It’s a typical dynamic of corporatism. Corporate aggression and government nanny-statism work hand in glove.
In this case it’s the FDA’s proposed ban on trans fats. Trans fats are an artificially generated problem of corporate food and of the industrial soybean project in particular.
Soybeans, like corn, are the subjects of a US government planned economy based on maximizing production without regard to any actual demand, and then forcing the overproduction into the marketplace by any means possible. Thus processed food was reinvented to buy up as much soy as possible.
But soybean oil doesn’t work very well for industrial food. It quickly turns rancid. In order to give it a tenable shelf life, it has to be hydrogenated. And this fills it with trans fats. The answer is to use other oils, not to hydrogenate this one. But that would hinder the corporate soy project. So the Tower of Babel must be built higher.
(Meanwhile there are health risks from the industrial soy diet in general. In Asian cuisine soy is eaten in a particular way – limited amounts, mostly as a condiment, with nutritionally complementary foods. But the way unfermented soy is crammed down the Western maw generates hormonal problems, thyroid problems, and may contribute to some cancers. The answer is to eat less soy period, and to eat it the way Asians do.)
On account of the trans fat problem, restaurants and manufacturers have switched on a large scale to other oils. This has indeed hindered the corporate soy project. In particular, shiny new Monsanto and DuPont GMO varieties, allegedly engineered to produce a lower-rancidity fat, all USDA-approved and dressed up for the ball, are languishing with few customers and few plantings. Poor little dears. What shall become of them?
THIS is a job for the FDA! And for the NYT, never backward in shilling for Monsanto. According to the piece, Monsanto and DuPont have high hopes that an effective ban on partially hydrogenated oils (which the FDA proposal would achieve) would open up a big market opportunity to reclaim lost soybean oil share.
The goal: Build the Tower of Babel yet higher!
No legitimate profit opportunity? Get the government to construct a planned economy of soy productionism! No market for it? Get the food industry to massively use soy oil! Soy oil doesn’t work, because it turns rancid? Hydrogenate it! Hydrogenation makes the food so unhealthy that even the FDA has to acknowledge it? Replace the regular (Roundup Ready GMO) soy with specially gene-silenced RR soy!
And what to do about the even worse problems this will lead to? Never fear – when psychopathy combines with power, no problem can’t be transcended by making it even worse.
The piece is laden with standard corporate media lies: That this product would benefit consumers (replacing just one of the many poisons in a product with an even worse one is not a benefit); that existing GMOs benefit farmers (as the NYT hack knows, existing GMOs cost farmers more in input costs, and further indenture them economically); that GMOs were meant to help control weeds and insects (they were meant to escalate corporate profit, enclosure, control, power, domination; meanwhile the cartel knew that weed and insect control would quickly be subject to an ever-accelerating process of planned obsolescence as the RR and Bt-expressing crops dialectically generated superweeds and superbugs against themselves; this was part of Monsanto’s business plan); that the two new varieties were safety reviewed by the FDA (a “voluntary” review, no less!). As the NYT hack knows, the FDA doesn’t require any safety tests for ANY GMO. The voluntary process goes like this: Monsanto sends a letter to the FDA saying “this product is safe”. The FDA writes back saying “we understand that you say this product is safe”. That’s it. That’s the whole thing. Monsanto goes ahead and says the FDA signed off on the product’s safety, the FDA endorses this lie, and the corporate media starting with the NYT propagates the lie.
(There’s also an appearance by Michael Jacobson of the CSPI, which is rapidly becoming one of the most prominent of Monsanto front groups, and Jacobson himself one of the most vile shills.)
Meanwhile, the double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) genetic engineering process used in these soybeans presents special health hazards in addition to all the usual ones for which the federal government never requires safety testing. Not did it require testing in this case, in spite of the fact that this technology presents such health risks that even researchers within the USDA itself called for testing.
As the piece ruefully admits, this may be too little too late. Most restaurants and manufacturers have moved on to other oils. (Not that these are much better – GMO canola and palm oil, just as environmentally and socioeconomically ravaging as any GMO. The point is that corporate industrial agriculture and its food system as such is a poisonous, destructive, unhealthy system that produces toxic, expensive, poor-quality food.) Soybean oil has lost significant market share since 2005. An anonymous cadre from “one of the country’s largest food companies” said his company had already largely completed the switch to canola, “so I’m not sure why we would need to switch to these other products.”
But the soy-industrial complex is expressing optimism, and who knows what kind of government subsidies and other corporate welfare may be deployed to drive down the wholesale price of soybeans and soy oil so that it can regain that lost market share? The only thing we can be sure of is that the farmers themselves won’t see a cent of the “benefit” the corporate media trumpets.
Meanwhile, as usual there’s a perfectly good alternative within the soy complex itself. “Monsanto and Dow [sic; probably a typo for DuPont] could also face competition from a high-oleic soybean developed through conventional breeding, not genetic engineering, by researchers at the University of Missouri and the Agriculture Department.”
This kind of caveat can almost always be added to any media puff piece touting the latest greatest GMO. Indeed, the GM varieties have almost always merely pirated such conventionally bred varieties, merely injecting them with glyphosate tolerance so more poison can be sprayed upon them, rendering them toxic and nutritionally worthless.
So there you have it. This product merely builds upon an already tottering structure of failure and unhealthiness, and if you insist on continuing to build, lower cost and safer material exists.
But the US government is never interested in pushing the conventional alternative, since this isn’t profitable for its master Monsanto, it doesn’t contribute to the totalitarian enclosure of agriculture and food the way a proprietary GMO does, and it doesn’t contribute to the overarching corporatist role of GMOs in propping up corporatism as a whole.
Meanwhile the true alternative, for productive agriculture and healthy, delicious food, is decentralized agroecology.