Speaking at a private event on December 27, 2015, Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders stated "The debate should be - how do we make sure that the food our kids are eating is healthy food? And having the courage to take on these huge food and biotech companies who are transforming our agricultural system in a bad way." Sanders, while speaking at this gathering, discussed the farm to table agriculture movement and success of small farms in his home state of Vermont, summarizing his views by stating:
"We need legislation and efforts designed not to protect factory farming, corporate farming, but to protect family-based agriculture."
Sanders, currently the Independent U.S. Senator from Vermont, is the leading Democratic opponent to establishment favorite Hillary Clinton in the race for the 2016 nomination. Clinton has long time connections to the Monsanto corporation and other big business interests that have been criticized by health and consumer advocates for their apparent efforts to monopolize the food supply. Biotechnology industry leaders have suppressed evidence of health and environmental hazards caused by GMOs and other biotech and chemical alterations of the food supply. Clinton recently spoke at a biotech industry event about refining the public relations tactics and propaganda language used to promote GMOs to the public. Additionally, Monsanto's CEO Hugh Grant was recently a featured speaker at the Clinton Global Initiative 2015 Annual Meeting.
Monsanto's pesticides and GMO crops have been cited by independent scientists as serious threats to the well-being of humans and other organisms. Many countries around the world have taken action to ban or halt the use of GMOs, and Monsanto's herbicide ingredient Glyphosate has been cited as a carcinogen, contributing to cancer and other health hazards. However, Monsanto has sought to influence politicians such as the Clintons via financial contributions and other collaborations that make it appear that Monsanto is concerned with the welfare of people and animals and is working to ensure its products are not causing harm. Monsanto partnering with the Clinton Global Initiative on a project to study honey bee health is an example of how corporate influence is used to diffuse any serious effort to hold the company accountable for the damage caused by its products.
Unlike Clinton, Bernie Sanders has consistently advocated for protecting the interests of small farmers and of consumers who wish to have chemical free, non-GMO foods. Sanders does not have financial ties to Monsanto and he has spoken publicly about the concerns regarding harmful effects of biotechnology. With the quite visible ties of the Clintons to many powerful financial interests viewed to be in conflict with the welfare of ordinary citizens, many Democrats are turning their support toward Senator Sanders, whose campaign has relied primarily on support from individual voters rather than large corporations or corporate-sponsored PACs. For those interested in health and protection from environmental hazards, Sanders comments on farming and Monsanto are seen as a breath of fresh air.