Modified Food: A Threat To Our Way Of Life?
During World War II, its plants had run an arm of the Manhattan Project, which developed the first nuclear bomb, and during the Vietnam War, Monsanto's Agent Orange, a defoliant agent, proved decisive in enhancing jungle visibility by destroying vegetation. (It seems a "scorched-earth" couldn't be a more apt term when describing this company's policies and practices.) Because the dioxin levels in Monsanto's strain of Agent Orange was proven to be many times higher than its competitors, veterans held Monsanto as the main defendant in a lawsuit against the cancerous and birth deforming effects of the chemical.
Despite all the controversy, Monsanto still flourished, thanks to a steady relationship between the public and private sectors. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who was once a Monsanto attorney, and Donald Rumsfeld, whose pharmaceutical firm was bought out by Monsanto, are both former team members, while other ex-employees have held top seats at the EPA.
Business and Government: The Perfect Storm
In the 1970s and 1980s, much of America was won over by charity campaigns like USA For Africa and its "We Are The World" song and ad spots, which used images of bloated stomachs on otherwise skin and bone malnourished African children to inspire donations. The U.S. government, of course, had its own ideas.
In 1974, Henry Kissinger and the National Security Council drew up The Kissinger Report, a 123-page classified document on the "Implications of Worldwide Population Growth For U.S. Security and Overseas Interests." The report outlines many threats to U.S. interests arising from overpopulation, including "breakdowns in social structures... poverty... terrorism, food riots [and] revolutionary movements." In other words, the government identified even underfed third world countries as enemies.
The report cries out for a liberalization of trade agreements and to "permit maximum production by efficient producers" to meet rising population demands, especially in developing countries. While it seems counter-intuitive that feeding people helps combat over-population, according to the report people who eat more and have lower mortality rates, breed less.
Perhaps a perfect model of the relationship between Monsanto, government and NSSM 200's policies, is Ann Veneman, former Secretary of Agriculture under Bush II. Before Ann helped negotiate NAFTA for the Clinton administration she served on the Board of Directors of the first company to sell genetically engineered tomatoes prior to Monsanto purchasing it.
So, in a 2001 speech to Monsanto and other agriculture leaders, when he thanked Ann for her work, President Bush assured that the Kissinger Report's policies were still in effect when he reiterated its doctrine verbatim:
"I used to tell people in the course of the campaign, I want America to feed the world. I want our great Nation that's a land of great, efficient producers to make sure people don't go hungry. And it starts with having an administration committed to knocking down barriers to trade, and we are."