Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Behind the fight for Florida's future: Big Sugar's control of the American diet ... by gimleteye

Excess sugar is poison: that's a fact. There is no difference between a tablespoon of sugar extracted from a soft drink, a shot of whisky at your favorite bar, and a bowl of Fruit Loops that charges your kids for school in the morning.

The sugar industry, and its supply chain including legions of highly paid lobbyists and lawyers, depend on taxpayers and voters remaining in the dark about the connections between poisoned water -- like the staggering toll inflicted on fish and marine mammal populations today in Florida's signature rivers and estuaries -- and the American diet.

Recently, the online journal Politico published two outstanding pieces that provide insight and view of the great struggle to energize Florida voters and taxpayers on the state's massive pollution crisis. The battle pits one constituency -- a few Big Sugar billionaires -- who use Lake Okeechobee and command water management infrastructure to keep their sugar fields perfectly irrigated to extract maximum profits against millions of Floridians outraged as the use of their personal property and quality of life as Big Sugar's sacrifice zones.

Big Sugar can afford this battle because it has rigged the Farm Bill to throw off hundreds of millions in profit to enrich the wealthiest farmers in America. The corporate welfare recipients feature, prominently, the Fanjuls' Florida Crystals and Flo-Sun and the descendants of the family of Charles Stuart Mott who control U.S. Sugar Corporation.

The battle against Big Sugar's role in mismanagement of Florida's water resources helped to take down the industry's principal political proxy, former GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio. And Jeb Bush.

In response, Big Sugar has pulled out its dog-eared playbook from decades past; attacking opponents as "environmental extremists", finding an endangered species like the snail kite to blame, putting words in the mouths of apologists culled from willing economic councils, county commissions, and "people just like us". Oh, and completely segregating what is happening in our water from what is happening in our diet.

Marion Nestle, one of the nation's foremost nutritional experts, writes about the maddening difficulty of reforming the US Farm Bill in the "Farm Bill Drove Me Insane". The sugar subsidy is only part of the Farm Bill, but it is a major source of corruption because the only place Big Sugar fertilizes more efficiently than its fields is Congress, its honey pot.

Politico also explores the background and history of Michele Obama's historically significant "Let's Move" campaign in "The Great FLOTUS Food Fight". There is new detail here, and it's very much worth reading. Although Politico doesn't focus on Big Sugar, it is abundantly clear how the industry flexed its muscles against the Obamas to keep Big Sugar's prerogatives intact.

Yesterday, in Brevard County, the county commission declined to ask the most clueless governor in Florida history, Rick Scott, to declare a state of emergency as a result of massive fish die-offs along its coastline. A day earlier, in Miami-Dade County, county commissioners declined to attend a workshop proposed by Daniella Levine Cava, one of thirteen county commissioners, to require transparent disclosure when county commissioners solicit contributions for political action committees.

First voters need to understand the connections. Then, voters need to finish the job at the polls in November and future election cycles. That is how democracy works. Lately democracy is most definitely not working for taxpayers and voters. It is working for Big Sugar oligarchs and their supply chain in economic councils, downtown law firms, and the lobbyist corps. Your vote can make a difference, but only if you help widen the circle.


Unknown said...

I appreciate all of your work fighting against Big Sugar and educating the public about its damage to our environment, health and tax dollars. However, whiskey and most hard liqueurs should not be compared to other sugar evils as they have minimum sugar content. The mixes are another story. So drink up and a toast to your health and continued vigilance. In moderation of course.

Anonymous said...

I read yesterday, a post suggesting that the cause of the die-off in the Indian/Banana Rivers *COULD* be due to (get this) the increase of the number of manatees, and their eating the grasses in the rivers.

The clueless author poo-pooed the thought that excessive nutrient run-off (Big Sugar, and residential) could instead have fed and triggered the brown algae. Manatees. Yup.

He speculated that the Indian/Banana Rivers had overstretched the 'carrying capacity' for the Manatees.

If the author happens to be reading this, I would appreciate your RE-POSTING your 'logic' behind such a wild hypothesis.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Just a note Big Sugar is responsible for rotten and decaying teeth.

Unknown said...

Big Sugar is responsible for Diabetes. The burning of the cane is destroying our lungs in Palm Beach County ( 500.000 Acres burning) from October till May every year. The Florida Department Of Environmental Protection Does Not factor in humidity when they issue Air Permits. No one is stopping them from killing us. Funny were telling people in pain you cannot have painkillers if you take percoset you are a drug addict. We are watching you and your doctors every prescription, our government is spying on us and the dope addict has moved on. Johnny is doing heroin. By the way his parents gave him his first drugs Adderall and Ridilin because he was hyper as a child. But go ahead and eat as much sugar as possible. Drink as much liqueur as possible. Take a big deep breath of the acrid smoke hanging over our heads. Our priorities are really screwed up. We lobby for things that may stop one death but I'll be damned if will lobby to stop millions of deaths. I say this because there is a better way to do things surrounding the growing , processing, and distributing sugar put a label on it just like cigarettes. Quite frankly sugar is as bad as tobacco if not worse and a lot more people are consuming it then any other product in the world.

Ramon iglesias said...

Here is a great article that speaks the truth.

cyndi said...

Dear Unknown: Where are the people representing you in Palm Beach County and why are they not speaking out about the burning? Not only bad for your health but the economic factor of houses that need painting, filters that have to be changed. It doesn't matter which way the wind blows in Belle Glade. They are surrounded by sugar fields. Yet the elected officials from both parties ignore what is going on out there.