Here’s an important message to CounterPunch readers from Chris Hedges….
Chris Hedges calls CounterPunch “the most fearless, intellectually rigorous and important publication in the United States.” Who are we to argue? But the only way we can continue to “dissect the evils of empire” and the “psychosis of permanent war” is with your financial support. Please donate.
Yes, these are dire political times. Many who optimistically hoped for real change have spent nearly five years under the cold downpour of political reality. Here at CounterPunch we’ve always aimed to tell it like it is, without illusions or despair. That’s why so many of you have found a refuge at CounterPunch and made us your homepage. You tell us that you love CounterPunch because the quality of the writing you find here in the original articles we offer every day and because we never flinch under fire. We appreciate the support and are prepared for the fierce battles to come.
Unlike other outfits, we don’t hit you up for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it.
CounterPunch’s website is supported almost entirely by subscribers to the print edition of our magazine. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads.
The continued existence of CounterPunch depends solely on the support and dedication of our readers. We know there are a lot of you. We get thousands of emails from you every day. Our website receives millions of hits and nearly 100,000 readers each day. And we don’t charge you a dime.
Please, use our brand new secure shopping cart to make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch today or purchase a subscription our monthly magazine and a gift sub for someone or one of our explosive books, including the ground-breaking Killing Trayvons. Show a little affection for subversion: consider an automated monthly donation. (We accept checks, credit cards, PayPal and cold-hard cash….)
Thank you for your support,
Jeffrey, Joshua, Becky, Deva, and Nathaniel
CounterPunch PO Box 228, Petrolia, CA 95558
Another Shill for Monsanto
Yesterday’s announcement that former Iowa Governor, Tom Vilsack, has been selected as the new Secretary of Agriculture sent a chill through the sustainable food and farming community who have been lobbying for a champion in the new administration.
"Vilsack’s nomination sends the message that dangerous, untested, unlabeled genetically engineered crops will be the norm in the Obama Administration," said RONNIE CUMMINS, Executive Director of Organic Consumers Association. "Our nation’s future depends on crafting a forward-thinking strategy to promote organic and sustainable food and farming, and address the related crises of climate change, diminishing energy supplies, deteriorating public health, and economic depression.”
The Department of Agriculture during the Bush Administration failed to promote a sustainable vision for food and farming and did not protect consumers from the chemical-intensive toxic practices inherent to industrial agriculture. While factory farms and junk food have been subsidized with billions of tax dollars, the US industrial farm system has released massive amounts of climate-destabilizing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and increased our dependence on foreign oil.
The Secretary of Agriculture is responsible for directing the U.S. Department of Agriculture and its $97 billion annual budget, including the National Organic Program, food stamp and nutrition programs, agriculture subsidies, and the Forest Service.
While Vilsack has worked to restrain livestock monopolies, his overall record is one of aiding and abetting Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs, also known as factory farms). Vilsack’s support for unsustainable industrial ethanol production has already caused global corn and grain prices to skyrocket, literally taking food off the table for a billion people in the developing world.
Over the past month, Organic Consumers Association members have sent over 20,000 emails to President-Elect Obama’s Transition Team, calling for the appointment of a Secretary of Agriculture who would develop and implement a plan that promotes family-scale farming, a safe and nutritious food system, and a sustainable and organic vision for the future.
"Obama’s choice for Secretary of Agriculture points to the continuation of agribusiness as usual, the failed policies of chemical- and energy-intensive, genetically engineered industrial agriculture," said Cummins. "Americans were promised ‘change,’ not just another shill for Monsanto and corporate agribusiness. Considering the challenges we collectively face as a nation, from climate change and rising energy costs to food insecurity, we need an administration that moves beyond ‘business as usual’ to fundamental change—before it’s too late,” concluded Cummins.
Vilsack’s business as usual positions have included the following:
· Vilsack has been a strong supporter of genetically engineered pharmaceutical crops, especially pharmaceutical corn.
· The biggest biotechnology industry group, the Biotechnology Industry Organization, named Vilsack Governor of the Year. He is also the founder and former chair of the Governor’s Biotechnology Partnership.
· When Vilsack created the Iowa Values Fund, his first poster child for economic development was Trans Ova and their pursuit of cloning dairy cows.
· The undemocratic 2005 seed pre-emption bill was the Vilsack’s brainchild. The law strips local government’s right to regulate genetically engineered seed.
· Vilsack is an ardent supporter of corn and soy based biofuels, which use as much or more energy to produce as they generate and drive up world food prices, literally starving the poor.
The OCA has launched an online petition campaign at www.stopvilsack.orgto mobilize hundreds of thousands of people to oppose Vilsack’s Senate confirmation.
Additionally, OCA’s nationwide network of 850,000 organic consumers are urging members of Congress to move beyond business as usual and implement a comprehensive strategy for organic food and farming in 2009 and beyond.
RONNIE CUMMINS is director of the Organic Consumers Alliance. He can be reached at: email@example.com.