CALAMITY HOWLER/A.V. Krebs
Free Enterprise in Cattle
Setting a precedent that independent cattle producers hope will be replicated
throughout the country in lieu of inaction by the USDA's Packers & Stockyards
Administration (P&SA), the South Dakota state legislature has enacted
Senate Bill 95 which will require that all packers will now have to report
all prices, contracts and terms when purchasing South Dakota cattle.
The bill which Governor William Janklow (R) has promised to sign declares
that, "a packer soliciting livestock for slaughter in this state may
not discriminate in prices paid or offered to be paid to sellers of that
livestock." Packers will now be required to report to the USDA all
prices paid for livestock, both contract and direct purchased at the end
of each day.
"A livestock seller who receives a discriminatory price, or who is
offered only a discriminatory price for livestock based upon a violation
of these provisions by a packer, has a civil cause of action against the
packer and, if successful, shall be awarded treble damages," the bill
Johnny Smith of Ft. Pierre Livestock Market emphasized the need to save
agriculture, the state's number one industry. "This new law will stop
the big meat packers from 'stealing' our cattle. The packers are bankrupting
good producers with their anti-competitive bidding practices."
Cattle feeder and auction owner Herman Schumacher said, "Packers, as
expected, are calling SB95 the 'anti-business' bill. Actually this will
help the cattle business which has long been depressed due to predatory
and monopolistic cattle buying practices. IBP has even threatened to not
buy cattle in South Dakota. The vice president of procurement, Bruce Bass
for IBP was quoted referring to the home state of IBP's corporate headquarters
as 'the soon to be socialist state of South Dakota.'
"The opposite is true," Schumacher adds. "South Dakota now
will become the 'free enterprise cattle state.' Free Enterprise is what
made this country great, and it will do the same for cattle producers.The
packer monopoly is bankrupting cattle producers and overcharging and short
changing consumers. This is a pro-business bill. If we are able to get fair
prices for producers and save our industry our rural communities will prosper
Currently four packers, IBP, ConAgra, Cargill and Farmland-National control
87% of the beef slaughter market.
Into Every Corporation a Little Rain Must Fall
The Advertising Standards Authority, the United Kingdom advertising industry's
official watchdog, has condemned Monsanto, which has been struggling mightily
in recent months to persuade skeptical British consumers that food from
genetically modified crops is safe, has been condemned for making "wrong,
unproven, misleading and confusing" claims in an advertising campaign.
John Arlidge, a London Observer correspondent, reports that his paper
obtained a draft report on the authority's investigation into more than
30 complaints about Monsanto's advertisements. It says the U.S. giant expressed
its own opinion "as accepted fact" and published "wrong"
and "misleading" scientific claims.
The U.K.'s Green Party and food safety campaigners who have been campaigning
for a total ban on GM food welcomed the ruling. Patrick Spring, of the Green
Party, said: "Monsanto has been caught out misleading the public. They
should apologize to consumers and print a retraction in full-page newspaper
"If they are prepared to hoodwink the public, what have they been telling
their friends in Government? We know they have been lobbying ministers and
officials to try to get their products onto supermarket shelves. Have they
been economical with the truth? The public need answers."
The Greens, GeneWatch, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the
Soil Association and members of the public wrote to the Advertising Standards
Authority last year complaining that Monsanto had breached the ASA's rules.
The series of commercials, by the London-based advertising agency Bartle
Bogle Hegarty, began with a full-page ad which read: "Food biotechnology
is a matter of opinions. Monsanto believes you should hear all of them."
Over the next few weeks, Arlidge reports, the company went on to describe
"the real benefits of biotechnology for both consumers and the environment."
GM foods were "grown in a more environmentally sustainable way, less
dependent on the earth's scarce mineral resources."
GM technology had undergone "rigorous tests throughout Monsanto's 20-year
biotech history to ensure our food crops are as safe and nutritious as the
standard alternatives." Government agencies in 20 countries, including
Britain, had approved them as safe.
In its report the ASA criticized the firm for wrongly giving the impression
that genetically modified potatoes and tomatoes had been tested and approved
for sale in Britain. The authority also dismissed Monsanto's assertion that
GM crops were grown "in a more environmentally sustainable way"
than ordinary crops as unproven.
Dan Verakis, a spokesperson for Monsanto, expressed disappointment at the
ASA's report but pointed out that some advertisements had already been amended.
"We were the first biotech company to attempt to explain this complicated
science and to help consumer understand it better. We expected it to be
controversial and we expected the activist industry to be very critical,"
he said. "We do not wish to mislead anyone."
And the Beat Goes On ...
"I have heard ... that people may become dependent on us for food.
I know that was not supposed to be good news. To me that was good news,
because before people can do anything they have got to eat. And if you are
looking for a way to get people to lean on you and to be dependent on you,
in terms of their cooperation with you, it seems to me that food dependence
would be terrific."
-- Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey, in naming the P.L. 480 program "Food for
"We have to get away from the romantic anachronism that developing
countries should strive for self-sufficiency in food."
-- John Block, former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, 1986.
"The U.S. today has the reach and the power of an imperial state, yet
domestic perceptions have not caught up with that reality. Such lack of
understanding is not healthy, but leads to isolationism."
-- Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of State, Davos, Switzerland, 1999.
"Perhaps for the first time in history, the world's leading nations
are not engaged in a struggle with each other for security or territory.
Because of these developments and the dramatic increase in our own prosperity
and confidence in this, the longest peacetime expansion in our history,
the United States has the opportunity and, I would argue, the solemn responsibility
to shape a more peaceful, prosperous, democratic world in the 21st century."
-- Bill Clinton, San Francisco, California, February 26, 1999.
Poisoning Our Children
One of the chemical poison industry's most widely circulated claims is that
individuals would have to eat massive helpings of fruits and vegetables
before they would become susceptible to any toxic effects of such poisons
residues. As is often the case with many of the industry's claims such is
not the case according to Consumers Union.
In a recently released comprehensive study the organization, which publishes
the monthly Consumer Reports magazine, using U.S. Department of Agriculture
data found that a single daily serving of some produce can deliver unsafe
levels of toxic chemical poison residues for young children.
Their study found that seven popular fruits and vegetables--apples, grapes,
green beans, peaches, pears, spinach, and winter squash--have toxicity scores
up to hundreds of times higher than the rest of the foods analyzed.
Fruits and vegetables analyzed were domestic and imported, fresh and processed.
The organization analyzed the results of the testing done between 1994 and
1997 on 27 food categories, covering about 27,000 samples. A sample is about
five pounds of produce. The scores were based on three factors: how many
samples of a food contained individual pesticides, and the average amount
and toxicity of each pesticide.
For example, just one chemical poison, methyl parathion, accounts for most
of the total toxicity of the foods analyzed, and its use is increasing on
crops such as apples and green beans and two out of five young children
who eat a U.S. grown peach will get too much methyl parathion, the Consumers
Union study found
"Our findings certainly don't mean that parents should stop giving
their children plenty of healthful produce," Dr. Edward Groth, technical
policy and public service director at Consumers Union, told Environment
News Service, "but these findings do suggest that parents might want
to be careful about the amounts and types of fruits and vegetables they
serve their children." Parents should not stop serving fruits and vegetables
to their children, the Consumers Union recommends, but rather advises buying
organically grown produce.
The study found that domestic produce had more, or more toxic, chemical
poisons than imported produce in two-thirds of the cases where imports were
tested and in general, processed foods had lower residues than fresh.
Aldicarb, the most acutely toxic chemical poison, is making a comeback in
potato production, the study found while DDT and other chemical poisons
that have been banned for decades, including the carcinogen dieldrin, still
show up regularly in residue tests. Consumers Union says there is a 77%
chance that a serving of winter squash will deliver too much of a banned
chemical poison to be safe for a young child as dieldrin can't be washed
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry says methyl parathion,
the most frequently found chemical poisons in the Consumer Reports
analysis, is commonly used on soybeans and vegetables.
All in the Family
While the nation has found itself absorbed in relatively inconsequencial
scandals in the Clinton years, two of the more significant corporate scandals
involving the Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) Corp. and Tyson Foods have gone
relatively unknown by the mass media.
In the former case ADM, "Supermarkup to the World," in what has
been called the "best documented corporate crime in American history,"
was fined $100 million for fixing the prices of food-ingredients lysine
and citric acid.
At the same time Tyson Foods, the nation's number one poultry producer,
pled guilty in December, 1997 to giving former USDA Secretary Mike Espy
more than $12,000 in illegal gratuities. The Arkansas-based poultry giant
and long-time personal and financial FOB (Friend of Bill) agreed to pay
a $4 million fine, contribute $2 million to Independent Counsel Donald Smaltz's
investigation and cooperate in his probe.
Neither story received the attention that they so richly deserved from the
nation's press, least of all from the Public Broadcasting Service and National
A major underwriter for PBS programming, primarily the nightly Jim Lehrer
Report, is ADM, headed by Dwayne O. Andreas, who is also a major financial
contributor to both the Republican and Democratic party powerful. And now
thanks to some help from colleague Sam Smith we get a much clearer picture
of this "corporate incest" and why all the "news of the day"
is becoming such a rare commodity in our corporatist ruled "public
Chairperson of the Corporation for Pubic Broadcasting which funds NPR and
PBS is one Diane Blair.
The name of the long-time and recently-retired lawyer for Tyson Food is
The name of the Arkansas lawyer who arranged the notorious cattle options
scheme in which novice trader Hillary Rodham Clinton made $100,000 on a
$1,000 investment was James Blair (See "Oprah to People's Court: What's
Paul Engler's $6.7 Million Beef," The AgBiz Tiller, http://www.ea1.com/tiller/
The name of James Blair's girlfriend at the time was Diane Divers Kincaid.
The name of the "official" who married Kincaid and Blair in 1979
was William Jefferson Clinton (truly a mind-boggling concept; Clinton performing
a marriage ceremony!)
The name of James Blairs' "best person" at his and Diane Divers
Kincaid wedding was Hillary Rodham Clinton.
A.V. Krebs is director of the Corporate Agribusiness Research Project,
P.O. Box 2201, Everett, Washington 98203-0201; email firstname.lastname@example.org
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