Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Help stop bad food policy that pollutes

It sounds like a political parody: the Department of Agriculture is training the notorious biotech giant Monsanto to police itself!

Truthout's exclusive lead story today reveals the government's efforts to allow giant biotech firms like Monsanto to conduct their own "environmental assessments." The stated goal? To speed up the approval process for genetically engineered crops - such as a "non-browning" apple and drought-tolerant corn - with major potentials risks for both the environment and human health.

As one food policy expert told Truthout, "It's the equivalent of letting BP do their own Environmental Assessment of a new [oil drilling] rig."

Exposing this kind of large-scale backroom corporate-government collusion takes work and time: Over the past seven months, our reporter sought out documents, chased leads, and followed the trail of the biotech industry's mounting push to influence government regulators. He sifted through the letters that lobbyists sent to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, discouraging "any suggestion by USDA that biotechnology plants ... are likely to cause significant adverse effects" - and the submissive responses from Vilsack. He uncovered the goriest details of this deregulation scheme, document by document, interview by interview.

This kind of intrepid, long-term investigative journalism is a check on the power of government and corporations alike - especially when the two are colluding in pursuit of profits. As a nonprofit that doesn't accept advertising or corporate sponsors, Truthout is able to report freely on the abuses of the corporatocracy, but we need your help to sustain our efforts.

While the corporate media drools over the prospect of yet another bloody, divisive election, reporting breathlessly on every insane statement made by the candidates competing to challenge President Obama, Truthout will continue to pick up their slack as best we can. Investigative journalism isn't dead - it's just sorely underfunded.

Help us pursue the stories that cannot otherwise be told. Help us continue to expose corporate malfeasance and government collaboration.
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