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May 17, 2014

Make It Up on (Propaganda) Volume – The Golden Rice Hoax Marches On

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The hoax product “golden rice” continues to be touted through the corporate media and academia bullhorn. This is even though it doesn’t exist except in flawed experimental form while its own proprietor, the International Rice Research Institute, admits that even if it ever were perfected and available to the public, it may not actually work to reduce vitamin A deficiency. The PR campaign has an inverse ratio of noisy lies to real world achievement.
 
The media continues to spew the typical lies. The fact is that never once has anyone actually tried to deliver “golden rice” anywhere and been prevented from doing so by citizen action. That’s because the product doesn’t exist in deployable form. Researchers continue to struggle to breed an indica variety of the product. Any phony regulatory struggle hasn’t even begun yet, as the technical problems of the project remain insurmountable. Yet we keep being told by professional liars that the US government and the GMO cartel, the most powerful government and one of the most powerful corporate oligopoly sectors on earth, are being thwarted by “powerful forces”. When I ponder the flimsiness and sheer idiocy of the lies GMO proponents tell, I don’t know what’s greater, these people’s moral depravity or their intellectual stupidity.
 
Of course, citizens will indeed fight wherever we have to, as we do vs. every other predatory poison GMO.
 
The fact is that golden rice has never been anything more than a media hoax. Since all real-world GMOs are simply poison delivery systems (they either produce insecticide inside their own tissues, and/or can withstand having herbicide sprayed upon them, which then suffuses all their tissues), the core propgagnda gambit of the GMO cartel, that GMOs are necessary to “feed the world”, seems suspicious on its face. This has actually long since been proven to be false. Since corporate agriculture has been in control of global agriculture and food systems for over fifty years, and the world now produces enough food for 10 billion people, and yet of 7 billion alive now over 1 billion go hungry, it’s a proven fact that corporate agriculture cannot feed the world and does not want to. Which stands to reason, since corporate agriculture doesn’t produce food, it produces commodities.
 
When you think about it for a moment, and add the fact that GMOs do nothing but double down on every aspect of corporate industrial agriculture, it becomes obvious that “feed the world” is nothing more or less than a classical Big Lie.
 
That’s the huge hurdle the pro-GMO liars have to surmount in their propaganda. How to get people not to think! The “golden rice” hoax was concocted toward this goal. It’s said to be humanitarian, it’s about vitamins rather than poison, it piggybacks on the immiseration/helplessness theme of the Green Revolution and 80s-era celebrity philanthropy, it’s allegedly being offered to the disadvantaged “Third World” as charity.
 
These are all standard lies. What the global South needs is the revitalization and strengthening of its own agricultural systems in order to produce food for itself on its own land, rather than the accelerating destruction of its self-sustaining community agriculture in favor of corporate commodity plantations on stolen land.
 
The epidemic of vitamin A deficiency is a direct result of this destruction of sustainable agricultural communities. Throughout agricultural history people have grown a plethora of regionally-adapted nutrient-rich crops, including the root crops and leafy vegetables which are rich in vitamin A. But all this is lost to industrialized farmers who grow not food but export commodities, and the much vaster mass of ex-farmers driven off their land and into shantytowns. Those who are driven off their land lose all ability to provide any food for themselves and their people, while those who hang on as industrial farm laborers also lose their ability to grow nutritious food, since they now grow only commodities.
 
The epidemic of night blindness is a typical proof that those economically destroyed by commodification cannot use cash to buy what they need. Specifically, it’s one of many pieces of proof that corporate ag cannot “feed the world”. Since it was the corporate control of agriculture which generated the epidemic in the first place, why would any sane person trust them to provide the solution using their own methods? It’s self evidently a lie.
 
Meanwhile in the Philippines a government program of vitamin A supplementation has already temporarily treated the symptom, and vitamin A deficiency is no longer a major problem, or won’t be so long as this program exists. So why is such a golden rice propaganda offensive being undertaken there? Precisely because the corporate system seeks to eradicate the few effective government programs which still exist. The successful Philippine program is an ongoing affront to corporatism. The privatization of all “solutions” is of course a major goal in itself.
 
Of course supplementation is no real solution. The problem is the destruction of humanity’s organic presence on the land and the naturally nutritious diet which goes with this. The true solution is to transform our agriculture on an agroecological basis and our communities and economies on a food sovereignty basis. This is the only way forward, from the point of view of big problems like the unsustainability of industrial agriculture, the wholesale toxification of our natural environment, climate change, and escalating economic and political tyranny, all the way down to specific problems like vitamin A deficiency disease.
 
Meanwhile “golden rice”, if it worked, would be nothing but a glorified vitamin supplement. But this vitamin supplement would be the result of a properly configured “public-private partnership”, where the public pays all the costs and bears all the risks while the corporations glean all the profit. Although Syngenta claims to have “donated” its patents on golden rice, this only contemplates the product’s targeted humanitarian “demonstration” stage. If the product were ever truly commercialized, this commercialization would be on the standard proprietary basis. Even the IRRI explicitly reserves the right to take out patents. But the fact that Syngenta seeks to drum up such an altruistic propaganda nimbus is in itself a strong indication that the product is not expected to ever work in a practical way, but is intended to never be anything more than the sum of its hype.

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January 13, 2014

Climate Change, “Green Capitalism”, and Abolitionism

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It’s long been obvious to me that Western governments will never mitigate one iota of GHG emissions, nor will global corporatism as a whole. They’re going to burn every BTU worth of fossil fuel they can extract. That’s a done deal. Nor is anyone within the system interested in any kind of adaptation. For both mitigation and adaptation, all we have are scams. As with everything else, these are most pronounced in the agricultural sector.
 
That stands to reason. Taken as a whole industrial agriculture is the worst driver of climate change, since it’s the #1 GHG emitter and the worst destroyer of carbon sinks.
 
That’s why the one and only answer, here as with every other issue, for both mitigation and adaptation, is to abolish corporate agriculture and transform to agroecology on a food sovereignty basis. This is what’s necessary, and only this will be sufficient. Strategy and tactics have to be geared to meet this objective, with no other prejudice. Everything else is a fraud. This piece gives a good overview of the “green capitalism” scam. It’s hard to believe anyone was ever naive enough to think capitalism, which must continue to expand, violate, and subjugate in order to exist, could ever be reconciled with environmentalism. On the contrary, all this was an earlier version of what with GMOs is called the “coexistence” scam.
 
The Truthout piece is good in skewering all these frauds. As for its prescriptions, it’s not wrong, but it’s still mired in the whole “socialism vs. capitalism” ideological morass, not to mention that it has a scarcity-based mentality and rhetoric. None of that’s going to fly. People are sick of obsolete ideology, and to tell people that we face scarcity is likely to make them more conservative. By “conservative” I’m referring to temperament and unwillingness to rock the boat. That’s why GMO labeling campaigns fail.
 
But the fact is that this is a world of abundance, and we can have broad-based, democratic abundance if we break the corporate stranglehold. I would like to recast all conceptions of scarcity, even the ones which are actually physically based, as political bottlenecks caused by corporatism. It’s certainly true that corporations directly cause or badly aggravate every problem humanity faces. Which leads to the political program: A movement dedicated to abolishing corporations and corporatism. It has a clear goal, rather than the intentional vagueness of past ideologies, and I think it offers lots of opportunities to drive political wedges, to slash through all the obsolete, by now tribal dichotomies which no longer reflect any kind of reality, but are on the contrary a misdirection and escape from reality – “left vs. right”, “liberal vs. conservative”, “Republican vs. Democrat”, etc.
 
As for the measly notion of carbon taxes, command-and-control, etc., there’s no chance of mustering anyone to fight for that. It’s too picayune a goal, and yet to win a such a temporary victory would take just as hard a fight as to wipe out the enemy once and for all. That goal’s not going to stir the soul, fire the imagination, set people in motion driven by an inner flame. But a movement which sets great goals could possibly do this.

 
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January 8, 2014

New York Times Compendium of Lies is a Prime Exercise in Streicherism

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The New York Times has always been one of the most ardently pro-GMO publications. This is part of the NYT’s role in setting the standard for the corporate media, where it comes to the major oligopoly sectors, the police state, the permanent war, and every other aspect of corporate tyranny.
 
This past Sunday’s NYT/Monsanto infomercial [1; I'm putting all the links at the bottom because there's so many and the WordPress posting program has gone screwy, making insertion a difficult process] may be the single worst corporate media hack job I’ve ever seen, which is saying alot. It’s a kind of mainstream media coming-out party for every canned lie of commission and omission which has been worming its way from the Monsanto blogs to the mainstream. While pro-GMO puff pieces are nothing new in the NYT or the corporate media as a whole, I’m not aware of such a complete packaging of flat-out lies so prominently featured on the front page of the “paper of record”.
 
This record will be one for the New Nuremburg indictments, if humanity can ever see its way to victory over this most insidious and comprehensive evil it has ever confronted.
 
*The literary conceit of the piece is a standard of GMO propaganda – the former GMO opponent who has now seen the light. For years the PR machine has trotted out several such hacks, such as Patrick Moore who was allegedly an environmentalist back in the 60s. Starting a year ago the GM cartel launched a media offensive centered on Mark Lynas, a long-time ideological adventurer turned mercenary who poses as having been a “founder” of the anti-GMO movement, although he was never involved with any movement at all. In this piece the NYT hack presents a Hawaiian politician as the latest convert to the GMO gospel.
 
One wonders what, other than a payoff, could have changed his mind, since the piece presents zero evidence for why anyone should. On the contrary, it does nothing but spew premeditated lies.
 
*Without naming the Seralini study, probably because the scribbler doesn’t want people looking it up, the piece refers to it as having been “thoroughly debunked”. In truth, the Seralini study has withstood an unprecedented campaign of media lies, sophistries, and the personal slander of its authors, and its results stand as constituting the best study we have on the effects of GMOs and Roundup [2]. Check that link for a rundown on the study’s findings and how it was superior in every way to every Monsanto study which preceded it.
 
The journal, “Food and Chemical Toxicology”, retracted the study after coming under immense pressure from the cartel for over a year, including being forced to accept a Monsanto cadre onto its editorial board [3]. It was only then that Monsanto was able to work from within to cause the journal to retract the study. The retraction was done in defiance of Committee on Publication Ethics (of which FCT is a member) protocols. It was a blatant case of ideological censorship of science.
 
The NYT has now made its stand clearly on the side of ideology and censorship, and against science.
 
*This is confirmed in the very next paragraph, which repeats the debunked canned lie, that there’s a “scientific consensus” in support of GMO safety. This is self-evidently false [4], as is proven by the recent statement by the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER), “There Is No Consensus on GMO Safety” [5], which has been signed by hundreds of scientists.
 
The NYT is aware of this statement, and is aware of the fact that there’s never been anything approaching such a “consensus”, but has chosen brazenly to repeat this canned lie.
 
There is in fact a consensus among independent scientists that GMOs are not known to be safe [6], that there are reasons for concern and substantial evidence to back up those concerns, and that long-term rigorous safety testing should be done prior to the commercialization of GMOs.
 
Meanwhile, no scientists support GMOs, only mercenary technicians paid by industry. The piece later offers examples of alleged “independent” support for GMOs, but its examples are all pillars of the system.
 
It starts with the standard NYT lie and political misdirection which tries to separate government from corporations and to oppose them to one another. But the corporate state is a monolith, and the job of government regulators is to support the corporate imperative while putting their fraudulent seal of “safety” approval upon its products. The same is true of the WHO (which adopted industry-written standards for allergenic testing of GMOs) and corporatized professional associations like the National Academy of Sciences. Meanwhile, when the leadership of the American Association for the Advancement of Science unilaterally issued a statement opposing GMO labeling, there was a veritable revolt among the rank and file publicly denouncing the statement and declaring that the leadership (including several industry-paid mercenaries) didn’t speak for them [7].
 
This is a common pattern. The FDA, the USDA, the UK Food Standards Agency, the AMA, the British Medical Association, the Royal Society of Canada, are just a few examples of government and professional groups where political appointees and corrupt mercenaries among the leadership promoted an anti-scientific pro-GMO line over the objections of large numbers of the working scientists among the rank and file.
 
(I remember how during the Bush years the NYT and others were sometimes willing to discuss this phenomenon where it came to environmental and other kinds of regulatory agencies. But even then it was verboten to investigate the anti-scientific rubber-stamp corruption and collaboration of regulatory agencies with the GMO cartel.) 
 
*Having opened up with those lies, the piece proceeds with the fraudulent trope that “scientists” are for GMOs, while consistently depicting anyone opposed to GMOs or corporate agriculture as such in an infantile, emotional way. This too turns the truth upside down, as it’s the GMO flacks who are consistently shrill and emotional in attacking anyone who questions GMOs in the most scabrous personal terms. This is because GMO proponents in fact have no good arguments or evidence on their side, and could never hope to win a rational debate. They have literally zero science in accord with their advocacy. On the contrary, from day one the GMO assault has relied on nothing but ideological dogma (“substantial equivalence”), junk science (one gene = one trait, to mention just one from the long list of pseudo-scientific lies), Big Lies (“feed the world”), fraudulent feeding tests (testing only industry parameters like quick weight gain, never safety issues, intentionally of too short a duration, using bogus reference groups to generate noise, etc.) corporate welfare, monopoly muscle, and thuggery.
 
*Speaking of Big Lies, the piece alludes to the Big Lie that GMOs are needed to Feed the World. “At stake is how to grow food most efficiently, at a time when a warming world and a growing population make that goal all the more urgent.”
 
Based on that, you might think there would follow a pro- and con- of corporate agriculture vs. agroecology. But no, the piece assumes corporate ag as normative throughout, and never subjects GMOs to a criticism nor even mentions the alternative.
 
For good reason – corporate ag and GMOs are already a proven failure, while the evidence is overwhelming that agroecology produces far more and better food than industrial ag [8], even now in the period of cheap fossil fuels. Since cheap fossil fuels, along with aquifer water and industrially mined phosphorus, are finite, industrial ag is unsustainable. Once one or more of these inputs upon which industrial ag is dependent becomes economically or physically impossible, industrial ag will become impossible.
 
Corporate agriculture, meanwhile, has already proven that it cannot [9] and does not want to “feed the world” [10]. Corporations have been fully in charge of globalized food production and distribution for over fifty years now. Right now the earth and farmers produce enough food for ten billion people, yet out of 6.5 billion on earth two billion suffer from hunger, malnutrition, or other diseases related to poor diets.
 
To any honest, rational person this proves that corporations cannot “feed the world”, and that we need a completely different mode of production and distribution. But physical production with agroecology or non-GMO conventional agriculture is not a problem. GMOs are completely unnecessary to increase production in the first place, and in the second place are actually agriculturally inferior and yield less than non-GM conventional equivalents [11].
 
Agroecology offers a vibrant and plentiful way forward for agriculture, democracy, and humanity. But it can’t be enclosed and dominated by corporatism [12]. That’s precisely why the NYT and the rest of the corporate media suppress knowledge about it. According to a new analysis of corporate media pro-GMO propaganda [13], the magisterial 2008 report of the International Assessment of Agricultural Science, Technology, and Knowledge for Development (IAASTD) [14] which strongly finds for agroecology and against GMOs has never been mentioned in NYT “news” coverage. This constitutes a systematic suppression of the truth on the part of the NYT. The blackout continues in this hack piece.
 
*Several times the author and her fellow hacks she quotes in the piece try to draw a parallel between climate change denial and opposition to GMOs. But as always the truth is the opposite. It’s the proponents who are climate change deniers or derelicts, since industrial agriculture is the most egregious emitter of greenhouse gases and destroyer of carbon sinks. If we really care about climate change and really want to do something about it, our only option is to fight to abolish industrial ag and replace it with a complete transformation to agroecology on a food sovereignty basis, and along the way to do all we can to preserve the great variety of regionally/climatically adapted seed varieties which will be necessary for agriculture to adapt. There’s no other meaningful course of action. GMOs, of course, comprise a doubling down on industrial ag, and therefore on making the effects of climate change the worst they can possibly be. The GMO cartel is also explicit that its goal is to eradicate seed diversity and replace it with a globally standardized set of a handful of maladaptive, biologically denuded proprietary varieties geared to commodity monocropping, which are guaranteed to fail, and already are failing [15].
 
It’s the opposition to GMOs which is on the side of climate science, while the proponents are on the pro-corporate side of the deniers. But a far more perfect parallel is with the history of tobacco science and anti-science. Big Tobacco engaged in the exact same propaganda and obfuscation program, enlisted the same pseudo-scientific mercenaries, told the same kinds of lies, shouted down the science in the same way, got the same kind of support from regulators and media, and was able to continue perpetrating mass murder.
 
We GMO abolitionists are in the same scientific, moral, and historical position as the early activists of the anti-tobacco movement.
 
I’ll add that GMO proponents are evolution deniers, since it’s obvious from Evolution 101 that superweeds and superbugs will develop resistance to herbicides and endemic crop poisons. They’ve been doing so, and are doing so at an accelerating rate. GMOs also escalate the already dire crisis of microbial antibiotic resistance driven by promiscuous subtherapeutic use on factory farms. GMOs are engineered to include an antibiotic resistance marker (ARM) by which the cultured cells which took up the transgene are identified. (After the insertion, the whole batch is drenched with antibiotics, and only the cells which incorporated the transgene including the ARM aren’t killed.) So GMO DNA spreads antibiotic resistance throughout the microbial communities of the soil, our mouths, our digestive tracts. This is a pending public health catastrophe. While in a just universe only GMO and CAFO supporters would sicken and die from antibiotic resistant microbes, unfortunately human beings are also vulnerable. 
 
*The piece keeps engaging in standard NYT political misdirection, representing agricultural and food issues as “liberal vs. conservative” or “left vs. right”. In truth GMOs and the wholesale poisoning of our food may be the best example of the pure divide of humanity vs. corporatism which slices through all these obsolete identifiers. But a job of the corporate media is to try to keep people ignorant and pigeonholed into these hermetic, unreal categories.
 
The struggle is also that of science vs. anti-science. How does science work where it comes to a dubious technology like GMOs? It must begin with the precautionary principle. This means it must begin with some basic questions.
 
1. Do we need this? Agricultural science has already given a clear answer: No. Agroecology and non-GM conventional agriculture are both superior to GMOs in every way.
 
2. Are there alternatives? The science is clear: Yes. Again, agroecology and non-GM conventional agriculture are both superior to GMOs in every way where it comes to productivity. As for the distribution of food, we already know that corporate agriculture is a failure. So reason and the scientific mindset are clear that the distribution system has to be changed. We know that Food Sovereignty [16], food production and distribution based on economic and political democracy, distributes far more food on a fair basis to everyone. It’s a clear alternative to corporatism, and the only alternative to corporate tyranny and indenture.
 
3. Is it safe? Science says GMOs have to be subjected to mandatory rigorous long-term safety testing. The NYT piece quotes a hack who tells the lie that such testing has been done.
 
But the fact is that GMOs were first legalized under the “substantial equivalence” ideological dogma, over the vehement objections of FDA scientists who pointed out that it was a lie. But not only was no long-term safety testing EVER done or required by any government, but this dogma was invented to provide an ideological justification for why this testing allegedly wasn’t necessary.
 
The truth is the exact opposite. Science has decided strongly against GMOs.
 
-All independent studies, as well as most of the rigged industry tests, have found evidence of toxicity. Often they’ve found evidence that GMOs cause cancer as well.
 
-The hacks have no rebuttal, no facts, no arguments. They’ve never been able to do anything but try to shut down the science, from secrecy and censorship of their own results, to withholding research materials from independent researchers, to demonizing the independent science which is done.
 
-Meanwhile Monsanto implicitly concedes the validity of the Seralini study, the Puzstai study, and the rest of the many studies which found strong evidence of heath dangers, since it has always refused to spend the pennies it would cost to replicate those studies.
 
But that’s how science works. If you think a study was badly done, you redo it, correcting only the parts of the methodology you find faulty, and see if you get a different result. That’s all Seralini did – he redid Monsanto’s own studies, changing only their methodological frauds, but otherwise using the same kind of rat, the same sample sizes, etc.
 
The fact that Monsanto does not do the same is a concession on Monsanto’s part.
 
*The examples of “studies” which gave GMOs a green light are frauds. An EU “comprehensive review”, and a list of animal tests maintained by the cartel site “Biofortified” (the piece lies about its independence), are two of several reviews which merely list a bunch of rigged industry tests. There are no legitimate safety studies on these lists. They’re mostly feeding trials which were set up to measure only industry parameters (quick weight gain, conversion of macronutrients, and similar metrics which have zero to do with safety in the human diet), were too short to give a meaningful measure of human toxicity and other health effects (usually 90 days with rats, a duration calibrated to ensure chronic health effects wouldn’t become clear; that’s why tests of such duration are called “subchronic”), and were unscientifically designed to include bogus “reference” groups having nothing to do with the ostensible object of the study, but designed to generate noise and drown out signal.
 
Earth Open Source was able to identify only three safety tests in the entire report [17]. These were too short but at least measured some health parameters. These three all found evidence of toxicity and altered composition and were ambivalent in their conclusions.
 
Even in spite of all these intentional barriers, these industry tests nevertheless often found evidence of toxicity. The Seralini experiment was nothing more or less than a replication of several of the most prominent of these bogus tests which still found evidence of toxicity, changing only the duration (from the unscientific 90 days to the scientific 2 years) and measuring toxicity parameters so that these effects could be scientifically measured rather than merely noted as in the industry tests.
 
The funniest thing about the EU report is that even though it was designed to be pro-GMO, its result was so tepid that the hacks haven’t been inclined to cite the report itself, but instead always cite a press release written about it by the pro-GM UKFSA which depicts the report in much stronger terms than the what the report actually says. So their own propaganda report was too weak for them.
 
It’s no surprise. The most amazing thing about the pro-GM propaganda machine is that for all the money and power behind it, and for all the noise and emotionality it spews, its lies are so flimsy, its arguments so transparently false. 
 
*One interesting detail is the citation of an earlier (2012) hack piece at NPR [18]. Here we see an example of the “liberal media” equivalent of similar processes by which canned lies percolate up through the “right-wing” media [19]. The canned lies start with the cartel itself and its affiliated blogs and listservs like Biofortified and AgBioWorld. From there they worm their way along the media food chain, reach a place like NPR, Mother Jones [20], or the Huffington Post [21], and from there can leap to the NYT front page.
 
(But there’s plenty of cross-pollination between “liberal” and “conservative” media channels. See this Politico piece [22] for an example of how the pro-industry code word “patchwork” has migrated over the years from Frank Luntz memos to become a standard term of mainstream media reportage.)
 
*The piece regurgitates the always-confused lie about the ongoing India cotton farmer genocide. In this case the intrepid politician’s quote contradicts the scribbler’s paraphrase of a tendentious “Nature” article. The former blames the mass suicides on debt, while the latter claims farmers are more profitable than before. (Even the pro-GM Indian government is unable to keep that lie straight. [23]) If they’re more profitable, by which we’re supposed to understand they’re doing better financially, then how can they be driven by debt to suicide?
 
Meanwhile the quote is absurd. It’s the GMO treadmill which aggravated the pre-existing industrial ag indenture treadmill. GMOs escalated the existing pathology where farmers were induced by government lies and threats to incur debt to shackle themselves to expensive inputs. Once you’re in the trap, it’s almost impossible to get out, which is why over 300,000 have been driven by their despair to kill themselves, often by drinking their own pesticides, a death-by-poison symbolic of how Bt cotton doesn’t even work at the one and only thing it was supposed to do, kill insect pests and so obviate the need to purchase additional insecticides. This extra input the farmers were promised they’d never have to buy, along with the soaring price of GMO seeds and artificial irrigation the crops require but which the farmers weren’t originally told about, is what has driven the debt catastrophe and the suicide wave it’s provoked. This is why it’s not just a mass suicide but the genocide of an economically superflous group. Monsanto and the Indian government want to clear the land for large-scale industrial farms, Stalin-fashion.
 
But none of this will appear in the NYT, or even a hint of understanding what sharecropping is. That’s because here as everywhere else the NYT’s job is to suppress the truth and replace it with lies and a void of forgetting.
 
*The piece has a sequence where its bumbling politician protagonist, along with the reader, is tutored by a cadre from an unidentified “national agriculture research center”. This “tutorial” is really a compendium of elementary falsehoods about genetic engineering and contamination.
 
Later the scribbler sniffs at “Jeffrey Smith, a self-styled expert on GMOs with no scientific credentials”. The NYT hack does not explain exactly what credential a molecular biologist like Jon Suzuki (the aforementioned “tutor”) has to speak about agriculture, or a plant technician like Pam Ronald (the charlatan whose own studies are being retracted left and right for actual incompetence and misconduct [24]) has to speak about human toxicity and carcinogenicity. But this kind of double standard is the regular journalistic standard at the New York Times. Anyone who speaks for concentrated power is considered an expert by definition, while anyone who dissents from corporatism is considered an outlaw. Thus other NYT pieces have depicted John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Rajiv Shad, Michael Taylor, and other power cadres with zero technical credentials whatsoever as experts on GMOs.
 
*There’s plenty of other distortions and lies in the piece. This hatchet job on science, reason, morality, and simple truth and human decency is perhaps the worst which has ever appeared so prominently in the corporate media, which is saying alot.
 
I cited Julius Streicher in my title, not as just some off-the-cuff Nazi allusion, but to make a specific comparison. The Nuremburg tribunal held Streicher accountable for his journalistic activities on behalf of the Nazi conspiracy against the peace and to commit crimes against humanity [25]. Those are the two counts on which he was indicted. He was convicted of committing crimes against humanity and was hanged. If Goebbels had survived to be put on trial, he would’ve been convicted and hanged in the exact same way.
 
I point this out to place the kind of media propaganda campaign we’re seeing today on Monsanto’s behalf in historical and moral perspective. These are two perspectives almost always morbidly lacking in today’s thought and discourse. But if humanity wants to survive, we’d better start thinking and talking about them.
 
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December 19, 2013

Brazil: The Good News and Bad

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1. Brazil’s soy farmers have filed lawsuits against Monsanto seeking over 1.9 Brazilian real (over $1 billion). These suits are seeking to restitute the vast amount Monsanto has stolen from them in the form of its illegal tax on their production. This is the latest in a legal saga which has been going on for five years.
 
As things have been, Monsanto not only sells its Roundup Ready Intacta soybean seeds at an extortionate premium, but also forcibly demands a tax on the harvest at the processing point.
 
The basic timeline:
 
* In 2009, farmers from the core soy-growing province of Rio Grande do Sul filed their original suit.
 
* By June 2012 they had won a series of judgements in the federal and supreme courts over procedure and the jurisdictional extent of any eventual final judgement. These all involved typical legal maneuvering by Monsanto, trying to either get the case thrown out or limit the import of any judgement. But it lost across the board.
 
* In February 2013 the Brazilian supreme court affirmed the prior judgements. The situation is clear – if Monsanto loses at trial, it loses utterly, throughout Brazil, with no further procedural recourse.
 
* July 2013. The farmers’ union Famato, which has been coordinating the action, tried to sell out its constituents by making a deal with Monsanto. This deal, for a “rebate” on Monsanto’s new soybean line Roundup Ready Intacta 2 Pro (RR2P), would have gutted the lawsuit, forced farmers to sign away all their legal and constitutional rights, further subjected them to Monsanto’s indenture and control, and further shackled them to GM soy production, the very thing increasing numbers of farmers hope to escape.
 
* October 2013. A federal court invalidated the “deal” on the grounds that it’s a coercive contract. The court rules that Monsanto may not use its market position in such a predatory way as to force farmers to sign the contract as a condition of buying RR2P. It ruled that such a demand is abusive and may be illegal under consumer law.
 
Now the farmers are resuming their original suit.
 
The basic principles at stake here are:
 
A. The illegitimacy of Monsanto’s tax regime. We must be clear that corporate levies like this are TAXES. Big corporations are government entities.
 
B. Unlike in countries like the US where “intellectual property” doctrine is legally supreme, and unlike the trend around the world toward criminalizing all non-corporate seeds, Brazil has a relatively liberal seed system, which preserves age-old farmer and human rights. What Monsanto has been doing through its tax-extraction regime, and what it has now sought to do through its coercive contracts, is to crush Brazilian seed freedom through economic warfare.
 
C. This is a typical example of a corporation trying to use monopoly power to destroy a constitution, a rule of law, a traditional social system, and the rights of a particular group (farmers) and, by extension, of all people.
 
D. As the court found in October, this is an illegal contract, because it is being forced by an overwhelmingly strong power upon weaker participants who have no other option. Therefore, this is a rare example where a court is upholding the basic moral and legal principle that a contract can be valid only among equals. This is among the traditional basic principles of what a contract can be. To violate this principle renders a so-called “contract” an “unconscionable contract of adhesion”. In US law, such contracts used to prevail during the law-of-the-jungle time called the Lochner period. For much of the twentieth century these coercive contracts were somewhat curtailed (but never completely purged) by the federal courts.
 
But in 2011, in the AT&T vs. Concepcion decision, the US supreme court fully restored the law of the jungle. Today there’s no limit to what regulations the corporations can force upon us, as a condition of our signing “voluntary” contracts which aren’t voluntary at all. (Do you want to have telephone service? Then you have to sign the kind of contract that case involved. Of course you’re free to “choose” not to have a phone at all.)
 
In the Brazilian case we have a rare example of the court calling a spade a spade, and finding that where there’s no real choice, there can be no legitimate contract, no rule of law, only might-makes-right coercion.
 
Of course, this coercion will continue to be the norm for as long as corporations exist.
 
E. Famato’s action provides yet another cautionary tale about how we must never trust existing NGOs, unions, etc. Nothing short of dedicated abolitionist organizations shall suffice.
 
F. One of the most offensive parts of the Monsanto regime was how it would extort its tax from non-GM soy farmers whose product was found to have been contaminated by the GM trait. This contamination is rife and aggressive. We see here a prime example of how co-existence between GMOs and non-GM farming is impossible, how contamination is inevitable, and how Monsanto intentionally and systematically seeks to use this contamination as an aggressive weapon.
 
As with contractual doctrine, so here too we have a rare example where the courts seem to be correctly seeing this contamination as a trespass, and Monsanto’s demands upon the victim as comprising aggression and extortion. But the norm in places like the US and Canada is the opposite – Monsanto can aggressively trespass on your property and contaminate your crops, and then sue you for the contamination, for having “stolen” ITS “property”.
 
The Brazilian legal anomaly notwithstanding, we must take the overall case of Brazilian soy as another piece of proof: GMOs are environmentally and socioeconomically totalitarian. Humanity cannot coexist with them. We must abolish them completely.
 
2. In the second big piece of news from Brazil, the government’s Judicial Commission may imminently authorize legislation to legalize Terminator seeds. This would break a promise the Commission issued in October, at the same time that massive pressure from the people forced the Congress to backpedal on a bill it was proposing.
 
In October I wrote a post detailing the evils and threats of the Terminator technology, so I won’t detail these again here. To sum up, Terminator GMOs are destructive in all the same ways as regular GMOs, but potentially even worse.
 
I’ll add one point here. The Terminator propaganda in Brazil contains a heavy greenwashing element. The gang which has been taking the lead in lobbying for it wants to grow GM trees for various industrial purposes. Since trees are long-lived perennials, the contamination potential from the spread of GM tree pollen is tremendous. For this reason, even otherwise GM-friendly governments are often more leery of legalizing GM trees.
 
In response to this, industry is clamoring for the Terminator technology as something “eco-friendly”, since the sterile trees allegedly won’t be spreading their seeds and pollen.
 
We can reply that, as always with any GMO, there’s no need whatsoever for GM trees to be planted in the first place, or to exist at all. So the truly environmentally sound way to deal with them is to not allow them in the first place.
 
Secondly, these tree plantations will simply destroy and supplant yet more rain forest.
 
Whenever you hear any hack, whether it be from the cartels, or from an industrial farmer group, or from a corporate “environmental” front group like the WWF or TNC, claim that anything about GMOs and industrial agriculture can be environmentally sound, and especially that it’s “climate-friendly”, if you’re ever in any doubt, just remember the basic calculus – soy farming, industrial beef production, tree plantations, ethanol production, and any other aspect of corporate agriculture in South America, means ever more relentless and inexorable destruction of the rain forest.
 
Just one of the many ways in which industrial ag is by far the worst contributor to climate change and the worst destroyer of carbon sinks.
 
3. I’ll close with a brief thought on the link between these two Brazilian threads. Monsanto’s goal is total domination, through total enclosure of the seed supply, and from there control over the entire agricultural and food systems. So far it’s been content to use the “intellectual property” regime to enforce its control of seeds.
 
But if there remain places like Brazil where Monsanto’s not able to enforce full domination through the legal system, it’ll then want to deploy the Terminator technology.
 
Of course, in the long run the GMO cartel will want to replace regular GMOs with the Terminator anyway, since for several reasons the Terminator can be more profitable. But as history has shown, and is showing today through the massive outcry and bottom-up pressure the Brazilian Commission’s proposed action has provoked, the Terminator is so politically inflammatory that the cartel has held back.
 
But I don’t think it’s a coincidence that they’ve chosen this particular time and place to seek a breach in the thirteen-year global moratorium on the Terminator. As we see here, if anywhere a legal system does recognize any value other than the corporate prerogative, the corporations will respond with whatever level and form of aggression they can.
 
It’s an example of what I mean when I say that corporations are totalitarian.
 
There can be no coexistence between humanity and GMOs. We must abolish them completely.

 
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November 15, 2013

GMO Labeling and Movement Strategy (3 of 6) : The Abolitionist Imperative

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Parts one and two.
 
We must always be clear in our minds and take every opportunity to emphasize to others that the necessary goal of activism is the abolition of GMOs. Part of the business of this blog, and hopefully soon a more versatile website, is to prove the necessity of abolitionism and to provide intellectual and moral weapons for this fight.
 
Meanwhile, GMO labeling, and other kinds of reform action, are positive steps (as long as they never involve preemption or any other consolidation of top-down power at the expense of the grassroots), but not sufficient, and not the end goal. In themselves, and especially where taken as the sufficient goal, these are forms of “co-existence”, a notion which is physically impossible and politically deceptive and malignant.
 
Demonstrating the undesirability and impossibility of co-existence is part of proving the necessity and desirability of abolitionism. Here I’ll just survey the basics.
 
1. GMOs are physically totalitarian in that they will inevitably contaminate all other crops and wild ancestors of crops. This is already a documented effect with maize, canola, wheatpapaya, and most recently alfalfa, just to name a few. Wherever GMOs are planted in the open air, whether as field trials or commercially, their pollen and seeds will spread in the normal way to cross-breed with other varieties. This happens most rapidly with the pollen of regular cross-pollinators like maize or alfalfa, or with small-seeded self-pollinators like canola, but the process is the same with every crop.
 
This is obviously a direct existential threat to organic agriculture. Organic canola is already largely impossible in Canada. South Australia has banned GM canola cultivation in order to try to preserve its organic export industry. When the USDA fully deregulated GM sugar beets it left some regulations in place in Oregon in an attempt to protect organic growers there. (Here and with alfalfa, the USDA has acknowledged the inevitability of contamination.)
 
It also threatens non-GM conventional agriculture, which the historical record documents is more productive and less expensive than GMO production. That’s why more and more farmers who can are switching back from GMOs to non-GM conventional. But it’s increasingly difficult to make this switch, as even where ostensibly non-GM seeds are available (more on this in a moment), they often turn out to be contaminated.
 
GMOs also contaminate wild relatives of cultivated crops. This not only adds to the growing problem of herbicide-resistant superweeds, but pollutes the genetic well from which all crop biodiversity is drawn.
 
Agriculture has always been dependent on its a broad genetic diversity for crop health and resiliency in the face of pests, disease, drought, soil problems, bad weather, changing environmental conditions. Especially as climate change becomes more of a chronic predicament for an ever greater expanse of the world, agricultural productivity, farmer viability, and food security will depend upon a great diversity of locally/regionally adapted crop varieties, along with frequent genetic replenishments from the well of undomesticated genetics.
 
Farmer breeding, seed saving, the general commons and natural market of agriculture have historically done a fantastic job of ensuring a constant innovation and biological replenishment among crops, and a wide dissemination of these seed innovations, wherever they were agriculturally appropriate. For much of the twentieth century public sector crop breeding continued this tradition, with improving results as modern science joined the commons.
 
But since the 1970s-80s, when breeding came under the control of a handful of corporations, breeding programs (including nominally “public” ones, but which are really harnessed to the corporate agenda as a form of corporate welfare) have been greatly narrowed and incestuously focused on a handful of corporate imperatives – how to breed tolerance to applied poisons (herbicides), and how to get the plant to endemically generate its own poisons (insecticides). This sums up the entire GMO program, including practically all the GMOs which have ever been commercialized or ever will be.
 
The result is that where cultivation has become dominated by GMOs, as with field corn in the US (almost 90% GMO), agriculture has become dangerously limited to a handful of genetic variations, with corresponding vulnerability to pests, diseases, and other threats. This genetic vulnerability is what laid US corn low with Southern leaf blight in the early 70s, and even Monsanto admits it’s what’s causing today’s spreading epidemic of Goss’s wilt.
 
This kind of physical vulnerability is endemic to industrial monocropping, but GMOs comprise a doubling down on this, rendering it an extreme vulnerability. This is typical of how GMOs represent the radical escalation and intensification of every malign aspect of industrial and corporate agriculture.
 
So both economically and physically, through contamination, GMOs automatically seek to narrow existing crop biodiversity to the vanishing point. At the same time they also contaminate the wild progenitors of these crops, thus seeking to forestall the very possibility of genetically reinvigorating agriculture from this wellspring. GMOs don’t just poison the tap, they poison the well.
 
The result of all this is that agriculture becomes weaker, more prone to crop failure, and less able to respond to threats and reinvigorate itself. If a cabal had set out with the conscious intent of triggering mass famine, it could hardly have proceeded with greater deliberation and promise of success than the GMO cartel and its allied governments have proceeded, as they have imposed this planned economy. As things are, humanity has the GM Sword of Damocles dangling above it. 
 
To sum up, co-existence is impossible and abolition is necessary because GMOs inevitably are contaminating all our crops and are forcing us into a suicidally hermetic lack of germplasm diversity.
 
2. GMOs are socioeconomically totalitarian in that, both by conscious design on the part of corporations and governments, and by their inherent tendency toward economic concentration and vertical integration (another way in which GMOs intensify the evils of corporate ag), they radically increase sector monopoly.
 
Monsanto and other biotech rackets set out with the strategy of hijacking public breeding money and buying up existing seed companies, all toward the goal of bringing all commercial seeds under their proprietary enclosure and economic domination. The results speak for themselves.
 
By 2010 Monsanto, DuPont, and Syngenta together had captured 53% of the global commercial seed market. The top 10, mostly US-based, held 73%. (Even system economics says that a sector where four entities hold 40% or more of the market is not competitive. The seed sector is gripped by a far worse stranglehold.) In 1980 the share of the US soybean crop which was planted with public sector seed was 70%. By 2010 93% of soybean plantings were proprietary GMOs. This extreme inversion is similar for corn and cotton. 
 
From 1996-2009 over 200 independent seed companies were bought and engulfed. Many of these no longer offer non-GM seeds at all. From this dominant position Monsanto enforces its will on farmers and on primary seed growers, who increasingly provide only GM lines and drop all others. The few non-GM varieties still commercially available tend to be weaker (through corporate breeding neglect) and are often contaminated anyway. Monsanto and the others often impose their harsh grower contracts on buyers of any seed from the companies they own, GM or not.
 
In every way, wherever they have power, the GMO corporations are enforcing their proclaimed goal of driving non-GM seeds out of the market and out of existence. Here’s one place where they probably do consciously seek to wipe out biodiversity, since so long as alternative genetics exist at all outside their enclosure, these constitute a threat to their domination.
 
To sum up, GMOs are destroying our market options. They’re enforcing both monopsony, Monsanto’s strong-arming of primary seed growers, and monopoly – its strong-arming of farmers, and of everyone on down the food production distribution chain to the end consumer. As a consumer one shouldn’t think in terms of alleged “choice” at the supermarket, but view it as the GMO-forcing equivalent of a USSR warehouse.
 
3. GMOs are socioeconomically and politically totalitarian in other ways.
 
I’ve written before about the totalitarian aspirations of the intellectual property regime in plant germplasm and seeds. The bureaucratic and legal interpretations of seed patents in both the US and Canada are being driven toward the goal of extending “ownership” through aggressive contamination to all crops and wide swaths of the wild ecosystem. GMOs seek legally to steal ownership of our crops, our control of the wild germplasm commons, and to steal control of our land out from under us.
 
In the form of corporate and government persecution, GMOs cause and are a pretext for the extension of the police state. Many governments have sought to legally outlaw all seed exchange and planting which doesn’t take place within the corporate framework. Policing, both nominally “public” and in terms of government sanction of “private” thuggery, a modern form of privateering, has followed suit. The enforcement of seed patents leads to a new form of the old pattern, raids and depredations from the parasite city to the productive countryside, just like the Bolshevik “food detachments” of the War Communism period.
 
Monsanto’s campaign contributions and lobbying money, and the revolving door between it and myriad agencies of government, have brought system politics under its domination. Along with Wall Street the GMO cartel perches at the summit of power, and its imperatives hold vast dominion over the policy of US and other government. This power is consciously sought, toward the goals of seed sector domination and from there total domination over the food supply, and from there over the entire economy.
 
4. GMO agriculture greatly steps up the use of agricultural poisons. Use of the extremely toxic glyphosate has massive escalated as most GMOs were engineered to tolerate increased application of it. As glyphosate is now failing under the pressure of the superweed counteroffensive, the GMO system is planning to escalate to even more toxic poisons. Such destructive chemicals as 2,4-D and dicamba, which corporations and governments previously promised would be rendered obsolete by Roundup Ready crops, are now going to see their own application escalated exponentially if the cartel and governments have their way. Most GMOs also internally generate their own Bt insecticide. Many varieties generate multiple poisons. Monsanto’s SmartStax maize exudes six poisons from every cell. This poison not only kills anything that touches the crop but seeps into the soil, water, and general environment.
 
GMOs themselves comprise a genetic toxification of our food and bodies, with effects which haven’t yet been determined, in large part because of the systematic refusal of governments and system sources of funding to require or undertake safety and epidemiological studies. But the explosive surge of allergies, autoimmune diseases like asthma and autism, related gastrointestinal diseases like leaky gut, inflammatory bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, and celiac disease, infertility, birth defects, and other health problems since GMO commercialization speak for themselves.
 
No sane person thinks it’s possible to keep up this wholesale poisoning of our air, water, soil, crops, food, bodies. 
 
To sum up, GMOs themselves poison the environment through their genetic pollution, and radically escalate the wholesale poisoning of our crops, soil, water, air, through the basic pesticides of poison-based industrial agriculture. GMOs were developed and forced into the market in the first place in order to force agriculture to use more synthetic poisons.
 
5. Industrial agriculture is unsustainable. It depends completely on cheap fossil fuels, cheap fossil water (from depleting aquifers), and cheaply mined phosphorus. All three of these are finite and unsustainable. Industrial ag has also ravaged the soil, eroding and denuding it. The crops it produces are increasingly weak, denuded of nutritional value, and subject to disease like Goss’s wilt and sudden death syndrome in soy.
 
In any of these ways industrial production is vulnerable to sudden collapses. In the end, for any and all of these reasons, industrial ag is doomed to collapse completely. To continue to commit humanity to dependency upon this doomed system is to doom humanity to mass famine.
 
By intensifying the command economy of industrial agriculture and escalating the domination of corporate ag, the GMO regime intensifies and escalates this systemic vulnerability. Through its structural domination and through conscious policy, the system also seeks to forestall the alternative to industrial/corporate agriculture: Food sovereignty and agroecology.
 
GMOs comprise the system’s terminal doubling down on an inefficient, shoddy, toxic, wasteful, doomed system. If we the people plan to eat in the future, and if we want to redeem our polities and economies, we must break the corporate stranglehold over our food production and distribution. We must abolish all food corporatism. We must abolish GMOs.
 
 
GMOs are totalitarian and physically homicidal. For all the reasons given here, co-existence with them is impossible, and all political proposals which represent any form of “co-existence” as desirable or as the sufficient end goal are pernicious.
 
GMO labeling can’t be sufficient to overcome these forces. Indeed, many versions of the labeling idea – those which emphasize the federal government, those which want to repose continued faith in politicians, those which are willing to temporize with overt calls for preemption (but all proposals for an FDA-based policy are at least implicitly temporizing) – are part of the suicidal “co-existence” mindset.
 
By the same logic, nothing which seeks reform within the system as the end goal will work. With the exception of the GMO cartel itself, the US government is the most aggressive and extreme pro-GMO organization on earth.
 
The real, systematic anti-GMO movement must start by setting abolition as the non-negotiable goal and then, without prejudice, evolve all organizational principles, strategy, and tactics out of this.
 
So what is our position and task where it comes to labeling? We support the right to know as a basic democratic right, and therefore support action on its behalf, always with the explicit caveat opposing all preemption. In becoming active in labeling campaigns, we meet, talk, educate, propagate the abolition idea. We oppose any complacency about co-existence or about labeling being the end goal. This is a fertile ground for what I’ve called POE – Participation, Organization, Education.
 
Democratic participation as such helps build the key parts of the movement mindset – individual self-respect (that one deserves better and has something to contribute toward the fight to get something better) and political self-confidence (that we can vastly multiply our individual capacities by organizing for a political struggle); any campaign which musters democratic will and drive provides the vehicle to build permanent grassroots action organizations; campaigns like this provide excellent forums for general education about GMO facts and issues. We do all these things toward the goals of building the permanent organizations we have to build, and propagating the abolition idea at every opportunity.
 
Any successful labeling campaign will provide not only the opportunity to build permanent grassroots anti-GMO organizations, but will generate another need for them as well. Any policy nominally enacted will still require grassroots oversight and pressure to ensure the policy is enforced in the spirit it was fought for. This oversight and pressure will also be necessary to overcome any tendency toward complacency – “we won the vote! now we can go back to sleep, as it’s in good hands” – a tendency which will certainly be encouraged by professional NGO types within the pro-labeling campaigns. For both these reasons the permanent organizations will need to serve as vigilance and pressure groups, at the same time they broadcast the ideas of abolitionism.
 
To the extent we develop the abolitionist consciousness as individuals, and especially as we form real abolition organizations, we can then enter the reformist campaigns and organizations, doing so in order to help achieve the reform goals while at the same time combating co-existence tendencies and pushing people on toward the further goals.
 
What about those who think GMO labeling is sufficient? The idea is that once enough places require labeling, food manufacturers will reconstitute their products to completely expunge GMO ingredients instead of having to either run two separate processing systems (one non-GM in the places requiring labeling, one GM in the places which don’t require it), or else have to allow the dreaded label on their packaging, which will cause consumers as a group to shun the product as they do in Europe. This sums up what I call the panacea view of labeling.
 
On its face it’s not implausible. Food manufacturers certainly resent having had this whole mess forced upon them, and in theory should be able easily to revert to non-GM conventional suppliers. They get practically no benefit from it. And consumers in Europe and elsewhere do shun GMO products, so that in European supermarkets there’s very few GM products. But is this an accurate expectation for America?
 
The analogy of Europe to the US isn’t a great one. In Europe there was labeling from the start, when GMOs were just entering the food supply. Consumers had a clear choice. Inertia was on the side of non-GM products. Under these circumstances, consumers overwhelmingly chose non-GM and shunned GMOs.
 
But here it would be the other way around. GMOs have largely conquered the supermarket shelves. They’ve insensibly become entrenched in consumer habits. If labels are now applied, this late in the game, this new knowledge will have to resist and overcome consumer inertia rather than support and flow with it. It’s the difference between having what you already thought confirmed, as opposed to having to register a new piece of information which goes against your tendencies, and which, to be acted upon, would require a significant change in your habits.
 
Given all this, it wouldn’t be surprising if labels would not achieve the hoped-for sea change in consumer habits. They might even help normalize GMOs in the consumer mindset. Indeed, I suspect that part of the reason why so many people who hadn’t previously thought about GMOs in their food end up voting No on the ballot initiatives is a kind of labelphobia borne of the intuition that labeling won’t really give them anything but something more to worry about, since they don’t expect to be able to do anything about it.
 
In general, political campaigns against an entrenched system don’t work unless they build upon a well-grounded, coherent, thriving movement culture. Just as with the always vain attempts to field “alternative candidates” in elections without having built an alternative movement first, so GMO labeling initiatives seem to be a form of putting the political cart before the movement horse. (That’s part of why they’ve been so easily dominated by NGO-type “professionals” who can be counted on to sell out the grassroots anywhere a labeling campaign does achieve nominal success.) I think a big part of the reason voters have been willing to believe the flimsy lies of the anti-labeling propaganda is because such lies bolster their existing anxieties, which under the circumstances labeling promises to aggravate, not alleviate.
 
Under the circumstances of an atomized mass society, where individuals have been isolated as “consumers” and have only a dim perception of what citizenship and democracy can be, this isn’t surprising. Where people have only the vaguest notion of what kind of action is in fact possible, on an individual level and especially if we organize for action, this isn’t surprising. We see how what’s necessary isn’t a series of ad hoc, disposable electoral campaigns for labeling, but to build a real movement from the soil up, a movement which shall rebuild community, rebuild bonds between people, conduct a systematic publicity and education campaign about GMOs, reinvigorate and render conscious the mindset of citizenship and democracy, and build belief in coordinated action, and provide the means to organize and carry out such action.
 
All this puts into perspective how the labeling movement, if taken as the goal in itself and launched without the necessary movement-building work, is building on sand. Even if these are passed and enforced, do individual consumers have the mindset to act upon the new information? And to repeat, the panacea view assumes (but seldom discusses) not only passing initiatives or bills, but that these are faithfully enforced. That’s a big If. This leads back to my point that labeling can’t work unless we form permanent vigilance organizations to ensure enforcement.
 
But once the permanent groups are formed, and once the movement is being built, will these be content to fight an endless battle of attrition on consumerist fronts? Both the experience of participatory organizing and the experience of treachery and attrition will, where necessary, teach us both the need and our desire to set our sights much higher. Wherever such pressure groups weren’t abolitionist organizations from day one, they will evolve to become these.
 
All this is part of the analysis and strategy we must develop. Similarly, we’ll develop analysis of the affirmative alternative to GMOs and corporate agriculture – food sovereignty and agroecology – as being the true, just, and practical alternative to industrial ag. But our analysis shall include the fact that for this alternative to ever find the space and traction to reach its full potential, we must first abolish GMOs.
 
Of course, as always I emphasize that we can and should start with the affirmative task today, and all over the world food sovereignty/agroecology is a vibrant and surging movement. My point is that the affirmative can continue to grow only in tandem with its negative corollary, the abolitionist movement.
 
So it is with reform action in the West. It’s achieving good things, has had some successes, also some major setbacks, and predictably is already infested with co-optation trends and complacent attitudes. For it to continue on the democratic vector, and for it to achieve its full potential, it must be reinforced with the supplementary, invigorating abolitionist imperative.
 
Conversely, in quantitative terms abolitionism is still a small manifestation amid the burgeoning but confused Western trend against GMOs. We who bear this true and necessary philosophy must use every opportunity within the reform trend to build ourselves up, propagate the great ideal, and in the end purify the trend, turning it into a fully developed human and democratic anti-corporatist movement, strong and ready to fight and win this war.
 

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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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June 11, 2013

Corporate Hunger and Africa (2 of 3)

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As the great battle escalates in Africa, I should review what agroecology is, and why it’s the necessary and bountiful path forward for Africa and for all of humanity. I’ve written about it before many times, including here, here, and here. I also gave a basic account of the clash of agricultural corporatism against humanity in this post from a year ago on the plan for the recolonization of Africa.
 
To sum up, agroecology, a synonym for organic agriculture in the original sense of the term (not the degraded US government sense), is the practice of agriculture in imitation of nature. It strives to work within the rhythms of nature rather than against them, with it rather than against it, using natural features as reinforcements or remedies, keeping actions within the natural cycles of a regional ecosystem. All this makes for an agriculture which is most sustainable in producing the most nutritious food (and the most calories, acre for acre) using no artificial poisons, and doing so in a way which enhances ecosystems, economies, and communities, rather than destroying all these the way industrial ag does.
 
The term “agroecology” indicates its basis in the combined sciences of agronomy and ecology. It is truly scientific in the best sense of the term, in that its practitioners are constantly experimenting, and based on the results modifying and repeating their experiments, all toward the goal of sustainably producing sufficient calories and nutrition. Combined with the political philosophy of Food Sovereignty, AE then seeks to distribute this food, more than enough to feed everyone, so that everyone actually gets enough to eat.
 
(By contrast, science condemns the industrial ag experiment as having failed at everything it ever promised it would do, with the exception of using the temporary fossil fuel surplus to produce more gross calories. But it’s been an absolute failure in terms of ending hunger, food’s denuded nutritional value, food toxification, the destruction of the environment (including greenhouse gas emissions; the industrial ag sector is the worst emitter by a considerable margin), and the destruction of economies, polities, and communities. Food corporatism and its “Green Revolution” promised to solve all these problems, all of which industrialization generated or exacerbated in the first place. By any scientific standard it’s a proven failure. To wish to continue the experiment, now extending it to Africa in a more virulent form than hitherto, is proof that the experimenters were lying about their proclaimed goals all along. We know these facts: Corporatism is purely wasteful and destructive, does nothing for humanity, and accomplishes nothing but to enable a small group of criminals to further concentrate wealth and power and exercise domination. In the end power and domination are their only goals and their only reasons for being.)
 
Agroecology or organic agriculture is highly skilled work. It requires intimate knowledge of of the ways of the soil (building it with organic matter), weather, climate, plants (crops, other beneficial plants, potentially harmful plants called “weeds”), animals (livestock, other beneficial animals, potentially harmful ones called “pests”). AE’s innovative and highly productive techniques, eschewing monoculture and synthetic fertilizers and other poisons, include natural nutrient-cycling and soil-building, the use of manure, compost, and cover crops (AKA green manures), crop rotation, intercropping, alley cropping with leguminous trees, infusion of free-living nitrogen-fixing bacteria into the soil, biological pest control (often called “integrated pest management”), agroforestry, better water management, rotation of livestock with annual crops, the whole art of integrating grass-fed livestock pasturage with vegetable production. It also requires the most efficient and effective use of energy and other resource inputs. All this knowledge is primarily built by the farmers themselves and distributed among them horizontally. (With some supplement and aggregation help from agronomy schools and NGOs.) All of it’s done with emphasis on the most appropriate specific application of general principles within a particular region/locality. All these factors will require even more precise knowledge as the fossil fuel crutch, required for each and every part of industrial ag, from the inputs and financing to the growing to the processing and distribution and preparation, is removed once and for all.
 
Agroecology is proven to be the most nutritionally productive form of agriculture as well as the most calorically productive, acre for acre. Peter Rosset testifies:
 

In fact, data shows that small farms almost always produce far more agricultural output per unit area than larger farms, do so more efficiently, and produce food rather than export crops and fuels. This holds true whether we are talking about industrial countries or any country in the third world. This is widely recognized by agricultural economists as the “inverse relationship between farm size and output.” When I examined the relationship between farm size and total output for fifteen countries in the third world, in all cases relatively smaller farm sizes were much more productive per unit area—2 to 10 times more productive—than larger ones.

 
A team at the University of Michigan led by Catherine Badgley did a survey of hundreds of organic trials and found that agroecology/organic production, using the same amount of land under cultivation right now, can maintain and improve upon current conventional bulk and caloric production for all significant food groups, and can do so while replacing synthetic fertilizers with natural nutrient cycling. They analyzed the data according to two models, one a best-case scenario and the other more conservative, and found that even by the conservative parameters organic agriculture would produce calories, including in grain production, comparable to today’s industrial output, and therefore more than enough to feed everyone on earth. By the best-case model, agroecology could produce over 50% more than the current industrial production.
 
The 2010 report on agroecology from the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food summarized a similar survey performed by a team led by Jules Pretty, with special emphasis on Africa.
 

17. Such resource-conserving, low-external-input techniques have a proven potential to
significantly improve yields. In what may be the most systematic study of the potential of
such techniques to date, Jules Pretty et al. compared the impacts of 286 recent sustainable
agriculture projects in 57 poor countries covering 37 million hectares (3 per cent of the
cultivated area in developing countries). They found that such interventions increased
productivity on 12.6 millions farms, with an average crop increase of 79 per cent, while
improving the supply of critical environmental services. Disaggregated data from this
research showed that average food production per household rose by 1.7 tonnes per year
(up by 73 per cent) for 4.42 million small farmers growing cereals and roots on 3.6 million
hectares, and that increase in food production was 17 tonnes per year (up 150 per cent) for
146,000 farmers on 542,000 hectares cultivating roots (potato, sweet potato, cassava). After
UNCTAD and UNEP reanalyzed the database to produce a summary of the impacts in
Africa, it was found that the average crop yield increase was even higher for these projects
than the global average of 79 per cent at 116 per cent increase for all African projects and
128 per cent increase for projects in East Africa.

18. The most recent large-scale study points to the same conclusions. Research
commissioned by the Foresight Global Food and Farming Futures project of the UK
Government reviewed 40 projects in 20 African countries where sustainable intensification
was developed during the 2000s. The projects included crop improvements (particularly
improvements through participatory plant breeding on hitherto neglected orphan crops),
integrated pest management, soil conservation and agro-forestry. By early 2010, these
projects had documented benefits for 10.39 million farmers and their families and
improvements on approximately 12.75 million hectares. Crop yields more than doubled on
average (increasing 2.13-fold) over a period of 3-10 years, resulting in an increase in
aggregate food production of 5.79 million tonnes per year, equivalent to 557 kg per farming
household.

 
The 2008 report from the World Bank’s own International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science, and Technology for Development, endorsed by all participating countries except the US, Canada, and Australia, insisted on the sufficiency and necessity of agroecology.
 
Today we need to build new food systems in light of this knowledge. Where the age-old organic practices persist, as in Africa, farmers need to sustain them and enhance them in light of modern agroecological knowledge. Where these have been marginalized or obliterated, they need to be rebuilt.
 
In the past public sector agricultural investment worked well to support farmers, although in emphasizing industrial ag it was building on sand, for farmers and for itself. But in principle there’s no reason there couldn’t be a “New Deal for Agroecology”, which would have to start with land reform. As Rosset explains,
 

In order to reverse these trends and provide a life with dignity for farming peoples, protect rural environments, and correct the structural causes of the food crisis, we need to revitalize family and peasant farming. That means restoring the public sector rural budgets that were cut under neoliberal policies, restoring minimum price guarantees, credit and other forms of support, and undertaking redistributive agrarian reform. The peasant and family farm sectors in most countries cannot be rebuilt without land reform, which redistributes land from export elites to food-producing peasants and family farmers. This is a central pillar of the alternative proposal for our food and agriculture systems that is put forth by the international farmers’ movement.

 
This could be the basis for a general program of farmer assistance, public credit, public sector research and education on organic practices and public domain plant varieties, policy favoring local/regional inputs and natural demand-based markets, storage of the harvest and maintenance of grain reserves, doing all of these with full farmer input and participation in decision-making. All this would recognize the fact that the basis of a healthy economy, polity, and society is the ability of the productive class to buy everything it needs for a decent life. So given the premises of modern civilization and the middle-class aspiration, agroecology is the most fruitful and healthful basis of agriculture. As always, where it comes to food issues the answer to any problem is along the same vector regardless of whether one’s a sincere reformist or a revolutionary. Either way one must be an anti-corporatist.
 
No such revival of public sector investment seems to be in the offing for much of the world. (It’s still working in parts of Latin America.) The system’s disaster capitalist response to the food price crisis of 2007-08 (NOT physical scarcity, which doesn’t exist) and the social unrest it provoked wasn’t to call for new investment, but new “investment”, meaning an escalated corporate agricultural assault, using the global financial crisis the banks themselves triggered as the pretext to accelerate and intensify corporate enclosure and domination. (That’s the definition of neoliberalism in this context: Corporatism’s use of globalization to seek and enforce total domination.*)
 
As Rosset put it, corporate agriculture has an “export-producing vocation”, what’s also called commodification, while real farmers have a “food-producing vocation”. In the end this is the clear criterion by which to judge the benevolent or evil character of a type of agriculture: Does it seek to produce food, or does it seek to produce commodities, toward the goal of corporate power? This is also the measure by which to judge anyone who claims to care about “feeding the world”. As we already see with biofuels (for which there is no demand and no market; the sector is 100% the planned-economy creation of government subsidies and mandates), corporate agriculture has literally zero concern with producing food for anyone. If the most profitable thing to do would be to burn the crops in the fields instead of harvesting them, it would do so. (This would actually be less destructive than harvesting industrial crops for fuel.)
 
Corporatism offers nothing to humanity but destruction, and humanity can find no path forward on the same Earth with corporatism. We have what might be called a “clash of civilizations”, or the final conflict of humanity against the depraved corporate “civilization”. Or we can keep the best of the word civilization and call corporatism a post-civilizational Hobbesian barbarism.
 
However one connotes it, the denotation is that this is a struggle between agroecology, as the basis of a steady-state economy of, by, and for the people, with Food Sovereignty as its companion political philosophy, vs. the totalitarian “growth” economy, and the neoliberal anti-politics which is its appendage. (It’s totalitarian because it recognizes nothing but its own imperative.)
 
This is a global struggle, and the front line is everywhere. Today the continent of Africa is the site of an escalating battle which promises to be the most critical of all.
 
[*Just as corporatism cynically regards country, government, and property as tools and weapons to be exalted or disregarded according to convenience, so in the end it will be the same with money and profits themselves. They understand that money is a fiction, and that for those who greedily seek it power is the only thing that's real. The only thing corporatism wants, like prior forms of totalitarianism, is total power and total control.]
 

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December 1, 2012

Is the Triumph of Food Sovereignty Inevitable?

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Let’s compare it to Marxism.
 
1. Marx saw industrialism as part of the normal development of history. (So he implicitly saw the modern level of energy consumption as permanent.) He thought it would naturally and inevitably generate a centralized industrial and finance structure and a physically centralized industrial proletariat. He also saw the evolution of democracy as a linear progress.
 
2. Marx thought the material conditions of capitalism would automatically generate proletarian consciousness, which would then drive the proletariat to abolish capitalism and establish communism. These developments would basically be stimulus-response. 
 
3. These ideas, which Marx saw as laws of history/nature, are summed up in the idea of historical materialism.
 
4. But things didn’t happen as Marx projected. Industrialism and finance physically and organizationally dispersed. I’ve previously made the point that corporatism has in a sense turned the tables of guerrilla warfare tactics. It’s corporate power which seems infinitely agile, concentrating at the enemy’s weak points and dispersing at any concentrated enemy attack. Meanwhile it’s the people, civil society, and democracy which have seemed lumbering, clumsy, off-balance, their own weight a weapon against them.
 
The industrial proletariat itself was also physically dispersed through globalization.
 
5. It turned out that the Western proletariat, to the extent it ever did concentrate, was pretty easily co-opted by the corporate system. Instead of naturally and spontaneously developing proletarian consciousness, it was co-opted and infused with petty bourgeois consciousness. The GI Bill, the subsidized car culture and mortgages which fostered suburbia, the “American Dream” and “Ownership Society” propaganda campaigns, all did their work very effectively.
 
So Marx’s forecast of this particular automatic development of consciousness was disproven. It turns out the proletariat was not automatically going to do that, and was able to be indoctrinated into a different mindset. (This is confirmation of some elements of Lenin’s organizational philosophy.)
 
6. Meanwhile capitalism itself didn’t develop in the way Marx projected. It never liquidated all feudal vestiges, but conserved most of them (really all but the nominal trappings of monarchy, aristocracy, etc.). It turns out that “pure” capitalism was never going to exist, but rather at most a feudal-capitalist hybrid.
 
7. This is because history was in fact more materialistic than Marx’s historical materialist idea. Unlike Marx, history always understood that fossil fuels are not infinite, that the modern era of extreme energy consumption is not normal or natural, but rather a unique, ahistorical blip. It understood that modern industrialism is also a unique and ephemeral circumstance. Therefore it understood that pre-oil modes of organization, what we in the West can loosely call “feudal”, were not being abolished but were merely being temporarily modified for the high-energy age. The “bourgeois revolution” was really a kind of scam, and all the commentators like Tocqueville who noted how much was conserved instead of thrown out were recognizing the basic truth of the development.
 
(In the preceding passage I was using “history” as a metaphor for the truly material, unconscious forces driving the developments. Even at their most insane men can’t act completely against nature, and the finitude of fossil fuels was a constant material fact, even during the glory days of extraction.)
 
8. It turns out that historical materialism itself, and the predictions Marx derived from it, were part of the “superstructure” and one step removed from the real materialism of energy consumption.
 
That’s why Marx’s inevitabilities turned out to be contingent at best, and mostly failed to come true. His physical inevitabilities were wrong, and his psychological inevitabilities failed to materialize. It turns out that within the modern framework economic democracy was not fated to develop the way Marx projected. Does this mean the democratic evolution is not linear, but cyclical, and just as it surged with fossil fuels, so it’s fated to subside with them? Or could the development still be linear, with the modern pseudo-democratic co-optation being a temporary obstacle? More on that below.
 
9. We’re left, first, with the real material inevitabilities. These are the facts of fossil fuel depletion, fossil water depletion, soil exhaustion, and the degradation/depletion of every other natural resource.
 
10. I’ll focus on industrial agriculture. It’s guaranteed to collapse on account of any of four causes – fossil fuel depletion, fossil water depletion, phosphorus depletion, soil exhaustion. (Which of these will be the proximate cause is a horse race.) It could also collapse even ahead of these because of the climate change it’s causing (industrial agriculture is the #1 greenhouse gas emitter), or the superweeds and/or superbugs it’s generating, mostly via GMOs.
 
11. Therefore humanity certainly will return to historically normal modes of food production and distribution. Food production will once again be 100% organic, to use the modern term for the traditional. Markets and distribution will once again be predominantly local/regional. These are physically guaranteed.
 
12. How painful this transformation will be, whether it must mean mass famine, whether we’ll be left at first with woefully denuded soil which will take centuries to rebuild, will be functions of how strong a Food Sovereignty movement we can build prior to and during this collapse, and how forcibly corporatism is able to keep a death grip on power for how long. Corporatism will certainly try to force total devastation upon humanity, since it would rather see humanity starve and die than achieve freedom. It would rather see genocide than relinquish power. It’s too early to know if the forces of evil will be able to hang on once they start to weaken, or whether they’ll collapse quickly in spite of their malevolent will. But there’s no doubt that the stronger humanity’s own organization against this curse and toward its own future, the better a chance we’ll have of averting the worst. But all these things seem to be open questions.
 
13. As for the consciousness of democracy and freedom in themselves, we’ve certainly assimilated the ideas as completely as a species can. This goes with modern agroecological knowledge as one of the two great heritages of modernity we can take with us beyond it, if we choose.
 
14. What does it mean to say humanity “can choose” something? It’s natural for a species to seek its own aggregate survival, under the best conditions possible. We don’t usually say a non-human species “chooses” to seek to survive and triumph. Is there any reason to think homo sapiens is different?
 
15. If not, and if it’s true that our best chance to continue to eat going forward is to organize toward that goal, does this mean that affirmative imperatives like Food Sovereignty (and negative ones like the total abolition of GMOs) are not just political but biological imperatives? And if this is true, does that mean that the triumph of Food Sovereignty is inevitable?

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November 8, 2012

NOW Obama’s Going to do Good Stuff! (Michael Pollan version)

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Here’s a good test of liberal Obama-worship, a prediction by Michael Pollan:
 
“I think we will stop subsidizing biofuels very soon, perhaps right after the election.”
 
Obama, of course, has been aggressively pro-ethanol so far.
 
Pollan’s a typical case. He spent eight Bush years calling for bottom-up food relocalization and warning against technocratic control of our food, including faith in the central government. As soon as Obama came along, Pollan performed a 180 degree flip-flop. Suddenly the future of the food movement depended on begging elites for Better Policy. This included support for the Food Control Act, whereby Pollan mystically believes that giving far more power to the Monsanto-adjunct FDA will, by magic, make it less pro-Monsanto. Someone with common sense might be forgiven for suspecting that it’ll merely help the FDA further Big Ag’s interest even more aggressively, but then we’re not initiates of the liberal cargo cult.
 
At least Pollan supported the Right to Know initiative, so he’s a somewhat less pure liberal elitist than the scum mentioned in this piece, who opposed the initiative simply because as a good “process” liberal he “distrusts” filthy peasant ballot initiatives as such.

 
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November 4, 2012

Storm

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I’m back online after five days being knocked off. Two of them without power. Many of my friends are doing far worse. Just a few miles away, the latest company estimates that they’ll get power back by the 11th are improvements on previous estimates.
 
I didn’t miss being online much. As with a previous forced break, I quickly got used to no internet and found it relaxing and productive. The exception was having no e-mail. Ironically, I came back on to find few messages and no one to whom to write, since everyone I know is still offline.
 
Nevertheless, on the whole we did OK. I was at my friend’s farm yesterday (where I grew corn and edamame this year) to help clean up (my third attempt to get through; my attempt on Tuesday was especially interesting and, in hindsight, dangerous). Except for a belfry knocked off the barn, things are in pretty good shape there. No flooding, unlike after Irene a year ago. The community garden looks great, like nothing happened.
 
The gas lines are extraordinary, but a foretaste of what will become more ordinary. The whole thing’s a microcosm of Peak Oil in general. The increasing complexity of the system renders its temporary crippling in the case of each new blow ever more devastating and prolonged. I’m reminded forcefully of how just a year ago the fleeting blizzard wreaked similar havoc. Today’s havoc is far worse. But I think of how in the decades I’ve lived here stuff like this never happened. It’s now getting to be a regular event. I wrote last year how the Olduvai Theory of Peak Oil predicts exactly these phenomena. I think I’ll repost it today.
 
So far I’ve been lucky with the gas. I filled up on Thursday with only a short line to wait. Since then the backups at the handful of stations open have become mind-boggling. (Thursday the radio said only 20% of NJ stations were open. The proportion around here is far less.) A big part of the tension and anguish is how few people understand what’s happening with fossil fuels and the limits to complexity. In a crisis people need a way to understand what’s happening. I’ve heard some wild stuff, and of course the standard government-will-save-us (“Obama-will-save-us”, depending on the speaker) nonsense about strategic oil reserves and buying oil from more “countries”. The truth would serve people better. Part of the movement’s job is to spread the truth.
 
Speaking of which, the Food Freedom movement needs a new Internet profile. The existing sites and blogs are insufficient, ad hoc, and have mostly a reformist pro-government tone. Don’t get me started on the NGO-Monsanto complex who want the Food Control Act to become aggressively effective. I feel combined despair and contempt when I see how supporters of the Right to Know initiative in California have let themselves be thrown onto the defensive. (One of the few e-mails I had was from the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, parroting the craven defensive line.)
 
The right response to corporate lies is to redouble the offensive, repeat and escalate the aggressive charges, and throw the lies back in their face, blaming them for everything that happens. This the only thing that works, and it’s also the truth.
 
So the Community Food/Food Relocalization movement, and the broader Food Sovereignty movement, need a new forum dedicated to vigorous discussion of true principles and the strategy, tactics, and operational goals that follow from these. 

 
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