Spreading democracy right here in the U.S.A.

fofdvdprodimage.jpgSometimes miracles do happen. At least the failure of the California Preemption Bill -- SB1056 -- to even make it out of committee in the California Senate yesterday seems like some kind of miracle to me. (And one worth celebrating, I might add.)

From what I've read, we owe its apparent death -- at least for now -- to the maneuverings of State Senator Don Perata, who serves as senate president pro tem -- and to all of you who took the time to call or write Don, your state senator, or both.

In their news release today, The Center for Food Safety noted:

Beginning last year, the biotechnology industry pushed for similar pre-emption laws [like SB1056] in several U.S. states, fearful that California's model of local bans would take hold elsewhere. It has also spent decades fighting all over the world against any regulatory restrictions on experimental GE foods.

"By not even bringing SB1056 to a vote, the Senate sent a clear message that enacting pre-emption before state legislation is bad policy," said Renata Brillinger, Director of Californians for GE-Free Agriculture. "We commend Senate leadership, and look forward to moving ahead with discussions on effective state laws to address the problems associated with genetic engineering of crops and food."

Now that the legislative year has ended, we can breathe a heavy sigh of relief, right? Wrong. I, for one, am not the least bit naïve (at least in this area) to think that this recent attempt to overrun our democratic rights by the "Monsanto's" of the world won't be back in some newer, "kinder, gentler" form next year -- in many ways, methinks we have only dodged a bullet.

In the meantime, we need to help more Californians -- and the rest of our country -- get properly armed and ready before another assault comes our way. We can do this by getting more educated about the pros and cons of genetically-modified foods.

Some of the cons -- which don't receive much ink in the mainstream press -- include:

  • GMOs are not proven safe for consumers nor the environment;
  • GMOs are not properly labeled as such;
  • GMOs are formally patented -- and therefore owned -- by multinational corporations, who charge farmers for their use each time they are planted. (By the way, these same corporations have been patenting many non-GMO seeds for years as well -- this practice is referred to as biopiracy, or colonialism, in other parts of the world.);
  • GMOs can contaminate non-GMO seed (after all, how high of a fence can you build to keep it out?) and have been "accidentally" unleashed into the food supply without government approval.

The Future of Food

One way to get more people you know informed is to buy or rent The Future of Food by Deborah Koons Garcia -- widow of Jerry -- and show it to everyone you know.

This film is unapologetically anti-GMO in its perspective. It is very accessible to even those ill-informed on the subject as well as quite compelling as it builds its case for why we all should be outraged:

My goal was to make a film that gave the average person a clear understanding of how genetic engineering works, from the cellular level to the global level," Garcia said. "I'm hoping this film can be a combination of Silent Spring and The Battle of Algiers. Once you see it you'll feel compelled to act, even if that means just changing the kind of food you eat.

Garcia begins the film by first highlighting how American agriculture became what it is today, when chemicals originally developed as nerve agents for use in World Wars I and II were reconfigured for use as insecticides.

Also featured:

  • Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser's heart-wrenching story of using his and his wife's life savings in taking on Monsanto -- when he's accused and sued by Monsanto of having Roundup Ready canola in his fields.
  • Microbial biologist Ignacio Chapela and his research that uncovered contamination of indigenous corn in Mexico, and the ordeal he goes through when his controversial results are not only questioned and attacked but, ultimately, appear connected to his initial denial of tenure at the University of California.
  • The incestuous connection between those who work (or have worked) for the USDA, EPA, FDA, and -- not surprisingly -- in our current administration and Supreme Court. (The revolving door analogy really works here -- you'll see what I mean. I began to see why things are the way they are these days.)

tc.jpgThe Corporation

Also, check out The Corporation, a fabulous documentary, based on the book The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power by Joel Bakan.

Taking its legal status as a "person" to its logical conclusion, the film puts the corporation on the psychiatrist's couch to ask "What kind of person is it?"

To more precisely assess the "personality" of the corporate "person," a checklist is employed, using actual diagnostic criteria of the World Health Organization and the DSM-IV, the standard diagnostic tool of psychiatrists and psychologists. The operational principles of the corporation give it a highly anti-social "personality": It is self-interested, inherently amoral, callous and deceitful; it breaches social and legal standards to get its way; it does not suffer from guilt, yet it can mimic the human qualities of empathy, caring and altruism. Four case studies, drawn from a universe of corporate activity, clearly demonstrate harm to workers, human health, animals and the biosphere. Concluding this point-by-point analysis, a disturbing diagnosis is delivered: the institutional embodiment of laissez-faire capitalism fully meets the diagnostic criteria of a "psychopath."

The Future of Food and The Corporation would make a great -- and fun -- Ethicurean double feature.

After all, à la Thomas Jefferson, an educated and well-informed electorate is vital to our democracy. Let's get started!

One Responseto “Spreading democracy right here in the U.S.A.”

  1. Omniwhore says:

    Both will be arriving from Netflix this week! I can't wait to get (even more) angry and riled up, which is what every good American should be right now.

    Be educated and dangerous, and eat good food at the same time!