I personally know a whistle blower. You may have heard of him — Mark Whitacre, former President of a subsidiary of ADM – Archer Daniels Midland, known as “The Supermarket to the World”. ADM makes a billion dollars a year from the sale of high fructose corn syrup.
I know Mark Whitacre because I went to elementary and high school with him. We went to Little Miami High School in Morrow Ohio in the 60’s and 70’s. I always thought of him as the class clown — every body liked him. He had straight blond hair that framed a handsome, baby face. His popularity easily got him elected as our senior class president. Not known for being studious or even brainy, it was a shock to me when I heard he became a PhD and had a stellar career at ADM that later crashed and burned with the “price fixing” scandal that you certainly read about in the papers in the 90’s. Watch a video interview of Mark Whitacre.
Well, I recently became aware of a non-fiction book that was written about Mark Whitacre and his whistle blowing experience and naturally I wanted to read it. (It actually was published in 2000 – I’m a little behind the times). The book is titled The Informant, by Kurt Eichenwald.
Anyway, it is fascinating and I can’t put it down. Here is a paragraph from the book on page 25 that talks about how high fructose corn syrup came to prominence in our foods:
“With Andreas having locked in his role as a Washington power broker, federal agricultural policies began to align smoothly with ADM’s interests. Federal sugar programs become one of Washington’s most sacred cows. Through price supports and quotas, the programs kept the cost of sugar high — gifting billions to sugar producers while pushing consumer-product companies to save money by using high-fructose corn syrup, a sweenener made by ADM. In time, that created a billion-dollar-a-year market for ADM, which sold its product at a higher price than would have been possible absent government intervention. In the decades that followed, many Americans would comment that the Coke or Pepsi they drank as children somehow tasted different, not knowing that the change had been largely the result of a switch of sweeteners dictated by government policies that favored ADM.”
The “Andreas” person is Dwayne Andreas, the soybean king, chairman and chief executive of ADM who became more powerful than most politicians and had relationships with world leaders including Regan, Gorbachev, Hubert Humphrey, Nixon, and others.
If you didn’t know the power of special interest groups before, then this should give you a bad taste of the truth. There is so much going on in Washington that we don’t know. Why else would politicians spend millions of dollars to get elected for a job that only pays $250,000 a year? Power!
You have got to read the book. Additionally, the book is being made into a movie, starring Matt Damon. The release date is March of 2009.