Food poisons, inequality and dull, complacent citizens

Fayette County’s “Summer of Stinky Water” pales beside what the chemical industry and others are doing to poison our water and our food.

The USA is the world’s largest producer of soybeans. Most soybeans are grown from genetically modified (GM) seeds. The GM seeds are resistant to Roundup, a herbicide produced by Monsanto. Farmers are applying Roundup liberally.

Roundup is based on glyphosate, which is finding its way in greater quantities than before into the soybeans and into the waters of the USA. Glyphosate has been shown to cause deformities in frogs. (“Frogs? So what?” you ask. Read on.)

Scientific American reported the dangers of Roundup to human cells (particularly embryonic, placental, and umbilical cord cells — we’re talking babies here) [23 June 2009, “Weed-Whacking Herbicide Proves Deadly to Human Cells”].

This subject relates to an opinion piece I recently read, which suggested that because of overuse, weeds have evolved resistance to Roundup [makes sense], and some large chemical companies are about to petition the USA government to allow the key ingredient in Agent Orange to be used as a herbicide on food crops in the USA.

By the way, about half the USA soybean crop is used for animal feed, as in all those fast-food burgers and chicken fingers we consume, and about half goes to make soybean oil, which is an ingredient in lot of everything else on the grocery shelf, from crackers to salad dressings, to the “cheese product” that glistens on our nachos.

These reports are about to turn me into a conspiracy theorist. Actually, the credit for that goes to Robert Reich and his book/movie “Inequality for All.”

Why are so few people concerned about poisons in the food chain? In the air? Why are so few people concerned about global climate change? Why are so few people concerned about inequality in income, wealth, and opportunity in the USA?

Why are so few people concerned that the USA is nearly in worst place among modern, first world, industrialized nations in infant mortality, life expectancy, quality of health care, depression, suicide, crime, and a bunch of other measures of quality of life?

The main reason, I think, is that most people in this country simply don’t care. They’re like the 85 percent of the electorate in Fayette County who live in a bubble (or who think they do) and who couldn’t be bothered to learn about the candidates and issues and vote in the Fall 2013 election.

Their minds are dulled into complacency by the soma of television. They’re spoon-fed news that supports their preconceptions, whether on the right or the left. They allow themselves to be distracted by what is not important. They don’t make time to read and research, even though the tools we have are more powerful than ever before.

Wake up, slow down, and take time to smell the poison. Sorry, I meant, the roses.

Paul Lentz
Peachtree City, Ga.

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