eat beef, pork, chicken and other poultry that have been fed
GMO animal feeds. There are enough studies about the negative and
toxic effects of GMOs on humans and animals to scare the daylights out
But those studies never really reach the mainstream media.
Rather, the position of Corporate America on GMOs is like their
position on the harmful effects of tobacco (they held that one at bay
for decades, saying there was no proof that tobacco caused harm).
The same is true on the issue of the method of drilling for oil and gas
called “hydrofracturing,” or fracking. This method takes pure
drinking water and turns it into a toxic cocktail that may never be
able to be used for drinking again. Each well takes good water
and pumps under high pressure millions of gallons of it, along with
sand and chemicals, deep underground to crack the rock and release the
gas or oil. We are assured that the method is safe and that they
will be very careful. Their television commercials tell us so.
Again, we are constantly being reassured by governors and the president
that no fracking will take place that is not completely safe. The
president has said that he will make sure the fracking companies tell
us what chemicals they are injecting into the ground, where they are
allowed to drill on public land. The people whose farms and land
have already been fracked tell a different story. It’s a story
about water being trucked in for drinking and household use and it’s a
story of sickness among family members who were not sick before the
fracking. And, it is a story of community life disrupted and of
the countryside being cut up into rights of way for pipelines and all
the dust and dirty air raised by thousands of trucks and other fracking
vehicles. It’s a story that says there is virtually no way to
frack safely and protect our water supply.
The amount of money spent in the recent presidential election ($2
billion-plus) shows that the electorate cannot be bought outright, but
the results on the issues show that money does make a difference in
maintaining many aspects of the status quo, no matter the party in
A $46 million pot of
advertising money magically appeared, dwarfing the mere $8 million that
was raised by supporters of labeling, and the result is old news.In
an economy as large as California’s, where huge agribusiness
corporations have held sway for generations, it was very difficult to
get Prop 37 passed, especially after the flood of corporate money was
released. The people will try again there, but they are quickly
moving on to the next GMO battle, a year from now in Washington State,
where the same question will be on the ballot. This time, though,
there is a coalition of farmers and eaters already in place who want to
see labeling, so it will be a fierce fight.
On this and many other issues, the people are waking up to their power
at the ballot box. People’s power only starts at the ballot
box. The struggle is against a vast array of powers that are
aligned against them. The question of who rules the nation is up
in the air. Is it corporations and their politicians at all
levels of government? Or is it the people? Bet on an
informed and educated people.
BlackCommentator.com Columnist, John
Funiciello, is a long-time former newspaper reporter and labor
organizer, who lives in the Mohawk Valley of 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.
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|Nov 29, 2012 - Issue 496
| is published every Thursday
|Est. April 5, 2002
David A. Love, JD
Nancy Littlefield, MBA