CORN-ERED BY AGRIBUSINESS AND MONSANTO: FREEDOM, FOOD and the FUTURE of FARMING

I write this in a wide reference to genetic manipulation in food:

“There is no simple one-to-one mapping, then, between genes and bits of the body, any more than there is mapping between words of recipe and crumbs of cake….This makes nonsense of the idea that the genes are anything like a blueprint for a body.”
—Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker (pg 296)

I know most consumers have the right to eat as they want, assuming they can afford whatever it is they want, but a couple of documentaries I saw recently were interesting and depressing enough to mention here. Of course they’re both biased etc etc, but for those who have a heart towards sustainable existence, both are eye-opening, and a call to even more vigilant, intelligent food purchasing and awareness. There is a revolution going on around us—while we write blogs or whatever—to own all the food and all the seeds, all over the world.

The first film was called King Corn, dedicated to Michael Pollan, writer of The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Startling facts from two beef-loving city boys gone country—back to their roots—who find that corn, and corn with less and less nutritional value, has overtaken the American diet, with disastrous results. Those brutalized by the journey are the farmer’s integrity, the cows stomach, and the meat it provides, and the increasingly fat/Type II diabetic consumer.

To quote Michael Pollan:

“If you’re standing in a field in Iowa, there’s an immense amount of food being grown, none of it edible. The commodity corn, nobody can eat. It must be processed before we can eat it. It’s a raw material—it’s a feedstock for all these other processes. And the irony is that an Iowa farmer can no longer feed himself.”

In the film, the farmers, who seemed like salt of the earth people, were quite aware they were producing, I think one called it, something like the biggest load of crap in agricultural history. They know it’s totally dependent on government subsidies.

Interestingly, up until the mid 1970s, the farmer was subsidized to not produce too much. Now he/she is subsidized more for producing more, and the produced grain is starch in a much greater percentage, and inedible.

From the film, the new new farmers say:

“Three weeks from harvest time [after all our research] we could see the agriculture our great grandparents had helped build was now going for fast food.”

HOLY COW

Not.

Everyone who reads this knows I’m vegetarian. But for those who aren’t, man, the quality of your grain fed beef (corn) is way, way down, except in saturated fat, which is way, way up.

Said one cattle farmer in the film, paraphrasing: cows in feed lots can be okay on corn for 60 to 90 days, they’re being pushed at 120, and any more than that and the cows won’t survive. More acid in the belly is produced, ph drops, acidosis occurs, brutal stomach sores, dies if not treated, low doses of antibiotics are prescribed. According to the film, livestock now consume 70% of the antibiotics in the USA. Imagine the waiting lines in those emergency rooms. Fowl.

In the feedlot we produce, according to, I think, Loren Cordain from the University of Colorado:

“…a characteristically obese animal whose muscle tissue looks more like fat tissue more than it does like lean meat in wild animals. If you look at a T-bone steak from a grain [corn] fed cow, it may have as much as 9 grams of saturated fat, whereas a comparable steak from a grass fed animal would have 1.3 grams of saturated fat.”

STICKY BUSINESS

And the invasion of the absolutely pointless high-fructose corn syrup is out of control, and the effect of these totally empty calories are not pretty.

Walter Willet from Harvard said that to…

“…drink 1 soda a day on average almost doubles the risk of Type II diabetes compared to…” only occasionally or never having a soda beverage.

From the film:

“When you take that actual McDonald’s meal, you don’t realise it but you’re eating corn [this can be measured by taking hair samples]. The beef has been corn fed [for the last thirty years]. Soda is all corn—it all came from [high fructose] corn syrup. That’s the main ingredient. Even the french fries—half the calories come from the fat they’re fried in—and that fat is likely corn oil or soya oil [when GMO, as you'll see below, both are mostly produced with Monsanto products (and thus owned by Monsanto)]“.

Oh, and of course all these record amounts of corn crops in the US are heavily, profoundly subsidized because 1) the farmers lose money off of every acre and 2) because of our leaders undying belief in the free market—the second line was sarcasm.

The other film was called The World According to Monsanto (see the trailer here)—and you can watch the whole thing right here. This film, too, was disturbing for myriad reasons including a lying-as-a-principle corporate world, monopolies across the globe on all food crops, the genetic manipulation of food, and the literal crushing/enslavement of indigenous workers from India to Mexico, who are already up against the wall.

To quote Indian activist, Physicist and Ecologist Vandana Shiva in the film:

“There’s nothing [Monsanto] is leaving untouched. The mustard, the okra, the brinjal, the rice. Once they have established the norm, that seed can be owned as their property, royalties can be collected…we will depend on them for every seed we grow for every crop we grow. If they control seed they control food—they know it. It’s more powerful than bombs. It’s more powerful than guns. This is the best way to control the populations of the world.”

Just really disgusting. The amount of scientists who have said Monsanto outright lies—dangerously—and the scientists who have lost their jobs for saying so, and Monsanto’s connections to the revolving door between the FDA and the White House, and Downing Street, is staggering.

A few names to look up, if interested: Shiv Chopra, Dr Aprad Pusztai and Dr Stanley Ewen.

But hey, business is business, and this is a roundup.

And check out the effects of BT cotton for Indian farmers and their endless suicides due to, among other things of course under brutal conditions, their inability to pay off debts once being captured by this “miracle seed”—and make up your own mind.

And I know President Obama’s inauguration is today, and people think he’s totally different and wonderful—and maybe he is and I’m thrilled to tears over the historicity of it all—but the Organic Consumers Association (emails totaling more than 120,00) are not happy with his choice of Agriculture Secretary. Governor Tom Vilsack has been described as, among other things, “just another shill for Monsanto.”

More about this here.

But here’s to the audacity of hope. Seriously. Hope and work at it. What a miracle food is, this earth is, life is.

Lots of love and may you be fortunate enough to have beautiful, nutritional, cared-for food as a great part of your life,

Pete xoxo

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3 Responses to “CORN-ERED BY AGRIBUSINESS AND MONSANTO: FREEDOM, FOOD and the FUTURE of FARMING”

  1. Sue says:

    Hi Pete,

    I’d say some of Obama’s other choices for key positions are also more than a little questionable in light of his emphasis on change and progress. Ultimately he’s beholden to those who endorsed him and put him in power–and we know that it’s not the common folk who put an “x” next to his name at polling stations on November 4th. I’m taking a wait and see approach, and I pray that he is able to gracefully and graciously walk his eloquent talk as often as possible. Now that would be a refreshing change!

    On the subject of our increasingly mutated (and mutilated) food sources, it really is disconcerting that one or two large corporations now own most of the seed stock and that they are arrogant enough to believe that they can really do a better job of “designing” crop seeds than Nature. What is just as disconcerting is the reaction of many people–denial, disbelief, defiance– when one tries to do some education around the quality of the food (and what’s in it or not) that they put in their mouth–or the incredibly toxic substances that go into most of the personal care (shampoo, soap, etc) products they use. There is a lot of naivete (misplaced trust–that has been strongly encouraged) that governments wouldn’t allow companies or food producers to make/grow/sell things that are harmful. I’ve learned that people will only choose to be educated or hear something different when they’re ready, so my philosophy these days is “mention, don’t insist”.

    Take care and lots of love,
    Sue

  2. Hey Sue,

    So true, what you say. Both about Obama—hopefully he can do beautiful things, but pragmatism is a huge part of politics, who “owns” a person, and, of course, realpolitik.

    And definitely one can’t enforce these ideas of nutrition and health or the being against monopolies like Monsanto, who care not a rat’s ass about food, or people. Instead, as you have said, mention, without insisting, and remember we all have limitations, blinders, faults, flaws. After all, as surely as some people, as Doris lessing once said, actually like war, people love McDonalds etc etc and Big Gulps etc in varying degrees. What’s more, certain people always will. And so, all one can do, in my opinion, is grow as much as possible, individually, personally, and give as much love as possible. And if the innocent are being harmed, which they are, decide what exactly “armed with yoga, stand and fight”, means to us.

    In the meantime, love, love and more love—and good inhales and exhales, and laughter,

    Pete xoxo

  3. [...] this shite food is yet another corn product. And high fructose corn syrup is just the worst for type II diabetes and general [...]

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