Letter to Hillary about Monsanto connections (02.03.08)

Linoleum Block Print Shows Monsanto No Love

Image by Stephen Melkisethian via Flickr

Dandelion Salad

by Linn Cohen-Cole
Speaking Truth to Power
Sunday, 03 February 2008

Original post: An Open Letter To Hillary Clinton From A Wellesley College Alumna

Submitted by a Truth To Power Subscriber From Yahoo News Groups

[This letter was written by a woman who has clearly done her homework, and confirms that no sane human being in good conscience can cast a vote for Hillary Clinton–CB]

Dear Hillary,

By polling logic, I should be your supporter – Democrat, older woman, white, liberal. I was even in a dorm with you in college. I have pulled for you for years. But something this past summer fundamentally changed my responsibility to my children and grandchildren. In the time I have left in my life to protect them and others, I need to speak out.

I saw a News Hour piece on Maharastra, India, about farmers committing suicide. Monsanto, a US agricultural giant, hired Bollywood actors for ads telling illiterate farmers they could get rich (by their standards) from big yields with Monsanto’s Bt (genetically engineered) cotton seeds. The expensive seeds needed expensive fertilizer and pesticides (Monsanto, again) and irrigation. There is no irrigation there. Crops failed. Farmers had larger debt than they’d ever experienced.

And farmers couldn’t collect seeds from their own fields to try again (true since time immemorial). Monsanto “patents” their DNA-altered seeds as “intellectual property.” They have a $10 million budget and a staff of 75 devoted solely to prosecuting farmers. http://www.grist.org/comments/food/2008/01/17./). Since the late 1990s (about when industrial agriculture took hold in India),166,000 Indian farmers have committed suicide and 8 million have left the land.

Farmers in Europe, Asia, Africa, Indonesia,South America, Central America and here, have protested Monsanto and genetic engineering for years.

What does this have to do with you?

You have connections to Monsanto through the Rose Law Firm where you worked and through Bill who hired Monsanto people for central food-related roles. Your Orwellian-named “Rural Americans for Hillary” was planned with Troutman Sanders, Monsanto’s lobbyists.

Genetic engineering and industrialized food and animal production all come together at the Rose Law Firm, which represents the world’s largest GE corporation (Monsanto), GE’s most controversial project (DP&L’s – now Monsanto’s – terminator genes), the world’s largest meat producer (Tyson), the world’s largest retailer and a dominant food retailer (Walmart).

The inbred-ness of Rose’s legal representation of corporations which own controlling interests in other corporations there and of corporate boards sharing members who are also shareholders of each other’s corporations there, is so thorough that it is hard to capture. Jon Jacoby, senior executive of the Stephens Group – one of the largest institutional shareholders of Tyson Foods, Walmart, DP&L -is also Chairman of the Board of DP&L and arranged the Wal-Mart deal. Jackson Stephens’ Stephens Group staked Sam Walton and financed Tyson Foods. Monsanto bought DP&L. All represented at Rose.

You didn’t just work there, you made friends. That shows in the flow of favors then and since. You were invited onto Walmart’s board, you were helped by a Tyson executive to make commodity trades (3 days before Bill became governor), netting you $100,000, Jackson Stephens strongly backed Bill for Governor, and then for President (donating $100,000).

Food and friends, in Clinton terms:

Bill’s appointed friend Mike Espy, Secretary of Agriculture, who immediately significantly weakened federal chicken waste and contamination standards, opening the door to major expansion of Tyson’s chicken factory farms. Espy resigned, indicted for accepting bribes, illegal contributions, money laundering, illegal dispersal of USDA subsidies, …. Tyson Foods was the largest corporate offender.

But what Bill did for Monsanto “genetic engineering” goes beyond inadequate concepts of giving corporate friends influence: He unleashed genetic engineering into the world. And then he helped close off people’s escape from it.

Genetic engineering is many orders of magnitude different from “normal” (even polluting) business in its potential biologic ramifications. The warning myth of Pandora’a Box – letting irretrievable things rush out into nature – has become real. The harrowing change to the world from nuclear fission and fusion is the closest parallel.

What did Bill do?

1. Bill’s put Monsanto people in at the FDA, as US Agricultural Trade Representatives, on International Biotechnology Consultive Forums, and more … (http://www.commondreams.org/headlines/72600-03.htm) or http://www.monitor.net/monitor/904b/monsantofda.html or
http://www.mindfully.org/GE/Revolving-Door.htm

2. Bill’s FDA gave Monsanto permission to market rBGH (a GE bovine growth hormone), the first genetically engineered product let loose on us (or did tomatoes with fish DNA get there first?).

3. Despite reports of bovine illness and death, Bill’s FDA did not recall it or put warnings on it. Even “a very angry, very vocal nationwide consumer base” had no impact.”

4. Bill’s FDA wouldn’t even label rBGH as “present” in milk.

5. When dairy farmers tried to label their own milk rBGH-free so the public could choose, Bill’s USDA threatened all dairies that their products could be confiscated from stores. Michael Taylor, USFDA Deputy Commissioner, was formerly Monsanto’s counsel.

6. How were consumers to protect their family, given Bill’s FDA enforced public blindness, except to buy only organic? But Bill’s FDA tried to close off that last escape, proposing to include in “organic” standards, “the dirty three” a : genetic engineering of plants and animals, use of irradiation in food processing and use of municipal sewage sludge as a fertilizer. (My emphasis.) The FDA backed down.

Had this gone through, Monsanto could have finally labeled rBGH milk … as “organic.” And animal waste from factory farms, a pollution nightmare for Tyson and others, could have been sold as fertilizer.

USDA head Dan Glickman: “This is probably the largest public response to an [Agriculture Department] rule in modern history.” In fact the response was 20 times greater than anything ever before proposed by the USDA.

Personally, I resent years of effort to protect my children and now grandchildren, from that crap.

Politically, Bill sided against small farmers and against the public’s right to know, and with Monsanto.

A snap shot of our food:

Oils: Sheep died in India after feeding on Bt cotton fields. We feed our children Bt cotton, as cottonseed oil in peanut butter and cookies.

Grains: 49% of US corn acreage was planted in Bt corn in 2007. A French study proved Monsanto’s GMO corn causes kidney and liver toxicity.

Soft drinks and candy have highly concentrated Bt corn, in the form of high fructose Bt corn syrup. The US food system depends most on two crops, soy (90% GMO, 90% of traits owned by Monsanto) and corn, the largest crop (60% GMO, nearly 100% Monsanto traits). “[E]ssentially our entire food supply is genetically modified, to the benefit of one company.” The Grocery Manufacturers of America in 2000 estimated that 70 percent of US food contains GM traits.

Meat: Steroids bulk up athletes. Monsanto steroids bulk up animals – more weight, more profit. We feed our children steroids in meats. Is this why our children are fattening, like Hansel and Gretel?

Poultry: Bill’s USDA weakened chicken waste and contamination standards and attempted to allow sewage sludge as fertilize crops. I will say more about disease from industrialized poultry farms waste, at the end of this letter.

Milk: Over 30 scientific publications have shown increased levels of IGF-1 in milk with rBGH increases risks of breast cancer by up to seven-fold, also increasing colon and prostate cancers risks. Canada, 29 European nations, Norway, Switzerland, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa ban U.S. rBGH dairy products. Bill’s USFDA put no restrictions, no warning labels (not allowing labels at all). (My emphasis.)

American children eat that food and drink that milk, Hillary. Coincidentally, American children are increasingly fat and sick.

Here, Bill ignored pleas for labeling. Abroad, Bill ignored intense international objections over the same issue – unlabeled US food exports – badly straining trading relations. Monsanto’s “good ole boy,” he betrayed American families at the deepest levels conceivable – their family’s health and their democratic right to know. He betrayed our rural life and American family farmers – backing corporation deceit and control, over honesty and clean farming.

But, Hillary, it is one thing to not label a regular ole food product to sell it, and quite another to sell a suspected-dangerous food product (rBGH), but Bill’s administration didn’t label (or stop) a well-known, terrifying threat – Mad Cow Disease.

Bill’s FDA’s August, 1997 regulation permitted “known TSE-positive [Transmissible spongiform encephalopathy] material to be used in pet food, pig, chicken and fish feed,” only requiring the label to read “Do not feed to cattle and other ruminants” in the US.

Monsanto added to the problem. “There is evidence that rbST use [Monsanto’s GE bovine growth hormone] reduces the useful lifespan of a dairy cow. … Given that the incubation period for BSE is at least three to five years and perhaps longer, rbST-treated cows could harbor “hidden” BSE. That is, they might be infected but still asymptomatic when sent to slaughter.” (My emphasis.) http://www.consumersunion.org/food/bgh-codex.htm

Bill let TSE into our entire food chain. And who owned the feed and slaughter and genetic engineering corporations which benefited?

Please, tell me, Hillary, what he could possibly have gotten in friendship or favors, that could ever justify his exposing millions of people to this?

With genetic engineering itself, Bill did something to the whole world, which tried to object. Words are inadequate to express how astoundingly immoral, beyond human bounds and conceit and power, that was.

“Even for the biggest “winners,” it is like winning at poker on the Titanic.” Jerry Mander: Facing the Rising Tide

He had no right.

Do you hear that?

Bill had sex from Monica Lewinsky. That’s “dinky immoral.” That’s chicken feed immoral – excuse the Tyson pun, excuse the TSE-laced pun. Bill let genetic engineering lose on NATURE itself.

“Our way of life is likely to be more fundamentally transformed in the next several decades than in the previous one thousand years…Tens of thousands of novel transgenic bacteria, viruses, plants and animals could be released into the Earth’s ecosystems…Some of those releases, however, could wreak havoc with the planet’s biospheres.” Jeremy Rifkin, Biotech Century

Bill did this to us, like it was some nothing and he, some big dumb ass Southern boy, just smiling and getting in good with the Big Boys, thinking about as much about the consequences of something this immense and about us human beings out here, as he thought about you, when he was unfaithful with Monica. Just one big fool getting off on the power and used to getting away with things.

Terminator genes, developed by DP&L, a Rose Firm client, prevent seeds from “working” after only one season. Farmers “must” repurchase (patents and suing not certain enough control, it seems). Those “killing” genes pose the apocalyptic risk of breaking out into nature. Natural seeds could fail, too. Nature could fail.

Far-fetched?

GMO fields are already contaminating normal species Berkeley Professor of Microbiology, Ignacio Chapela, wrote an open letter, warning the Mexican government about just this breaking out phenomenon happening in maize

And it has already happened with weeds – pesticide resistant GMO seeds break lose and weeds become pesticide-resistant Superweeds.

But Bill’s USDA spokesman, Willard Phelps said the USDA wanted the technology to be `widely licensed and made expeditiously available to many seed companies.’

“Genetic Engineering is often justified as a human technology, one that feeds more people with better food. Nothing could be further from the truth. With very few exceptions, the whole point of genetic engineering is to increase sales of chemicals and bio-engineered products to dependent farmers.” David Ehrenfield: Professor of Biology, Rutgers University

Hillary, one third of the world’s bee colonies have collapsed. Gone. Farmers in India are killing themselves. Farmers and bees. Since organic farmers in India are fine and organic farmers report no colony collapse, what does these farming catastrophes say about “industrial agriculture”?

Mad Cow Disease is another direct result of industrial agriculture. And now ……. transnational poultry factories are implicated as the source of bird flu. … Small scale poultry farms and wild birds seem not to be the problem [just as small farmers are not the issue in Mad Cow Disease], and yet “initiatives are multiplying to ban outdoor poultry, squeeze out small producers and restock farms with genetically modified chickens. … http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/feb2006/2006-02-27-01.asp

“Of the few outbreaks that did occur in [Laos], more than 90% broke out in commercial poultry operations, not free-ranging flocks.”

Monsanto (and others) is currently working with the USDA to force small farmers to tag every animal with a global tracking device (NAIS – National Animal Identification System). Allegedly related to food safety, Monsanto and others would be creating a vast corporate digital library on every move of small farmers’s livestock.

But small farmers do not create the contaminated environments, do not supply the feed, do not grind up diseased animals into feed (how Mad Cow began) and then sell it. In fact, their farming methods, free range and small scale, are significantly healthier and safer for animals and food than the massive concentration of animals by corporate industrial agriculture.

Monsanto is also aggressively pushing for state laws to limit farmers’ right to choose what to plant and the public’s right exclude GE plants from their communities.

Cattle bloated by steroids, lapse and loss of 10,000 year old normal seeds, immense pollution from factory farms, deadly-disease-ridden feed, world-wide bee colony collapse, poisoned soil and depleted water supplies, Superweeds, lawsuits against farmers, loss of family farms, and … India farmers killing themselves in what may be the largest mass suicide in recorded human history (on average … one farmers’ suicide every 30 minutes since 2002 – The Hindu 1.30.08) – that is industrial agriculture.

Monsanto and Tyson are two of the largest industrial agricultural corporations in the world. Industrial agriculture is represented by your Rose Law Firm.

Your claim to care about food safety is terrifying double-speak given what Bill did and who you take donations from. Your idea of a Department of Food Safety would centralize control of food – in whose corporate connected hands? You talk tough about labeling food – ah, but “foreign” food – a sleight of hand tricking a public desperate for safe US food. You talk about food safety but Bill degraded food in every imaginable way and prevented minimally sane labeling.

I am a person before I am a woman. Your gender means nothing. It is a media distraction. Your policies on health and food and women and children, are meaningless in the face of connections that have threatened those groups profoundly, connections you have never denounced.

Monsanto uses child labor in India, primarily very young girls, exposing them to a lethal pesticide 13-14 hours a day, for pennies in pay. But you take donations from their lobbyists. You say you care about black people but as the poorest people in this country, they are least able to buy organic and are forced to eat the contaminated foods Bill let into our food system. The National Black Farmers Association has a boycott out on all Monsanto products.

Do you eat organic?

So, who are you with, hapless black consumers and black farmers, or Monsanto? Mothers left to give their children rBGH milk, or Monsanto? Women exposed to 7 times greater risk of breast cancer, or Monsanto? Desperate farmers in India and young children forced into child labor in cottonseed factories there, or Monsanto? Animals suffering from lives in filthy cages and disgusting feedlots, shot up with steroids and hormones and antibiotics, or Monsanto? Our children who eat candy with high fructose Bt corn syrup associated with kidney and liver toxicity, or Monsanto? Edwards was right about your corporate connections. I just didn’t understand until I saw that PBS show and read about Monsanto, how personally affected my children and grandchildren, and all people around the world, have been.

I will not vote for you. I will vote for someone who will commit themselves to work on behalf of small farmers and real food and decent treatment of animals and to end this industrialized agricultural nightmare that is taking us off a cliff.

Linn Cohen-Cole
Atlanta

Disclaimer. I am not a scientist. I have read for months on this subject, and am including only a tiny portion of the horrifying things I have learned. I am expressing my opinion as a person and may be wrong. Perhaps things are swell out there and rBGH is fabulous and TSE-laced feed is great, and genetic engineering is the best thing since manna. But I am scared for my family and I have not only a right to say so but an obligation to do so. I am angry that Monsanto was allowed the influence it had and has done the things it definitely seems to have. I am disgusted by industrialization of every tender and beautiful part of our world and hope, for all our children’s sake, we are not too late to pull back.

from the archives:

Abby Martin: Monsanto, America’s Monster

Abby Martin and Jill Stein: This Is A Multi-Organ Failure

Monsanto and its Promoters vs. Freedom of Information by Ralph Nader

Monsanto, the TPP, and Global Food Dominance by Ellen Brown

Let Our Farmers Grow… Hemp by Ralph Nader

William Clinton & Monsanto – a Team for Mutual Profit

Monsanto’s Harvest of Fear

Bill Moyers Journal: Hunger in America + Exposé Farm Subsidies + Soup Kitchen

The World According to Monsanto – A documentary that Americans won’t ever see (full video)

GMO

Monsanto

28 responses to “Letter to Hillary about Monsanto connections (02.03.08)

  1. Pingback: Abby Martin: Monsanto, America’s Monster | Dandelion Salad

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  8. Peter, one of the major reasons that our “life expectancy is longer than it has ever been” is because reseachers have contantly raised questions about the safety of things that have previously been taken for granted, like the pollution you mention, the use of materials such as arsenic, lead and asbestos, the potential consequences of smoking and in the American presidential election year, let’s not forget Ralph Nader and auto safety! ;-) Nowadays, this would include the potential consequences of the use of Genetically Modified foodstuffs and other things.

    Incidentally Peter, did you know that the German chemical giant, Bayer, a company much like Monsanto once marketed their product ‘Heroin’ all over the world as a cough medicine for children? If everyone had the same atttude as yourself, who would have questioned this?

  9. “It is pretty well established that Rome fell because of lead poisoning in their pipes and cooking utensils.”

    No it isn’t, an many historian’s would say that it didn’t really ‘fall’ as such. It has been speculated that the use of lead may have been one small factor amongst many others in the general decline in the western half of the empire. At The time, the focus was very much on Flavius Zeno’s Eastern empire of Constantinople (now Istanbul). Romulus Augustulus, the last Emperor of the western empire in Rome was deposed by the Germanic Odoacer in a bloodless coup in 476, after much bloodshed with charmers such as Attila the Hun and other unsavory chaps. Flavius Zeno bestowed the title of Patrician and the administratior of the Italian provinces on Odoacer, and Romulus Augustulus entered a quiet retirement. Contantinople and the Eastern Byzantine empire continued until the 15th Century.

  10. It is surprising how many of the worlds great civilizations have bee destroyed by environmental disaster. It is pretty well established that Rome fell because of lead poisoning in their pipes and cooking utensils.
    What is so amusing is that many of the attributes that we were taught were “progressive” and proof of their civilizations “cultural superiority” were actually adaptations to the chronic pollution. Thus as we were taught in college history classes that the wholesale adoptions of children from the provinces was a sign of their acceptance of diversity, blah blah blah was really a result of all the upper classes being sterile, a common result of lead poisoning. Nero and all the other crazies that amuse us were exhibiting signs of classis lead poisoning. I remember my professor telling us that the fact that for the last several hundred years many of the rulers were from the provinces was also shown how “adaptable” the culture was to “new ideas.” The reality was this occured in Rome because the ruling elite became crazy, sterile and died off due to their industrila pollutants.
    If we cannot learn to look under the surface of our perceived realities, we risk the same fate as Rome.

  11. Peter Hanson

    We are told that the air we breathe is foul, and that the food we eat is full of poison. Yet our life expectancy is longer than it has ever been. Breathing and eating are two essentials needed for human life.
    Something wrong here. I’m all for Monsanto, and all the other big corporations which have helped create the great standard of living we enjoy in the USA.

  12. Pingback: Sustainable Development And The Vulnerable « Dandelion Salad

  13. Good article and fantastic research!! I think everyone needs to research any candidates running for office. You just may find something you’re not looking for!

  14. wordsseldomsaid

    oh my…thank you so much for this..this reallly puts a different light on things doesn’t it…

  15. Thank you for posting this. it is very scary. Hell, what can we do/?? I don’t even live in America, but we eat plenty of the same stuff here down under, Aussie land. i wish i could do something big, but I don’t see what.

  16. Pingback: William Clinton & Monsanto – a Team for Mutual Profit « Dandelion Salad

  17. Pingback: Activists demand Russia ban GM foods (video) « Dandelion Salad

  18. Thanks everyone for your comments.

  19. Pingback: Hillary Clinton at the Compassion Forum (videos) « Dandelion Salad

  20. Unbelievable and extremely frightening. Thank you so much for posting this.

  21. Thank you, I have been reading about the symptoms, and yes even the food and I am extreamely concerned. But now, there are some faces behind the facts, and have me wondering just who in the Hell to vote for.

    Bless you for your vast resouses and effort in this timely post.

    Peace
    Dona

  22. Pingback: The World According to Monsanto - A documentary that Americans won’t ever see (full video) « Dandelion Salad

  23. Thanks for your comments. I read this a couple of months ago and have no idea why I didn’t post it then. It happens. It is very well researched and written and the info is still very relevant.

  24. wonderfully elucidated, well written, and from what I’ve been hearing (and seeing) over the years, well documented…

  25. Pingback: Monsanto’s Harvest of Fear « Dandelion Salad

  26. Thank you for your extensive review of the incredible damage done by the Clinton administration’s support and protection for the pollution of our food by Monsanto and similar corporations.

    I am a 60 year old white feminist who wanted to elect a woman as president, but sadly found that I couldn’t support Hillary Clinton because she simply does not represent Democratic values.

    But I was not aware, until reading your article about the horrendous impact that the Clinton ties to big business have already had.

    Unleashing Monsanto’s GM seeds upon the world is the moral equivalent of dropping atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    Your report on the relationship between the Clintons and Monsanto needs the widest possible exposure. We must stop Monsanto and similar big businesses from buying and running our top governmental leaders. We must stop a Clinton nomination and make sure that Obama is committed to returning our regulatory agencies to the job of protecting our citizens, not poisoning them.

  27. This is an excellent article about the effects of genetically modified foods and the dangers our food supply is in – superweeds, terminator genes that could spread to all plants, modified foods that cause kidney and liver failure; what a scary picture it paints. It is little wonder that the Seed Vaults are necessary. I think somebody knows just how far things have deteriorated…..

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