[Marxism] "Better Living Through Chemistry?" Think Again!
giobon at comcast.net
Sun Aug 11 12:22:53 MDT 2019
"Better Living Through Chemistry?" Think Again!
By Chris Kinder,
RE: The Fight Against Monsanto's Roundup, the Politics of Pesticides
Mitchel Cohen and others. Forward by Vandana Shiva
New York, 2019
"Better Living Through Chemistry" was an advertising slogan, I think for Dow Chemical, seen on black and white TV when I was a youth in the late 1950s and early 1960s. It all seemed so innocent back then. But it never was.
The stuff chemical giants like Dow, Dupont, etc., were selling then—pesticides such as DDT and malathion for instance—were all part of an explosion of chemical products following World War II, most based on the development of chemical warfare during the war. Development for war continued, as with the notorious Agent Orange—the long-lasting and harmful effects of which were covered up by Dow and Monsanto—used in the devastating U.S. war on Vietnam. But proliferation of toxic chemicals doesn't stop there.
Massive applications of pesticides and herbicides such as Monsanto's Roundup, along with genetically-engineered crops and artificial fertilizers, have transformed big agriculture in a new sort of war. The "green revolution" was supposed to help "feed the world," but we now see it as not only promoting U.S. imperialist interests for market domination, but also actually destroying healthy food production worldwide, all in the name of profit. But imperial domination on the farm fields is only one side of the widespread effects of chemical saturation on humans, animals and the environment.
Roundup causes cancer
Roundup's reputation as a cancer-causing poison has been getting some well-deserved ink lately, with a couple of precedent-setting court wins by victims. Over a thousand additional cases against Monsanto are pending. Despite Monsanto's lying insistence that Roundup attacks plants only, not animals, a high correlation between Roundup usage and contraction of non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, a cancer that starts in the white blood cells—which are key to the body's immune system—has been found—but not by U.S. regulatory agencies!
It took the World Health Organization's cancer unit, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), to find that glyphosate—the key ingredient in Roundup—was a "probable cause" of cancer in humans and animals. U.S. regulatory agencies, compromised by collusion with chemical corporations—under both Democratic and Republican administrations—were AWOL on this issue. Unfortunately, the IARC finding came only in 2017, over 40 years after the introduction of Roundup as a herbicide, and after it had already been widely used by the cancer victims coming forward today.
Activists and scientists take on Monsanto
Environmental activist, anarchist and poet Mitchel Cohen is the lead author and editor of this book, which includes 14 other authors, including Brian Tokar, lecturer on environmental studies at the University of Vermont; Steve Tvedten, who describes the lessons of his 50 years as a pest control operator; and Stephanie Seneff, PhD, a senior research scientist at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab. The preface is by Vandana Shiva, PhD, an Indian scholar, physicist, and environmental and food sovereignty advocate and activist. Together, these writers describe a disturbing and alarming story of the poisoning of the earth in graphic detail.
Cohen, as a co-founder of the No Spray Coalition, is a veteran of this struggle and many others. As a leader of the No-Spray Coalition, he helped win a seven-year fight against then New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani's indiscriminate spraying of the organophosphate malathion by aircraft and spray trucks over the city to combat the so-called West Nile Virus. He also organized a campaign to rid NYC public schools of milk from cows injected with Bovine Growth Hormone, a genetically-engineered monstrosity also from Monsanto, also discussed in this book. Mitchel is a long-time Green Party activist who has run for mayor of New York City. And he's a poet, with compilations delightfully titled, One-Eyed Cat Takes Flight, and The Permanent Carnival.
Spraying the city
This West Nile virus was much less of a threat than it was portrayed. The spraying operation killed more people than the virus ever did, including people sprayed, and operators of the trucks doing the spraying! Eight members of the No-Spray Coalition itself died from cancers or other disorders caused or exacerbated by the spraying.
Mitchel describes his first encounter with the spraying:
"[September 4th, 1999] I was strolling through Prospect Park in Brooklyn on that warm day near the end of summer. Hundreds of people were out in the park sunbathing, reading, kissing, walking their dogs. Kids were everywhere playing baseball and soccer. Suddenly, helicopters buzzed just above the tree line spraying a substance we later learned was malathion—one of a class of organophosphate pesticides invented as a nerve gas by the Nazis in World War II—spewing out in substantial bursts. They drenched 526-acre Prospect Park that afternoon, spraying the malathion over and onto hundreds of children. There were a few police cars patrolling, but none of them warned people to get out of the park and off the streets. I ran like a lunatic trying to get the kids away from the spray. And then I held my breath as long as I could and ran out of the park."
The politics of pesticides
The politics of all this is never far from Cohen's (and the other authors') rendering. The title of the Chapter in which this personal experience is reported is, "Poisoning the Big Apple—Forgotten History in the Lead-Up to 9/11." Two years before 9/11, as Mitchel reports, U.S. government officials were ramping up preparations for an attack on Saddam Hussein. Hussein, they said, "...had sent to New York City some arcane virus that was killing birds, mostly crows, and that it could be transmitted to people by mosquitoes. Panic ensued." Just as today as Trump's personal lawyer, Giuliani, then working from his bunker in the World Trade Center, was in lock-step with the nefarious plans of U.S. imperialism.
May/June 2019 Socialist Viewpoint, Vol. 19, No. 3
More information about the Marxism