ReDigest: Moyers on hunger, lab liability, a portrait of evil

Moldy links, but in case you missed….

No farms, no food: Bill Moyers did an excellent three-part series on the broken U.S. food system, from bare shelves in charity pantries to the Farm Bill subsidy boondoggles as revealed by the Washington Post “Harvesting Cash” reporters. The site has both videos and transcripts. (Bill Moyers Journal)

Herd it, but can’t believe it: From the Department of WTF?!, the Bush administration is considering relocating research on hoof-and-mouth disease from its isolated Plum Island, NY, laboratory to a mainland state near livestock. (Associated Press)

starstarKnow thy enemy: If you didn’t already have nightmares about the biotech giant we call VoldeMonsanto, and others call Demonsanto or Monstersanto, you will after reading this profile of the corporation’s ruthless tactics against small farmers and its decades-long history of dumping PCBs and dioxins into communities worldwide. (Vanity Fair)

starPlains speaker: Kudos to a major food magazine for writing in depth about the Farm Bill, as viewed through the eyes of sixth-generation, 25-year-old Matthew Stiegelmeier, a small organic farmer in South Dakota of all places. (Gourmet)

3 Responsesto “ReDigest: Moyers on hunger, lab liability, a portrait of evil”

  1. I’m not a big fan of the whole system of corporations that we find ourselves, but this is the system we have. Corporations are legally obligated to make money for their stockholders. I’m not saying that Monsanto (along with just about all big corporations) doesn’t have unethical business practices, but I do think we need to be realistic. Rejection of one corporation while buying from others seems rather disingenuous to me. Does it make sense to blame the companies for working within the established system (including that of patenting) or would it be more appropriate to work to change that system? Almost all companies today are parts of huge conglomerates, and I don’t know if we can legitimately blame part of a company for something another part did decades ago. It’s unfair to lump so many things together in a way that might be unjustified. I think we have to look at them separately – I’m not going to reject Kashi now that it is owned by Kellogg’s, or reject Naked Juice because it is owned by Pepsi. Instead, I’ll choose the healthiest brands (for the few pre-made foods I do buy), sending the message with my $ to the company that this is what I want.
    Monsanto’s crop group is functionally separate from its rBGH and chemical groups. Yes, there is overlap in that RoundUp Ready depends on RoundUp but I’m sure Kellogg’s uses much of the same company infrastructure to make, move, and market both Smorz and Organic Promise cereals. These are not fundamentally different ideas, strange as it may sound. If you want a more frightening comparison, look at Nestle and their history of pushing infant formula in places where contaminated water has condemned thousands of infants to death. If we are to blame all of Nestle’s subsidiaries for this evil doing, we shouldn’t buy anything from Munch Bunch, Perrier, Lean Cuisine, and Mighty Dog, just to name a few. I know that the authors of Ethicurean likely avoid packaged food even more than I do – but plenty of people who call Monsanto evil aren’t so choosy.
    The VF article makes too many stretches that are old and tired. They blame current biotech patent law on Monsanto even though the precedent was set by a case involving General Electric. They blame Monsanto for the corporate practice of buying competitors, although this has been happing in all industries for as long as we’ve had corporations (and of course, the competitors don’t have to sell…).
    China has refused to accept US style patent law, and chooses to have public funds develop new crop lines and research genetic engineering so corporations can’t get to this point. Why doesn’t the US move to this type of system? I think it’s because people are too distracted by fighting the wrong things instead of working to elect a government that won’t let lobbyists tell them what to do.
    Well, now that I’ve typed all of this – I think I’ll have to make a blog post about the VF article. See what you’ve done! ;)

  2. The third Moyers segment, in which he talks with David Beckmann of Bread for the World, was quite interesting.  Beckmann and his allies have been working the halls of Congress and they rarely find anyone who says that current farm policies are acceptable.  Seemingly everyone agrees with him that the policies give too much to the wealthy and don’t provide an effective farm safety net.  But the powers that be (campaign contributors, lobbyists, Big Ag) will not allow reform.

  3. bud dingler says:

    I wonder how many of the Monsanto and GMO bashers, could even pass a freshman science course? 
    Some have plenty to say, but in reality have no idea what the science is behind the so call evil. 
    The back to the land folks bash corporate farming but many would not last a day with a hoe and 5 acres to work. Does anyone seriously think that the over priced food sold at coops and Whole Foods is an example of how you can feed millions of people?