Wow. Our experiment is off to a great start—let's see if we can finish it off sooner than expected.
Monsanto won EPA approval in late December to sell a transgenic corn seed, and immediately took full advantage, buying Holden's Foundation Seeds—whose seed is used in 35 percent of U.S. cornfields—for $1 billion.
But Wall Street took heed of continued protests in Europe, where consumer groups worry about the health risks of genetically engineered crops. Investment bank NatWest Securities warned that the protests threatened the company's seed sales.
When we exposed the backdoor lobbying effort to privatize Social Security ("Up in Smoke," November/December 1996), President Clinton's Social Security Advisory Council was still keeping its study of privatization quiet—and out of the 1996 presidential race.
But in early January, the council endorsed a general plan to privatize, and stories of the securities industry's massive lobbying began to surface. One council member, Thomas Jones of TIAA-CREF, the country's largest private pension system, says he was pressured by the mutual fund industry's trade group to support an extreme privatization plan. "My response," Jones told the Washington Post, "was that I was appointed as a public member of the advisory council, not as a representative of a company or an industry."