Dorwart & Wu: We can take action, not just hope for the best

This commentary is by Alison Despathy, a resident of Danville.

The incredibly corrupt history and some of the major concerns with the biotechnology industry and its past role in war crimes and abuses of the land and people are best summarized by Vandana Shiva, an ecologist and activist from India.

For many decades now, Shiva has been pushing back on Bill Gates. Monsanto, glyphosate and the biotechnology industries’ damage and colonization in India. In her 2018 book “Oneness vs. the 1%,” she states, “The toxic cartel of the war has come together, once again. The Big 6 pesticide and GMO corporations that own the world’s seed, pesticide and biotechnology industries are BASF, Bayer, DuPont, Dow Chemical Co., Monsanto and Syngenta. Monsanto tried to buy Syngenta which is now merging with ChemChina; ChemChina acquired Syngenta for U.S. $43 billion and plans a merger with Sinochem in 2018. Dow Chemical, which brought up Union Carbide (responsible for the Bhopal gas leak disaster that continues to kill and maim millions), is now merging with DuPont in a $130 billion deal. Not to be outdone, Bayer is buying up Monsanto for $66 billion. 

“These deals alone will place as much as 70% of the agrochemical industry in the world in the hands of only three merged companies. Through cross-licensing agreements, who will be in the cockpit will be decided by issues like image-building, shedding liability, reducing taxes and expanding monopoly rights through patents and noninventions.”

This is the corporate game and unfortunately it is the people and the environment who are negatively impacted by the actions of these entities. Impulsive legislation that supports unregulated use of biofuels and includes disguised carbon taxes ultimately supports corporate agendas and destruction of the people and environments around the world.

Overall, the clean heat standard was dangerous legislation that would not have served Vermont, Vermonters or the environment. We are fortunate it did not pass. The only winners with this legislation would have been the biotechnology industry, the biofuel industry, and global corporations that would have replaced many small fuel businesses in this state that could not have withstood the costs and financial burdens of this legislation. 

This was not offering environmental or social justice. Quite the contrary, this would have brought damage to Vermont. .

The question of sourcing energy for Vermont and elsewhere is not an easy conversation. It is a very complicated topic and some steps that have proven most effective in offering real solutions at this point is to focus efforts on:

— Continued funding and incentives for intensive weatherization programs, including windows, insulation and high-efficiency diversified heating systems. 

— Programs to help Vermonters access efficient appliances.

— Incentives for solar system installs if these are indeed proving to help put energy back into the grid system. Reduced power bills also help many Vermonters.

— Tackling high-priority problems that damage our land and water systems, such as the high use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers that leach into and contaminate the Earth and the people. Programs and aid to help farmers transition out of the use of these chemicals and into more sustainable practices would have a positive impact on the health of the people and the environment. 

In this past legislative session, $80 million was dedicated to weatherization. Also $45 million was put toward a municipal energy resilience program. There are actions and solutions in place that actually will make a difference. 

Many Vermonters are informed and are seeking and creating ways to continue to “live lightly” with the land and act consciously with regard to resource and energy use by making decisions every day that help our environment. 

Vermont is committed to healthy relationships between the land and the people. This is exemplified in the philosophy, belief systems and lifestyle choices of so many Vermonters. This is evident in many practices in this state related to food, farming, homesteading, building, integrated energy systems, reduced energy use, conservation efforts and so much more. 

It is clearly evident that Vermont legislators and residents have to be highly attuned and conscious about narratives and where they originate and how they may influence legislation that serves corporate agendas versus the environment and the people. This is all too prevalent today and, moving forward, awareness around this fact is essential for decisions made in and for Vermont. 

The people and the land are intimately tied — there are solutions that support this relationship. Vermonters have proven themselves worthy with regard to truly sustainable lifestyle choices and a willingness to help; they should not be attacked through legislation like the clean heat standard. 

From this conversation stems another critical question: Do “global solutions” really exist or will real answers be found by the people in certain locations based on multiple variables and specific situations? “Global solutions” designed by or serving corporate interests need to be heavily scrutinized and Vermont must seek answers that work here and will bring beneficial impacts, without harm, to the people and the environment. 

Awareness of the fact that corporate global industries, with the help of both the mainstream media as an ideal marketing and propaganda tool and nongovernmental organizations, often funded by corporate industry, are the key ingredients that drive fascism in our country and our state today. 

Many industry-funded NGOs today are responsible for lobbying for corporate agendas and crafting the actual legislation that serves the corporations and industries, not the people. Often and most disturbingly, many legislators do not recognize the nefarious nature of these bills. Many times these are sold under the guise of social and environmental justice. 

We all want social and environmental justice but we need real solutions that actually serve the people of Vermont and our environment, not false solutions based on corporate agendas and bottom lines. Although it may not be obvious, although it may not be easily recognized, fascism is alive and present and is the most massive current-day threat to democracy, freedom and humanity. Now, more than ever, our legislators elected by and for the people are literally the protectors and the shield of defense for humanity from the global corporate predators. 

Today fascism is more subtle and packaged more carefully to help justify its place and not stir controversy, questions or resistance, but we must see through it and recognize it for what it truly is because it ultimately destroys the people and environments and serves to build the strength, power and profits of the current-day corporate robber barons. We have been down this road. The Progressive movement at its heart stemmed from the fact that the robber barons were taking advantage of the people. 

History repeats itself and, as always, it is up to the people to identify the problem, stand up and work together to protect and secure constitutional rights and fundamental human rights and not be taken advantage of and abused by corporate greed.

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Tags: Alison Despathy, biotechnology industry, clean heat standard, efficient appliances, fascism, NGOs, social and environmental justice, Vandana Shiva, weatherization

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