by Linn Cohen-Cole
By polling logic, I should be your supporter - Democrat, older woman, white, liberal. I was even in a dorm with you in college. I have pulled for you for years. But something this past summer fundamentally changed my responsibility to my children and grandchildren. In the time I have left in my life to protect them and others, I need to speak out.
I saw a News Hour piece on Maharastra, India, about farmers committing suicide [see here and here]. Monsanto, a US agricultural giant, hired Bollywood actors for ads telling illiterate farmers they could get rich (by their standards) from big yields with Monsanto's Bt (genetically engineered) cotton seeds. The expensive seeds needed expensive fertilizer and pesticides (Monsanto, again) and irrigation. There is no irrigation there. Crops failed. Farmers had larger debt than they'd ever experienced. And farmers couldn't collect seeds from their own fields [see here and here] to try again (true since time immemorial). Monsanto "patents" their DNA-altered seeds as "intellectual property." They have a $10 million budget and a staff of 75 devoted solely to prosecuting farmers [here]. Since the late 1990s (about when industrial agriculture took hold in India), 166,000 Indian farmers have committed suicide and 8 million have left the land. Farmers in Europe, Asia, Africa, Indonesia,South America, Central America and here, have protested Monsanto and genetic engineering for years.
What does this have to do with you?
You have connections to Monsanto through the Rose Law Firm where you worked and through Bill who hired Monsanto people for central food-related roles. Your Orwellian-named "Rural Americans for Hillary" was planned withTroutman Sanders, Monsanto's lobbyists. Genetic engineering and industrialized food and animal production all come together at the Rose Law Firm, which represents the world's largest GE corporation (Monsanto), GE's most controversial project (DP&L's - now Monsanto's - terminator genes) [here], the world's largest meat producer (Tyson), the world's largest retailer and a dominant food retailer (Wal-Mart) [here]. The inbred-ness of Rose's legal representation of corporations which own controlling interests in other corporations there and of corporate boards sharing members who are also shareholders of each other's corporations there, is so thorough that it is hard to capture. Jon Jacoby, senior executive of the Stephens Group - one of the largest institutional shareholders of Tyson Foods, Walmart, DP&L - is also Chairman of the Board of DP&L and arranged the Wal-Mart deal. Jackson Stephens' Stephens Group staked Sam Walton and financed Tyson Foods. Monsanto bought DP&L. All represented at Rose. You didn't just work there, you made friends. That shows in the flow of favors then and since. You were invited onto Walmart's board, you were helped by a Tyson executive to make commodity trades (3 days before Bill became governor), netting you $100,000, Jackson Stephens strongly backed Bill for Governor, and then for President (donating $100,000). Food and friends, in Clinton terms: Bill's appointed friend Mike Espy, Secretary of Agriculture, who immediately significantly weakened federal chicken waste and contamination standards, opening the door to major expansion of Tyson's chicken factory farms. Espy resigned, indicted for accepting bribes, illegal contributions, money laundering, illegal dispersal of USDA subsidies, .... Tyson Foods was the largest corporate offender. But what Bill did for Monsanto "genetic engineering" goes beyond inadequate concepts of giving corporate friends influence: He unleashed genetic engineering into the world. And then he helped close off people's escape from it. Genetic engineering is many orders of magnitude different from "normal" (even polluting) business in its potential biologic ramifications. The warning myth of Pandora'a Box - letting irretrievable things rush out into nature - has become real. The harrowing change to the world from nuclear fission and fusion is the closest parallel.
What did Bill do?
1. Bill's put Monsanto people in at the FDA, as US Agricultural Trade Representatives, on International Biotechnology Consultive Forums, and more ... (http://www.commondreams.org/headlines/072600-03.htm) or http://www.monitor.net/monitor/9904b/monsantofda.html or http://www.mindfully.org/GE/Revolving-Door.htm 2. Bill's FDA gave Monsanto permission to market rBGH (a GE bovine growth hormone), the first genetically engineered product let loose on us (or did tomatoes with fish DNA get there first?). 3. Despite reports of bovine illness and death, Bill's FDA did not recall it or put warnings on it. Even "a very angry, very vocal nationwide consumer base" had no impact. 4. Bill's FDA wouldn't even label rBGH as "present" in milk. 5. When dairy farmers tried to label their own milk rBGH-free so the public could choose [more on rBGH and labelling here], Bill's USDA threatened all dairies that their products could be confiscated from stores. Michael Taylor, USFDA Deputy Commissioner, was formerly Monsanto's counsel. 6. How were consumers to protect their family, given Bill's FDA enforced public blindness, except to buy only organic? But Bill's FDA tried to close off that last escape, proposing to include in "organic" standards, "the dirty three" a: genetic engineering of plants and animals, use of irradiation in food processing and use of municipal sewage sludge as a fertilizer. The FDA backed down. Had this gone through, Monsanto could have finally labeled rBGH milk ... as "organic." And animal waste from factory farms, a pollution nightmare for Tyson and others, could have been sold as fertilizer. USDA head Dan Glickman: "This is probably the largest public response to an [Agriculture Department] rule in modern history." In fact the response was 20 times greater than anything ever before proposed by the USDA. Personally, I resent years of effort to protect my children and now grandchildren, from that crap. Politically, Bill sided against small farmers and against the public's right to know, and with Monsanto.
A snap shot of our food:
Oils: Sheep died in India after feeding on Bt cotton fields. We feed our children Bt cotton, as cottonseed oil in peanut butter and cookies.
Grains: 49% of US corn acreage was planted in Bt corn in 2007. A French study proved Monsanto's GMO corn causes kidney and liver toxicity. Soft drinks and candy have highly concentrated Bt corn, in the form of high fructose Bt corn syrup. The US food system depends most on two crops, soy (90% GMO, 90% of traits owned by Monsanto) and corn, the largest crop (60% GMO, nearly 100% Monsanto traits). "[E] ssentially our entire food supply is genetically modified, to the benefit of one company." The Grocery Manufacturers of America in 2000 estimated that 70 percent of US food contains GM traits.
Meat: Steroids bulk up atheletes. Monsanto steroids bulk up animals - more weight, more profit. We feed our children steroids in meats. Is this why our children are fattening, like Hansel and Gretel?
Poultry: Bill's USDA weakened chicken waste and contamination standards and attempted to allow sewage sludge as fertilize crops. I will say more about disease from industrialized poultry farms waste, at the end of this letter.
Milk: Over 30 scientific publications have shown increased levels of IGF-1 in milk with rBGH increases risks of breast cancer by up to seven-fold, also increasing colon and prostate cancers risks. Canada, 29 European nations, Norway, Switzerland, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa ban U.S. rBGH dairy products.
Bill's USFDA put no restrictions, no warning labels (not allowing labels at all). American children eat that food and drink that milk, Hillary. Coincidentally, American children are increasingly fat and sick. Here, Bill ignored pleas for labeling. Abroad, Bill ignored intense international objections over the same issue - unlabeled US food exports - badly straining trading relations. Monsanto's "good ole boy," he betrayed American families at the deepest levels conceivable - their family's health and their democratic right to know. He betrayed our rural life and American family farmers - backing corporation deceit and control, over honesty and clean farming. But, Hillary, it is one thing to not label a regular 'ole food product to sell it, and quite another to sell a suspected-dangerous food product (rBGH), but Bill's administration didn't label (or stop) a well-known, terrifying threat - Mad Cow Disease. Bill's FDA's August, 1997 regulation permitted "known TSE-positive [Transmissible spongiform encephalopathy] material to be used in pet food, pig, chicken and fish feed," only requiring the label to read "Do not feed to cattle and other ruminants" in the US. Monsanto added to the problem. "There is evidence that rbST use [Monsanto's GE bovine growth hormone] reduces the useful lifespan of a dairy cow. ... Given that the incubation period for BSE is at least three to five years and perhaps longer, rbST-treated cows could harbor "hidden" BSE. That is, they might be infected but still asymptomatic when sent to slaughter." http://www.consumersunion.org/food/bgh-codex.htm Bill let TSE into our entire food chain. And who owned the feed and slaughter and genetic engineering corporations which benefitted? Please, tell me, Hillary, what he could possibly have gotten in friendship or favors, that could ever justify his exposing millions of people to this? With genetic engineering itself, Bill did something to the whole world, which tried to object. Words are inadequate to express how astoundingly immoral, beyond human bounds and conceit and power, that was. "Even for the biggest "winners," it is like winning at poker on the Titanic." Jerry Mander: Facing the Rising Tide
He had no right
Do you hear that? Bill had sex from Monica Lewinsky. That's "dinky immoral." That's chicken feed immoral - excuse the Tyson pun, excuse the TSE-laced pun. Bill let genetic engineering lose on NATURE itself.
Our way of life is likely to be more fundamentally transformed in the next several decades than in the previous one thousand years...Tens of thousands of novel transgenic bacteria, viruses, plants and animals could be released into the Earth's ecosystems...Some of those releases, however, could wreak havoc with the planet's biospheres. -- Jeremy Rifkin, Biotech Century
Bill did this to us, like it was some nothing and he, some big dumb ass Southern boy, just smiling and getting in good with the Big Boys, thinking about as much about the consequences of something this immense and about us human beings out here, as he thought about you, when he was unfaithful with Monica. Just one big fool getting off on the power and used to getting away with things. Terminator genes, developed by DP&L, a Rose Firm client, prevent seeds from "working" after only one season. Farmers "must" repurchase (patents and suing not certain enough control, it seems). Those "killing" genes pose the apocalyptic risk of breaking out into nature. Natural seeds could fail, too. Nature could fail.
GMO fields are already contaminating normal species Berkeley Professor of Microbiology, Ignacio Chapela, wrote an open letter, warning the Mexican government about just this breaking out phenomenon happening in maize And it has already happened with weeds - pesticide resistant GMO seeds break lose and weeds become pesticide-resistant Superweeds. [here] But Bill's USDA spokesman, Willard Phelps said the USDA wanted the technology to be `widely licensed and made expeditiously available to many seed companies.'
Genetic Engineering is often justified as a human technology, one that feeds more people with better food. Nothing could be further from the truth. With very few exceptions, the whole point of genetic engineering is to increase sales of chemicals and bio-engineered products to dependent farmers. -- David Ehrenfield: Professor of Biology, Rutgers University [also see previous link]
Hillary, one third of the world's bee colonies have collapsed [here]. Gone. Farmers in India are killing themselves. Farmers and bees. Since organic farmers in India are fine and organic farmers report no colony collapse [here], what does these farming catatrophes say about "industrial agriculture" [here] Mad Cow Disease is another direct result of industrial agriculture. And now ....... transnational poultry factories are implicated as the source of bird flu [here]. Small scale poultry farms and wild birds seem not to be the problem [just as small farmers are not the issue in Mad Cow Disease], and yet "initiatives are multiplying to ban outdoor poultry, squeeze out small producers and restock farms with genetically modified chickens. ... http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/feb2006/2006-02-27-01.asp "Of the few outbreaks that did occur in [Laos], more than 90% broke out in commercial poultryoperations, not free-ranging flocks." Monsanto (and others) is currently working with the USDA to force small farmers to tag every animal with a global tracking device (NAIS - National Animal Identification System). Allegedly related to food safety, Monsanto and others would be creating a vast corporate digital library on every move of small farmers' livestock. But small farmers do not create the contaminated environments, do not supply the feed, do not grind up diseased animals into feed (how Mad Cow began) and then sell it. In fact, their farming methods, free range and small scale, are significantly healthier and safer for animals and food than the massive concentration of animals by corporate industrial agriculture. Monsanto is also aggressively pushing for state laws to limit farmers' right to choose what to plant and the public's right to exclude GE plants from their communities. Cattle bloated by steroids, lapse and loss of 10,000 year old normal seeds [here], immense pollution from factory farms [here], deadly-disease-ridden feed, world-wide bee colony collapse, poisoned soil and depleted water supplies, Superweeds, lawsuits against farmers, loss of family farms, and ... India farmers killing themselves in what may be the largest mass suicide in recorded human history (on average ... one farmer suicide every 30 minutes since 2002 - The Hindu 1.30.08) - that is industrial agriculture. Monsanto and Tyson are two of the largest industrial agricultural corporations in the world. Industrial agriculture is represented by your Rose Law Firm. Your claim to care about food safety is terrifying double-speak given what Bill did and who you take donations from. Your idea of a Department of Food Safety would centralize control of food - in whose corporate connected hands? You talk tough about labeling food - ah, but "foreign" food - a sleight of hand tricking a public desperate for safe US food. You talk about food safety but Bill degraded food in every imaginable way and prevented minimally sane labeling. I am a person before I am a woman. Your gender means nothing. It is a media distraction. Your policies on health and food and women and children, are meaningless in the face of connections that have threatened those groups profoundly, connections you have never denounced. Monsanto uses child labor in India, primarily very young girls, exposing them to a lethal pesticide 13-14 hours a day, for pennies in pay. But you take donations from their lobbyists. You say you care about black people but as the poorest people in this country, they are least able to buy organic and are forced to eat the contaminated foods Bill let into our food system. The National Black Farmers Association has a boycott out on all Monsanto products.
Do you eat organic?
So, who are you with, hapless black consumers and black farmers, or Monsanto? Mothers left to give their children rBGH milk, or Monsanto? Women exposed to 7 times greater risk of breast cancer, or Monsanto? Desperate farmers in India and young children forced into child labor in cottonseed factories there, or Monsanto? Animals suffering [here] from lives in filthy cages and disgusting feedlots, shot up with steroids and hormones and antibiotics, or Monsanto? Our children who eat candy with high fructose Bt corn syrup associated with kidney and liver toxicity, or Monsanto? Edwards was right about your corporate connections. I just didn't understand until I saw that PBS show and read about Monsanto, how personally affected my children and grandchildren, and all people around the world, have been. I will not vote for you. I will vote for someone who will commit themselves to work on behalf of small farmers and real food and decent treatment of animals and to end this industrialized agricultural nightmare that is taking us off a cliff. Linn Cohen-Cole, Atlanta Disclaimer: I am not a scientist. I have read for months on this subject, and am including only a tiny portion of the horrifying things I have learned. I am expressing my opinion as person and may be wrong. Perhaps things are swell out there and rBGH is fabulous and TSE-laced feed is great, and genetic engineering is the best thing since manna. But I am scared for my family and I have not only a right to say so but an obligation to do so. I am angry that Monsanto was allowed the influence it had and has done the things it definitely seems to have. I am disgusted by industrialization of every tender and beautiful part of our world and hope, for all our children's sake, we are not too late to pull back.