Saturday, September 26, 2009

My Beef with the State

[Photo from the documentary, Food, Inc.]

Illegitimate by-laws, the false image of protocols and lazy bureaucracy. To me, it is one of the evil triplets in the pervasive pyramid of power. However, upon closer inspection, I have come to understand that the siblings do not exist. In fact, the same entity chooses different hats to wear: The State equals the Corporation equals the Church.

This observation cannot be suitably summarized enough than in the documentary, Food, Inc. This is a film dedicated to exposing the food industry in the United States (and the world). Using the narrative of Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation, and Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma, the book-based movie shows the intricacies of the how, when, where and why our food is processed the way it is.

The doc begins by explaining how the atrocities of mass-produced meat started because of the fast-food movement. This movement was a direct symptom of the American Dream: 'faster, fatter, bigger, cheaper' or quantity over quality. As a result of the increasing demand of burgers-on-the-go, the corporations increased the supply. At the same time, this spike was a great business opportunity so the major corporations started buying the little ones. In the 1970's, the top 5 Corporate meat-suppliers owned 25% of the business. Today, the top 4 own over 80%. Monopoly was a very popular American-based board game.

Obviously the film forages through the inhumanity of the industry, the science of a contemporary cow's diet, and some hill-billy hippie who has an all-natural, traditional farm. But, what caught me off guard the most was the lengthy look at Monsanto.

Many people (including myself, until my dear comrade devoted her lunch hour to me) have not heard of the bio-tech company that planted its roots in chemical engineering. As the creator of Agent Orange, Monsanto's infamy blossomed through its pesticide RoundUp and the RoundUp-ready, genetically-modified soybean called Agracetus. Due to the genetic-modifications, Monsanto was actually able to patent the seed and, thus, lay claim to any of the crops the seeds produced. It put a lot of farmers and farm-support technicians out of jobs.

Now, to come full-circle: Many of Monsanto's consultants, lawyers and PRs have become advisors and regulators to the Clinton, Bush, Jr. and, quite probably, Obama Administrations. They merely replaced their Corporate caps with their State-official caps. The same people who made millions on poisoning our food are now advisors for the FDA. The State is supposed to merely serve and protect the people through its regulations and laws. But, what happens when the regulators have a conflict of interest? Well, it means that regulations are not made for the safety of the people but for the safety of the business. How is this even legal? How is it not protested and petitioned?

Well, with every push there is a pull. The 'organic' movement is a direct retaliation to our rBST-ridden meat. It just goes to show that the few can impact the many. It also shows that if you push people too far, they will pull themselves up again. People are truly incredible creatures.

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