We at Black Agenda Report have been pointing out a long time now that what used to be black and Latino civil rights and civic advocacy organizations have turned a corner and become mouthpieces for their corporate funders.
We called out the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation in 2006, and the National Conference of Black State Legislators in 2007, along with Bobby Rush and other members of the Congressional Black Caucus for siding with AT&T, Verizon and their telecom industry benefactors over their communities who need cheap and ubiquitous broadband. By 2008 we added the Urban League and NAACP to the list, along with Al Sharpton and his National Action Network for joining the corporate crusade to first cripple, then privatize public education. In 2009 and 2010 we've pointed to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's receipt of millions in donations funneled through execs at Georgia Power as its reason for not opposing the placement of leaky nuclear reactors in a poor, mostly black Georgia town where most families already have a case or two of cancer.
The list of betrayals of these kinds of outfits of their supposed constituents to their funders is routine and nearly endless. But in California the state NAACP reached a new low in putting the profits of its donors over its supposed responsibilities to the people.
With very little money to spend, local activists succeeded in placing a measure on the California ballot this Tuesday which would have required all genetically modified foods, with a few key exceptions, to be labeled as such. Most of the industrialized world already has laws and regulations like this, which is why much of the stuff on US supermarket shelves cannot be sold in Europe or Japan or even many places in South America. The people in these places call much of what we see in stores every day “frankenfood." They may be on to something.
Genetic modifications of foodstuffs have never been about increasing yield or enhancing nutrition. They are purely about expanding profits. Genetically modified seeds can be patented and farmers charged yearly royalties for seed they used to save and plant for free each year. They require lots of profitable herbicides and pesticides – in fact some of the genetic modifications make the plants produce their own herbicides and pesticides, which of course we eventually consume.
It's not a subject discussed much in media and not a place where Big Agriculture wants to go. So what do the swells at places like Monsanto do? The same as the nuclear industry, the telecom industry and the people who want to privatize education. They dropped a big check on the California NAACP, and sure enough that august body took a stand against California's Proposition 37.
Never mind that black children are more likely than anyone else to suffer from juvenile onset diabetes, and that studies in other countries have shown clear links between GMO foods and diabetes in children. The so-called leadership model of the modern civil rights organization in this post civil rights era is to front itself as the representative of and obtain its moral legitimacy from the oppressed, but take its funding and its orders from the oppressors. That's why we call them the black misleadership class.
For Black Agenda Radio I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com.
Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report. He lives and works in Marietta GA, and is a state committee member of the Georgia Green Party. Contact him via this site's contact page or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.
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