Monday, January 22, 2018

See what Big Sugar really looks like ... by gimleteye

Sugar silo 2013, Zineb Sedira
Take a look. Look at the photos. As seasons cycle, this is what the Big Sugar outcome looks like.

Take a good look: your Everglades, your waterfronts, fishing and swimming, your waterways, your tourism-based jobs, your county and your state are all sacrifice zones to giant piles of sugar like this.

What is good for sugar -- and billionaires supported by subsidies in the US Farm Bill -- is manifestly bad for you.

Sugar is always the 3rd rail in Florida politics. Its public relations and political machinery meshes government with lobbying and marketing budgets. Just like Big Tobacco spent decades telling consumers smoking was benign and did not cause cancer.

Dark sugar money pools everywhere elected officials scramble for campaign cash. To that rule there are exceptions, but there are no exceptions to its domination of water management in Florida. Big Sugar gets water on its own terms.

When it rains too much and Lake Okeechobee rises too high, billions of gallons of polluted water are dumped to tide, covering what you value with dangerous scum. These impacts could be fixed if the industry cleaned up its irrigation runoff on its own lands, but it uses public lands -- lands you paid for! -- instead.

It is very real. Big Sugar is toxic to your health, to your waterfront properties, to your waterways clogged with fertilizer byproducts including methylmercury and cyanobacteria, to every rule and regulation to protect your health and your environment including the St. Lucie, the Caloosahatchee, the Everglades and tribal lands of the Miccosukee and Seminole.

When consumed in excess, sugar is toxic. In laboratory experiments, rats prefer sugar to cocaine. According to a 2013 Credit Suisse report, a trillion dollars per year is attributable to over-consumption of sugar in the American diet.

What you value would be protected if "once and for all" the state and federal governments created enough polishing marshes for Big Sugar's pollution, stopping the industry from using the Everglades, Florida Bay, your waterways and property as its sacrifice zones. It could happen if Gov. Rick Scott and Senate President Joe Negron intervene now to fix what went wrong in last year's legislation: poison pills that pin the state to Big Sugar's outcome. The Treasure Coast Palm's Eve Samples recently wrote:

(In 2011) ... Scott forced $700 million in cuts to the state’s water management districts — including the South Florida Water Management District, the lead state agency on Everglades restoration. And during his first six years as governor, he gutted staffing at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The agency lost more than 600 employees, dropping from about 3,500 to 2,900, according to reporting by Craig Pittman of the Tampa Bay Times.

About the Everglades: Scott has touted an Everglades restoration bill he signed in 2013 — but doesn't talk about how it phased out a tax farmers pay to grow crops in the Everglades Agricultural Area, leaving taxpayers on the hook for any lingering pollution costs. Also in 2013, Scott and the Legislature approved 30-year, no-bid leases for farmers in the EAA, including sugar giant Florida Crystals.

The same year, Scott was among the politicians who took secret trips to U.S. Sugar’s private hunting lodge at King Ranch in Texas. After the trip, Scott appointed a King Ranch executive, Mitch Hutchcraft, to the governing board of the South Florida Water Management District. By the way, U.S. Sugar Corp. donated $960,000 to Scott's political committee Let's Get to Work between 2014 and 2016.

We can offer mild praise for Scott's support of state Senate President Joe Negron's efforts to build an Everglades reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee — but he's been far from bold on the issue. And bold action is what's needed for a true fix.

The bottom line: less for you, more for them. A lot more because what Big Sugar really wants is to farm tract housing when it becomes more profitable than farming sugarcane and to sell you rainwater that falls on their fields when there is not enough in city reservoirs.

That is the bitter truth.

(Click here to watch Dr. Robert Lustig's "Sugar: The Bitter Truth" viewed on YouTube more than 7.4 million times.)


Barry J White said...

Sugar cane is not native to Florida so it takes
tons of fertilizers and pesticide to produce
it. Then we subsidize its production and spend
billions to clean up the run off. Are we nuts?

Unknown said...

Barry said it well, and we all are being punked out by big money and gov to pay for some folks to get richer.