Capitol Hill’s “Uncle Kracker”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

He's a smooth-talking, fidelity-wrecking-ball:

Promising to swim through your veins like a fish in the sea.

You've forgotten how you met him 

And now you don't know why you can't say goodbye.

You're better off if you don't ask "why?"

He's not worried 'bout the ring you wear…

'Cuz as long as no one knows than nobody can care?

But you don't look ashamed …

and baby, he's not scared…

This act of mass infidelity with the American public started long ago – "Uncle K" seemed practically harmless then.  He wooed you with his tantalizing scent of rBGH.  He assured you there was no need to second-guess him; he'd done his own research. Baby, stop being scared.  He's the same guy that showered us in an earlier dalliance with Agent Orange and PCB.  What could possibly go wrong this time? 

He's beyond benevolent as he matures:  according to OpenSecrets, in the first three months of this year, he spent $1.4 million lobbying Washington—and spent about $6.3 million total last year, more than any other agribusiness firm except the tobacco company Altria. (Yeah, those folks – the ones who never lie about their product). 

And girls, don't get the idea he's a 'one woman' kind of guy – you're really not that special. 

Today, the fling that started with the seemingly harmless rBGH has now given Uncle K market dominance in seeds: he essentially owns the market in genetically modified seed traits—a highly lucrative position that has have taken over crops like corn, soy, and cotton. And like any well-run company out to maximize earnings for its shareholders, he invests some of its profit hoard in protecting its market from pesky regulators who might place the public interest over his own . From the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks money in politics:

Last year's investment seemed to pay off for the company. Even as Monsanto's Roundup Ready technology faltered under a blitz of resistant "superweeds," the USDA unconditionally approved Roundup Ready alfalfa, after hinting strongly it would place limitations on the crop. The USDA also approved Roundup Ready sugar beets, defying a court order that it delay approval pending an environmental review.

Feeling duped, yet? The slippery slope of infidelity: first the scent of rBGH – then glyphosphate.

But we can end this now, right?  Honestly, my spouse is getting suspicious

Wait…what in the hell are neonicotinoids?

I'm starting to feel trapped

Many entomologists have said for years there is no pest management justification for using your insecticides on virtually every crop grown in North America. But, according to Entomologist Christian Krupke of Purdue University:

The opposite trend is occurring.

I want to be done with this. 

I wish I knew how to quit you.

But you're back. Again. OK, just one last fling – then it's time to run.  2014 is just around the corner, you know.

Now you want a foundation?  Well, Congressman Courtney introduced a bill earlier this year to do just that.  Look it up. A great piece of legislation – building upon the successes of other USDA foundations like ATIP and the National Forest Foundation.  It would open up opportunities for the private sector to work with USDA on local and regional food systems and bioenergy technologies.  It would establish a board that will take a systems approach to research – involving NGO's, scientists, business, environmental advocates and human health professionals.  The congressman is requesting $500,000 to establish the foundation.  This type of structure already  has a proven track record. 

You'll support that, right?

Wait, what?  You convinced leadership in the House, my leadership, to pull the bill and let the Senate take the lead?  What? Now the Senate version is asking for $100 million from the Treasury to fund the foundation – and you are getting the sole discretion to appoint the board?

I'm sorry, I thought you just said "$200 million".  I must have misunderstood you. 

No?

What?!?  You've convinced the Senate to take what was a $500,000 request in the FAARM Act, establishing a broad coalition of stakeholders to deal with food and energy issues in a new way – and turn that in to a $200 million transfer from the Treasury – no strings attached – and you effectively control the board – and John Q. Public's money?

I'd like to leave now. 

Just a minute.  Excuse me? You've also inserted the word "exclusive" in the language.  You would be the exclusive foundation of the USDA?  The United States Department of Agriculture?  The department established by President Lincoln – what he called "the people's department"?

But what about the others?  They know about this, right?

No? Don't worry?

You promise those contributions are going to flow through my campaign veins like fish in a sea?

I'm better off if I don't ask, "Why?" 

About this ring? 

Let's don't worry about that right now.

'cuz as long as no one knows than nobody can care…

 

19 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. mamajama55mamajama55 says:

    So, um. Monsanto is Uncle K, a low-down lousy philanderer whose sweet, sweet genetically modified seeds we are all addicted to. And Monsanto has convinced the US Senate to give it a $200M grant to "study food and energy issues" with no strings attached? Or was that DOW chemical (the Agent Orange manufacturer)?

    And bees are dying from multiple-source insecticide toxicity. And we are basically screwed if bees keep dying at the rate they are dying now. One of those things that I feel helpless to impact, except by my own consumer and gardening choices. The bees like my sunflowers just fine.

    What is the connection between genetically modioified crops and pesticides? Do GMO crops require more pesticides? Or are the industries connected financially?

    There's a lot of information here, but I'm having trouble following the connections.

    I like the metaphor of the sleazoid philanderer as multinational corporate persuader.  It's funny. Clearly, it's another complicated subject. Maybe a two-diary complicated subject.  One of the links (the one right above the RGBH paragraph) doesn't work.

  2. notaskinnycooknotaskinnycook says:

    MamaJ 

    In case you don't know, one of the genetic modifications produces crops that Roundup, (an herbicide and a Monsanto product) won't kill. They actually call them "Roundup-ready" crops. 

  3. notaskinnycooknotaskinnycook says:

    Genetically modified maize (corn) is a genetically modified crop – in other words, specific maize strains have been genetically engineered with agronomically desirable traits. Corn that is resistant to herbicides has been developed, as has corn that expresses insecticidal proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis bacteria. While GM maize has been widely adopted by farmers in countries where it has been approved, it has also caused controversy with respect to possible effects on health, nontarget insects, and other plants via gene flow. One strain, called Starlink, was approved only for animal feed in the US, but was found in food, leading to a series of recalls starting in 2000.

     

     

  4. notaskinnycooknotaskinnycook says:

    That didn't copy as I meant it to That was the Wiki entry on GMO's.

  5. MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

    You've done very well, MMJ, given that a lot of the acronyms I used are complicated.  Yes, Uncle Kracker is Monsanto.  And I can't get that damn song out of my head now…and yes, Monsanto's lobbying power on the Hill may give them a $200 million gift from the US taxpayers – no strings attached.  Not a bad deal: the spend $6+ million in lobbying, and one of the many gifts they get in return is $200 million.  You and I should be so lucky.

    Monsanto and DOW both manufactured Agent Orange.  Monsanto is a classic chemical company that "went looking for a solution" to monetize their glyphosate [the active ingredient in RoundUp.  The solution?  Become a seed company – and create seeds resistant to glyphosate – and then bundle the chemicals and seed together to the farmer.  For good measure, add a terminator gene for the seed can't be reused.

    90% of all seed sold today has a seed coating containing neonicotinoids – and science suggests that is killing off a lot of bees. GMO requires specific chemicals – in this case, conveniently the chemicals to which Monsanto holds an exclusive patent.

  6. MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

    …and good job, Skinny.  We were both responding at the same time.

  7. MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

    Mama – the broken link should have taken you to a page on OpenSecrets.org that shows "revolving doors".  It showed that 16 of Monsanto's 21 lobbyists have been highly-placed Congressional staff in a former life.

    Oh, and I meant to say above that the 'fidelity' being broken between Uncle Kracker and Congress was the bond between a Congress that, in theory, is there to protect the best interests of their 'significant others', and their constituents.

    I clearly have some work to do in perfecting my humor!

    • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

      I got that by inference. Your humor's good – it makes what would be a very dry, technical, and complex story much more appealing.  It's OK to make readers work a little.

      I know you didn't ask for literary criticism – just can't stop being an English teacherwink

  8. MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

    …one more link missing.  The first reference to rBGH should have taken you here. Read this one carefully – it set a lot of precedent on how our government dealt with 'scientific studies' regarding GMO and chemical offerings by Monsanto.

  9. mamajama55mamajama55 says:

    Thanks guys, for responding to my habitual brain picking queries…I realized that I had been acting as if I understood the GMO controversy, and I really don't. I hate that!

    And this is more about the finance and lobbying/influence end of it, which I understand fairly well.

  10. MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

    You're a special one, MMJ.  And this is a really complicated issue that should probably have been broken in to two parts, one part the products and the second part the lobbying.  This is a compromised attempt at whacking away at both of them.

    As I said earlier regarding the global GMO challenge,  Monsanto was a solution [glyphosate] looking for a problem, so they created one.  It turned a classis chemical company into a seed company.  [DuPont is doing the same thing]. 

    The rBGH is even more personal to me.  My maternal grandfather was a small dairy farmer in Minnesota.  rBGH was sold to USDA as a 'savior' to small dairy farmers, as they argued it would make them more productive, and thus, able to compete with the mega-dairies we have today.  At the time, USDA had scant resources to do what should have been a long-term health study; they convinced Uncle Sam, based on a short, internal trial [referenced in the first link above to rBGH] that it was safe.  Like the pass Congress gave to the chemical industry with ATSCA when they formed the EPA, the beltway bandits have roared ahead.  Since rBGH we now have a continual offereing of "new" products, none of them properly tested. 

    We don't test rBGH in the United States because it's deemed 'safe' by the government.  The Canadians do a lot of research [American milk is banned in most other countries because of rBGH] on the subject. 

    So you can appreciate the irony of our now-very "American" system of subsidies.  We have a farm bill that is quite generous to American milk producers – who produce a product that for all practical purposes, the world rejects.  And now, Monsanto is attempting the takeover of the USDA foundation – which would serve to do research on food products.  It's enough irony to drown an elephant in a bathtub. 

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