Big Oil’s Little Tea Party

I’m assuming most of you folks aren’t surprised that a room full of executives from Big Oil fabricated the National Energy Policy that the present occupant of the White House foisted on the U.S. public late this past Spring. After all, Dick Cheney, who headed the taskforce, and George W. (the man allegedly in charge) are all about fossil fuels.

As Director of Harken Energy Corp. and son of oilman, former CIA Director, and Former U.S. President George Herbert Walker Bush, George Junior has made a tidy profit over the years in the oil business, even with failed, but somehow profitable ventures and questions of SEC insider trading violations! In fact, the Bush family’s government connections and their oil business profits place them on what might be termed the shaky Dome of a Teapot, pretty near the boiling point.

Vice-President Dick Cheney’s tenure as CEO of big-time oil equipment supplier, Haliburton, Inc. (the 5th largest military contractor in the U.S.) puts the Veep squarely in bed with Big Oil. Cheney scored a $34 Million dollar retirement package from Halliburton, a company that does business with some, if not all, of the worst dictatorial regimes on the planet. Halliburton’s list of customers reads like an Amnesty International roster of chronic human rights violators, not to mention destroyers of the biosphere and all-around enemies of the Earth. Interestingly, Halliburton contracted with Iraq to rebuild its oil infrastructure after Bush Senior’s Gulf War destroyed it, but NGO’s that don’t earn a dime in commerce can’t even send Chlorox to Iraqi hospitals!

So, you tell me, does Big Oil have a seat at the table in the White House? Seat? They’ve got nearly the whole table! It looks like everyone else is in the kitchen eating with the help!

Now, the Government Accounting Office wants to see the guest list for Cheney’s little tea party on energy policy. But the VEEP and his lawyers are digging in their feet. Representatives Henry Waxman of California and John Dingell of Michigan are also concerned about undue influence from Bush campaign contributors like Enron Corporation’s CEO, Kenneth Lay and energy industry promoters like the Edison Institute. It’s a pretty safe bet that reduced energy consumption, solar panels, and wind turbines were not items up for much, if any, discussion with those players at the table. It’s said that not one environmentalist was in attendance.

I’m not sure how much more blatant a conflict of interest can get. While government watchdogs and media lapdogs search for a smoking gun, the rest of us can see pretty clearly through the thinly veiled smoke screen. Big Oil, (of course, in company with Big Auto, the nuke-boosters, and Old King Coal) is dug-in at the head of the table of present U.S. energy policy. It will be more than interesting to see if their little tea party is crashed by any number of disgruntled outsiders. However, like all such affairs, at some point the party’s over.

Corpwatch

Oilwatch

Oxybusters (Information on the gas additive MTBE)

National Oil Refinery Action Network

Project Underground

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“2001-8-0″,”Global Grassroots & Regulatory Response”,”53,2001,Animal Rights & Environment,Issue Number,Aug 2001,Organic Consumers Association,Year”,”42″,”

Despite the ongoing global offensive by the Gene Giants, anti-GE and
pro-organic forces continue to gain strength on all fronts, including public
opinion, marketplace dynamics, and legislation.

  • In North America, biotech proponents were dismayed by a 6/20/01 ABC News
    poll which, among other trends, found that 62% of American women now believe
    that genetically engineered foods are “unsafe.” The ABC News poll, as well
    as recent polls in Canada, shows that North Americans are slowly but surely
    catching up to their counterparts in Europe and Asia-where 70-80% of
    consumers remain firmly opposed to “Frankenfoods.” As ABC News put it,
    “Barely more than a third of the public believes that genetically modified
    foods are safe to eat.” Another poll (6/26/01) conducted by the Pew
    Charitable Trust, underlines the fundamental problem that the gene engineers
    face: the more that Americans hear about genetically engineered foods, the
    more concerned they become. More than half of Pew respondents (55%) reported
    they had heard a ‘great deal’ or ‘some’ about genetically modified foods
    sold in grocery stores, up from 44% just six months earlier, and many lack
    confidence in the government’s ability to manage gene-altered foods,
    following last fall’s recall of products contaminated with Starlink corn.
    The poll also found that consumers are paying more attention to media
    coverage of the potential hazards of GE foods as opposed to their supposed
    benefits. In other words the more Americans hear about genetically
    engineered foods, the less they like them, despite a $50 million dollar a
    year propaganda campaign launched by the biotech industry two years ago.
  • US exports of co-mingled or genetically engineered crops are facing major
    restrictions in foreign markets, according to a new report by the General
    Accounting Office, the research arm of the US Congress. In the wake of
    losing several billion dollars in GE-tainted corn, soy, and canola exports,
    US and Canada agro-exporters can expect even more losses as European, Asian,
    and other governments adopt the “precautionary principle” requiring
    pre-market safety testing, labeling, and segregation of genetically
    engineered crops.
  • Since biotech crops came on the market in 1996, US farm exports have fallen
    from $60 billion a year to $51 billion-a decline of 15%. The US has lost
    $400 million a year in corn exports to the EU, while Canada has lost a
    similar amount in canola exports. Bernard Marantelli, a spokesperson for
    Monsanto UK, admitted April 18 that GE canola acreage in Canada this year
    “went down… a significant amount.”

    A similar pattern is emerging in soybeans, with US GE soya essentially being
    boycotted by major companies in Europe, Japan, Korea, and other nations.
    Over the past year, major EU food corporations and fast food chains have
    also begun to remove all GE corn and soya from their animal feed. Already
    25% of all EU animal feed is now GE-free. Meanwhile exports of GE-free
    grains from Brazil, Australia, India, and China are expanding. Sources in
    the EU feed industry say the present demand for certified non-GMO soybean
    meal has grown from nearly zero to 25% in only 12 months, with the
    expectation of further increases in the coming year. (AgJournal UK 5/30/01)

  • Japanese food manufacturers carried out three major recalls of snack foods
    in May and June after finding traces of Monsanto’s genetically engineered
    NewLeaf potatoes in the products. Facing global opposition to their GE
    spuds, Monsanto announced earlier this year that they were pulling NewLeaf
    potatoes off the market.
  • In a related development, Monsanto announced that its Roundup Ready
    soybeans would not be available for planting in Canada in 2001. Canada has
    begun to supply increasing amounts of non-GE soybeans to Japan. (GAIN Report
    #CA1075 Canada Oilseeds and Products 5/18/01) Four other GE crops have also
    been removed from the Canadian market this year, GM flax – “Triffid”; GM
    canola – “Quest”; GM potato – “NatureMark”/”NewLeaf”; and GM
    corn-“StarLink.”
    www.gmfoodnews.com/
  • BridgeNews (6/3/01) reported that South Korea’s sole food-grade corn
    buying group, Korea Corn Processing Industrial Association (KOCOPIA), is
    requesting international trading houses to stop supplying the nation with US
    corn. The move follows last week’s discovery by local authorities of
    StarLink corn contamination in cornstarch production, a KOCOPIA official
    told BridgeNews.
  • As the General Accounting Office report indicates, the US is becoming
    increasingly isolated in international negotiations such as the Biosafety
    Protocol and the Codex Alimentarius of the World Trade Organization–facing
    increasing pressure from both the global North and South for precautionary
    measures regarding GMOs. Thirty-five nations, representing a billion people,
    are now involved in the process of setting mandatory labeling requirements
    for genetically engineered foods. In mid-July the Codex is expected to tell
    the US that its “no pre-market safety testing” and “substantial equivalence”
    doctrines on GMOs are not acceptable. (Financial Times 7/2/01) For a report
    on present and pending GMO legislation across the world see
    www.purefood.org/gefood/updatethirdworld.cfm
  • A thousand protesters took to the streets in San Diego, CA June 25-26,
    challenging industry leaders gathered for the annual Biotechnology Industry
    Organization (BIO) convention. The street protests, preceded by three days
    of “BioDevastation” teach-ins and workshops, generated extensive media
    coverage across North America, along with a near hysterical response from
    the Biotech Establishment. www.biodev.org
    In a press release dated 6/22/01, the agribusiness and biotech front group,
    American Council on Science and Health, stated:
    “Caveat Emptor. Consumers and journalists beware. Biodevastation activists
    aim to target you over the next few days with false and misleading
    information about food safety, nutrition and the environment. The same
    people who brought you a long list of other false health and environmental
    scares-including the infamous Alar in apples scare, the Dow-Corning breast
    implant campaign-and dozens of other debunked fears are at it again. This
    time the scaremongers are targeting such safe foods as milk and other dairy
    products in your local supermarket and at food retail outlets such as
    Starbucks.”
  • In one San Diego protest 6/24/01, activists from the Ruckus Society
    unfurled a giant 1500 square-foot banner in front of the Convention Hall,
    which read “Biotech Perverts–Get Out of Our Genes”. “There are thousands of
    biotech industry representatives coming to town, who are perverting
    agriculture, science, nature and democracy as we know it. These perversions
    impact human health and the well-being of all life.” stated Shannon Service,
    a Biodevastation protest leader.
  • On June 26 several hundred protestors in San Diego and Ocean Beach rallied
    against Starbucks, calling on the company to ban GE food and beverage
    ingredients and to brew Fair Trade, shade-grown coffee on a weekly basis.
    Ocean Beach residents are trying to stop a Starbucks café from locating in
    their neighborhood, pointing out that Starbucks has now become the “Wal-Mart
    of American coffee shops,” routinely moving into neighborhoods and putting
    local independent coffee shops out of business.
  • A North American seafood importer, Martin International Corporation, is
    calling on the major seafood companies to take up arms against attempts to
    develop genetically modified salmon. If not, seafood consumption may
    decline, he says. “It is my opinion that the US consumer would embrace
    genetically engineered salmon about as enthusiastically as they would allow
    a nuclear power plant to be erected in their back yard. If anything, the
    American public is looking to find out more about the products that they
    assume to be wholesome, safe and environmentally sound and more and more are
    leaning to ‘natural’ or certified organic to be sure of what they are
    receiving.” Richard C. Martin Jr. (Quoted in IntraFish, a fish industry
    publication, 5/22/01). In the US, the Center for Food Safety and the
    Genetically Engineered Food Alert have launched a legal petition to keep GE
    Frankenfish off the market. See www.foodsafetynow.org
  • Reuters (6/22/01) reports that the Gene Giants were openly criticized in
    front of international farm leaders at the World Agricultural Forum in St.
    Louis. “A steadily shrinking number of companies are gaining unprecedented
    control over all aspects of commercial food, farming and health,” said Rural
    Advancement Foundation International research director Hope Shand. Shand
    pointed out that Monsanto seeds account for 94% of the total area planted in
    commercial genetically engineered crops, worldwide. Rounding out Shand’s
    list of “gene giants” are DuPont Co., Syngenta Crop Protection Inc., Aventis
    CropScience and Dow AgroSciences LLC. Shand said aggressive moves by the big
    Agbiotech firms for greater control of their GM seed creations must be
    combated if world hunger and poverty problems are to be addressed.
  • Over the past 60 days public interest activists in a number of countries,
    including India, Sri Lanka, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, Mexico, and Peru
    have denounced the US for “dumping” GE soya and corn in food aid shipments
    and grain exports. Biotech industry spokespersons have responded that
    denunciations of GMOs in food aid shipments are proof that anti-GE
    campaigners such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth are willing to let
    the hungry masses in the Third World starve.
  • But as noted author and hunger expert Frances Moore Lappe pointed out in the
    Los Angeles Times (7/1/01): “Government institutions are becoming ever more
    beholden to… corporations [rather] than to their citizens. Nowhere is this
    more obvious than in decisions regarding biotechnology–whether it’s the
    approval or patenting of biotech seeds and foods without public input or the
    rejection of mandatory labeling of biotech foods despite broad public demand
    for it. Hunger is not caused by a scarcity of food but by a scarcity of
    democracy. Thus it can never be solved by new technologies, even if they
    were to be proved ‘safe.’ It can only be solved as citizens build
    democracies in which government is accountable to them, not private
    corporate entities.”

  • Activists barricaded the offices of the Novartis biotech corporation in a
    suburb of Minneapolis on 6/25/01, in solidarity with the Biodevastation
    protests in San Diego. Police were forced to break down the doors and arrest
    the protesters. On 5/14 a group of 50 Southeast RAGE (Resistance Against
    Genetic Engineering) activists in Greensboro, NC were harassed (and three
    arrested) by police as they staged a symbolic “ crop decontamination”
    exercise outside the Agbiotech company Syngenta’s offices in North Carolina.
    Fifty biohazard “technicians” quarantined a cardboard “garden” of
    genetically altered mutant corn, which was then removed by a giant puppet,
    Father Earth.
  • The biotech industry is alarmed by a proposed ballot initiative in Denver,
    Colorado, next November which will give voters a chance to vote on whether
    genetically engineered foods should be served in area schools, given that
    these foods have not been proven to be safe. After a heated debate in the
    media over several weeks, the Denver Post published an editorial June 1
    calling for mandatory labeling of all genetically engineered foods.
    www.non-gmosource.com
  • The success of the Denver effort in raising the
    level of debate over Frankenfoods in Colorado has inspired the Organic
    Consumers Association and a number of Green Party activists to discuss
    joining efforts with local activists (and national networks such as the
    Campaign to Label Genetically Engineered Foods) to get city council
    resolutions and initiatives on the ballot all across the US. State ballot
    initiatives on GE foods are also underway in Washington, Oregon, and other
    states.

    www.washingtonrighttoknow.com

    www.labelgefoods.org

    www.safefood.org

    www.thecampaign.org

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