Monsanto Hates Democracy

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Common Dreams

Monsanto Hates Democracy

Monsanto hates democracy because democracy doesn't work for Monsanto.

The following is a speech delivered Aug. 2, 2013 at the Justice Begins with Seeds Conference in Seattle, Washington:

Nine out of 10 of us want to know where Monsanto's been hiding the GMOs in our food and a most of us wouldn't eat those GMOs if we knew where they were.

If everything in this country were decided democratically, most of the food we eat would be non-GMO and Monsanto would be driven out of business.

We don't have a problem convincing people we're right, we have a problem with our democracy when we can't get the politicians to pass the laws that the majority of us want.

But no government, no matter how corrupted by corporate money, will be able to stop us when we get the nine out of 10 people who agree with us to take action with us. And that's what's starting to happen.

Monsanto knows that democracy doesn't work for them, so they're not taking any chances with it. They'll fight us at the local and state level when they have to, but when they get a chance, they're going to take us to a place far away from the voters where it's hard to hear their voices and where money talks very loudly: Congress.

This is what they did when the Center for Food Safety's lawsuits started having an effect. Monsanto got their main man in Congress, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), to slip the Monsanto Protection Act into a spending bill that Congress had to pass to avoid a government shut-down. It was stuck in the bill at the last minute and it didn't get a vote, but it became law.

We're seeing the same thing now with the King Amendment. Republican Congressman Steve King from Iowa got the House to include an amendment to the Farm Bill that says no state can put any condition on the manufacture or production of any agricultural product in interstate commerce. The debate on the King Amendment in Congress has focused on Prop 2, a ballot initiative passed by the voters of California that says farm animals should have enough room to spread their limbs and turn around. That's why we're calling it the Animal Cruelty Protection Act, but I was told by Hill staffers that Rep. King actually came up with this idea because of state laws regulating ethanol. The law is so broadly written that it could apply to anything, animal welfare laws, ethanol regulations, and certainly the laws we're passing to regulate GMOs.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association also hates democracy. They're working with Monsanto to fight Washington state’s ballot initiative to label GMOs, I-522, but we know from news reporting that they're also in DC, trying to take care of the democracy problem they're having, with states starting to pass laws to label GMOs. They probably like what they see in the King Amendment, but the Farm Bill might not pass, so they're working behind the scenes now to see what can be done in September when Congress is back scrambling to avoid a government shut-down again before their current spending bill expires on September 30.

What's amazing is that Congress, as corrupted as it is by corporate money, is way too democratic for Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association. They'll fight us in Congress when the have to, but they'd rather be somewhere we can't get to, where voters are obsolete, where the corporations have full and exclusive access, where everything is kept secret from the public: international trade negotiations.

The Obama Administration is currently negotiating two huge new trade deals, one with Europe and one with countries around the Pacific, including Japan and Peru. The US position is that bans on GMOs, but also pre-market safety testing and labels, are barriers to trade. The person who's negotiating this for Obama is Islam Siddiqui who used to be the Vice President and Chief Lobbyist for CropLife America—that's Monsanto, Dupont, Dow, Syngenta, Bayer and BASF.

This is the same group that sent a letter of protest to Michelle Obama when she planted her pesticide-free and GMO-free organic garden. Siddiqui is a political operator. He got is job with the Obama administration after fundraising for the president's political campaigns. Before working as a lobbyist for Monsanto and the rest, he worked for Clinton trying to get GMOs, sewage sludge and irradiation into material labeled "organic".

Our movement stopped Siddiqui then and we can stop Siddiqui now.

We can stop the Monsanto Protection Act and the Animal Cruelty Protection Act.

We can stop Congress’s attempts to take away states' rights to regulate food and farming. We can stop Sen. Roy Blunt, Rep. Steve King, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, Monsanto, Dow, Dupont, Syngenta, Bayer and BASF.

We can do it by getting the 9 out of 10 people who agree with us to take action with us and by moving the fight away from Congress and international trade deals where corporate money is louder than the voters and get back to the state and local level where democracy can work for us.

GMO Free San Juan made democracy work last year.

We’re going to see democracy work here in Washington in November when we pass I-522.

We’re going see democracy work in Oregon when GMO Free Jackson County passes its ballot initiative in May 2014.

Alexis Baden-Mayer

Alexis Baden-Mayer is political director of the Organic Consumers Association.

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