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The World According to BP, Monsanto, et al
Planet Waves
The World According to Monsanto (Hardcover).
What would the Greeks do to a company whose jerry-built oil well fouled their beautiful Aegean Sea, vomiting oily death onto its shores and fish and birds and islands, for week after week?

What would the Greeks do to a government that enabled such catastrophe, accepting company bribes and favors, allowing the company to write the rules and fill in the government's inspection reports, placing company officials in key government posts to emasculate its enforcement agency?

I don't know what the Greeks would do, but I need to believe that some population somewhere on this beleaguered planet would have the balls to call a general strike, riot, shut down the city centers, and toss the bastards out -- government, corporation and all their soiled bedding -- after stripping them of every asset they had.

Some population, somewhere, but it won't be here. Not in the USA, whose population is more distressed by the final episode of Lost -- my god, how fitting! -- than about destruction of the entire south and eastern coastlines of the continent. Not in the USA, where corporate media feign astonishment at the revolving-door policies of government regulators and BP, or the faked inspection reports, or the sex, drugs and money traded wantonly for drilling permits.

Of course the astonishment is feigned. Every step of the way, BP-government collusion has been the very model of American business-as-usual: fraud, lies, corruption, wholesale bribery, coverup, anything goes in the name of profit. This is the business-as-usual that has contaminated American rivers with government-approved pesticides and industrial poisons, that has inserted government-approved gender-bending chemicals into every cell of every person and living thing on land and sea, that spews radioactive waste from crumbling, government-approved nuclear plants.

For a truly eye-opening view of how American business-as-usual really works, see Marie-Monique Robin's award-winning 2009 documentary about Monsanto. Three years of meticulous research behind the film are now chronicled in Robin's book, The World According to Monsanto: Pollution, Corruption, and the Control of Our Food Supply (The New Press, 2010, exceptionally well translated into English by George Holoch).

Relentlessly, Robin details one American company's unbroken 85-year record of highly profitable deceit, corruption, fraud, coverups, and above all, what a jury would call premeditated mass murder if committed by an individual. A novel about a company that so repeatedly marketed lethal technologies with suborned government approval would be dismissed as too improbable, yet this is precisely the story of Monsanto, based primarily on its own records. Beginning with production and world-wide sales of toxic PCBs in the 1920s, Monsanto covered up the deadly effects of its products, submitted fraudulent studies on safety, and lied to customers for decades until the body count rose too high to ignore and PCBs were nominally banned in the 1970s.

With the lessons of PCBs under its belt, Monsanto took on huge government contracts to produce Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, with full knowledge that its manufacturing process contaminated both the herbicide and the environment with exquisitely poisonous dioxin. By the time domestic use of its Agent Orange herbicide was banned in 1983, Monsanto was already marketing a replacement called Roundup, its registration based on phony studies and its advertised qualities false. Then came bovine growth hormone, genetically engineered crops and bio-fuel plants, and claims to patent protection of its seeds, giving the company global control of essential foods. At every step with every product, government collusion gave Monsanto the green light.

As the BP disaster unfolds in the Gulf, each sordid revelation echoes the history told in The World According to Monsanto: a world where profit-driven corporations control not only government and public policy, but scientific research, media and the courts. Two parallels stand out:

1. Industrial Bio-Test Labs (IBT), the fraudulent safety-testing company used by Monsanto to test its PCBs and herbicides was owned by Nalco, the company that makes the dispersant used by BP in the Gulf;

2. "The revolving door has spun so readily in this case that the lines between the regulators and the regulated are now virtually nonexistent," noted CBS News of BP's "cozy" relationship with government. BP's infiltration of government doesn't hold a candle to Monsanto, which has planted its people in every branch of government, from the EPA and the White House to the Supreme Court, where its very own man Clarence Thomas, who directed Monsanto's regulatory affairs during the heyday of IBT fraud, has refused to withdraw from cases involving Monsanto, shamelessly writing a 2001 opinion for Monsanto in favor of the patenting of seeds. Thomas has also refused to withdraw from a current case that would deregulate Monsanto's genetically modified alfalfa.

Chris Hedges calls the world according to BP, Monsanto and other corporate murderers what it really is: "the work of a global, white-collar criminal class. No government, including our own, will defy them. It is up to us. Barack Obama is simply the latest face that masks the corporate state. His administration serves corporate interests, not ours....His administration gutted regulatory agencies that permitted BP to turn the Gulf of Mexico into a toxic swamp."

Will we allow business-as-usual to continue killing us and our world? Will we ever call a general strike, riot, shut down the city centers, and toss the bastards out?

It is up to us.

There is no one-size-fits-all remedy for either busted oil wells or dysfunctional government. Few of us, if any, know how to fix an oil well, but all of us can take part in fixing government. From hitting the streets to boycotting products, we can force changes that are steps in the right direction:

-- Remove money from politics: eliminate lobbying by business, require the economic demographics of Congress to reflect the economic demographics of each state population represented, and require all political campaigns to be funded solely by public money, with equal access to all candidates.

-- Establish once and forever that corporations are not persons or citizens and have no right to participate in government;

-- Impose term limits on Supreme Court justices;

-- Establish Congressional oversight of Supreme Court justices, particularly with regard to competence and conflicts of interest.

These are just a few ideas, with common sense as guide. Rather than complain about feasibility, come up with more and better ones, because a broken system cannot fix itself.

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