Monopoly – Not Just a Board Game


Steve Shenk

In my youth, I spent many rainy afternoons attempting to bankrupt my family.  All in fun of course, winning at Monopoly was about the only way I had to feel like a big shot.  But, win or lose, it was just a game and when it was over, nobody was really hurt.

In the real world, monopoly is not a board game. It’s defined as the exclusive control of a commodity or service that makes it impossible to manipulate prices. The public is supposed to be protected from monopolies through a set of laws known as anti-trust laws. There are several types of monopolies, but a “coercive monopoly” has a significant impact on the general public. It is defined as the persistent, exclusive control of a vitally needed resource, good, or service such that the community is at the mercy of the controller, and where there are no suppliers of the same or substitute goods to which the consumer can turn.

Some of the most widely publicized antitrust actions by the federal government were the break-up of monopolies like AT&T and Standard Oil.  In each of these cases, single companies or cartels were found to be practicing conduct prohibited by antitrust laws which was seen as harming consumers and/or other market participants.

While communications and fuel may have a serious impact on our lives, the one industry we all “vitally need” and if it was controlled by one entity would force us to be at their “mercy” is the food industry.

The process of controlling our food is actively going on today through genetically modifying the food chain. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) is the process of injecting virus and/or bacteria into plant and animal cells with “super” genes which have specific characteristic to “enhance and improve” the strain of plant or animal so that the offspring carry the newly created “positive” characteristics. We’re not just talking about taking super corn genes and adding them to other corn genes. No, the process of bio-engineering can include genes from spiders, e.coli, and other strains of virus.

Blogger Barbara Peterson wrote on her site; farmwars.com:

“With help from the FDA and USDA, the biotech industry is set to completely take over our food supply with genetically modified ingredients, irrespective of the wishes of “we the people.” Through collusion, subterfuge, and a bit of back-door manipulation, Monsanto can write it’s own ticket with the U.S. Federal Government’s stamp of approval.”

Corporations such as Monsanto and Novartis are actively engineering our food claiming that their new products will make agriculture sustainable, eliminate world hunger, cure disease, and vastly improve public health.

On Monsanto’s website they describe one line of their products whose “… traits are integrated with seed genetics to help protect yield potential. Whether it’s new traits such as drought tolerance, nitrogen efficiency or yield enhancement, Monsanto is bringing the latest traits to farmers…”

What they don’t tell you is their patented “seed genetics” provides them the ability to dominate the market and control pricing. Hmmm. Sound familiar?

Interestingly, government at both Federal and State levels reserves the right to create monopolies and oligopolies.  Some of these are operated directly by government and others are licensed and protected by government. Most of us are dependent on these government-sanctioned entities for essentials such as roads, electrical power, natural gas, water and sanitation.

Are we in the process of adding the food industry to this list?

Markets today are so thoroughly regulated with government tax incentives, subsidies and statutory commercial laws that effectively promote monopolies and oligopolies, revoking antitrust laws without simultaneously eliminating all government regulation, would be disastrous.

Therefore, our government regulators have a primary responsibility to insure that we always have choice in our most critical dependency, and that we never have to rely on a monopoly or oligopoly to fill our bellies.

However, the question of Monsanto’s GM (genetically modified) seeds is much bigger than simply protecting farmers rights.  A new report, published in Environmental Sciences Europe, considered the results of 19 separate studies that verify serious health risks for anyone consuming a diet high in GM foods.

As bio-technology continues to invade our food supply, the big business of designing food at the genetic level will likely increase. What are consumers to do? Where possible, grow your own food. A more practical approach is to seek out and ask for food that is sourced from non-GMO farms. If a company does not promote having non-GMO food, it is highly probable they don’t know. And in this case, what they don’t know will hurt you.


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