Apparently Senate Democrats have followed through on their promise to eject the Monsanto Protection Act from the spending bill. The reason they promised in the first place was: 1. Their original support for this rider provoked a mass outpouring of anger, and they were now afraid of the political consequences of persisting in this particularly brazen policy. 2. It was a rider inserted by House Republicans, so it could be put into the category of the standard partisan struggle as depicted by the corporate media. From this point of view, sacrificing a minor pro-Monsanto provision was a price worth paying, in order to score partisan points.
I’ve never been able to muster the outrage many feel over the Monsanto rider. Nor do I feel elation at its removal. Sure, getting rid of it is good and all, but the fact is that the Monsanto Protection Act was not some atypical monstrosity, bizarrely inserted into otherwise legitimate legislative policy. On the contrary, the US government has to a significant extent structured itself around its aggressive promotion of GMOs. Agriculture policy is synonymous with Big Ag policy, and Big Ag in turn is completely dominated by the Monsanto imperative. Trade policy’s primary goal is to force GMOs upon Europe and Africa. As Wikileaks revealed, the State Department sees GMO propagation as a primary imperative for diplomacy. The primary driver of the Patent Office’s neoliberal intellectual property regime has been the hyper-aggressive ideology of the GMO cartel, ever since chemical companies started reinventing themselves as seed companies in the late 70s. The Justice Department stands ready as publicly-paid thug supporting this IP aggression. (We’ve also seen what the final word is from “the courts” on this. Go Monsanto, 9-0.)
These are just a few of the ways in which US policy = Monsanto policy.
When we look at it that way, we see how insufficient it is to start and finish our interest and emotion with a relatively trivial thing like the Monsanto Protection Act.
But that’s what the corporate media and liberal NGOs want us to do, because their job is to keep analysis and activism of all sorts within the system-approved range, and especially within such a range as to be able to shill for the Democrat Party, which in fact is nothing but one half of a single corporatist party, one half of a one party system.
This is also why Senate Democrats flip-flopped on the Monsanto rider after supporting it last spring. As anti-GMO feeling continues to build and surge, more and more “compromises” that the system used to reject will become acceptable to various coalitions within the system. Yesterday I predicted that we’ll soon see “co-existence” redux, centering on a central government labeling policy, which will actually be a sham whose only real teeth will be in its pre-emption of state-level labeling policy.
The high-profile corporate-media-friendly and NGO-friendly squabble over the Monsanto rider is another example.
(Just to be clear, Democrats are just as gung ho for Monsanto as Republicans are. Obama is the most aggressively pro-GMO president yet, and of course it was Bill Clinton who rolled out the red carpet in the first place, and provided aggressive support with pro-Monsanto offensives like NAFTA.)
Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad the thing’s gone. The USDA has also come under such bottom-up citizen pressure that it has demonstrated a partial slowdown of its GMO approval pipeline, in particular its procrastination over approving Dow’s Agent Orange maize. The Monsanto Protection Act was meant in part to be an encouragement and goad to the USDA.
But I also wonder if it’s not better for the movement that such high-profile provocations remain in place. One good effect of the mainstreaming of GMO issues, even if it occurs in the form of depicting it in typical media terms, as a partisan squabble, is that it attracts the interest of more and more people, and does so in a way that can make them receptive to anti-GMO ideas.
Therefore, the task here is the same as with labeling and with any similar mainstreaming. The abolition movement must support doing what’s right in every particular case, but at the same time take every opportunity to expand the conversation and publicize the bigger truths. These are:
1. The structural analysis of GMOs and their critical position for corporatism.
2. The need to totally abolish them, for health, environmental, socioeconomic, political, and animal welfare reasons.