Conspiratorial ramblings: Fanta, Coke, Big Pharma and Monsanto

Saturday, April 28, 2007

What makes for good Friday night conversation among friends? Some MSG-laden take-out Chinese and a few cans of orange Fanta.

Fanta ad Here’s a summary of some bits of yesterday’s conversation and associated (plagiarized) Internet research:

Q. Wasn’t Fanta invented by Nazis? Isn’t this a Nazi drink?
A. No, but kind of. Fanta was invented in Nazi Germany during World War II because Coca-Cola was not able to import its syrup, for obvious reasons. The drink was originally concocted from the leavings of other food industries. Fanta is still a Coca-Cola product today and comes in 70 different flavors around the world.

Q. Didn’t Coke used to have cocaine in it?
A. Indeed. However, Coca-Cola became cocaine-free in 1929, more than a decade before WWII. The cocaine in Coca-Cola was replaced with caffeine, which serves the same addictive purpose.

(On a tongue-in-cheek side note: What is the relationship between Coca-Cola and the stock market crash of 1929? Did the lack of soft-drink cocaine cause the Great Depression, and thus set the stage for World War II?)

Q. Speaking of addictive purposes, what about MSG?
A. Yes, monosodium glutamate (MSG), the unhealthy “super salt,” is put in everything specifically because of its habit-forming nature (it’s a naturally occurring chemical). GABA is created from MSG and may be addictive. GABA fits the same receptors in the brain as Valium.

Coca-Cola WWII ad Q. And what about aspartame? Does it cause cancer?
A. Yeah, possibly. Or probably not? Or at least it’s not as carcinogenic as saccharin. This sugar replacement is also reportedly addictive though. Drink up those Diet Cokes!

Here’s an interesting, related article about addictive drugs and the powerful pharmaceutical companies behind them: “The secret history of Big Pharma’s role in creating and marketing heroin, LSD, meth, Ecstasy and speed.”

And speaking of the most wonderful and ethical corporations in the world, do you know about Monsanto? Multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation Monsanto is responsible for the following products and actions:

  • introducing and supplying caffeine to Coca-Cola
  • saccharin, the famous carcinogenic sweetener
  • aspartame (NutraSweet), the chemical sweetener found in Diet Coke and many other products
  • operating a laboratory for the Manhattan Project, which contributed to developing the first nuclear weapons
  • Agent Orange, the toxic herbicide and defoliant used in Vietnam by the US military (beware of this tragic Google Image Search)
  • herbicide glyphosate (Roundup), the most used herbicide in the world
  • polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which are carcinogenic coolants and lubricants, banned in the US in 1977
  • bovine somatotropin (bST, rbST, BGH, rbGH), which are synthetic growth hormones for dairy cows
  • first to genetically modify a plant cell in 1982
  • first to genetically engineer crops in the 1980s
  • “Terminator” seeds, which are genetically modified plants in which second generation seeds are sterile, thus increasing dependence on seed suppliers
  • Texas City Disaster, the largest industrial accident in US history, killing 581 people and including 8,485 victims

Agent Orange tree That’s a pretty impressive resume, right? And I’m sure there’s more. Perhaps they could just rename the company Cancer, Inc.? Still want to keep drinking those diet sodas?

All of those notorious activities from a single corporation notwithstanding, it’s really the fault of the FDA and Congress for being in the back pockets of big businesses (who are eager to turn a greater profit at the expense of human life). Blaming businesses for wanting to make money is not the solution. The fault lies with American citizens who continue to elect the corrupt and the spineless to represent us. Unfortunately, the most corrupt politicians are usually the ones who have the most money from special interest groups. And more money equals more advertising, which means more votes for them. Which means that the US is terrible at enacting and enforcing environmental and safety regulations. Congress likes to say this: “Nooooo!! It might harm our economy!”

For more thoughts along these lines, watch Fast Food Nation (2006), which deals most specifically with the meat packing industry, fast food marketing, and fecal coliform bacteria found in consumer beef. And The Constant Gardener (2005), which focuses on the exploitation of developing nations by big pharmaceutical companies who need to test new drugs for lucrative Western markets.

On a related note, you might want to check out The Insider (1999), which explores malpractices in the tobacco industry. It explains how cigarette companies manipulated their product to make it more addictive and suppressed research showing that cigarettes were lethal.

Lastly, here’s a wildly exaggerated executive summary of this post for you: Everything we consume gives us cancer, we’re addicted to everything, and our country is totally screwed.

Oh, corporate America, how we love you.

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