OPINION: I have often wondered how Hitler remained so popular with his own people, adored to the end when the Fatherland was almost destroyed.
One factor may be that unlike the other despots of his age, Hitler was careful to maintain and promote the independence and prosperity of the corporations that made the weapons and infra- structure he required to maintain power and to wage war.
It was a great way to make friends and influence people. Hundreds of German companies flourished, thanks to the countless thousands of disposable slave labourers he provided. It was an early if somewhat extreme example of the private-public partnerships so beloved of our current economic planners.
This model is perhaps most obvious today in the United States where the borders between corporate and political power have eroded almost to the point of insignificance.
When Dick Cheney was vice- president under George Bush Jr he was able to skew intelligence reports to promote a war with Iraq and then engineer multibillion- dollar military contracts in Iraq to benefit Halliburton, the company he once ran.
When the company was found to have overcharged for the goods and services by a number so enormous that it cannot be written down on the world's available paper supply, nothing much happened to it. Halliburton was apparently immune to prosecution in a way that recalled the famous words of Dr Goebbels who said that if you are going to tell a lie tell a very big one. Halliburton seems to have taken the view that if you are going to commit theft do it on a scale so large it somehow becomes something else. Acting like a criminal thug is so traditional for many American corporations that the word "like" is redundant.
Today it would be easy to see American industry as being in decline and it is true, for example, that US carmakers seem incapable of making a decent mid-size car. But in other areas, US corporations are pursuing agendas of breathtaking ambition, including a scheme to seize control of the world's food supply. It risks consequences as dire as anything that Adolf might have dreamed up.
Genetically modified crops produced by companies like Monsanto are taking over. The crops have proven very effective at polluting other crops, conveniently wiping out competing, traditional agriculture. Where a crop is polluted by Monsanto's Frankenseeds the company has taken to suing the farmer for stealing their technology. It's pure, evil genius.
There are many in the independent scientific community who believe Monsanto has already visited more lasting harm on the planet than any corporation has a right to be forgiven. They maintain that the organo- chlorines Monsanto and other pesticide manufacturers saturated the world's best agricultural land with until the 1970s will prove every bit as dangerous and destructive as nuclear waste, more so if we actually succeed in largely keeping a lid on the latter.
Before they were finally banned, the compounds were blamed for widespread reproductive failures among birds because birds laid eggs with thin shells that cracked before hatching and for decimating populations of the world's amphibians.
Humans exposed to spray drift suffered convulsions, headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, tremors, confusion, muscle weakness, slurred speech, salivation and sweating. Long- term exposure was found to damage the liver, kidney, central nervous system, thyroid and bladder.
Many of the pesticides were linked to elevated rates of liver or kidney cancer in animals and there was overwhelming but largely ignored evidence they caused widespread cancer in humans. Until these products were banned, and New Zealand was always among the last to ban them, Monsanto continually assured the world they were safe and posed no dangers to either humans or the environment.
Today it makes the same assurances for its replacement pesticides like Roundup - a product many opponents claim has never been properly tested. It is fair to ask why we should believe anything Monsanto says given all the lies it has told in the past.
A lot of hopeful folk believed that the Obama Administration was going to be different but they did not have long to wait to discover that it was business as usual. The head of the US Department of Agriculture appointed by Obama is a leading advocate for Monsanto. So is his senior adviser to the Food and Drug Administration Commissioner on Food Safety. Ditto the Director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the Chief Agricultural Negotiator for the Office of the US Trade Representative.
It seems that On March 26 the president signed an act protecting Monsanto from being sued for health damages caused by the use of its GM crops. Furthermore, the act stated that if health damages were discovered resulting from the use of GMO foods, then the United States government would not be able to ban them from consumption. Oh my.
Our first crop of GE rye grass is apparently on the way as we continue to be willing partners in this most ungodly experiment, but as you hear all the usual soothing platitudes from our complicit politicians remember who we are getting into bed with.
Monsanto: The people who bought you Agent Orange, dioxins, PCBs and DDT.
Tim Hanna is a Lumsden-based author.
- The Southland Times
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