Genetically Modified America
If you're willing to put blind faith in the AMA, the Republican Party and corporate America (Monsanto), you probably aren't going to worry much about Frankenfood anyway. If you're concerned about eating healthy food, you probably know you're choices are under attack again. Last week the Senate defeated, 26-73, an amendment to the Agriculture bill that would permit states to "require that any food, beverage, or other edible product offered for sale have a label on indicating that the food, beverage, or other edible product contains a genetically engineered ingredient." Only one Republican, independent-minded Lisa Murkowski voted to allow labeling. Every other Republican and about half the Democrats voted NO, including, not just the regular corporate whores like Max Baucus, Ben Nelson, Mary Landrieu, Claire McCaskill, Tom Carper and Mark Pryor, but the liberal types we usually depend on to protect society from this corporate crap-- like Sherrod Brown (OH), Chuck Schumer (NY), Al Franken (MN), Tom Harkin (IA), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY). Ironically, even the single most conservative and corporate-oriented Democrat in the Senate, Joe Manchin (WV) and well as Lieberman (CT), voted against the GMOs. So did organic wheat farmer John Tester (MT). In California both the liberal Boxer and the more corporate-oriented Feinstein voted with Sanders, as their state-- my state-- gears up for a GMO ballot initiative this year. In fact, this year 36 state legislatures have seem bills introduced dealing with genetically engineered foods: Vermont, Alaska, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Washington and West Virginia. When it looked like Vermont would pass one, Monsanto threatened to drain the state's treasury in legal battles. Sanders' bill would have protected states like Vermont-- as well as California-- from that kind of corporate tactic.
As Sanders pointed out, the U.S. already requires that packaged food list ingredients so that consumers are aware when they're eating dangerous and unhealthy garbage like high-fructose corn syrup, dyes and trans-fats. 49 countries already require that consumers be warned that foods they're buying contain genetically engineered ingredients. and the battle isn't just happening in the Senate, of course.
Last week the House Agriculture Committee-- basically a bipartisan arm of Agribusiness whose members are handsomely bribed to trample on consumer interests-- voted in favor of Frankenfoods.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture would be required to permit modified crops to be planted and sold into the food supply after the agency’s approvals have been invalidated by a court, under a provision in the fiscal 2013 agriculture spending bill approved by the House Appropriations committee today.
The one-paragraph provision in the 90-page bill would circumvent legal obstacles that have slowed commercialization of engineered crops, sometimes for years, benefiting Monsanto, the world’s largest seed company. Planting would be permitted until USDA completes any analysis required by a judge.
“A stream of lawsuits” have slowed approvals and created uncertainties for companies developing the modified plants, James C. Greenwood, president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, whose members include Monsanto and Dupont Co., said in a June 13 letter to Congress. “The regulatory certainty provided by this legislative language would address an immediate threat to the regulatory process.”
In other words, corporate profits once again trump public health and safety. The Center for Food Safety points out that the legislation is, in effect, a “Monsanto profit assurance provision” that interferes with judicial oversight and empowers "a single corporation and a few of its industry friends to move beyond the control of the U.S. courts, USDA and public review to make their own rules and profit from slippery back door politics."
This year, the House's biggest recipients of bribes from Monsanto-- overwhelmingly Republicans with a sprinkling of corrupt Blue Dogs who routinely sell their votes to corporate donors, like John Barrow (GA), Larry Kissell (NC), Mike McIntyre (NC), Tim Holden (PA), and Collin Peterson (MN)-- included the powerful Members who will smooth the way for passage, like Speaker John Boehner (R-OH)- $5,000, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA)- $6,000, Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK)- $10,000, and Agriculture Committee vice-Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA)- $4,500. There are 26 Republicans and 20 Democrats on the Committee. Among the Members who didn't take bribes from Monsanto while GMO legislation was being debated are progressives who oppose, on ethical grounds, taking contributions from companies whose have business before their committees-- Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Jim McGovern (D-MA), Peter Welch (D-VT), and Marcia Fudge (D-OH).
Over on the Senate side, every Member who took payoffs from Monsanto voted against Sanders' amendment last week. And Monsanto is contributing generously to two pro-GMO House Members-- Todd Akin (R-MO)- $3,500 and Rick Berg (R-ND)- $10,000-- who are trying to jump to the Senate. And going out wider, the five current senators who have, over their careers, been the biggest recipients of AgriBusiness bribes, all voted against Sanders' amendment:
John McCain (R-AZ)- $4,222,694
Saxby Chambliss (R-GA)- $3,931,879
Miss McConnell (R-KY)- $2,534,522
Pat Roberts (R-KS)- $1,985,328
Jerry Moran (R-KS)- $1,731,920
And of the 19 other sitting senators who has each taken over a million dollars in bribes from AgriBusiness, only Dianne Feinstein and John Kerry backed Sanders.