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Monsanto Protection Nibbles on Media Bias

by John on 03/31/2013


You’re probably getting a lot of emails or ads about the Monsanto Protection Act.

My good friend Chef Heinz Lauer, who has cooked up some great meals for me, served me this question in an email:

John, why is the media not reporting on the Monsanto Act our President just signed?

Let’s sink our teeth into this.  First, let me take a bite out of Heinz’s question about the lack of response by the media.  There are two ingredients:

  1. Media bias, but more precisely sponsor bias.  Monsanto’s advertising budget has hovered around $1 billion annually.  Most of that money is directed at an image campaign.  Monsanto is usually all over the Sunday morning talk shows.  Clearly, the media does not want to upset this sponsor by showing how they used their lobbying power to slip in another earmark.
  2. The issue is way too complicated for the media – especially cable news.

OK, so there’s the media bias portion of the menu.

Let’s get down to the main course or what’s really happening and how you should devour this issue.

Bottom line: be vigilant, but not vigilante yet.

The so-called Monsanto Protection Act was snuck into the latest appropriations act to keep the country funded for the rest of this year. A provision in the bill prevents activists – namely food activists – from manipulating the court system to force companies like Monsanto to abandon or destroy genetically modified or altered seeds and food.

It looks like the typical political end-run by a major company using its lobbying beef to avoid the legal ramifications of having to eat its vegetables.

And it could be.  But there’s more meat to this story.

Snopes does a nice job of devouring the gray areas.  In short:

  • The government is not just feeding the corporate behemoth completely.  The government is also trying to make sure near-term legal actions won’t force farmers – big and small — to destroy the plants they have put in the ground for this planting season.  There are two fears: hurting farmers profits; and a disruption to our food chain.
  • The government is also catering to food activists.  This provision expires September 30, 2013.  And it doesn’t stop other lawsuits from moving forward.

My suggestions to folks like Chef Lauer who are hungry about this issue:

  • Stay in touch with the food activist groups.  They will monitor Congress and the lobbyists for these major corporations.  And they will keep in touch with you through social media.
  • I would also look at Dylan Ratigan’s new project.  The former TV Host and Business Journalist is working on a technology for hydroponic farms that is also putting veterans to work.  You can see it here.  We need to explore and embrace new technologies and not just the ones pushed on us by the major corporations.

OK, I’m starving.  Heinz, whip me up a Coq au Vin.

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