May 31, 2013
Like many Natural News readers, I was astonished when Sen. Rand Paul voted against a recent amendment that would have allowed states to enact their own local laws regarding GMO labeling. Rand Paul’s answer to why he voted against the amendment, however, is a coherent argument that deserves additional discussion. Paul is, it turns out, fully in favor of consumers being fully informed of what they’re buying, but he’s incredibly cautious about handing government new powers to regulate food labeling.
His response to why he voted down the recent amendment is as follows:
I am an opponent of the FDA’s war on natural foods and farmers. I’ve stood up for raw milk, hemp and natural supplements. I fought to take power AWAY from the government on these issues. So while there is evidence we should be concerned about GMOs, we should also be careful not to lose our constitutional perspective simply because the end result is one we may desire. That’s what we fight against. That’s what the statists do. Take a look at a pretty thorough rundown on the recent GMO amendment. There were many more problems with it, including the potential the FDA could have assumed broad new rule making authority if this badly written amendment had passed. – Sen. Rand Paul
This argument has merit. Let’s examine it more closely…
The proper role of government: people vs. corporations
Since the story on the GMO labeling amendment vote first broke, Natural News has ditched Facebook as its article comments engine and switched over the using Disqus. This has had the remarkable result of significantly raising the IQ of the discussions now taking place on articles we publish here at Natural News. Instead of the usual idiot blather that typifies Facebook comments, the Disqus comments are thoughtful, intelligent and informative. (It has very nearly restored my faith in humanity…)
Using the Disqus engine, a great many people have commented on why Rand Paul (and Sen. Ted Cruz) were both right to vote down that recent amendment on GMO labeling. They aren’t against GMO labeling, I’m told; they’re against expanding the power of the FDA in ways that might be even more dangerous down the road.
Government always abuses new powers
Yes, we all want consumers to know what they are eating, but there are different ways to achieve that result. Rand Paul wants to make sure government is not granted power that can be abused, and it is of course absolutely true that the FDA is essentially run by Monsanto, Big Pharma and other corporate interests. So we don’t want to give a criminal government more power, especially when that government is already grossly abusing its power with the DOJ-AP scandal, the IRS targeting scandal, Obama’s secret kill lists, secret military prisons and so on.
So what is the proper role of government on this issue of labeling? Here’s my take on it, which may differ slightly from Sen. Rand Paul but is essentially based on the fundamental principles of liberty:
The proper role of government in a free society is to protect the rights of individuals while regulating the behavior of corporations.
Why is this so? For starters, every individual is a minority of one. To protect the rights of the individual is the noblest cause of any government because individuals are relatively powerless against corporate power and government power. An individual is the most fragile member of society because one person’s liberties can be so easily maligned by government gone bad or government colluding with corporations to undermine individual rights and liberties.
At the same time, governments must regulate and limit the power of corporations. Why? Because every corporation wants to become a global monopoly. Every corporation wants to keep its secrets secret. “Never ask how sausage is made,” you’ve probably heard. Similarly, you don’t really want to know how Apple manufactures its iPhones in Chinese slave factories or how Kellogg’s uses GMOs to churn out breakfast cereals made with fake blueberry bits, either. Corporations have all sorts of dark secrets they want to keep secret, and GMOs are just one secret among many.
In addition, every corporation wants to dominate the market and ultimately dominate the consumer. Sure, corporations can disguise all these desires in flowery commercials and feel-good publicity campaigns, but at their core, corporations are like cancer tumors: they want to take over the entire system. It is a proper role of government to prevent these corporations from becoming monopolists and scammers. If government didn’t limit interest rates of credit cards, for example, many banks would be charging 100% APR or higher. Anything they can get away with!
The big problem in America today is that the U.S. government has spent much of its power doing precisely the opposite of what it’s supposed to do. It is protecting corporations while overrunning individual liberties. This is the explanation behind banker bailouts, Obama’s crony capitalism handouts to failed solar companies and local tax breaks to corporate giants (like the city of Austin giving Apple, Inc. millions in tax breaks).
If food labeling laws didn’t already exist today, food companies would lobby against them
If food ingredients labeling laws were being debated today for the first time, you can bet companies like General Mills, Kraft Foods, Kellogg’s and Cargill would be arguing that “consumers have no need to see the ingredients at all!” Ingredients lists are “confusing to consumers,” they would argue. “And they raise the cost of food!” This is the argument they use against labeling GMOs, too.
Yet nearly all of us would agree that it is in the interest of society that corporations be forced by law to list the ingredients in every food product they sell. This is a case where government forces corporations to do things they would absolutely never do on their own.
And here’s where I slightly disagree with the libertarians: the free market alone cannot solve this problem. Corporations will NEVER disclose such things unless they are forced to. Some libertarians will argue that consumer pressure alone can force companies to engage in things like GMO labeling, yet experience tells us this is simply not so. When the food industry is so completely dominated by only a handful of companies, consumers have no real alternatives through which to apply market choice forces. If food ingredients labels were not required, all the big food companies would simply decide to remove the full ingredients lists and print only the ingredients they want you to see. What are you gonna do about it? Starve? Live off a backyard garden? I doubt it…
So even though I am a proponent of small, limited government — and even though I consider myself to be a libertarian at heart — there are a few special situations where government has a legitimate role. Limiting and regulating large, domineering corporations is precisely one of those roles. While government has no right to take away our rifles, or collect property taxes from us or even to tell us what kind of health care insurance we must buy, government is exercising a legitimate role when it forces corporations to disclose truthful information about its products so that consumers can make an informed choice about what they are buying.
On a few issues, corporations must be forced by government to follow the basic rules
Similarly, government also has a legitimate role in forcing corporations to not pollute the environment. Take my word for it when I say that if the EPA didn’t force corporations to clean up their pollutants (such as industrial waste, chemical runoff, heavy metals, etc.), every corporation in America would be flushing deadly chemicals right into the rivers and we’d have a pollution nightmare resembling China. The EPA of the 1970’s, in fact, was a kick-ass government champion that actually pulled off amazing victories for protecting consumers, farmers and the entire population. Yes, the EPA has since devolved into yet another cabal of bloat-headed bureaucrats, but at one time this agency actually did some good. (Now the EPA mainly harasses individual property owners while ignoring actual pollutants such as mercury fillings in the dental industry.)
As you ponder all this, remember that corporations have no morals. They have no ethics. They have no heart. They exist solely to pursue profit no matter what the cost to society. If some outside force does not make it more expensive for those corporations to violate the rules than to follow the rules, they will violate them all day long. Government is the referee that forces corporations to bring their behavior in line with the expectations of consumers.
And when I say this, know that I’m no government worshipper. In fact, I’ve been called an “anti-government” activist. But that’s simply not true. I’m an opponent of criminal government that sells out the People to corporate interests. I’m actually in favor of small, Constitutional, limited government that serves the interests of the people and keeps corporations in check while defending our shores. I’m not an anarchist, in other words. I believe in Constitutional, (very) limited federal government that funds itself solely on excise taxes and doesn’t even have an income tax.
This philosophy of small government is where Rand Paul was coming from when he opposed the recent GMO labeling amendment. Although I disagree with his vote on this particular amendment, I do honor his reasoning, which is quite sound: We must be wary of granting new powers to a corrupt, criminal government that incessantly uses those powers against the people rather than to protect the people.
So I get it. There is a reason behind the vote. And when it comes to protecting the American people from bad government, few people are as reliably liberty-minded as Sen. Rand Paul and Sen. Ted Cruz. If Rand Paul were President, I have no doubt he would support GMO labeling, but he would first take a hatchet to the FDA, the IRS, the DEA, the USDA and every other government agency in desperate need of a radical “haircut,” to use Obama’s twisted term.
Got a comment on this conclusion? Sound off below, using the comment discussion engine. (And I really do appreciate all the intelligent commentary we’re seeing now that we have ditched Facebook. It’s like having a massive IQ upgrade to the entire website! This issue of GMO labeling is complex, for sure. There are many valid arguments on all the different ways to accomplish the outcome of eliminating GMOs from the food supply.)
Another argument against GMO labeling: GMOs should be outlawed
Another common argument against GMO labeling is that labeling implies acceptance of a GMO “coexistence” system, when what we should really be fighting for is banning GMOs outright.
I don’t disagree with this argument! In fact, it is the more correct argument at one level. Yes, ultimately we need to push for the outlawing of GMOs. America should follow in the footsteps of countries like Hungary, Ecuador and most EU nations in banning GMOs outright.
The GMO labeling push comes from the practical realization that GMOs are not likely to be banned in the USA anytime soon, primarily because Monsanto has such an iron grip over U.S. Senators and members of the House. Plus, Monsanto has its tentacles reaching deep into the regulatory halls of Washington, too, and the company may even pull the strings of the President himself.
In this political climate, achieving a ban on GMOs is all but impossible. But victory on GMO labeling is within reach. The idea is that once GMOs are required to be labeled, the entire food industry will ditch GMOs and that will be equivalent to outlawing GMOs since all the farmers will stop growing them. After all, no food company is going to want to put a GMO warning label on its food products. Sales would plummet! So they’ll demand that their grain suppliers grow all non-GMO grains, and those grain suppliers will turn to their farmers and demand they grow all non-GMO as well.
GMO labeling is essentially a supply chain Trojan Horse that will ultimately force the food industry to abandon GMOs, thereby accomplishing much the same thing as a GMO ban. That’s the reasoning behind mandatory GMO labeling. Nearly everyone who supports GMO labeling would also support an outright ban on GMOs. (Myself included.)
Conclusion: All members of Congress risk their seats if they do not get behind GMO labeling or a GMO ban
In conclusion, let’s remember the important point here that Rand Paul has supported raw milk freedom, hemp freedom and many other forms of food and medical freedom. Most democratic senators, on the other hand, have a terrible track record supporting individual freedoms of any kind. So Paul has a whole lot more “street cred” on the issue of liberty and freedom than most other senators.
Still, credibility is something that can be won or lost very, very quickly when it comes to the issue of GMOs. The global March Against Monsanto raised this issue to its highest visibility ever, and it’s now apparent that any candidate running for office in 2014 or 2016 needs to come out in favor of GMO labeling or risk losing. To be seen as being in the pocket of Monsanto is a huge handicap in any election.
I predict we are going to see a lot of candidates publicly coming out in support of GMO labeling (or GMO bans) in the 2014 and 2016 elections. This is an issue where Republicans can get a huge following from people who normally vote democrat. It’s also a place where Democrats can enhance the loyalty of their support base by taking a courageous stand on an issue that huge numbers of voters deeply care about.
In fact, as I’ve stated before here on Natural News, we are going to be publishing lists of candidates along with their positions on GMOs. Regardless of party affiliation, candidates who support GMO labeling are going to get some measure of positive publicity here on Natural News. Those who side with Monsanto, however, are going to get blasted with negative publicity. I don’t care which side of the aisle they occupy.
The ideal candidate for office, in my opinion, is one who respects the Bill of Rights, keeps the government’s hands off my rifles, and forces corporations to label their GMOs. I want my organic food to be non-GMO, and I want my ranch rifle by my side while I’m making organic juice smoothies. I’m into aquaponics, self-reliance, country living, spiritual awakening and the mundane skills of personal self defense. I’m a guy who has a superfood smoothie in one hand and self defense rifle in the other. I have zero loyalty to any political party, and I’ll vote for the man or woman who comes closest to honoring the limited role of government in protecting the people while forcing corporations to behave with something resembling basic human decency.
Do you have something to add to this discussion? Do you agree? Disagree? Sound off in the comments section below.
This article was posted: Friday, May 31, 2013 at 5:10 am