Health & Safety

How the Monsanto Protection Act Became Law

Originally printed on occupy.com on March 29, 2013

Reprinted on Truthout

Reprinted on Nation of Change

Once again, the largest corporations and their governmental cohorts succeeded in sealing their dominance over our lives without any oversight, transparency or leniency. This time it concerns food safety, as Monsanto and lobbyists have shoved through dangerous legislation that effectively makes any oversight of GMO food void.

The Monsanto Protection Act, which President Obama signed into law this week, will strip judges of their constitutional mandate to protect consumer rights and the environment, while opening up the floodgates for the planting of new untested genetically engineered crops, endangering farmers, consumers and the environment. The result is that GMO crops will be able to evade any serious scientific or regulatory review.

The insistence of our government, and of corporations, is stunning. Like the civil liberties-violating CISPA law that is now being re-introduced in Congress after a year of languishing, Monsanto and its lobbyists are re-introducing the same provisions in the 2013 Farm Bill as they did in 2012. Lobbyists and politicians are relying on Americans’ amnesia to push through their secretive, sweeping agendas.

Modest amendments to the Farm Bill proposal in 2012 were shot down. The Sanders Amendment, introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, was struck down by a 73-26 vote, 28 of which were Democratic. Sanders sponsored earlier legislation popularly known as the Vermont Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act, but Vermont lawmakers allowed the bill to stall after a representative threatened to sue the state if it passed, based on claims that food oversight should not be delegated to the states but handled by the FDA.

Monsanto is no stranger to our political and judicial system – especially when it comes to influencing it. Currently eight lawmakers own stock in Monsanto: Sen. Kay Hagan (D-North Carolina) and Reps. Dave Camp (R-Michigan), Joe Kennedy III (D-Massachusetts), Alan Lowenthal (D-California), Michael McCaul (R-Texas), Jim Renacci (R-Ohio), Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin) and Fred Upton (R-Michigan).

Additionally, according to Open Secrets, Monsanto spent nearly $6 million on lobbying in 2012 and contributed about $500,000 to federal candidates in the last election.

As a couple of other examples of the breadth of Monsanto’s political influence, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a purportedly philanthropic organization fund established by Bill Gates, purchased 500,000 shares in Monsanto back in 2010, valued at more than $23 million.

And then there’s the election last fall in California where Proposition 37, which would have mandated the labeling of genetically modified organisms in the state, was debated at great cost – and violations of the truth – before its eventual defeat. Monsanto poured about $8,112,000 into advertising and political campaigns against the legislation. The same organization claimed that the No to 37 campaign, largely funded by Monsanto, fabricated a quote that bore the FDA official logo. The quote read:

“The [FDA] says a labeling policy like Prop 37 would be ‘inherently misleading.’”

The campaign supporting Proposition 37 sent a letter to the Justice Department demanding action against the No to 37 campaign for its flagrant violation of law, specifically section 506 of the U.S. Criminal Code. But we should expect no comment or action from the department.

Regarding its influence on the judicial system, Monsanto recently wrapped up a Supreme Court case in which it pressed charges against an Indiana soybean and wheat farmer, Vernon Hugh Bowman, whom it accused of breaking a patent agreement on second-generation Roundup Ready soybean seeds.

Bowman bought the seeds from a grain elevator after a farmer, who had purchased Monsanto’s seeds legally, sold them to the grain elevator. The case made it all the way to the Supreme Court, whose line of justices includes a former lawyer for Monsanto: Clarence Thomas. Thomas did not recuse himself from the case. The verdict has yet to be decided, but food advocacy groups are apprehensive about the ruling.

Monsanto devotes about $10 million a year and 75 staffers to investigating farmers for possible patent violations. 93 percent of soybeans, 88 percent of cotton and 86 percent of corn in the U.S. are grown with Monsanto’s patented seeds.

Just as central and major commercial banks are attempting to control the economy, just as corporations and other large entities are attempting to control our politics and elected officials, just as large oil companies are attempting to control the debate on climate change and the environment in general, biotech and agriculture giants are attempting to control food production through patented, genetic manipulation, using dirty political clout to support it and a lack of judicial or legislative oversight to continue it.

Government’s Newest Trade Deal is PPP: Poison the Population for Profit

Originally published on February 4, 2016 on www.occupy.com

By now most of us know about the story that has unfolded in Flint, Michigan, where Gov. Rick Snyder appointed an emergency manager, Darnell Earley, who, in April of 2014, redirected the city’s water source from the Detroit Water and Sewage Department to the Flint River in an effort to save money. As a result, the corrosion from the water wore out the lead solder on the water pipes, leading thousands of children and families to be permanently poisoned.

What began in Flint, however, didn’t stay in Flint. Recently, news came out about water poisoning in Sebring, Ohio. And just last week, The Detroit News revealed that, in fact, many Michigan cities have a similar if not worse water contamination crisis on their hands. Now, incidences of poisoned water are snowballing into a colossal emblem of state governments’ prioritization of corporate interests and profit over the basic health needs of the population.

But while the issue has only recently taken the spotlight, in truth it’s a very huge snowball that is already far advanced.

What is the common thread tying together these neglectful and unforgivable actions on the part of our political leaders? Corporate usurpation of our government and, with it, a rewiring of the legislative, executive and judicial neurons of the body politic in an effort to serve none other than the 1%.

The pathological elites, those who seem enshrined in political immunity for their actions, couldn’t care less about the state of the water when it isn’t their children who are drinking it. They receive the facts well before anyone else and, true to form, they take care of themselves. Newly discovered e-mails show that Michigan officials trucked in clean water to the state building in Flint as far back as January of 2015.

Sadly, the individuals who have been working most diligently to reprogram our societal nervous system have already deflected most resistance to that reprograming. They have accomplished this by shifting the accountability for their actions on to others – otherwise known as “emergency managers” – so that despite the severity of the crime it appears that no one in the room is to blame. Not so, by a long shot.

Removal of accountability

The poisoning of our precious resources, like what happened in Flint, offers a stark illustration of not only political malfeasance – but the associated criminal immunity that comes with it.

Laws that allow for the appointment of emergency managers are a way of circumventing democracy and accountability for the benefit, and profit, of the 1%. Appointed individuals are not answerable to the public, and instead represent a concentration of power in the hands of unelected individuals instead of elected city councilors and mayors. Gov. Rick Snyder is an elected official. Darnell Earley – who moved on from water to education, and abruptly stepped down Tuesday as the emergency manager of Detroit’s public schools – is not.

According to The New York Times, “Under the administration of Mr. Snyder, who has held office since 2011, seven cities or school districts have been declared financial emergencies and placed under appointed management, state officials said. During the eight-year tenure of his predecessor, Jennifer M. Grenholm, a Democrat, five cities or school districts were given emergency managers.”

The irony, of course, is that if funding had not been removed from city budgets in the first place, the appointment of emergency managers would not be necessary. Some heads have already rolled: Susan Hedman, an administrator that oversaw the EPA’s regulations in Midwestern states, has resigned. Additionally, the director of Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality, Snyder’s chief of staff and chief spokeswoman, and the Flint director of Public Works have all been forced out. But these are merely pawns shielding the true criminal orchestrators behind the scenes.

Gov. Snyder, save some massive public uprising, will not pay a significant price for the crimes in Flint because he is enshrined in the political elite and, therefore, is granted immunity. Case in point: the Board of State Canvassers recently rejected a petition to recall Governor Snyder.

He is not alone. In the same vein, President Obama will not face repercussions for backtracking on his promise to pull out of Afghanistan. Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld will not be charged as war criminals for stoking lies that brought about the invasion of Iraq. BP will not face criminal charges for spilling oil in the Gulf of Mexico. The six banks convicted on felony charges of rigging the LIBOR rate will never face criminal charges. The list goes on and on.

Journalist Glenn Greenwald beautifully laid out the two-tiered justice system in his book “Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful. The Flint water crisis is just the latest extension of this already well-developed, dichotomous brand of justice.

Water is a human right and a basic necessity. The flagrant neglect to protect Flint residents’ health by elected officials, and those they appointed, illustrates the immoral if not unthinkable degree of crimes carried out in the name of profit and a corporate-controlled politics. If the people don’t demand justice from those who injured us, no one in a courtroom will.