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April 18, 2014

GMO News Summary April 18th, 2014

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*Vermont’s Senate voted 26-2 to pass a state GMO labeling policy which will go into effect in July 2016. The bill will have to be voted again in the House (where it’s already passed). The governor has said he’ll sign it.
 
*The Grocery Manufacturers Association’s preemption bill against GMO labeling has been introduced in Congress. I wrote a full analysis here. This federal preemption policy would enlist the FDA to ban the states from enacting any kind of truth-in-labeling laws. Instead the FDA would be given new propaganda tools to continue its fraudulent pretense that it undertakes any “regulation” of GMOs whatsoever.
 
That the FDA does anything at all to assess the safety of GMOs and other agricultural poisons is one of the core lies of the GMO hacks. In truth the FDA has never once performed or required a single test. But it has always implicitly endorsed the lie that it does do such testing. The GMA bill is designed to intensify this campaign of lies.
 
*Testbiotech has released a thorough assessment of how all alleged “study” considered by the EFSA on the GM maize variety 1507 has been controlled by the cartel, either directly or through revolving door personnel posing fraudulently as “independent” researchers. 1507 may be approved in May in spite of the lack of any safety testing at all, as well as its rejection in votes by the European Parliament and European Council.
 
*As I’ve predicted several times before, the EC is moving to constrain and render impracticeable its “subsidiarity” policy (cf. especially p. 6 and 10-11 of the PDF) under which EU member states can institute state-level bans on the cultivation of a GM crop approved at the EU level by the Commission. Currently only the MON810 maize variety is approved for cultivation in the EU. It has been banned by ten countries, and is widely grown only in Spain.
 
But under the proposed policy change, each country would be required to make a special bureaucratic request of the applying corporation for each individual application, a priori, asking that its own territory be excluded from the scope of the application. Only if the applicant refuses will the member state then be allowed to enact its own ban. The technical criteria for such a ban to be valid in the bureaucratic courts would also be tightened. The policy proposal would further erode the Precautionary Principle and further exalt the preemptive power of EFSA assessments. The revolving door EFSA is little more than a Monsanto division.
 
Obviously this is meant to be cumbersome to the point of impossibility. Instead of taking cultivation approvals on a case by case basis, a national government is supposed to track down every pending application, assess its approval in a hypothetical way, make a future-oriented decision, and formulate a request. And who is supposed to do this – a bureaucracy which is naturally more likely to support the corporate project than a legislature which is more likely to be responsive to the public good. And then there’s the fact that the government of a day is to be able to tie the hands of its successors in perpetuity. Once again we see the fundamental hostility of the EC to democracy and to politics as such.
 
*GeneWatch UK is filing Freedom of Information requests, and now a complaint with the Information Commissioner, demanding access to withheld and redacted parts of communications between the government’s Department of the Environment, Farms, and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the GMO cartel’s lobby group the Agricultural Biotechnology Council (ABC). The information already released details coordinated media strategies and how the government keeps the lobby informed about upcoming minister speeches and policy proposals. It’s clear that little will be needed from TTIP “regulatory coherence” to increase the intensity of government/corporate bureaucratic Gleichschaltung in the UK. 
 
*A detailed account of the politics of how over 200 GM field trials were okayed in India earlier this year.
 
*I’m sure we’re all very sorry about the news that parasite commodity traders have “lost” as much $427 million in reduced US maize exports to China, because the US commodification system is incompetent to provide the uncontaminated products the buyer requests. This is a severe indictment of the entrepreneurial abilities of US commodifiers. Now the traders are squabbling with the GMO cartel about why it’s not possible to segregate the particular variety China has been rejecting, Syngenta’s MIR162 line.
 
The answer, of course, is that the commodification system is unsuited to provide versatility and diversity because it’s designed to supply the opposite, an undifferentiated monoculture commodity flow. Even more importantly, this proves contamination by unwelcome GMOs at every point of the growth and supply chain is inevitable. Over the long run segregation is impossible, just as “coexistence” in general is impossible. In some cases like this one, it’s evidently impossible even in the immediate run.

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April 13, 2014

Rootworms and GMOs

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A recent paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences summarizes the spread of rootworm resistance to Bt poisons generated by GMOs. Two of the three commercial Bt traits against rootworm are widely ineffective. The problem is so severe that even a corporatist organization like the NAS feels compelled to discuss it.
 
This product failure, or to put it another way the triumphant counteroffensive of the rootworms, has been documented for many years now. It happened quickly following the commercialization of the first anti-rootworm GMO products in 2003.
 
The product genre is in response to an artificial problem, generated completely by the GMO regime itself. In a rational crop rotation and pest management system, as largely prevailed prior to the advent of GMOs in the mid 1990s, rootworm was seldom more than a nuisance to maize farmers. This pest only started becoming a serious problem when farmers were exhorted by Monsanto and the US government to grow corn every year. The Roundup Ready trait and the poison trait vs. the corn borer were alleged to enable this. The fact that it encouraged rootworm infestation, since now their larvae would find new corn to feed on the next year (which is what crop rotation is supposed to prevent, so that the pest can never become well-established), was an intentionally generated problem which Monsanto then answered with its rootworm-resistant poison trait.
 
Monsanto’s plan was not only to supply this artificially generated demand, but to use this demand as leverage for its “expanded trait penetration” strategy to force stacked products containing the anti-rootworm trait upon farmers who didn’t need it. In the face of a massive farmer outcry and whatever danger there was from the largely illusory Justice Department antitrust investigation, Monsanto backpedaled on this, and today there are plenty of Double Pro varieties without the anti-rootworm trait available. But these are still triple-stacks containing two anti-borer poisons, since borers have been waging their own victorious war against poison-based agriculture, and it’s a fact that the GMO regime can do nothing but try to fight the long defeat as slowly as possible.
 
The standard treadmill dynamic for both anti-weed and anti-insect GMOs quickly set in with anti-rootworm crops, as rootworms quickly developed resistance to the poison crops which pretended to suppress them. Now this new paper documents how quickly cross-resistance developed between two of the three anti-rootworm traits available. The first anti-rootworm Bt poison was Monsanto’s CryBb1 (“cry” means the crystalline form of the Bt toxin). This was the poison produced by the cells of the original M863 product in 2003, and it remains Monsanto’s anti-rootworm trait to this day. So much for innovation.
 
Rootworms developed resistance to this toxin, and then more quickly developed resistance to Syngenta’s modified Cry3A which is contained in its MIR604 product line, including the new Duracade line which contains a synthetic combo of Cry3A and an old anti-borer toxin. The paper finds that the Syngenta poison is similar enough to Monsanto’s that rootworms resistant to the latter were likely to also be resistant to the former, and that this is the likely reason for the accelerating resistance. Again, there’s the level of “innovation” among these geniuses. Sounds like such products as Monsanto’s Triple Pro and Syngenta’s Viptera wouldn’t be such good bets if you have a rootworm problem.
 
Only the Dow/Dupont DAS-59122 product line, containing the Cry34/35Ab1 toxin, still seems to be working for the time being. Of course the more GMO growers switch to the stacked varieties containing this version of the poison, the faster the rootworms will mop up that one too.
 
This is the same losing arms race as has already been occurring with the corn borer and with Roundup-resistant weeds. As the example of rootworm demonstrates, each new target for the GMO technology more quickly develops resistance to the product genre, just as this target does so more quickly for each new generation of the technological line.
 
This also gives the lie to the whole notion of “refugia”, which are stands of non-Bt corn which the EPA and similar regulators in other countries require poison crop growers to set aside. The idea is supposed to be that the non-Bt stand provides a “refuge” for insects without a propensity to resistance to survive and interbreed with the naturally resistant ones who have survived feeding on the Bt crop. Their offspring will be less likely to inherit the resistance trait, and therefore the overall conversion of the pest population to a resistant variety is supposed to be delayed.
 
As we see, the theoretical setting aside of refuges has done little to halt the march of Bt-resistant rootworms. Of course, such refuges were more of a political scam in the first place, since the EPA nor regulators in other countries have been vigilant about enforcing them, nor were they supposed to be. The idea of the refugia, as a way for regulators and corporations to reassure skeptics that the product will work, has always had more significance then their real world application.
 
This is proven by the fact that, in the same way that regulatory allowed herbicide levels in water and food is set not according to public health or any other scientific measure, but simply reflects whatever level will result from the amount of herbicides corporations need to sell and farmers need to spray, so the refugia percentages aren’t set according to any scientific measure, but at the lowest politically justifiable level.
 
Thus although USDA entomologists recommended 50% refuge planting if the policy was supposed to have any chance of being effective, the EPA originally set the requirement at 20% for single and then double trait Bt poison crops. Needless to say Monsanto originally opposed the refuge concept as such and has always lobbied for the lowest possible level. The EPA was happy to accept the cartel’s argument that stacked varieties, by incorporating multiple poisons, would attack target insects so many ways at once that the 20% refuge was no longer necessary and could be reduced to 5%. This “reduced refuge” requirement was inaugurated with SmartStax corn in 2009, and we have indeed seen rapid results where it’s come to rootworm resistance. No doubt this will hasten the toppling of that third Bt rootworm trait, since it too is part of SmartStax.
 
The entomologists are now back and saying “we told you so”. They’re being backed by some parts of the corporate media, which are singling out the reduced refuge policy as kind of anomalous policy “abuse”, along with the scapegoating of farmers standard in the propaganda of a GMO product’s failure stage. As always, the goal is to defend the honor of the insect resistance product genre, and of GMOs as such, by blaming a crisis which can’t be lied away on some extraneous factor.
 
But the fact is that pest resistance is inevitable when you present the pest with the same challenge year upon year upon year (corn-on-corn, as they call it). No matter what the crop’s defenses, the insect will always win. Even the best refuge policy, vigilantly enforced, would indeed only slightly slow down this process at best.
 
That GMO proponents have always denied this fact, and the parallel fact of inevitable and accelerating weed resistance, against which there’s not even the meager delaying measure of a “refuge” available, makes them perhaps the oddest group of evolution deniers we’ve ever seen. Odd, especially, given their absurd pretensions to be representatives of “science”.
 
What’s more, as I’ve written about many times, to believe that a government regulatory bureaucracy actually wants to enforce policy in the public interest, if such enforcement would hinder the corporate prerogative in any significant way, is to fail to understand the nature of this kind of bureaucracy. The EPA hasn’t “dropped the ball” on Bt refugia, or whatever term of expression one might use. It’s done exactly what we should expect: Under pressure from a wide array of public interest perspectives, it enacted a paper policy. It set the mechanisms of this policy at the lowest level of rigor it thought it could get away with, and has been lackadaisical about enforcing even this level. It then touted the policy idea as proof that farmers and the public could trust their judgement, and that things would be fine and work well as the Bt crop project went forward. The rootworms, as well as the borers, have answered.
 
The fact is that in addition to all their other proven and likely dangers, GMOs were always guaranteed to generate insect and weed resistance against themselves. They were always guaranteed to lead to nothing but an ever-escalating arms race, with the GMO products having to incorporate more and more endemic and sprayed poisons to be even the slightest bit effective. The products would have to become more and more expensive and be ever more poisonous to humans, livestock, and the environment. And the end result of this is guaranteed to be massive crop destruction and the wholesale abandonment of farmland to intractable weeds, as has already been happening in Georgia and elsewhere.
 
As I described above, much of this was premeditated as a form of planned obsolescence, and as a way of generating new demand, where it came to anti-rootworm crops as such.
 
Perhaps most of the cadres involved simply refuse to think about the inevitable end of this Tower of Babel, taking solace in the flat-earth fundamentalist mantra, “technology will think of something”. As we can see, it’s been working so well so far. Those who do think about it are simply psychopaths who expect to enjoy their own profits and power before the inevitable end. On Wall Street this way of looking at it is called IBGYBG – “I’ll be gone, you’ll be gone”, so therefore let’s continue perpetrating these finance cons, constructing these pyramid schemes, blowing up this bubble, since by the time it all blows up we’ll have taken our fat bonuses and run. Individual cartel executives and investors must think the same way.
 
That’s part of why humanity cannot “coexist” with GMOs. That’s part of why our only option is total abolition. Nothing short of that can stave off the many modes of inevitable failure hardwired into an agricultural regime based on GMOs and poisons. As this example demonstrates well, we cannot rely on “regulators”, let alone the corporations themselves, to act in a way which makes any other course possible. It’s proactive abolition along with the affirmative building of the Community Food and Food Sovereignty movement, or else it’s a very dark future.

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April 11, 2014

GMO News Summary April 11, 2014

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*Pressure from farmers has caused Forage Genetics International (the Monsanto subsidiary handling this product) to postpone its commercial release of GM alfalfa in Canada, at least for this spring.
 
There’s some controversy over whether there’s a shortage of alfalfa seed, and if so whether this is on account of the harsh winter, or because farmers planted less of a seed crop on account of anxiety over the GM alfalfa struggle. FGI denies there’s a shortage of seeds, but is unclear about the reason for the postponement. Farmers opposed to the release because it will contaminate non-GM alfalfa and harm dairy animals and products are claiming credit for the delay.
 
Proponents of Roundup Ready alfalfa make the odd argument that it’ll be good for the export market, even though there’s far less of an export market for GM alfalfa or for any other GMO than there is for non-GM crops and products. (For example, US corn exports have been permanently depressed since the widespread adoption of GM corn.) They also perpetrate the bizarre circularity that it’ll be good for alfalfa seed crops, though this obviously could apply only to a seed crop of RR alfalfa itself. So this is really saying, “growing GM alfalfa will be good for growing GM alfalfa”. I’m afraid we’ll need a better reason than this, but this is indeed what almost all pro-GM “arguments” boil down to.
 
*As part of its budgeting process for the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA), the European Parliament voted resolution demanding much stronger “conflict of interest” rules including a modest two-year “cooling off period” before a corporate agriculture/food cadre can go through the revolving door.
 
But it looks like what they really did was release the money after delaying it for a little while, and merely accompany it with this pious resolution. The EFSA has already rejected any change in its corruption policies.
 
To put that term another way, what we see here and with other corporatist government bureaucracies is not really a conflict of interest, or in other words this concept mistakes the real nature of a bureaucracy like the EFSA.
 
As for the cooling-off time, anyone who thinks this would be unfair to our upstanding revolving door types should explain why corporate non-compete contracts for ex-employees should be considered any less unacceptable.
 
*A pilot study commissioned by Sustainable Pulse and Moms Across America has found extremely high levels of glyphosate in the milk of US mothers and in urine samples from a cross section of volunteers.
 
These levels are higher than allowed European levels, and are higher than the levels found in city water systems and in the urine of European volunteers in a 2013 study. 
 
The participants in the study are people who have taken some steps in recent years to lessen their exposure to glyphosate and other poisons in their diets. We can expect that the poison levels would be even higher among people who haven’t taken any such steps.
 
This isn’t a full scientific study (though it’s more informative about human health than any of the industry conversion tests on GMOs and other poisons which are accepted as sufficient by regulators), but we can expect the hacks to irrelevantly accuse it of being an inadequate study. From day one, and to this day, one of the three main lies about the Seralini study, a fully conclusive scientific study of GMO and Roundup toxicology, is that it was a flawed cancer study, when in fact it never claimed to be a cancer study at all. On the contrary, it called for cancer studies to be designed and done.
 
*The farm minister of Denmark commissioned academic reviewers to assess the effects of glyphosate on livestock. Their review of the published evidence concluded that there may be harmful effects and that more study is needed. I suppose the “more study is needed” line is an improvement over the standard line of governments everywhere that no study is needed, but it’s still hardly a clarion call summoning society to action.
 
The review concluded that the two main ways in which glyphosate harms livestock are:
 
1. Glyphosate devastates the microbiome, the gut flora which are necessary for digestion and digestive system health.
 
2. As part of its intended action, glyphosate is a potent mineral chelator. This is how it kills plants, by preventing them from gaining mineral nutrition by binding up the minerals in an indigestible form. The evidence is that glyphosate also prevents animals from gaining necessary nutrition because their feed, mostly from Roundup Ready GMOs, is loaded with glyphosate residues and chelated minerals which are similarly indigestible to them. This leads to disastrous deficiency disease. It’s probably having a similar malnutritional effect on humans.
 
*The Dutch parliament has passed a law which will ban the sale of glyphosate formulations such as Roundup to “private individuals” for non-commercial use by the end of 2015. An existing restriction has all sorts of loopholes. The piece isn’t clear on whether municipalities will still be using the poison.
 
It’s good to get Roundup out of our neighborhoods, off our sidewalks, out of our parks, and so on. Often analyses of the health harms of glyphosate neglect this neighborhood use.
 
But this kind of ban is still just nibbling at the fringes of the poison problem, since the vast majority of Roundup is used for commercial agriculture, and it’s this use which really drives the poisoning of our soil, air, and water, and which is the main driver of the many ways glyphosate damages our health and makes us sick.
 
Nothing short of a complete ban and abolition of glyphosate will suffice for human health, livestock health, environmental health.
 
*In the latest political statement from Russia’s government on GMOs, prime minister Medvedev told an audience of farmers that Russia doesn’t need to grow or import GMOs, but can feed itself and build a vibrant export sector based on organic agriculture and food.
 
*Superbugs and superweeds are attaining ever faster turnaround times. According to reports of farmers and officials, insect pests are already gorging happily on the brand new Bt brinjal rollout in Bangladesh. This product was only newly commercialized in 2014, the first place on earth for GMO eggplant, and the government’s agricultural research institute first released the seeds to farmers in January. If these reports are confirmed it’ll set a new world record for GMO failure, already a hard-to-match hall of shame.

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April 4, 2014

GMO News Summary April 4th, 2014

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*Russia continues to express its ambivalence toward the Western-dominated GMO regime, as Vladimir Putin said some vague things about the dangers of GMOs and Russia’s need to control them within its own food supply and economy. This is within the context of Russia’s ongoing moves to limit the penetration of the Western-dominated GMO regime. This has included a labeling policy, a plan to set up a state “registration” system, scheduled to be announced in June 2014, and lots of media coverage of how organic and non-GM conventional agriculture can give Russia a food security and export advantage.
 
All this is part of the intensified jousting between Russia and Western corporatism. The showdown in the Ukraine, historically called the “heartland” or “breadbasket of the world” by geopolitical theorists, is a major escalation. The Ukraine conflict has major implications for humanity’s war against GMO corporatism. Cargill, Monsanto, and others have made major investments in the Ukraine. So far this invasion of Western agribusiness has been nominally on a non-GMO basis, although everyone believes there’s widespread illegal GMO plantings. As of summer 2013 a study by the National Association for Genetic Safety conducted in the Belgorod region of Russia right across the border from the Ukraine didn’t detect GMO contamination.
 
The West’s goal in targeting the Ukraine has been the same as its general goal since the end of the Cold War. The goal is to expand the same neoliberal corporatist domination which is destroying southern and western Europe to the former communist countries. Ukraine is meant to be plundered and dominated for the sake of this plunder in itself, and also to further hem in Russia and prevent it from reasserting itself as a rival to Western corporate power. That’s why the US and EU are so ardent to expand NATO membership to the Ukraine. (NATO, as has been made incontrovertibly clear since the end of the Cold War, is primarily an aggressive alliance, not a defensive one. It never contemplated a peace dividend for one second.)
 
In this case globalization-oriented Ukrainian kleptocrats seized power in a coup so they could accept an IMF loan which would be used to rip the country’s economy and polity wide open to the corporate “austerity” regime and the general onslaught of Western corporate aggression.
 
In the case of agriculture this will include a lifting on the Ukraine’s ban on foreign corporations owning farmland. In this way land-grabbing, usually associated most with the new campaign of racist colonialism being perpetrated by the West in Southern countries, will be brought to the Ukraine. The new corporate Gleichschaltung will also further corporatize Ukrainian policy on commodification, GMO seeds and patents, food safety, etc.
 
It’s easy to see why Monsanto and Cargill are bullish on the current situation, in spite of the chaos and tension. Russia rightly sees this US/EU/NATO/IMF campaign as a campaign of Western aggression, not just against the Ukraine but against itself. In addition to all the other geopolitical and economic aspects, we can add the GMO assault. If all goes according to plan, the corporate takeover of the Ukraine will turn the fabled heartland and breadbasket of the world into a GMO plantation, which will directly physically threaten (via contamination, if not in a more direct way) Russia’s own attempt to build a high-quality non-GM export sector.
 
Of course, Russia has only talked about revamping its agriculture along these lines. It’s at least as likely that Russia’s putting up barriers against Monsanto’s onslaught because it wants to participate in constructing a rival GMO cartel. Nor is any kind of export-based commodity agricultural economy sustainable.
 
But Russia’s public statements have at least demonstrated that they understand the threats and opportunities which are possible in this situation, which is more than most Western countries have done. Meanwhile the Ukrainians seem to have no vision for themselves at all, but can only imagine themselves as under the thumb of Russia or of the West. It’s certainly an extremely difficult position to be caught between two power centers.
 
But there’s no question at all that if one has to be temporarily dependent and subordinate, the deal Russia was offering is vastly better for the Ukraine’s 99% than the IMF liquidation and debt enslavement which is already commencing. And it should go without saying that from every point of view – today’s commodity economy as well as what will of necessity be tomorrow’s relocalized economies – Ukraine would be much better off investing in non-GMO and organic agriculture, in the same way many Russian groups and officials are arguing for Russia, than it will be if it turns itself into the next supine, demolished Monsanto victim. 
 
*Following the latest round of cotton crop failures in India (a growing problem since GMO cotton has become predominant), the state of Karnataka has announced it is placing a ban of indefinite length on the sale of Mahyco’s Bt cotton seeds. It will also institute a bailout of affected cotton farmers, just the latest example of where an Indian government has had to effect a spot bailout of cotton farmers. Usually these bailouts are just laundered corporate welfare for Monsanto and the rest of Big Ag, like US crop subsidies.
 
Mahyco is the Indian equivalent of Seminis, a large pre-existing company which Monsanto bought and turned into its subsidiary. The state government is blaming the widespread crop failures, in many cases as much as 50% of the harvest promised by the company, on poor quality seeds. Farmers are saying that many of the cotton plants fail to produce bolls, and that the allegedly insect-resistant cotton is readily attacked by pests.
 
These complaints, along with the fact that GMO cotton requires heavy irrigation (far more than non-GM) but has often been fraudulently sold to farmers in regions without artificial irrigation, have been common throughout the history of India’s disastrous Bt cotton experiment. Mahyco admits that non-target “secondary” insects are afflicting the cotton plants. This is a common and predictable effect of insecticide-expressing GMOs, along with the development of resistance among the target insect.
 
*A new Brazilian study of in vitro brain tissue exposed to Roundup provides more evidence of the mechanism by which glyphosate causes neurological toxicity and oxidative damage. The existence of these effects, among the many other harmful health effects of glyphosate, is not in question, only the precise way in which this poison harms us.
 
*A coalition of farmer and citizen activists and protesters has successfully pressured the new government of Chile to withdraw a proposed corporate seed enclosure law, called the “Monsanto Law”. Such laws, increasingly being deployed around the global South and also in the process of being tightened in Europe, seek to foreclose democratic and farmer control of seeds through strict patenting and registration rules and draconian restrictions on democratic saving, breeding, and planting of seeds which weren’t duly purchased under a corporate contract.
 
The goal is to eradicate all seed and germplasm diversity and decentralization and replace it with a tightly controlled, hierarchical, proprietary monoculture system. As with all of corporate agriculture, the goal is not to produce food or to feed anyone. On the contrary, everything corporate agriculture does is proven to hinder such goals, and is clearly setting up agriculture for collapse and famine in the not-distant future. The goal is always profit, power, control, domination.
 
Agroecology and Food Sovereignty, on the contrary, seek to produce food for human beings. What’s more, they seek to build strong, democratic communities, polities, economies. They seek to restore power to humanity by decentralizing power and putting it to human use.
 
But corporations seek nothing but to centralize power and use it to control, dominate, and destroy humanity. 

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March 31, 2014

European Commission Comment Period on ISDS in the TTIP

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The European Commission’s ISDS “consultation” for the TTIP globalization compact has been posted. ISDS = “investor-to-state dispute settlement”. That’s the NAFTA model whereby corporations directly sue governments over any law/regulation/court decision which allegedly affects their hypothetical profits. TTIP = “Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership”. Of course it’s not really about one cent’s worth of legitimate trade or investment. It’s only about corporate aggression.
 
This period of public comment, allowed by the EC under duress, as European civil society has been vigorously protesting the looming compact in general and the ISDS provision in particular, is both less and more democratic than a USDA or FDA comment process. On the one hand it’s an imposing, ponderous series of propaganda pieces touting the righteousness and benevolence of the globalization compact, each followed by a text box asking “what is your opinion of that?” This plus some initial questions seem calculated to intimidate a regular citizen. By contrast US comment forms are vastly simpler.
 
On the other hand, a motivated commenter is given far greater scope to refute the lies and condemn the premises in detail. A US comment form tries to induce a shorter, more general statement.
 
The comment period runs till June 21. Although I gather it’s supposed to be only for European citizens, I might post a comment anyway. By their own globalization logic, as well as by the fact that US citizens are necessarily just as affected as Europeans are by anything the EU does with this, we have full right to comment.
 
Many European citizens and democracy groups will comment, but far more important will be the publicity of rejection and resistance. The main goal among European democracy advocates is to pressure their European Parliament representatives, who must ratify the compact, to vote against it. If the EP votes it down, there will be no TTIP. Otherwise only massive civil disobedience could stanch it. Meanwhile I don’t think anyone expects the US congress to reject it.

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March 29, 2014

The Community Rights, Anti-Corporate Movement, and its Liberal Pro-Corporate Detractors

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As the community rights and anti-corporate movement gathers momentum, it will increasingly strike fear in mercenary minds, and in the minds of all who remain stagnated in the obsolete ideologies of “left” and “right”, “liberal” and “conservative”, let alone the cretins who remain partisans of either the Democrat or Republican halves of the one-party corporatist state we now have.
 
At a website which claims to stand for a “participatory society”, and which likes to affect some radical-chic vibes, some members recently outed themselves as just another gang of masked liberals with an ethically and intellectually challenged hatchet job on the CELDF movement. Evidently when they say they want participation they don’t really mean participation, heavens no. How silly of us to misunderstand that word and think it means we the people politically and economically rule ourselves.
 
The fact is that this entire critique is from the point of view of statist, corporatist, pro-Democrat liberalism. It’s therefore irrelevant in principle, since the community rights movement cherishes participatory democracy and economic self-determination and rejects the legitimacy and authority of corporations and centralized states. The piece is also forced to lie at every practical point, since nothing has been more completely proven to be an historical failure than representative liberalism, insofar as it ever actually wanted to improve the lives of regular people and prevent concentrated power from preying upon the people. Of course, if it ever did want to do any such thing, it has long since ceased from any such intention and become a pro-corporate scam.
 
I’ll just make a few general replies to the piece.
 
1. It engages in bourgeois quibbling about what is and isn’t “constitutional”, what does and doesn’t derive from the Declaration of Independence in some sense a duly certified law professor would agree with, etc.
 
But citizens of a democracy care nothing about any piece of paper, except insofar as it expresses and helps realize political and economic democracy and freedom. Today we must care only about what’s effective toward anti-corporate abolitionism. The fact is that none of these documents has any eternal meaning at all, except to antiquarians talking about what they meant at a particular time in a particular context hundreds of years ago. Anyone who claims to think the Declaration of Independence, for example, has any ineffable “nature” other than what the people of a time are willing to fight to make it mean is a liar or is being completely ahistorical. (I’m not sure which of those a system academic is more likely to be.) But the only way these documents matter to modern abolitionists is in how they can help attain the abolitionist mission.
 
Of course, these liberal scribblers agree with me. Throughout the piece they repeatedly assert that what’s “constitutional” isn’t anything stable, anything based on principle, but is merely whatever the bourgeois courts say it is. The constitution is nothing but what Monsanto’s Clarence Thomas says it is. This is one of their core points.
 
Let’s correct a few historical facts obfuscated and falsified in the piece. In reality, the Declaration of Independence was not an affirmative statement of synthesized laws, but a rejection of illegitimate, usurped, and therefore tyrannical “law”. Therefore when we reject the legitimacy of the “laws” and rule of corporations, globalization tribunals, and the centralized governments who serve them, we are taking exactly the same stance as the signers of the Declaration. And when we cite it as precedent, we are using it in exactly the same way its original promulgators did. The dispute here is over whether the rule of Monsanto, the CAFOs, the frackers, Wall Street, is legitimate. We say it is not. The authors of this piece and their ideological ilk say it is. So it’s clear that there’s no common ground here, and that these scribblers are simply perpetrating a fraud when they claim to be arguing from some common principle, and that therefore people should listen to them and turn away from the anti-corporate struggle. But to be for or against corporate domination is the only meaningful demarcation today, which cuts across all other issues and gives them their true character, as opposed to the false divisions which system ideologues and partisans struggle to keep in place.
 
Similarly, the notion of constitutionalism propounded here, that “the constitution” is whatever is written and called a constitution, of course as interpreted by a handful of elite legal priests, is historically false and tendentious. On the contrary, one of the fiercely contested political controversies of the era leading up to the first stage of the American Revolution was the question of whether or not there’s an underlying sovereign constitution, of which even a written constitution is only a provisional expression, its legitimacy contingent on the institutions it establishes continuing to act in accord with the underlying people’s sovereignty. The gradually-adopted decision of the rebels that this sovereign constitution precedes any written one became a basic principle of this first stage of the Revolution. But this philosophical development was also an extension of the long evolution of the logic of political thought. When today a US liberal takes up the old British/Loyalist position, that the constitution is whatever a piece of paper (and really a handful of corporatist judges) says it is, and pretends this is “the” position, he’s simply trying to lie this controversy and this history out of existence. He’s probably totally ignorant of this history anyway.
 
So there’s our basic conflict over what is or isn’t constitutional: We say that this can only be decided through political struggle. They say it’s a purely elitist determination and decree. And there we see the basic difference between democratic philosophy and liberalism, which is inherently hierarchical, authoritarian, elitist. According to them, the courts and by extension the government are legitimate, the people are not. This is the basic liberal elitism. We see the basic contempt for a community-based organization daring to lay claim to constitutional interpretation, filthy peasants having the temerity to contradict Our Betters in the courts, academia, and of course among the professional liberal NGOs. 
 
2. They seem to have basically liberal-reformist objections to a more anarchistic philosophy. That’s irrelevant since the anti-corporate movement is, of necessity, both ideologically and on a practical level, anti-liberal. That’s because liberalism is inherently pro-corporate and pro-centralization, and also because it’s a proven failure at everything except helping to increase corporate power.
 
They also engaged in smear tactics, fraudulently seeking to conflate explicitly anti-corporate movements with, for example, racist “states’ rights” movements. This demonstrates their bad faith and their conceptual idiocy, since “states’ rights” makes no sense as a concept, while community sovereignty obviously does. It comes much closer to humanity’s natural and rational political and economic state, as well as being in much closer accord with the principle, paid lip service to even by today’s statist/corporatist tyrannies, that sovereignty can repose only in the people themselves, and that political power can only be conditionally delegated to any kind of hierarchy.
 
By now we know that these hierarchies, and the political philosophies which sought to justify them, including liberalism, were always frauds which have not improved the happiness, prosperity, and freedom of the people. At most they were able to use the age of cheap oil to build mass middle classes in the West. Here isn’t the place to debate whether or not this Western middle class existence is the highest utopia humanity can aspire to, the way liberals would have it. (I’d say the record shows that middle class existence, even where it was temporarily stable, didn’t seem to make people happier, and in many ways left them less content.) But I will stress the fact that as we reach the end of the Oil Age, this middle class is being ruthlessly liquidated, and the system is clearly headed back, as fast as it thinks it can politically get away with, to some pre-fossil fuel form of economic tyranny: Some kind of feudalism or debt slave society which will be much worse than even the medieval variety.
 
There’s no disputing this basic trend toward increasing corporate domination and the destruction of the economic middle class as well as the destruction of the Bill of Rights-based system of civil rights/liberties. All this is inherent to the system. Today liberalism, as an ideology and as a set of political prescriptions, is a massive scam meant to help this corporate domination plan along. That’s the basic aspect of the term “neoliberalism”: Liberal terms, concepts, forms like representative government, etc., have been completely harnessed to the goal of shifting all real power and control to corporate bureaucracies while maintaining nominal government as corporate welfare bagman, thug, and the impresario of circus “elections” and “representation”. I defy anyone to give me an example of any significant government initiative of recent decades which transcends those three basic categories.
 
(Obamacare, for example, is really a corporate bailout and a poll tax. It has no public weal character, but is a combination of corporate welfare conveyance (its main proximate goal was to bail out the financially beleaguered health insurance sector; from there it’s simply meant to keep this worthless corporate sector in profitable existence), political circus (it poses as a big public-interest program), with a thug element as well (the poll tax is meant to help force people who are trying to break free of the corporate cash economy back into it). Anyone who had really wanted a government program to provide better health care to the people would have demanded Single Payer, which would have been vastly less expensive for the people and would actually have helped people. But that’s not what government does any more, and that’s not what today’s liberal and conservative supporters of big government want to do. They want nothing but to aggrandize corporate power.) 
 
3. According to the comment thread, they’re the types who accuse anyone who disagrees with them of being a “troll”. But as I said in points (1) and (2), they themselves are technically trolls in that they’re pretending to be making a critique of participatory democracy and natural real economies, based on some alleged common ground, when really there is no common ground between anarchism/mutualism/positive democracy and centralizing corporatist bourgeois liberalism. There’s no substantive common ground, just some vague alleged affinity of ideals. But as we’ve seen, liberalism has been nothing but the ongoing betrayal of these ideals, and is a definitively proven failure and/or treachery.
 
I will agree with one strategic point. My understanding of the CELDF strategy is that it seeks to use the concepts and rhetorical forms of constitutionalism and of the first stage of the American Revolution in an innovative and tactically effective way, to help organize modern anti-corporatism and rational economic tendencies toward building a coherent movement. But so far it seems pretty vague on what the next steps are, once organizations dedicated to fighting for these ordinances have been brought into existence.
 
But the hatchet job I critiqued here clearly has no goal other than as typical liberal gatekeeping. They’re trying to distract attention from the complete failure of their own scam and discourage people from taking up new ideas and new forms of activism and organization.
 
I especially like their horror at the prospect of communities fighting to resist interstate highways or fracking pipelines. And you always gotta love when so-called “leftists” take up the canned Frank Luntz term “patchwork”. Bush consultant Luntz called this one of his “words that work”, and we see how this term has indeed worked, to the point that it’s now a staple of alleged “left” discourse as well, wherever our pseudo-radicals are opposing the people where the people are trying to fight back at the community level, which is after all the natural level of human existence. Because liberals and authoritarian leftists have no such human basis for their existence, but are only synthetic products of mass society, they could never understand this kind of humanism.
 
(“Conservatism” is another part of the overall corporate propaganda scam, but in this case we’re concerned with a liberal and/or radical chicist attack, so I focused on that.)
 
In the end, the only meaningful diagnosis is that corporations are the overwhelmingly dominant form of economic and, increasingly, political tyranny today. Corporations are totalitarian, and are the radical enemy of all human values, as well as of our physical basis for existence. It follows that the only meaningful prescription is to commit to the clear goal of the total abolition of the corporate form.
 
This is not only the only meaningful analysis and goal, but has the virtue of presenting a clear goal, unlike the vapid “anti-”s of reformism and pseudo-radicalism. These clearly just want to talk and do nothing, which is why they intentionally claim to be for high-flown principles but offer only the most vague objections to “capitalism” or whatever in place of a clear prescriptive goal.
 
The community rights movement doesn’t have all the answers yet, but it does understand three basic facts which no one else seems to understand: The people and only the people are sovereign, corporations by definition are illegitimate and have no right to exist, and corporations are actively destructive of all human values and needs, and must therefore be fought to the end with all means at hand.

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March 28, 2014

GMO News Summary 3/28/14

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*On March 20th over a hundred citizen activists occupied the headquarters of the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) in Parma, Italy, to protest this bureaucracy’s aggressively pro-GMO policy, its unscientific and fraudulent review procedures, its brazen revolving door with the GMO cartel, and its ongoing campaign to slander independent science and subvert, weaken, and flout public interest GMO and agricultural policy.
 
*In spite of the standard lie and FDA policy dogma that GMO false crops are “substantially equivalent” to true crops, there has never been a real comparative analysis of the levels of endemic herbicide residue in crops engineered to be herbicide-tolerant, compared to non-GM conventional and organic crops.
 
Now for the first time an independent study has performed such an analysis on an array of soybean varieties grown under commercial conditions, and the results are damning.
 
The study finds that soybeans engineered to be Roundup Ready and subsequently sprayed during the growing season contain extremely high levels of glyphosate and its breakdown product AMPA, an average of 9.0 mg/kg. This is a level much higher than the 5.6 mg/kg which Monsanto itself called “extreme” in a 1999 publication.
 
The poison and its breakdown residues are incorporated into the tissues of the crop, which is engineered merely to assimilate them, sustaining significant weaknesses and nutritional deficiencies along the way but not dying. The poison is then an intrinsic part of the food people and livestock eat. It can’t be washed off, any more than endemic Bt insecticidal poisons, or the many other agricultural poisons which are designed to be suffused through all the tissues of the crop. When we eat any of these false crops, we are eating what are literally poison plants.
 
Neither organic nor non-GM conventional soybeans contained these residues. The study also found several other significant differences in nutritional composition, with organic soybeans displaying the healthiest profile.
 
The knowledge gap this study has begun to fill is one of the many which the corporate/government system has been doing its best to leave gaping. Always keep in mind that no corporation or government has ever performed a toxicology or any other safety test on ANY GMO, nor have any of these entities ever performed or required a single epidemiological study on the effects of GMOs and their companion poisons in the human diet. Such a willful, systematic lack of desire to know, and such an attempt at the suppression of such knowledge through choking off research funds to independent science, proves two things:
 
1. Governments and corporations are afraid of what the results of such tests would be.
 
2. Governments and corporations strongly suspect such testing would further prove GMOs and their associated poisons to be hazardous to human and animal health.
 
After all, if they really believed what they say, why wouldn’t they be eager to spend the pennies it would cost them to prove it?
 
*Such studies provide strong evidence backing the efforts of a Brazilian federal ombudsman to force the health ministry to review agriculture ministry’s approval of glyphosate and several other herbicides, impose a moratorium while these reviews are conducted, and cancel the commercialization of Agent Orange GMOs engineered to resist 2,4-D application.
 
*More on glyphosate. Another new study has found that dairy cows and rabbits fed with GMO-based feed (which means most non-organic grain feed) have higher levels of glyphosate residues in their organs and urine than animals who ate non-GM feed. Chronically ill humans are also found to be more likely to have higher levels in their urine than healthy people.  
 
*Rootworm is now widely resistant to two of the three Bt toxins which GMOs are engineered to produce against it.
 
*Citizens of Lane County Oregon will move forward with gathering signatures to place a local food systems ordinance on the 2014 ballot in spite of a recent judicial decision overturning the county’s determination that the proposed ordinance met the requirements to be placed on the ballot. They will work to reformulate the initiative, which is similar to one which has already received judicial approval in neighboring Benton County. These two community food initiatives join initiatives to ban GMO cultivation and seed patents in Jackson and Josephine Counties, and also a Josephine ordinance imposing restrictions on corporate use of agricultural poisons.
 
The very fact that only such pro-community ordinances, but not pro-corporate, usurping ones, must jump through such hoops in only one piece of proof for why such laws are needed, and why just passing such laws can never be sufficient.
 
*Mora County, New Mexico, is the first county in the US to pass a law attempting to defend itself against corporate assaults by banning oil and gas drilling. Several corporations promptly sued in federal court, where we can expect the courts to affirm that corporate prerogatives trump all human rights and sovereignty, and that the central government is the rightful thug enforcing these prerogatives.
 
Every such case, just as every such corporate invasion, is further proof to anyone with eyes to see that humanity is in a zero-sum total war with these corporations, and that either they must perish from the earth, or else we must inevitably become starving slaves struggling to survive on a trashed poisoned, earth.
 
There’s no debate over this. No rational person can dispute the totalitarian character and goals of corporatism. It follows that humanity’s clear goal must be to abolish corporations as such. Corporations are the dominant organizational form of tyrannical forces today. All such forces have been mustered within this form. Abolishing the form will, for awhile at least, completely disperse the evils of our time. It will give humanity and the earth breathing space to recover, and to try again to fulfill the responsibility of citizenship and civilization, which is never to allow power to concentrate to the point that it transcends human communities and natural, rational economies.
 
As for those who claim to share human values but oppose the abolition imperative, we need only ask what alternative they offer. It’s immediately apparent that they offer no alternative whatsoever, just the same proven failures and lies. It becomes apparent that they’re really lying when they claim to support humanity in the first place.
 
One thing is proven beyond any reasonable doubt: The established molds of ideology and politics, “left-right”, “liberal-conservative”, electoralism, system reformism in general, let alone the “two” corporatist parties which really form a single ideological and policy monolith, are completely obsolete, and no one any longer espouses them in any but a purely reactionary way whose only goal is to prop up the existing tyranny and help perpetuate it. By definition any idea with any chance of offering a new beginning and a way forward will cut across and transcend all these obsolete categories, divisions, dichotomies, scams.

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March 21, 2014

GMO News Summary, March 21 2014

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*In a major ruling a Brazilian appeals court has invalidated the government’s approval of Bayer’s application for commercialization of its Liberty Link glufosinate-resistant maize. It ordered CTNBio, Brazil’s bioregulator, to conduct a full environmental review prior to granting the application and to provide better transparency for its approval process.
 
While this ruling immediately applies only to LL, it calls into question all other Brazilian GMO approvals, since CTNBio has never undertaken an environmental review for any of them. In theory this ruling should be extended to invalidate all prior approvals.
 
*A UN FAO report documents the spread of GMO contamination throughout the commodified food supply and the escalating number of incidents of shipments being rejected by import countries for so-called “low level presence”. This term has no stable definition, but merely indicated how much pollution a trader/miller/importer is willing to accept as trivial. The GMO cartel and its US government flunkey, of course, want to raise this level indefinitely and eventually render it moot by forcing globalized approval of all GMOs. That’s one of the core goals of the TTIP and TPP.
 
*The Mayan community of the Mexican state of Campeche has won a federal court victory against the central government’s approval of Roundup Ready soybean cultivation in their state. The court agreed that this centralized fiat decision violates the right of the indigenous community to control its own agriculture. In particular, the people of the community fear that GMO cultivation will harm their vibrant beekeeping culture.
 
Agriculture and food systems are naturally local/regional, and an economy based on natural exchange and demand-based markets and trade would reflect this. A sure measure of impractical and tyrannical centralization is the extent to which control of agriculture has been arrogated by centralized corporations and governments. Globalization compacts represent the most extreme manifestation of this usurping corporatization.
 
This court victory follows 2013′s big victory for Mexican agriculture and democracy as a whole, as the courts imposed a moratorium on government plans to approve field trials and commercialization of GM maize.
 
*Continuing the legal struggle over GMO alfalfa, the Center for Food Safety has filed a new lawsuit against the USDA to force it to obey the Freedom of Information Act. The CFS is trying to make public the details of how the Obama White House forced the USDA to go back on its original partial deregulation plan for Roundup Ready alfalfa and fully deregulate it instead.
 
This is the latest round in a sordid saga which highlights the unchanging nature of anti-democratic bureaucracy as well as the identical corporatist ideology and policy of Republican and Democrat adminstrations.
 
USDA originally approved Monsanto’s RR alfalfa in 2005. In response to a lawsuit from CFS and others, a 2006 court decision ordered the USDA to undertake a full environmental review, the first it would ever perform. This court order was similar to the new one from Brazil, with the difference that the Brazilian decision has much broader theoretical implications, while the US court in 2006 found that as a perennial which widely spreads its pollen, alfalfa was a special case.
 
The court order was upheld through a series of appeals, and the USDA finally completed its review in 2010. The review found that Roundup Ready alfalfa presented special contamination problems and should be approved only with special restrictions. This is “partial deregulation” in the parlance. This is a sham which could never work in practice. The record of Bt refugia proves that such restrictions are widely flouted with impunity, while even the restrictions placed on field trials don’t prevent GM contamination from proceeding, as demonstrated by many such examples as Oregon’s infestation of GM creeping bentgrass, or 2013′s discovery of feral RR wheat which escaped and has persisted since field trials ended several years ago. Under no circumstances could GM alfalfa commercialized under “restrictions” be prevented from broadly contaminating all alfalfa over time.
 
Trying to make a virtue of necessity, agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack brokered a political alliance between USDA and the industrial organic sector led by Whole Foods Market and Stonyfield’s Gary Hirshberg. The plan was to whitewash this partial deregulation plan by calling it a “co-existence” plan. Industrial organic, which wants someday for GMOs to be allowed under the “organic” certification, would be the lead marketers for the scam. USDA would fraudulently promise to rigorously police growing practices to prevent contamination, and to set up a compensation mechanism for the victims of such GMO trespass.
 
This plan to normalize Roundup Ready alfalfa by stages was too subtle for Monsanto, though, which simply prevailed upon Obama to override Vilsack. The USDA promptly ordered full deregulation, and a whole new poison and contamination front was opened.
 
Now CFS is back in court trying to get more details on how the executive fiat went down, but the basics are already known.
 
*Sri Lanka’s president has issued a ban on the sale of Roundup in the country following the recent study which documents the causal link between Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown origin (CKDu) in farm workers and a combination exposure to Roundup and heavy metals in the drinking water.
 
The government plans to launch a program to convert the country’s rice paddies to organic weed control and fertilization. This is a sane plan under any circumstance, and especially given the chronic epidemic being caused by these imported poisons.
 
*Pending a new law to ban cultivation of MON810 maize in France, the agricultural ministry has issued a ban on plantings until the new law is codified.
 
There’s lots about legal bans in this week’s news. While legalistic bans are not a substitute for abolitionism in concept or practice, they’re certainly an effective tool wherever attainable.
 
*This one makes me chuckle. South Africa’s government has been highly accommodating to the Monsanto agenda, in spite of the disastrous record of GMOs there.
 
Or perhaps some parts of the government are finally getting fed up. In response to a complaint from the African Center for Biodiversity, the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) ordered Monsanto to cease from an advertising campaign touting the benefits of GMOs in broad terms. When the agency asked Monsanto to submit evidence from independent science backing up its claims, Monsanto merely sent in links to its own website. Unusually for a government body, the agency rejected this as unsatisfactory.
 
Here’s part of the verbiage which was prohibited as fraudulent: GMOs “enable us to produce more food sustainably whilst using fewer resources; provide a healthier environment by saving on pesticides; decrease greenhouse gas emissions and increase crop yields substantially”. These are all direct factual lies which have been disproven around the world, everywhere GMOs have been commercialized, including in South Africa. But as anyone at all familiar with the propaganda environment has seen, these are also the standard lies of GMO supporters.
 
The quality of pro-GMO “science” Monsanto offered here is, of course, exactly the same as it is in the US. But while it’s not unprecedented for Monsanto’s advertising to be flagged as the consumer fraud it is (the company has been sanctioned in France and in New York state), more commonly such straight lies are waved through, as well as repeated by the government itself. The FDA and USDA both consciously see themselves as part of the Monsanto PR team. The FDA was the original purveyor of the Big Lie of “substantial equivalence”, which has since been disseminated worldwide. The WHO and UN FAO adopted wholesale the GMO safety ideology promulgated by the trade group ILSI (International Life Sciences Institute). The advertising depicted above is standard in most countries.
 
But it’s funny to see what happens the moment an advertising regulator drops the ideological agenda and simply looks at the fact. Monsanto is immediately recognized as an outlaw, totally beyond the pale.
 
 
*There’s growing skepticism and resistance among apple growers to the idiotic “non-browning” Arctic Apple being pushed by Okanagen Specialty Fruits, a company which should be subject to a total boycott dedicated to driving it out of business. Consumers don’t have such leverage with Monsanto, but as consumers we can certainly commit to a permanent embargo on one obnoxious industrial fruit company.
 
*The British government’s latest exercise in laundering Monsanto propaganda is a fraudulent “report” issued by the prime minister’s Council for Science and Technology (CST). (That kind of name is always a tip-off. Science and technological engineering are two completely separate things. In principle they have radically different mindsets and goals. The fraudulent conflation of the two always means science is being hijacked to serve mercenary technological instrumentalism. Genetic engineering is of course a form of technological engineering and in itself has zero to do with science.)
 
The “report” contains zero new findings or evidence, but merely launders cartel propaganda through the names of a list of allegedly “independent scientists” who are really on the payroll of the GMO corporations. As Claire Robinson of GMWatch points out, this report is nothing but a “sales pitch”, and it’s revealing that the CST evidently was unable to find a single person NOT having some career/financial stake in GMOs to participate in this report. Under fire, the government admitted that corporations largely control academic research today.
 
This is a typical example of the corporatization of credentialed personnel, who are not scientists in any meaningful sense of the term, but are merely mercenary technicians. This is typical of today’s “scientific” establishment. With GMOs we’re simply reprising the same history of corruption as when long lists of “scientists” assured us that cigarettes were safe, asbestos was safe, DDT, PCBs, dioxin, thalidomide. In all these cases, too, the majority of system-credentialed personnel parroted the party line upon demand.
 
At what point are we the people going to learn that these “experts” don’t know a damn thing and do NOT want what’s best for humanity?
 
*The people of Colorado have an initiative on the 2014 ballot which would legally affirm communities’ right to self-rule and invalidate the illegitimate, usurping preemption prerogatives of corporations, the state, and the central government.
 
This plan for publicity and civil disobedience based on community sovereignty is based on the anti-corporatist strategy of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). Here’s a good description of the philosophy and strategy written by CELDF founder Thomas Linzey during an earlier stage of the struggle, when Longmont was the first Colorado town to pass a ban on fracking. In November 2013 four more towns passed such bans. In 2014 four Oregon counties will have GMO cultivation bans on the ballot. These are examples of a nationwide movement of community self-assertion against corporate tyranny.

 
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March 15, 2014

The GMA’s FDA Preemption Plan for GMO Labeling

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I’ve been writing about the corporate gambit which wants the FDA to forestall the rising GMO labeling movement by instituting a “voluntary” labeling policy which would preempt stronger state-level policy. Failing this, the manufacturers and retailers would prefer a sham “mandatory” FDA policy whose only real strength would be the same preemption. At that point the corporate sectors would join hands with most of the NGO “leaders” of the labeling movement, in a typical corporation/NGO consensus.
 
Let’s look over the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) “summary of discussion draft” for a “voluntary” FDA labeling policy.
 
Title I purports to describe “Bioengineered Food”. Section 101 defines this to exclude all food which includes genetic engineering as part of the processing, but which does not actually include a GMO as an ingredient. So anything which used GE enzymes, yeast, etc. - a vast array of foods – would be excluded from the purview of this policy, and no one could ever apply any label voluntarily (e.g., “this bread was made without genetically engineered yeast”) or make it mandatory (“made with genetically engineered yeast”). All this would be preempted by the FDA.
 
(The lethal Showa Denko epidemic was caused by contaminants in an over-the-counter supplement which used genetic engineering in the processing. The contaminants were produced by the GE process.)
 
Presumably, though it doesn’t explicitly say this here, it would also apply to the gaping void in GMO awareness, meat and dairy from GMO-fed animals. It would probably also forestall BGH labeling once and for all.
 
So the policy applies only to GMO crops and directly engineered animals like the Frankensalmon.
 
Section 102 changes existing FDA notification policy. As things are, GMO developers don’t have to have any contact at all with the FDA. They deal only with the USDA, and the USDA grants commercialization approval. But the corporation may send a voluntary notification letter to the FDA. This letter says nothing more than, “we think this GMO product is safe”, and the FDA replies, “we understand that you think this product is safe”. That’s the entirety of FDA “oversight”. The Clinton administration had wanted to make this farce mandatory, but the cartel resisted even that, and the Bush administration encoded the coluntary status quo.
 
Now the GMA wants to revert to the Clinton mandatory notification. The reason for this is that one of the “principles” listed in the GMA draft is that the policy will “Mandate FDA Safety Reviews”. Of course there won’t really be any safety review whatsoever. But the GMA hopes that if the sham letter exchange is made mandatory, they’ll then be able to depict this in GMO propaganda as a mandatory safety review.
 
In the course of boilerplate about the FDA’s mandate to “protect the health and safety”, the draft reaffirms the FDA’s ideological dogma of “substantial equivalence”: “The use of bioengineering does not, by itself, constitute a material difference.”
 
So the FDA will pretend it’s on the lookout for “material differences”, when in fact it ideologically defines all material differences out of existence. (GMOs are self-evidently radically different in principle from the true crops from which they’re derived, as well as materially different in many unpredictable secondary ways.) The real teeth of this part are found here: “..or to prevent the label of the bioengineered food from being false and misleading.” This means that the FDA will severely regulate the content of voluntary non-GMO labels and force them to include pro-GM dogma like, “The FDA has determined that there is no material difference between genetically engineered food and other foods.”
 
Section 103 describes how all GMO labeling will be purely voluntary. Corporations will be able to apply “non-GMO” labels to anything with a so-called “adventitious presence” of GM material. This means, collateral contamination will be let through under non-GM labeling policy. Voluntary outfits like the Non-GMO Project will be encouraged or if necessary forced to allow their labels for whatever the FDA considers “low level” contamination. No one will be allowed to institute a more rigorous voluntary non-GM certification process. The goal here is to co-opt and discredit non-GMO labeling as such, and to help normalize the increasing contamination of food and agriculture with collateral GM contamination.
 
It explicitly says that GM-fed dairy, as well as food which used GE processing aids like yeast, could be labeled “non-GMO”. Labels cannot say or imply that “non-GMO” is better, or that GMOs are potentially harmful. Instead, the FDA will place restraints on voluntary non-GMO labeling as I described above.
 
The draft does include a vague passage which seems to give corporate producers free rein to make the label say anything they want, including touting an alleged GMO benefit or even the benefit of something being non-GMO. The FDA’s oversight is clearly to apply only to the organic and non-GM sector.
 
Section 104 is explicit on preemption: “This section would preempt any state laws that are not identical to the Federal program.”
 
That, of course, is the #1 goal of the whole corporate endeavor here. Under the guidance of Monsanto, the GMA originally wanted there to be no labeling policy at all.
 
Title II is on so-called “Natural Foods”. Here the GMA merely wants the FDA to encode the scam which allows the term “natural” to be applied to foods containing GMOs and almost any other kind of poison. As things are now, “natural” can be slapped on anything except for foods containing anything from a short list of specific additives. It’s therefore basically a scam term. There are retailers and manufacturers whose whole business model is to produce and sell conventional GMO-based food as some kind of “natural” higher quality food.
 
One of the goals of some labeling campaigns, California’s in particular, was to put an end to this consumer fraud by banning the use of the term “natural” for any food which contains GMOs. With this part of the proposal the GMA wants the FDA to preempt such a derogation of this terminological scam. Here too its call for preemption is explicit (section 203).
 
That concludes the GMA’s commentary on the legislative proposal. The rest of the draft is a combination of blather and straight lies, meant to provide talking points to supportive lawmakers and bureaucrats. It concludes with the list of “principles” which the policy will allegedly embody. “Mandate FDA Safety Reviews” refers to the scam I described above. “Require Federal GMO Labeling for Safety” refers to the part about “material difference”; you can rest assured that the GMO labels will be mandatory in any case where the ever-vigilant FDA considers it necessary. If the FDA says it’s not necessary, you can rest easy and go back to sleep, since the food is safe. “Create a National Standard for Voluntary Labels” refers to the Gleichschaltung of all voluntary certification programs such as the Non-GMO Project, like I described above.
 
It concludes with the two Orwellian and anti-democratic expressions of contempt for the people, “Increase Transparency” when it will do the opposite, and the hoary lie about “Preventing Consumer Confusion”.
 
Consumers, in fact, to the extent the information has been readily available to them, have been far less confused about GMOs than any other group. Unlike most others, consumers have rightfully been suspicious of such a counterintuitive product. Sure enough, 100% of the evidence to date has supported this consumer unease.
 
Monsanto’s default has been to oppose all labeling. But the fact that the GMA, under pressure from such members as Walmart and Coca-Cola, is now promulgating this proposal for FDA preemption is proof of how fearful the corporations are of the GMO labeling movement. There’s a growing consensus among manufacturers and retailers that FDA preemption is preferable to continuing to fight a scorched earth war against labeling at the state level. Monsanto itself supports the FDA’s existing draft guidance on voluntary labeling, which is hostile to it and would censor it as I described above. So Monsanto can be expected to support the formal enshrinement of this FDA “guidance”. The fact that the GMA is now calling for FDA preemption is proof that Monsanto is at least not actively opposing a formal FDA policy on labeling.
 
The proposal has some high-profile senatorial support. “Progressive” heroes Elizabeth Warren and Mark Udall are among the senators shilling for the GMA/Monsanto plan.
 
Part of the point of the GMA’s promulgation of this preemptive “voluntary” scheme is to position a sham mandatory FDA preemptive policy as the middle position, in case this voluntary policy is politically rejected as being too lax. Here is where the GMA would join hands with most of our NGO “leaders”, who have helped lay the groundwork by consistently representing a formal FDA policy as being the desirable end goal. So the likes of Just Label It, the Center for Food Safety, and Food and Water Watch implicitly agree with Monsanto and the GMA that the state-level movement (not to mention county-level bans) represents some undesirable “extreme”.
 
The GMA will do all it can to get the “voluntary” FDA preemption policy enshrined in law. But failing this, it will settle for a sham “mandatory” policy. In any event it wants to strangle the rising local and state movement, especially since the idea of outright bans on GMO cultivation is gaining, as more and more citizens come to realize that labeling would not be sufficient, and that since the enemy is going to fight so ferociously against the more modest labeling policy, there’s no reason not to escalate on our own side to a more sound, rigorous, and necessary abolitionist policy.
 
Meanwhile my recent series of posts on globalization and corporatist coordination of government bureaucracies should also be read as part of my ongoing analysis of how the FDA is inadequate in principle to effectively regulating GMOs. Therefore, to look to the FDA for any kind of good policy is delusional in principle. Nothing but a democratic movement of the people, taking direct action, putting direct pressure on manufacturers and retailers, and putting direct pressure on the lower levels of government, will be sufficient to defeat the GMO enemy.

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March 14, 2014

GMO News Summary 3/14/14

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*Led by its buffoonish environment minister, the UK government is supporting a plan to fast track GMO approvals in the EU and UK. This comes as Food and Water Europe is challenging the government to rethink its position in light of the recent report on the failure of “coexistence” in the wide open spaces of the US. Coexistence would never have a chance in the much smaller confines of Britain.
 
There’s little chance any public interest group will get a hearing with the British government, which is as determined to be the US’s poodle on GMOs as it was on Iraq. It’s ironic, and of course hypocritical, the way Britain has always been so ambivalent about the supra-government of the European Union, but on selected corporate fronts it’s as aggressive on behalf of Corporate One World Government as the corporations themselves.
 
*Syngenta is suspending sales of its Agrisure Duracade maize in Canada. It’s recalling seed which has already been shipped. This variety has been approved for cultivation in the US and Canada and for import at some destinations, but has not been approved for import in China or the EU. This variety is a companion product to MIR162 Agrisure Viptera which over the past year repeatedly has been detected in shipments to China from the US, causing the shipments to be rejected. (Duracade is a stacked variety which includes MIR162.) Canadian farmers and exporters such as ADM and Cargill fear that it will contaminate shipments from Canada. ADM and Cargill also have announced they will reject US maize consignments slated for export which contain Duracade.
 
MIR162 is a newer variety, and the fact that it immediately became a common interloper in shipments which weren’t supposed to include it is typical evidence of how difficult to impossible it is to prevent contamination, by GMOs of non-GM, or in this case of the regular commodity stream by a GM variety which is supposed to be segregated.
 
The standard propaganda line on problems like this is that it’s the fault of the countries who haven’t approved the product. As always, the corporation has implicit total license to forcibly sell whatever it pleases, and no one has any right to ask questions, let alone to not buy. This gangster attitude is typical of corporatism, and of the GMO regime in particular. It’s a window into the vileness of these people.
 
Obviously, the problem is the dubious product itself, not whatever prudent regulatory procedures still exist in Europe or China (by that I mean, more prudent than in the US and Canada). The customer is right, and if he wants to buy apples but not oranges, only the seller’s negligence would hand over a mixed bag with both. That today’s GMO commodifiers find it so impossible to keep commerce streams separate from one another tells us several things.
 
It’s typical of their flip, willfully negligent attitude in general. Also of their incompetence at anything but brute force. It demonstrates how the system is intentionally designed to force a homogenized commodification on all of agriculture. Part of the reason they can’t keep one maize variety separate from others is that such a task runs counter to the whole point of the system, which is to eradicate all diversity and resiliency. Not, as the Big Lie would have it, because this is more “efficient”. (If it’s so efficient, why does the entire system need to be propped up with such a constant, massive infusion of corporate welfare?)
 
Rather, the purpose of it all is to enforce control and domination over the sector by the input sellers and commodifiers. By forcing the naturally vast array of agricultural diversity through a handful of tight bottlenecks, these corporations attain control and profit, as well as the political influence to generate vastly more profit through corporate welfare. None of this profit is capitalistically “legitimate”, but is all based on monopoly and monopsony racketeering. Meanwhile it leaves farming economically unviable, and therefore farmers too have to be propped up with subsidies. These subsidies too are therefore really laundered corporate welfare. It also renders agriculture as a whole dangerously unresilient and vulnerable, and destroys the food security of societies.
 
That’s part of why the commodification system is malign as a whole, and why any country which still sets up hurdles against it, however modest, is within its rights and is doing a good thing. Any resistance, of whatever form, humanity can oppose to agricultural commodification is good in that it weakens this fragile system and helps generate space and opportunities for alternatives to grow.
 
Finally, the MIR162 scandal, including Syngenta’s temporary surrender, is yet more proof that “coexistence” is impossible. If the system is unable to take coexistence action to protect a major new product of one of the GMO cartel members, how could it possibly afford coexistence in the vast majority of cases where it doesn’t care or is hostile?
 
Meanwhile, the very existence of MIR162, which is engineered to kill rootworm, and the fact that some farmers feel the need for it, is another typical chapter in the ongoing saga of insect resistance to these poison plants. Prior to the GMO era, rootworm was not a major problem for maize growers. It only started becoming more of a problem as a result of the abandonment of rational crop rotation practices. This abandonment was encouraged by government and Monsanto propaganda. Roundup Ready and borer-resistant maize varieties were supposed to give farmers the freedom to grow maize every year.
 
This generated several intractable problems – borer resistance, superweed resistance, a surge of new maize diseases and fungal infections, soil degradation, and others. One intended, artificially created problem was that it turned rootworm from a nuisance into a chronic problem needing remediation. Monsanto was ready in 2003 with its first rootworm-resistant Bt varieties. It was meeting a new market “need” it has artificially generated. For good measure, it stacked the rootworm trait with existing traits and forced many more maize farmers to buy it than wanted it. Monsanto carefully gauged the moment when there was enough actual (albeit artificially generated) demand that it could launch the product on a broader coercive basis.
 
Subsequent events were easily predicted. Rootworm quickly developed resistance to the Bt varieties deployed against them. This is the ongoing, clockwork mechanism of superbug and superweed evolution. Given the premises of this insane system, each failed iteration of the product genre has to be answered with a new species which will also inevitably fail, each time more quickly than the last one. Today the newer Syngenta varieties use a different Bt insecticidal protein called VIP (vegetative insecticidal protein) to replace or supplement the older Bt poisons. The stacked Duracade is typical in that it incorporates both VIP and first-generation Bt poisons. As usual, the newest poison-generating and poison-resistant traits are stacked on top of the old ones. The old failed poisons - Roundup, Bt – aren’t retired but are still deployed in ever escalating amounts. New blasts of poison are merely added to the existing toxic assault. These Syngenta varieties are the latest, highest level of this tottering Tower of Babel. 
 
This is further proof of how insect resistant GMOs as a whole comprise a failed product which a rational economic and political system would have discontinued by now. The Agent Orange herbicide-resistant varieties prove the same for the herbicide tolerance genre. These are the two basic kinds of GMOs. The complete practical failure of the two kinds of GMOs proves that GMOs as a whole are a practical failure and should be discontinued on this basis alone. That’s of course in addition to the many other reasons they must be abolished – genetic contamination and the fast erosion of agricultural genetic diversity; the health and environmental hazards of agricultural poisons and GMOs themselves; the malign socioeconomic and political effects of GMO-based agriculture and food systems.

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