The honorifics for the passing of Taos Sen. Carlos Cisneros were entirely appropriate. Carlos was a union man, from the molybdenum mine near Questa, a different profession in a Legislature full of lawyers, retired educators and a few farmers. Union leaders are almost by definition populists; Carlos stuck up for small farmers, defending their access to the acequias versus efforts by big-money landowners and corporations to take away water rights.
The same forces, just with different corporate names and titles, have been behind the corruption of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Nothing prevents these mega-corporations from loading up the American diet with junk food, carcinogens and sweeteners like aspartame that are metabolized as formaldehyde. Indeed, almost no one is left to protect the public from this biochemical feast called the American diet.
Early in the first years of the new millennium, I brought about legislation to create a Cabinet secretary for nutrition and consumer protection. Carlos was the first sponsor thereof, later followed by Max Coll of Santa Fe, President Pro Tem Ben Altamirano and finally by Albuquerque Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino. All but one have passed on.
What killed each and every effort? Corporate lobbyists from Coca-Cola, the restaurateur’s association, the soft drink association, etc., all lined up out the door to testify that they didn’t like those bills.
Our present governor when she was New Mexico secretary of health supported the concept in a strong letter back when Senate Pro Tem Ben Altamirano was the bill sponsor. Despite the verdicts from unanimous federal juries in the Bay Area that Roundup (glyphosate) is a severe carcinogen and that Bayer-Monsanto are liable for deceptive trade practices, and even with dozens of nations banning it internationally, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration still allow Roundup to be consumed by Americans.
A New Mexico Nutrition Council could start to do the job health bureaucrats in all 50 states are not doing, by issuing nonbinding warnings, especially to school districts, about dangers of which neither the FDA or the EPA seem to have the slightest concept.
At the national level, the EPA and the FDA are powerless to do anything except rubber-stamp the genocidal actions of these corporations. I call upon Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to put the power of her office behind such legislation in the coming legislative session. Remember that it would be just a start to what needs to be done. Nationally, throwing more billions at cancer research and Alzheimer’s research doesn’t begin to examine the causes of such afflictions, which any fool can see is tied to our diet in our nation and in our state.
The battle to protect New Mexico consumers, especially children, goes on, from the early days when Sen. Carlos Cisneros sponsored the first of such legislation. There are pediatricians, oncologists, toxicologists, internists and top New Mexico educators who were willing to serve in this capacity 18 years ago, and there are even more now who recognize the medical and epidemiological emergencies that are staring us in the face.
Otherwise, the genocidal, mendacious corporate soothsaying prevails with pronouncements heard at committee hearings that “aspartame is as safe as mother’s milk” and that opponents of such genocide are “paranoid internet junk scientists.”
Stephen Fox is the founder of New Millennium Fine Art gallery in Santa Fe.