sábado, diciembre 19, 2015

My op-ed on corporate crime

Corporate misconduct needs to be punished

Tribune News Service

We need to respond firmly to the recent revelations about corporate misconduct.

It turns out ExxonMobil knew about global warming all along. Thanks to ace reporting by the Los Angeles Times and Inside Climate, we now know that as far back as the 1980s the oil corporation’s scientists had determined that the planet’s atmosphere was indeed heating up due to the burning of fossil fuels.

But instead of making these alarming scientific findings public and leading a movement to wean the world off fossil energy, ExxonMobil hid the information, funded climate change deniers, and did everything in its power to hinder or delay legislative action to curb carbon emissions.

Across the Atlantic, Volkswagen has gotten into trouble over revelations that it hotwired its cars’ software with the express purpose of cheating on the reporting of their polluting emissions.

Then there is the Chevron case. The California-based oil company is fighting tooth and nail against a court ruling in Ecuador, which ordered it to pay billions of dollars in compensation for the toxic mess made there by its Texaco subsidiary.

Last year, Chevron claimed victory when a U.S. judge ruled that the plaintiffs and their lawyer had bribed the Ecuadorian judge in the case. But the star witness of the defense, who was paid $12,000 a month by Chevron, admitted that he lied. The U.S. judge had ruled against the victims of Chevron’s toxic pollution on the basis of false testimony. Now, that verdict stands in question, with the plaintiffs appealing the case.

Major corporations in other sectors have also been engaged in deception, such as on the subject of genetically modified crops and foods. More and more professors, journalists and so-called science educators who have made the case for genetically modified products have turned out to be on the biotechnology industry’s payroll.

University of Florida professor Kevin Folta, a vociferous defender of such products, received $25,000 from biotech giant Monsanto, in spite of his repeated denials that he was getting any industry money. We would not know this if he had not been outed by a New York Times expose based on a Freedom of Information Act request.

And food columnist Tamar Haspel, who has written favorably on genetically modified products at The Washington Post, admitted in September that she had received “plenty” of money from the biotech and agrochemical industries.

None of this is actually new. The art of having paid industry shills pretending to be objective journalists and academics was developed by the tobacco industry, which for decades conspired to undermine and discredit the science that demonstrated their product was killing people.

These corporate lies are not harmless. They cost lives. When the tobacco industry lied, thousands died. Scientists predict that the abnormal weather caused by climate change will result in innumerable deaths worldwide.

Those responsible for corporate malfeasance should be prosecuted. The negative repercussions of such misconduct are massive — for all of us.

- See more at: http://columbiadailyherald.com/opinion/letters-editor/corporate-misconduct-needs-be-punished#sthash.tmaKaNgR.dpuf

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