The Venus FlyTrap
A riot of plants bloomed, climbed and burst into the sunlight from within the fertile haze of the forest floor. Nourished by the connubial mingling of humus and moisture; energized by shards of light stabbing through the lush overhead — the plants flourished and grew.
One alone stood — stunted. For that one; light, air and soil were not enough. The need was deeper. Small rosettes of leaves clustered at its’ base, bearing thin sham of pale, undistinguished flowers. Its’ leaf blades formed spike-edged trapezoidal lobes, lined with red filaments. On the floor of these lobed vaults, nectar spilled enticingly from glandular pockets.
Within the reddened light of vaulted blades, a small creature crept, with hesitations and pauses, beckoned forward by the aroma of the nectar. The aromatic fragrance promised more than respite of appetite and thirst; it bore golden dreams of futures, unimagined. A final hesitation, a final creeping motion, and the creature at last bowed its head to the flowing receptacles, and sipped intoxicating liquors. Mesmerized, it dreamt phantasmic eons — and bent its head to drink again.
With startling rapidity, the spiked lobes closed and embraced their victim; filaments drenched the vault with digestive chemicals. Too late, the dreamer, from within the depths of drugged illusion, dimly knew: that which fed the dream — destroyed the dreamer.
From a small puncture in the base of the vault, a caustic emulsion dripped to the forest floor. Satiated at last, the plant’s pale blossoms trembled and stretched upward among the others, toward sun and rain — with which they had no affiliation.
Visions of unlimited individual liberty, progress and economic advance are the components of the seductive elixir held out by the population control cartel. The cartel would insist that population reduction through the use of chemical and surgical contraceptive technologies is necessary to guarantee the achievement of the vision. Lured by the promise of future benefits for their families and communities, women and men in the developing countries become trapped in situations where their health and well-being, and on occasion, their lives, have been placed at risk.
In the developed countries, the view that science has a solution for every problem blinds many people to potential dangers, not only in regard to the use of technology but to the ethical and societal effects encouraged by the accompanying life styles. So compelling is the dream that it overcomes caution and even common sense, leaving the victims vulnerable to disease, disintegrating families; ultimately endangering the society itself.
Particular public and private groups in the developed world, having consolidated power within international and national political/economic structures, have now assumed the messianic role of converting the world to the vision. Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are intended to carry the vision and its associated practices to the community level; women are to be used as a political front for the effort.
James Grant of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), in an address to the World Bank in January 1993, boldly stated the strategic approach of using women as a front: “Children and women are to be the Trojan Horse for dramatically slowing population growth,” said Grant (World Bank 1993 International Development Conference, Washington, D.C., 11 January 1993, 3).
The means to carry out the strategies are to be provided by a dynamically-linked and highly-motivated conglomerate of international and national government, non-governmental organizations and pharmaceutical corporations. This article examines a few of the key players and their methods in this go-for-broke game.
The Population Council (The Council), an international nonprofit organization founded by John D. Rockefeller in 1952, is a major player in the population control cartel. The Council concentrates on the development of scientific methods in three areas: biomedical research, to develop and improve contraceptive methods; social science research related to population change, its societal implications, and appropriate policy responses; and provision of technical assistance to family planning and other population related programs at local, national, and regional levels (Directory of Nongovernmental Organizations in International Population and Family Planning, Population Reference Bureau).
Resources are allocated to projects throughout the world particularly in the developing countries of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. In 1993, The Council’s total funds, including funding for restricted (i.e., directed) and unrestricted projects, was $105,706,048. Its’ programs concentrate on contraceptive development and reproductive physiology; population policy; family planning and fertility; reproductive health and child survival; gender; family and development; expanding contraceptive choice; publications and public information; and strengthening professional resources (Population Council Annual Report 1993, 4–7). The organization’s Center for Biomedical Research “seeks to improve technology for the regulation of human fertility.” Among the technologies developed or in process of being developed are: subdermal implants for women (and men); contraceptive rings; intrauterine devices; antifertility vaccines; abortifacients; and spermicides and microbicides. In the Reproductive Physiology section, studies are conducted in: receptor function; genetic mechanisms of androgen action; steroid metabolism development and physiology of the Leydig cell; testicular proteins and physiology of the Sertoli cell; biochemistry of gametogenesis and transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus (19–37).
The Council promises it “will not only study causes and incidences of unsafe abortion, but will also develop models of safe and accessible abortion services.” In addition they “will continue efforts to bring RU 486 to the United States and conduct research to see how this drug can be used in developing countries where abortion is legal” (15, 16). Currently, The Council is conducting the testing of RU 486 on American women.
Council funding sources are: foundation grants, individual donations, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. National Institute of Health, the World Bank, the National Science Foundation (NSF), UNFPA, the U.N. Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), and the governments of Denmark, the Netherlands, and Norway, Sweden and the United States. Major foundation funds were donated from the Ford Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation. Council Fellows and researchers reside in 36 countries; and have collaborative arrangements in more than 40 others (48).
Rationale for nongovernmental involvement
NGOs, like the Population Council, “assist in financing activities that are unprofitable for private firms and in carrying them out.” They supplement the role of government agencies, while avoiding “the political and other constraints” faced by government. Private firms, on other hand, “can be expected to meet societal needs only when their expected financial rewards exceed all costs” (L. Mastroianni, Jr., PJ. Donaldson, and T.T. Kane, editors, Developing New Contraceptives: Obstacles and Opportunities, Wash., D.C., National Academy Press 1990, 57).
After the 1960s, participation of the private sector in contraceptive development declined in the United States. Government funding for research in reproductive biology and contraceptive development, however, “increased substantially between 1973 and 1987, while investments in contraceptive-related research and development declined substantially” (58).
By the mid-1980s, Ortho-Pharmaceutical Corporation (a subsidiary of Johnson and Johnson) was the only pharmaceutical program which maintained a “significant contraceptive research and development program.” Three companies in Europe, however, have continued contraceptive research and development programs”: Organon International, Schering AG, and Roussel-Uclaf. Organon International produces the Multiload IUD, which is used in Europe but has never been introduced in the United States due to costs of liability insurance as well as possible costs of litigation. The companies which abandoned contraceptive research as of 1990 were: Syntex Laboratories, Inc; G.D. Searle and Co.; Parke-Davis and Co.; Sharp and Dohme Co.; the Upjohn Company; Mead Johnson; Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories; and Eli Lilly and Co. Most of the large pharmaceutical corporations also have product lines in other “less controversial and potentially more profitable products” (59).
Pharmaceutical companies are primarily interested in developing products for “sizable markets…with potential sales of about $50 million or more annually.” With the exception of the contraceptive pill and the condom, contraceptive products normally have smaller markets, a financial detraction which limits the research and sales motivation for large companies. Executives with the larger drug companies do not believe the small markets justify the investment costs required to develop new products. Some, in fact, saw very little prospect for significant advances in new contraceptive methods as developing a sufficiently large market in the United States, that is, one which would generate large enough profits (60).
As large pharmaceutical companies dropped out of the research markets, government funding and the increased involvement of nonprofit groups and universities took over the research aspects of contraceptive development. Potential exists for the return of large pharmaceutical companies to the market in the event that the market expands through increased demand and profit increase.
Symbiotic relationships can be expected to develop between the public and the private sectors as public sector organizations stimulate larger demands for birth control technologies. Also standing in the wings, waiting for the go-ahead signal, are the NGOs, universities and others who provide research and services funded by government.
The return of the large pharmaceutical firms to the market could also be expected to increase the speed with which new technologies are developed since they would have “greater experience and more resources to evaluate, produce and market products as they are developed” (60). In addition, the firms would have a vested interest in product promotion; competition in the marketplace could reduce product prices.
ICPD: and the global facility
The Programme of Action of the U.N. International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) provides for the development of such a symbiotic relationship. The ICPD Draft Programme of Action states:
In order to meet the substantial increase of demand for contraceptives over the next decade and beyond, the international community should move, on an immediate basis, to establish an efficient coordination system and global, regional and subregional facilities for the procurement of contraceptive and other commodities essential to [reproductive health] programmes of developing countries and countries with economies in transition (ICPD Programme of Action, 7.23, 46).
The establishment of a Global Facility linked to regional and national markets can be expected to provide a vastly increased market for the pharmaceutical companies, hastening their return to both contraceptive research and development and manufacture. An effort will be made by governments in the developed world to reduce costs by passing costs of research and development on to industry while passing purchasing costs on to county governments, and to the people. Efforts to reduce legal liability for medical groups and pharmaceutical companies and medical groups can be expected.
A model of national and local government action was proposed by Bernard Berelson of the Population Council in his work, “Beyond Family Planning.” Berelson recommended a reorganization of national agencies within the countries which would be coordinated by a “Federal Department of Population and Environment…with the power to take whatever steps are necessary to establish a reasonable population size” (Bernard Berelson, “Beyond Family Planning,” Studies in Family Planning, no. 38, February 1968, 1–16). A definition of ‘reasonable population size’ would, of course, remain with public policymakers and program-enforcers. A variable ‘replacement rate’ is suggested by Mahbub ul Haq of the United Nations Development Programme as he expressed a not uncommon opinion: “In global terms…existing resource consumption patterns [in the rich countries is] the real problem, not population increase in the poor countries .… Halving the population growth rate in the U.S. would have relieved more global environmental pressure during the last three decades than halving India’s population growth rate” (Mahbub ul Haq, “We cannot slip a condom on global poverty,” The Earth Times, 20 April 1994, vol. 6, no. 29, l).
At the local level, Berelson’s model assumes characteristics similar to China’s “Barefoot Doctor Program,” although one could posit the use of higher technological techniques. Local government-controlled programs using a “paramedical practitioner” would interface with commercial networks which rely on promotion techniques and “contract planning organization, budgeting and accounting” (24). That approach will be familiar to anyone who has studied Program and Budgeting Systems (PBS) or “outcome-based education.” Traces of this approach can also be found in primary health care proposals presently before the U.S. Congress; under private health care programs, information necessary to establish firm controls over the population are not as easily available.
Information, education and communication (IEC) programs will include attempts to change people’s understanding of their “best interest,” working from assumptions that “economic and social contingencies must be changed.” The “key question” Berelson raised: is the “scientific medical technology base available?” (“Beyond Family Planning,” 24). The answer: “ready and already moving forward aggressively.”
Major pharmaceutical companies
Space will not permit extensive reporting on the pharmaceutical companies. It is possible, however, to select several of the companies for limited review of information available in annual reports. This review will itemize profits, assets and some of the litigation in which the companies are involved.
In 1993, Bristol-Myer Squibb sales totaled $11,412,675,000. Although $6.5 million (57%) of the company’s revenue comes from pharmaceuticals, it was cardiovascular drugs which led the pharmaceutical division at $2.6 billion. In 1993, Bristol-Myer’s sales totaled $11.4 billion worldwide, with net earnings totaling $1.9 billion. By December 31, 1993, the company held $2.7 billion in cash and cash equivalents, time deposits, and marketable securities.
Bristol-Meyers-Squibb has four major divisions: pharmaceuticals, medical devices, nonprescription health products, and toiletries and beauty aids. The Company’s subsidiary, Mead-Johnson, markets OVCON, an abortifacient drug. The company markets genetic drugs under its’ subsidiary Apothecon. They are now in the middle of a $17 million expansion in their China pharmaceuticals branch with additional expansion into markets in Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe, and the former Soviet Union.
As of December 31, 1993 approximately 10,000 plaintiffs have filed suit against the company, its subsidiary, Medical Engineering Corporation, and certain others subsidiaries, alleging damages for personal injuries of various types resulting from polyurethane covered breast implants and smooth walled breast implants. The company is a defendant in a number of actions brought against it and other pharmaceutical companies in federal and state courts by the children or grandchildren of women who had ingested diethylstilbestrol (DES), a product which is no longer manufactured or sold by any affiliate of the company.
The company is a defendant in several state antitrust actions filed on behalf of classes of individual purchasers of infant formula products, and by one State Attorney General, regarding an alleged conspiracy regarding price-fixing of infant formula products and other deceptive trade practices. Six other state Attorney Generals and the Canadian Bureau of Competitive Policy have commenced or stated an intention to commence investigations of pricing practices or marketing practices in the infant formula industry. The company is also a defendant in two federal court actions, one filed by the State of Louisiana on behalf of indirect purchasers of infant formula alleging a conspiracy regarding pricing of infant formulas, the other filed by Nestle Food Company alleging anticompetitive practices in violation of federal and state antitrust or other laws. The company was a defendant with other major pharmaceutical manufacturers and drug wholesalers in 25 actions brought in various federal courts by retail pharmacies, individually or as representatives of purported class actions, which allege anticompetitive or unfair practices in the pricing and distribution of pharmaceuticals in violation of federal and state laws and which seek treble damages and injunctive relief. As of 31 December, 1993, the company was also a codefendant in four state court actions in California brought by retail pharmacies, individually or as class actions, which allege discrimination in the pricing of pharmaceuticals in violation of California laws and also seek treble damages and injunctive relief.
In 1993, Bristol-Myers-Squibb presented a “Distinguished Achievement in Cancer Research” award to Dr. Bernard Fisher, of the University of Pittsburgh, for his studies of the biology of breast cancer. Dr. Fisher has since been accused of fraud for his research (Annual Report 1993).
The Upjohn Company
In 1993, Upjohn’s net earnings totaled $392,397,000; total assets are valued at $4,816,408,000. In 1993, the company’s net sales totaled $3.6 billion. Of this, U.S. sales totaled $2.2 billion and non-U.S. sales totaled 1.4 billion. The Health Care division sales represented 83% of the total. In that division, sales growth in 1993 for all products was led by Depo-Provera.
In 1993, the company reached agreements to establish a joint venture in China and to market Depo-Provera in India. In the same year, a subsidiary was formed in Poland and a sales office was opened in Singapore. One of Upjohn’s strategies for developing strategic markets is to concentrate “on educational activities so that influential people in key markets know about our products early on.” Upjohn is expanding geographically into new markets in China, India, and Europe because these markets are expected to have high growth potential, as opposed to more traditional markets, where growth rates have been slowing.
Upjohn’s major pharmaceuticals are Ansaid, Cleocin/Dalacib, Depo-Provera, Glynase (an oral anti-diabetes agent), Halcion (a sleep inducing agent), Micronase (an oral anti-diabetes agent), Provera, Rogaine/Ragaine, Solu-Medrol (an injectable steroid), Vantin (an oral antibiotic), and Xanax. The company manufactures the prostoglandins Prostin E-2 and Hemabate. Upjohn’s chemical division researches, develops, manufactures and markets bulk pharmaceutical chemicals and specialty chemicals including antibiotics, biochemicals, steroids and hormones.
Upjohn has been embroiled in controversy regarding Halcion, the sleep-inducing agent. Since October 1991, several countries have suspended registration or marketing privileges for Halcion. Worldwide, Upjohn is a defendant in approximately 100 product liability lawsuits regarding Halcion, as well as two shareholder class-action suits involving the adequacy of disclosures and clinical testing regarding the drug.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state environmental agencies have brought actions against Upjohn for cleanup at approximately 40 sites. North Haven, Connecticut has brought suit related to a sludgepile in which concentrations of PCB’s were detected. The company is also a codefendant (with 30 other defendants) in several civil antitrust lawsuits alleging price discrimination and price-fixing with respect to the level of discounts and rebates provided to certain customers.
American Home Products Corporation (Wyeth-Ayerst)
In 1993, American Home Products’ net sales totaled $8.3 billion, with their net income totaling over $1.4 billion; the pharmaceutical division represented 57.5% of net sales. The company’s total assets are valued at $7,637,353,000.
In 1993, the company established the Wyeth-Ayerst Women’s Health Research Institute in Radnor, Pennsylvania to “build upon our global leadership in women’s health care.” The Institutes first initiatives are directed at finding new therapies for osteoporosis, endometriosis and contraception. These efforts build on Wyeth-Ayerst’s “extensive knowledge as the premier supplier of hormone replacement therapy and oral contraceptives worldwide.” The company is also a majority shareholder in Genetics Institute, Inc., a major biotechnology company. The company produces Premarin (estrogen replacement therapy), which is the most prescribed drug in the USA.
Wyeth-Ayerst’s products include Triphasil (levonorgestrel), marketed internationally under the trademark Trinordiol; Lo/Ovral (norgestrel); and Nordette (levonorgestrel); Tri-Minulet (triphasic gestodene), an oral contraceptive, is now approved in 19 countries. Minulet (monophasic gestodene) is approved in 53 countries. European registrations are expected to begin in 1994 for one of two lower-dose monophasic gestodene products currently in Phase III clinical studies.
In 1993, Wyeth-Ayerst has continued its U.S. information and instruction programs for the Norplant System. A “New Drug” application filing is anticipated for Norplant II, a 3 year implant system (Norplant is a 5 year implant).
Other corporations formed by Wyeth-Ayerst include: ESI Pharma, Inc. formed to compete in the generic drug market; Whitehall-Robins, a subsidiary of American Home Products, handles the Today Contraceptive Sponge, Clearblue Easy (home pregnancy test), and Clearplan Easy, an ovulation predictor; Genetics Institute, Inc. is developing a profile of genetically engineered human proteins for use in treating a range of health problems.
The Company is “involved in various environmental claims and legal proceedings of a nature considered normal to its business” (Annual Report 1993).
Johnson and Johnson
In 1993, Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) sales were over $14 billion, with their net earnings totaling $1.79 billion. The pharmaceutical segment represented over 50 percent of the total operating profit totaling $4.49 billion in 1993. In 1993, J & J sold $7.2 billion of their product line in the U.S., $4 billion in Europe, $1.3 billion in the Western Hemisphere (other than the U.S.), and $1.59 billion in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific. Last year Johnson & Johnson merged Ortho Pharmaceutical and McNeil Pharmaceutical to form Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical.
J&J’s Xian-Janssen Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., 300 miles to the west of Shanghai, was named China’s most successful foreign joint venture; 60.5 % of J&J’s prescription drug sales are outside the USA.
Ortho Pharmaceutical markets the contraceptive Ortho-Cepy in the U.S. as well as Ortho-Cyclen and Ortho Tri-Cyclen. The company claims that these “three products with new progestins have ushered in a new generation of oral contraceptives.” Ortho also produces nonprescription vaginal contraceptives such as Conceptrol birth control gel, Delfen Contraceptive Foam, and Gynol II contraceptive jelly marketed by Advanced Care Products.
“The Company is involved in numerous product liability cases in the United States, many of which concern adverse reactions to drugs and other medical devices. The damages claimed are substantial; the outcomes unpredictable. The Company is also involved in a number of patent, trademark, and other lawsuits incidental to its business” (Annual Report 1993).
Within the analogy of the “Venurs FlyTrap,” the systematized changes in national social and economic institutions necessary to carry out programmed controls must be inconspicuous; appearances, political symbols and myths will remain the same. Existing political, economic, social, and cultural systems, accepted and familiar to the people, are to be altered to serve the purposes and provide the disguise for the world’s activist ideologues. The ICPD is a mid-way step in the process. Yet to come are the World Women’s Congress in Beijing and the World Summit on Social Development to be held in Denmark, both to occur in 1995.
The ICPD document proposes a radical public policy that dares not speak its name. Hijacked into the language of the document under rhetorical doublespeak, e.g., “sexual and reproductive health” and “Safe Motherhood,” is a substantive, savage attack on the human reproduction system through the use of potent drugs and surgical techniques. The ambitious scope of the program is horizontally extended to include all countries; and vertically organized to penetrate interpersonal human relations within every community and far-flung hamlet. The ideological package attempts to seduce the world, but women particularly, with a dogma which includes pronounced individualism, the promotion of widespread sexual promiscuity, a eugenic dedication to ‘quality people’ living the ‘quality life,’ and a carefully structured redefinition and breakdown of the family.
Although the economic aspects of the ICPD document are weakly developed, related economic policies, such as the World Trade Organization, strongly suggest a possible breakdown of national sovereignty; an economic leveling action which could restrict the increase of GNP per capita in the developing world with a concomitant reduction of per capita GNP in the developed world; as well as externally-controlled movements of resources from country to country with minimal accountability to national governments and ultimately to the people.
Acceptance of these goals is tied to a sinister partnership of transnational government, economically-manipulated national governments, ideologically-driven nongovernmental agencies and corporate money-men linked to the pharmaceutical industry. Increased profit and access to larger markets is the seductive lure for the world’s business community in this exploded, public/private partnership. Unfortunately, experience is now showing that when given the opportunity to make profits, democratic principles are not unlikely to be jettisoned by some businesses. Human Rights Watch describes the case of Gao Feng in China. Gao, a worker at Chrysler Beijing Jeep, was imprisoned for 30 days in June 1994 because of his Christian beliefs. When he returned from prison, he was then fired by Chrysler. As commented upon in a Washington Post article, the incident “makes a mockery” of expectations that “American companies would improve the human rights climate merely by the example of their own standards and operations” (Herbert Rowen, “Too cozy with China’s despots,” The Washington Post, 11 August 1994, A31).
The use of women as a political front for the population controllers has already been activated. One of the major women’s groups which will be promoting the ICPD “Action Programme” in Cairo is the International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC) headed by Joan Dunlop. IWHC claims to have established a relationship with the Population Council in order to incorporate the women’s view into programs. The Council, however, as the brainchild of John D. Rockefeller (JDR), has not been a stranger to IWHC members.
Dunlop, a protegee of JDR’s, whose father was a “leading British businessman…was welcomed aboard” the Population Council by JDR and his staff in 1973. It was the “The Dunlop group” in the Population Council which provided the cover for population control motivations by insisting that successful “family planning had to be placed squarely in a development context and that the role of women was an important consideration” (John Ensor Harr and Peter J. Johnson, The Rockefeller Conscience, New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1991, 423–441).
This concept transformed in JDR’s speech to the U.N. population conference in Bucharest (1974) as: “a new and urgent attention to the role of women as a vital characteristic…” of modern development. The development context of the argument won the day. Charles Westoff, head of the Office of Population at Princeton and executive director of the U.S. Population Commission called the new approach “a political tour de force.” The conjoining of ‘development’ and women’s ‘choice’ has become the dynamic lure which is intended to redefine women’s ‘best interests.’ IWHC-defined “best interests” referring to “reproductive health” include:
Reproductive health is counseling about sexuality, contraception, abortion, infertility, infection and disease; education on sexuality and gender relations; screening and treatment for reproductive tract infections, sexually transmitted diseases, and gynecological problems; prevention of infertility; choice of contraceptive methods, with careful attention to the individual’s safety; safe abortion; prenatal care, supervised delivery, and postpartum care, services for infants and children (IWHC public relations brochure, 3).
The heavily systematized, bureaucratic structure of the Venus FlyTrap has been formulated; the players, acting as unelected representatives, have been chosen; and the aroma of seductive promises fill the air. The agenda, however, is intended to impose on all people, the chemically-drenched population control technologies provided by those who labor under the illusion that they are remaking mankind. The denial that such programs will be coercive is the ‘magician’s trick’ of a totalitarian will.
Research assistance for this article was provided by the Population Research Institute’s intern, Mr. Jeffrey Paladino.