Political Games

Politics is probably the last thing on your mind when you are perusing the aisles at the grocery store. It is startling to learn how connected our food supply is to politics on both a federal and local level. The food and agricultural industry has far too much influence on our elected representatives, regulatory agencies and the policies put in place by both. The interests of private corporations determines what ends up on our grocery store shelves.

The Federal Revolving Door

If you have read much about GMOs, you are probably already aware of Michael Taylor. Michael Taylor is a former attorney who worked on behalf of Monsanto. He landed a job with the FDA where he wrote the FDA policy of Substantial Equivalence in 1992, which states that because GMO foods are substantially equivalent to (or no different than) other foods they do not require human safety testing. Taylor later went back to work for Monsanto for a period of time and in 2010 he was recently appointed by President Obama to lead the FDA.

Indeed, Michael Taylor is a poster child for the revolving door that exists between regulatory agencies and the food industry but there are many others. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is a former Monsanto attorney. Linda Fisher worked for Monsanto before becoming second in command at the EPA. There are others including David Beier, Mickey Kantor, Michael Friedman, Lidia Watterut, the list goes on. You can read more about the revolving door here:

Open Secrets

Organic Consumers Association – USDA Watch

It can be very difficult to feel confident that our regulatory agencies have our best interest in mind when the people in charge of policy are also personally benefitting from the industry. We must try to separate corporate interests from government officials in order to protect the interests of consumers.

A Local Concern

These conflicts of interest are not limited to the federal level. In fact, Senator Mike Crapo and Governor Butch Otter both received $10,000 in campaign contributions from Monsanto. Senator Jim Risch received $15,000 from American Crystal Sugar who endorses the use GMO sugar beets.

Information from Monsanto’s website and Opensecrets.org show that the following representatives have received money from Monsanto in Idaho.

2009

Butch Otter, Rep. Marc Gibbs, Sen. Tim Corder, Rep. Scott Bedke, Sen. John McGee, Sen. Russell M. Fulcher, Lt. Gov Brad Little, Rep. Bert Stevenson, Rep. Marylou shepard, Sen. John McGee, Sen. Edgar Malapeai, Rep. Tom Lortscher, Sen. Robert Geddes, Rep. Ken Andrus, Mike Simpson, Mike Crapo, and James Risch.

2010

Committee to Elect Tom Luna, Committee to Elect Ben Ysursa, Committee to Elect Jim Guthrie, Committee to Elect Johan a Stevenson, Committee to Elect Maryou Lou Shepherd, Committee to Elect Ron Crane, Committee to Elect Tom Loertscher, Committee to Re-elect Tom Trail, Dean Cameron, Friends for Pat Takasugi, Idaho Prosperity Fund, Jones for State Controller, Kathy Sims for Idaho, Mitch Toryanski for Senate, Mike Simpson, Mike Crapo, and James Risch.

Former State Senator Robert Geddes of Soda Springs was recently appointed to the oversight board of the Idaho State Tax Commission by Governor Butch Otter. See more here. Robert Geddes, who represented District 31 from 1995 to 2011 spent most of his career as an environmental engineer for Monsanto (1985-2011). Soda Springs has been the victim of significant pollution from phosphate mines owned by Monsanto. Phosphate is a necessary ingredient for Roundup and chemical fertilizer. The mining company, owned by Monsanto, was ordered to pay 1.4 million dollars in damages last year. The community is continuing to be burdened by selenium waste as a result of mining operations.

See more here and here.

In Idaho, the interests of the people seem to be put aside for the interests of private corporations and our elected representatives are responsible for this breech in trust. We must remind our representatives who they are supposed to be representing. We might not be able to contribute thousands of dollars to their campaigns but without our votes, they cannot win. You can find out who your federal representatives are here.

Find out who your Idaho State Legislators are here.

If you do not already know you can find out what district you live in by clicking on “Who’s my Legislator”, enter your address and click “Where do I vote?”. Once you find your district go back to the main page and click “Contacting Legislators” then click “Contact by District”.

We encourage you to contact your representatives and ask them their views on GMOs and GMO labeling.

Tell them you believe we have the right to know what is in our food.

-Last update January 8, 2012-