May 14, 2003
The United States is not a democracy. It is run by generals and for generals: General Motors, General Electric, General Dynamics, and General Mills.
Case in point: the May 13th decision by the Bush Administration to sue the European Union to force it to accept genetically modified foods made by U.S. agribusinesses.
"We are fighting for the interests of American agriculture," said Ag Secretary Ann Veneman, flat out.
Certainly, the Bush Administration is not fighting for the European environment or the European consumer. Many Europeans oppose GMOs, and a majority want such foods to at least be labeled as such.
But the Bush Administration opposes even the labeling of GMO foods.
So it has gone to the World Trade Organization's secret three-member tribunal to pry Europe's markets open to these dubious Frankenfoods.
You remember the WTO, don't you?
Seattle, turtles, Teamsters, black bloc anarchists, and all that?
Well, the WTO is still in business, and it's job is to protect the rights of corporations to peddle their wares unheeded by regulations, including those on such a crucial subject as food safety. The burden of proof is on the regulating country to demonstrate that a product is dangerous.
So in a case like GMOs, where the science is still out, it's going to be awfully hard for Europe to win at the WTO tribunal, where the judges, three trade experts, meet in private to hear the case.
"The Bush Administration is putting the interests of its agribusiness supporters over many of the values it purports to seek for the world: democracy, accountability, and openness," says Lori Wallach of Public Citizen. Europeans will "be seeing GMOs forced down their throats."
The WTO, at bottom, was always a way for huge corporations to prevail. And the Bush Administration doesn't see anything wrong with that--or with Frankenfoods.
To its erstwhile European allies, it says with a sneer: Bon appetit.