The Second Dark Ages

by MICKEY Z

"Science is always wrong; it never solves a problem without creating ten more."

-George Bernard Shaw

The June 20, 2003 New York Times offered readers a prime illustration of how those in power manipulate "science" to their needs. In an editorial entitled, "Censorship on Global Warming," the Times chastised the Bush administration for displaying "ostrichlike behavior," vis-à-vis the dangers of global warming and possible human contributions to climate changes. Lamenting the "heavy-handed censorship" of an Environmental Protection Agency draft report on global warming. The Bush administration, says the Times, "seems determined to bury its head in the sand and hope the problem will go away."

"A long section on the risks posed by rising global temperatures was reduced to a noncommittal paragraph," says the editorial. While such outrage is warranted, it’s hardly credible when it comes from a corporate media outlet partially funded by petroleum and auto industry ad dollars…an outlet never shy about promoting a predatory corporate agenda.

That same edition of the Times contained an article ("Talks Collapse on U.S. Efforts to Open Europe to Biotech Food") in which reporter David Leonhardt detailed talks between the U.S. and EU over "opening up Europe to genetically modified (GM) foods."

The Bush administration, fresh off ignoring the existing science on global warming, declared Europe’s GM food policy ignores the fact that scientific research had shown "genetically altered crops to be safe." Hardly the radical sort, European officials do allow the use of some genetically modified foods, like soybeans, and merely view the long-term effects of altered food to be "uncertain."

Here’s where the newspaper of record weighs in…big time.

"Genetically modified food – which can grow more quickly than traditional crops and can be resistant to insects – has caused scant controversy in the United States, where people eat it every day," writes Leonhardt. So what’s different in Europe? Leonhardt explains that the environmental movement is "more powerful" there (ah, it’s the Luddite tree-huggers again).

Leonhardt’s ostrichlike behavior does not stop there. "Scientific research has generally shown that genetically modified foods do not cause health problems," he writes before quoting Don Lipton, a spokesman for the American Farm Bureau Federation.

"Countries shouldn’t be able to erect barriers for nonscientific reasons," says Lipton. "That’s a very important principle in international trade."

Pushing his head ever further into the sand, Leonhardt also evokes the ever-useful "America as hero" tactic: "In a speech last month, President Bush (sic) escalated the dispute by saying that Europe’s policy was undermining efforts to fight hunger in Africa." Bush’s scriptwriters explain: "European governments should join, not hinder, the great cause of ending hunger in Africa."

Africa swoons from the irony, Europe cringes at yet-another public dispute with The World’s Only Superpower(tm), and here in the U.S., we chow down on GM food, secure in the knowledge that our un-elected leaders have that whole global warming thing under control.

If there were an ostrich in the room, I’d apologize…

MICKEY Z. is the author of The Murdering of My Years: Artists and Activists Making Ends Meet and an editor at Wide Angle. He can be reached at: mzx2@earthlink.net.

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
Weekend Edition
September 4-6, 2015
Vijay Prashad
Regime Change Refugees: On the Shores of Europe
Lawrence Ware
No Refuge: the Specter of White Supremacy Still Haunts Black America
Paul Street
Bi-Polar Disorder: Obama’s Bait-and-Switch Environmental Politics
Kali Akuno
Until We Win: Black Labor and Liberation in the Disposable Era
Arun Gupta
Field Notes to Life During the Apocalypse
Steve Hendricks
Come Again? Second Thoughts on My Ashley Madison Affair
Paul Craig Roberts
Whither the Economy?
Ron Jacobs
Bernie Sanders’ Vision: As Myopic as Every Other Candidate or Not?
Rob Urie
Capitalism and Crisis
Jeffrey St. Clair
Arkansas Bloodsuckers: the Clintons, Prisoners and the Blood Trade
Richard W. Behan
Republican Fail, Advantage Sanders: the Indefensible Budget for Defense
Ted Rall
Call It By Its Name: Censorship
Susan Babbitt
“Swarms” Entering the UK? What We Can Still Learn About the Migrant Crisis From Che Guevara
Andrew Levine
Compassionate Conservatism: a Reconsideration and an Appreciation
John Wight
Adrift Without Sanctuary: a Sick and Twisted Morality
Binoy Kampmark
Sieges in an Age of Austerity: Monitoring Julian Assange
Colin Todhunter
Europe’s Refugee Crisis and the Depraved Morality of David Cameron
JP Sottile
Chinese Military Parade Freak-Out
Kathleen Wallace
The Child Has a Name, They All Do
David Rosen
Why So Few Riots?
Norm Kent
The Rent Boy Raid: Homeland Security Should Monitor Our Borders Not Our Bedrooms
Michael Welton
Canada’s Arrogant Autocrat: the Rogue Politics of Stephen Harper
Ramzy Baroud
Palestine’s Crisis of Leadership: Did Abbas Destroy Palestinian Democracy?
Jim Connolly
Sniping at the Sandernistas: Left Perfectionism in the Belly of the Beast
Pepe Escobar
Say Hello to China’s New Toys
Sylvia C. Frain
Tiny Guam, Huge US Marine Base Expansions
Pete Dolack
Turning National Parks into Corporate Profit Centers
Ann Garrison
Africa’s Problem From Hell: Samantha Power
Dan Glazebrook
British Home Secretary Theresa May: Savior or Slaughterer of Black People?
Christopher Brauchli
Poor, Poor, Pitiful Citigroup
Norman Pollack
Paradigm of a Fascist Mindset: Nicholas Burns on Iran
Barry Lando
Standing at the Bar of History: Could the i-Phone Really Have Prevented the Holocaust?
Linn Washington Jr.
Critics of BlackLivesMatter# Practice Defiant Denial
Roger Annis
Canada’s Web of Lies Over Syrian Refugee Crisis
Chris Zinda
Constitutional Crisis in the Heart of Dixie
Rannie Amiri
Everything Stinks: Beirut Protests and Garbage Politics
Graham Peebles
Criminalizing Refugees
Missy Comley Beattie
In Order To Breathe
James McEnteer
Blast From the Past in Buenos Aires
Patrick Higgins
A Response to the “Cruise Missile Left”
Tom H. Hastings
Too Broke to Pay Attention
Edward Leer
Love, Betrayal, and Donuts
Louis Proyect
Migrating Through Hell: Quemada-Diez’s “La Jaula de Oro”
Charles R. Larson
Class and Colonialism in British Cairo
David Yearsley
Michael Sarin: Drumming Like Summer Fireworks Over a Choppy Lake