Volatility

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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February 14, 2014

GMO News Report 2/14/14

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*A victory for democracy in Benton County, Oregon. The Benton County Community Rights Coalition, a local group affiliated with the nationwide Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), has won a court ruling enabling it to get its food sovereignty and local rule measure on the ballot for 2014. This bill would ban GMO cultivation in the county and affirms the sovereign right of communities to rule themselves on food issues. It declares itself against the tyrannical prerogative of corporations and alien central governments to force their power upon democratic communities.
 
It therefore directly contradicts the corporate tyranny preemption law the state passed in 2013 in direct response to similar ordinances passed in other counties.
 
In the end none of this will be settled in courtrooms or legislatures, but on the ground in our communities, in our neighborhoods, at our homes, and through our will to unite with all others who are fighting it out on their ground. Courtrooms and legislatures will either eventually ratify what the people enforce, or shall continue to ratify what corporate power can enforce, if the people don’t rise to defend their own lives, freedom, and future.
 
*A similar win for local rule in New Zealand. The country’s Environmental Court has ruled that local councils have a right to place restrictions on GMO cultivation. 
 
A central bureaucrat has already promised to try to suppress the court ruling by autocratic fiat. Again, court rulings like these are great, but in the end we the people will never enjoy any freedom, liberty, or prosperity which we don’t seize and enforce on the ground.
 
*New film “Ten Years of Failure: Farmers Deceived By GM Corn” details the agricultural and socioeconomic disaster of widespread adoption of GM corn in the Philippines. As elsewhere, the crops yield poorly, the herbicides and insecticides fail to work as weeds and pests deliver resistance. Meanwhile seed and poison prices skyrocket. Farmers are driven off the land and into shantytowns. The farmers still on the land are unable to escape from the GMO treadmill because of debt and the unavailability of non-GM seed, which Monsanto systematically drives out of the market.
 
*The European Council has voted against approving the DuPont/Dow stacked maize variety 1507. But the vote didn’t achieve enough of a supermajority to be binding, so in the end the European Commission will dictatorially make the decision. It’s under strong bottom-up pressure to adhere to the Council vote and the earlier, much more lopsided Parliamentary vote.
 
The wild card is Germany’s abstention. If Germany had joined France in voting No, it would’ve been difficult for the Commission would override the Council. But with Germany abstaining, that makes such an autocratic override conceivable.
 
Several pro-GM governments, such as Portugal, Belgium, and the Netherlands, also abstained, though Britain and Spain (by far the largest cultivator of MON810 in Europe) voted Yes.
 
We can see a clear hierarchy of lessening democracy and intensifying corporate rule: The people oppose GMOs; the Parliament strongly votes against 1507′s cultivation; the Council votes against it by a lesser margin (with several pro-GM governments abstaining; because of political pressure from below?); the Commission and its EFSA certainly want to approve it.
 
If the TTIP is ratified this will impose an even more purely corporatist layer on top of the Commission.
 
There’s the hierarchy of corporate totalitarianism. 1507′s “approval” process is a good case study.
 
*French legislators are proposing a new law to ban all GMO cultivation, in response to the an attempt by the country’s high administrative court to overturn the country’s democratic ban on cultivation of MON810.
 
*The Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) has announced it is releasing four types of GMO brinjal (eggplant) seedlings. These are engineered to produce Bt insecticidal toxin. This will make Bangladesh the 29th country to approve GMOs for cultivation.
 
*The latest “biofortified” GM hoax: Flax allegedly engineered to produce higher levels of Omega 3 fatty acids. It’s the standard drill with these hoaxes (the most famous is “golden rice”). They don’t work, and are unnecessary anyway. In this case, Omega 3 is easily found in a healthy diet. Not to mention all the supplements already on sale.
 
In this case, unlike with golden rice, the flacks can’t even make the false claim that this is meant to help the poor of the Global South. In principle it’s basically just another one of those nutritional supplements I just mentioned, and will be used overwhelmingly for CAFO feed.
 
As usual with these hoaxes (see last week’s “purple tomato” for another example), the goal isn’t necessarily even to commercialize this product. Rather, the idea of it does propaganda work. Again, golden rice is the best-known example. The purpose of these GMO media hoaxes is to distract attention from the fact that in reality GMOs do only two things, both involving poison: They’re engineered to allow one or more herbicides to be sprayed directly on them, and/or they endemically produce one or more endotoxins, usually Bt toxins. In both cases they become literal poison plants, all their cells suffused with endotoxin and or herbicide residue, which then becomes endemic in our food. GMOs literally poison our food.
 
That’s in addition to the health hazards of genetic engineering as such.
 
*A new analysis by Testbiotech finds that DuPont’s 1507 stacked maize, which currently has an application for cultivation within the EU before the European Commission (the Parliament and the Council already voted it down), has widely varying levels of Bt toxic expression in individual plants. This is contrary to its application, which claims a stable level of expression of the Cry1F endotoxin.
 
This is not, however, contrary to the record of other GMOs. Indeed, every GMO which has had the genomes of field-grown crops comparatively assessed has turned out to have wildly varying genomic characteristics. Such unstable GMOs are illegal under European law, but have been allowed for cultivation and/or in imported food and feed anyway. These common GMOs include MON810 maize, MON863 maize, GA21 maize, Bt 176 maize, Bt 11 maize, Liberty Link maize, Roundup Ready 40-3-2 soybeans, and GTSB77 sugar beets. Nowhere but in their regulatory applications do “the” genomic versions of these crops exist. This everyday extreme variation is proof of the instability of transgenic genomes, their propensity for ongoing mutation, and their changeability in response to environmental factors.
 
In every way, we see how the promises that genetic engineering was a precision technology whose effects could be predicted were all lies. The only thing predictable about GMOs is how chaotic their existence and effects are.
 
*Mexican honey contaminated with GM material from GMO soybeans grown nearby. The latest of thousands of examples proving that “co-existence” with GMOs is impossible, and that those who support them are totalitarians who claim a total right to trespass on the land of others and damage and destroy their crops and agricultural products. Speaking of whom…
 
*More on the lawsuit of Australian former organic farmer Steve Marsh against a GMO farmer whose false canola contaminated Marsh’s land where he grew oats and wheat, costing him his organic certification and the revenue from his crop.
 
Marsh chose not to challenge Monsanto’s non-liability contract which it forces farmers who buy its seed to sign. I guess this is because he felt he couldn’t afford the suit and might lose in a corporatist court, even though such a contract is clearly invalid.
 
Instead he sued the individual farmer, which is something which ought to be done more often in contamination cases. This is trespass and destruction of property, plain and simple. But with GMO contamination it’s interesting to see the way pro-corporate types, who often fetishize “property” rights in other contexts, are forced to openly proclaim that a GMO grower has the right to trespass on the property of other farmers and damage or destroy those farmers’ property.
 
The moral fact of this issue is clear, and if we had any such thing as the “rule of law” then the law would be clear as well: Anyone who manufactures, sells, or grows any type of GMO has strict liability for all contamination resulting from that type. This strict liability is necessary because it’s seldom possible to trace the exact source of the contamination, yet everyone knows that contamination is inevitable. Therefore everyone who sells or grows GMOs contributes to the ongoing contamination onslaught.
 
Meanwhile this case is putting Australia’s strong organic standards in a quandary. If Marsh loses his case, there will be strong pressure for the standard to be watered down, in the name of “co-existence”. Which is exactly the line Monsanto, the USDA, and industrial organic have been pushing for several years in the US.
 
As I wrote here:
 
GE alfalfa was fiercely resisted by farmers, eaters, scientists, environmentalists, and civil society groups. For years the USDA was thwarted by lawsuits in its attempts to fully unleash the product. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack (the Biotechnology Industry Organization’s 2001 “Governor of the Year”, and frequent traveler on Monsanto’s corporate jets) got together with the luminaries of industrial organic – Whole Foods Market, Stonyfield, Organic Valley, and others – to formulate an attempted compromise with Monsanto. The notion was that industrial organic and Monsanto would agree on “partial deregulation” of RR alfalfa (toward total deregulation somewhere down the road, of course), and the USDA would make a sham promise to really truly honestly enforce the partial regulations, including compensation for alfalfa farmers whose crops were destroyed by the inevitable contamination. This would be accompanied by a propaganda campaign which would lie about the contamination potential. They called this “co-existence”.
 
Why did industrial organic want to make this “compromise”, and why did the USDA want to broker it? Both the USDA and the industrial organic sector have always wanted to bring GMOs under the umbrella of organic certification. Only massive consumer resistance forced the Clinton administration to back down on this when GMOs were first commercialized in the mid 90s. Today, they want to accomplish this through a combination of contamination and propaganda. They hope GE alfalfa deregulation will lead to a broad pollution of the general alfalfa crop, which will render the current meat/dairy certified-organic sector (which must use non-GMO feed) untenable. In this way the USDA and the Whole Foods contingent dream of making ”certified organic” safe for GMOs. The intended goal is to be able to call GMOs “USDA organic” and still extract the premium from the “organic” brand. It’ll be difficult for them to do this, but we mustn’t underestimate the power of inertia and apathy. If the message seems overwhelming – “GMOs are safe, are perfectly compatible with the Organic concept, Organic is still good if it’s GMO, and everything is GMO anyway so There Is No Alternative, unless you want to go all the way to really knowing your local farmer or growing your own food, and we’ll do our best to stamp that out.” – many who vaguely oppose GMOs can be expected to surrender.
 
Meanwhile in Canada the GM alfalfa struggle continues.
 
*To close with some good news, Monsanto’s proposed pesticide seed factory in Malvinas, Argentina has run into further legal barriers as the provincial government has found the company’s environmental review to be inadequate. Monsanto will now start over again. A new review may take two months. (An absurdly short time.)
 
This factory is slated to produce maize seeds infused with multiple insecticides and fungicides and is likely to produce a constant emission of toxic waste in the air and water. It would be a further affliction upon a region already physically devastated by Roundup spraying on the omnipresent soybean plantations, and economically devastated by this same commodified agriculture system. The factory, intended to further concentrate economic power, would be a further self-cannibalization for the country.
 
The only reason it hasn’t already been built is that the citizens of the region have physically blocked the construction, persisting and enduring in the face of police and thug violence. Only this community of resistance and freedom has forced the government to take any semi-real regulatory action at all.
 
This reinforces the lesson of the community rights struggles I led off with. As all the news in between demonstrates, we’re up against a totalitarian assault upon all human values and our right to exist as a people at all. Governments and regulators are part of the assault.
 
In the end, we the people directly shall organize and act to defend and assert our freedom, liberty, and prosperity, or we’ll let ourselves be enslaved and destroyed.

 
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January 20, 2014

Corporate Agriculture is a Birmingham Jail

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In April 1963, Martin Luther King and many of his fellow Birmingham direct actionists sat in jail. They had expected such a response from the segregationist power structure. Unfortunately, it was also predictable that they’d be hearing criticism and condemnation from most of the people who in theory should have been on their side. King seems to have anticipated this, as he was able to respond immediately with an eloquent refutation and exposure of this collaborationist position. This was the great Letter From Birmingham Jail.
 
Here MLK faces those who object to demonstrations, to boycotts, sit-ins, civil disobedience in general, indeed to anything but the most tepid (and “civil”) criticism which is guaranteed to remain impotent. He opens up with their immortal objection to any real resistance, that it’s “unwise and untimely”. Today this could be the signature of every media hack, Democrat partisan, and lukewarm “progressive”.
 
But the unfortunate truth, as MLK knew, is that true protest is always timely and wise in the broadest sense. As for the specific timing, a human being who wants humanity to have a future must recognize when the time has come, and when today is the day. Our task today isn’t exactly the same as that of the Civil Rights Movement. They sought a specific set of reforms. They were up against an obsolete set of attitudes and practices which were mostly an embarrassment to power, and which weren’t germane to power’s propagation. (Indeed, as we’ve seen, the end of segregation was put to good political use by corporatism; it has helped render racially astroturfed divide-and-conquer even more insidious and harder to counteract. This is of course the crime of the corporations and the rich, and the fault of malingering racists themselves, not of desegregation. But we should still be aware of this history of corporatism.)
 
Today we need nothing less than to abolish GMOs, which comprise a technological and organizational offensive against humanity. We need to build the alternative to the corporate agriculture and food system, counter to it where possible, in resistance to it where necessary. This is a permanent necessity, whose goal is the eventual complete replacement of this world of crime and malice by a world of democracy and universal prosperity. Judging from his activist trajectory, we can justly expect that if MLK were here today he’d see the need for this movement. Before his death he was already seeing the need to expand the civil rights movement to encompass labor issues in general and the war. I doubt it’s a coincidence that after all those years of death threats, they actually killed him only when he wanted to make the movement more comprehensive, more of a fundamental criticism of the basic structures themselves.
 
We’ll constantly be expressing the need for total abolition, and along the way we’ll probably encounter many opportunities for the kind of direct action and civil disobedience campaigns King so masterfully led. Two examples are direct action against GMO plantings, and civil disobedience on behalf of the Community Food movement which the corporate system is trying to repress as an economic and political threat to its domination. Up against these, we’ll no doubt also often encounter the same sort of opposition, including the liberal opposition he specifically addresses in this Letter.
 

I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.

You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations.

 
That could be the response to every apologist for the crimes of every system, including the extra crimes it commits trying to preserve its ill-gotten wealth and power. It goes for everyone who thinks a paper cut suffered by an elite criminal is worse than the robbery and murder of thousands of innocents.
 

In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self purification; and direct action. We have gone through all these steps in Birmingham.

 
1. There can be no doubt at all about the injustice.
 
There’s many reasons to fight to abolish Monsanto and GMOs. They’re agriculturally and environmentally totalitarian. They inevitably contaminate all other crops and the environment, and accelerate soil, water, air, and habitat destruction. They accelerate the same climate change which is cited as one of the reasons corporate ag must allegedly provide “new technology”. The more that GMOs are field tested and commercialized, i.e. the longer they exist at all, the worse this contamination shall become, and the more we’ll pass points-of-no-return where the contamination shall become significantly malign and irreversible.
 
They’re economically and politically totalitarian. The GMO cartel is increasing what’s already a non-competitive monopoly concentration in the seed sector. It aggressively uses this position to build horizontal and vertical monopoly power, enforce its dictates up and down the food production and distribution chains, drive non-GM seed varieties out of the market (and, more and more, out of existence), greatly jack up seed prices, force obscenely lopsided “contracts” upon farmers, persecute farmers with harassment, thuggery, and lawsuits, and get governments to enact repressive seed laws intended to escalate and accelerate this whole process.
 
That’s just one way in which the GMO cartel has seized control of governments around the world. While governments are naturally controlled by corporate power, the kind of control being exercised by the GMO corporations, and the unique threat to humanity and the Earth posed by such corporate control over agriculture and food, render this form of corporate control over government particularly nefarious. People can try to argue about the implication of corporate power where it comes to other sectors, but there can be no argument here – humanity must purge this clear and present danger to our freedom, our democracy, and our literal survival.
 
GMOs also present a clear and present danger to our health. All independent studies, and even almost all of the corporations’ own rigged studies, find reason for concern or alarm. The genetic engineering process itself, and the massive glyphosate residues in our food and water, wreck our microbiome (our internal gastrointestinal microbial community with which our bodies cooperate for mutual health), cause gastrointestinal inflammation which leads to every kind of disease, trigger escalations in allergies, asthma, autism, and every other kind of autoimmune disease, cause cancer, organ damage, infertility, miscarriages, and birth defects. These are just the best documented effects. Glyphosate-tolerant crops are also nutritionally denuded, and eating the processed foods made from them merely adds to the nutritional deficiency already inherent in diets centered on such “foods”, and the many diseases this can cause or exacerbate.
 
The most amazing thing is how all this is over such a pathetic, worthless product. GMOs are crap products which don’t work for any purpose which could actually help people. Their yield is poor, no improvement over non-GM conventional agriculture; they require far more pesticides than conventional ag; by helping weeds and insect pests build resistance to pesticides, they generate superweeds and superbugs against themselves, uncontrollable by the same poisons which were supposed to be the reasons for having these GMOs in the first place; the ”special” GMOs – those for drought resistance, vitamin fortification, nitrogen-fixing, etc. – are all media hoaxes.
 
All these factors build the despair, anger, and sense of social, political, and economic cramp which are driving the March Against Monsanto, and the vast global movement of which it’s a part.
 
The trenchline runs across the global South, while here behind enemy lines in the West we are rising to take back our corporate-invaded land and agriculture.
 
2. Not that we the people owe it to those who are in principle our public servants to negotiate with them, but nevertheless we have done so ad nauseum. For decades now, starting before GMOs were ever commercialized, scientists and public health advocates have called for mandatory long-term safety testing of GMOs and actual regulation. (I don’t say “better regulation”, since there was never ANY.) Citizens have fought for labeling in all the states of the union. Citizens have fought for and passed anti-corporate legislation at the local level. Citizens and farmers have filed lawsuits like OSGATA vs. Monsanto. Almost everyone involved with the rising Community Food movement has wanted to do so with the blessing of the power structure and has been appeasement-minded about it.
 
No, we’ve done all we can to negotiate. The fact is, representative democracy itself, the periodic elections, were supposed to constitute such negotiations. But we see that this was always a sham. System politicians have never done anything but lie to the people, and have never felt the slightest obligation to live up to their promises after the election. Indeed, many ideologues of pseudo-democracy (if not the practicing liar politicians themselves) have explicitly argued that the “representative” has no obligation to his constituents at all after the election is over, but is free to “vote his conscience”, conscience here being a euphemism for corrupt personal interest.
 
Reasonable people have to concede that the “negotiation” failed. We can never have a responsible, responsive, legitimate government in its current form.
 
In his own context, MLK came to a similar conclusion.
 

As in so many past experiences, our hopes had been blasted, and the shadow of deep disappointment settled upon us. We had no alternative except to prepare for direct action, whereby we would present our very bodies as a means of laying our case before the conscience of the local and the national community.

 
All that was left was self-purification, and then you go out there and do it.
 

You may well ask: “Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn’t negotiation a better path?” You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word “tension.” I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood.

The purpose of our direct action program is to create a situation so crisis packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. I therefore concur with you in your call for negotiation. Too long has our beloved Southland been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue.

 
This is a direct rejoinder to those who want to keep the people kettled within a polity-wide “free speech zone”.
 
King goes on to discuss the change of governmental administrations which never constitutes a structural change. He agrees with the anarchists: Only direct action ever accomplished anything, and it did so with nonviolent force.
 

My friends, I must say to you that we have not made a single gain in civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure. Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

 
We have not only the right, but the obligation, to disobey unjust laws:
 

One may well ask: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”

Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. Segregation, to use the terminology of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, substitutes an “I it” relationship for an “I thou” relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things. Hence segregation is not only politically, economically and sociologically unsound, it is morally wrong and sinful. Paul Tillich has said that sin is separation. Is not segregation an existential expression of man’s tragic separation, his awful estrangement, his terrible sinfulness? Thus it is that I can urge men to obey the 1954 decision of the Supreme Court, for it is morally right; and I can urge them to disobey segregation ordinances, for they are morally wrong.

 
All this is morally and intellectually clear. Genetic engineering, “intellectual property”, property in land, the corporate-held agricultural system, segregates we the people from our work, from our land, from our food, from our own bodies. The whole ideology of scientism, technocracy, instrumental reason, arises out of a fundamental self-loathing and hatred for the physical earth and the physical human body.
 
The I and Thou also signifies the human affinity with the earth, the soil, the crops, the food, and especially our human labor which indelibly interacts with these. The I and It demarcates our sundering from all that makes us human, our forced exile driven by corporate agriculture. Alien, anti-human corporations and all that is of them renders human society a destructive and self-destructive parasite squatter on the surface of the earth, but no longer a constructive part of it. With every action agricultural corporatism expresses its contempt for the earth. It insults the soil as the cradle of all complex life, treating it as nothing but an inert medium. It insults the seed as the universal embryo, treating it as a commodity to be painted, pimped, and most of all controlled. It adds the obscene injury of its wholesale poisoning of the soil, air, water, crops, and environment.
 
Legally and ideologically also this is a surface squatter regime, and an obscene alienation of humanity. The land, the soil, the very seed are “owned”, which word we must render in all corporate contexts as controlled and dominated, by an alien, anti-human entity. Indeed, a patent on a seed is alienation squared, since the patent is an abominable segregation and sundering of we the people from our common heritage, and it’s “owned” by an alien, anti-human entity whose very existence is also such an abomination.
 
Economically also this is a surface squatter regime and an obscene alienation from humanity. Growing our food is the essential human labor, the core human economic activity, the primary economy, and a deep spiritual endeavor, the main form of our communion with the earth and our thread of its harmony. We’re now to be alienated from this, driven off the land. For the Western middle class, into spiritual ghettos. For the Global South, into physical concentration camps called shantytowns. (This bell tolls also for us in the West, as our economic liquidation proceeds and the capitalist era reverts to a more feudal or ancient mode of tyranny.) 
 
We’re all too familiar with this type today:
 

I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

 
Except that today the “moderate” isn’t an outsider with a shallow understanding, but either a predatory collaborator or else part of the prey herd himself. His moderation and lukewarm state are homicidal and/or suicidal. He sides with the oppressor against those who would fight.
 
King describes how the inertial mass deplores those who fight as “extremists”, as instigators of violence, and as being too impatient. But these charges are false. It’s the enemy who’s extreme, it’s the enemy who’s violent, and we’ve been far too patient for far too long.
 
But in all the things we do, we aren’t the ones generating the “tension” so unpleasant to conformists. Where it comes to that, we’re merely symptomatic:
 

Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.

 
This is the only path forward.
 
King describes how the early Christians were sustained by their faith and their relentless will against long odds.
 

Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being “disturbers of the peace” and “outside agitators.”‘ But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were “a colony of heaven,” called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be “astronomically intimidated.” By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests.

 
That’s the hardest thing, to have to sometimes overcome the feeling of astronomical intimidation. The mission is daunting, and existing institutions are unlikely to offer any support:
 

Perhaps I have once again been too optimistic. Is organized religion too inextricably bound to the status quo to save our nation and the world? Perhaps I must turn my faith to the inner spiritual church, the church within the church, as the true ekklesia and the hope of the world.

 
This will also ring true for us today wherever we transpose it to representative government.
 

I hope the church as a whole will meet the challenge of this decisive hour. But even if the church does not come to the aid of justice, I have no despair about the future. I have no fear about the outcome of our struggle in Birmingham, even if our motives are at present misunderstood. We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal of America is freedom. Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with America’s destiny. Before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth, we were here. Before the pen of Jefferson etched the majestic words of the Declaration of Independence across the pages of history, we were here. For more than two centuries our forebears labored in this country without wages; they made cotton king; they built the homes of their masters while suffering gross injustice and shameful humiliation -and yet out of a bottomless vitality they continued to thrive and develop. If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands…

I wish you had commended the Negro sit inners and demonstrators of Birmingham for their sublime courage, their willingness to suffer and their amazing discipline in the midst of great provocation. One day the South will recognize its real heroes. They will be the James Merediths, with the noble sense of purpose that enables them to face jeering and hostile mobs, and with the agonizing loneliness that characterizes the life of the pioneer. They will be old, oppressed, battered Negro women, symbolized in a seventy two year old woman in Montgomery, Alabama, who rose up with a sense of dignity and with her people decided not to ride segregated buses, and who responded with ungrammatical profundity to one who inquired about her weariness: “My feets is tired, but my soul is at rest.” They will be the young high school and college students, the young ministers of the gospel and a host of their elders, courageously and nonviolently sitting in at lunch counters and willingly going to jail for conscience’ sake. One day the South will know that when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters, they were in reality standing up for what is best in the American dream and for the most sacred values in our Judaeo Christian heritage, thereby bringing our nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in their formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

 
In this piece King discussed the controversy over “patience”, which is also a controversy over the nature of time itself.
 

I have just received a letter from a white brother in Texas. He writes: “All Christians know that the colored people will receive equal rights eventually, but it is possible that you are in too great a religious hurry. It has taken Christianity almost two thousand years to accomplish what it has. The teachings of Christ take time to come to earth.” Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.

 
Time itself is neutral, and the flow of time itself has no characteristic independent of what we choose to do with it. Abolitionism is a way of life. It’s not just labor toward a goal, let alone the ideas contained in the goal itself. Most of all it’s a way of life. The goal is most realized in the here and now, every day. This way of life means not only exercising democracy in any way we can but also fighting for it everywhere we must. This adds to the challenge and striving, but this challenge is the challenge of being human at all. The essence of humanity is to take responsibility for oneself, to achieve power over oneself, and then to exercise one’s responsibility, combining one’s personal strength in free cooperation with others to build a free and prosperous human community. Only in such a community can we then create the space for the essence of humanity, positive freedom. This is spiritual freedom, creative freedom, political freedom, participatory freedom. All can exist only on the basis of the cooperative prosperity which affords the time and opportunity for this freedom. Only this deserves the name democracy, and only this can be called in the most profound sense civilization.
 
Today corporatist barbarians seek to destroy democracy, civilization, and humanity itself. These barbarians are the opposite of the original tribes raging out of Central Asia. Those were the vigorous barbarians of ascent toward a richer civilization. Today’s barbarians of decadence are rotted and malevolent, ugly and stupid, but infinitely wicked. Their technology and wealth renders them the most powerful ruling class in history, at the same time that their utter lack of any redeeming quality whatsoever renders them history’s nadir, history’s most degraded, nihilistic, parasitic, and worthless ruling class. They represent not a stage of Western Civilization but its final self-cannibalization. This is the end of this pseudo-civilization, for better or worse. The corporate barbarians certainly intend the worst – the full reinstatement of a slave economy, through the vehicles of debt indenture and corporate domination of agriculture and food.
 
But we can defeat this satanic plan if we redeem from the wreckage of the corporate industrial agriculture system the greatest treasure we’ve won: The consciousness that we the people can rule ourselves. That we can maximize our happiness and prosperity through full political and economic democracy. That we don’t need “elites” for anything, and that elites are never anything but parasites and criminals.
 
All we need to do is accept this fact, believe in it, and take responsibility for it. The true Human Renaissance beckons. This is the same human evolution and salvation for which Martin Luther King fought, for which he sat in jail, for which he wrote a letter from that jail.
 
We shall live up to the standard he and so many other great fighters for humanity have set for us. It’s a very high standard, and the forces ranged against it are formidable. But we can do it. Freedom is ours wherever and whenever we want it. The time is ours whenever we choose it. Our freedom will assert itself as soon as we freely choose to fight for it.

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January 10, 2014

Malvinas Poison Factory Halted

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Great news from Argentina. The construction of the Monsanto poison factory at Malvinas has been temporarily halted by the combination of a physical blockade at the construction site and legal action. The Chamber of Labor just issued an injunction ordering construction to halt until the required environmental impact statement is completed. It also recommended that a referendum be held among the people of the region. Previous polls have indicated that most of the people who would have to live in the vicinity of the factory oppose it. These, of course, are the only real, legitimate stakeholders where it comes to approving such a project, while no one who would not want to live next door to it has any right to support it. Hypocrites have no rights. 
 
The blockade has been in place for nearly four months. It has withstood threats and violent assaults from police and goons. Activist Sofia Gatica received death threats and was beaten up by thugs. But none of this diminished the resolve of the people to prevent this invasion and toxification of their land and homes.
 
The Malvinas plant is slated to produce seeds which will endemically express their own Bt poison and will be coated with multiple neonicotinoid insecticides and fungicides. So it’ll be a veritable chemical weapons factory, with a constant influx of poison deliveries and a constant production of toxic waste, in addition to the inevitable spills and wind drift of poison dust and gas. Anyone who has any doubt about the likely safety procedures at the plant need only consult the record on how meticulous about safety and drift the glyphosate sprayers have been on the surrounding soy plantations, and what the result has been.
 
While the future is uncertain, the more we can slow down the onslaught, the better a chance we have of halting it completely and causing it to collapse. That’s what this exercise in democracy and direct action is doing so far at Malvinas. No matter what lawyers argued in court, the factory would already be underway to the point of being an accomplished fact if the people hadn’t physically stopped it. It’s a lesson for all of us, that legal action by itself accomplishes little or nothing, but must accompany direct action, wherever this is possible at all. By contrast, in the West we tend to complain and sometimes sue while the physical crime proceeds unhindered. But as a form of possession, physical facts (on the pro-corporate side) are also nine-tenths of the law.
 
These protestors understand this well. They vow that they’ll continue to maintain the blockade until the threat of the poison factory is removed once and for all. The courage, fortitude, and persistence of the blockaders sets an example for us all.

 
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November 27, 2013

Saluting Sofia Gatica

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I won’t try to do so with any high-falutin’ rhetoric. I’ll just let the facts speak for themselves.
 
Sofia Gatica is a regular Argentine working woman who lives amid the soy plantations. For years her home has been bombarded with Roundup on a regular basis. Her three older children all suffer from illnesses related to this poison. Her fourth died as an infant of kidney failure. These diseases and deaths are common in Argentina’s GMO soy country. This is why Argentina has become ground zero for scientific research on the health effects of glyphosate. Clinical and epidemiological studies have established that glyphosate causes miscarriages, birth defects, cancer, and child mortality. The experience of Gatica’s family is typical. The evidence is so complete that the Cordoba province was moved to pass laws strictly regulating the application of glyphosate. Although there’s been some improvement, these laws are seldom enforced.
 
Her family’s suffering, and her will to ensure that future families won’t have to endure the same tragedies in order to feed the profits of a handful of corporations, is what’s motivated Sofia Gatica to become an activist. She and many others started out lobbying government for reforms, including the Cordoba laws. When they saw how this doesn’t work, they moved on to direct action. Today they’re engaged in the occupation of a site in Malvinas where Monsanto plans to construct a massive seed processing factory. Gatica and others manning this blockade have previously been beaten by the police.
 
Throughout, Gatica has been a cogent spokeswoman for this movement, proving the need for it and its moral authority though her words and what she represents, the nimbus of how her family has been assaulted.
 
This is why Monsanto has targeted her. After the typical smear campaign failed to work, the criminals have moved on to violence. A few days ago Gatica’s life was threatened by a man holding a gun. Two days later, she was beaten up outside her workplace. She’s reported both of these crimes to the police, but no one expects much police action, since they know whose side the police are on. Not that of the people.
 
Gatica went to the hospital to have her injuries treated, but within a few hours she returned to the occupation site to continue sharing direct action with the many farmers, democracy advocates, and regular working people who have had enough of they and their families being poisoned.
 
This kind of violence is nothing new for anyone who questions GMOs in the global South. In 2010 Andres Carrasco, the scientist most publicly involved in the research I linked above, was assaulted by a gang of thugs and had a public presentation broken up. The same kind of violence is rife around the world.
 
While in most parts of the West we’re not yet up against this kind of direct violence (except from the police at demonstrations, of course), the vicious tone of GMO flacks clearly portends violence. The kind of person who launches a vicious personal attack on anyone who even questions the Monsanto imperative certainly will not shrink from violence if he thinks its necessary to enforce his criminal prerogative. The violence in Argentina demonstrates this. There’s a clear continuity from the technical hacks and professional trolls who infest Internet comment threads and the thugs who physically use fists and guns. Abolitionists must think this through and be ready.
 
I salute Sofia Gatica and her comrades for their courage and perseverance under such harsh conditions and against such long odds. A tragedy like she suffered would reduce most Westerners to passivity, and often to apologizing for the corporations attacking them. But she and the millions like her show the best of the human spirit and the human potential. I thank them, and will do my best to support them and conduct the same abolition fight from within the West, however that can be done. 
 

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November 14, 2013

FDA Against Direct Retail Farms, Rules Under Food Control Act Being Finalized

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Even as millions of Americans are learning about the critical need to rebuild our local food infrastructure, and as the community food sector continues its exponential growth, Big Ag and its adjunct FDA are trying to smother this movement by imposing inappropriate and strangling requirements on small direct retail farms.
 
This is being attempted through what I’ve long called the Food Control Act, although its official Orwellian name is the “Food Safety Modernization Act”. This name conveys the fraudulent “war on terror” character of this top-down propaganda and policy blitz, and how its goal is to further consolidate corporate control over agriculture and the food system. Although an amendment to this law was supposed to exempt small farms and force the FDA to put its focus where it belongs, on the big corporate producers who generate all significant food safety problems, the FDA is trying to evade this exemption.
 
Under Monsanto executive and FDA “food czar” Michael Taylor, the new rules about to be imposed by the FDA would impose crushing burdens on small farmers. These rules have nothing to do with rational food safety measures, but have only the goal of smashing an economic competitor to Big Ag, i.e. the truly unsafe food system. 
 
The deadline to comment on this is Friday, November 15th. Here’s links to information pages and comment forms which have been set up by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) and the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA). Anyone who cares about the future of sustainable farming, healthy food, and democracy itself had better care about this.

 
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November 1, 2013

GMO Labeling and Movement Strategy Notes (1 of 6)

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1. We are what we eat. If we agree with this classical imperative of philosophy, Know Yourself, then to know ourselves we must also know our food.
 
This philosophical proposition turns out to have immediate physical and political applications. We live and eat in the time of industrial agriculture. This agriculture is 100% dependent on cheap fossil fuels and the technology these fuels enable, from machines to genetic engineering. It’s organized by immense, unaccountable corporations and governments of uncanny size and bureaucratic complexity. In this agricultural time we’ve become dangerously alienated from the wellsprings of our physical health and the vitality of our democracy. Is it any wonder our politics have become a cesspool, our real economy a shambles, and ourselves, more and more, physically sick?
 
It’s not always easy to know how to act against this enervating and imprisoning trend. But at least where it comes to our food the answer is clear, our path wide open before us. We must grow, process, and distribute our own food, as individuals, families, communities, and regions. We must get to know our local farmers and processors, becoming social and cultural partners in food production. We must relocalize food production and distribution as much as possible. This means the bulk of it, since by nature food markets are predominantly local/regional. We must learn all we can about what we eat.
 
It’s this last point I’ll be discussing here. The transparency of our food system and our right to know what’s in our food are under assault as never before. The continued ability of the corporate food system to represent itself as legitimate depends on its ability to suppress knowledge of how it’s poisoning our food. It does this in many ways. It controls research institutions and funding so that true information isn’t gathered in the first place. It censors and represses the real information that does exist. It shouts down the truth where this does come to light. It slanders truth-tellers and whistleblowers. It drowns all real information in the overwhelming noise of the media propaganda machine. Throughout it incessantly lies.
 
One of its favorite methods is to keep secret from us information about what’s really in our food. The corporate food system (as well as with tobacco, drugs, body care goods, etc.) has always resisted every kind of truthful labeling. Sodium content, sugar content, fat content, the presence of additives, the dangers of particular additives, the provenance of ingredients – these have all been the scenes of fierce battles between corporate secrecy and our right to know what’s in OUR food. Corporations and government have also sought to censor truthful labels touting the absence of dubious ingredients like GMOs and bovine growth hormone.
 
Today we’re embroiled in the most ferocious labeling battle of all, the fight to require that corporations be honest about the GMOs they force into our food. This labeling fight is different from previous ones. Prior labels dealt either with natural ingredients which may occur to excess, like sugar or salt, or ad hoc additives like aspartame. The system could handle these issues without threatening the structural integrity of corporate food itself.
 
But GMOs as a genre are different. Corporate agriculture is under increasing pressure from its own limitations, vulnerabilities, and contradictions, and from rival sectors like organic and local food. It looks to the GMO genre as a way to enforce itself permanently upon all agriculture through a combination of seed sector monopoly, vertical integration, market power over the production and distribution chains, debt indenture of farmers, and the genetic contamination of all other crops, bringing all food production under its iron curtain of intellectual property, to be enforced by state and private violence. Only in this way shall corporate agriculture be able to perpetuate itself. GMOs comprise its one and only hope for the future.
 
But this plan for total control will take time. In the meantime the GMO cartel must assert itself in the regular consumer marketplace. Here alternatives do still exist. If enough people choose these alternatives, the GMO curtain can be shredded and corporate control can be broken. Therefore GMOs, for all their market share and illusion of invincibility, are highly vulnerable. They could go down to destruction even more quickly than they rose to dominion.
 
This is why the cartel is so afraid of GMO labeling and has cast such huge gouts of money into the fight. Its fears are the same as the great hopes of many labeling advocates: As we the people people learn more about our food, we’ll learn enough about ourselves as parts of a food ecosystem and as citizens of a democracy to shun and revile GMOs. Know Yourself has always been the great fear of every sort of tyrant, and so today’s tyrants fear this self-knowledge and the actions that will follow from it.
 
2. All over America a great and diverse movement is fighting for honesty and truth in our food system. Citizens, consumers, moms and dads, farmers, ranchers, fishermen, businessmen, health care professionals, teachers, scientists, environmentalists, civil society activists, transparency and civil liberties advocates, politicians, and everyone who cares about what we eat. We fight to make corporate food be honest in a simple, straightforward, common sense way: They must tell us where they’re forcing GMOs into our food.
 
This information is our right and property as consumers and as citizens of democracy. Knowing this information is our obligation as parents, farmers, food sector workers, and as anyone who holds political views. Fighting for it is our duty as citizens. It’s common sense, and it’s about reclaiming control from the corporations and restoring it to where it belongs, in the hands of we the people. While GMO labeling won’t accomplish the liberation of our food and the restoration of democracy all by itself, it’ll be a great positive step.
 
Labeling will greatly simplify our work to learn about our food and teach others about it. It’ll serve as an example enshrining our democratic right to transparency in a time where the trend everywhere is toward ever greater government and corporate secrecy. It’ll be a victory for honesty, common sense, and simple human decency. The fight itself, and the subsequent work of ensuring the policy is faithfully enacted, will provide an excellent experience of bottom-up participation politics. It’s an opportunity to begin organizing the permanent grassroots formations we need in order to work toward the ultimate, necessary goal of the complete abolition of GMOs.
 
We’re no longer willing to be the unconsenting, ignorant guinea pigs in history’s most extreme feeding experiment, an experiment run by unaccountable, antidemocratic elites for power and profit. We label everything else. Sixty-four countries and counting label GMOs. It would cost nothing. There’s no argument against it. How long shall we remain a (genetically modified) banana republic? Everyone who cares about food, and democracy, should support the labeling imperative. 
 
3. The right to know is basically an issue of common sense and core democratic rights. Any opposition to it boils down to a dispute between transparency and shame-faced secrecy. It demonstrates how opponents are forced to hide their actions and spread lies. They desperately want to avoid public debate altogether by obscuring information and denying the public’s right to know what’s in our food. This information is a democratic right and a civil liberty, the same as freedom of speech. We must rend this curtain of obscurantism.
 
It’s also a bedrock premise of consumerism and of the “free market” philosophy. How could anyone legitimately oppose it? GMO labeling is a handy litmus test to distinguish real supporters of consumer choice from those who actually hold these in contempt. The arguments against labeling all boil down to, “the people are too stupid to understand such labels”. But the fact is the people understand GMO labels perfectly well. We’ll make our own decisions, based on our self-education including availing ourselves of ALL the information, not just the corporate-dictated version which is riddled with lies, shrouded in secrecy, and propagated with an elitist sneer.
 
The vitality which comes from healthy eating goes beyond our physical bodies to encompass the whole human experience. But it all starts with food. GMO secrecy is an enemy of this humanist and democratic cuisine. Corporations and governments have tried to evade consumer preferences based on long-standing culture and tradition though this information blackout. They simply hide the fact of this unnatural infiltration of our food. This blackout in itself proves the system’s bad faith and its anti-democratic, anti-health, anti-choice, anti-freedom attitude. GMO labeling, by contrast, will help us sustain our food culture and use our knowledge to protect and enhance our health.
 
Morally, we don’t need to argue this at all. Our information is our right and prerogative. It’s our property. Our demand for our democracy, for our freedom, justifies itself. In the same way, the shame-faced secrecy of corporations and governments speaks for itself. The labeling movement wants to take back what’s ours and force government to do what’s supposed to be its job.
 
4. The right to know isn’t just about a democratic principle. We have a practical need as we learn about all aspects of the corporate food system. We’re learning about how food is grown, the massive poisons used, the way this depletes and poisons our soil and water. We’re learning about the way this affects the safety and nutritional quality of our food. We’re learning about how corporate practices harm critically important pollinators and other beneficial species. We’re learning about its other malign environmental effects, how it damages and destroys whole ecosystems. We’re learning how all these things are bound together, and how our health and the future of our food depend upon preserving healthy soils, water, air, wild plant stocks, and the encompassing ecology. We’re learning how GMOs are corroding and destroying all of this, everything which is so critical for the future of humanity.
 
We’re learning about the economic destruction of American farming, the plight of indebted farmers and impoverished workers, the gutting of rural economies, the corruption of politics at every level, the grotesque political, economic, agricultural, and environmental distortions which stem from a planned agricultural economy based on corporate welfare.
 
We’re self-educating about GMOs. We know they’re unnecessary, antiquated products. They’re shoddy products that don’t work. They serve no purpose, but only tremendously aggravate the general bottleneck which is stifling agricultural innovation. Since the 1980s corporations have seized control of almost all public breeding resources. The incestuously narrow range of the corporate interest (how to organize agriculture to require ever more poison) has sucked up almost all of the funding, while the vast range of agroecological knowledge and practice, a realm of study, creativity, and innovation which can benefit all of humanity, has gone starving.
 
GMOs don’t yield more than conventional or organic crops, add no benefits, require vastly greater use of herbicides and insecticides, and generate poison-resistant superweeds and superbugs. They inevitably contaminate all organic and conventional crops, as well as the wild relatives and ancestors of these crops. They escalate an economic model which forces agriculture to relinquish its necessary biodiversity and strait-jacket itself within a very narrow range of crop genetics. At the same time they contaminate the natural biodiversity, threatening to wipe it out. Although not yet commercialized, the Terminator seed technology exists and threatens to sterilize any crop or wild plant, with incalculable but potentially catastrophic consequences.
 
GMOs have dire health effects on humans and livestock. The ever-expanding body of independent studies links GMOs and their companion herbicide glyphosate with the surge, since the mid-1990s, of allergies; autoimmune diseases like asthma, autism, Crohn’s, gut inflammation, irritable bowel syndrome, and celiac disease; infertility, miscarriages, birth defects, developmental diseases, other diseases from hormonal disruption; circulatory diseases; organ toxicity in the liver, kidneys, lymph nodes, and brain, including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s; cancers such as leukemia, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and cancers of the prostate and breast.
 
We’ve been learning about which foods are secretly made with GMOs. To extend this information to everyone, we need to rend this iron curtain of secrecy and put clear, simple, honest labels on these foods.
 
5. We’re doing our part as citizens of a democracy. We’re living up to our responsibility. Labeling our food to strip away the system’s secrecy shall be a major step in our educational and democratic process.
 
This isn’t any kind of government “interference” in the market, the way some detractors claim. This is the citizenry forcing the government to do something against its will. GMO labeling is a minor tweak which would put an end to one of the system’s worst abuses, the government-enabled secrecy and deception about what’s in our food.
 
As things are, we have the government helping to force GMOs upon us without our knowledge, against our will, rendering us unconsenting, uninformed guinea pigs in history’s most monumental feeding experiment. What’s more, the government’s corporate welfare system, really a planned economy for agriculture, built industrial agriculture in the first place. Government regulation actively constructs and sustains the commodified food economy. So it’s wrong to view this minor tweak as some escalation of regulation.
 
While it would be great to get the incompetent and malicious federal government out of our naturally local/regional food system, given the current framework of a corporate welfare planned economy we can only seek this reform at the moment. It doesn’t add to government action, but takes part of what government’s already doing and turns it from bad to good.
 
Also, government-enforced secrecy, where consumer knowledge is the natural default, is a market barrier set up by the government in favor of corporate food and against organic, direct retail, and local farmers and processors. GMO labeling would make the government remove this barrier, helping to free up real agricultural and processing creativity, which are currently cramped within the system’s oligopoly bottleneck. Of course labeling won’t fix this problem by itself, but it’s a good step.
 
Anyone who believes in democracy and freedom mustn’t disparage the people’s fight to seize one of our fundamental rights, our right to system transparency, especially where it comes to our food.
 
6. Those who oppose labeling have nothing but lies and bogus “arguments”, which they regurgitate over and over. All the propaganda of these elitists boils down to, “We’re keeping this secret from you for your own good. You’re too stupid and immature to know what’s in your food. You’re better off not knowing. Leave it in the hands of your betters.”
 
Let’s shoot down the most common lies.
 
*”Labeling is too complicated.”
 
GMO labeling does nothing but add one simple piece of information to the labels that already exist. Typical proposals like that of I-522 in Washington don’t require a new nutritional label where there’s not already a label there. So the GMO label doesn’t add something completely new, but just improves upon the labels that already exist.
 
*”The labeling proposal has too many exemptions.”
 
Typical labeling propositions are written to be in accord with the standards of the over sixty countries which already label GMO products. No one’s trying to make a state’s policy run way out ahead of the world standard. We’re only trying to catch up to that standard. (We leave the extreme experiments to the GMO supporters, those who are forcing us all to be guinea pigs in a massive secret feeding experiment.)
 
That fraudulent argument contradicts this opposite one:
 
*”Labeling will hurt the state’s farmers.”
 
Now suddenly there’s not enough exemptions! In fact, most farmers support labeling. Organic and direct retail farmers support it because it removes one of the market barriers against them, the fact that their industrial competition can be secretive about its inferior product quality. Farmers in general see labeling as a step toward breaking corporate control of agriculture and restoring control to farmers and consumers.
 
This overwhelming preponderance of support is summed up by the fact that hundreds of Washington farmers, ranchers, orchardists, beekeepers, and fishermen formally support and endorse I-522, while no one but out-of-state corporations and industry groups oppose it.
 
*”Enforcement is too severe.”
 
Typical policies include long grace periods to phase in the labels, and small producers would get only a warning for a first offense. The goal of GMO labeling is not to raise money for anyone, in government or out, but to make truthful information available. We hope never to assess a cent in fines.
 
*”It’ll cost shoppers more.”
 
This is the opposition’s Big Lie. In fact labeling would cost shoppers nothing. Manufacturers are constantly changing their packaging. Just look at how many versions of a box of Corn Flakes exist at any given time! Does the price go up every time the box changes? Adding one detail to the existing packaging clearly adds nothing to the cost.
 
*”This is funded by out-of-staters.”
 
Every labeling campaign to date has been funded overwhelmingly by small, in-state donations. I-522, for example, has raised $6.3 million from over 7000 individual donors. The vast majority of donations have been for $25 or less. On the contrary, it’s the opposition which is always completely from outside the community. That stands to reason, since the opposition is nothing but big multinational corporations and their flunkeys. As of October 8th, the opposition to I-522 had amassed $17.2 million, ALL of it from big corporate contributors. The average expenditure was $1.5 million.
 
*”Labeling is something forced upon us.”
 
On the contrary, GMOs have been forced upon us by seed monopolies, commodifiers, manufacturers, retailers, and governments. This has been done in secret. We the people never asked for or wanted GMOs, and we’re now acting in self-defense.
 
*”Labeling will hurt the economy.”
 
On the contrary, what hurts the food economy is the growing distrust of the corporate food system. For a state’s economy to embrace transparency would be a refreshing, reinvigorating change. It would signal to farmers and consumers everywhere that a state has a political and economic culture which cared about their concerns. In the long run this can only strengthen an economy. Meanwhile, the kind of ulterior motives and surrender to fear which wants to double down on shame-faced secrecy and lies can only hurt an economy. We see everywhere in America today the way corporate control is gutting all productivity and smothering all creative potential. Imagine what breaking this control would accomplish.
 
7. It’s obvious why big corporations like Monsanto and General Mills and their front groups like the Grocery Manufacturers’ Association (GMA) and the Farm Bureau so rabidly oppose the people’s right to know. GMO labeling is a threat to their profits and control of our food and, through our food, us. That’s why Monsanto and its colleagues spent $46 million in California in 2012 and this year have spent over $17 million to date in Washington. The goal of all this spending is to spread lies and misinformation, drown out democracy and science, and in general present a facade of omnipotence. All this fraudulent sound and fury is meant to intimidate and demoralize voters to the point that enough of them believe the lies and vote against their own right to know and their own health. Indeed this was the result in California. 
 
But we mustn’t conclude from this that the people united have any doubt about their right to know. So far the corporate front has been able to prey on the disorganization of an atomized electorate. But the very brazenness of the lies and the corporations’ elitist pretensions, in addition to the intrinsic merit of the right to know, is helping we the people with our drive to educate and organize. Our efforts will become ever more coordinated, disciplined, and relentless. We the people are becoming united in fighting for our right to know, and beyond that toward the abolition of GMOs. Meanwhile the very loudness of the lies, intended all too clearly to cover up for how absurdly flimsy those lies are, will help motivate the people against them.
 
Globally, humanity rejects GMOs. We’ve always rejected GMOs on the rational grounds of the Need, Alternative, and Precautionary Principles. We know we don’t need them in the first place, we have much better and less expensive alternatives, we don’t know if they’re safe, on the contrary there’s growing evidence that they’re not safe, and that they stand for the escalation of a corporate food system already proven to fail according to its own promises.
 
That’s why all around the world, in Latin America, Asia, Africa, Europe, we see this great pan-human movement against corporate control of our food. While things have gotten off to a slow start in America, the labeling movement is a clear signal that we’ll no longer sit still in the dark as obedient guinea pigs. We’re joining the global movement for democracy and justice. In some parts we may still be in a minority, because the forces of corporate control and those who have surrendered to them, themselves a tiny minority on earth, have concentrated there. But we’re part of the earth’s great majority, and we fight for humanity as humanity fights for us.
 
We have to take any temporary setback, like that in California in 2012, as an example of this anti-democratic, corporate cultural concentration. This is the bottleneck we have to break open, to liberate every kind of creative force.
 
In that case, the answer isn’t to become disheartened and doubt democracy. The answer is MORE democracy, more assertive practice of it, more publicity for it. We have to keep fighting, but become more grassroots, more soil-up, less willing to accept any decree from above. We have to form permanent organizations along these lines to carry on the fight for everything from labeling, the first step, to full abolition, the necessary end goal.
 
GMOs have already lost all the reality-based battles, and still maintain their political and existential position solely through Might Makes Right. Only massive corporate welfare, media lies, and government force keep them in existence at all. The earth already rejects them, and the people everywhere are trying to reject them. The immediate task of the grassroots organizations, in addition to organizing labeling campaigns and other actions, is to counter any demoralizing effect of the propaganda (people don’t believe it, but are numbed into passivity by the volume and omnipresence of it) by giving the facts and moral truths of GMOs. The more the people understand, not just in a vague way but with precision and clarity, the failure and evils of GMOs, and how simple and pragmatic is the agroecological alternative for truly feeding the world and redeeming the environment, the more self-confident we’ll become about taking action to reject GMOs and the corporate system itself.
 
8. To achieve any of the things I discuss here today, a GMO labeling policy has to be a well-designed policy. Above all, a basic law for the movement must be that we reject and oppose any federal policy which would pre-empt stronger state policy. We can also take it as a litmus test that anyone who supports pre-emption is an enemy or turncoat, someone opposed to the right to know. Since the US government is the most aggressively pro-GMO organization on earth, short of the GMO cartel itself, we can take it for granted that any federal policy will be a sham whose only real teeth will be its pre-emption of real labeling exercised at the state level. The FDA in particular, in whose hands federal labeling authority would repose, has never been anything but a Monsanto flunkey. It was the FDA which originally promulgated the foundation lie of GMO commercialization, that GMOs are “substantially equivalent” to real crops and therefore don’t need to be safety tested. To this day the FDA has never once either tested or required a test for a single GMO. No one who truly believes in the people’s right to know would trust this Monsanto-adjunct bureaucracy to do anything but obscure the truth.
 
In this connection, it’s always worth remembering that food production and distribution are naturally and logically local/regional. It follows that no centralized government has either the competence or the legitimacy to impose its power over that of governing bodies closer to food’s natural center of gravity. This is especially important when we consider the community food movement rising to challenge industrial agriculture. These are two completely different sectors, and the former cannot legitimately be regulated according to policy geared to the benefit of the latter. The same is true of our challenge to Big Ag, the right to know movement.
 
So what’s the bare minimum for a labeling policy? It must require labels for processed foods, raw agricultural commodities like corn and soybeans, any genetically engineered animals like the GE salmon whose FDA approval seems imminent, and GM seeds. These are labeled according to the global standard.
 
Labels for meat and dairy raised on GM feed is a more tricky question. Globally these usually aren’t labeled, and like I said today’s propositions aren’t trying to drive a particular state out ahead of the rest of the world.
 
Still, the right to know encompasses these as well, especially since independent scientific studies have proven that GM material and such related material as glyphosate residues persist in the flesh of animals who feed on GMOs. We need to aspire to full labeling, including of meat and dairy.
 
So while current propositions are crafted in accord with the world standard and therefore exclude meat and dairy, these will be the next step, once labeling has proven its economic, political, and health benefits in action. Like GMO labeling for processed foods and GE salmon, sweet corn, apples, etc., so the labeling of GM-fed factory farm meat and dairy will prove to be an economic boon for the region which adopts it as part of a general economic renewal based on creative new actions and the rejection of calcified, cramped old ones like the industrial agricultural model.
 
As I said earlier, we can’t view GMO labeling as a panacea, or as sufficient in itself. Even if the voters pass a good policy which is then faithfully carried out in practice, labeling will still be a supplement to affirmative movement-building. It’ll be most effective where it’s part of rebuilding community food systems and building the Food Sovereignty consciousness.
 
Right to know is a useful tool for breaking free of corporate agriculture. But it’ll have to be systematically used as such a tool, not treated as a panacea which will magically dispel Monsanto. To assume that passage of any labeling initiative or bill means victory, and so we can go back to sleep, is to degrade this to the realm of standard passive consumerist politics. But it’s this passivity which put us where we are today, to the point that we need a whole uphill campaign just to claim the right to our most basic information. What we need now is more democracy, more action. These are among the reasons why we must use the occasion of labeling campaigns to build permanent grassroots organizations. These must exercise the vigilance and apply the pressure needed to ensure the policies are enforced. These must also take the lead going forward, publicizing the facts and truths about GMOs, promoting the abolition imperative.
 
And to repeat, we must unconditionally reject federal pre-emption. This will be the subject of Part 2 of this series.
 
9. GMOs have been forced upon us through a combination of lies, secrecy, corporate welfare, and brute force. In fighting for the right to know and beyond, we’re acting in self defense and toward affirmatively taking back our food. We’re fighting to break the stifling informational and economic bottleneck which is restraining all human creativity in our primary economy, agriculture, and liberate these forces in favor of the only productive way forward, agriculturally and politically: Community food, agroecology, food sovereignty.
 
GMO labeling is not the end goal, just a significant step forward. The knowledge we’ll gain and the experience of the fight itself will help build the consciousness and the organizations we need to take the next steps toward the necessary and desirable end goal – abolition.
 
Are you unsure about this being the necessary end goal? Well then, join the fight for the right to know and see what you learn about GMOs and democracy. Along the way you’ll reclaim your right to know what’s in your food and make your own choice about it. This is a worthy place for anyone to get started.
 
We have the right to know. This is a core element of democracy, and necessary for freedom. In the “land of the free and the home of the brave”, are we the people capable of handling the knowledge of what’s in our very food? Corporations, the federal government, and the elitist media say we aren’t capable.
 
Shall we bow down before such an absurd, lying, anti-American way of thinking and doing? We must not. Join the boycott of the corporations who fight to keep us in darkness - Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, General Mills, Kraft, Nestle, and others. Get together to organize labeling campaigns in your state. And start forming the permanent grassroots abolition organizations which shall serve as the units of final victory.
 

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October 25, 2013

The Seeds of Ten Thousand Years

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A Brazilian congressional committee has withdrawn a bill which would have legalized the sale of Terminator seeds. This was in response to a massive grassroots campaign led by over a dozen farmer and civil society groups. The bill would have overturned an 8 year moratorium in Brazil, which is typical of a global moratorium on field testing and commercialization agreed upon at the 2000 conference of the Convention on Biodiversity. The bill looks dead in the congress for the time being, though another version is skulking in the senate.
 
This was the latest time the Terminator technology has reminded us that although it has not yet been commercialized anywhere, it exists and remains an ongoing threat. Every few years such governments as those of the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, seek to subvert or overturn the moratorium.
 
Also called the suicide seed, and in the system jargon a “Genetic Use Restriction Technology” (GURT), the Terminator seed is genetically engineered to produce a crop whose own seeds are sterile. This would lessen the need for rigorous and politically damaging patent enforcement against farmers on Monsanto’s part, as saving seed from the GMO would become biologically impossible.
 
The patents for this technology are jointly owned by the USDA, Monsanto, Syngenta, and other biotech rackets. Thus for this project the US government hasn’t just served as a political waterboy, but is a business partner. (Needless to say all the profits from any commercialization would go to the cartels. The USDA’s “ownership” is a standard part of the propaganda of “public-private partnerships”, much like the IRRI’s patent interest in the Golden Rice scam.)
 
I mentioned how the hope was that Terminator enforcement would be less politically onerous for Monsanto than suing farmers. But the idea of the Terminator has actually proven to be at least as politically inflammatory as persecuting farmers has been. Even many elites are leery of it. According to some accounts, in the late 90s the Rockefeller Foundation asked Monsanto to back off on it, fearing that it would provoke too much of a popular backlash when GMOs were just getting rolling. The cartel would be better off relying on patent enforcement.
 
These political fears are the reason why the moratorium was agreed upon by all the CBD’s signatory governments, and only half-hearted attempts have been made to flout the boycott. This abortive attempt in Brazil was the latest.
 
But why is the Terminator technology so especially offensive and ominous to farmers, citizens, and scientists, such that we the people have put up such a fierce resistance to it and forced this moratorium? There’s two main reasons.
 
1. On a human level, the Terminator is a vicious assault on the right and duty of farmers to improve and diversify crop varieties and save seeds. This has been part of the farmer’s mission for ten thousand years, just as critical for the future of humanity as growing the food is in the present. Seed and crop diversity is also part of culture.
 
The very concept of intellectual property in seeds and plants is, in addition to its many rational and moral absurdities, an insult to farmers. For ten thousand years farmers have needed nothing but their practical interest and their sense of professional ethics to engage in breeding and seed saving, and to freely share this heritage as a public commons. That’s ten thousand years of proof that where it comes to plant breeding, cooperation works. The public domain works. Meanwhile the record of a few decades of patents in seeds and plants is clear that this intellectual property regime does nothing but stifle innovation, quash creativity, cramp all farmer freedom, depress yield, and narrow the range of utilized germplasm diversity to a tiny sliver of the vast potential spectrum of agricultural biodiversity. That’s one piece of proof that agricultural corporatism does not work. It’s proof that extending patents to seeds and plants does not work. So in practice the agricultural IP regime is nothing but a monumental creative bottleneck meant to force all action and thought toward the claustrophobic goal of maximizing corporate profit and power and minimizing every other aspect of the human and agricultural experience. This is the political and economic totalitarianism of GMOs.
 
2. On an agricultural and ecological level, the Terminator is the most extreme manifestation of the general genetic threat of GMOs to crops and the environment. It’s proven that wherever planted in the open air, GMOs will start to contaminate other crops (organic and non-GM conventional), wild ancestors and relatives, and the environment in general. The longer and more widespread the planting, the worse will be the pollution, and the more indelible its likely to become. This is an existential threat to the future of agriculture, because plant breeding and the health of crops and agriculture as a whole depend upon wide biodiversity among cultivated varieties and frequent replenishment of the genetic stock from the well of the crop’s wild progenitors.
 
I mentioned how crop breeding under the corporate regime focuses incestuously upon just a couple of corporate imperatives, and therefore tremendously limits the range of crop biodiversity which is in play at all. But varieties which aren’t planted quickly go extinct, and over the last hundred years tens of thousands of regionally adapted crop varieties, an incalculable wealth of embodied knowledge and resiliency, has been lost to this neglect and deliberate suppression. This is a mass extinction event in itself, and an especially critical part of the general mass extinction which has been ravaging the world. It’s aggravated by the same factors driving other extinction campaigns – poisons, habitat destruction, climate change, industrial pollution.
 
As if that’s not bad enough, once in the field GMOs spread their pollen, and therefore their genetic pollution, to non-GM crops and wild relatives. This further degrades the already-degraded agricultural genome, and pollutes the wild wellspring upon which agriculture depends for its very future.
 
That’s the agricultural and ecological totalitarianism of regular GMOs. This, along with their inherent attempt to seek total political and economic control, is the reason why it’s impossible for humanity to co-exist with GMOs. This is why we must totally abolish them as soon as possible.
 
The Terminator is a radical escalation of both of these malign trends. Instead of relying mostly on the legal fiction of “patents” to enforce its domination, the Terminator would make saving seeds physically impossible.
 
While this would be no loss where it comes to the GMO itself (although we exhort farmers to reject the legitimacy of Monsanto and the GMO cartel and despise the very concept of IP in seeds and plants, we don’t think the answer is to flout the patent and plant GM seeds without paying the Monsanto tax; this would be better than paying it, but the only real solution is the total abolition of GMOs as such), it becomes an immediate existential threat as soon as the Terminator variety starts contaminating other crops and wild relatives.
 
Could the Terminator spread its sterilization modification to organic crops, non-GM conventional crops, and wild progenitors of our crops? Could it cause spontaneous mass seed failure throughout agriculture and in the wild? Although the likelihood of this is unknown, the potential is indisputable. It’s guaranteed that the contamination will take place.
 
That’s even leaving aside whether Monsanto would consciously desire and seek such a goal, thinking that this would be the key to total domination. It has repeatedly declared that this is its goal.
 
The Terminator is just an extreme example of the malevolence and dangers of GMOs in general. As a genre GMOs are weapons of corporate power, enclosure, control, and domination. As a genre they’re pollutants spreading promiscuously throughout our agriculture and environment. 
 
When we consider the embodied human culture of seeds and crops, the ten thousand years of thought, creativity, and hard work which went into breeding these varieties and developing these diverse agricultural practices, we can see how the seed extinction assault is a kind of sublimated genocide. And when we contemplate how neoliberalism, as a conscious and systematic policy, seeks to render billions of small farmers utterly obsolete, utterly dehumanized, and to drive them into the urban concentration camps called shantytowns, we have to consider how physical the genocide intention will eventually become.
 
When we consider how critical crop and wild plant biodiversity are to the health of our agriculture and the ecosystems within which it functions and upon which it depends, we see how our very existence depends upon protecting, redeeming, and expanding this biodiversity. We see how here as well our physical extinction is being contemplated implicitly by those who see humanity as nothing but a resource to be mined and exhausted to satisfy their vile gutter greed and powerlust.
 
Saving seeds, breeding crop varieties, cultivating biodiversity along with food, are among our core human activities. Their practice is part of the human essence. They are therefore human rights, to translate them into the language of modern government. To assault and constrain them is a crime against humanity.
 
And if we have any right to exist at all, we have the right to the biological integrity of the agriculture and ecosystems which comprise the necessary foundation of that existential right. Here too any assault is a crime.
 
In both of these ways to actively support GMOs is to commit this crime against humanity.
 
We must preserve, redeem, and reinvigorate our seed sovereignty, our agriculture, and our Earth. Therefore we must abolish GMOs. The Terminator is, so far, an emblem of evil which is being kept at bay. We must ensure it stays there. But above all we must hold the line everywhere, and then start rolling back the GMO onslaught. It can be done and will be done, as more and more people around the globe join the fight.
 
 

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October 11, 2013

Join the March Against Monsanto

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Tomorrow, October 12th, is the March Against Monsanto. It’s the next day of rage for the growing world movement against this worst of all corporate scourges. There will be thousands of actions around the world.
 
This day of rage, along with previous and future ones, is just a punctuation of the worldwide day-to-day resistance movement across the global South and Europe. If the event was thought up in the West, and is top-loaded with Anglo-American events, this is because the West hasn’t yet developed a permanent basis for a constant, relentless, disciplined struggle. But along with the labeling movement, the publicity and education deriving from this event will help generate a political will and recruit abolitionists who will then form the fighting organizations we need.
 
This day of democracy and affirmation coincides with a sordid event, corporate agriculture’s self-celebration at its “World Food Prize” gala. This is a propaganda event invented to coincide with the handing out of the Nobel Prizes and to capitalize on their cachet, if this still exists. The idea is for corporate ag – destructive, predatory, stagnant, decrepit, failing – to bestow upon itself that same Nobel nimbus. (It’s the same as the so-called “Nobel Prize for Economics”, invented in the 1970s with the intention of bestowing this kind of respectability upon Chicago school neoclassicist economics.) The corporate media happily plays along.
 
(Meanwhile the original Nobels also serve this corporate propaganda purpose. The most spectacular example was the awarding of the “peace prize” to the war criminal Obama. The purpose of this was to normalize the US’s permanent aggressive imperial warfare as the new baseline for “peace”.)
 
It’s no surprise or monstrosity that the world food prize is going to three GMO cadres, led by Monsanto’s Robert Fraley. This is why the prize was invented in the first place, to be given to such criminals. Fraley’s a typical Monsanto cadre.
 
He sums up the cartel’s totalitarian mindset: “What you are seeing is not just a consolidation of seed companies, it’s really a consolidation of the entire food chain.”
 
That’s what we’re up against. That’s why we fight.
 
There’s many reasons to fight to abolish Monsanto and GMOs. They’re agriculturally and environmentally totalitarian. They inevitably contaminate all other crops and the environment, and accelerate soil, water, air, and habitat destruction. They accelerate the same climate change which is cited as one of the reasons corporate ag must allegedly provide “new technology”. The more that GMOs are field tested and commercialized, i.e. the longer they exist at all, the worse this contamination shall become, and the more we’ll pass points-of-no-return where the contamination shall become significantly malign and irreversible.
 
They’re economically and politically totalitarian. The GMO cartel is increasing what’s already a non-competitive monopoly concentration in the seed sector. It aggressively uses this position to build horizontal and vertical monopoly power, enforce its dictates up and down the food production and distribution chains, drive non-GM seed varieties out of the market (and, more and more, out of existence), greatly jack up seed prices, force obscenely lopsided “contracts” upon farmers, persecute farmers with harassment, thuggery, and lawsuits, and get governments to enact repressive seed laws intended to escalate and accelerate this whole process.
 
That’s just one way in which the GMO cartel has seized control of governments around the world. While governments are naturally controlled by corporate power, the kind of control being exercised by the GMO corporations, and the unique threat to humanity and the Earth posed by such corporate control over agriculture and food, render this form of corporate control over government particularly nefarious. People can try to argue about the implication of corporate power where it comes to other sectors, but there can be no argument here – humanity must purge this clear and present danger to our freedom, our democracy, and our literal survival.
 
GMOs also present a clear and present danger to our health. All independent studies, and even almost all of the corporations’ own rigged studies, find reason for concern or alarm. The genetic engineering process itself, and the massive glyphosate residues in our food and water, wreck our microbiome (our internal gastrointestinal microbial community with which our bodies cooperate for mutual health), cause gastrointestinal inflammation which leads to every kind of disease, trigger escalations in allergies, asthma, autism, and every other kind of autoimmune disease, cause cancer, organ damage, infertility, miscarriages, and birth defects. These are just the best documented effects. Glyphosate-tolerant crops are also nutritionally denuded, and eating the processed foods made from them merely adds to the nutritional deficiency already inherent in diets centered on such “foods”, and the many diseases this can cause or exacerbate.
 
The most amazing thing is how all this is over such a pathetic, worthless product. GMOs are crap products which don’t work for any purpose which could actually help people. Their yield is poor, no improvement over non-GM conventional agriculture; they require far more pesticides than conventional ag; by helping weeds and insect pests build resistance to pesticides, they generate superweeds and superbugs against themselves, uncontrollable by the same poisons which were supposed to be the reasons for having these GMOs in the first place; the “special” GMOs – those for drought resistance, vitamin fortification, nitrogen-fixing, etc. – are all media hoaxes.
 
All these factors build the despair, anger, and sense of social, political, and economic cramp which are driving the March Against Monsanto, and the vast global movement of which it’s a part.
 
The trenchline runs across the global South, while here behind enemy lines in the West we are rising to take back our corporate-invaded land and agriculture. 
 

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September 18, 2013

Colombia’s Seed War: Winning A Battle

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For our physical survival and flourishing, everything starts with seeds. And for our political and economic sovereignty, everything starts with control of our seeds. That’s why a core goal of corporatism and globalization is to seize total control of the global seed supply and crush our right to save and plant our own seeds. That’s why a primary goal of the US government is to force GMOs on the world. GMOs are a crap product which have zero practical purpose and are poisonous to our bodies and the environment. Their sole purpose is to escalate and enforce corporate profit, enclosure, control, domination.
 
This is why globalization compacts try to force a repressive proprietary regime over seeds, and require subject governments to suppress seed sovereignty among farmers, gardeners, and the citizenry as a whole. This is a key part of the planned recolonization of Africa under the propaganda auspices of a “second Green Revolution”, as if the effects of the first weren’t disastrous enough. Governments adhering to the scheme are required to stop dispensing non-GMO seeds and take measures to prevent farmers from distributing seeds among themselves. The European Union is also plotting a repressive seed “certification” policy. This is just one of the EU’s endless schemes to let in GMOs, which have hit a brick wall of democratic rejection and opposition among the people of Europe, by the back door.
 
Bilateral “agreements”, like the one between the governments of the US and Colombia (such globalization pacts are always opposed by the vast majority of the people of all countries involved, and are always radically anti-democratic), are among the most repressive. In Colombia, the anti-seed provision is called Law 970. Over the last two years the government has aggressively sought to destroy the people’s seeds, most notoriously in a 2011 assault at the town of Campo Alegre, where government thugs destroyed 70 tons of rice seeds the farmers had grown, gathered, and were distributing. This crime inspired Victoria Solano’s film, “970″ (in Spanish).
 
This occurs among the general process of small farmers being economically destroyed, forced off their land by the thousands, and driven into squalid shantytowns which spread at an accelerating rate around the fringes of cities all over the global South. This is the planned outcome of all neoliberal corporatist agricultural policy, and those who support such policy support this mass dispossession, ghettoization, immiseration, the worst crime against humanity history has seen. That’s the moral fact of support for GMOs and industrial agriculture.
 
But the world’s people are increasingly fighting back. Today we can celebrate, provisionally, a sign of victory in Colombia. The government’s assault on seeds was one of the prime causes of a farmer-led strike and protest movement which rose up in August. The farmers were quickly joined by miners, bus and truck drivers, students, teachers, civil society protesters, and many others. Workers went on strike, protesters blocked roads and fought the police. Over a dozen were killed, and hundreds arrested. In the face of this mass action, the government wavered from day to day, now calling for repression, now offering sham concessions, now denying that anything was going on at all.
 
Finally, at least for the moment, the government has had enough and is offering real concessions. It promises to suspend Law 970, release those arrested, and to enact a new mining law more favorable to miners. It promises to negotiate on the protesters’ other demands, including a partial dismantling of the country’s globalized agriculture policy, and compensation for the way this has economically harmed the country’s farmers. Of course, the proof will be in the execution, and we can’t count our seedlings till they’re sprouted. None of the promises have yet been written into law, and the promised suspension of Law 970 has several caveats. But the protesters vow to hold the government to its promises, and democracy activists and advocates everywhere can look with cheer to this uplifting demonstration of what democracy in action can accomplish, where the people are willing to stand up for themselves.

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