Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Is It 1984?

Having just gotten off a news fast, I've been slowly reorienting myself to world events. What I'm seeing makes me want to read 1984. I confess I have never read the book, but I have heard enough about it to know the premise. And as I watch the spin that politicians, corporations, and the media put on national and world events, all I can think is "doublespeak" - black is white, up is down...you get the idea. It's ironic that one of the most educated countries in the world can succumb to blatant brainwashing. Recently, I had a conversation with my hubby where I told him I discovered the key to modern life - literacy. I know so many people who are *literate* but don't read. Instead, they depend on others to provide them with their world view and beliefs - what the TV anchors tell them, what they read in the newspaper, what their pastors, priests, and rabbis tell them. Some even get their *facts* from advertisements! A friend of my daughter recently said that high fructose corn syrup is natural and healthy. Why? Because she saw ads promoting it. I had to point out to her to look to the source - who paid for the ad?

That's another truth in modern life - we need to follow the money. Whenever there is a big campaign or push for legislation, we need to look for the man behind the curtain. For example, there is proposed legislation out there called NAIS - National Animal Identification System. On the surface, it's supposed to be a program to maintain a safe food system. But, following the money, one sees who will benefit from this scheme - companies that manufacture the expensive electronic tagging system and large agri-businesses - not consumers. Under the proposed plan, each and every animal considered livestock will have to be identified and tagged. Any change in an animal's status will have to be reported - if you give a chicken to a neighbor; if you take your horse on a trail ride; if your child shows an animal in the county fair. One might ask, how is this beneficial to agribusiness that have thousands of animals? Easy - they are EXEMPT from these regulations. They won't have to tag and report each animal; they can do it in a batch system. So, those large companies can have 1,000 head of cattle and report them as a single unit. It's really the small farmers who will be burdened, maybe so much so that they'll go out of business. Oh goody say the corporations, less competition. So, it's not really about food safety - just follow the money.

In light of the recent Swine Flu outbreak, I can see politicians putting in a big push for NAIS. However, do you really think small farms are the source? No, it is the large CAFOs ("confined animal feeding operations") that cause the problems - the very ones that would receive an exemption from the proposed law. Is the answer more regulation? No; consumers need to protest and boycott companies that run CAFOs, that indiscriminately feed low-dose antibiotics to their animals, thus leading to antibiotic-resistant diseases. Do some research - don't count on the talking heads to give you the full story...and now a word from our sponsors....

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