While comfortably ensconsced in your lounger, watching HDTV and snacking on popcorn, you may not be particularly excited about hearing that Monsanto Corporation is after the world's seeds, of which it now controls about 30%. Even if those seeds include popcorn. Even if they nearly control 90% of American seeds, and take the position of God-to-be in their all-powerful, all-knowing takeover of world Agriculture, demanding capitulation, adulation, remuneration from every man, woman and child who works the land.
The question on everyone's mind is simply, "What does that have to do with the economy? Will that raise my taxes?" Or maybe "Will that hurt my candidate's chances?"
Nobody seems to feel that a corporate giant is now standing in their living room, dictating what they will or will not eat, how much they will pay, and how they will feel tomorrow. And you can't see them or talk to them. They don't really need you. They need your acquiescence. Simply by doing nothing in the comfort of your home, being as conventional as humanly possibly, by not asking questions or talking about anything other than celebrinews, you are pleasing them, in their good graces. You are, in short, their kind of people.
First, you should read this article in Vanity Fair, if you haven't already, with a graphic description of how Monsanto plays God, Big Brother-style, as well as the sins of the Old Bad Monsanto, the Chemical Company that brought us the most poisonous chemicals in existence: PCBs and dioxin, and threw them carelessly around the world's environment for future generations of protoplasm to have more "interesting" genes, for those couch potatoes who are no longer entertained by humans with normal limbs and features and find health boring. Then,
Here's an article about a movie Americans will never see - or so we're told - entitled "The World According to Monsanto" by French filmmaker Marie-Monique Robin. And why should Americans see it? It could create that anathema of American security Comptrollers: panic! Oooh, don't tell them slugs the truth - they'll panic! Remember Orson Welles and The War of the Worlds radio show? Oh, don't tell me you're under 85? That pre-TV radio show and its impact on the population of the time is trotted out on every "UFOs: Real or Imagined?" show as the Ultimate Reason we, in 2008, should never be allowed to see anything controversial, such as Dan Rather's story on George Bush maybe evading the - gasp! - draft... Fire the guy! Schmirst Amendment, my ***! And so, too, Corporate Giants have to be protected. And especially their all-important omnipotence-giving Patents for which they have paid Untold Millions that Must Not Be Squandered by Peasants and other Lowlifes.
Meanwhile, if you want to know just how bleak our American future with Monsanto REALLY is, just look at India. Better yet, listen to Dr. Vandana Shiva:
"Recently I was visiting Bhatinda in Punjab because of an epidemic of
farmers' suicides. Punjab used to be the most prosperous agricultural region in
India. Today every farmer is in debt and despair. Vast stretches of land have
become waterlogged desert. And, as an old farmer pointed out, even the
trees have stopped bearing fruit because heavy use of pesticides has killed the pollinators - the bees and butterflies.
And Punjab is not alone in experiencing this ecological and social disaster. Last year I was in Warangal, Andhra Pradesh, where farmers have also been committing suicide. Farmers who traditionally grew pulses and millets and paddy have been lured by seed companies to buy hybrid cotton seeds referred to as "white gold", which were
supposed to make them millionaires. Instead they became paupers.
"Their native seeds have been displaced with new hybrids which cannot be
saved and need to be purchased every year at a high cost. Hybrids are also very
vulnerable to pest attacks. Spending on pesticides in Warangal has increased
2,000 per cent from $2.5 million in the 1980s to £50 million in 1997. Now farmers are consuming the same pesticides as a way of killing themselves so that they can escape permanently from unpayable debt. The corporations are now trying to introduce genetically engineered seed, which will further increase costs and ecological risks. "
Does that sound familiar? Not yet? Well, listen to America's beekeepers, who say bees are dying wholesale, and think again. Monsanto cares about nothing except making profits, and finding ways to dupe people into thinking it cares about something other than making profits.
But Monsanto does not operate in a vacuum: pro-corporation, conservative, pro-"market values" capitalist culture provides the breeding ground for companies like Monsanto that value nothing but their own bottom line, and feel morally justified in doing so.
Again, Dr. Vandana Shiva put it best:
It is often said that the roots of environmental destruction lie in
treating natural resources as 'free' and not giving them 'value'. Most
discussions in the dominant paradigm assume that monetary, commercial or market
value is the only way of measuring or valuing the environment. It is falsely
assumed that value can be reduced to price.
However, the market is not the only source of values, and monetary values are not the only ones. Spiritual values treat certain resources and ecosystems as sacred - there are also such social values as those associated with common property resources. In both cases, resources have no price - but a very high value. In fact, it is precisely because their value is high that these resources are not left to the market but are taken beyond the domain of monetary value so as to protect and conserve
The proposal to solve the ecological crisis by giving market values to all
resources is like offering the disease as the cure. The reduction of all value
to commercial value, and the removal of all spiritual, ecological, cultural and
social limits to exploitation - the shift that took place at the time of
industrialization - is central to the ecological crisis.
This shift is reflected in the change in the meaning of the term 'resource', which originally implied life.
With the advent of industrialism and colonialism, 'natural resources'
became the parts of nature required as inputs for industrial production and
... Nature, whose real nature it is to rise again, was transformed by this
originally Western world view into dead and manipulatable matter - its capacity
to renew and grow denied.
The market economy is only one of the world's economies - in addition,
there is nature's economy of life-support processes and people's economy in
which our sustenance is provided and our needs are met. Nature's economy is the
most basic, both in that it is the base of the people's and market economies,
and because it has the highest priority to, and claim on, natural resources.
However, development and economic growth treat the market economy as the primary one, and either neglect the others or treat them as marginal and secondary.
Capital accumulation does lead to financial growth, but it erodes
the natural resource base of all three economies. The result is a high
level of ecological instability. The anarchy of growth and the ideology of
development based on it are the prime reasons underlying the ecological crises
and destruction of natural resources.
The dominant model of environmental economics promoted by the World Bank
and major economic powers attempts further to reduce nature's economy and the
sustenance economy to the market economy. Preoccupation with 'getting the prices
right' can lead to a blindness to the fact that the market usually gets the
values of justice and sustainability wrong.
The marketization of common resources is based on myths. The first is
the equivalence of 'value' and 'price'. Resources - such as sacred
forests and rivers - often have very high value while having no price. The second is that common property resources tend to degrade.
Privatization is frequently prescribed for solving 'problems' caused by
overusing resources under open access and common property. But it is based on
the tradeability of private property, while commons are based on the
inalienability of shared rights derived from use. The assumption that
alienability is more conducive to conservation is derived from the false
association of price with value.
There is much more, and her views are well worth looking at. And if you want to be more than convenient-to-manipulate protoplasm, it would be worth your while to boycott Monsanto products and write to your Congresspeople or other politicians about what values people have and want to protect from giant Corporations who are about to destroy something you'd have a hard time living without: food. Oh, and planet Earth.