Corporate Hijacking of Food and Agriculture

Genetic Engineering and the GMO Industry – Pubished on Global Research.ca, by Colin Todhunter, December 30, 2012.

… When rich companies with politically-connected lobbyists and seats on government-appointed bodies bend policies for their own ends, we are in serious trouble. It is then that our democratic institutions become hijacked and our choices, freedoms and rights are destroyed. Corporate interests have too often used their dubious ‘science’, lobbyists, political connections and presence within the heart of governments, in conjunction with their public relations machines, to subvert democratic machinery for their own benefit. Once their power has been established, anyone who questions them or who stands in their way can expect a very bumpy ride.  

The power and influence of the GMO sector:

The revolving door between the private sector and government bodies has been well established. Over the past few years in Britain, the media has occasionally shed light on the cosy and highly questionable links between the armaments industry and top people in the Ministry of Defence. In the US, many senior figures from the Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) industry, especially Monsanto, have moved with ease to take up positions with the Food and Drug Administration. Author and researcher William F Engdahl writes about a similar influence in Europe, noting the links between the GMO sector within the European Food Safety Authority. He states that over half of the scientists involved in the GMO panel which positively reviewed the Monsanto’s study for GMO maize in 2009, leading to its EU-wide authorisation, had links with the biotech industry.

Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the F.D.A.’s job – Phil Angell, Monsanto’s director of corporate communications. Playing God in the Garden, New York Times Magazine, October 25, 1998.

When corporate interests are able to gain access to such positions of power, little wonder they have some heavy-duty tools at their disposal to (attempt to) fend off criticism by all means necessary.

Take the GMO sector, for instance. A well-worn tactic, certainly not exclusive to that sector, has been to slur and attack figures that have challenged the ‘science’ and claims of the industry. With threats of lawsuits and UK government pressure, some years ago top research scientist Dr Arpad Pusztai was effectively silenced over his research concerning the dangers of GM food. A campaign was set in motion to destroy his reputation. Similarly, a WikiLeaks cable highlighted how GMOs were being forced into European nations by the US ambassador to France who plotted with other US officials to create a ‘retaliatory target list’ of anyone who tried to regulate GMOs. Now that clearly indicates the power of the industry!

Champions of the poor: GM frontier technology: … //

… The impact of the corporate hijacking of food and agriculture:

The corporations currently forwarding their GM agenda represent the so-called “Green Revolution’s” second coming. Agriculture has changed more over the last two generations than it did in the previous 12,000 years. Environmentalist Vandana Shiva notes that, after 1945, chemical manufacturers who had been involved in the weapons industry turned their attention to applying their chemical know-how to farming. As a result ‘dwarf seeds’ were purposively created to specifically respond to their chemicals. Over the coming years, agriculture became transformed into a chemical-dependent industry that has destroyed biodiversity. What we are left with is a monoculture, which according to Shiva reflects a monoculture of thinking. In effect, modern agriculture is part of the paradigm of control based on mass standardization and a dependency on corporate products: corporate monoculture.

The implications have been vast. Chemical-industrial agriculture has proved extremely lucrative for the oil and chemicals industry and has served to maintain and promote Western hegemony, not least via ‘structural adjustment’ and the consequent uprooting of traditional farming practices in favour of export-oriented policies, dam building to cater for what became a highly water intensive industry, loans, indebtedness, etc.

Apart from tying poorer countries into an unequal system of global trade and reinforcing global inequalities, the corporate hijacking of food and agriculture has had many other implications, not least where health is concerned.

Dr Meryl Hammond, founder of the Campaign for Alternatives to Pesticides, told a Canadian parliamentary committee in 2009 that a raft of studies published in prestigious peer-reviewed journals point to strong associations between chemical pesticides and serious health consequences, including endocrine disruption and fertility problems, birth defects, brain tumours and brain cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, childhood leukemia, cancer clusters in communities, gastric or stomach cancer, learning disabilities, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and canine malignant lymphoma.

Then there is Shiv Chopra, a top food advisor to the Canadian government.  He exposed how all kinds of food products that were known to be dangerous were passed by the regulatory authority and put on the market there due to the power of the food industry.

Given the amount of hormones, antibiotics, food additives, preservatives and colourings, artificial sweeteners, aluminium, sulphur, flavour enhancers and heavy metals being put into what we eat, is it any wonder that we are becoming sick? Severe anemia, permanent brain damage, Alzheimer’s, dementia, neurological disorders, reproductive problems, diminished intelligence, impaired immune system, behavioural disorders, cancers, hyperactivity and learning disability are just some of the diseases linked to our food.

Of course, just like cigarettes and the tobacco industry before, trying to ‘prove’ the glaringly obvious link will take decades as deceit is passed off as ‘science’ or becomes institutionalized due to the hijacking of government bodies by the corporations involved in food production.

In ‘GMOs Ticking Time Bomb’, Rima E Laibow, Medical Director of Natural Solutions Foundation, argues that every single independent study conducted on the impact of GMOs shows they damage organs and cause infertility, immune system failure, holes in the GI tract and multiple system failure when eaten. She argues that they cause a variety of changes, some of which we can’t even guess at as new proteins are coded due to altered DNA – some which we’ve never seen before. Laiblow concludes we are playing with genetic fire. Yet, they are on the commercial market in the US and elsewhere.

We are standing in the way of progress! … //

… Writer Marie-Monique Robin has famously stated that whoever controls the food business controls the world. While the GMO sector hides behind notions of democracy, human progress and champions of the poor, scratch beneath the surface and the ugly face of corporate self-interest lurks for all to see.

—”What you are seeing is not just a consolidation of seed companies, it’s really a consolidation of the entire food chain” – Robert Fraley, co-president of Monsanto’s agricultural sector 1996, in the Farm Journal. Quoted in:FlintJ. (1998) Agricultural industry giants moving towards genetic monopolism. Telepolis, Heise.

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