The darling of the Democratic Party, Hillary Rodham Clinton, says she supports genetically modified food, making her no different from most other American politicians from both major political parties.
In a recent speech before the world’s largest biotechnology meeting in San Diego, Clinton — who commands speaking fees of about $225,000 per speech — was enthusiastic in her support for the use of GMOs in farming and agriculture in general. She also spoke positively of using taxpayer-funded federal financial subsidies as payoffs to American companies, to keep them from relocating outside the United States.
According to the Guardian Liberty Voice:
She also declared her desire to get industry representatives around a table to have an “intensive discussion” about “how the federal government could help biotechs with insurance against [financial] risk.”
That’s code for getting taxpayers to foot the bill for any bad investments biotech companies would make, just like the TARP bailout and the bailout of American car manufacturers.
Anti-GMO forces have their work cut out for them, with potential presidential contenders vowing support for the biotechs who make them and for the growth of the industry overall; last year, the industry grew globally by 11 percent, raking in revenues of $262 billion.
‘Let’s change the language so we can fool the people
Clinton paid lip service to what she termed the “Frankensteinish” characterizations of GMOs by those opposed to them by not attempting to argue against the many warnings that anti-GMO advocates have issued. Rather, she hinted that negative perceptions of genetically modified foods and agriculture could be addressed with more government and industry propaganda, as reported by GuardianLV:
[S]he suggested that the negative perceptions of GMO agriculture could be fought if a more positive spin were promoted. Clinton suggested to the thousands of industry people in the room that “‘drought resistant’ sounds like something you’d want” instead of “genetically modified.”
Always the politician, Clinton was in essence suggesting that the GMO biotech industry borrow a page from scientific pushers of globalcooling/globalwarming/climatechange and just change the language of the debate, in an effort to fool people.
Clinton went on to say that she supports “[GMO] seeds and products that have a proven track record.” In particular, she acknowledged the type of drought-resistant seeds that she touted during her tenure as U.S. Secretary of State. During her speech, which took place at the San Diego Convention Center, some Americans who know the truth about GMOs’ “track record” protested outside; they noted that at least 26 countries have banned GMOs from their agricultural production and food marketplaces.
GuardianLV summarized the main complaints of GMO critics:
Critics point to a number of issues against the use of GMOs in agriculture, starting with the warning that genetic engineering interrupts a food plant’s genetic code, thus possibly creating toxins, allergenic agents or altering the nutritional value of the food produced. Another warning is that pollens from GMO plants are inevitably released into the atmosphere, thus pollinating non-GMO plants and forever altering the latter’s more pristine genetic codes.
Stumping for campaign cash?
The news site also cited critics’ concerns that GMOs actually kill other organisms; for instance, the report said, corn that has been genetically modified to manufacture its own Bt toxin insecticide has been found to be responsible for destroying monarch butterfly larvae. And there have been similar effects on other animal and plant species.
But there is more to the argument than this. Mega-biotech and agricultural corporations like Monsanto have obtained a near-monopoly on seed production and farming in general, as evidenced by the worldwide decline of small, community-oriented farms. Power is becoming more centrally located in just a few corporations which own patents for seeds; that in turn dictates terms to any farmer using them and makes farmers dependent on a predatory, corporate-run system. Critics of this arrangement have noted that it has gotten so bad that there is an epidemic of farmers in India committing suicide (270,000 between 1995 and 2012, the GuardianLV reports) because of the deepening cycle of debt from having to buy GMO seeds and chemicals that keep rising in price.
If you were wondering whether Hillary Clinton was going to run for president, this speech and her stance on GMOs should have solved that question for you; she was obviously stumping for the biotech lobby’s campaign cash.
But Clinton was not the only Democratic politician trumpeting GMO crops. Following Clinton’s speech, California Gov. Jerry Brown, whose state is suffering its worst drought in decades, told the crowd that it was his wish to see his state as being friendly to the biotech industry, saying, as reported by GuardianLV, “I’m holding the line (on taxes and regulations).”