Monthly Archives: September 2014
I’ve been poking around for information on how the money flows from the GMO Lobby to the relatively small cadre of apologists who defend them. When clicking through links about genetic engineering (GE), the same names keep popping up. If you follow the pro-GMO money it tends to lead back to the very corporations who stand to rake in massive profits by keeping people ignorant about what goes into their food supply.
As a starting point, let’s look at Kellogg’s funding of a recent study suggesting that 100 billion cows were healthy right before they were slaughtered for food after ingesting GE feed for only 90-120 days. The study came out of the University of California at Davis, which gets lots of research funding from ‘industry partners’ .
When I started clicking links to the Kellogg Foundation I found some rather odd data. The branding on their website is all about helping children. Nothing in the mission statement about the quality of cow feed. So I searched their grants page for UC Davis and found a number of awards adding up to over six million dollars, only a pittance of which went to grants that had anything to do with children. I fail to see how grants to livestock feed studies mesh with the stated mission of the Kellogg fund.
This sort of inconsistency leads to accusations of corruption and money laundering akin to what the Grocery Manufacturers Association did during GMO labeling campaigns in California and Washington state. Kellogg’s funnelled money into both of those campaigns due to concerns that GMO labeling will eat further into their profits, down 16% in the 2nd quarter. This setback was attributed to changes in eating habits rather than the boycott of Kellogs products to protest their opposition to labeling their GE foods.
I’m not attacking the scientists involved in pro-GE studies. They probably believe that they’re doing good work for the benefit of mankind. Noam Chomsky explained in Manufacturing Consent how the systemic filters ensure that the people who get ahead in the media are the ones whose outlook meshes with that of their corporate masters. There are similar filters operating in academia.
Let’s turn our attention to the cozy group of GMO cheerleaders who jumped on that feeding study like a duck on a junebug and started sharing the shit out of it. I first found it on a Facebook page and followed the links to an article in Forbes by Jon Entine. He’s head of an outfit called the Genetic Literacy Project. Sourcewatch follows the funding through front groups and networked organizations that are funded by right-wing think tanks and ultimately the Koch Brothers, who also support anti-labeling laws.
When I started sharing my views on Twitter, I got into a lengthy exchange with Kevin Folta at the University of Florida. I didn’t find any links to Kellogg’s there, but I did stumble onto some fascinating reports on how the Koch Brothers bought a department and tried to buy the presidency of another of Florida’s state universities. Of the 12 institutions in Florida’s state system, UFlorida has the largest endowment and enrollment and also appears on the list of recipients of Koch brothers’ largesse. Unfortunately, a lack of transparency makes it impossible to determine how much Koch influence might be exerted at UF. Regardless, it is clear that Folta has solid connections to the Genetic Literacy Project and other GMO cheerleaders who present at the same conferences.
Why should you care who funds whom? It’s not just that a handful of corporations are trying to get a stranglehold on the world’s food supply. You should care that YOU DON’T LIVE IN A DEMOCRACY ANYMORE. Let that sink in. This is not just my opinion. Princeton academics have documented this fundamental shift to oligarchy. Predictably, this story received almost no coverage in the mainstream media. Chris Hedges describes what has happened as a corporate coup d’etat. The same kind of stealth tactics that Big Ag pursues have also been used with great success by Big Pharma, Big Oil and Big Tobacco and Wall Street took it to a whole new level. Naomi Klein‘s new book, does a great job of explaining how capitalism is destroying the biosphere.
If the corporations have already won, as Hedges and a great deal of evidence suggests, what are the people to do? Citizens in the U.S. and Canada will have to take back democracy from the ground up, starting at the municipal level. (Take a look at what they’re doing in Seattle if you need some inspiration.) In every election at the provincial/state or federal level the number one issue we need to demand accountability on in Canada is ELECTORAL REFORM. In the U.S., campaign finance needs reform to address the corruption and legal bribery that has quietly robbed the people of their power.
Expect the bullshit machine try to scare you with all manner of reasons to keep the status quo. Don’t drink their kool-aid. An estimated 400,000 people who hit the streets of New York on September 21st to demand action on climate change were just the tip of the iceberg. As more North Americans realize their country has been stolen by the .001%, I predict we will see even larger crowds in the street. The police state cannot prevail against a populist uprising.
Billionaire venture capitalist Nick Hanauer points out that when economic inequality reaches the record levels we are seeing, the result tends to be an uprising or a police state. Then Ferguson happened and showed America the police state had already arrived. Peace is a good thing. Nobody wants a violent revolution, but maintaining the status quo is not an acceptable option to anyone who values their civil rights or the biosphere we depend on for survival. If you don’t get off your arse and demand your democracy back, you will condemn your children to live as serfs on a poisoned planet, who think they are ‘free’ because the media told them so.
ps; If you found this enlightening, please consider sharing it with others.
I don’t pretend to be a professional journalist. I am just a mom and curious student who is trying to help the public understand how they have been deceived. This is important because the entrenched systems that keep this constant stream of misinformation and disinformation flowing are a threat to public health and have effectively dismantled democracy. Concerned citizens who want genetically engineered (GE) foods labeled as such are not needlessly frightened about some imaginary threat. They want to vote with their dollars in the absence of credible evidence that GMOs are safe for:
a) long-term human consumption,
b) long-term animal consumption,
c) the non-GE species at risk of contamination via unwanted pollination,
d) the micro-organisms that are necessary for healthy soil (via glyphosate), and
e) crucial pollinator species at risk from pesticide use and monoculture farming.
My last blog post took apart a piece of nonsense Jon Entine contributed to Forbes just as everyone was focused on the largest climate justice mobilization in human history. Every time I see someone else share it on social media I call attention to its glaring error. The same article was used by its author as the basis for a talk at the National Academy of Sciences in which Entine tries, and fails, to pass himself off as an objective observer. Jon Entine points to two recent scientific publications in an attempt to end what he calls the “faux-debate” over the safety of GE foods. The first, by Snell, et al has already been
trounced, and the other so-called 100-billion-cow study by a researcher at UC Davis, says nothing about whether GE food is safe for long-term human consumption. In a nutshell, cows that eat GE feed for 90-120 days before they go to the slaughterhouse do not indicate that it is safe to feed our children an increasing variety of GE foods year after year.
The GMO cheerleaders keep trying to find a study that will be convincing enough that we will all stop wondering about the questions that have not yet been answered. Entine even stoops to the same name-calling that labelling proponents are often accused of, by comparing them with ‘new earth’ Creationists. He calls for co-ordination between regulatory agencies and to reducing the length of the approval process from years to months. The latter suggestion clearly prioritizes corporate profits over public health.
The National Research Council has been charged with producing a report on genetically engineered crops in 2016. The are also inviting the public to submit comments and documentation. I have no doubt that the GMO industry will try their darndest to steer the results in the direction they want, using any and every means at their disposal. The same playbook that was used by Big Tobacco has been adopted by Big Pharma, Big Oil, Big Media and Big Ag because it works. The more we understand about how it works, the better equipped we will be to identify and counter its abuses.
I’ve been gathering data to illuminate the machinery that has been trying to drive public opinion where Monsanto and like-minded corporations want it to go. I noticed some rather odd contradictions with respect to funding of genetic engineering’s chief apologists. In my next post we’ll explore the flow of money into specific scientific research from the corporations who benefit from it.
The beginning of the end of rapacious, planet-killing, unfettered capitalism is upon us and some people are worried about how it will unfold. According to a recent article in the Vancouver Observer, the RCMP is keeping a close eye not just on organizations concerned about the environment, but also individual shale gas opponents like me. Frankly, I’m somewhat flattered because the more I learn about how the whole matrix is constructed the more I’m convinced that anyone who isn’t on a government watch list by now ought to be ashamed of herself.
To be perfectly clear, I have never advocated for violence or criminal activity. I believe that the people will rise up to counter the serious threats posed by avaricious fossil fuel corporations, and in a peaceful manner. Most of the violence seen at demonstrations seems to be perpetrated by law enforcement personnel. The G20 was a deliberate attempt to scare us into submission so that we’d stay home the next time a call for action came. It didn’t work. Instead, it woke people up to the massive lies they’ve been sold. “The government wouldn’t let that happen” and “If they did, the press would tell us about it” are nonsense and now everybody who wants to see the evidence can get it online. The timing of that nasty little article in Vancouver was calculated to frighten people into staying home next Sunday instead of coming out en masse in solidarity with the People’s Climate March in New York. The tactic won’t work. I will absolutely hit the pavement to march with millions of other people around the globe, including the UN Secretary-General.
I was at a march once where some clean-cut, muscular guy in combat boots and a bandana got up on a light pole and started barking about kicking some ass. Everyone within earshot looked at him like he had two heads and then completely ignored him. By now, the majority of participants in these events are aware that undercover cops have been known to ‘infiltrate’ and sometimes try to provoke trouble, in order to justify a heavy handed response from their uniformed brethren. You can actually hear an organizer order a masked undercover cop to “put the rock down” about 30 seconds into this video. That may be an extreme example, but it does show what can happen and how it can be countered. If you ever see a similar incident, just pull out your phone and start recording some video. Obviously if they appear to pose a physical threat, the real cops can be asked to deal with them, as happened in the Quebec incident.
A few weeks ago, billionaire venture capitalist Nick Hanauer appeared on the TEDtalks homepage with “Beware, fellow Plutocrats, the pitchforks are coming” making the point that inequality makes everyone less secure. He made the connection that our current level of economic inequality is comparable to what existed in pre-revolutionary France, just before they started lopping off heads. He pointed out that the result of such inequality tends to be an uprising or a police state. Then Ferguson happened. The increasing militarization of the police is now very clear, as is its ultimate purpose. Clearly, fear of an uprising is pushing the U.S., as well as Canada in the direction of becoming a police state. It is instructive to notice whose fear is driving this change.
Any plutocrats capable of reading a history book should realize that the pendulum – their power – has reached its apex and is bound to reverse direction. Sunday, September 21, 2014 will very likely mark a major turning point. The number one issue in the next federal election in Canada will be electoral reform, which will also require dumping Harper. Reclaiming democracy across North America is absolutely essential to fixing the carbon problem because only then can out-of-control capitalism be reined in. If we don’t use legislation to regulate the big polluters on a global basis, our biosphere is toast. Despite what capitalists would have you believe, this is not rocket science. Power needs to come back to the people because the corporations have clearly demonstrated that they are incapable of using it responsibly.
I don’t expect to see police being over-zealous on Sunday for a few reasons beyond being way outnumbered. The intentions of the marchers are clearly peaceful and even if some cops wanted to make work for themselves, they have to realize by now that cameras will be everywhere and if they abuse their lawful authority their behaviour will be held up to scrutiny and, if applicable, ridicule. Another reason is that even though cops are more thoroughly brainwashed than just about any other segment of the population, they have kids too and are smart enough to do the math and realize that their kids and grandchildren will suffer if we fail in this epic struggle. Our cause is just and we are out of time. If you have never considered attending a public demonstration before, now is the time to stand up and be counted. If you think you have a good excuse to sit this one out, imagine how lame it will sound to your grandkids when they ask if you were at the largest climate justice mobilization in the history of the world.