The only candidate bound to revive democracy overall is the one who has always fought on behalf of food democracy specifically. And he’s the one with the guts, the care, the will and the independence to do so as President.
Of the umpteen dozen differences between Clinton and Sanders, a fair few of them are environmental and agricultural. One that’s very important to many of us is that Sen. Sanders harshly criticizes Monsanto and the destructive practices of Big Ag, and supports GMO labeling of food products. Sen. Sanders was one of the first and few politicians fighting to pass a bill that would require GMO labeling.
Hillary Clinton stands with, acts, and takes money in favor of GMOs generally, and Monsanto specifically. And that goes hand in hand with her other environmentally destructive positions and actions/inactions. Besides actively supporting and spreading fracking, taking fossil fuel campaign money, and opposing a tax on carbon, this last week she completely walked back her proposal on ending coal (pandering shamelessly in WV, promising to mine more coal and sell more coal)
The GMO/Monsanto issues often take a back seat to climate, corporate funding of campaigns, war, and Wall St.—in the press and even somewhat in the Sanders campaign. And that’s reasonable, since those are of course super-critical issues.
But genetically engineered food and genetically modified organisms represent a profound concern for many voters. And Monsanto, with good reason, is easily one of the most loathed companies in the world. The agricultural mega-corp is despised for its poisonous products, disregard for its impact on health and planet, and the millions it spends every year lobbying to remain jaw-droppingly exempt from responsibility for that impact. Plus its ruthless quest to dominate the global food supply with its “terminator seeds” and other patents.
It’s also famous for suing farmers who supposedly “steal” their patented technology by virtue of being downfield of pollen drift (thus having their own non-GMO or organic crops contaminated by GMO material). Monsanto’s legacy also includes Agent Orange, DDT, PCBs, and recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH), a genetically modified hormone that’s injected into dairy cows to produce more milk.
It’s fairly unsurprising that one of the most disliked and distrusted presidential candidates in history, also recognized as ruthless in her own quest for power, is a big fan—a shill for their agenda and a recipient of their donations and campaign support.
Much has been written about GMOs and about Monsanto. It would be unnecessary to reiterate or reintroduce all that data here. Suffice to say that many organizations work hard to ensure labeling of GMOs in foods, and others work tirelessly to educate people about the dangers of genetically modified foods to human and environment health in general, and on critical news about Monsanto in particular.
You can certainly do your own research—information is plentiful. (Although you can find about as much industry-funded spin about GMOs as you can about climate change. And its denial is about as genuine and intelligent.)
(I do recommend the work of Jeffrey M. Smith, one of the most dedicated, thorough, and prolific critics of GE and GMO, with his site and his books Seeds of Deception and Altered Genes, Twisted Truth which Jane Goodall supports. He is a leading spokesperson on the health dangers of GMOs and meticulously documents how the world’s most powerful biotech companies mislead critics and put the health of society at risk.)
Just this past March 16, the Senate voted to defeat the Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act, introduced by Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kans.). The vote was a major win for consumers after a tough and harrowing fight after passing the House last year. Pressure from consumers along with key nonprofits won the day. The bill would have established a voluntary labeling standard that would override state-level mandatory labeling regulations like the one Vermont has passed and other states are considering.
Sen. Sanders’ own state of Vermont has led the way to be the first state to enact a GMO labeling law that has ended up forcing companies to being voluntary labeling so as not to have to create separate labels by state.
“I am very proud that Vermont is taking the lead in a growing national movement to allow the people of our country to know what is in the food they eat. GMO labeling exists in dozens of countries around the world and should exist in the United States,” Sanders has said.
“An overwhelming majority of Americans favor GMO labeling, but virtually all of the major biotech and food corporations in the country oppose it.”
I’d guess that if you’re reading this, you probably already know enough about GMOs to care about the issue.
Although you might feel informed and aware, Hillary Clinton doesn’t think you know jack s**t and says your concerns are not relevant.
Clinton gave a keynote address at a biotech conference just last year where she coached biotech companies not to call it “genetically modified” because it sounds bad.
The speech was to one of Monsanto’s main GMO lobbying front groups, Biotechnology International Organization (BIO), to help the industry address consumer fears over GMOs. She could have pressured them to be more transparent and improve safety assessments.
Instead, she said, “Genetically modified sounds ‘Frankensteinish’—drought resistant sounds really like something you want. Be more careful so you don’t raise that red flag immediately.” (The full video of THAT is here. Do watch.)
By the way, Clinton received a $335,000 “speaking fee” for that speech. At least we know what she said in this one (and it’s likely a pretty darn good indication of how the Wall Street ones pandered to that industry, wouldn’t you think?).
The biotech speech was such an outrage that even MoveOn.org got involved, appealing to Clinton in a petition:
Speaking at this year’s BIO International Convention, you reiterated your support for genetically modified organisms (GMOs). You said the industry needs “a better vocabulary” to change negative public perception about GMO agriculture. But mounting scientific evidence says the public is right to be concerned about the impact of Monsanto’s GMO crops and food on the environment, public health, and global warming. We don’t need a better vocabulary. We need leaders who will stand up to Monsanto.
She frequently claims those opposed to GMOs have “unwarranted fears” because “many people do not understand science or biotechnology and are easily swayed” (Such typical condescension. Yeah, people are easily swayed all right. Her current campaign is prime evidence of that.)
Ironically, while Clinton patronizes consumers for ignorance, she herself has revealed her own illiteracy when speaking about GMOs. For example, she has claimed that “…there are a lot of advocates who fight hunger in Africa who are desperate for GMO seeds, because they are drought resistant and they don’t know how else they’re going to get enough yield to feed people.” According to the USDA’s own reports, however, GMOs do not increase yield and often yield less than their non-GMO counterparts.
Clinton also has many ties to Big Ag generally. A Monsanto lobbyist has been among the top financial bundlers of contributions, and many former Monsanto/other biotech employees were hired and appointed to the FDA and the USDA during the Clinton administration in the 90s.
In her early days as a lawyer in Arkansas, her firm represented Monsanto and other agribusiness leaders.
Much more recently, Clinton also appointed longtime Monsanto lobbyist Jerry Crawford as adviser to her “Ready for Hillary” super PAC. Crawford has been instrumental in fighting against small farmers in court and protecting Monsanto’s seed monopoly.
And she pushed GMO expansion while serving as Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013. She promoted the USAID-funded “Feed the Future,” a program that promotes the use of RoundUp-Ready products.
The herbicide glyphosate, by the way—RoundUp is a trade name for that—was classified last year as a “probable carcinogen” by the IARC, the cancer-research arm of the World Health Organization (WHO).
Use of glyphosate has skyrocketed 15-fold since Monsanto introduced its line of “RoundUp-Ready” crops in 1996. These patented crops were genetically engineered to withstand a chemical deluge of glyphosate—Monsanto’s handy, profitable “answer” to the chemical’s nasty tendency to kill the crops along with the weeds.
2.4 billion pounds of “probable carcinogen” glyphosate were sprayed on U.S. farmland just between 2004 and 2014. And we’re just now starting to test for how much residue is on our food and our bodies.
Just for starters.
The thing is, whether you really worry about GMOs and glyphosate or not, Monsanto’s unholy power—via big money and the revolving door between lobbyists and government—represents a near-perfect example of how corporations have infiltrated politics in ways that give the middle finger to democracy.
They suppress information and cause potential harm to everyday Americans for their own profits and purposes. They’ve been accused of falsifying safety data in their products, and concealing evidence of harm. And they have infiltrated nearly every regulatory body that could oversee them.
The FDA allows them to decide on their own whether their foods are safe, and does not even require safety data to be submitted. This convenient policy was crafted by the FDA’s Michael Taylor in 1992; Taylor was formerly Monsanto’s attorney, later Monsanto’s vice president, and is now back at the FDA as Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine.
And the multiple connections between Clinton and Monsanto are but one example of how thoroughly, grossly enmeshed she is in such mutually beneficial alliances.
HOW IS SANDERS DIFFERENT? Sen. Sanders is the only candidate with the independence, integrity, care and guts to stand up against Monsanto and Big Ag.
As early as 1994 he was fighting against companies such as Monsanto using chemicals that impact human and animal health.
Sanders helped to pass the 2014 Farm Bill legislation that protects family-owned farms rather than huge monocropping agrichemical ones.
Sanders had also proposed an amendment to the Farm Bill in 2012 that would have let states require clear labels on any food containing genetically engineered ingredients. That measure was at the time opposed by virtually every major food corporation in the country and defeated 73-26.
“This is something we are going to continue to work on,” Sanders said then. “The people of Vermont and the people of America have a right to know what’s in the food that they eat.”
Although he does not appear to completely oppose GMOs themselves—and this is one of a very few issues I disagree with Sanders on—at least he fully champions our right to know what we are eating. (Given his history as a public servant, activist and humanitarian, I also trust him as a human being to reconsider the issue, given more information and focus.)
What’s important to me is that he resoundingly criticized the draconian Monsanto Protection Act, which effectively bars federal courts from being able to halt the sale or planting of genetically modified or genetically engineered seeds, no matter what health issues may arise concerning GMOs in the future.
This means that even if new studies end up revealing severe adverse health effects related to the consumption of genetically modified foods, the courts will have no ability to stop the spread of the seeds and the crops they bear. In yet another textbook-case example of Monsanto’s fearsome meddling power, the provision’s language was written in cahoots with Monsanto.
Many members of Congress were unaware that the “Monsanto Protection Act” even existed within the bill they were voting on. (HR 933 was a spending bill aimed at averting a government shutdown.)
Check out for yourself how Sanders speaks about Monsanto, Big Ag, and the Monsanto Protection Act: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=9&v=uqtFpp2FRos
Also hear how scathingly and courageously he criticized Monsanto for its rBGH/rBST in 1994—and condemned the role that Monsanto lobbyists played in the process.
“Why do we need a synthetic hormone to increase milk production when we already have e milk surplus?…The facts are very clear that BST makes cows sick, which obliges farmers to use more antibiotics.”
This was another moment of foresight from Sanders, from a vast list of such moments—and a classic example of his well-exercised muscles opposing large corporations and backroom-type legislation that mocks democracy and favors profits over safety.
With quick search from there, you can find many other gratifying videos of Sanders on the Senate floor passionately denouncing Monsanto, the shortsighted greed of Big Ag, lobbyists in government, and lack of regulation—as well as his support of family farms and Americans’ right to know what’s in their food.
This is all in sharp contrast to Clinton, who tells us we’re ignorant and misinformed because we don’t agree that GMOs are feeding the world (when all they’re feeding is Monsanto’s rapacious bottom line). And who counsels biotech companies on how to sound more appealing by not using words that suggest GMOs are….what they are.
So if you care about GMOs and their labeling; the blitzing of our planet with carcinogenic weedkillers; the general domination of biotech to the detriment of human, animal and planetary health; family farms, and/or democracy, then you might reconsider #ImWithHer (if you are).
Because #ShesWithThem. She’s as “with” biotech as she is with Wall Street, drug companies, fossil fuel companies and arms dealers.
And it matters.
There are so many reasons not to vote for Hillary Clinton—from the fact that she probably can’t beat Trump anyway, to the endless bloody war and oppression of the middle class that will worsen under her insider-gamed, big-corporate-money-fueled regime (IF she were able to squeak out a poorly-mandated victory).
And one of those reasons is that a vote for Clinton is a vote for Monsanto. And their agenda does not account for your health and safety.
As someone who is fiercely passionate about our planet, health, and food, for me this is in, say, the top 20 of the many, many dozens of reasons I’m #NotWithHer. I am in fact thoroughly disgusted with her positions, her alliances, and her palpable lack of care for people or the earth (or anything but her own ambition, wealth, and small cadre of insiders).
We can’t afford her on climate. We can’t afford her on war. We can’t afford her on democracy itself. But we also can’t afford her on this.