The Corn Ultimatum – A Trilogy

The following is a work of fiction.  Though much of the information is documented fact certain elements have been fictionalized.

Des Moines, IW

The year is 2007.  Illinois Senator Barrack Obama tells attendees of the Iowa Democratic Primary Debate, “. . . we can also improve the economic engines in a lot of these rural communities, and that is something that I’m absolutely committed to doing as President, but it’s going to require overcoming the excess influence of agribusiness lobbying.”

Campaigning on a platform of change and promising an end to business-as-usual politics Obama says, “I don’t take a dime of their [lobbyist] money, and when I am President, they won’t find a job in my White House.”  Based mainly on this promise Obama is elected the 44th President of the United States.

Before taking office, the President was sent a list of 12 highly qualified experts in food safety and/or conscientious farming by environmentalists and sustainable food activists.  They called them the Sustainable Dozen.

On December 17, 2008 President-elect Obama named former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack as his nominee as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.  As head of the USDA, Vilsak will be making policy that greatly effects the bottom line of Monsanto and other agribusinesses and their lobbyists.

Obama’s other candidates for USDA chief were Representative Collin Peterson (D – Minnesota) a conservative Democrat who has on occasion championed Monsanto and Representative Charlie Stenholm (D – Texas) another conservative Democrat who has, from time-to-time been a proponent of Monsanto.

So why did the President choose Vilsack?  Apparently because the other two were not pro-Monsanto enough.  While leading the state of Iowa, Vilsack was often ridiculed for betraying voters in favor of Big Ag companies and was even named Governor of the Year by the Biotechnology Industry Organization, a GM seed lobby group.  For years Vilsack has traveled in a private jet “on loan” from Monsanto.

Vilsack’s appointment came as a slap in the face to the very people that elected the President.  Letters were written, favors cashed in and e-mails did whatever it is e-mails metaphorically do.  As a peace offering President Obama created the toothless position of Sustainable Foods Czar and appointed one of the Sustainable Dozen, Kathleen Merrigan to fill it.  The appointment means little except a salary and a nifty parking spot.  Clearly a waste of a talented and dedicated person.

However, President Obama wasn’t done.  He has added more Big Ag goons to the US Government than the past three Presidents combined:

  • Islam Siddiqui – vice president of CropLife America a PR firm representing Monsanto, Dow, Syngenta and DuPont.  Siddiqui also was a Barrack financial contributor who donated the highest legal amount to the ’09 election.
  • Roger Beachy – a scientist who actually helped develop GM corn and recently questioned the safety of organic foods.  Beachy was another campaign contributor.
  • Dr. Michael Osterholm – vehement defender of food irradiation (the largely untested practice of dosing food with Gamma radiation).  His research facilities are financed by CFC Logistics – a maker of food irradiation equipment.
  • Dr. Regina Benjamin a “consultant” for  Burger King, was paid $10,000 by the fast food giant just prior to being named the nation’s latest Surgeon General.
  • And the most agredious appointment – July 7, 2009, Michael Taylor returns to DC as President Obama’s hand-picked “senior adviser” to the FDA.

Taylor, whose position is technically under that of FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret “Peggy” Hamburg, took it upon himself to create a new division of the FDA called the Office of Foods in August of 2009.  This new department will employee 350 people, none of whom have any real duties to perform.  Humorously, the FDA’s web site has a section entitled Meet Michael R. Taylor which spends an entire page detailing Taylor’s numerous token appointments and meaningless board of trustees seats but only dedicates one half of one sentence to his 30 plus years of service to Monsanto.

So now with a gaggle of Big Ag henchmen as part of his administration the President is set to attack the long list of problems assailing the country.  Surely he would address the nation’s dire unemployment numbers or prosecute the Wall Street executives who broke the law and as a result needed the American tax payers to save their industry.  At the very least he will attempt to wrangle the growing national debt.  No, instead he turns his full attention towards nationalizing the health care system.

The President and First Lady also begin a campaign against childhood obesity.  Obesity it would seem has been the primary cause of increasing health care costs.  The chief cause of obesity is GM products (food is too liberal a word) and the chemicals derived from them like HFCS.

On that point the First Lady plants an organic garden at the White House that will provide produce for the First Family and their guests to enjoy.  A staff is hired to maintain the garden for the Obamas.  They also suggest that schools plant similar gardens.  After all GM foods are poisonous and drive up health care costs.

Then the First Lady announces her new initiative,  Let’s Move.  The program’s goal is to, “give parents the support they need, provide healthier food in schools, help our kids to be more physically active, and make healthy, affordable food available in every part of our country.”  Mrs. Obama made her plans public on February 9, 2010 in a live broadcast that aired on

At the First Lady’s side were Tom Vilsak (Secretary of the USDA and Monsanto lobbyist) and Dr. Regina Benjamin (US Surgeon General and Burger King employee) making the entire program appear little more than window dressing.  Also joining Mrs. Obama at the announcement was hypocrisy.  After all Vilsack has worked for decades for the company that invented the chemical responsible for the obesity epidemic, HFCS and Benjamin advices a company that puts  HFCS into virtually everything it sells.

Just as Monsanto had told President Carter in those smokey backrooms of the 1970’s, if their genetically modified corn turned out to be unhealthy then all is well.  It would likely cause a health crisis giving some future President ammunition to pass the long sought after state-run health care system.

The first President Bush left a crack in the door for Monsanto to plant a genetically modified seed of corruption.  President Clinton opened the door all the way, Bush Jr. took the door off the hinges and President Obama has unlocked the backdoor and smashed out all of the windows.

There is no savior for our food system.  There is no one in Washington DC we can trust.  The only thing DC politicians care about is fortifying their own coffers.

If this whole ordeal has shown us anything is that this issue is not about party affiliation.  Those who align themselves along party lines are fools.  Both Democrats and Republicans have betrayed the American people for the pursuit of the all mighty dollar.  From Bush Sr. to Obama all have put more stock into the desires of Monsanto than they do the voter.

Politicians will never change things unless it is profitable for them.  The only way we get out of this is by doing it ourselves.  Re-elect no one.  Impeachment is a tool the founding fathers gave us in case we were betrayed. Let’s use it; after all we’ve been betrayed.  Write letters, make phone calls, send e-mails, organize petitions and write “call to arms” blog posts just like this one.  Do something to save us from the Monsanto Revolving Door.

Make yourself heard.

Get caught up by reading The Corn Identity and The Corn Supremacy.

Democratic primary debate

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Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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