I have several friends both in real life and on Facebook who are planning on voting third party this year. I'm sure we all do. They are hardcore liberals who are going to vote Green party because for many of them the difference between the two parties just isn't that much to cause them to vote for the "lesser of two evils" (their argument not mine). In most cases having spent months trying to convince them that there are more differences than they are aware of (or willing to admit) I have mostly given up, realizing I would accomplish as much simply beating my head against a wall. However this last week an excellent article came out that seems to have the potential to sway some of these hardcore far left voters at least in my case.
Mitt Romney, Monsanto Man talks about the strong connection between the rise of Monsanto and Mitt Romney's Bain career. Now I admit I haven't paid as much attention to the whole issue of food safety and how it impacts our environment as I probably should, but for many people this is one of the biggest issues of the election. The close relationship between Monsanto and the FDA serves as one more reminder of how our government is in the pockets of corporate America and is merely a different battle of the constant war between the little people and those who only desire is to stuff as much money into their pockets as they can as fast as possible. A different branch of the tree that brought us the financial meltdown but equally important. Thus the points made in this article could serve as a persuasive argument for those who are planning to vote Green Party this fall to change their vote to Obama.
In addition, if you like me haven't paid much attention to this issue, this article is a great primer on many of the issues with regards to food safety and how products created by Monsanto have caused or are suspected to have caused both environmental issues and health issues and how they have been on the forefront of so many changes to the food we eat.
The first part of the article talks about how Mitt Romney's ties to Monsanto go back to the very beginning of his career with Bain. He first started working with Monsanto in 1977 and worked closely with them until he was "fired" in 1985. In 1977 Monsanto was dealing with the legal/financial fallout of the PCB ban Congress had enacted the previous year and it began working with Mitt (their go to guy at Bain) that caused Monsanto to shift its focus into areas that would draw less public scrutiny and outrage:
...Bain was certainly “aware” of the “PCB and dioxin scandals” because they created “a negative public perception that was costing the company money.” So Bain recommended focusing “on the businesses that didn’t have those perceptions,” Beaver recalls, starting with “life science products that were biologically based,” including genetically engineered crops, as well as Roundup, the hugely profitable weed-killer. “These were the products that Bain gave their go-ahead to,” Beaver contends, noting that Romney was a key player, “reviewing the data collected by other people and developing alternatives,” talking mostly to “the higher muckety-mucks.”
Skipping forward to the present day, Monsanto is under increasing scrutiny as their business practices have been brought to light. For example, their contracts forcing farmers to buy new seeds each year instead of using seeds they collect is drawing public backlash. In addition their first major biotech product - Bovine Growth Hormone - was pulled off the market and sold at a substantial loss after it led to deformed cattle and possible health issues in humans. More recently their genetically modified plants have been outright banned in many countries and their prime weed killer, Roundup is being linked to cancer and birth defects
And of course the company was turned in this direction when Mitt as the leader of the Monsanto team at Bain was helping shape Monsanto's strategic decisions:
The critical shift to “life sciences” started in 1979, when Monsanto installed a University of California biologist, Howard Schneiderman, as its research director and began investing hundreds of millions a year in biotech hormones and seeds. Monsanto’s website reports that by 1981—when Bain was intimately involved in determining the company’s strategic direction—biotech was “firmly established as Monsanto’s strategic research focus.”
In fact it was Bain and Romney that pushed Monsanto that direction:
(one of Bain's founders, Patrick) Graham, who claims credit for recruiting Romney to Bain, described him as “an important guy in delivering the work” at Monsanto, saying he “cut his teeth” at the company. Graham also laid out how he and the Bain team worked with Monsanto: “We worked on the seed business, the herbicide business, some of the basic chemical businesses. We’re kind of the right-hand man. We present to the board of directors. We’re friends and partners. We understood it down to its roots.” Bain’s brass, recalled Graham, would meet “Hanley and his five top people every time we went to St. Louis,” which he said was as often as “two to three times a week.”
The most important contribution Bain made to Monsanto... was concluding that “the biggest opportunity” was to bring “an entirely new value product,” namely biotech and herbicides, “to the whole farming industry in America, soybeans and stuff.” Graham exalts in what Bain did—saying it “completely changed the economics of farming in America” and made Monsanto “the biggest agricultural business in the world.”
Of course all of that was then. Now, Mitt's running for President (for Pete's sake) and that means it's time to pack his agricultural adviser committee with Monsanto people. For more on that click below the squiggle...
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