The Common Good

Corporate Giant Milks Consumer Choice

Sojomail - October 29, 2003

www.sojo.net10.29.2003
Quote of the Week Two gems from Bismarck
Batteries Not Included David Batstone: Corporate giant milks consumer choice
Soul Works Love for the long haul
By the Numbers Tax windfalls for U.S. corporations
Politically Connect Spy games: Two former CIA agents talk to Sojourners
Culture Watch The top five censored media stories of 2002-2003
Funny Business Twelve disciples: Were they management potential?
Boomerang SojoMail readers hit reply

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QUOTE OF THE WEEK ^top

"Life is like being at the dentist. You always think the worst is still to come, and yet it is over already."

"Laws are like sausages. It is better not to see them being made."

- Otto Von Bismarck

BATTERIES NOT INCLUDED ^top
Got milk? Just don't ask where it came from...
by David Batstone

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David BatstoneDo you think that you have the right to know how your food is produced? Do you want to know whether it may contain biochemicals that could lead to cancer in your family? Of course you do. Get ready to be outraged - a major multinational corporation is trying to take that right away from you.

Oakhurst Dairy, a small dairy with headquarters in Maine, has placed a label on its milk carton, stating, "Our Farmer's Pledge: No Artificial Growth Hormones." For the past five years, Oakhurst has ensured that all of its milk originates from farms that pledge in writing - with a notarized affidavit - that they won't use artificial hormones on their herds. Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream and Stonyfield Farms also promise consumers on their cartons that they will not use milk produced with artificial hormones in their products.

But last July, the huge biochemical company Monsanto sued Oakhurst and asked the court to force the company to remove its hormone-free label. Monsanto charges Oakhurst with deceptive advertising and unfair business practice. Monsanto makes Posilac, the leading recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH). Monsanto markets the growth hormone as a way to boost a cow's milk production by as much as 15 percent, and promises that it is safe. Milk from cows supplemented with rBGH, says Monsanto, is the same as other milk in every respect - nutrition, taste, quality, and health. For that reason, Monsanto charges that Oakhurst's label misleads consumers into believing that there is a difference in milk products. According to the suit filed in a Boston court, business relationships between Monsanto and dairy producers have suffered because the farmers, fearing consumer revulsion, have stopped using Posilac.

Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the bovine growth hormone, all 15 countries in the European Union, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada have banned it. Parties who oppose its use claim that it is linked to breast and colon cancer and premature puberty in children.

Monsanto's legal action must be halted. Why? First, Oakhurst Dairy should be free to market how its milk is produced, and distinguish its product from other milk producers. A body of research finds credible evidence that artificial growth hormones are harmful. For example, Dr. Samuel Epstein, a researcher at the University of Illinois School of Public Health - who is often called before Congress to advise how environmental factors may lead to cancer - says that "there are highly suggestive if not persuasive lines of evidence showing that consumption of this milk [enhanced by rBGH] poses risks of breast and colon cancer." Epstein is not a lone crackpot - many other respected researchers agree with him.

Every consumer should be allowed to know how the milk he or she consumes is produced. Maybe tomorrow a persuasive research study will win over the scientific community, and those companies that market hormone-free milk will suffer. But for today, some consumers are not convinced and will choose to buy hormone-free milk. It's curious how many free-market evangelists so quickly turn to state intervention when it suits their competitive advantage.

Second, history tells me not to trust Monsanto. In my recent book, "Saving the Corporate Soul," I report how Monsanto continued to produce PCBs for nearly 40 years even though it knew for much of that time the dangers that its chemicals presented to public health. Court documents offer evidence that Monsanto officials knew that fish tossed into a creek near one of its PCB plants in Anniston, Alabama, died within 10 seconds, spurting blood and peeling skin as if they had been dropped into boiling water. A trail of documents, many labeled "CONFIDENTIAL: Read and Destroy," exposed a company-wide complicity to maintain its monopoly of the PCB market regardless of health or environmental risks. And now, in the midst of unclear scientific results, we're supposed to suppress our doubts and trust Monsanto's "indisputable" evidence? I don't think so.

If you share my concern, join me in telling Monsanto executives that you stand for free consumer choice, and that its legal action must end immediately. Raise your voice now at:

http://go.sojo.net/campaign/bovine_growth_hormones

*David Batstone, a founding editor of Business 2.0 magazine, is executive editor of Sojourners. To read further commentary by David Batstone, go to:

http://www.sojo.net/davidbatstone


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SOUL WORKS ^top
Love for the long haul

"Nothing is more beautiful than the love that has weathered the storms of life.... The love of the young for the young, that is the beginning of life. But the love of the old for the old, that is the beginning of things longer."

- Jerome K. Jerome, in "The Passing of the Third Floor Back"

BY THE NUMBERS ^top
Tax windfalls for U.S. corporations

U.S. corporations that have deferred taxes for years on the profits they made overseas could be in line for a huge windfall from Congress. Here are the amounts kept abroad that new legislation proposes to be brought back to this country at a greatly reduced tax rate (5.25%):

CompanyProfits kept abroad but not taxed in U.S.
Merck$15.0 billion
Hewlett-Packard$14.5 billion
Johnson & Johnson$12.3 billion
Schering-Plough$9.4 billion
Eli Lilly$8.0 billion

Total estimated corporate profits held overseas: $400 billion

Ever wonder why public funds seemed to disappear? Now you know why.

*Source: The New York Times, October 2, 2003


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POLITICALLY CONNECT ^top
Spy games: Two former CIA agents talk to Sojourners
by Rose Marie Berger and Jim Rice

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Abundant Earth
Sojourners: In the build up toward the war in Iraq, the Bush administration made allegations that are proving more and more to be demonstrably false. Were they just misunderstandings of intelligence data, or were we being sold a bill of goods? Was it an honest mistake?

Ray McGovern: No, by no stretch of the imagination was it an honest mistake. We were able to tell by last fall that there was very little substance to the main charges with respect to weapons of mass destruction. Even the sanitized version of the National Intelligence Estimate that was put on the CIA Web site - with any experience in intelligence, you could see what a thin reed they were relying on, and that there was little possibility of substantiating Dick Cheney's claim that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. That, of course, is the mushroom cloud that scared Congress into ceding its power to wage war.

Sojourners: Why is that significant?

McGovern: In my experience - and that includes more than 40 years in this town watching these kinds of things very closely - it's the first time that I've seen such a long-term, orchestrated plan of deception by which one branch of our government deliberately misled the other on a matter of war and peace.

Special Web exclusive...read the entire interview, parts of which appeared in the Nov/Dec '03 edition of Sojourners magazine. Link to:

http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=magazine.article&issue=soj0311&article=031110x


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CULTURE WATCH ^top
The top five censored media stories of 2002-2003

...according to Project Censored:

1: The Neoconservative Plan for Global Dominance
2: Homeland Security Threatens Civil Liberty
3: U.S. Illegally Removes Pages from Iraq U.N. Report
4: Rumsfield's Plan to Provoke Terrorists
5: The Effort to Make Unions Disappear

To see the rest of the top 25 list, link to:

http://www.projectcensored.org/publications/2004/index.html

Ed. note: The #1 story did not escape Sojourners' attention. Read our Sept/Oct cover story by Jim Wallis: "Dangerous Religion: George W. Bush's Theology of Empire":

http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=magazine.article&issue=soj0309&article=030910

Also don't miss Duane Shank's story in the same issue of Sojourners: "The Project for a New American Empire":

http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=magazine.article&issue=soj0309&article=030911


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FUNNY BUSINESS ^top
Twelve disciples: Were they management potential?

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Tree Givers
TO:
Jesus, Son of Joseph
Woodcrafter Carpenter Shop
Nazareth

FROM:
Jordan Management Consultants
Jerusalem

Dear Sir:

Thank you for submitting the resumes of the 12 men you have picked for management positions in your new organization. All of them have now taken our battery of tests; we have not only run the results through our computer, but also arranged personal interviews for each of them with our psychologist and vocational aptitude consultant.

It is the staff opinion that most of your nominees are lacking in background, education, and vocational aptitude for the type of enterprise you are undertaking. They do not have the team concept. We would recommend that you continue your search for persons of experience in managerial ability and proven capability.

Simon Peter is emotionally unstable and given to fits of temper. Andrew has absolutely no qualities of leadership. The two brothers, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, place personal interest above company loyalty. Thomas demonstrates a questioning attitude that would tend to undermine morale.

We feel that it is our duty to tell you that Matthew has been blacklisted by the Greater Jerusalem Better Business Bureau. James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus definitely have radical leanings, and they both registered a high score on the manic depressive scale.

One of the candidates, however, shows great potential. He is a man of ability and resourcefulness, meets people well, has a keen business mind and has contacts in high places. He is highly motivated, ambitious, and responsible. We recommend Judas Iscariot as your controller and right-hand man. All of the other profiles are self-explanatory.

We wish you every success in your new venture.

Sincerely yours,
Jordan Management Consultants

*Source: Greg Ogden, "Transforming Discipleship: Making Disciples a Few at a Time."

BOOMERANG ^top
SojoMail readers hit reply

Jan Walsworth writes from Lansing, Michigan:

Thank you, Jim Wallis, for the excellent letter to General Boykin. I was reading it as the news came that the White House is not going to take any action against this egregious display of religious bigotry. I was delighted to have your text to forward to my senators and congressman with my letter of protest.

Also thanks to Tom Mahon from Walnut Creek, California - your ode to Spam in the style of Dr. Seuss was precious!

--------------

Professor Patrice Michaels writes from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin:

Many thanks for the open letter to General Boykin. As a professor at a liberal arts institution with a large population of Christians [though myself an atheist], I appreciate your attempt to educate this very influential man, as well as others who may be led by such unthinking "believers." I hope you will circulate this letter to newspapers and journals beyond SojoMail. You can be sure that the letter will be posted on my bulletin board.

---------------

Bryan Jay Hinkel, CWO, U.S. Army Special Forces (Retired), writes:

I have know Lt. Gen. Boykin for the last 10 years, and worked directly under his command for three of those 10 years. I can say from personal experience that I am proud that he and others like him are willing to give their lives for all of us. Thank God for this man.

---------------

Michael Shay writes from Cheyenne, Wyoming:

Jim Wallis, as always, gives us a different slant on General Boykin's recent comments. He is much more forgiving than I have been. My first reaction to the general's comments was "shock and awe" with a dash of disbelief. If our generals are speaking in such apocalyptic terms, how can we expect the foot soldiers in Iraq to win any hearts and minds? But if we listen closely to the Christian General, the so-called "War on Terror" is not really about winning over the Muslims of Iraq, Iran, Palestine, Indonesia, etc. It's all about defeating the infidel. It is, as George Bush said right after Sept. 11, a "crusade."

----------------

Tania McGhee writes from Perth, Western Australia:

I was very encouraged by Jim Wallis' open letter to the general. Living in Australia, I am not always 100% informed on the latest social issue in America. One thing I know is how sad I have been to see war on countries to be declared as "God ordained" and to see Christians encourage "revenge" on other countries. The letter and SojoMail in general encourages me to continue to speak up where I see wrong situations and try to be a part of the answer.

----------------

Tim Callaway writes from Calgary, Canada:

I found Jim Wallis' open letter to Lt. General Boykin a superb example of "speaking the truth in love." Just when I have some of my friends in the secular media here in Canada ready to believe that not all Christian politicians in Washington are Stars and Stripes-draped buffoons, someone puts an article such as that detailing Boykin's remarks on my desk. I think it was Frederick Buechner who wrote something about being thankful that God continues to thrive despite the best efforts of some of His self-appointed spokesmen to do Him in.

---------------

Nirmal Mani Adhikary, a lecturer of journalism at Metro College, Kathmandu, Nepal, writes:

Nepal is the only Hindu kingdom in the world. I am a Hindu. Thus I am a non-Christian reader of SojoMail. I think human beings in the contemporary world must have an inter-religious understanding. Hence, I am happy to read another aspect of Christianity in SojoMail. I suggest that you include teachings of Hinduism for your readers. That would help to increase inter-religious understanding and contribute to world peace.

--------------------------

Boomerang is an open forum for all kinds of views. The views expressed are not necessarily those of Sojourners. Want to make your voice heard? Send Boomerang e-mails to the editor:

boomerang@sojo.net



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