Part III

Got Pus? Bovine Growth Hormone, Genetic Engineering
& the New World Order
Part Three

by Mitchel Cohen
Write-In Candidate for Mayor of NYC, 2001 (Green Party)

Media & BGH

In February, 1997, two veteran news reporters for Fox TV in Tampa, Florida, were fired for refusing to water down an investigation reporting that rBGH may promote cancer in humans who drink milk from rBGH-treated cows. It is the link between rBGH and cancer that Monsanto pressed Fox to remove from the story.

Award-winning reporters Steve Wilson and Jane Akre had been hired by WTVT in Tampa to produce a series on rBGH in Florida milk. After more than a year's work on the rBGH series, and three days before the series was scheduled to air (starting February 24, 1997), Fox TV executives received the first of two letters from lawyers representing Monsanto saying that Monsanto would suffer "enormous damage" if the series ran. Monsanto's second letter warned of "dire consequences" for Fox if the series aired as it stood. Despite the fact that WTVT had been advertising the series aggressively, the station canceled it at the last moment.

According to documents filed in Florida's Circuit Court (13th Circuit), Fox lawyers then tried to water down the series, offering to pay the two reporters if they would leave the station and keep mum about Fox's censorship of their work. The reporters refused Fox's offer, and on April 2, 1998, filed their own lawsuit against WTVT. The Wilson/Akre lawsuit charged WTVT with violating its license from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) by demanding that the reporters include known falsehoods in their rBGH series. The reporters also charged WTVT with violating Florida's "whistle blower" law, and that Fox ordered them to remove all mention of "cancer," changing it to "human health effects" — whatever that may be.

After a five-week trial and six hours of deliberation which ended August 18, 2000, a Florida state court jury unanimously determined that Fox "acted intentionally and deliberately to falsify or distort the plaintiffs' news reporting on BGH." In that decision, the jury also found that Jane Akre's threat to blow the whistle on Fox's misconduct to the FCC was the sole reason for the termination… and the jury awarded awarded $425,000 in damages which makes her eligible to apply for reimbursement for all court costs, expenses and legal fees.

The whistle-blowing journalists, twice refused Fox offers of big-money deals to keep quiet about what they knew, filed their landmark lawsuit April 2, 1998 and survived three Fox efforts to have their case summarily dismissed. It is the first time journalists have used a whistleblower law to seek a legal remedy for being fired for refusing to distort the news. www.foxbghsuit.com See, "Milk, rBGH, and Cancer," Rachel's Environment & Health Weekly #593, April 9, 1998. www.monitor.net/rachel

What Can We Do?

There is a growing movement to fight the use of rBGH. One way to hammer the final nails into rBGH's coffin is to force New York City public schools, which buy 750,000 half-pint containers of milk each day, to buy milk only from companies that do not use rBGH-treated cows.

1) Call the NYC Board of Education today: (718) 729-6100. Demand that the Board purchase milk and other dairy products only from companies that sign a contract not to use rBGH milk. (You might add that you want all milk purchases to be "organic" as well.) You can also write to: Mr. Kevin Gill, Office of School Food and Nutrition Services, 44-36 Vernon Blvd., Long Island City, NY 11101.

Boycott School Milk and all rBGH-derived dairy products. In New York City, the Brooklyn Greens and Manhattan Greens distributed more than 9,000 brochures to parents coming to pick up their kids at public schools, who then flooded the Board of Ed bureaucrats with phone calls and letters. The same can be done anywhere; it is an excellent way of getting out there and mobilizing a huge grassroots constituency.

That is an effort easily overlooked by many non-profit organizations who are often so intent on being invited to a seat at the table with policy-makers that they lose sight of building the alternative power-base needed to force through changes. People are outraged that their kids are being used as guinea pigs, that there never was any long-range testing, that rBGH milk is unlabeled, and that there's no need for rBGH to begin with; they are beginning to raise a ruckus.

It's important that boycotts not be passive. Parents cannot just say, "I won't let MY kids drink the milk." For one, rBGH-induced hormones are also at higher levels in ice cream, cheese, and other dairy products. For another, ALL kids are being affected. We have to force a change in policy.

One way, which we are now about to implement in New York City, is to encourage high school kids to set up direct action environmental organizations in their schools and then link those schools with each other, take them to candidates' forums, and raise hell. The point is to turn individual concern over what one is putting in their body into – political – concern for what is being produced and how to stop it — that is, turning individual concern into a mass movement.

2) Call the Green Party's rBGH toll-free hotline for the latest updates and activities: 1-888-NY4-GREENS. Learn the Facts. Become a Green activist. Help distribute brochures in your school, around your neighborhood and in front of local stores. Invite us to speak at your meetings. Spanish language pamphlets and speakers also available.

3) Support legislation banning rBGH-dairy products. NY City Council Intro #766 would prohibit city agencies from purchasing from companies that use rBGH in milk. Resolution #1605 calls on the Board of Education to purchase only rBGH-free milk. Both have been prevented from coming to a vote by the Democratic Party-controlled City Council, under the leadership of Peter Vallone who is now running for Mayor in the Democratic primary after having lost the previous election for governor. Perhaps it is not so unexpected to learn that Vallone's prior campaign accepted money from the Monsanto Corporation – an "investment" that, for Monsanto, has paid dividends in New York City. Democrats and Republicans are united in blocking similar legislation in the State Assembly and Senate.

4) Support NY State Assembly bill A.2668 requiring mandatory labeling of all dairy products derived from rBGH cows, and certification and inspection of all dairy herds. The label should state: "Contains milk from cows treated with genetically-engineered bovine growth hormone." Demand mandatory labeling of all dairy products derived from rBGH cows. Fight for legislation banning rBGH-dairy products and all genetically-engineered foods.

5) We need to throw the bums out of office. But our fight cannot be limited to the electoral arena or we'll lose. We need to leaflet stores and target them for more militant action if they continue to stock dairy products derived from rBGH cows. If they don't respond, organize picket lines at the stores. Make "No rBGH" part of the powerful unionization campaign of immigrant workers now underway at local markets. (Leaflet the WORKERS on the picket lines, too!)

6) Bring up this issue at every opportunity. Circulate petitions against rBGH at PTA and Community School Board meetings. Get your friends to carry them in school and around the neighborhood. Confront candidates as they run for elected office. (The upcoming Senate campaign in New York provides an excellent opportunity for this type of "issue-raising." In New York City, Save Organic Standards has begun a "Healthy Schools" campaign centered around eliminating genetically engineered milk and other foods from schools. Email: SOSNY@mindspring.com

7) Every college has some connection to pharmaceutical corporations and biotechnological research and development. Organize campaigns on your campus against them, as well as against such facilities as the former Audubon Ballroom, across from Columbia Presbyterian Hospital — New York's newest and one of its most dangerous centers for genetic experimentation — and the genetically-based National Violence Initiative Project, which is headquartered at the hospital and University. Demand an end to patents on life: Eliminating patents takes the profits out of genetic engineering. We'll then see which scientists will continue to do their "research" on behalf of the public good and not suck at the udders of Washington cash-cows injected with genetically engineered hormones.

Pharmaceutical corporations and biotechnological research and development facilities provide sitting targets, just as ROTC buildings and Department of Defense research and recruitment once did. Every college now has some connection to them. We need to begin a similar campaign against the privatization of our universities and colleges, and especially against their collaboration with pharmaceutical and biotech corporations.

8) Hold contests for the best parody of the "Got Milk?" advertisements. Put up posters and "improve" existing ones. Organize your building, school, workplace and neighborhood.

9) We are now launching this campaign throughout New York City. The Greens are in need of funds, so please send what you can. For more information, additional copies of this brochure, in-depth fact sheets, lists of companies pledging (or refusing to pledge) to be rBGH-free, and public speakers, write to NY State Greens/Green Party: c/o Afrime Derti, 755 Washington Ave. #503, Brooklyn NY 11238; or to Andy Zimmerman, at turtle@westnet.com.

Remember: In every danger there also resides opportunity, if only we learn to look for it and develop it correctly. The issue of rBGH in milk is so straightforward that it is an ideal place from which to launch a much greater campaign against the genetic engineering of foods, vaccines and medicines, privatization of knowledge through "intellectual property rights," patenting of synthesized genetic sequences for private profit, the consolidation and concentration of farmland, who controls our food?, mistreatment of animals, the growing domination by corporations and, in general, the system of exploitation that rules our lives.

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For more Information about rBGH:

– ActionGreens: c/o Mitchel Cohen, 2652 Cropsey Avenue, #7H, Brooklyn, NY 11214, mitchelcohen@mindspring.com.

– North-East Resistance Against Genetic Engineering (NERAGE): nerage@sover.net.

– Campaign for Safe Food: c/o Ronnie Cummins, 860 Highway 61, Little Morais, MN 55614. (218) 226-4155; alliance@mr.net; http://www.purefood.org.

– Save Organic Standards (SOS): 638 E. 6th St., NYC 10009. (212) 529-9720; sos-ny@mindspring.com.

– Mothers & Others for a Livable Planet: 40 West 20th St., 9th floor, NYC 10011, (212) 242-0010.

– Consumer Policy Institute, Consumers Union: Att: Michael Hansen, PO Box 2015, Yonkers, NY 10703, (914) 378-2000; hansmi@consumer.org.

– Food & Water: RR 1, Box 68D, Walden, VT 05873, 1-800-EAT-SAFE; foodandwater@igc.apc.org; Fax: (802) 563-3310. foodandwater@igc.apc.org.

– Just Food, & Green Guerrillas: 625 Broadway, #9C, NYC 10012. (212) 674-8124.

– Council for Responsible Genetics: 5 Upland Rd., Suite 3, Cambridge, MA 02140. (617) 868-0870; crg@esential.org; http://www.essential.org/crg.

– The Edmonds Institute: c/o Beth Burrows, 20319 92nd Ave. West, Edmonds, WA 98020, (425) 775-5383; fax: (425) 670-8410; (206) 670-8410; beb@igc.apc.org.

– Greens/Green Party USA: PO Box 1134, Lawrence, MA 01842 [there will be a new Chicago national office for GPUSA beginning in September 2001], (978) 682-4353; gpusa@igc.apc.org, www.greens.org.

– RAFI: Rural Advancement Foundation International: 110 Osborne St., Suite 202, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3L 1Y5 Canada. (204) 453-5259; rafi@rafi.org

– Rachel's Environment & Health Weekly: c/o Environmental Research Foundation, PO Box 5036, Annapolis, MD 21403, erf@rachel.clark.net.

– The Humane Farming Association: PO Box 3577, San Rafael, CA 94912.

– Greenpeace/Toxic Trade Update: 1436 U St. NW, Washington, DC 20009.

– Student Environmental Action Coalition: PO Box 1168, Chapel Hill, NC 27514-1168.

– The Ram's Horn: PO Box 3028, Mission, British Columbia V2V 4J3 Canada. (604) 820-4270; kneen@web.net.

– Women's Environmental Network, 87 Worship St., London EC2A 2BE, England. (44) 171-247-3327; WENUK@gn.apc.org.

See also "Genetically Engineering the New World Order," by Mitchel Cohen, an indepth analysis of genetic engineering, the World Bank/IMF and the new colonialism; and articles by Robert Lederman on Eugenics, posted to the archives of sprayno@yahoogroups.com.

And, pick up a copy of "Redesigning Life: The Worldwide Challenge to Genetic Engineering", edited by Brian Tokar and published by Zec Press, distributed in the US by St. Martin's, where all of these arguments are developed in full detail.

Posted by permission of author.