Take Monsanto, for Example

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is not just a trade deal, nor is it “NAFTA on steroids”.  The TPP is a corporate hijacking of our material world.  The TPP corrupts...
Monsanto
Pic by Mike Mozart via flickr

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is not just a trade deal, nor is it “NAFTA on steroids”.  The TPP is a corporate hijacking of our material world.  The TPP corrupts American democracy while installing corporations as the rulers of the United States. Here’s how.

The TPP employees Investor-State Dispute Settlement Tribunals(ISDS) to adjudicate all legal complaints. Three highly-paid corporate lawyers rotate between acting as counsel for the corporations one day and sitting in judgement of them the next.  ISDS courts can force municipalities to change laws protecting human rights, workers’ rights or the environment, if these laws threaten potential, future profits, by levying suits amounting to millions or even billions of dollars against these governments, unless they change their laws to fit the needs of the suing corporation.  We have already seen this with the X-L Pipeline case.  Under NAFTA, Trans-Canada is using ISDS courts to sue the US for $15 billion; $3 billion for costs and $12 billion for lost, potential profits.

Another way the TPP corrupts democracy is through the TPP Commission. This body of unelected, international bureaucrats is mandated to periodically review and if need be, adjust the TPP to fit corporate needs after the treaty has been signed. This commission makes its own rules without input from Congress and is not bound by the US Constitution.

The TPP requires all signatory countries to adjust their national laws to fit this treaty. This is called regulatory harmonization or regulatory coherence.  Under this provision, the will of citizens is subservient to the desires of corporations

These three provisions consolidate corporate power, enhance corporate privileges and dissolve democracy. Corporations are made up of people.  So what kinds of people make up these corporations? Psychopaths.

Corporations, as shown in the documentary The Corporation, are definitively psychopathic. Corporate behaviors display: callous disregard for the feelings of others, an incapacity to maintain enduring relationships, reckless disregard for the safety of others, deceitfulness, an incapacity to experience guilt and failure to conform to social norms in regards to lawful behavior.  If the TPP passes, it will turn over the running of our world to known psychopaths. No corporation better typified this than Monsanto.

Monsanto began in 1901.  Its first product was saccharin, made from toluene and petroleum. In 1977, the FDA moved to ban the use of saccharin in prepared foods after testing showed that it could cause bladder cancer. Congress rejected the FDA’s request and instead agreed that manufacturers would provide health warnings on their packaging.   In the 1920’s, Monsanto began producing pesticides and herbicides, including what came to be known of as Agent Orange. Agent Orange is a defoliant made from 2,4-D and 2,4,-T.  It was used extensively in Vietnam by US armed forces during the Vietnam War.  The Vietnam Veterans of America lists at least fifty illnesses and disease and nearly twenty separate birth defects connected to exposure to Agent Orange.  Agent Orange is the gift that keeps on giving, as to this day, children in Vietnam are born with ghastly birth defects and nervous disorders.  During the 1930’s, Monsanto began manufacturing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). PCBs are so toxic that they were banned in the US during the 1970s but still pollute today. PCBs are carcinogenic.  They accumulate in plants and animals and compound as they travel up the food chain towards us.  From 1960 – 2000, Monsanto began acquiring dozens of seed and agricultural companies.

In 1976, Roundup, a glyphosate-based herbicide, was approved for use on certain crops.  Glyphosate is a confirmed endocrine disrupter that causes birth defects, miscarriages, infertility and sterility. The World Health Organization has ruled it a probable carcinogen.  By 1982, Monsanto scientists had genetically modified a plant cell. In 1985, Monsanto began producing aspartame for their new subsidiary, the NutraSweet Company. Aspartame, a GMO derivative, is linked to disorders ranging from seizures to tumors. In 1993, rBGH growth hormones were approved of by a former Monsanto employee working for the FDA.  rBGH causes health problems in cows that must be treated with antibiotics. This contributes to the development of drug-resistant bacteria that can sicken humans. In 2008, Monsanto sold its rBGH product to Eli Lilly.

It was in 1996, that GMO Roundup Ready soybeans, canola and cotton were introduced to US markets. Two years later, Roundup Ready corn joined them.

Roundup Ready seeds are immune to the effects of Roundup. Over 80% of all GMOs are designed to be Roundup Ready.  Farmers use Roundup to kill everything that isn’t Roundup Ready. Naturally, weeds and pests evolve to resist Roundup and the farmers need to use more herbicides and pesticides to achieve the same results. For Monsanto’s bottom line, this is a double win.

Genetically engineered Bt cotton seed was introduced to farmers in India in 2002. By 2010, 87% of all Indian cotton was grown from this hybrid. Being a hybrid, it was sterile, so farmers had to buy seeds every year. This water-hungry cotton was developed to resist bollworms. Those bollworms who were immune to the pesticide survived and propagated, so farmers had to use more pesticides to defeat them. Then the price of the seed skyrocketed by 8000%. Farmers had to pledge future crops, backed by their land deeds, as collateral so they could borrow money for seeds.  When they couldn’t pay their debt, many of them went out into their fields, drank Monsanto’s pesticide and died. By 2009, 17,638 Indian farmers had committed suicide this way. In 20112, the state of Maharashtra banned Monsanto’s Bt cotton seed.

In September 2014, Enlist Duo seeds were approved by the FDA. These seeds combine 2,4-D with glyphosate, and are expected to increase the use of pesticides and herbicides by up to 600% as insects and weeds evolve to survive this deadly duo.

These psychopathic behaviors are driven by the profit motive. Monsanto is merely an example of this corporate culture.  Most major corporations aren’t much different.  All of them are free market fundamentalists.  We can expect more of these psychopathic behaviors if the TPP passes Congress. We must work to stop the TPP. Contact your member of Congress and voice your opposition while there is still time. Many members of Congress are against the TPP. We have the wind at our back. Our democracy, our lives and the lives of our children are at stake. Act now.

Additional Sources: the Corporation © 2005, T.U.C. radio 10/8/15, Vandana Shiva speaking at the Willits Grange 9/7/15, Trash the TPP’s cheat sheet.

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Op-Ed

Rebel Fagin is a writer who has been politically active in Sonoma County since the 1970’s. He writes regularly for the Sonoma County Peace Press and the Global Critical Media Literacy Project (gcml.org). He has a book documenting nearly forty years of street activism in Sonoma County called Tales from the Perpetual Oppositional Culture – a Journey into Resistance. He lives in Santa Rosa, California and is active with many activists’ organizations.

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