February 3, 2009

Sacred cow exploiters

Michael Colby exposes some of the hypocrisy of Vermont progressives by recalling his fight against recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) almost 15 years ago as head of the nonprofit organization Food & Water. This is on the occasion of Cabot Creamery's recent announcement that they will no longer allow its use for their milk supply.

Click here for the first article. Click here for the second.

It took 15 years for Cabot to finally hear the customer demand? No -- it took a simple request from Wal-Mart, which now accounts for one-quarter of Cabot's sales.

Colby's campaign began with Land O'Lakes, as Cabot was claiming a "wait-and-see" policy. But then an employee leaked an internal memo acknowledging that some of their suppliers were already using rBGH. So Colby brought the campaign home. And the politicians, press, and corporate nonprofits came to Cabot's defense.

Then-governor Howard Dean condemned Food & Water as a "terrorist group". Then–state senator Elizabeth Ready essentially told them to leave the state. Cabot's spokesperson, Roberta McDonald, compared Food & Water to the Unabomber and suggested that public safety would be better served by locking up its leaders.

Now Wal-Mart demands the same thing, and Cabot meekly says "OK". That's great news, of course, but it doesn't say good things about our democracy when only another behemoth can say no to Monsanto and the concerns of individual citizens are derided, mocked, and condemned -- not just by the self-interested corporations but also by those who nominally represent the people against the powerful.

((( )))

Part 2 recounts Food & Water's effort more than 10 years ago to get Ben & Jerry's to go organic, or at least to refuse milk from cows fed on grain treated with the likely carcinogen atrazine. In this case, there has been no Wal-Mart to convince them, and Ben & Jerry's, that paragon of hip capitalism, still shuns organic production for their milk supply. Food & Water met with them to explain how such a move could transform Vermont dairy farming and drastically improve the environment of this rural state, consistent with the company's own progressive activism.

In response, Ben Cohen offered Colby a job in their public relations department, and then any paraphernalia he wanted, such as the oxymoronic hippie ties. And just as Cohen said that going organic was off the table, Vermont's progressives considered Ben & Jerry's to be off limits for criticism. Food & Water lost some of their donors -- for trying to protect our food and water!

When Colby was invited to speak at an anti-nuclear rally in Brattleboro, he was told not to mention Ben & Jerry's, who funded the event -- and Ben and Jerry themselves were going to speak (and not to be challenged). After promising not to so that he could get on stage, Colby jumped right into the issue by opening a pint of Ben & Jerry's Chubby Hubby and intoning "Doing bad and feeling good about it" between spoonfuls. His microphone was quickly cut off. But the fire was lit, and people flocked around to learn more, ignoring the next speaker.

And Ben & Jerry's still makes no effort to make their actual product better for the planet, absolving their own contributions to dirty agriculture by supporting progressive causes that might not cause any trouble for their own bottom line.

((( )))

Enron, also, bought off environmentalists. Many of them came to its defense with kind words about their progressive energy programs as the company was revealed to be a scam from top to bottom. Unfortunately, industrial wind power continues apace, with coal giant Florida Power & Light, nuclear giant General Electric, oil giant British Petroleum, and budding natural gas mogul T. Boone Pickens, among many others of their ilk, leading the way. And the corporate environmentalists readily follow.

Progressives everywhere resort to cutting the microphone rather than hear any word against Big Wind. "Oh, it could be so much worse," they say. Except it will be so much worse, because progressives and environmentalists are letting so much pass as they "work with" developers hungry to open up our remaining undeveloped rural and wild areas. They are supporting more development, not less, more consumption, not less.

They sport hippie ties in a twisted evocation (for it is also a cautionary reminder) of what they once might have been. They are smug in their self-censorship, their self-repression, their "success", their hypocrisy. They are scared, because they don't know who they are anymore.

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism, human rights, animal rights, Vermont, anarchism, anarchosyndicalism, ecoanarchism