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Mon Nov 19, 2012, 10:25 PM

WSJ: U.S. closes antitrust investigation into seed industry, Monsanto.


Response to #7 in this thread http://www.democraticunderground.com/10021850780 (but withheld since the thread started hopping while I was putting it together and this is a bad news tangent):

REPLY: The idea is to temporarily move the needle enough to register that their consumers are dissatisfied. Punishing the organic divisions of these conglomerates? Not sure either (risky if they concluded organics weren't profitable). Personally, I'd favor more selective protests, eg. highlighting unlabeled GMOs in baby formula and kid's snacks, plus friendly grassroots information-sharing with busy obstetricians, pediatricians, their staffs, and new parents, although I wonder if that type of specificity would trigger the food disparagement nuisance lawsuits against organizers.

Judging from recent events (below), entrenched interests appear to require a decentralized multipronged approach. This is infuriating, but consumers hold tremendous power and ultimately are unbeatable.


U.S. closes antitrust investigation into seed industry, Monsanto
Sunday, 18 November 2012 22:44

The antitrust investigation launched by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in 2010 marked a real moment of hope for farmers and consumers that the Obama administration really did care about the impact on them of industry concentration. See, for instance, the article: Farmers to DOJ -- "Break up Big Ag" in which a Wisconsin farmer comments:

"My parents' 29th wedding anniversary was a farm foreclosure. Their 30th anniversary was a sheriff's auction on the courthouse steps. My neighbor's farm was stolen from him that was owned since 1942 by his family. He came to ask how to get food stamps because he'd always lived off his farm... Washington has got to step up. DOJ is our only lifeboat. They have to fix this. They have to correct it. Monsanto does not have the right to dictate the value of my life, my work, and the food I produce..." See http://huff.to/dryur2

See also the video: Farmers Speak: Bust Up Big Ag http://www.gmwatch.org/gm-videosb/24-corporate-takeover/12057

Although nothing of substance has changed, the investigation has now been closed down.


EXTRACT: The highly-publicized (Justice Department/USDA) workshops did not result in any major regulatory changes, and Christine Varney, who was the head of the Justice Department's antitrust enforcement at the time, has since left for the private sector.

U.S. Closes Antitrust Investigation Into Seed Industry, Monsanto
Ian Berry and David Kesmodel
Wall Street Journal, November 16 2012

The U.S. Justice Department has closed a formal antitrust investigation into the U.S. seed industry, which is led by crop biotechnology giant Monsanto Co., without pursuing charges, the government said Friday.


Massive disappointment and disgraceful, yet until proven otherwise, I'm in the camp 'they would if they could.' Remember the recent Michael Pollan NYT article with the paraphrased remark, 'Food movement? I don't see it, show me.' Sounds like a plan.

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Reply WSJ: U.S. closes antitrust investigation into seed industry, Monsanto. (Original post)
proverbialwisdom Nov 2012 OP
proverbialwisdom Nov 2012 #1
proverbialwisdom Nov 2012 #2
proverbialwisdom Nov 2012 #3
proverbialwisdom Nov 2012 #4

Response to proverbialwisdom (Original post)

Tue Nov 20, 2012, 12:34 PM

1. GREAT ARTICLE: ...what’s missing in food politics is “a public that demands these [reforms]..."

Multiple embedded links.


Moment of truth: Is the ‘food movement’ for real — or just talk?

By Tom Laskawy
17 Oct 2012 9:42 AM

At the start of the Obama administration, the newly minted president, the same one who quoted Michael Pollan, immediately and disappointingly set about enforcing the food and farm policy status quo. To some political analysts, this came as absolutely no surprise. Ezra Klein, who now writes for the Washington Post but was blogging for the American Prospect at the time, explained the dynamics of the situation:

The broader community of folks who eat food — all of us, more or less — don’t clearly see the connection between policy and plate and so pay little attention to federal action. Our interests are largely lost because there’s little in the way of political reward for serving the silent. Expecting Obama to change that because he read a magazine article is a sucker’s bet. Obama’s picks are traditional because he’s a rational politician, and he’s subject to the same incentives all politicians are subject to. The answer isn’t in better, or more enlightened, politicians. It’s in changing the surrounding political incentives. People who want farm policy to become food policy need to find ways to become louder.

This has been the great challenge for the “food movement” ever since. In last week’s food issue of the New York Times Magazine, Michael Pollan himself points to the greatest opportunity yet for the movement to raise its voice — passage of California’s GMO labeling referendum, or Prop 37. For the movement, says Pollan, the ballot measure is “something capable of frightening politicians and propelling its concerns onto the national agenda.”


Public health advocate Kelly Brownell of Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity says that what’s missing in food politics is “a public that demands these [reforms] and that gives politicians cover to take these actions.”

Huber and Pollan come to the same conclusion: Without proven political power, i.e. the literal or figurative “people taking to the streets” phenomenon a political movement needs to flex its muscles, real reform will fizzle out.


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Response to proverbialwisdom (Reply #1)

Tue Nov 20, 2012, 01:31 PM

2. "...that gives politicians cover to take these actions” - INCOMPLETE story and passing the buck.

Clearly, **scientists and public health advocates** could use cover, too. Farmers aren't the only ones being rolled. Examples abound, most recently in the news a lawsuit for food 'defamation' miring a solo microbiologist. Where are his professional colleagues?


ABC News Sued for $1.2 Billion Over Report on 'Pink Slime'

10:48 AM PDT 9/13/2012
by Eriq Gardner

Beef manufacturer claims defamation in March report that led to consumer uprising against a processed beef product.

ABC has been hit with a $1.2 billion lawsuit over "pink slime."

Beef Products Inc., a South Dakota-based boneless-lean-beef giant, has sued the network as well as news anchor Diane Sawyer and several correspondents for news reports that allegedly have caused the company harm.

Until March, much of the ground beef in supermarkets, many restaurants and school lunches used a meat product some have called "pink slime," which includes the use of fillers and trimmings, plus ammonia to kill bacteria. Then, ABC featured it, leading to a big consumer backlash.


The lawsuit also targets Gerald Zirnstein, the USDA microbiologist who came up with the term "pink slime" and gave an interview to ABC.


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Response to proverbialwisdom (Original post)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 07:35 PM

3. Ah, no shortage of problems globally nonetheless.

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