Aaron FreemanÆs excellent article "Monkeying with Milk" (Multinational Monitor, June 1994) explained why so many consumers and farmers are outraged over MonsantoÆs collusion with the U.S. government in forcing recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) into our milk supply. It should also be noted that Food and Drug Administration (FDA) did not require two full years of human health testing on rBGH - as their protocol stipulates for drugs of this kind - but settled for 90 days; also in violation of their protocol, FDA did not require Monsanto to provide a residue test.
Regarding the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) and its support of rBGH: a NASDA meeting in Chicago last spring featured a training session for rBGH "spokespersons," sponsored by Monsanto. When NASDA met in Spring Green, Wisconsin, in July 1994 for golfing, boat rides and banqueting, the largest corporate sponsor was Monsanto, followed by other NASDA-regulated businesses. (Wisconsin Secretary of Agriculture Alan Tracy was recently named NASDA President.) The matter was referred to the Wisconsin Ethics Board.
rBGH also has the backing of the monopolistic dairy processing industry, which is happy to have an oversupply of cheap milk subsidized by farmers and taxpayers. The Milk Mob [including the International Dairy Foods Association and the Grocery Manufacturers of America] sued Vermont over its mandatory labeling law, and other states considering mandatory labeling were threatened with similar lawsuits. Threats have also been made to various media for running anti-rBGH ads, though the Milk MobÆs hired flacks have succeeded in filling newspapers and farm magazines with editorials and articles heralding the benefits of injecting cows with synthetic hormones.
Many will remember when the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and related agencies began promoting DDT and other pesticides and herbicides following World War Two, in the blind belief that chemical intensive farming would be good for everyone. Since then we have lost most of our topsoil, most of our clean water, most of our rural communities and most of our farmers. Now our government is promoting biotechnology, which offers more of the same.
Just as many unions were disappointed when the Clinton Administration proved no friend of labor, so were small- and medium-sized farmers dismayed to find multinational agribusiness and chemical company lobbyists blocking access to the White House and USDA.
And now we have NAFTA, and waiting in the wings is the new GATT - trade pacts that legitimize the exploitation of working people on such a grand scale that even national governments will be required to relinquish much of their sovereignty to a world trade organization, operating in secret. Anyone can guess whose interests they will represent.
ItÆs simple economics: Those at the top want more and they want those at the bottom to give it to them; and until we outlaw PAC money and policy implementation via revolving doors, our government is only too happy to oblige with the necessary laws and regulations.
John Kinsman, President
Family Farm Defenders