Jun 06, 2013 - Issue 519

 BlackCommentator.com: Who Controls the Food Controls the People - Solidarity America - By John Funiciello - BC Columnist

People in countries around the world held demonstrations in about 50 countries over the Memorial Day weekend, as part of “Millions Against Monsanto,” protesting the alarmingly fast-growing control by Monsanto over their food supply and the dangers of genetically modified organisms the company is forcing onto the world’s dinner plates.

The remarkable event, that so many could come together for such a specific reason and in such numbers in so many places, is an expression of the power of nearly universal communication that is possible through the use of the Internet and modern technology. But, it was just a start. There is a long way to go, and the struggle against the power of a giant transnational corporation like Monsanto forces us to recall the words of Henry Kissinger, when he said in 1970: “Control oil and you control nations; control food and you control the people.”

The oil part of Kissinger’s little statement is pretty much finished. The people everywhere, if they are living in a petroleum-based economy, are already under the control of the corporations that own the oil of the world, and they do, indeed, own the oil, even if they do not own the actual ground under which the oil lies. The oil, no matter where it comes from, can be used, sold or otherwise traded, as if it came from one source.

Oil companies and their support corporations own our energy and they can do with their end product (gasoline, diesel, home heating oil, for example) anything they wish to do. It doesn’t belong to the people under whose ground it was taken, rather, it belongs to a small number of oil companies. That’s why it is ridiculous for politicians to spout off about “energy independence” for the U.S. There never had been any independence in oil in the modern era, at least, since the end of World War II, when the “energy companies” became all powerful, because of their control of the oil that was needed to construct one of the most wasteful of human enterprises, the suburb and the Interstate road system that makes suburban life possible. Such a living arrangement has required endless supplies of fuel to get from home to virtually everywhere else.

Monsanto’s intent to corner the market in food and crops is of a more recent vintage. The St. Louis, Missouri-based transnational corporation started out as a sweetener, and then, a chemical company, eventually morphing into a firm producing some of the most toxic substances known: dioxin (in the Agent Orange used extensively in Vietnam), PCBs (polychlorinated bi-phenyls), and glyphosate (the company’s brand-name herbicide, Round-Up). Glyphosate is necessary for use in Monsanto’s genetically engineered crops, such as soybeans, corn, canola, cotton, sugar beets, and alfalfa.

The company fully intends to control as much of the world’s food supply as possible and it has sent its lawyers and lobbyists into the maelstrom of Washington, D.C., where politicians are consumed by the campaign funds of Corporate America (including Monsanto and other giants), and where those engaged in small farm agriculture are eaten up and spat out by the legal and political grinder known as Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court. Both are not only friends of Monsanto, but many of their members are not only proponents of the company’s products and strategies and tactics, but are or have recently been part of the firm, itself.

For example, Supreme Court Justice, Elena Kagan, as solicitor general for the Obama Administration, went to bat for Monsanto in the case involving Round-Up ready alfalfa, against the interests of organic farmers whose crops would be contaminated by the genetically manipulated alfalfa. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was lead counsel for Monsanto sometime before being confirmed to the high court, but he did not recuse himself when cases involving Monsanto came before the court (the court found in favor of the company). Donald Rumsfeld, secretary of defense in the Bush-Cheney Administration, served on the board of a Monsanto subsidiary, and Tom Vilsack, Obama’s current secretary of agriculture, long has been known as a proponent of the use and promotion of GMOs.

These are just a few of the revolving-door characters who slip easily from Corporate America, to top government posts where they purport to regulate the same companies, to which they return to resume their roles as champions of their employers against government regulation and control. There is an endless supply of people who have followed this same path. Even though they make up a small proportion of citizens, their names can be seen over and over again, as they slip easily from one role to the other, all the while giving the impression that they and their corporations are protecting the health and welfare of all of the people...all 310 million. This, of course, is an illusion. The “leaders” of the nation are hell-bent to maintain the status quo because, being of little imagination and creativity, they cannot envision doing the business of life in the U.S. in any other way than what we see before us. And, that includes corporate control of oil and food.

Never forget Kissinger’s words: “Control oil and you control nations; control food and you control the people.” This is from a man who apparently would do anything to achieve a political end, and who did just that throughout his career. According to many legal scholars and others, his war crimes include the massive bombing of peoples and nations, with which the U.S. was not at war, but it was all done (in secret, no less) for the same ultimate purpose, control of those nations and peoples.

A goal of Monsanto seems to be to eliminate all of those engaged in small farm agriculture, whether organic or conventional…anyone who wants no part of the company’s patented seeds. Without the ability of modern science to test DNA, there would be no lawsuits against family farmers whose fields have been contaminated or polluted by pollen drift from nearby fields that have been planted with Monsanto seeds.

Courts have decided that, no matter how the crops have been pollinated by patented seeds, the fault lies with the farmer whose crops have been polluted by the GMO, and courts have decided in favor of the giant transnational. Monsanto, with its deep pockets, does not hesitate for a moment to sue every small farmer it can to make its point and to consolidate its control over the seed markets of the world. Just a few corporations control seeds for such staple crops such as cotton, corn, soybeans, canola, sugar beets, and alfalfa and Monsanto is the world leader in this concentration. As in other aspects of modern life (food, finance, banking, insurance, housing, jobs and employment, education, to name a few), power is inexorably being concentrated in a handful of corporations.

That kind of concentration is power and it is the power to cut off the people from control of their country and their government. There are several other major issues that provide a smokescreen in the struggle by Corporate America (including same-sex marriage and the denial of climate change and global warming) to finally consolidate their power, but control of the food supply by the corporations and their lackeys in government is something that should sound the alarm bells for everyone in the U.S., even though, for the most part, we are not talking about real food raised on organic and small conventional farms, but we’re talking about food-like substances hatched in laboratories and foisted on the people by giant agribusinesses. Considering that the food that is presented is what the corporations tell us we will eat, we apparently will eat what they give us. Monsanto is a big part of that control of food.

GMO foods are essentially untested over the long term and the government has allowed corporations to grow them and put them on the market, without any regard for what the long term results might be in the health of the people and animals who eat the substances. For example, we see sickness and maladies among the people that were rare in decades recently past, but are now commonplace. To many of us, it is a combination of the degradation of the environment (air, soil, and water) and the manipulation of the food we eat. Research is being done constantly, but many of the scientists who are doing what we would call scientific research that shows the folly of our government’s GRAS (generally regarded as safe) policy do not have the money or the backing of a free press to show the people the dangers of manipulating our food supply.

Rather than taking the more conservative approach to introducing new and possibly dangerous elements into the biosphere by Corporate America, the government “regulators” declare that the new, untested elements are allowed under the GRAS policy. The people and the environment pay the price and the profits keep rolling in. And the people lose more power in what is supposedly their democracy.

The Memorial Day weekend demonstrations in so many countries show that the people are waking up, even if no more than a fraction of 1 percent participated. Their presence in the streets provided opportunity to educate millions more people about the dangers of Monsanto and the concentration of the power of all of Corporate America.

More and more people should be in the streets, demanding peaceful change from government at all levels, because the concentration of power in the U.S. is in all areas of the national life. There needs to be more coordination of study, analysis, and protest of all of these elements, which seem to stem from the one thing that connects them: The concentration of power by the corporations and those who do their bidding in the government at all levels. The illegitimate power of Corporate America must be curbed and the power over the direction and policies of the U.S. must be returned to the people. Just because you have the vote does not mean that you have democracy.

After the vote, the politicians need to be forced to do what needs to be done to make sure that the people are in charge of their country. No less is acceptable.

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.