Saturday, August 20, 2016

Civil obedience is the problem

This article, The People of Vermont versus Monsanto and the Feds by Paul Cienfuegos, was recommended by Minnesota activist friends.

The conclusions of the Princeton "oligarchy study," that there is really no correlation between what most voters want and what laws are passed (cartoon version here), is perfectly represented by the passage of the DARK act. What human in her/his right mind would NOT want to know what's in the food we buy and eat? 

What human wants a secret trade court to decide who has jurisdiction over our lives - a foreign corporation or our state and federal laws? Yet the Trans Pacific Partnership (pushed by newly re-elected Mr. 10.5 percent*) will probably pass in the lame duck session. What human wants more fossil fuel development as our planet burns to a cinder? Yet the Obama administration is poised to approve new Gulf oil leases. The list is endless as anyone with an email address knows.

* Ron Kind got about 81 percent of the votes of the 13 percent of voters who showed up on August 9. So, about 89.5 percent of voters did not vote for Ron Kind.

But, back to the issue at hand. The People of Vermont vs Monsanto and the Feds

Beloved historian Howard Zinn once said, “Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. … Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves, and all the while the grand thieves are running and robbing the country. …”

We all know he was right. One of the more tragic current examples of how American social movements continue to fall into this trap of civil obedience is how our anti-GMO organizations have responded to Monsanto Corporation’s proposed DARK Act, which bans states from requiring the labeling of GMO foods, and which our Congress, Senate, and President Obama all passed into law over these last few weeks, even though it was opposed by 90% of Americans. Because the DARK Act is now law, Vermont’s existing law that requires all foods containing GMOs to be labeled, has been struck down and can no longer be enforced.

For years now, the Organic Consumers Association, Center for Food Safety, Food Democracy Now, and other national and state organizations, have been leading the American people down a path of civil obedience, consistently claiming that if they can just get more signatures on their online petitions, if they can just get another wave of donations from their millions of supporters, that they will continue to win against Monsanto Corporation and its allies. If that were actually true, the DARK Act would not have been passed by an overwhelming majority of both Democrats and Republicans, Obama would have vetoed it, and numerous states would have already successfully banned, not labeled, GMO foods. So clearly, something is terribly wrong with the strategy that these anti-GMO groups are asking us to follow. Is there a better alternative? Of course there is!

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