Food Inc


Copyright 2003

by Mary Sparrowdancer

 Part 1 - Food and Drugs in a Nutshell

This commentary is not coming forth because of a personal vendetta with "the government," nor from a vendetta with those who have chosen politics, the law, or medicine as their professions. In keeping with the usual stated argument, some of my best friends have been in all of the above professions. My former spouse and father of my two children is a lawyer; my best friend is a physician; I have enjoyed more than one cocktail party at the governor's. My commentary is not about professions. It is about the private acts of people within those professions. It is about cause and effect, it is about individual conscience, and it is about the hour that is now upon us - an hour that calls us to awaken and look well at all that is happening.

It is about grace and its resulting compassion because in this hour - in this very late hour - grace, compassion and the Constitution that was formed upon those principles appear to have been put aside in favor of an ungraceful race to make profit at any cost.

According to a 2000 study conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the incidence of childhood cancers, including brain cancers, has risen significantly since 1973. Although the mortality rate has been declining due to aggressive medical procedures, Dr. Eddy Bresnitz, a State Epidemiologist in New Jersey and Assistant Commissioner of the Division of Epidemiology, Occupational and Environmental Health stated, "Researchers are still trying to understand why the cancer incidence rate is rising in this country and elsewhere in the world."

First suspicions might correctly point toward the 70,000+ new chemicals that have been introduced into the environment since 1950, largely without any safety testing except for the self-testing done by the chemical conglomerates standing to profit from sales. Extreme suspicion is warranted regarding the cocktails of toxic vaccines and other pharmaceutical inventions that are now forced on our children in numerous areas of this country - largely without any safety testing except for the self-testing done by the pharmaceutical conglomerates standing to profit from sales. Other suspicions might properly focus upon the genetically altered organisms being added into the American food chain whether we like it or not - largely without any safety testing except for the self-testing done by the agricultural conglomerates standing to profit from sales.

It would be nice to think that the three areas of concern - chemicals, agriculture and pharmaceuticals - are made up of numerous, independently owned companies all going about their daily business of striving to bring us good and wholesome products that are sure to make us all happier and healthier. In taking a closer look, however, a picture arises that indicates this complacent presumption is a very dangerous one, and that the hour is not only late, it is critically late.

If one looks at any single branch of the three seemingly unrelated business areas, an eerie pattern of strange partnerships becomes visible: Some of the largest conglomerates that have sold and fed us carcinogenic chemicals and toxic foods, are now in partnership with the enormous pharmaceutical conglomerates who derive profit from the sale of drugs that treat cancers and other rampantly occurring illnesses.

Many American citizens would like to believe that our government has our best interests at heart when it makes decisions that affect us - and that our opinions have a profound influence on all proceedings. The government of this country was certainly established with this intent in mind and there still appear to be some - still a few left alive - working within the government who still embrace the founding ideals and ethics. But all governments, like businesses, have personalities. The personalities are a reflection of the collective individual personalities of those who are within the ranks of the structures. When profit at any cost becomes the prime motivating force, loftier ideals such as ethics are left in the ensuing dust.

Complicating the eerie issue of partnership and government practice is that now, when we are being told to stand behind our government in its various acts without questioning or vocalizing our differing opinions - now, when cooperation, compliance and collective nods of approval are the suggested features of patriotism that we are expected to display in our "homeland"- it is almost impossible to determine where the boundaries of the federal government end and the privately profiteering boundaries of big businesses begin.

So blurred, obscured and confusing are the once clear boundaries, that we the people cannot offer patriotic support of what is now passing for "the government" without also waving flags of patriotic support for business names such as Monsanto, Pharmacia, and Carlyle.

In what a growing number of people are referring to as "The Revolving Door," many private workers have temporarily left their conglomerates in order to enter the government and reshape its countenance. Others who have completed their governmental works have returned to the conglomerates where they enjoyed further profit.

This certainly prompts a question or two. Among reasonable questions is the one asking whose best interests have been at heart when contestable products have been - and are - delivered to the American public via food, drink, chemicals or mandatory medicine.

Certainly, the questionable elements now in our food and medicines have not been given to us in the best interests of the children who have been forced to submit to an increasing array of chemicals, toxins and contaminants. Nor could those questionable elements have been given on behalf of the forever-grieving parents who have lost their children to conditions such as cancer, diabetes or heart disease - or lost them from the effects of cancer treatments.

In what will surely, someday, be remembered as the most barbaric and uncompassionate act of "government" resulting from private lobbying, some parents have found that in the last days of the life of a dying child, the state can step in and take custody of the child if the parent does not submit the child for mandatory medical treatment - treatments largely without any safety testing except for the self-testing . . .

The child now appears to be the test.

In addition to the chemicals, additives, and sometimes horrifying medical procedures that have been levied upon us and our children like the blackest of all taxes without fair representation, there is another possible area warranting suspicion and concern. During the same years when the increases in cancer incidences were noted, in addition to the new toxins the overall make-up of the American diet changed significantly. During the same years when Americans began suffering from higher cancer rates, Americans also experienced what has been described by Gary Taubes in a New York Times Magazine article as, "an epidemic of obesity" and diabetes. ("What if It's All Been a Big Fat Lie?")

All epidemics - all illnesses - have a cause. We have, however, for too many generations been ignoring the good search for cause and effect and have, instead, been relying upon treating symptoms after our epidemics are upon us and counting their deadly coup. Because the time lapse between cause and its inevitable effect can extend beyond a mere generation, the study of history becomes important.

Part 2 - Why The Food Pyramid resembles a Food Cannonball

The first dietary guide for Americans was published in 1894 by W.O. Atwater, the first director of the Office of Experiment Stations in the USDA. Atwater's advice emphasized the importance of variety, proportion and moderation. "Unless care is exercised in selecting food, a diet may result which is one-sided or badly balanced - that is, one in which either protein or fuel ingredients (carbohydrate and fat) are provided in excess . . . The evils of overeating may not be felt at once, but sooner or later they are sure to appear - perhaps in an excessive amount of fatty tissue, perhaps in general debility, perhaps in actual disease," he wrote. Good advice is frequently timeless. His appears to have qualified for this status.

Unfortunately, his advice was not followed.

In 1916, the USDA's guidelines suggested that cereals and other starchy foods should make up 20% of calories. The 1930s guideline suggested, "flours and cereals - as desired." In the 1940s the guideline stated that breads, flours and cereals should be consumed "every day." From the mid 1950s to the 1970s, the guideline added "four or more" helpings to the daily suggestion. In 1984, with the advent of the visual aid known as the "Food Pyramid," breads, cereals, pastas and rice - starchy carbohydrates - suddenly became the most important of all food groups, necessitating a whopping daily intake of six to eleven servings. (USDA Publications: "America's Eating Habits/Dietary Recommendations." Chapter 2.) "Consistent with dietary and health recommendations," the USDA's report on food trends states, "Americans now consume a half more grain products . . . than they did in 1970."

After conducting the most extensive and comprehensive health studies in history, Walter Willett, M.D., chairman of the department of nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health has concluded that the Food Pyramid is in need of revamping.

In an interview on ABC News, January 9, 2002 Dr. Willett was asked, "Do you believe government suggested nutritionary guidelines should be set by another agency other than the Department of Agriculture due to the conflict of interest they have with promoting and helping grain producers, hence the push that Americans consume more grain-based products."

Dr. Willett replied, "I think there is a serious problem with the dietary pyramid being under the control of the Department of Agriculture because the influence of agro-business, for example the meat and dairy industries, are so powerful."

The suggested low-fat diet combined with an overload of carbohydrates appears to give us a reasonable suspect in the lineup of causes for our epidemic of obesity and diabetes. But in addition to the strange "government recommendation" to shift from decent, nutritional foods to cheaply produced starch, one must wonder if anything else suspicious has happened to our mass-produced foods. During the same years when we obediently accepted starch and all its additives as our main staple, our Number 1 source of food, did anything else happen to our mass-produced foods that should be in the lineup of suspects? While the cancer and other illness rates were increasing, was anything else added into our strange, new diet of starch? The answer is, Yes. Along with the new dietary suggestions marketed to an unsuspecting public as being "heart-healthy," other substances were added into the American diet after being approved by individuals working in branches of the FDA, USDA, or CDC.

Part 3 — What's In the Fine Print?

Beginning about two generations ago, one of the neurotoxins added into American's diets was monosodium glutamate, or MSG. A growing number of studies have linked this substance to obesity as well as a variety of debilitating physiological and psychological disorders. According to the Glutamate Association's website, however, MSG was found to be "safe for all humans, including infants and pregnant women," and, in a report commissioned by the FDA, "Experimental Biology (FASEB) reaffirmed the safety of MSG for the general population."

A 1995 report written by Adrienne Samuels, Ph.D., of the Truth in Labeling Campaign, states an opposite opinion. "We are aware of no person, institution, or agency, that has claimed that MSG is ‘safe,' that does not have close ties to the food and/or drug industries, or that has not been remunerated by them."

Soy is another relatively new substance that was not just added into American diets, it was poured in, in spite of having a background-check like nothing else on record: Soy is a product that was only given GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) status for industrial use as a binder in cardboard boxes.

In spite of this, it is now in almost every food product on every shelf of the grocery store. Indeed, it is at this time difficult to find a food that does not contain some form of soy under its various names including, "natural flavors," lecithin, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, hydrogenated vegetable oil, vegetable broth, Vitamin E, and so on. Some form of soy can be found in the fine print of ingredients in almost every brand and make of breads, cakes, cookies and crackers available. It is in institutional foods served to public school children and prisoners in jails.

Soybean oil has replaced the unfairly maligned coconut oil used in making chocolates, candies, popcorn and baked goods. Soy is in margarines along with the equally suspicious rape seed or Canola oil. Soy is the primary ingredient in nearly all brands of mayonnaise and salad dressings, and it is even curiously found in almost every brand of canned tuna, processed meats, canned spaghetti, burritos, fajitas, canned and dried soups, bouillon, commercial bird seeds, wild bird seeds, and in other pet and animal foods.

It is understandable how one might think that this magical food - soy - must truly be very good for us because this is what certain individuals within USDA and the FDA are telling us. It is, after all, not only being fed to us, but it is now being commercially promoted as a health-food.

Not as frequently advertised, however, are the reasons why soy was not given GRAS status as a consumable food product. According to research by a growing number of scientists, soy contains nutrient inhibitors, thyroid inhibitors, toxins and carcinogens that are formed during processing.

In 1999, when the FDA issued Docket # 98P-0683, "Food Labeling: Health Claims; Soy Protein and Coronary Heart Disease," in which certain FDA personnel authorized the large soy-promoting conglomerates to advertise soy as a heart-healthy food, others working within the FDA rose in protest. While some of the FDA's personnel were singing praises of soy, other FDA researchers issued a written protest and warning about promoting this questionable product. FDA expert soy researchers Daniel Doerge and Daniel Sheehan stated their concerns as follows: "In rodents, equol is estrogenic and acts as an estrogenic endocrine disruptor during development (Medlock, et al, 1995a,b). Faber and Hughes (1993) showed alterations in LH regulation following developmental treatment with genistein. Thus, during pregnancy in humans, isoflavones per se could be a risk factor for abnormal brain and reproductive tract development."

According to other reports, including one in the Cambridge Scientific Abstracts by Jennifer A. Phillips, and reports by researchers Mary Enig, Ph.D. and Sally Fallon, soy contains clot-promoting substances, trypsin inhibitors that cause pathological conditions and cancer of the pancreas, and estrogens that can block the thyroid hormones.

The results are a range of symptoms that are becoming all to familiar to alarmed physicians at this time. The symptoms can mimic a number of disorders including psychiatric disorders and physiological or organic brain disorders such as Alzheimer's. Other symptoms can manifest as memory loss, confusion, slowness, horrific depression that sometimes does not respond to conventional prescription drugs, paranoia, hallucinations, fatigue, loss of hair, menopausal difficulties, digestive disturbances, reproductive disturbances, and brittle bones.

Reiterating their concerns about the relationship between vascular dementia and brain atrophy as a result of soy consumption, soy experts Doerge and Sheehan stated, "It is unreasonable to approve the health claim until complete safety studies of soy protein are conducted."

These two FDA experts also noted that one of the reports that had been issued from within the FDA erroneously contained the statement that "soy protein foods are GRAS," when in fact this was not true. "It would seem appropriate for FDA to speak with a single voice regarding soy protein isolate."


But how could this wide difference of opinion be happening within our governmental regulating agencies? A reasonable answer lies in the strange, revolving-door infiltration of the governmental regulating agencies by employees from the giant conglomerates who stand to profit from having their products "approved."

Part 4 — The Revolving Door

Even the most cursory look at the revolving-door activity taking place between government regulators and agricultural/pharmaceutical giants indicates the opportunity for profound conflicts of interest for very simple reasons: The promise of financial return can mar the judgment of personnel in charge of regulations.

A reasonable person might feel that the honorable thing to do would be for individuals having a potential conflict of interests to immediately disclose this and then recuse themselves from further regulatory participation. Acting honorably, however, appears to have been replaced by marketing concepts and plans by which to increase gross corporate profits, profits that will then be passed down to a select few.

Former President George Herbert Walker Bush is currently senior advisor to the Carlyle Group. According to a March 5, 2001 article in the New York Times, current president George W. Bush also worked for a subsidiary of the Carlyle Group. Mr. Cheney, who held previous positions in the Nixon Administration, was Chief of Staff in the Ford Administration and Secretary of Defense in the senior Bush Administration, was also the president of the Halliburton Company.

After George W. Bush was helped into office by a still-contested voting debacle, then followed by help from the Supreme Court - President Bush then selected people to take up key positions within the government under his administration.

Among those selected by George W. Bush was Ann Veneman. Miss Veneman was USDA Deputy Secretary from 1991 to 1993. Miss Veneman also previously served as Deputy Undersecretary of Agriculture for International Affairs and Commodity Programs, and was also on the board of directors for Calgene Inc., which brought us the first bio-engineered tomato. Calgene was purchased by Monsanto. Miss Veneman also served on the International Policy Council on Agriculture, Food and Trade, a group funded in part by Cargill. Cargill is in partnership with Monsanto. Ann Veneman is the current Secretary of the USDA.

Also selected was Linda J. Fisher, a lawyer. According to a government press release dated May 25, 2001, Miss Fisher "has been extensively involved in environmental issues throughout her career, including a decade of experience at EPA, from 1983 to 1993. She held a number of high-level positions, including Chief of Staff, Assistant Administrator for Policy, Planning and Evaluation and Assistant Administrator for Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances. From 1995 to 2000, Fisher was Vice President and Corporate Officer at the Monsanto Co., St. Louis, Mo." Miss Fisher was selected to be the Deputy Administrator of the EPA.

John Ashcroft was also selected. Mr. Ashcroft is an advocate of genetically modified foods, and the recipient of Monsanto's most generous campaign contribution. Mr. Ashcroft is now our Attorney General.

Donald Rumsfeld, after serving in the government as Secretary of Defense, Chief of Staff, Ambassador to NATO and Congressman, left the government and became CEO of Searle from 1977 to 1985. Searle is the pharmaceutical company that gave us aspartame. Searle was purchased by Monsanto.

In 1981, Dr. Arthur Hull Hayes, Jr. - a professor and Defense Department contract researcher - became the new FDA commissioner in the Reagan Administration. In July of 1981, Dr. Hayes made his first major decision when acted against other FDA advisors and approved aspartame for use in dry food. In 1983, he approved aspartame for use in soft drinks. Doctor Hayes then left his position within the government regulating agency and became senior medical advisor for the public relations firm used by Searle and Monsanto.

Mr. Rumsfeld is now our Secretary of Defense.

The revolving door between the government and large businesses is not a new phenomenon. It is a lucrative venture and it has been in full swing for many years and through numerous administrations.

L. Val Giddings, Ph.D., who was formerly with the biotechnology products regulatory division of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the USDA, was responsible for policy development and implementation. After leaving, he became Vice President for Food & Agriculture of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).

Michael Taylor was a lawyer at King and Spaulding and represented Monsanto before he was appointed FDA Deputy Commissioner for Policy from 1991 to 1994. From 1994 to 1996 he was Administrator of the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. During those years, and despite ongoing warnings from scientists that milk from cows injected with recombinant BGH (Bovine Growth Hormone) or rBST (recombinant Bovine Somatotrophin) contains contaminants and a potent carcinogen, Monsanto's Posilac - in which bovine genetic material is spliced with genetic material from E. Coli - was approved. The FDA further stated that rBGH-derived milk did not require labeling before being delivered to the unsuspecting public. Also working on the approval process in the FDA was Margaret Miller, who previously worked in Monsanto's laboratories.

Micky Kantor was former U.S. Trade Representative, and Secretary of Commerce. Mr. Kantor is a director of Monsanto, and is on the board of directors of Pharmacia.

Pharmacia owns Monsanto.

Michael A. Friedman, M.D, former acting commissioner of the FDA, also served with the National Cancer Institute. In a report issued on September 19, 2000 by Congressman Bernie Sanders, Doctor Friedman and three others were named as FDA commissioners who were "currently employed by pharmaceutical companies." Doctor Friedman is Senior Vice President of Pharmacia. Also sitting on the board of Pharmacia is former Secretary of Defense, Frank Carlucci. In addition, Mr. Carlucci is the Chairman of the Carlyle Group.

Part 5 — The Evolving, Revolving Door; Conclusion

Although much of the "revolving door" activity has been done quietly, in 2002 a new and slightly more formal and open partnership was formed. This time, the partnership was not merely a "coincidental" association between big business interests and individuals serving in a governmental capacity. This time it appears to be a partnership between "The Government," itself, and the pharmaceutical industry.

As though tentatively testing unknown waters, as well as testing the collective opinions of the citizens of this country, the partnership was made with very little heralding publicity. It apparently made its debut by way of a website. The new website and partnership - which is as strange and unnatural a partnership as some of the recombinant genes now being spliced together and placed into food and therefore into our bodies - is apparently calling itself, "Homeland Health." The Homeland Health effort "is being lead by former head of the FDA and veteran of public health service, Dr. Michael Friedman." (Please see Part 4.)

According to the information that appears on their front page, "Homeland*Health" claims to be a "partnership of: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services America's Pharmaceutical Companies." It is not clear whether their lack of punctuation separating what presumably used to be a government branch, from "America's Pharmaceutical Companies," is a coincidental oversight, or is a phrase that is actually pointing to truth - a truth that is frightening, to say the least. The partnership implies that what was once our government is now actually a venture being run by individuals who are working with, working for, and protecting the financial interests and "key resources" of enormous business conglomerates, rather than working for the common people of this country.

Among the services this new Homeland partnership will be providing to the citizens of America - whether we like it or not - is protection from bio-terrorists in a "combined effort to do whatever it takes - for as long as it takes - to win the war against bioterrorism."

This partnership will also be dispensing invaluable information to us, such as their website advice regarding what not to do following the anthrax scares. We have been advised not avoid tap water, and also, we should not stay away from our mail entirely because, "If you avoid your mail, you could miss out on important letters, bills, etc." We should, however, avoid "herbal or alternative medicines."

The possibility of a smallpox vaccine being mandated by "government" is now looming over us. Also at this time, sufficient evidence has surfaced indicating that some government personnel accepted their positions in the government for the purpose of creating or guaranteeing future, personal profits. So many people have been through the revolving doors that portions of our government are now being governed by the interests and for the profits of big businesses, rather than by and for the citizens of the United States. In their efforts to guarantee personal profits, some of those individuals have hidden information or completely misinformed other government officials - and the general public - regarding the potential dangers of certain chemicals, agricultural products and pharmaceuticals.

Unfortunately (for us), as a result of the deliberately vague language in the horrific "Homeland Security" and so-called "P.A.T.R.I.O.T." (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism) acts, it is not clear if merely voicing a civil, non-violent opinion that is critical of such questionable behavior and equally questionable commercial products can be interpreted as an "act of terrorism" by the business conglomerates now in charge. Never mind if we utter those opinions on behalf of a million innocent people whose lives and health are being destroyed. According to the vague language of the acts, anything that might be seen as an attempt to "influence the policy of a government," or threaten private or publicly-held "key resources" can be interpreted as an "act of terrorism."

In this hour when patriotism is being called for, but the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and innocent human beings are being left to die in the dust of an ungraceful race for personal profit, it is important that we not cower in demanded silence, but that we stand up for the ethics upon which this country was founded, and ask that those ethics be embraced once again.

No citizen of any democracy should be expected to pledge allegiance to privately profiting business conglomerates.


Mary Sparrowdancer is a professional writer with over 35 years of extensive research in the fields of medicine, nutrition, wild animals, the environment and spirituality, (with studies intensifying during the past fifteen years). She is the author of The Love Song of the Universe, published by Hampton Roads.

Bound transcripts of this report, "Let Them Eat Anything," along with a CD recording of the report are available through Paypal or through Post Office request for $10, (which includes both the CD and the bound transcript in one package).