The Hightower Report

How to Get Young People Involved in Politics; and Monsanto Seeks to Ban the Truth

HOW TO GET YOUNG PEOPLE INVOLVED IN POLITICS

Way back in the ancient history of the 1960s, Bob Dylan sang a song of sass in which he mocked the establishment's cluelessness about the explosive youth activism of the time. The irreverent troubadour flung this unsettling line at them: "Something is happening here, but you don't know what it is, do you, Mr. Jones?"

Forty years later, some of the members of that generation are the cantankerous old barons of today's media establishment – and they're now the ones who don't know what's happening. Take the political upheaval being generated by young people, mostly through the presidential run of Sen. Barack Obama.

Energetic, creative, passionate, idealistic, optimistic, and determined, these youngsters are not merely involved – they're winning! Ironically, these 18- to 29-year-olds are the very group that media curmudgeons gripe about. "They don't read newspapers," grump the old editors. "They don't watch TV news shows," grouch network executives. "They don't care about politics," wail the political pros.

But suddenly – boom! This supposedly "don't care" generation is engaged and taking charge. On Super Tuesday, the under-30 vote doubled in Massachusetts; tripled in Georgia, Missouri, and Oklahoma; and quadrupled in Tennessee. Also, CNN's ratings among young folks jumped 232% during that big election week, and MSNBC's young-spirited news coverage drew a 400% increase in these viewers.

What's going on, Mr. Jones? It's really elementary. Young people have long cared, but politicians and the media have not cared about them. This year, as one 22-year-old put it, "The candidates, particularly Obama, are talking about things that relate to us." In other words, if the system actually reaches out in specific terms to invite youngsters in – they will come.

Can we all say, "Duh"?

MONSANTO SEEKS TO BAN THE TRUTH

Ben & Jerry's Homemade Holdings Inc. is now owned by a conglomerate, but the company's luscious ice cream still is made from milk that contains no synthetic growth hormones in it – a fact the company proudly advertises right on its cartons. And that really POs Monsanto.

Monsanto is not in the ice-cream business, but it is in the deadly serious business of trying to ice anyone who disses the synthetic hormone that it manufactures. Some dairy farmers inject their cows with Monsanto's recombinant bovine growth hormone product, which forces the animals to give more milk. It isn't good for the cows, and there are unanswered questions about its impact on human health, so many consumers don't want milk products with this stuff in it, preferring not to have their families used as guinea pigs for corporate profit.

Thus, Monsanto has waged a long campaign to keep consumers from knowing, opposing efforts to label any dairy products as being free from the synthetic hormone. Last year, however, Monsanto lost its effort to get the Food and Drug Administration to ban such labels. But now there's a new group standing against consumer choice on this issue. It's called American Farmers for the Advancement and Conservation of Technology.

Sounds very science-y, doesn't it? It isn't; it's a lobbying front that's going state to state, trying to get legislatures to prevent companies like Ben & Jerry's from advertising that their goods contain none of the synthetic stuff. Guess who's behind this outfit? Right: It's funded by Monsanto.

You'd think that any effort to ban companies from making a true statement on their labels would be laughed out of any legislature, but Monsanto is determined to kill the consumer's right to know, already having pushed for bills and regulations in Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. To keep informed about where Monsanto's attack squad will strike next, contact www.organicconsumers.org.

For more information on Jim Hightower's work – and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown – visit www.jimhightower.com. You can hear his radio commentaries on KOOP Radio, 91.7FM, weekdays at 10:58am and 12:58pm.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

politics and business, Bob Dylan, Barack Obama, CNN, Ben & Jerry's Homemade Inc., Monsanto, American Farmers for the Advancement and Conservation of Technology

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