Volatility

January 10, 2014

Malvinas Poison Factory Halted

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

 
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January 5, 2014

USDA Expects to Approve Agent Orange GMOs

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The USDA has issued an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and announced that following a 45-day public comment period it expects to approve Dow’s line of GMO crops resistant to the herbicide 2,4-D. This poison is one of the two main constituents of the infamous chemical weapon Agent Orange. Up for approval are one maize variety and two varieties of soybeans. This impetuous approval process, taking less than eight months to draw up such an allegedly rigorous EIS, is part of the Obama administration’s drive to “streamline”, i.e. accelerate, what was already the USDA’s rubber-stamp procedure for deregulating GMOs. As always, we see how Obama is the most aggressively pro-Monsanto president yet.
 
This approval and the huge surge in 2,4-D use that will follow comprise a major escalation of an already insane and failed policy.
 
(Here’s the USDA’s request for public comments. Apparently the comment form isn’t up yet, but I’ll post a link to it when it’s available.)
 
These GMOs, manufactured by Dow and called the “Enlist” series, are part of what’s being touted as “second generation” herbicide resistant GMOs. There are similar dicamba-resistant types in the pipeline. “Second generation” is a marketing term meant to obscure the fact that these are the same highly toxic and environmentally reckless herbicides which cartel and government propaganda originally promised would be rendered obsolete by glyphosate-resistant GMOs.
 
What happened instead? Every knowledgeable and honest commenter predicted it from the start: The massive deployment of glyphosate-tolerant crops resulted in a tremendous increase in glyphosate use. Like clockwork, this unrelenting, unabated slathering of one poison encouraged the target weeds themselves to become resistant to glyphosate. Today glyphosate-resistant superweeds are a major, chronic, spreading problem, unsolvable by the industrial agriculture methods which created it. The Roundup regime is in ruins. Industrial growers must spray ever greater amounts of glyphosate to attain continually diminishing results. Monsanto no longer legally warrants that Roundup will actually suppress weeds.
 
Now we’ve come full circle. 2,4-D and dicamba, originally relegated by GMO propaganda to history’s garbage heap, are now touted as the solution to the artificial problem of glyphosate’s collapse. (I should note that glyphosate itself isn’t being phased out. No one in cartel or government wants to end or diminish the distribution and application of any type of profitable poison, no matter how useless it is. The Enlist crops are “stacked” varieties, resistant to both 2,4-D and glyphosate. So when the Agent Orange crops are grown, they’ll still be drivers of the escalating use of glyphosate, and will add a massive surge in 2,4-D application on top of the massive glyphosate use.)
 
What will the specific results be? 2,4-D is a viciously poisonous substance. It’s an endocrine disruptor and causes birth defects and cancer, as well as being linked to Parkinson’s disease and other health detriments. It’s more volatile than glyphosate and causes far more problems with drift, trespass, and the destruction of other farmers’ crops. This is why the Agent Orange GMOs originally generated an unusual coalition of industrial opponents, including many specialty crop farmers and processors. (These have since dropped their opposition, claiming to believe Dow’s lies about “special formulations” which will reduce drift. In other words, the leaders made some kind of deal to sell out the farmers.) Meanwhile, in the past the Center for Food Safety and a coalition of organic farmers said they may file suit once the USDA’s phony review procedure was concluded.
 
(For those who are interested in legal actions, I think that now would be a good time to start compiling a dossier of poison trespass, crop and other plant destruction, soil poisoning, and other torts. Every victim of drift, genetic contamination, soil toxification, well or water poisoning, should be invited to report and register his loss and place the blame. This can be for lawsuits right now, and for a future New Nuremburg. We abolitionists recognize the strict liability of anyone who produces, plants, cultivates, sprays, any GMO or other agricultural poison, for all damage caused by that poison. I emphasize that there’s no longer any doubt at all about the inexpediency and destructiveness of the agricultural poison regime.)
 
The USDA itself expects 2,4-D use will increase two- to sixfold. Other more independent assessments predict it’ll go up as much as fiftyfold. The only thing it will do is escalate the chemical/bioweapons arms race which, as we knew from day one, the weeds will inevitably win. They’ve already routed glyphosate. Meanwhile there are already many documented instances of weeds resistant to 2,4-D. These have already developed because any kind of evolved resistance to one herbicide (or antibiotic) may simultaneously manifest as a resistance to a whole genre. Thus for example waterhemp, one of the most bothersome weeds afflicting corn and soy growers, has been developing resistance to glyphosate for a long time now. And today, before Agent Orange corn and soy have even been deployed, 2,4-D resistant waterhemp is already out there in the fields issuing the taunt, “Bring it on!”
 
All this proves the fundamental lie at the core of the whole GMO regime. Herbicide tolerant GMOs as a genre already comprise a proven failure from any reality-based point of view, in the same way that corporate agriculture has long since been proven to be unable and unwilling to “feed the world”. If there was ever any doubt, there no longer is. Both of these now qualify as Big Lies, repeatable only by conscious liars and by those with a willful, reckless disregard and contempt for the truth.
 
What’s more, humanity is sustaining a world-historical disaster with the overwhelming poisoning of the earth by nearly twenty years of massive glyphosate use, all for no purpose at all but to amass profits and power for a handful of corporate gangsters, and for the benefit of the glyphosate-tolerant weeds. We’ve given ourselves nothing but a legacy of accelerated landgrabbing, sprawling shantytowns, the intensified debt enslavement of farmers, and the wholesale poisoning of our soil, water, and bodies. All this has gone for NOTHING. That we’re now planning to respond to this by building this most insane Tower of Babel even higher, to inflict upon ourselves an even worse scourge and destruction, is insane in the most profound sense of the term. And those who understand it and support it embody a radical evil seldom seen in history.
 
This proves the fundamental insanity of a civilization which has subordinated the production of our very food to the production of poisons for profit.
 
It’s difficult to find words, and the attempt to do so will be my main occupation, to convey the evil and insanity of this. Humanity has always started by seeking its bread. Now we’re shackled to a system which starts by producing poison, wants to force this poison upon us, and is doing so by hijacking our food and using it as the delivery mechanism.
 

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December 31, 2013

Bt Overview

Filed under: Dance of Death, Disaster Capitalism, Food and Farms, Tower of Babel — Tags: , — Russ @ 1:05 am

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One of the two basic types of GMOs is the type which endemically manufactures its own insecticidal poison. (The other type is that which is resistant to one or more herbicidal poisons.) This type is engineered to express a toxin derived from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). Many such poison-generating genes have been commercialized. The latest “stacked” product, Monsanto’s SmartStax maize, generates six Bt poisons. This kind of escalation is necessary as the target insects, corn borers and rootworms, develop resistance to poisons which have been on the market for awhile. The same is true of the surge of herbicide-resistant superweeds, and the collapse of glyphosate as an effective herbicide.
 
This escalation is part of the design of GMOs. Monsanto’s profit and control follow from agriculture’s total dependency upon poisons which continually fail and therefore must continually be escalated. Not only must commodity corn farmers buy an endemically poisonous corn seed, but for it to be reliable, it now needs to produce no fewer than six such poisons.
 
This is why many commentators call these “poison plants”, or “pesticide plants”. It’s getting to the point where it’s not even as if agricultural poisons are applied to food, but rather that we’re supposed to be eating poison which allegedly has some food value. As much as I write about this, I haven’t yet ceased to marvel at the insanity of subordinating the production of our food to the production of poison, or at the evil of anyone who supports or tolerates this.
 
I’ll now be writing a series of posts on the health effects of these poisons we must ingest in order to get some food. I’ll start with Bt toxins. Unless otherwise linked, all the studies and information I mention in this post, along with their original sources, can be found in the 2012 Earth Open Source report “GMO Myths and Truths” and/or the 2013 paper “Don’t Look, Don’t Find”.
 
(Although I’ll be writing about the escalated use of agricultural poisons in future posts, here I’ll mention in passing that it’s Big Lie propaganda when the hacks claim that GMOs reduce pesticide use. If pressed, they try to refer only to sprayed insecticide. (GMOs indisputably cause a massive increase in herbicide use.) This is fraudulent accounting, since of course the insecticide generated by the crops themselves has to be counted as the environmental poison it is. If you count the endemic Bt production, GMOs also increase insecticide use. Then there’s the fact that seeds are increasingly coated with neonicotinoid insecticides and fungicides, which also become endemic in the cells of the poison crop. Finally, on account of accelerating development of insect resistance to these endemic poisons, old-style sprayed insecticides, after a brief period of reduced use need to be resumed as well. This is the pattern everywhere with Bt crops. Sure enough, whereas the use of sprayed insecticide is low in Europe (where few GMOs are cultivated) and continues to decline, this use in the US GMO-occupied zone has started to rise again. So the one and only stat the hacks can pseudo-plausibly cite, reduced sprayed insecticide, is only an ephemeral condition and is a false mode of accounting anyway.)
 
The way Bt poison crops work is that every cell of the plant oozes one or more Bt-derived toxins. When the target insect eats the poisonous cells, the poison busts open the insect’s gut, killing it. There’s also Bt-based sprays which have been used for many years. The alleged safety of these is often argued as sufficient to assert that endemic Bt is also safe. But the alleged safety of Bt sprays is questionable in itself. Sprayed “natural” Bt has been found to cause allergic and autoimmune responses in exposed farm workers. Natural Bt toxin also produces autoimmune responses in laboratory tests with mice. At any rate Bt sprays are less concentrated and quickly break down in the environment. By contrast, genetically engineered endemic Bt poison is far more concentrated and is constantly produced in every cell of the plant. Also, the GE-inserted Bt gene has often been damaged through shoddy engineering and produces a toxin different from the natural one it was based upon. For example, Syngenta’s Bt176 maize, linked with the deaths of cattle in Germany, produced a toxin at least 40% different from its original version. Similarly, the Monsanto’s MON810 maize contains a transgene damaged during insertion which has resulted in its expression of several altered proteins, including at least one known allergen.
 
So there’s no comparison between the two modes of poisoning.
 
One of the basic lies told about Bt poison is that it’s active only amid the alkalinity of the insect digestive tract. But this has been disproven. Here’s just a few of the many studies:
 
*A 2013 study found that Bt toxins were active when suspended in distilled water and were toxic to mammalian cells under these conditions. See below for the toxic effects this study found.
 
*Studies in 1999-2000 which administered Bt toxin to mice intragastrically and intraperitonially found that the toxin binds to the small intestine lining. The study also found evidence of autoimmune response.
 
*A 2013 study found that the toxin binds to the gut wall of salmon. Here it produced local intestinal effects, cell degradation, and an autoimmune response.
 
*It’s also allegedly non-toxic to human cells, but in a 2012 study Bt was found to kill embryonic human kidney cells in vitro at levels of 100ppm.
 
*A 2008 study found that in the presence of Bt toxin dissolved in water, the water flea Daphnia magna (a well-known indicator species) suffered higher mortality, sexual underdevelopment in females, and lower egg production.
 
Another standard lie (also told of genetically engineered DNA material in general) is that the Bt poison will be broken down in processing and/or digestion and can never reach the bloodstream. This too has been disproven. A sample:
 
*A 2013 study found that complete genes can pass from food to human blood.
 
*A 2011 study in Canada found Bt toxin proteins in the bloodstreams of 67% of non-pregnant women, 93% of pregnant women, and 80% of umbilical cord blood. Even protein fragments can cause allergies, autoimmune diseases, and chronic disease.
 
*Studies in 2010 demonstrated that the Bt toxin survives the digestive process both in vitro (in a study simulating human digestion) and in vivo (in a study testing cows who ingested MON810).
 
So we know for a fact that we ingest Bt poison with our food, that it enters our bloodstream, and that it may be active in our digestive tract and elsewhere in our bodies.
 
Here’s just a few of the studies have associated Bt with the following health effects with organ toxicity, digestive system disturbances, allergic responses, autoimmune responses.
 
*A study feeding Bt maize to rats over three generations found cell damage in the liver and kidneys.
 
*A 90-day study with rats and Bt maize found a lower albumin/globulin ratio, indicating a change in liver metabolism.
 
*A 2008 study feeding MON810 maize to weaning mice and old mice found intestinal inflammation, peripheral immune response, and evidence of allergic response.
 
*A 1998 study of rats fed Bt potatoes found ileum swelling, inflammation, and cell degradation.
 
*The 2013 study linked above found that Bt toxins target mammalian (mice) red blood cells, causing damage which is associated with anemia, suppression of bone marrow production, and leukemia. This finding is especially disturbing when we consider that most Bt crops are stacked with an herbicide resistance trait and will be sprayed with glyphosate, which is linked to hairy cell leukemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The study also found that, contrary to industry claims, Bt toxins can bioaccumulate and become more toxic.
 
*A report found the following correlations between plantings of Bt maize and hospital diagnoses since 1995: Strong correlations with inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis and functional bowel disorders like irritable bowel syndrome and chronic constipation; and a moderate correlation with peritonitis. These epidemiological findings are consistent with laboratory findings that eating Bt poison is linked with gut inflammation and related diseases. As I’ll describe in more detail in a separate post, the linkage of Bt poison and glyphosate to gut inflammation and leaky gut is one of the most potent modes through which these poisons promote disease.  
 
The Canadian study I cited above did not establish where the Bt in the bloodstream was coming from. The researchers speculated that it came from meat and dairy in the diet. They thought it more likely that an animal would eat GMO feed and retain the poison in its own tissues (which even the pro-GMO European Food Safety Administration and UK Food Standards Agency admit happens), and that humans would ingest it from this dietary source, than that Bt toxin would survive food processing.
 
But another possibility is that when we ingest the Bt-expressing genetic material it may transfer to our gut bacteria via the process of horizontal gene transfer (HGT). If so, our gut bacteria may themselves become Bt poison plants, and our digestive tracts may become miniature Bt factories, constantly producing the poison, constantly eroding our gut wall exposing us to a vast array of diseases as well as the toxic effects of the Bt itself. I’ll leave this for the moment but shall be writing more about HGT, the health effects of digestive tract inflammation, and how GMOs and glyphosate cause this, in subsequent posts.
 
All the studies mentioned here were independent studies. We must always keep in mind and inform others that no government has ever required a safety test on ANY GMO, Bt or otherwise. Nor has any corporation performed a real safety test or been required to do so. Wherever an industry study has found evidence of toxicity (and this has happened many times), it was always in spite of the study testing only for non-safety parameters (matters of industry concern like weight gain) and having a design rigged against finding toxicity evidence (the studies are too short and contain bogus data groups meant to generate noise and drown out any signal).
 
Also, no government has ever performed or required an epidemiological study to find out what health effects GMOs have been causing since they’ve been commercialized.
 
In light of this willful official neglect, the difficulty of independent scientists obtaining research funds, the attempts of the cartel to deny research materials to any researcher who won’t agree to cartel control of the study and censorship of the results, and the propaganda machine’s demonization of any scientist who even questions the GMO imperative (which in itself proves that the hacks know they can’t win any scientific or rational debate), it’s impressive how much evidence we’ve amassed which documents the toxicity and allergenicity of GMOs, and provides evidence of their possible carcinogenicity. All the evidence has been compiled by independent scientists working diligently but necessarily in an ad hoc way. Imagine the evidence we’d have if society actually cared about the effects of eating poison and systematically studied it.
 
But then, the kind of society which would want to be conscientious about that probably would never have been so insane as to go the route of poison-based agriculture in the first place. It seems that complacency about studying the poisons’ effects goes along with complacency about poison as such. In that context, it becomes easier to understand public resistance to something so modest as GMO labeling. We have a massive case of the Stockholm Syndrome.
 
Therefore, the first task in building an abolitionist movement is to build the skeleton. For the moment the point’s not to persuade the masses, but to assemble the individuals who do care and do want to fight into a coherent whole. For the time being publicity’s goal is to recruit these cadres, and to get the abolition idea into the public consciousness. Not initially to sway the public, but to make it so that this idea is part of their regular thoughts, an alternative they always remember exists.
 
Then we prepare the organization for the day when large numbers of people, on account of whatever change, do want to pick up this idea and use it.

 
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December 24, 2013

New Report From Brazil on the Dismal Performance of GMOs; Terminator Stalls Out

Filed under: Corporatism, Dance of Death, Food and Farms, Law, Scientism/Technocracy — Tags: — Russ @ 2:24 pm

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Some good news out of Brazil. Last week I wrote about how pro-GMO forces within the government were trying to achieve an authorization from the Judiciary Commission for the Congress to legalize Terminator seeds. This came after an earlier promise from the Commission that it would not take such action, and after Brazil adhered to the longstanding global moratorium on Terminator seeds under the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety.
 
Today we’re hearing that the Commission narrowly voted down the proposal. This is the equivalent of a bill failing to emerge from committee, and so it won’t be coming before the Congress this time round.
 
Of course, the enemy will certainly try again, probably starting in February 2014 when the next session of Congress convenes.
 
In other Brazil news, the Brazilian Association of Agrarian Reform (Abra) has released a new report summarizing the first ten years of legal cultivation of GMOs in Brazil. (GMOs were first illegally planted in Brazil on a wide scale. Their presence and contamination was then presented to the government as an accomplished fact. Safely in the briar patch, the government then legalized their cultivation.)
 
The report (available only in Portuguese so far) tells the same story as GMOs have woven everywhere else they’ve been commercialized: They require greatly increased application of poisons, and yield less than non-GM conventional crops.
 
Here’s two typical numbers from the report:
 
In the past ten years, pesticide use in Brazil has increased by 190%, while around the world use increased 90%. (This number conflates two widely diverging groups, countries which have commercialized GMOs on a large scale and seen pesticide use skyrocket, and countries which have not and seen poison use level off or decline.)
 
Brazil’s soybean yield has grown only 4% over the last ten years, while it grew 31% from 1992-2003, prior to GMO deployment.
 
These numbers are typical of such studies. For comparison, I’ll cite some trends from the superb 2013 report by a team led by Jack Heinemann which compared yield and poison use in the US (the world’s GMO capital) vs. Europe (which has only sparsely cultivated GMOs) over the same time period.
 
I haven’t yet written up my own comment on this report, but for today I’ll just list some trends from it. The report contains copious numbers documenting all of these.
 
*Herbicide use is increasing in the US since the commercialization of GM corn, soy, cotton.
 
*If we don’t count endemic Bt poison (which of course we should), then insecticide use is slightly down during the GMO era, but very high compared to non-GM Europe. (If we do count the GMOs’ own endemic poison, then insecticide use is way up.)
 
*From 1985-2010 in Western Europe corn yields per hectare have been higher than those of the US. (From 1960-85 US yields were higher.)
 
*From 1985-2010 Western European corn farming has used less pesticide than that of the US.
 
*Wheat yields (comparing the US with Europe) and canola yields (Canada vs. Europe) are increasing at a faster rate in Europe than in the US and Canada respectively. In 1960 US wheat yields and Canadian canola yields were also lower, but the yield gap has increased and is accelerating.
 
*Insecticide use is falling faster in Europe than in the US. Again, this is counting only sprayed poison, not Bt endemic poison.
 
Those are just the main trends documented by the report. The new Brazilian report documents similar trends for that country. The same applies everywhere else GMOs have been deployed.
 
There’s no doubt at all about these two facts. They’ve been thoroughly proven. GMOs cause a large and accelerating increase in the use of agricultural poisons, and they yield less than non-GM conventional crops. The allegations of GMO hacks to the contrary are nothing but Big Lies. 

 
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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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December 5, 2013

GMO Creep Into the Sweet Corn Supply

Filed under: Dance of Death, Food and Farms — Tags: , — Russ @ 10:29 am

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Friends of the Earth recently did a sampling of fresh, frozen, and canned sweet corn available at US supermarkets and farmers’ markets, to gauge the presence of GMO sweet corn, a direct Frankenfood, in our food supply.
 
Although some varieties of GM sweet corn have been approved for commercialization in the US for over fifteen years, it wasn’t until the 2011 commercialization of Monsanto’s Seminis Performance Series variety that anyone’s made a real push to infect the food supply with this direct food GMO product. (Most GM corn is field corn, not used directly for human food, but destined for animal feed in factory farms, ethanol, and processed food.) This Monsanto product is a multi-poison “stacked variety”, internally oozing its own Bt poison and resistant to glyphosate. Herbicide tolerant GMOs merely assimilate the herbicide. So when you eat this product it has heavy internal concentrations of two poisons. You can’t wash them off – they’re contained within the cells of the food.
 
This preliminary result was better in the US than in Canada. In the US, 2 of 71 samples tested positive, while a similar study performed by the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network found 15 of 43 Canadian samples to be infected. It’s a relatively less bad result in the US, for the moment.
 
But unless consumers are active in telling retailers we won’t buy this poison and will shun a retailer who tries secretly to spike our food with it, the product’s prevalence will gradually creep upward. At the same time, cultivated Frankencorn will contaminate organic and conventional varieties of sweet corn, just as corn has already been contaminated extensively in its geographical center of origin, and one of its primary centers of diversity, Mexico.

 
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November 27, 2013

Saluting Sofia Gatica

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

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November 19, 2013

Why I Became A GMO Abolitionist

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After years of writing across many topics as a general anti-corporatist, I’ve become a focused GMO abolitionist. Why did I end up here?
 
1. Food production and distribution is the primary economy of humanity. We need to focus ideology and strategy here.
 
2. Conversely, food corporatism is the core battleground for corporatism as a whole, where its war to impose total domination will be won or lost.
 
3. Specifically, the goal of corporatism is to overcome the final limits to capitalism’s accumulation process and therefore the end of its ability to profit. 
 
How can capitalism overcome the limits of the earth? Only by becoming able to wipe out large swaths of its resources and synthetically replace them with its own enclosed proprietary products. This is the reason for the corporate state’s GMO project. If it works the way corporations and governments hope, the core human economy, physically and organizationally, will become a synthetic corporate product under the total control of the technocratic elites. They will be able to manipulate the entirety of its production and distribution mechanisms with precision control, allowing or denying food to any individual, group, or region, every crumb of it a pure profit-generator (on paper), every crumb of it firmly enclosed within the patent regime, this regime ruthlessly enforced by the full might of the police state.
 
Best of all, from the corporatist point of view, since agriculture will be under total technical control, the technicians will be able to wipe the slate clean at will. Is a particular set of GMOs no longer expedient for whatever reason? Discontinue it and replace it with a brand new set.
 
The ongoing fiasco with herbicide tolerant and Bt-expressing varieties becoming unable to cope with the superweeds and superbugs they generate against themselves, and the need to add 2,4-D and dicamba tolerance on top of glyphosate tolerance, and the need to stack six Bt insecticides where one used to suffice, is just an early, very clumsy form of this planned obsolescence.
 
Meanwhile the elites also hope this will eventually allow them to realize the old dream of human domination over nature itself. Although so far GMO contamination of wild plants is happening in an ad hoc, uncontrolled manner, the elites hope someday to strategically inject genetic modification into the environment at large in order to sculpt it the way they desire. This will also further enclose the entire surface of the earth as “property”, since in addition to the legal ownership of land, there will be proprietary control of the flora, as well as the water and air which carry the proprietary genetic material. Indeed, under these circumstances, wherever convenient for the elites this proprietary control will supersede “ownership” rights. “Libertarian” types gripe about government bureaucracies today interfering with the alleged right to enjoy one’s property, but that’s nothing compared to the control Monsanto has in mind, once everything on your land carries its patented genes.
 
How do they plan to do all this? No doubt this whole plan is still mostly hazy and theoretical. But the corporatists think that once today’s level of mechanization becomes impossible (on account of there being insufficient economically extractable fossil fuels), they’ll be able to keep industrial agriculture going through the increasing use of slave labor. This is expected to overcome, for a while at least, the declining ability of fossil fuels, aquifers, synthetic fertilizers, industrially mined phosphorus, and the ravaged soil, to sustain production. In this way the elites hope to gradually wind down the industrial civilization and return to some pre-oil mode of empire, while keeping their power intact, without suffering a non-linear collapse along the way.
 
How are the people to be forced to become such slaves? I’ve already written out my vision of a domination system based on debt indenture, so I don’t need to repeat it here. I mentioned above how the entire food system will be proprietary and based on predatory paper profits. Obviously it won’t be possible for the people to pay the prices the system will demand. On the contrary, neoliberalism is currently in the process of economically liquidating the Western middle class.
 
But at the same time the system continues to ratchet up the propaganda of belief in the reality of money and debt. Basically, the goal is to impoverish everyone but still bolster the people’s belief in a central money system and its concomitant debt regime. Thus the people will, if all goes according to plan, submit to a system where they continue to function, now as destitute laborers, where every day they go deeper into an impossible debt. The system won’t intend to collect these debts, which exist only on paper, measured in money which the elites recognize as worthless. The elites care only about POWER. The debt system will be used psychologically to help enforce the elites’ physical power, and will also provide a management mechanism for the selective use of this physical power, since anyone who is considered a problem in any way can immediately be arrested and dealt with permanently as a criminally culpable debtor. All prisons will become de facto debt prisons, while the death penalty for debt will also return. (It was common at least as late as the 17th century.)
 
That’s corporatism’s end goal. GMOs are intended to serve as the linchpin holding together and enforcing this system.
 
This is insane, of course. It’ll never be possible to sustain industrial agriculture this way. But if things continue the way they’re going, the system will push as far as possible toward this goal, causing inconceivable destruction, suffering, and death along the way, and perhaps rendering humanity’s recovery permanently impossible.
 
4. It’s to try to avert this outcome that I became a GMO abolitionist, and why I think anyone who wants to fight corporatism, capitalism, statism, elitism, tyranny, should also focus on this fight.
 
5. In spite of corporatism’s insane plan, and in spite of various utopian notions, industrial agriculture is unsustainable for the reasons I already mentioned above. Post-oil, the earth still can sustain a population even greater than today’s, but only if humanity switches in an organized way from industrial, corporate agriculture to decentralized, low-external-impact polyculture agroecology, along with food sovereignty as the rational and democratic mode of political and economic organization. If we do this, we can all feed ourselves well. If we don’t, the collapse of industrial ag will result in mass famine.
 
GMOs comprise a doubling down on all the worst aspects of industrial ag, as well as the system’s most vicious attempt to forestall the agroecology/food sovereignty solution.
 
Food sovereignty and agroecology vs. corporate agriculture is the most critical war of ideas humanity has ever undertaken. GMO abolitionism, first to discredit and then to obliterate GMOs totally, is a critically important part of this war.
 
6. As a strategic matter, GMO abolitionism focuses on a clear, non-negotiable operational goal. Organizational, strategic, tactical questions can then be answered according to this goal.
 
I think as a general proposition that part of the problem with “the left” has been its focus on excellent but vague aspirations like “social justice”, “ending inequality”, “fighting capitalism”, etc. These are all noble goals, but they’re not very clear, and don’t answer for themselves questions like, “What to do?” “Where should we be heading?” Thus it’s no wonder that so many people do nothing but keep spinning in place on a hamster wheel, or go off on corrupting, co-opting tangents.
 
But if we commit to a specific operational goal and then measure our activist lives according to what we’re doing toward that goal, we have a much better chance of getting somewhere. I’d recommend this to anyone. The core conflict of our age is humanity vs. corporatism. Since the corporate assault cuts across all pre-existing definitions, identifications, dichotomies, rendering all of these obsolete, where they weren’t scams from the beginning, it follows that all meaningful action must be one form or another of corporate abolitionism. Corporations themselves must be abolished completely.
 
Therefore, we must all, in our own ways, seek such abolitionist goals, wherever these are possible.
 
7. One of the great advantages of fighting food corporatism is that here we can actually build our own alternative right here and now. We can grow our own food, economically and politically support our local farmers, build our own local/regional processing and distribution infrastructure. While where it comes to other sectors it’s often hard to figure out what we can actually DO, here the work is obvious, it’s everywhere around us, and we can achieve great results immediately. Here, far more than in any other sector, we can vigorously build the new within the old, in the process making ourselves politically and economically stronger, more politically self-confident, building our movement as a general fortress of communities, a strong point for all counteroffensives against corporatism.
 
Community Food and Food Sovereignty are the currents which comprise this great affirmative movement. GMO abolitionism is its great and necessary negative corollary.
 
8. Finally, regarding those false dichotomies – left/right, public/private, science/religion, liberal/conservative, socialism/”free market”, protectionism/”free trade”, republican/democrat, many others – concern over our food, corporate domination of our food, and in particular GMOs being forced into our food, is a concern that cuts across all identifications. Therefore these kinds of issues, and GMO abolition in particular, can serve as a potent wedge slicing through lots of calcified dogmatic structures, perhaps breaking them open completely. This is an ideological sweet spot.
 
Since one of the worst problems we face is all sorts of calcified, sclerotic divisions which don’t reflect any sort of reality but serve only the divide-and-conquer purposes of corporatism, anything which helps slice through these divisions is a potent weapon. I think GMO abolitionism can serve as such a wedge.
 
9. All GMOs are probably poisonous, Bt-expressing ones certainly are (by definition), and they’re designed to cause a massive escalation in the use of horrific environmental poisons like glyphosate and 2,4-D.
 
We also face the contamination crisis. GMOs in the environment will continue to contaminate crops and wild relatives, with dire consequences for the future of agriculture and ecosystems. Nothing short of total abolition can prevent the worst.
 
Nothing in humanity’s history has been as insane and evil as this plan, undertaken by the mainstream of modern elites, to undertake the wholesale poisoning of our food, water, soil, and environment. Nothing in history has even come close to the insanity and evil of this.
 
 
So those are the reasons I became a GMO abolitionist.

 
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November 16, 2013

New Report on GMO Contamination

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An excellent new report from Testbiotech on the state and prospects of GMO contamination in non-GM crops and wild relatives.
 
The report finds that it’s likely some GM contamination in some places, such as from bentgrass in the US Pacific Northwest, canola in Canada, the US, Europe, Japan, and elsewhere, and cotton in Mexico, has become indelibly entrenched among wild plants.
 
For others, such as corn, rice, and poplar trees, it’s probable that the contamination will become permanent if GMOs keep being pushed into the environment.
 
The modes of contamination are pollen dispersal from field tests and commercial plantings. This is dispersal by wind, insect pollinators, and other means. Seeds can also be carried by wind, floodwaters, birds, eaten by animals and deposited in their droppings. Viable seeds are also part of agricultural transport, which is why feral GM canola infests roadsides, railways, and shipping ports wherever the seed has been transported. Seeds and volunteer plants often linger wherever a GM crop was planted. Meanwhile, wild relatives who have taken up a trait like herbicide tolerance find it easy to encroach on agricultural zones, since they have an advantage over other weeds which lack that trait. This increases the proximity of wild relatives and agricultural crops, which increases the cross-breeding among them.
 
The report finds that as with health risks and food safety, there has been little will among governments to study the rate of contamination or assess the dangers. Just as with the health dangers, it’s been up to independent researchers to scrounge up on their own whatever meager funding they can find to do real research on this. Similarly, the legal safeguards against it are conceptually meager and poorly enforced. It’s not surprising that a government which doesn’t care whether GMOs are safe to eat also doesn’t care that they inevitably contaminate non-GM crops and wild relatives.
 
The report makes a few basic deductions about the rate of GM pollution, among crops and in the wild.
 
*As a rule cultivated crops are less able to survive in the wild and require constant replanting. But crop-wild hybrids may have some advantages, such as insect resistance.
 
*Once the contamination spreads to wild relatives, there’s a much greater chance of its becoming indelible.
 
*Where herbicides are being sprayed, feral herbicide tolerant (HT) crops and crop-wild hybrids which have taken up the HT trait will have an advantage. At the fringe area between cultivation and wild land they may become dominant and then spread beyond. Wind and water drift of glyphosate and other herbicides may aggravate this phenomenon.
 
*In general, invasive species have a lower rate of success among stable ecosystems than among ecosystems in turmoil. Therefore wherever human actions are disrupting ecosystems, including the disruptive effects of climate change, GM-contaminated plants may have a better chance to establish themselves.
 
*Cross-pollinators will spread more rapidly than self-pollinators. The typical length of seed dormancy will help or hinder propagation by the route of stray seeds latent in the soil, or blown by the wind, carried by birds or trucks, etc.
 
*Unlike with most crops, many domesticated grasses like bentgrass, rice, and sorghum are both invasive on their own and remain genetically close to many wild relatives in close proximity. These have a high potential for permanent contamination.
 
*Perennials like trees or alfalfa have a high potential, as they continue to disseminate their contaminated material for many years.
 
*I’ll add that, at least in Monsanto’s dreams (and the courts have done all they can to support these nightmares), the spread of proprietary material confers ownership and control wherever it goes. Therefore it’s an unspoken, perhaps in many cases unconscious, goal of government policy to contaminate as much of agriculture and the environment as possible. This also gives these genes an advantage, wherever the power of the corporate state can exert itself.
 
Contamination of wild relatives is especially hazardous in the crops’ centers of genetic origin, which are the geographic repositories of the biodiversity upon which agriculture depends. These centers of diversity include Mexico for cotton and maize, Andean regions for potatoes, the Mediterranean region for sugar beets and canola, the Middle East for many grains, India for cotton, Southeast Asia for rice and eggplant, China for soybeans and rice.
 
The bulk of the report is a series of regional case studies. Each examines the current knowledge as to the extent of GMO contamination, gives an analysis of how it’s happening, and offers prognostications. The case studies are:
 
Creeping bentgrass in Oregon; cotton in Mexico; maize in Mexico; canola in Canada, the US, Japan, Australia, the EU, and Switzerland; poplar in China; rice in China.
 
I won’t go over all the details here, but encourage you to check it out for yourself. The examples give a broad overview of how contamination occurs, the geographical distances over which it can range, the possible vectors even where no GM crops are being planted, modes of entrenchment amid wild populations, and other aspects of the problem.
 
I’ll only draw special attention to the case of GM canola in the EU, where it was briefly commercialized by Bayer but whose commercialization was revoked in 2007. Bayer was then enjoined to clean up residual contamination within five years. Yet even though the product was commercialized for only a few years and never grown extensively, contaminated plants are lingering persistently in the environment. Thus in 2012 the five-year term had to be extended for another five years.
 
If it’s this hard to clean GMO canola out of Europe, it must be permanently entrenched in Canada and the US, where it’s been grown longer and much more extensively. This example refutes any lies about the system being able to control the spread of GM material and to clean up any contamination which does occur.
 
The report closes with recommendations.
 
 

On the basis of the documented cases and current gaps in knowledge regarding dispersal, interactions
with the environment and long-term ecological behaviour of genetically engineered plants, we recommend
strengthening the precautionary principle and prohibiting releases of genetically engineered
organisms if
 
a. they can persist and invade the environment if they unintentionally escape their containment.
 
b. there are major doubts about whether they can be withdrawn from the environment within a
reasonable period of time if this is urgently required.
 
c. it is already known that they will persist or show invasive behaviour after release into the environment.

 
This report adds to the vast amount of evidence which proves the answers to those ifs.
 
a. They can and will.
 
b. There are.
 
c. It’s known.
 
In truth, by now the precautionary principle has decided once and for all against GMOs. We know that:
 
1. Contamination is inevitable, and will inevitably become indelible.
 
2. No one can predict the long-term results, other than that they’ll diminish biodiversity, which is likely to have only bad, and perhaps disastrous, effects.
 
3. Therefore GMOs can never legitimately be released into the environment. ANY planting of a GMO is a crime, plain and simple.
 
This report provides more evidence for the proposition that humanity cannot co-exist with GMOs, and that GMOs must be totally abolished.

 
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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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