Monsanto, Cargill and Occupy Wall Street
By Kristin Wartman
If you are paying attention to Occupy Wall Street—and by now most people are—the anti-corporate message is coming through loud and clear. Most participants at the events now spreading across the country say they are no longer willing to let powerful corporate interests determine the course of their lives. These Americans realize that a participatory democracy is essential.
As it stands today, 75 percent of the population are obese or overweight and many are chronically ill with diet-related diseases. They are also largely dependent on an increasingly unhealthful and contaminated food supply that is heavily controlled by corporate interests. It’s obvious that this is our moment to drive a very important point home—upending corporate control of the food supply is a fundamental change that must occur if the 99 percent are to be healthy participants in a true democracy.
This could be a catalyzing moment for the food movement with a real chance for average Americans to see and hear the connection between corporate control of the food supply and our nation’s health crisis. Indeed, the declaration of Occupy Wall Street (available on its Facebook page), addresses issues the food movement has been working on for years. The declaration states, “They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.”
Author and activist Naomi Klein has been an outspoken advocate and participant in Occupy Wall Street. When asked how it connects to the food movement, she said, “The protest is about the corporate takeover of democracy of our lives in every way. The food movement is inherently anti-corporate and it is inherently about rebuilding a real economy.” She continued, “The food movement is where a lot of the leadership is. Occupy Wall Street is not just about banking legislation. The food movement is paving the way for what needs to happen in manufacturing and I think it’s all connected.”
Marion Nestle, Paulette Goddard Professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University agrees. “Of course Occupy Wall Street connects to the food movement,” she said. “If we had a healthier financial system, we might be able to fund better food assistance, universal school meals, a rational and effective food safety system, and production agriculture that promotes sustainability and affordable food that is healthier for people and the planet. The food movement needs to be there and its voices heard.”
While powerful players like Goldman Sachs and Fannie Mae were on the lips of nearly every American after the 2008 financial crisis, the names of industrial agriculture corporations remain largely unknown. But consider how much power they wield. Take Monsanto as an example. When Monsanto began selling its genetically modified Roundup Ready soybeans in 1996, only 2 percent of soybeans in the U.S. contained their patented gene. By 2008, over 90 percent of soybeans in the U.S. contained Monsanto’s gene. This is especially alarming given that soybeans account for the largest source of protein feed and the second largest source of vegetable oil in the world. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, in 2008-09, the farm value of soybean production was $29.6 billion, the second highest among U.S. produced crops—and soy is ubiquitous in processed foods. It ends up in the meat, milk, eggs and farmed fish many Americans consume (as a result of it being in animal feed) as well as thousands upon thousands of packaged foods usually in the form of soy protein isolate, soy isoflavones, textured vegetable protein and soy oils. Soy accounts for one-fifth of the calories in the American diet.
Monsanto has also produced genetically modified seeds for corn, canola and cotton, with many more products being developed, including seeds for sugar beets and alfalfa. (To see how ferociously Monsanto protects its patented seeds, watch the Oscar-nominated documentary Food, Inc.) As for corn, the highest valued U.S. produced crop, 93 percent of it is genetically engineered. Physicist and internationally renowned activist Dr. Vandana Shiva points out that the notion that genetically engineered food will improve the food supply and improve nutrition is a myth. “These are illusions that are being marketed in order for people to hand over the power to decide what to eat to a handful of corporations,” she said in an interview on her website.
Another corporation with broad reach and control over the foods we eat is Cargill, which rivals Monsanto in its control of the food supply. It is the largest privately held corporation in the nation, owning Cargill Pork and Cargill Beef, the second largest beef producer in North America. According to Anna Lappe’s book "Diet for a Hot Planet," Cargill also owns dozens of subsidiary businesses, is one of the largest commercial cattle feeders in the U.S., the world’s biggest processor, marketer and distributor of grains, oilseeds and other agricultural commodities, and controls 80 percent of the European market for soybean crushing with a similar share for animal feed manufacturing.
If you eat any processed or packaged food, or anything from a typical restaurant or café, you can guarantee that Monsanto or Cargill played a role in those foods somewhere along the line. As Dr. Shiva points out in much of her work, these companies contribute to the toxification of our food supply. It’s not only the lack of nutritional value in many of these highly processed foods, but also the actual toxins that are added to genetically engineered foods. Bees, butterflies, cattle and other animals have been dying as a result of these crops, so how are they affecting humans? (You can listen to Dr. Shiva discuss this here).
If America’s health crisis is any indication, corporate control of the food supply is taking the ultimate toll. American children born in 2000 are the first generation not expected to outlive their parents as one in three is likely to develop diabetes in their lifetime, with those rates even higher for black and Latino children. The corporate monopolies over the food supply and the government’s role in facilitating corporate control translates into control over the health of the American population.
Occupy Wall Street illustrates a basic tenet of democracy—we must participate for it to function properly. We must also participate in our food system to develop local food economies that function with our interests in mind. Our first steps must be learning and teaching others about where our food comes from and how to access healthy food. We must also boycott companies like Monsanto and Cargill, whose sole interest is profit, not our health or protecting the environment.
Writer, activist and academic Raj Patel said that while Wall Street is certainly behind many problems with the food system, there is an even deeper connection between the two. “At its best, the food movement is about learning to see the politics in our everyday lives and then to take a stand against injustice,” he said. “That’s what Occupy Wall Street is doing—creating a space to learn, demand, exchange and organize.”
Occupy Wall Street understands that the corporations—whose driving force is profit not the health of the people, the country or the environment—cannot be allowed to control our political systems. Similarly, when corporations control the food supply we are left with an unsafe and unregulated food supply with virtually no oversight and a population in the midst of a dire health crisis as a result of corporate greed and carelessness.
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Putin's Daughter Among Vaccinated<p>The Russian leader also said that one of his daughters has already been inoculated and is feeling well.</p><p>"One of my daughters got vaccinated, so in this sense, she took part in the testing," Putin said.</p><p>After the first vaccine shot, his daughter experienced a slight fever, 38 degrees Celsius (100.4°F). Her temperature came down to just slightly above normal the next day. </p><p>"After the second shot, she had a slight fever again, and then everything was fine. She is feeling well and has a high antibody count," Putin said. </p><p>He didn't specify which of his two daughters, Maria or Katerina, received the vaccine.</p><p>Russian health authorities have said that medical workers, teachers and other risk groups will be the first to receive shots of the vaccine.</p>
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By Arkilaus Kladit
My name is Arkilaus Kladit. I'm from the Knasaimos-Tehit tribe in South Sorong Regency, West Papua Province, Indonesia. For decades my tribe has been fighting to protect our forests from outsiders who want to log it or clear it for palm oil. For my people, the forest is our mother and our best friend. Everything we need to survive comes from the forest: food, medicines, building materials, and there are many sacred sites in the forest.
Map of the Knasaimos traditional lands.
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By Farah Aqel
Overthinkers are people who are buried in their own obsessive thoughts. Imagine being in a large maze where each turn leads into an even deeper and knottier tangle of catastrophic, distressing events — that is what it feels like to them when they think about the issues that confront them.
Ruminating<p>According to the late Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, a professor of psychology at Yale University, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5796420/" target="_blank">ruminating</a> involves replaying a problem over and over in your mind. We ruminate by obsessing over our thoughts and thinking repetitively about various aspects of a past situation.</p><p>It usually involves regret, self-loathing and self-blaming. Rumination is associated with the development of depression, anxiety and eating disorders. </p><p>People prone to such patterns of thought may, for example, overanalyze every single detail of a relationship that breaks up. They often blame themselves for what has happened and are overcome with regret, with typical thoughts being: </p><p>- I should have been more patient and more supportive. </p><p>- I have lost the most perfect partner ever. </p><p>- No one will love me again.</p>
Worrying<p>Worrying is wanting to predict the future. It involves negative thoughts about things that might and might not happen.</p><p>- They'll not like me in the interview; they'll not give me the job. </p><p>- I haven't heard back from other employers. How long will I be unemployed?</p><p>These thoughts are energy-draining and distressing. They could happen to anyone under stress. But when you reach the point where your thoughts and worrying are preventing you from doing what you want to do — from living your life to the fullest — then you should take action.</p>
Catch Yourself Overthinking<p>Reuben Berger, a psychotherapist at the university hospital in the western German city of Bonn, recommends several practical steps that you could employ in your daily routine when you catch yourself worrying or ruminating.</p><p>One effective remedy, says Berger, is the <a href="https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/uf9938" target="_blank">thought-stopping technique.</a></p><p>"When the negative thoughts come or ruminations start, you say to yourself: 'Stop!,'" he says, adding that it is more effective when you actually say the word out loud.</p><p>He even recommends having a rubber band around your wrist to ping against yourself while saying the word. Adding a visual component by imagining a stop sign also makes the technique more powerful, he says.</p><p>The main idea here is conditioning yourself to stop the loop of worrying (making future predictions) or rumination (obsessing over past events).</p><p>Berger says the technique could take up to two weeks to take effect and that it needs to be practiced every day. "Consistency is very important," he says. </p>
Thoughts Are Just Thoughts<p>Another way of dealing with negative thoughts often used in modern therapy is realizing that thoughts aren't facts, says Berger.</p><p>He says it is important when we think something to ask: Is that real? Did that really happen? What is the worst thing that could happen?</p><p>Flight anxiety is one example where untrue thoughts are accepted as facts. Although air travel is the safest way to get around, people suffering from fear of flying accept their thoughts and fears as reality, then act upon them by refusing to fly.</p>
Mindfulness<p>Berger also recommends the use of mindfulness techniques, in which attention is paid to experiences in the moment without judging them, as a way of reducing worrying.</p><p>"Mindfulness helps you to distance yourself from your thoughts and to be more present in the moment," he says.</p><p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3432145/#R2" target="_blank">Several studies</a> have shown that mindfulness has a positive impact on reducing stress-related behaviors such as rumination and worrying, as focusing on the moment makes anxiety about other problems impossible.</p><p>Mindfulness can be practiced during routine activities by paying attention to your body and your surroundings. For instance, when you leave for work in the morning, you can focus on sensing the breeze, listen attentively to birds, feel the gravel under your feet and monitor your breath. </p>
Trick Your Brain Into Happiness<p>People plagued by obsessive thoughts do not always choose healthy ways like mindfulness to distract from them, however.</p><p> Dr. Edward Selby, a psychologist at Florida state university, has shown in a study that people try to avoid rumination by engaging in a range of uncontrolled behaviors, such as binge eating and substance abuse.</p><p>But he says that a much better way to overcome such distress is by distraction and shifting attention away from problems that are obsessing us.</p><p>There are many activities that can be used to distract from rumination, he says, and people should choose the one that works best for them. Here are some examples:</p><p>- Listen to music</p><p>- Read a book</p><p>- Take a hot shower</p><p>- Dance or exercise </p><p>- Talk to a friend (not about the problem)</p><p>- Watch a movie</p><p>- Mindfulness meditation</p>
Changing the Perception of Events<p>The way people perceive a situation largely influences their emotions and behavior. It is not the situation itself that determines how they feel, but rather the way they interpret it.</p><p>Reframing negative thoughts can lead to positive emotions and, subsequently, healthier behaviors — including a reduction in damaging overthinking and worrying.</p><p>Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is currently a gold standard in psychotherapy. CBT aims to change the way people think and act. It largely involves challenging unhelpful beliefs or attitudes such as overgeneralization — thinking "I always fail at public speaking" when you have had one bad experience in front of an audience, for example — or "catastrophization," i.e., imagining the worst possible outcome to a situation. </p><p>A psychotherapist can teach people how to implement such thought-changing techniques into their lives. Techniques vary depending on their issues and goals.</p>
Solutions Are at Hand<p>Try to find ways of avoiding worrying, rumination and overthinking that make you feel most comfortable.</p><p>Incorporating any routine in your life when you're stressed isn't an easy task, but you can do it! If you feel overwhelmed, you can always seek professional help. </p><p><em>If you are suffering from serious emotional strain or suicidal thoughts, do not hesitate to seek professional help. You can find information on where to find such help, no matter where you live in the world, <a href="https://www.befrienders.org/" target="_blank">at this website.</a></em></p>
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