Jim Hightower

Land of Milk and Honey

Got milk? The slogan has taken on new meaning as biotech profiteers mess not only with the very nature of milk, but also with our minds.

As consumers increasingly demand milk that’s organic, hormone-free, antibiotic-free, and derived from cows that are treated humanely, bioengineering industrialists are attempting to fill our glasses and cereal bowls with milk from cloned cows. And they want to label the cloned stuff as “organic milk!” Excuse me, but “organic clone” is an Orwellian, oxymoronic, tortuous perversion of both nature and language.

Yet the agribusiness toadies at the U.S. Department of Agriculture are actually thinking of allowing this labeling fraud. A USDA advisory panel is reviewing the definition of “organic” to determine if cloned milk fits.

The answer would seem obvious. The agency’s definition states that no genetically engineered food can use the label. It’s hard to think of an animal that’s more engineered than a cow conceived in a laboratory dish. The very essence of “organic” is that it is a product born of nature, not manufactured by humans.

The good news is that several purveyors of organic milk products—including Organic Valley, Ben & Jerry’s, Land O’Lakes, and Horizon—say they won’t use milk from cloned animals, citing the obvious fact that consumers don’t want it. When consumers learn there have been very few safety studies on consumption of cloned food, they’ll want it even less.

Cloned animals suffer major levels of genetic abnormalities, so they should not be put into our food supply at all, much less be branded “organic.”

WHAT LIES BENEATH

A bumper sticker about the Iraq war asks: “What’s our oil doing under their sand?” The Bushites hotly deny that their disastrous war is about grabbing the world’s second-largest oil reserve. “It has nothing to do with oil, literally nothing to do with oil,” barked Donnie Rumsfeld!

Could that be yet another of their lies? Yes!

A cabal of kleptocrats—including the Bushites, the Iraqi cabinet, and the major oil corporations—have drafted an oil law for Iraq requiring the country to open its fields to control by Western corporations. This was kept secret from both the Iraqi and American peoples, but the draft has been submitted to the Iraqi parliament for approval, so details of the thievery have leaked out.

The law would transform Iraq’s huge oil reserves from a nationally owned resource to a privatization model, opening two-thirds of the known oil fields to foreign control.

Instead of leaving major decisions over oil to parliament, an unelected authority called the Federal Oil and Gas Council would take charge. And guess who would have seats on this council? The major oil corporations!

This autocratic group would then decide who gets the contracts to extract the nation’s oil. Yes, that means Big Oil would be approving its own bids. Also, the corporations would not have to hire Iraqis, reinvest profits in Iraq, or share new technologies. Foreign interests would even be allowed to divvy up the territory now, hold their pieces of the action until the civil war settles down, then move in to grab profits.

This scheme is nothing but a license for Big Oil to plunder a nation and its people. So much for Bush & Co.’s rhetoric about “bringing democracy to Iraq.” They’re using our troops to give away Iraq’s oil … and its sovereignty.

SPREADING FRANKENSEEDS

Our federal regulatory agencies—designed to protect consumers, workers, and the environment from corporate profiteers—have become brothels on wheels, going to any length to accommodate profiteers.

One of the rolling accommodators is the Department of Agriculture, which has been especially servile to Monsanto Co. and other biotech giants involved in messing with the very DNA of our foods and feed crops. Monsanto makes a weed killer called Roundup, which in addition to killing weeds also tends to kill the crops farmers are trying to protect.

Take alfalfa. Monsanto’s white-smock lab techs have genetically altered alfalfa seeds to produce plants that—guess what?—absorb heavy doses of Roundup without dying. This means more sales of Monsanto’s herbicide, and a new market for its “Roundup Ready” alfalfa seeds. Our ag department gave this Frankenseed its blessing two years ago without even doing an environmental impact assessment! The agency simply assumed that the environmental and economic impacts were not significant, essentially taking the word of the profiteer, Monsanto.

A watchdog group called the Center for Food Safety sued USDA for ignoring its regulatory responsibility, and a federal judge has agreed. He said USDA was “cavalier” in its quick OK, that it had not adequately considered the fact that altered seeds would contaminate organic alfalfa fields, and that the increased use of the herbicide would create superweeds. In a telling comment, the judge wrote: “One would expect that some federal agency is considering whether there is some risk to [genetically] engineering all of America’s crops …”

Yeah, one would expect. But our government has become an accommodator, not a regulator.

For more information on Jim Hightower’s work—and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown—visit www.jimhightower.com.

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Published at 12:00 am CST
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