Saturday, February 15, 2014

Liberal Tree-Huggers Right About Everything Again, Still and Forever: Corporations Poisoning Our Food and Libeling Scientists Edition

You could look it up: everything the hippies protested about in the '60s and '70s that the establishment dismissed and disparaged them for either has been proven true or is about to be proven true.

In a Black History Month coincidence, the hero of our story is African-American.

I wanted to be sure to call your attention to a really fabulous piece of journalism in the current issue of The New Yorker. It’s by Rachel Aviv, and it concerns a ruthless corporate campaign to discredit a scientist who discovered that a chemical is causing serious harm to animals and humans. This story is reads like your most paranoid, far-out conspiratorial left-wing nightmare come true. Seriously, you could not make this stuff up.

It centers on a brilliant African-American biologist at UCal Berkeley named Tyrone Hayes. Hayes grew up poor in South Carolina and attended Harvard on a scholarship. For the past 15 years, he’s been studying atrazine, a popular herbicide made by an agribusiness giant named Syngenta. Through his research, Hayes discovered that exposure to atazine was having freaky effects on the sexual development of frogs — causing frogs with deformed testes, frogs with both testes and ovaries, and other sexual abnormalities. Aviv notes that “[o]ther scientists have expanded on his findings, suggesting that the herbicide is associated with birth defects in humans as well as in animals.”

Hayes began to believe that Syngenta, determined to prevent him from continuing his research, was bugging his phone, reading his email, and following him to conferences. His colleagues thought he was losing his mind. Then, last summer, an article appeared in Environmental Health News that was based on Syngenta’s internal records, the fruits of a class action suit. My oh my, what do you know? It turns out that Syngenta really was out to get him, after all.

Hayes had

believed that the company was trying to isolate him from other scientists and “play on my insecurities—the fear that I’m not good enough, that everyone thinks I’m a fraud,” he said. He told colleagues that he suspected that Syngenta held “focus groups” on how to mine his vulnerabilities.
And of course, he was right. When their Syngenta’s public relations team listed four goals, the first was “discredit Hayes.” What was particularly vicious and sleazy was that the plan they drafted, and implemented, involved doing just as he suspected: going after him where he was most vulnerable. Some of their notes about how to destroy Hayes included: “grew up in world (S.C.) that wouldn’t accept him,” “scarred for life.” Lovely!

You’ll need to read the entire article for to get the whole, depressing story of the other slimeball tactics they used against Hayes, as well as how completely Syngenta has corrupted much of the scientific, government, and public policy establishments. The overall picture Aviv paints is of a disastrous public policy failure that has had potentially devastating health and environmental consequences. The only bright spot is the incorruptible, indefatigable Hayes — now that is what a hero looks like.
She concludes:
Well, I sure hope our kids aren’t too put out of joint by their shrunken penises and deformed urethras. I’m sure it will comfort them, however, to know that their sacrifice was not in vain. After all, a University of Chicago economist got paid $500 an hour to advocate for the very free market that shriveled their penises! That makes it all worthwhile in the end, don’t you think?

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