“Control Food And You Control The People”

Henry Kissinger offered the above advice in 1970. Today, we can see that what goes around, comes around.

 We seem to be intrinsically bound to slowly repeat India’s sagas. This time, it’s the GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) challenge. Vandana Shiva, the Indian physicist who tirelessly advocates for India’s farmers, informs and warns us. Over 250,000 of India’s farmers have committed suicide in the last 16 years.  Monsanto put them all out of business with the high cost of nonrenewable seed in the guise of claiming more abundant crops. Greater abundance seems to apply mainly to corporate profits. 

Shiva notes in The Nation (9/19/11) that the “biggest threat we face is the control of seed moving out of the hands of farmers and communities and into a few corporate hands. The hijacking of our food systems is the hijacking of our democracy.”

 It is chilling to note that  in the US, the 2009  Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals placed a nationwide ban on Monsanto’s Roundup Ready alfalfa because the USDA had illegally approved Monsanto’s GE (Genetically Engineered) alfalfa without carrying out a proper and full Environmental Impact Statement.

 However, in 2010, the Supreme Court, with advice from Elena Kagan, the then Solicitor General, reversed the ruling. We now have two former Monsanto lawyers, Thomas and Kagan, on the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court does not seem interested in supporting a study  of GMO seeds and their potential impact on human health and the environment. There is reason to expect that whatever Monsanto wants, it is in a position to get, in the US.

The 2005 US-India Agricultural Knowledge Initiative (AKI) included a US  pledge of  $24 million to India through 2008. At the time of the signing in 2005, the US-India AKI had on its board representatives from Monsanto, Walmart, and ADM (Archer Daniels Midland). ADM’s annual profits include a hefty sum from products heavily subsidized or protected by the American Government, according to the CATO Institute.

 GMOs are not about feeding people. They have already been shown to produce no greater yields; they simply cost farmers more and we probably will not know the cumulative health costs for years. But they do generate fantastic corporate profits.

 Is this the main reason our administration promotes GMOs in the US and around the world while maintaining a nice, safe organic garden at the White House?

 Shiva predicts that, “We will either have a food dictatorship for a while and then a collapse of our food systems and our societies, or we will succeed in building robust food democracies, resting on resilient ecosystems and resilient communities. There is still a chance for the second alternative.”

 To keep each other well, we need to listen up, observe, and act. One such opportunity will be on October 15-16: Millions Against Monsanto weekend, organized to legally  mandate that all GMO foods be labeled. In Europe, people know that food labeling is what keeps them in control of their food.

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