Published on Wednesday, June 27, 2001 in the San Francisco Bay Guardian
International Protests Mount Against Genetically Engineered Crops
by Martin A. Lee
When Bill Clinton was president, it was hardly a secret that his administration favored agricultural biotechnology as potential cash cow for U.S. corporations. But the clout that the genetically engineered (GE) food lobby wields in George W. Bush's cabinet tops anything that came before.
Several current cabinet members have ties to Monsanto, the dominant firm in the burgeoning biotechnology industry. Monsanto contributed money to the Senate election campaigns of Attorney General John Ashcroft and Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, while Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman were officers or directors of companies that are now owned by Monsanto, which controls 80 percent of the global market for transgenic seeds.
Bush's choice for deputy administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Linda Fisher, was a chief lobbyist and political fundraising coordinator for Monsanto. And the revolving door keeps spinning between Monsanto and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which functions more as an arm of the biotech industry than a regulatory agency. Oversight of the biotech business has been so lax that a federal judge recently ruled that GE food is legally "unregulated."