Citing a “big gap between the facts and what the impressions are,” Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton gave a ringing endorsement to genetically-modified seeds at a conference of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) last week. She said, “’genetically modified’ sounds Frankensteinish,” which in her perception is the only reason 92% of all American consumers want such foods labeled as GMO. Her advice to the commercial food and agriculture industries: change your message. That’s right. Change your marketing, not your product.
Clinton said that “drought resistant sounds really like something you’d want.” She also suggested that current federal subsidies and preferential treatment under the tax code might not be sufficient. “I don’t want to see biotech companies or pharma companies moving out of our country simply because of some perceived tax disadvantage and potential tax advantage somewhere else,” Clinton said.
It’s common knowledge that for years Hillary Clinton has been in bed with biotech firms such as Monsanto. Both she and her husband have worked closely with public relations specialist Mark Penn, who has long counted Monsanto among his star clients. During her tenure as Secretary of State, Clinton used high-pressure tactics in attempts to force other countries to use GMO products. One of these tactics was to arrange a “biotech tour” for journalists from overseas in order to change public perceptions in those nations.
Significantly, Hillary Clinton isn’t willing to put her own money where her mouth is. Presidential head chef Walter Sheib, who ran the White House kitchen under President Bill Clinton, was instructed that Hillary Clinton would consume only “nutritionally responsible food…obtained from local growers” as well as the White House rooftop vegetable garden – which was grown without the use of pesticides, fertilizers or GMO seeds.
Apparently, Hillary Clinton thinks what’s good for the rest of us isn’t good enough for herself and her family. Despite her comment about “drought resistance,” the fact is that most GMO crops are created in order to withstand toxic herbicides and pesticides – and even produce their own. At the same time, increasing evidence shows that GMOs can cause a wide range of health issues as well as environmental damage. At the same time, “terminator seed” developed by Monsanto prevents the production of new seeds – forcing farmers to repurchase them every year. GMOs have been banned or severely restricted in over 60 nations – but in the US they have received wholesale approval, based on studies carried out by the very same corporations that manufacture and market them.
Despite demands from 92% of Americans that GMO-containing foods be clearly labeled, only three states have such laws in place. The reason: lobbyists and propaganda, fueled by corporate money, are convincing enough politicians and people to vote against GMO restrictions. Last November, an initiative in the state of Oregon requiring the labeling of GMOs was narrowly defeated due to an aggressive disinformation campaign, financed by the industry. It convinced the slight majority of voters that such labeling would place unreasonable regulatory burdens on small, family farms and result in a substantial increase in the price of food.
This is what Hillary Clinton supports – for everyone but herself. Katherine Paul of the Organic Consumers Association told Common Dreams that:
[If] Hillary Clinton intends to run for office in 2016, she should think carefully about supporting a food and farming system that is proven to be detrimental to public health, unless she and her family are willing to give up eating organic and eat the same toxic food that she promotes to the general population.
Don’t expect Ms. Clinton to change her stance unless she finds it to be politically expedient, however.