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Forum Post: Monsanto, the TPP, and Global Food Dominance

Posted 4 months ago on Nov. 27, 2013, 5:18 p.m. EST by LeoYo (4796)
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Monsanto, the TPP, and Global Food Dominance

Wednesday, 27 November 2013 10:00 By Ellen Brown, Web of Debt | News Analysis

http://truth-out.org/news/item/20295-monsanto-the-tpp-and-global-food-dominance

“Control oil and you control nations,” said US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in the 1970s. ”Control food and you control the people.”

Global food control has nearly been achieved, by reducing seed diversity with GMO (genetically modified) seeds that are distributed by only a few transnational corporations. But this agenda has been implemented at grave cost to our health; and if the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) passes, control over not just our food but our health, our environment and our financial system will be in the hands of transnational corporations.

Profits Before Populations

According to an Acres USA interview of plant pathologist Don Huber, Professor Emeritus at Purdue University, two modified traits account for practically all of the genetically modified crops grown in the world today. One involves insect resistance. The other, more disturbing modification involves insensitivity to glyphosate-based herbicides (plant-killing chemicals). Often known as Roundup after the best-selling Monsanto product of that name, glyphosate poisons everything in its path except plants genetically modified to resist it. Glyphosate-based herbicides are now the most commonly used herbicides in the world. Glyphosate is an essential partner to the GMOs that are the principal business of the burgeoning biotech industry. Glyphosate is a “broad-spectrum” herbicide that destroys indiscriminately, not by killing unwanted plants directly but by tying up access to critical nutrients.

Because of the insidious way in which it works, it has been sold as a relatively benign replacement for the devastating earlier dioxin-based herbicides. But a barrage of experimental data has now shown glyphosate and the GMO foods incorporating it to pose serious dangers to health. Compounding the risk is the toxicity of “inert” ingredients used to make glyphosate more potent. Researchers have found, for example, that the surfactant POEA can kill human cells, particularly embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells. But these risks have been conveniently ignored.

The widespread use of GMO foods and glyphosate herbicides helps explain the anomaly that the US spends over twice as much per capita on healthcare as the average developed country, yet it is rated far down the scale of the world’s healthiest populations. The World Health Organization has ranked the US LAST out of 17 developed nations for overall health.

Sixty to seventy percent of the foods in US supermarkets are now genetically modified. By contrast, in at least 26 other countries—including Switzerland, Australia, Austria, China, India, France, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Greece, Bulgaria, Poland, Italy, Mexico and Russia—GMOs are totally or partially banned; and significant restrictions on GMOs exist in about sixty other countries. A ban on GMO and glyphosate use might go far toward improving the health of Americans. But the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a global trade agreement for which the Obama Administration has sought Fast Track status, would block that sort of cause-focused approach to the healthcare crisis.

Roundup’s Insidious Effects

Roundup-resistant crops escape being killed by glyphosate, but they do not avoid absorbing it into their tissues. Herbicide-tolerant crops have substantially higher levels of herbicide residues than other crops. In fact, many countries have had to increase their legally allowable levels—by up to 50 times—in order to accommodate the introduction of GM crops. In the European Union, residues in foods are set to rise 100-150 times if a new proposal by Monsanto is approved. Meanwhile, herbicide-tolerant “super-weeds” have adapted to the chemical, requiring even more toxic doses and new toxic chemicals to kill the plant.

Human enzymes are affected by glyphosate just as plant enzymes are: the chemical blocks the uptake of manganese and other essential minerals. Without those minerals, we cannot properly metabolize our food. That helps explain the rampant epidemic of obesity in the United States. People eat and eat in an attempt to acquire the nutrients that are simply not available in their food. According to researchers Samsell and Seneff in Biosemiotic Entropy: Disorder, Disease, and Mortality (April 2013):

Glyphosate’s inhibition of cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes is an overlooked component of its toxicity to mammals. CYP enzymes play crucial roles in biology . . . . Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body. Consequences are most of the diseases and conditions associated with a Western diet, which include gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

More than 40 diseases have been linked to glyphosate use, and more keep appearing. In September 2013, the National University of Rio Cuarto, Argentina, published research finding that glyphosate enhances the growth of fungi that produce aflatoxin B1, one of the most carcinogenic of substances. A doctor from Chaco, Argentina, told Associated Press, “We’ve gone from a pretty healthy population to one with a high rate of cancer, birth defects and illnesses seldom seen before.” Fungi growths have increased significantly in US corn crops.

Glyphosate has also done serious damage to the environment. According to an October 2012 report by the Institute of Science in Society:

Agribusiness claims that glyphosate and glyphosate-tolerant crops will improve crop yields, increase farmers’ profits and benefit the environment by reducing pesticide use. Exactly the opposite is the case. . . . [T]he evidence indicates that glyphosate herbicides and glyphosate-tolerant crops have had wide-ranging detrimental effects, including glyphosate resistant super weeds, virulent plant (and new livestock) pathogens, reduced crop health and yield, harm to off-target species from insects to amphibians and livestock, as well as reduced soil fertility.

Politics Trumps Science

In light of these adverse findings, why have Washington and the European Commission continued to endorse glyphosate as safe? Critics point to lax regulations, heavy influence from corporate lobbyists, and a political agenda that has more to do with power and control than protecting the health of the people.

In the ground-breaking 2007 book Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation, William Engdahl states that global food control and depopulation became US strategic policy under Rockefeller protégé Henry Kissinger. Along with oil geopolitics, they were to be the new “solution” to the threats to US global power and continued US access to cheap raw materials from the developing world. In line with that agenda, the government has shown extreme partisanship in favor of the biotech agribusiness industry, opting for a system in which the industry “voluntarily” polices itself. Bio-engineered foods are treated as “natural food additives,” not needing any special testing.

Jeffrey M. Smith, Executive Director of the Institute for Responsible Technology, confirms that US Food and Drug Administration policy allows biotech companies to determine if their own foods are safe. Submission of data is completely voluntary. He concludes:

In the critical arena of food safety research, the biotech industry is without accountability, standards, or peer-review. They’ve got bad science down to a science.

Whether or not depopulation is an intentional part of the agenda, widespread use of GMO and glyphosate is having that result. The endocrine-disrupting properties of glyphosate have been linked to infertility, miscarriage, birth defects and arrested sexual development. In Russian experiments, animals fed GM soy were sterile by the third generation. Vast amounts of farmland soil are also being systematically ruined by the killing of beneficial microorganisms that allow plant roots to uptake soil nutrients.

In Gary Null’s eye-opening documentary Seeds of Death: Unveiling the Lies of GMOs,Dr. Bruce Lipton warns, “We are leading the world into the sixth mass extinction of life on this planet. . . . Human behavior is undermining the web of life.”

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[-] 5 points by LeoYo (4796) 4 months ago

The TPP and International Corporate Control

As the devastating conclusions of these and other researchers awaken people globally to the dangers of Roundup and GMO foods, transnational corporations are working feverishly with the Obama administration to fast-track the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement that would strip governments of the power to regulate transnational corporate activities. Negotiations have been kept secret from Congress but not from corporate advisors, 600 of whom have been consulted and know the details. According to Barbara Chicherio in Nation of Change:

The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) has the potential to become the biggest regional Free Trade Agreement in history. . . .

The chief agricultural negotiator for the US is the former Monsanto lobbyist, Islam Siddique. If ratified the TPP would impose punishing regulations that give multinational corporations unprecedented right to demand taxpayer compensation for policies that corporations deem a barrier to their profits.

. . . They are carefully crafting the TPP to insure that citizens of the involved countries have no control over food safety, what they will be eating, where it is grown, the conditions under which food is grown and the use of herbicides and pesticides.

Food safety is only one of many rights and protections liable to fall to this super-weapon of international corporate control. In an April 2013 interview on The Real News Network, Kevin Zeese called the TPP “NAFTA on steroids” and “a global corporate coup.” He warned:

No matter what issue you care about—whether its wages, jobs, protecting the environment . . . this issue is going to adversely affect it . . . .

If a country takes a step to try to regulate the financial industry or set up a public bank to represent the public interest, it can be sued . . . .

Return to Nature: Not Too Late

There is a safer, saner, more earth-friendly way to feed nations. While Monsanto and US regulators are forcing GM crops on American families, Russian families are showing what can be done with permaculture methods on simple garden plots. In 2011, 40% of Russia’s food was grown on dachas (cottage gardens or allotments). Dacha gardens produced over 80% of the country’s fruit and berries, over 66% of the vegetables, almost 80% of the potatoes and nearly 50% of the nation’s milk, much of it consumed raw. According to Vladimir Megre, author of the best-selling Ringing Cedars Series:

Essentially, what Russian gardeners do is demonstrate that gardeners can feed the world – and you do not need any GMOs, industrial farms, or any other technological gimmicks to guarantee everybody’s got enough food to eat. Bear in mind that Russia only has 110 days of growing season per year – so in the US, for example, gardeners’ output could be substantially greater. Today, however, the area taken up by lawns in the US is two times greater than that of Russia’s gardens – and it produces nothing but a multi-billion-dollar lawn care industry.

In the US, only about 0.6 percent of the total agricultural area is devoted to organic farming. This area needs to be vastly expanded if we are to avoid “the sixth mass extinction.” But first, we need to urge our representatives to stop Fast Track, vote no on the TPP, and pursue a global phase-out of glyphosate-based herbicides and GMO foods. Our health, our finances and our environment are at stake.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.

[-] 3 points by DKAtoday (33128) from Coon Rapids, MN 4 months ago

I’ll give them this: Giant corporations are crafty.

Or maybe devious is a better word.

Years ago, they realized that a pesky little thing called democracy might prevent them from getting what they wanted — essentially unlimited power — no matter how much they spent engineering elections and buying off politicians.

So they came up with a fallback plan:

Exploit obscure international trade pacts — which were being negotiated with little public or press oversight — to get what they could not achieve openly and democratically: weaker food and medicine safety standards, corporate-friendly energy and environmental policies, limits on Internet free speech, new privileges to raise medicine prices and offshore jobs, and more.

And they call these backdoor schemes “free trade agreements.”

Well, the deals do leave corporations “free” to undermine the policies that protect all of us from being casualties in their global race to the bottom.

Add your name if you don’t want the public safeguards we all rely on negotiated away as part of “trade” deals hijacked by multinational corporations.

We know all too well how disastrously NAFTA worked out.

Now there’s an even worse deal in the works, which has been described as “NAFTA on steroids.”

It’s called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP.

The TPP currently involves the United States and these 11 other countries: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

Other countries could join in later — including China.

One of the most outrageous things these deals do is let corporations demand compensation from taxpayers — in secretive, foreign tribunals — for any policy or government action they claim interferes with their expected profits.

Really.

For example, tobacco giant Philip Morris is attacking Australia’s rules on cigarette packaging in one of these corporate tribunals under a similar pact, insisting on hundreds of millions from Australian taxpayers.

Ecuador was recently ordered to pay Occidental Petroleum billions after the oil behemoth, not the country, broke the terms of a contract.

Pharmaceutical titan Eli Lilly is demanding $500 million from the people of Canada, where courts invalidated patents on medicines that did not perform as promised.

These corporate tribunals are one-sided. Corporations alone decide if and when to attack. Governments can’t make claims against corporate culprits. Consumers and workers can’t either.

The only reason to sign international trade deals is if they can help people in every country involved live better, healthier and safer lives.

We can’t afford more “trade” agreements that offshore our jobs, flood us with unsafe food and products, and erode the principles and practice of democracy.

Add your name if you agree.

Earlier this month, Public Citizen was key to two developments that could help derail the TPP:

  • We worked with Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives to sign letters to President Obama opposing “Fast Track” — an anti-democratic, Nixon-era scheme that transfers Congress’ constitutional trade authority to the president. Obama wants fast track so that he can railroad the TPP through. After hundreds of grassroots meetings, rallies, lobby visits and more, 190 House members said no to Fast Track.

  • We partnered with WikiLeaks to expose some of the language in the draft TPP agreement, which is being negotiated in secret with the input of 600 official corporate trade “advisors” from the U.S. while the public, the press and most members of Congress have been locked out. We did the analysis that let the world know the text would mean higher medicine prices and a sneak attack on Internet freedom.

Tens of thousands of Public Citizen supporters took action with us over the past year and deserve credit for helping to uncover the TPP and turn the tide against Fast Track.

A fast-tracked TPP would be nothing less than a corporate end run around laws and policies that are the result of years, decades and even lifetimes of work to protect people from the insatiable greed of giant corporations.

This could be the beginning of the end for the TPP. I need you to take action today so that we can stop this runaway train in its tracks.

This is our moment — right now.

Robert Weissman President, Public Citizen

© 2013 Public Citizen • 1600 20th Street, NW / Washington, D.C. 20009 •