Volatility

November 26, 2010

The Seed War (1 of 2)

 

Food sovereignty is a human right. It’s utter nonsense and fraud to even speak of democracy, freedom, or human dignity if people are chronically hungry under conditions of food abundance. Nature and human labor collaborate to produce a great bounty, and yet it disappears. It is stolen. The power structure seeks to artificially generate food scarcity. This has always been the case with food.
 
The situation is far more dire than is the case with mere money. The worst of the banksters’ crimes isn’t the theft of mere money itself, but that they have organized the mass plunder of our very food. This is the starkest metric of how our governments have abdicated sovereignty. They have surrendered control of our food to corporate monopoly rackets, whose only interest and will is to commodify, monopolize, drive us into economic ghettos to dominate and starve us.
 
It’s out of this dire need that there has arisen one of history’s most important movements, the Food Sovereignty movement.
 

Food sovereignty is the RIGHT of peoples, countries, and state unions to define their agricultural and food policy without the “dumping” of agricultural commodities into foreign countries. Food sovereignty organizes food production and consumption according to the needs of local communities, giving priority to production for local consumption. Food sovereignty includes the right to protect and regulate the national agricultural and livestock production and to shield the domestic market from the dumping of agricultural surpluses and low-price imports from other countries. Landless people, peasants, and small farmers must get access to land, water, and seed as well as productive resources and adequate public services. Food sovereignty and sustainability are a higher priority than trade policies.

 
So says La Via Campesina, a pioneer of this movement for human redemption.
 

· The right to food and food sovereignty: NGOs/CSOs affirm that the right to safe, adequate and nutritious food and healthy water is a fundamental human right of individuals and groups and food sovereignty that of peoples and nations, as well as the right of farmers, peasants and fisherfolk to produce food for their own families and their domestic markets. These fundamental human rights have to be respected by international institutions, governments and the economic actors.

 
That’s the words of the International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty.
 

Our Commitment to the Land
*Translated from a poster that hangs in many MST offices, settlements and encampments throughout Brazil.*

MST Commitments to the Earth and to Life

Human beings are precious, for their intelligence, work and organization can protect and preserve all forms of life.

1. Love and care for the Earth and all natural beings.
2. Always work to improve our understanding of nature and agriculture.
3. Produce food to eliminate hunger. Avoid monoculture and pesticides.
4. Preserve the existing forest and reforest new areas.
5. Take care of the springs, rivers, dams and lakes. Fight against the privatization of water.
6. Beautify the settlements and communities, planting flowers, medicinal herbs, greens, trees…
7. Take care of trash and oppose any practice that contaminates or harms the environment.
8. Practice solidarity and revolt against any injustice, aggression or exploration practiced against a person, the community or nature.
9. Fight against latifundia for all that possess land, bread, studies and freedom.
10. Never sell conquered land. Land is the ultimate commodity for future generations.

 
We must fight to realize this vision of Brazil’s Landless Workers’ Movement.
 
Any contract abdicating food sovereignty is the equivalent of a contract for slavery. Even by our rigged law, this is considered an impossibility. Or let’s consider what the author of The Social Contract, Rousseau himself, has to say about it:
 

If an individual, says Grotius, can alienate his liberty and make himself the slave of a master, why could not a whole people do the same and make itself subject to a king? There are in this passage plenty of ambiguous words which would need explaining; but let us confine ourselves to the word alienate. To alienate is to give or to sell. Now, a man who becomes the slave of another does not give himself; he sells himself, at the least for his subsistence: but for what does a people sell itself? A king is so far from furnishing his subjects with their subsistence that he gets his own only from them; and, according to Rabelais, kings do not live on nothing. Do subjects then give their persons on condition that the king takes their goods also? I fail to see what they have left to preserve.

It will be said that the despot assures his subjects civil tranquillity. Granted; but what do they gain, if the wars his ambition brings down upon them, his insatiable avidity, and the vexatious conduct of his ministers press harder on them than their own dissensions would have done? What do they gain, if the very tranquillity they enjoy is one of their miseries? Tranquillity is found also in dungeons; but is that enough to make them desirable places to live in? The Greeks imprisoned in the cave of the Cyclops lived there very tranquilly, while they were awaiting their turn to be devoured.

To say that a man gives himself gratuitously, is to say what is absurd and inconceivable; such an act is null and illegitimate, from the mere fact that he who does it is out of his mind. To say the same of a whole people is to suppose a people of madmen; and madness creates no right………

To renounce liberty is to renounce being a man, to surrender the rights of humanity and even its duties. For him who renounces everything no indemnity is possible. Such a renunciation is incompatible with man’s nature; to remove all liberty from his will is to remove all morality from his acts. Finally, it is an empty and contradictory convention that sets up, on the one side, absolute authority, and, on the other, unlimited obedience. Is it not clear that we can be under no obligation to a person from whom we have the right to exact everything? Does not this condition alone, in the absence of equivalence or exchange, in itself involve the nullity of the act? For what right can my slave have against me, when all that he has belongs to me, and, his right being mine, this right of mine against myself is a phrase devoid of meaning?……

So, from whatever aspect we regard the question, the right of slavery is null and void, not only as being illegitimate, but also because it is absurd and meaningless. The words slave and right contradict each other, and are mutually exclusive. It will always be equally foolish for a man to say to a man or to a people: “I make with you a convention wholly at your expense and wholly to my advantage; I shall keep it as long as I like, and you will keep it as long as I like.”

 
(Since the entire passage is relevant and profound to our purpose, I reproduced it whole here.)
 
Along with the land itself, the most important battlefront is the Seed War. The biotech rackets want nothing less than world domination through control of the seed supply. They’re getting lots of help from our corrupt anti-sovereign governments. As one example, take a look at the Food Tyranny bill looming in Congress. The House version, passed in 2009, implicitly clamps the government’s metallic grip onto the life-giving seed:
 

(3) include with respect to growing, harvesting, sorting, and storage operations, minimum standards related to fertilizer use, nutrients, hygiene, packaging, temperature controls, animal encroachment… and water….

Ah, such a little paragraph, and so much evil packed in it. Notice they mention harvesting, sorting and storage operations? Notice they never mention seeds, but they are precisely what those words cover.

Now, watch how they will be able to easily criminalize seed banking and all holding of seeds. First, to follow how this will be done, you must understand that:

1. There is a small list inside the FDA called “sources of seed contamination” and
2. The FDA has now defined “seed” as food,
3. So seeds can now be controlled through “food safety.”

Those seeds (so far) include:

*seeds eaten raw such as flax, poppy sesame, etc.;
*sprouting seeds such as wheat, beans, alfalfa, most greens, etc.;
*seeds pressed into oils such as corn, sunflower, canola, etc.;
*seeds used as animal feed such as soy ….

That includes most seeds. It may even be all seed, given how they are skilled at ‘new’ definitions.

And what are the “sources of seed contamination” per the FDA? They include only six little items:

*agricultural water;
*manure (but not chemical pesticides or fertilizers);
*harvesting;
*transporting equipment;
*seed cleaning (sorting) equipment; and
*seed storage (storing) facilities.

Did you know that seed cleaning equipment is THE single most critical piece of equipment for sustainable agriculture? It is how we collect organic seed. It is the machinery used after the season, when plants “go to seed,” to separate out (sort) the seeds from the plant material so the farmer can collect (harvest) and then save (put in storage) seed for the next year at little cost. With his own seed, the farmer also stays free of patented, genetically engineered, corporately privatized seeds.

 
This is typical of the governmental assault on seeds on behalf of the corporate pirates. But most of the assault is more oblique and ideological. “Intellectual property” (IP) is one of the key concepts corporations are using to force their version of a command economy upon many sectors which are vulnerable to economic relocalization and detachment from predatory rents. In the case of food, the goal of Monsanto, Syngenta, Dupont, ADM, Cargill, Tyson, Smithfield, and others is to force us to use only proprietary Terminator seeds. These are seeds which sprout only once as sterile plants.
 
GMOs should not be tolerated regardless.
 
1. They don’t work. They don’t increase yield, contrary to the lies of MSM hacks. They only reinforce monocropping industrial agriculture. Farmers were foolish enough to like this at first. Although they weren’t producing more per acre, what they did produce was cheaper to produce. But this was predictably a false economy. How reliable was faith in Monsanto, that it wouldn’t jack up the price once you were hooked?
 

Mr. Begemann [a Monsanto cadre] said that Monsanto used to introduce new seeds at a price that gave farmers two thirds and Monsanto one third of the extra profits that would come from higher yields or lower pest-control costs. But with SmartStax corn and Roundup Ready 2 soybeans, the company’s pricing aimed for a 50-50 split.

 
2. They don’t work, but they do have tremendous risks. I’ll get to those shortly. First let’s get back to the command economy assault.
 
There are several tactics here:
 
1. Attain an expansive pseudo-legal concept of IP in the first place. This means:
 
  A. Trying to patent the genome itself. This concept is universally rejected by everyone but biotech cadres  and globalization extremists. Even the US government recently backpedaled from this extreme position, its previous default.
 
  B. Patent any synthetic modification of it, and make the legal range of this modification as expansive as possible. This too is invalid. The genome is a creation of nature, and modifications of it are simply tinkerings. (That is, from any “innovation” perspective, the one we’d have to be taking if we’re talking about the alleged validity of IP. I’m not referring to the potential effects, but only how much work a corporation contributed.) The research on this was publicly funded. The USDA developed the Terminator seed.
 
Most crop varieties are the result of thousands of years of breeder selection. All such work is in the public domain. Genetic engineering is just a tweak, in terms of the work done. If somebody changes a light bulb in your house, does he now own your house? That’s basically what the biotech rackets are claiming.
 
For both those reasons – the “innovation” is merely a minor adjustment of public ideas, and the research was public funded – it’s not legitimate to grant patents for GMOs. If the genome belongs to anyone, it belongs to society. As the modification of the genome is a cooperative effort, that definitely belongs to society. All IP in plants is invalid.
 
IP in food is also unacceptable from the points of view of national sovereignty and national security. If a society as a society is unable to control its own food supply, if it’s impotent before either external or internal enemies (and by now who knows which kind of enemy a multinational corporation is), can it be said to exist at all?
 
According to Hobbes himself, such a “sovereign” would have abdicated, and we’d be in the state of nature. Since the corporations want to put us there, and the government is putting us there, why don’t we respond by calling only ourselves the society, let the outlaws be outlawed, and restitute all that’s ours? We worked for it, we paid for it. And the Earth itself provides all the materials.
 
2. Force proprietary seeds upon the producers. The basic plan is to use GMOs as a form of Walmartization, drive out all non-GMO producers, render all alternatives uneconomic, indeed cause the literal extinction of many heirloom varieties, get all farmers hooked, and then jack up the price.
 
A. Market pressure – dumping, lowballing, other anti-competitive practices, the whole fencerow-to-fencerow government propaganda and subsidy policy.
 
B. Globalization adhesion contracts – These allow the “protection” of only GMO varieties, which gives them another monopoly advantage.
 
C. Structural adjustment and “austerity”, the extortion born of the globalist debt-sharecropping system, also force it.
 
D. The seed contracts themselves are also indentures. If not literally crop liens, they impose lots of restrictions extending far into the future for any farmer who chooses not to renew the contract.
 
3. Ban alternatives. For example, I mentioned above the FDA’s definition of “seed” and how the Food Tyranny bill modifies that. In principle, this bill would empower the FDA to ban any particular heirloom seed, or heirloom seeds as such. [Heirloom seeds are those which can be saved to replant the same plant variety. Hybrid seeds are prone to have screwed-up offspring, and are therefore too unreliable for the grower. Therefore hybrid seeds can't be saved but must be repurchased each year.] We already know they have the corporate corruption motive. The raw milk raids and the FDA’s legal brief in a lawsuit over this demonstrate the intent. This bill seems to provide the opportunity.
 
(Once again, we must always remind ourselves and others, if the health racket mandate is allowed to stand, there will be ZERO constitutional barrier to the government’s mandating any private product upon any flimsy pretext. In this case, the FDA will feel it has added authority to mandate proprietary hybrid or GMO seed purchases. Or for that matter to mandate that food be bought only from approved sellers, like ADM and Kraft, and only at approved retailers like Walmart. If the logic of the health insurance mandate is valid, then that of Orwellian “food safety” sure is.)
 
So there’s how they want to enclose the natural and cooperative food wealth and then force us to buy it back from them in infinite extortion increments. Monopoly is the water torture of civilization itself. Every rent extraction is both an injury and an insult.
 
And in this case it’s literally a threat to our lives. Islamic terrorism is no existential threat to America. But corporate food monopolies are. They constitute a clear and present danger to all the world’s people.
 
This joins the two types of threat, biological/environmental and socioeconomic. What is this IP Sword of the Terrorist Damocles?
 
1. It’s a terrorist assault on biology itself.
 
A. They intentionally seek monoculture, heirloom variety extinction, and all the biodiversity knock-on effects of that. (Monocultured fields are a desert, inhabited mostly by vermin species like rats and cockroaches, and invasive weeds.) And with the total dependency upon synthetic herbicides, we’re seeing the predicted rise of Superweeds. That’s why Monsanto has been paying farmers to use competitors’ herbicides against the Superweeds impervious to Monsanto’s poisons. They’re trying to get everyone to sign legal waivers.
 
B Seed homogenization renders us extremely vulnerable to any kind of economic or ecosystem collapse. (All of industrial agriculture encourages this vulnerability.) Picture the subprime bubble, but instead of trillions in digital “wealth” being vaporized, picture vast amounts of our food failing to be produced because of a superbug, soil collapse, acute oil or natural gas crunch, etc.
 
C. If the Terminator technology escapes, it can have horrific effects.
 

This hybrid is produced only to prevent the germination of anything a farmer might grow in her field. This strips the productive, life giving quality from the earth and turns it over to a research lab. This product will mean much more than massive profits and high food prices. Besides violating the age-old techniques of farming, the engineered seed also poses immediate risks to the environment and entire ecosystem as well. It has already been shown that genetically altered seeds can spread its sterile pollen to other plant species also making them unable to reproduce or otherwise altering the genetic makeup of the species. Molecular biologists reviewing the technology are divided if there is a risk of the Terminator function escaping the genome of the crops into which it has been intentionally incorporated. Many biologists warn that there is a threat of the crops moving into surrounding open pollinated crops or wild, related plants in fields nearby (Shand and Mooney, 1998). There have already been dozens of instances of genetically modified foods creeping into the general food supply and threatening food safety. In the case of the Terminator seed, the means of this “infection” would be by way of pollen from Terminator altered plants. Given nature’s incredible adaptability, and the fact that this technology has never been tested on a large scale, the possibility that the Terminator may spread to surrounding food crops or to the natural environment is a real risk of potentially limitless proportions.

 
This leads to:
 
2. What if they intentionally release Terminators into the ecosystem, as anti-ecological terrorism? Of course, their negligence and the inevitable leaks of any such system have already allowed and will continue to allow this technology to enter the environment.
 
A. This could in theory wipe out non-GMO crops.
 
B. It’s already being used as a tool of persecution.
 
We already know Monsanto’s goal is to achieve world domination through seed domination. As we’ll see in Part 2, even before GMOs, seed hybridization was already recognized as sublimated human genocide. This virtual mass murder, by now very literal, has advanced tremendously. We’re entering upon the final conflict.

12 Comments

  1. “Most crop varieties are the result of thousands of years of hybridization.”

    or

    Most crop varieties are the result of thousands of years of selection. ?

    Explain why some of the elite are preparing for the end of the oil age by looting, and others seem oblivious, perpetrating seed technology totally reliant on copious oil-based inputs?

    Comment by AR — November 26, 2010 @ 8:06 pm

    • You’re right, that was messy. I made a correction. I had two lines of thought smearing together there.

      Maybe some of the corporate elites really are oblivious, or more likely they truly believe the market- and techno-hype, that technology will find a sufficient replacement for fossil fuels just in time.

      At any rate, they have confidence that the market will allocate sufficient oil to them, who will be able to pay the rising price. That they won’t be able to conduct business once there are no consumers who can afford that price clearly does not cross their minds.

      That’s the original contradiction of capitalism, and it seems endemic. The capitalist parasite will never be able to stop short of killing its host. That’s because each individual company has an incentive to keep squeezing and extracting, while any which prematurely moderated its efforts would just be driven out by the others.

      That’s a “tragedy of the commons” hardwired into capitalism itself. Once upon a time they could externalize the exploitation to the Global South, and therefore engage in quasi-moderation in the West. That was the basis for the temporary mass middle class. The oil surplus was sufficient for that.

      But in the end the globe is a closed system. Consumers to use up and spit out, consumers as a disposable resource, are just as finite as oil.

      But the elites are incapable of rationally retrenching. So Monsanto’s plan runs something like this: “If we can attain seed and therefore food domination, our power position will be strongest. As the structures start collapsing, many rackets will fall, but our food racket, which we enforce through technological domination of the seed, will be the last to fall. Even the Pentagon will have to be our bitch in the end. What choice will they have?”

      Comment by Russ — November 27, 2010 @ 2:22 am

  2. “I make with you a convention wholly at your expense and wholly to my advantage; I shall keep it as long as I like, and you will keep it as long as I like.”

    Sounds like any contract a corporation imposes on a consumer. The corporation modifies it at will. The consumer can only decline — in theory — or in practice choose among functionally identical vendors.

    Most people in government are not knowledgeable about peak fuel or peak resources. They are just as ill-informed as the average citizen. They believe technology is magic; technology will appear out of nowhere (they certainly won’t pay for research) to save civilization. I suppose they are mostly English majors or liberal arts majors, not engineers.

    Comment by reslez — November 27, 2010 @ 2:48 pm

    • Yeah. I’ve compiled a few links on the AT&T scam case currently before the supremely corrupt court. Quite the case study in coercively imposed fraud, “arbitration”, and absence of competition. All are standard features of monopoly capitalism. Every court so far found it to be an unconscionable contract of adhesion, which it clearly is.

      But I’m sure help is on the way. What’s the over/under now on votes for radical corporatism on the SCOTUS? 6-3 wouldn’t surprise me, and maybe 7-2.

      I’m sure almost no one among the elites really understands all this. Why would they? Such knowledge could only hinder your career, if it ever bugged you. Better not to think about it, or anything else. Just look at your own little piece, repose faith in the Leaders (Fuhrerprinzip), follow orders, collect your paycheck.

      Comment by Russ — November 27, 2010 @ 3:49 pm

  3. [...] Sovereignty and Constitution — Tags: Iraq, neoliberalism — Russ @ 4:11 am   In part 1 of this piece I described the neoliberal corporate-government plots against seeds and the [...]

    Pingback by The Seed War (part 2) « Volatility — November 28, 2010 @ 4:11 am

  4. [...] The Seed War (Parts 1 and 2) [...]

    Pingback by The Seed War (Parts 1 and 2) « EUROPE TURKMEN FRIENDSHIPS — November 28, 2010 @ 9:57 am

  5. [...] latest on this) would argue that the contract’s fine.   (I wrote more on the War on Seeds here and here.)   I repeat that no one trying to set up a network of seed banks for democratic and [...]

    Pingback by Seed Savers Exchange, Svalbard, and Corporatism « Volatility — August 17, 2011 @ 2:09 am

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