Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Federally Regulated Food for Thought, Part One

(By American Zen’s Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari.)

(Update: At the risk of looking like Glenn Greenwald and his constant updates, Mark Karlin, editor of Buzzflash.com tells me that S 510 passed the Senate late Sunday night, which is true, according to The Hill. All that remains is for it to pass the House and then get the president's signature.)

"If people let the government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of... those who live under tyranny.” – Thomas Jefferson

It’s a given throughout the reality-based community that if you want rock-hard, thoroughly-vetted news that you need to know, the worst place to get it from is the mainstream media. Going to a place like Fox “News”, ABC or the New York Times for actual news is a little like going to McDonald's or Burger King for a nourishing, well-balanced meal.

Therefore, it doesn’t strike this cynical scribe as very unusual to discover that the mainstream media dropped the ball on what has been called by some in the food community as "the most dangerous bill in the history of the US." It’s called S 510, which passed in the US Senate last Tuesday, November 30th of this year by a 73-25 vote.

As per Congress’ usual weakness for sarcasm in naming its bills (witness "The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005"), S 510 is officially known as the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act and throughout this winter, it’s been picked up by virtually every wingnut, conservative, conspiracy theorist and Tea Bagger site on the Web, starting with libertarian lunatic Alex Jones. However, this time there may be something to their dire warnings about eugenics through food control.

Among other things, S 510 would put all American food producers under the direct control of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense in the wake of or under threat of a terrorist event. What exactly would constitute such an event and what ultimate government regulation through armed forces would involve is anyone’s guess.

Amazingly, this bill was sponsored by Dick Durbin (D-IL) and originally co-sponsored by 21 other senators, most of them Democrats (including the late Ted Kennedy). It sailed through the upper chamber with the President’s full endorsement at the end of last month only to be “blue-slipped”, or rejected, by the House which then sent the bill back to the Senate for reworking. Even more amazingly, the only reason this bill didn’t pass in the House (it was opposed by every single Republican) was because Majority Leader Harry Reid rammed the bill through (with the help of lobbyists from over 200 different food producers) without first checking out Section 107. Section 107 of the bill violates the revenue raising clause in Article 1, section 7 of the Constitution that stipulates all such revenue generation start with the House of Representatives (Quote: “All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives.” I suppose the Senate could be forgiven this one time for misinterpreting that vague and archaic language.).

Despite this, President Obama, channeling George W. Bush, exhorted the House to meatball this legislation through so he could give full theoretical control of the nation’s entire food supply to the federal government. I quote the President:
I urge the House --- which has previously passed legislation demonstrating its strong commitment to making our food supply safer --- to act quickly on this critical bill, and I applaud the work that was done to ensure its broad bipartisan passage in the Senate.

Among the work that was applauded by our Constitutional law professor president was the fact that the Senate overstepped its bounds by violating one of the most clear-cut parts of the US Constitution.

Here’s where it gets stranger: Apparently, the only person standing between us and S 510 becoming law is Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), one of the most batshit insane members of Congress. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), one of the original 21 co-sponsors of S 510, backed away from it and the bill had also been opposed by outgoing Kansas Republican Senator Sam Brownback. But there’s nothing truly virtuous or heroic about their opposition. Their main objection to the bill, despite $801 billion in tax breaks they just gave the American elite, was that it would cost a mere $1.4 to $1.5 billion and they simply wanted to know how that relative pittance would be paid for.

Putting the “Harm” in “Harmonization”

There’s a great deal of daylight between S 510 and the UN’s notorious Codex Alimentarius, a food and drug program of standardization that was formed in 1962-3 at the end of the Kennedy administration. The Codex Alimentarius’ mission at first glance appears to be a benign one until one realizes where they get their funding and political clout. Whether the funders’ desire to protect international trade interests was a conspiracy or a gross negligence of its future potential abuse, the fact is the CAC gets the lion’s share of its financial support from some of the biggest pharmaceutical and agricultural companies in the world. And when you get funding from such entities, there’s no way in hell they’ll let you write policies that will seriously erode at their bottom line.

Officially speaking, compliance with the Codex Alimentarius is strictly nonbinding and voluntary even among its member nations. However, on many occasions in the past, the World Trade Organization has used the Codex as a legal basis for settling international trade disputes, which is a lot like the federal government taking its constitutional cues from the Federalist Papers.

Prominent among its goals and objectives is the push to label vitamins, minerals and herbs as drugs, which appears to be a win/win situation for these pharmaceutical companies. Number one, it squeezes out the smaller, independent makers of these products so they cannot afford the often expensive testing that would qualify such a product as an official drug, say, with the American FDA.

Secondly, once all the smaller competition has been pushed to the wayside, the ability to afford the expensive testing will result in a stranglehold on the vitamin, mineral and even herb market. In fact, there are places in Europe where it is illegal to sell herbs as a food and in at least two European countries, it’s illegal to possess or sell vitamin C in increments larger than 200 milligrams.

Then, once the market had been completely co-opted by the big pharmaceutical companies, the dosages and potency gets drastically cut and the prices get bloated. This includes all known vitamins and holistic remedies, including Echinacea golden seal that was formerly derided by Big Pharma as a poseur. Essentially, Big Pharma is acting like the only gin mill in town that's shamelessly watering down all its booze. (Note: For a more comprehensive overview of how closely the US government and the Codex Alimentarius is working together, read Rufina James’ article on the subject from 2001.)

The potential effect of such a stranglehold on the world’s food, mineral and vitamin supply is chilling. It’s been known by corporations for decades that whoever controls the food and water supply rules the world. We’ve already seen videos of health food stores being raided by police in even a laidback community as Venice, California. In this Youtube video, we see surveillance footage of Venice police officers raiding one such establishment, several with their guns drawn, over a few bottles of raw milk.

The ultimate goal of the Codex and its corporate sponsors is to eliminate smaller, weaker competition under the guise of capitalistic competitiveness, to either wipe out their products for their corporate lines or co-opt it and sell back to the public at prices they can then set. Another goal is to eliminate lists of ingredients for genetically modified food so that we’re deliberately kept in the dark as to what we’re putting into our bodies. And this trend is in pretty strong harmony with S 510 and what we’re seeing with Monsanto and their ongoing jihad against truth in advertizing at the expense of human health on a global scale.

In part two, I’ll go into what effect the Codex Alimentarius, corporations like Monsanto and the Federal government have had on the world’s food supply.

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