Obama Rewards Monsanto with big money while Michelle talks about nutrition
USDA to Fully Deregulate Monsanto's Genetically Engineered Alfalfa: Universal Gene Contamination of Conventional/Organic Feed, Milk, Meat and Other Products to Follow
by Will Fantle
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced this afternoon that the agency will fully deregulate Monsanto's controversial genetically engineered alfalfa. The choice was favored by the biotech industry and one of three options identified in the USDA's Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) released last month.
USDA could have maintained regulatory status over the perennial crop that is so important as forage for the livestock industry. Or they could have chosen a limited regulation strategy with bans on the planting of GE alfalfa seeds in seed growing regions to attempt to limit the contamination of alfalfa seed stock by foreign DNA from Monsanto's crop (alfalfa is pollinated by bees and other insects and has a pollination radius of five miles).
Instead, the agency, under heavy pressure from the biotech sector, chose total deregulation.
Over 250,000 public comments were received during the FEIS process, with the vast majority opposing deregulation.
Vilsack did announce that the USDA would establish a second germ plasm/seed center for alfalfa in the state of Idaho to try and maintain GE-free strains of alfalfa. They currently operate such a facility in Prosser, WA.
He said the FEIS process brought home two key points to USDA: choice and trust.
The Center for Food Safety, supported by The Cornucopia Institute and others, has been embroiled in a court case fighting the release of GE-alfalfa. Cornucopia is a formal plaintiff in the case. The legal matter has been on hold while the USDA completed its court-ordered EIS. Opponents of GE-alfalfa may soon determine their "choice" and resume the legal battle.
Genetic engineered crops, animals and food are banned in organic agriculture. Many conventional alfalfa and seed producers also have expressed their opposition to Monsanto's new crop. Like organic producers, they do not want their strains of alfalfa contaminated by foreign DNA.
Monsanto has aggressively pursued farmers for damages when they have discovered evidence of their patented DNA in their conventional crops.
Planting of GE-alfalfa could begin this spring as Forage Genetics (owned by Land O' Lakes) has millions of pounds of Monsanto's seed in storage.
Obama to Push Bogus ‘Competitiveness’ Theme in State of the Union Address
by Roger Bybee
Boosting "American competitiveness" and creating jobs through increased exports will reportedly be the key theme of President Obama's plan for economic recovery detailed in tonight's State of the Union speech.
This familiar theme, a slickly-disguised appeal to support corporate globalization, plays upon our reflexive pride in American workmanship. It is built upon President Obama's empty claim that "we can compete with anybody in the world," as he put it in a speech in my unemployment-wracked hometown of Racine, Wis., last July..........................more
Exports and jobs: less than half the story
by Robert E. Scott January 26, 2011
President Obama talked about doubling exports in the State of the Union Address last night as a strategy to create jobs. It's a great sound bite, but woefully incomplete economics. While exports support American jobs, imports displace them; when imports grow faster than exports, our trade deficit expands and American jobs are lost.
Between 2001 and 2007 (both business cycle peaks), we lost 3.4 million U.S. manufacturing jobs, and the fact that the trade deficit as a share of GDP rose by roughly one-third is a key reason why. Lately, when the president has talked about jobs and trade, he mentions the jobs associated with exports but ignores those lost due to growing imports.
It's like watching baseball, but only counting runs scored by the home team—lots of fun, but it won't tell you anything about who is ahead.
Last week, President Obama talked a lot about expanding exports to China. But he rarely mentioned imports or the trade deficit. We heard a lot about unfair trade and job losses during Obama's primary campaign, but those words disappeared from his speeches after the election.
One reason may be that President Obama has surrounded himself with advisors from multinational companies, who have more to gain from outsourcing than from domestic job creation. For example, just this week, the president appointed GE Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt to head his new Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.
Our exports to China did increase rapidly last year—by about $23 billion—and this did support job creation. But imports increased about three times as fast—by $71 billion—which cost the United States many more jobs than exports supported. On balance, the growth in our trade deficit with China cost the United States at least a half million jobs in 2010.
We have huge trade deficits with China because of massive currency manipulation and many other unfair trade practices. Currency manipulation acts like a subsidy on all of China's exports to the United States, and in essence puts a tax on U.S. exports to China and every country in the world where we compete with China. The United States could recover at least a million jobs by forcing China to revalue its currency now.
We will have a record trade deficit of nearly $275 billion with China in 2010. President Obama failed to acknowledge in his State of the Union address that trade with China cost us a half million jobs in 2010; the U.S. China trade deficit is growing rapidly and job displacement will worsen in the future unless something is done to end China's currency manipulation and other unfair trade policies.