By: Halley Crane
The biggest reason why the food movement is having trouble progressing in America is due to the fact that the big corporations are now bigger than the government. This convoluted system has greatly contributed to food injustice, worker oppression, and unhealthy production processes that go against the American promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We’ve created a perverse system in which food is cheap at fast food restaurants because they employ cheap labor, sell products that are heavily subsidized by the government, and sell them to consumers whose minimum wages have been kept low. The biggest issue in the food movement today is the use of genetically modified organisms in food products. GMOs are unnatural and unhealthy for both humans and the environment. Food justice advocates fight for better regulation of these unnatural substances. However, the politics of food are tied up an iron triangle being managed by wealthy food corporations.
Monsanto is the leader in the production of GMO enhanced seed and pesticides that make the food in America so toxic. Monsanto was the first company to apply the biotechnology industry business to agriculture. Monsanto’s monopoly power has huge influences in U.S. agricultural industry, political campaigns, regulatory processes and the structure of agriculture systems globally. Monsanto spent million of dollars to fight GMO labeling. In 2009, in the United States alone, around 93% of soybeans and 80% of corn were grown with seeds containing Monsanto-patented genetics.
With the right combination of government backing, corporate science, and heavily-funded corporate public relation schemes, Monsanto paved the way for the release of genetically engineered food into the nation’s food supply.
Since the corporation has a number of board members who also hold positions in the government, Monsanto has been able to produce toxic chemicals in food without any regulation by the government.
The revolving door between agribusiness and government has resulted in a large number of interlocks who serve on both the boards of big food companies as well as holding political positions.
Eight lawmakers own stock in Monsanto, including Senator Kay Hagen, and Representatives Dave Camp (R-Mich), Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass), Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), Michael McCaul (R-Texas), Jim Renacci (R-Ohio), Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and Fred Upton (R-Mich.) (Occupy Monsanto). Monsanto supported the Republican party with millions in incentives, and has spent the most of any company on lobbying in the industry since 2008. Since so many of these officials have such close ties to Monsanto, they create policies that protect the unhealthy practices of the company.
If the iron triangle is continuously being monitored by big corporations, democracy cannot survive. The heads of junk food companies are not voted upon by the general public, but they still have as much, if not more influence in policy making than the elected officials. Democracy cannot exist in a government ruled by corporations. There needs to be a more distinct separation between the two, or else the entire government will crumble. If the overlap between corporations and government continues, the food justice movement will never be able to make any real progress in changing food politics and eliminating GMOs.
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