Monthly Archives: October 2016

GMO Contradictory Claims and Tripping up McDonalds in Paris

14600870_935690983201659_1568748584969979036_nGrenoble   The counterclaims around genetically modified crops around the world are head spinning. Thousands march to protest their use in the US and Europe. Noted scientists take out ads in major papers claiming they represent no problems. Some argue they are necessary in the future to feed the world’s growing population. Back and forth it goes. Sometimes it seems we should just pick and side and hope for the best.

Some things are clear though, and disturbing. Whenever a conglomerate like Monsanto can make money on both sides of the deal, it is deeply worrisome, and hard not to believe something has gone terribly wrong. They – and others – sell both genetically modified seeds and plain seeds. They also sell the insecticides and herbicides to both kill weeds and to essentially avoid the weed killers like Roundup. The German-based conglomerate, Bayer, is now trying to buy Monsanto and a Chinese company is trying to buy their big competitor, so this could all get even harder to sort out.

An article in the New York Times by Danny Hakim, “Doubts About the Promised Bounty of Genetically Modified Crops,” throws another powerful wrench into the works. Using United Nations crop yields data over a period of years since the introduction of GMOs in basic crops like corn, soybeans, and rapeseed in the United States and Canada with similar production in the European agricultural powerhouses of Germany and France, there was no evidence of superior yields. And, equally disturbing there was increased use of chemicals, rather than less. Monsanto claims the data was cherry picked, but unconvincingly answers the argument by cherry picking different data to try to make their case. Both parties understand that the house crumbles if the very foundation of the manufacturers’ arguments about increased production are not sustained after two decades of use. Monsanto sums up its case with something of shrug, saying if you don’t like it, we’ll sell it India and elsewhere that are wild for it.

All of this was on my mind in the wake of an excellent report issued by our partner, ReAct in Paris recently that extensively documented the reliance of the McDonalds’ fast food operations on genetic modifications throughout its supply chain in beef, potatoes, and chicken in the very anti-GMO and GMO-conscious French and European markets. The release of the report was big news throughout Paris partly because it was accompanied by a demonstration in a central Parisian Mickey-D’s by fifty or more folks including farmers, students, and members of ACORN’s affiliate, the Alliance Citoyenne from Aubervilliers, a Paris suburb that is the poorest district in France. The action featured a Ronald McDonald look alike that was “arrested” by the demonstrators for polluting the supply chain with GMOs that are banned expressly in France and the European Union.

Monsanto may be scurrying from the Times article in the US, but McDonalds is now ducking and weaving over GMOs in Europe, and no matter which side you come down on about GMOs, French consumers seem clear, and they are saying loudly and in no uncertain terms, they want no part of it.



I’m Sick of This Campaign! Can it Get Any Crazier?

election2016Grenoble   This presidential election season seems like a nightmare that just will not end! The whole season feels like Halloween with all tricks and no treats. It feels like the whole country is not living in suspense, but something more along the lines of a feeling of constant dread. What will Trump say next and who and how many millions will he offend? What will be revealed next in the Clinton staffers’ emails, and now, unbelievably, what in the world is the FBI doing in the middle of the election, jumping into the middle of the mess days before the voting, like we are living in Egypt, Turkey, or Russia, rather than the good ol’ USA.

Looking back over the last year is not a highlights, but a low-lights, reel.

Trump is like an abusive comic in a bad reality show. He’s attacked Muslims, Mexicans, all manner of immigrants, African-Americans, other candidates and their wives, parents of soldiers, and of course women by the tens of millions. And, no doubt, I’m forgetting others by the score. We’ve heard him on tape flaunting sexual abuse as he’s established a new standard for crudity and crassness in electioneering, and, yes, that includes comments on the size of hands and sex organs. We’ve heard him take pride in tax dodging and pat his own back for not paying taxes, while he’s running for the job of spending everyone else’s tax dollars and clearly not paying any of his own. Commentators have expressed concerns about allowing younger children to even watch Presidential debates for goodness sakes! Is there no end to this?

Meanwhile, we have this email train wreck that won’t stop running over in the Clinton wheelhouse. It starts with a terribly bad decision when she was Secretary of State to use a private server rather than the department’s email system. Anyone can make a bad call, but then the tendency towards secrecy without much of a mea culpa just exacerbates the trust issues, and can’t be put to bed and tucked in for the night. The FBI finally puts an endless investigation to rest with a couple of hand slaps, which are mistakenly called exonerations, and then, darned if they don’t reopen the whole mess, breaking their own internal policies by doing so, and offering hardly a smidgen of information. Worse, it seems to involve a former Congressman and estranged husband of one of Clinton’s closest advisors who once again is caught in a sexting scandal and unbelievably shared some electronic devices with his ex-wife that may have contained secret information. Talk about crass and crude, and stupid as a rock. What the frick!

Can any of us believe we are living through any of this at the highest levels of our political life?

And, that’s not all. Thanks to WikiLeaks and likely help from the Russians we also are treated to a daily dose of email drops from Clinton campaign chief John Podesta with way too much tacky talk and inside baseball play-by-play of the functions and dysfunctions of the Clinton campaign. We thought we had drama inside the Trump campaign, well, hold on, here comes the Clintonistas, too! Oh, and sure, video drops of dirty tricks to boot.

I’m sure I’m forgetting something, but I can’t take anymore.

Tuesday, November 8th, can’t come quickly enough for any of us. In some countries and in union elections there’s a quiet period before the vote for campaigning to stop. Can we get some of that now?!?