Volatility

July 13, 2014

Agricultural Globalization, El Salvador Example

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Classical public agricultural programs have been doing in El Salvador what they’ve always done everywhere they’ve been deployed – improve the economic stability of small farmers and enhance their ability to produce plentiful, healthy food.
 
That’s why corporate agriculture and globalization have always targeted these since the onset of the neoliberal campaign. This was the first thing in Kissinger’s mind when he said “control the food and you control the people”, or what Earl Butz was thinking of when he coined the phrase “food weapon”. Behaviorally, the main goal of IMF-driven debt indenture has been to force the “structural adjustment” of these agricultural programs across the global South, i.e. to eradicate them.
 
They say the reason the Soviet experiment went awry in Russia was because it was a premature attempt to impose modern socialism upon an economy still basically feudal. Whether that’s true or not, what’s far more anti-historical and worse from any practical view is neoliberalism’s “post-modern” imposition of what’s basically a restoration of feudalism, whether it be upon a modern agricultural economy like that of Europe (the TTIP/TAFTA looks to be perhaps corporatism’s last big chance to do that) or upon a southern country like El Salvador just now attempting to build an agricultural economy through the successful use of public interest programs.
 
That’s the context for the US government’s blackmail over a proposed “foreign aid” package. The vehicle for this alleged aid is to be a thing called the Millennium Development Corporation. Instituted by the Bush administration and cherished by Obama, this entity is as ugly as its name. Along with USAID, such government-constituted pseudo-NGOs are merely another kind of laundered corporate welfare and propaganda conveyance. (The nominally “private” counterparts of these are the corporatist foundations. Where it comes to agriculture, Bill Gates’ AGRA is the most aggressive.)
 
The money is promised to bring the whole gamut of “development” and “jobs”. We already know that neoliberalism does nothing but destroy jobs, and is indeed nothing but an accelerated job destruction program along a propaganda campaign to justify this to the people and keep them politically quiescent. Phony promises that staying the course will somehow, by some veritable magic, bring back the good old days of jobs that support a middle class lifestyle, are the core of this propaganda.
 
The architects of globalization peddle a version of this same propaganda to the aspiring bourgeoisie of the global South (and to Western liberals who, they hope, can be duped with the term “foreign aid” into politically supporting the western corporate welfare and corporate domination involved).
 
Leaving aside the question of whether the 1950s Levittown lifestyle really is the best way of life humanity can possibly achieve (there seems to be a consensus among Western ideologies – liberal, conservative, libertarian, as well as most “radicals” – that it is), it’s a proven fact that none of this can work.
 
Even if one is serious about wanting to continue with the employment model but to “reform” it, it’s clear that the heyday of “job creation”, an artifact of the days of cheap oil, is over and done with. If you want to reform, your only real option is to rejigger the system so that each jobholder receives a living wage for working fewer hours. This could easily be done. Even at this point in civilization’s energy cycle there’s still far more than enough wealth for it. Society and the economy would be far healthier and more productive if we all worked fewer hours with a much higher minimum wage. As with single payer health insurance in the US, it could easily be done and would be a vastly more rational, constructive policy. As with single payer, the one and only thing preventing it is that the two political parties and their respective liberal and conservative constituencies don’t want to do it. In the US the constituency among the people for corporate fascism is roughly synonymous with the persistent, reactionary voters for either corporatist party.
 
Getting back to El Salvador, the goal of neoliberal propaganda here is to drum up such a constituency in a southern country. But here it’s especially shoddy message, since there will clearly never be a period of such mass middle class development. It was cheap oil that afforded the extrusion of a Western mass middle class in the mid 20th century. Corporatization also wasn’t as fully rationalized. Today we have a globally constricting resource pie even as corporatism has become fully totalitarian. We can call this fully developed neoliberal corporatism “postmodern” in the sense that it’s intended to be the vehicle for the restoration of a fully corporate-feudal system for the post-oil age. I’ve written before about how capitalism never fully supplanted feudalism, but rather developed a capitalist/feudal hybrid, with the corporation as its most typical form and weapon of power. Now corporatism seeks to totally constrain all economic and political forces in order to maintain the power of today’s elites and the system which empowers them, in whatever form the post-oil energies afford.
 
Therefore the South will never go through its own stage of mass middle class development. Its resource base and labor will have to be ever more rationally and viciously exploited by transnational corporations and the most powerful Western governments (the BRIC governments are also trying to set up such an exploitation system, and like with the West’s “New Alliance” campaign, also have an eye on Africa) in order to maintain their own power and fraudulent “growth” propaganda for domestic consumption. But the southern-oriented propaganda is meant to foster delusions of such development in the South, and in that way engender widespread collaboration and even wider quiescence. As always, the main goal isn’t so much to gain active support, but just the absence of active resistance.
 
So far this hasn’t been working in El Salvador, as a coalition of farmers and NGOs has launched its own publicity campaign highlighting the great successes of the country’s current system of government supported non-GM seed production and distribution and the flourishing agriculture which has resulted. We can add to this the great potential of agroecology to build truly sustainable, healthy, prosperous agricultural economies and communities across the global South, and across the world.
 
In the meantime the success of El Salvador’s non-corporate policy is an example of a universal truth of agricultural economy, that all advances and innovations have always come from farmers themselves or from farmers supported by farmer-oriented public programs. Meanwhile the “private sector” has never developed or innovated anything or indeed performed any constructive role whatsoever. Historically, the corporate sector has merely waited for publicly developed technology, science, and infrastructure to sufficiently accumulate, and then used political means to expropriate what farmers and the public built. A gambit like the funneling of “aid” money through a corporate front organization like USAID or the Millennium Development Corporation, with every kind of privatization string attached, is an example of the way this kind of expropriation proceeds under globalization.

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April 4, 2014

GMO News Summary April 4th, 2014

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

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March 31, 2014

European Commission Comment Period on ISDS in the TTIP

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

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March 12, 2014

The TTIP and the “Right to Profit” (Investor-to-State Dispute Settlement)

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In 2012 US-based Lone Pine Resources sued Canada in the World Bank’s corporate tribunal under NAFTA’s Chapter 11 process, claiming that Quebec’s moratorium since 2011 on fracking was costing Lone Pine $250 million in lost profits. Lone Pine wants to engage in fracking right under the St. Lawrence River. Fracking is highly destructive, has been documented by the US government to cause earthquakes, poisons the groundwater and wells of whole regions, wastes tremendous amounts of water, destroys farmland where the wells are drilled, disrupts and terrorizes communities, wrecks local economies, and produces little gas. Most wells produce nothing, while the most productive fizzle out in a year or two, leaving nothing but wholesale economic, physical, soil, and water destruction in their wake. The main power function of fracking is as a typical Wall Street securitization bubble. Any sane region or country would ban it.
 
But according to NAFTA, none of this matters or has any standing whatsoever as a basis for legitimate public policy. According to NAFTA, public interest policy literally has no right to exist, wherever it gets in the way of corporate profit. 
 
Also in 2012, US-based Strongpoint Solutions filed a similar suit with the tribunal for $27 million. Although its complaint is somewhat vague, in effect it claims that Canada’s federal and provincial statutes against burglary, extortion, murder, and other acts interfere with its ability to offer such profitable services as contract murder. It claims these laws comprise “technical barriers to trade” and are according to NAFTA an illegal constraint on “investor rights”.*
 
I’ve previously written (parts one, two, three) about the provisions of the TTIP and TPP for regulatory Gleichschaltung (coordination) under corporate rule. While that’s meant to be a longer-term project, a more immediate and direct attack on democracy and politics will be these compacts’ souped-up corporate tribunals called “investor-to-state dispute settlement” (ISDS).
 
ISDS is a way for corporations to directly sue countries over any policy provision which allegedly costs them profit. The suits take place in secret tribunals presided over by corporate lawyers. These tribunals are lawless administrative courts outside of any kind of democratic oversight or accountability. They’re most similar to administrative courts which have been run by secret police organizations like the tsarist Okhrana and the Nazi SS. The process gives oligopoly corporations based in any country which is party to a compact special privileges over the rights of the people or of any legitimate business within any country which is also a party. It exalts the “right” to corporate profit as the supreme imperative of society, lofting it far above all other values, rights, goals of policy and law.
 
If the TTIP and TPP are ratified, their ISDS provisions will follow the NAFTA model for filing disputes. From the corporatist point of view this is an improvement over the older WTO model. Under less rigorous globalization compacts, when a corporate sector based in a country feels hampered by a law or regulation in another participating country, its government sues the other government in a WTO corporate tribunal. When, hardly ever “if” (the complainant almost always wins), the WTO finds the law in question to be a barrier to “trade”, it grants the plaintiff country the right to impose retaliatory tariffs on imports from the defendant country. These so-called retaliatory tariffs themselves are chosen in a way to penalize certain imports in order to support certain exports, so what the complainant wins at the tribunal is not so much a right to retaliate as a right to commit new aggression.
 
But from the point of view of the original surly sector, this is a highly convoluted process which doesn’t necessarily do IT any good. Thus at the behest of the Monsanto the US government sued the EU over its GMO regulations. In 2006 the US won at the tribunal and has since been able to impose tariffs on some EU exports, mainly some peripheral luxuries. This “win” therefore hasn’t done Monsanto and the GMO cartel much good.
 
But under the ISDS provision of NAFTA and the over 3000 multilateral and bilateral compacts based upon it, a corporation directly sues a government at a World Bank International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) tribunal. This tribunal is similar to a WTO tribunal, but instead of rewarding a government plaintiff with the right to impose a tariff, it rewards the corporate plaintiff with a direct monetary award, paid for by the taxpayers of the target country. This is meant to be (1) a direct corporate welfare conveyance laundered as a “judicial” award, and (2) a pretext to gut regulation and law at lower levels of government which isn’t sufficiently pro-corporate, and to impose a chill effect which prevents the enshrinement of such laws and regulation in the first place.
 
Chapter 11 lets corporations complain about any policy, law, regulation, court decision, which in any way allegedly infringes on any hypothetical profit the corporations can conceive. This has nothing to do with uneven treatment between foreign and domestic businesses. Even where the provision applies equally to all, it’s held to strict liability as far as how it impacts any corporation’s alleged ability to profit.
 
This is proof that globalization compacts are not about trade, but about power. If they were about trade, then a law which applied to everyone equally wouldn’t be a problem.
 
NAFTA also prohibits “performance requirements”, such as that in order to receive various permits a company has to commit to a region for a period of time, source local inputs, etc. In every way it seeks to enshrine a regime of 100% “rights”, i.e. license, 0% risks or responsibilities for the corporations.
 
The boorish quotes here exemplify the psychopathy of the concept of corporate “rights”.
 

Lone Pine claims the Quebec moratorium is an “arbitrary, capricious, and illegal revocation of [its] valuable right to mine for oil and gas.” The firm says the government acted “with no cognizable public purpose,” even though there is broad public support for a precautionary moratorium while the environmental impacts of fracking are studied. Milos Barutciski, a lawyer with Bennett Jones LLP, who is representing Lone Pine in the arbitration, described the moratorium as a “capricious administrative action that was done for purely political reasons – exactly what the NAFTA rights are supposed to be protecting investors against.” It may seem unbelievable but this lawyer may be correct that Lone Pine’s right under NAFTA to make a profit is more important than the right of communities to say no to destructive and environmentally dangerous resource projects.

 
We see again how from the point of view of corporatism politics as such is an atavism, and such values as democracy, public health, environmental protection, are by definition “capricious”.
 
This notion of a “right to profit” is a piece of extremism by any measure. As the provisions are crafted, the “legitimacy” of this hypothetical profit only needs to be confirmed by any friendly government bureaucrat. All that’s needed is for an official with any relevant agency to tell the corporation that he expects it to be able to get a permit, qualify according to a law, etc., and/or that he expects the proposed corporate action to be profitable. No matter how bogus, no matter how suborned, this is enough to establish the profit as some kind of mystical reality. (I wouldn’t be surprised if the accounting regulators then let the company list it as some kind of Account Receivable or other asset.) Needless to say, even now it’s easy for a big corporation to find a regulator chummy enough to give this testimony. It’ll be even easier under regulatory coordination. Indeed, in that case regulators will have a duty to seek such mystical “profit” opportunities on the corporations’ behalf and notify them of these.
 
There’s something Kafkaesque about it – the people comprise the real defendant and will pay the judgement, yet are not allowed any real representation or to observe the proceedings. Their “representatives” are government bureaucrats who are on the side of the prosecutor, and who helped the prosecution prepare its case.
 
Beyond this, the concepts which guide ISDS and globalization and corporatist policy in general – “risk-benefit analysis”, “best practices”, core good regulatory practices”, “Regulatory Impact Assessment”, “market liberalization”, “equalization”, “sound science”, “necessity”, “effectiveness”, and so on set up an adversarial antagonism between corporate profit and human society, with a strong presumption in favor of the corporations.
 
This includes modes of measurement which are automatically in favor of the corporation. There’s nothing scientific or rational about anything like “risk-benefit analysis”, which is on the contrary a purely ideological concept. RBA is arbitrary by definition, in that is arbitrarily enshrines corporate profit as the only value. It can be meaningful at all only to those who adhere to this ideology. If you don’t recognize any right of corporations to a profit, or if you think profiteering shouldn’t exist at all, or if you think the profit motive is only a tool to be used to help increase human well-being, from any of these points of view RBA or anything like it would be absurd and depraved.
 
Humanity must reject the entire concept in principle. We must apply the constitutional corporatism test – do corporations with special privileges legitimately exist at all? We deny the right of corporations to exist at all, and we deny their right to a profit (let alone any other “rights”). Therefore we reject the whole mode of measurement and comparison these compacts fraudulently claim to enshrine. I say “fraudulently” because there could never be any measured result which this regime would consider so little a gain to the corporation as not to be worth the damage it would cause, or too big a loss to the people that it wouldn’t be worth any corporate gain.
 
Thus the goal is to enshrine a guaranteed income for any corporate con artist. If a corporation can envision a profit, it has a right to be awarded this profit in reality. The job of the government and the tribunal is to ensure this profit. This is an extreme manifestation of the fact that corporatism is not designed to provide good products and services, but to guarantee itself a profit and maximize its power. As I said earlier, corporations are not such good/service providers, but power-seeking organizations who hijack and use an economic sector as their base of operations for economic and political domination.
 
Meanwhile the “right to profit” is part of the mysticism of power, and any provision enshrining it is the essence of a command economy.
 
Both Canada and Mexico have lost cases totaling several hundred million dollars in “damages”. That’s in addition to legal costs (which aren’t awarded to the defendant even when it wins) and tribunal fees. Extractive sectors like mining and fossil fuels have been especially aggressive in using these tribunals. Over 50% of ISDS cases have been filed by extractive corporations against Latin American countries. But as the Lone Pine case described above exemplifies, extractors are looking to the CETA and the TTIP to open up Canada and Europe to fracking, and to tribunal suits against any country which tries to protect its people, economy, and environment.
 
Similarly, although Monsanto and the GMO cartel have had little to complain about in the US or Canada so far (Mexico may be a different story these days), they’re eager for the TTIP to give them the power to sue the EU over the many regulatory and political hurdles Europe poses to the GMO assault. Such suits would be win-win for Monsanto, since they’ll either win money awards, or better yet the existence of the ISDS tribunal will give the EC the final inducement it needs to jettison all concern with European democracy and directly approve many or all GMO applications, the way it has always wanted to.
 
The possibilities for lawsuits and extortionate “damage” awards are limitless. Eli Lilly is suing Canada for $500 million for what it views as an insufficiently strong patent for anti-depression drugs. Renco is suing Peru for $800 million over extraction permits. Canada is suing the EU over the European Fuel Quality Directive, which disadvantages its filthy tar sands oil (the same which is slated to be conveyed through the Keystone Pipeline in defiance of US law). Today there are over 500 suits pending before the World Bank tribunals.
 
Civil society, democracy advocates, real businesses, farmers, scientists, public health professionals, environmentalists, and many others, every part of human society and the human economy, have long pointed out that there’s no conceivable public need for this form of extra-constitutional, supra-legal form of tribunal. For any and all actual needs, existing national and regional law is more than sufficient. As in so many other cases, the reform point of view and the abolitionist position agree that ISDS and these tribunals shouldn’t exist at all and serve no purpose other than to aggrandize corporate power and domination.
 
This may bode well for the future of the TTIP in the European Parliament.
 

In June 2011 a European Parliament resolution on the EU–Canada negotiations stated that, “given the highly developed legal systems of Canada and the EU, a state-to-state dispute settlement mechanism and the use of local judicial remedies are the most appropriate tools to address investment disputes.” In July that year, the Commission’s own Sustainability Impact Assessment of CETA came to the same conclusion, recommending a state-to-state dispute process only.

 

 
The ISDS provision is so clearly hostile to democracy and economically bad for the people of any country that its inclusion in the TTIP has become a major rallying point for the opposition in Europe. It’s so inflammatory that in January the EC felt the need to retrench. It announced it would issue a public “consultation” in March, followed by a three month public comment period.
 
We already know this “consultation” will be a scam, since we’ve already been through a similar consultation on ISDS with the EU-Canada trade compact (CETA), set to go into effect in 2014. CETA is evil in itself, and is a forerunner of the US-EU TTIP. The Seattle to Brussels Network was able to see a leaked copy of the secret CETA negotiation text on “investment protection” and ISDS and compare it to the public “consultation” note. The public note is just a propaganda document which is much weaker and loaded with anodynes than the real text. It has boilerplate about a theoretical “right to regulate” and misleading definitions and depictions of the scope of the corporate powers being conferred.
 
The main point is that the real text gives coordinated regulators and tribunals vast discretionary power to interpret the provisions and their own powers to act on behalf of corporate imperatives. Much of the language is vague and meant to preserve this discretionary power of bureaucracy, much like with the regulatory coordination provisions. Also like those, it’s meant to postpone specific harsh measures for the subsequent administrative process, rather than daring to run the political gauntlet by including them formally in the compact.
 
The public CETA consultation note promises certain limits on the right to profit, on concepts like “fair and equitable treatment” (FET), on what constitutes an “investment”, a code of conduct for the arbitrators on the tribunal, a promise of transparency, and other anodynes. But the actual negotiation text is significantly different in each case, and in each case what the note says or implies is much weaker, or is mere vague boilerplate with no corresponding provision in the real text. The actual text also contains all sorts of preemptions of the constraints alleged in the note, such as “most favored nation” and similar clauses. Even if constraints on ISDS were initially to be encoded, these would be subsequently subject to “equalization”, “harmonization”, and other modes of destruction under the permanent ongoing regulatory coordination process.
 
We can expect the upcoming TTIP public “consultation” to be a similar propaganda ploy.
 
Meanwhile, as the EC negotiators made clear, it’s only the ISDS provision which is being delayed at all, and only this may in theory be changed. The rest of the TTIP – the negotiations over the sectoral assaults and the regulatory Gleichschaltung plan are at full steam ahead, and these will not be ameliorated one bit.
 
The TTIP (and TPP) as a whole is an assault on freedom, democracy, economic prosperity, and human happiness. It’s to be a major escalation of corporate tyranny, a major step toward corporate domination. As we should have abundant experience by now, all of its promises are lies, and none of its promised benefits will come true. It’ll only accelerate the corporate destruction of the real economy and what’s left of democratic politics, leaving behind only austerity, serfdom, hunger, disease, and an ever more severe police state.
 
We need to reciprocate the EC’s political ploy by seizing the opportunity of the sham “consultation” to expose the overall sham of the TTIP and engineer its political defeat. This is likely to be the last chance the politics of representative democracy gets.
 
[*Actually, that case is a rumor and may not really exist. But even if no such suit has been filed, I defy anyone who supports ISDS to tell me by what logic it shouldn't be able to succeed at the tribunal if it was filed.]

 
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March 5, 2014

The TTIP and the Corporate Coordination Master Plan 2 of 3 (GMOs)

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In part one I described the basic bureaucratic coordination plan the corporations propose to be enshrined in the TTIP and TPP. Here I’ll outline the basic demands of the GMO cartel. The three main sources I cite here are the “comments submitted” on the TTIP by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (which I’ll cite as BIO) to the US Trade Representative; the “response to consultation” on GMOs sent jointly by the BIO and its European counterpart EuropaBio (hereafter EB/BIO) to the EU-US High Level Working Group; and Testbiotech’s recent report on “Free Trade for High-Risk Biotech” (which I’ll call TBT).
 
The BIO commentary starts out with general principles for the biotech sector as a whole (including pharmaceuticals). There’s a constant drumbeat of begging for more corporate welfare (BIO 1,7), on account of how costly it is for the sector to develop its alleged innovations. There’s lots about how government procurement must always be at the highest proprietary price. There’s encomiums to how well central planning has been going so far (2, 13-14), a call for escalated coordination, and a wish list for the future (3,4,7) including the preemption of all laws, regulations, rulings, court decisions, which could in any way hinder the cartel. The USTR is to make the sector a priority (2,3) and establish a sectoral working group (5).
 
Anti-transparency and intellectual property “require priority attention” (5,6,7-8,9ff). Regulators are to keep all information secret except where corporations want something published. Conversely, biotech corporations are to have complete license to say whatever they want about their products without regulatory restraint. US and EU regulators are to be aggressive in supporting intellectual property prerogatives and policing violations.
 
(Note well that there’s no difference between government secrecy based on “national security” and corporate secrecy based on “intellectual property rights”. (Or media secrecy based on either.) These are fraudulent justifications with no real world importance, in both cases fig leaves for bureaucratic secrecy for the sake of power, since the monopoly of information is a part of concentrating power.
 
The same goes for surveillance. Neither the NSA nor Facebook has any legitimate reason to collect data on the people. In both cases it’s a bureaucracy collecting information to seek and defend power.)
 
The basic goals specific to GMOs are to normalize GMO contamination; speed up, weaken, and eventually gut Europe’s regulatory approval process; and coordinate all relevant regulatory activity on behalf of the cartel and GMOs.
 
The EB/BIO consultation is especially forthcoming on how GMO contamination is inevitable: “100% purity is impossible in the production of food, feed, seed. Agricultural commodities inevitably become intermixed to a small extent…It has become increasingly difficult over the last years [for the EU] to import commodity grains from countries that widely use GM varieties.” (EB/BIO p. 4; the idea is expanded on 5, 7) The anodyne qualifiers “100% purity” and “to a small extent” are supposed to imply that the contamination remains at a very low, innocuous level. But in truth the contamination is systematic, cumulative, ever rising. The key concession here is the term “increasingly difficult”. The comments rightly admit that non-GM agriculture and regulation which has a zero-tolerance contamination policy are incompatible with GMOs (EB/BIO 5, 7; BIO 16ff). When we couple these demands with the “evergreen” ideology of permanent regulator proactivity, we find that the goal is: 1. to do away with “zero tolerance” for small, so-called “adventitious” contamination, 2. to then keep moving the toleration bar as contamination becomes more entrenched, as it systematically proceeds. This goes to the core of why “coexistence” is impossible and complete abolition is necessary. This demonstrates the truth of that both physically and politically.
 
(The “100% purity” line also offers a broader lesson about the alleged “left” apologists for corporate criminality who like to berate thinkers and activists for being “purists”. Whenever you see someone accuse others of being purists or having a purity test, remember that just as in this case they’re not really talking about an adventitious, stable piece of impurity which can be mopped up later. They’re almost always defending a moving mass of corruption which is systematically getting bigger. Their accusations about “purity” will therefore always defend the current level of evil as being low, normal, accidental. But that level is in fact always moving higher, and is doing so in a systematic way. Such apologists are simply another kind of criminal publicist.)
 
The BIO doesn’t want there to be a specific bioregulator or biosafety agency (BIO 13). They want to continue with the status quo of pre-GMO agencies having their theoretical areas of authority over GMOs split irrationally between them. Thus in the US the USDA has authority over GMOs insofar as they could become “plant pests”, the EPA has authority over pesticides including Bt crops insofar as they are pesticide plants, the FDA has authority over “food” but not crops, and never mind that the GM aspects of the crops become aspects of our food, and so on. No one has authority over the combined GMO/herbicide system, and no one has a mandate to assess the seed-to-food life cycle of the GMO product or any authority over it.
 
But the corporations do want such combined assessments and power to be deployed on their own behalf. The BIO’s Gleichschaltung plan (17) calls for the US and EU to set up a special Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Committee. This Committee should set up “working groups across the various areas of agriculture”, all focusing on regulatory coordination under GMO cartel oversight. “Trade and agricultural ministers from the US and EU should commit to annual bilateral meetings focused on SPS issues”.
 
Thus the cartel wants an especially privileged position within the general coordination framework I described in part one. In addition to the general Regulatory Coordination Committee, it wants a special SPS coordination committee which will perform the same role, but specifically on behalf of Monsanto and the other cartel members. This coordination effort is to compel the regular personal attention of the highest relevant US and EU officials.
 
Now to the specific goals. 1. The #1 goal is to progressively weaken EU regulation. As I described in detail in part one, in principle this means to gut Europe’s precautionary principle and replace it with the US “ex post assessment” concept (BIO 14, TBT 31). Judging by the silence of the EB and BIO as far as an explicit attack on the precautionary principle, an attempt to formally gut it may not be included in the TTIP itself, but will be left for the administrative coordination process which will follow. But another pro-cartel organization, the European Academy Scientific Advisory Panel (EASAC) isn’t so shy (TBT 30ff). It’s explicit about how the US and EU must “unify and harmonize the regulatory and innovation-enabling roles” to eradicate the precautionary principle and replace it with a corporatist “innovation principle”. This is rendering explicit this particular goal of the bureaucratic coordination. The BIO (13,14,16) and EB/BIO (6) also give implicit statements of this goal.
 
(The EASAC report is an example of how under neoliberalism many corporate propaganda duties are farmed out to nominally independent, non-profit institutions, in this case an establishment “science” academy. But the report was written by the cartel’s academic mercenaries led by Joachim Schiemann and Jorg Romeis (TBT 30), and is substantively identical to the submissions from de jure industry groups like BIO and EuropaBio.)
 
The cartel wants the assessment of individual GMOs weakened and sped up (BIO 14ff, EB/BIO 3,6). It wants the EU renewal process to be first weakened, and then to be done away with completely (BIO 15-16). In this case the BIO and EB want to supersede the coordination framework and impose “binding requirements” (EB/BIO 3,6) for this acceleration and weakening of the process.
 
2. Expanding their goal, they want the EU to follow the USDA in declaring certain types of GMOs to be unregulatable in principle and therefore not to be regulated at all (TBT 30). They want new classes of GMOs to automatically be placed in this non-regulation category (TBT 32). Ultimately, they want to abolish regulation for “GMOs” as any particular kind of product at all (TBT 31), so that the default would be zero regulation.
 
3. I discussed above the basic ideology they want to promulgate on GM contamination. More specifically, they want to relax contamination tolerance threshholds and anti-contamination procedures. They want to take the EU’s existing “technical solution” doctrine which tolerates a .1% contamination level in imported animal feed and extend it to food and seed (BIO 16ff, EB/BIO 4,7). They want to expand existing “low level presence”  (LLP) doctrine to a greater range of contamination types, and also extend this from imported feed to food and seeds (BIO 16ff, EB/BIO 4,7). They want testing to be done by the exporter and then just rubber-stamped by EU customs. But they’re explicit that all this is just an inadequate temporary reform, while the real and necessary goal is to abolish the existing “zero tolerance” policy as such. This is because, as I said above, they recognize that coexistence is impossible and contamination is inevitable (and indeed desirable, from their point of view).
 
So they want to progressively increase the level of allowed contamination until the very concept is jettisoned, and at the same time they want to accelerate the contamination process by eliminating what meager safeguards do exist. 
 
The cartel’s basic position is that GMO contamination is not a physical problem which has to be physically solved through the abolition of GMOs. Rather, it’s a political problem to be “solved” by approving the hitherto unapproved contaminants. Just like with allowed pesticide threshholds in food, water, air, soil, the allowed level of GM contamination is to be an ever-rising formal validation of the physical level forced into being by the corporate action, the level required for them to sustain their profits and increase their power and control. The regulators already see this as their job, and this regulator ideology is supposed to be further formalized and radicalized by the coordination process the TTIP and TPP will enshrine.
 
So here’s the basic goal regarding contamination:
 
A. Extend the “technical solution” of allowing some low-level contamination to all food and seed products.
 
B. Under “LLP” let in everything which has been approved in the US (or anywhere else), and to which the EFSA has given a positive opinion (this too is a rubberstamp). This would comprise a de facto overthrow of the EU approval system.
 
C. The exporter’s own sampling is to be sufficient. EU customs sampling is to be abolished.
 
The BIO comments to the USTR aren’t as overt on as the EB/BIO consultation on the inevitability of contamination and the impossibility of coexistence. I wonder if that’s because “coexistence” isn’t taken seriously in Europe, while the cartel thinks it can be a successful Big Lie in the US. Therefore the BIO doesn’t want to concede anything in its US-geared comment.
 
4. Stacked products should be rubber-stamped as the sum of their parts, though this is scientifically indefensible (BIO 15, EB/BIO 3). It’s a well-established fact of drug prescription that the synergistic effects of multiple drugs together needs to be considered and where necessary guarded against. This is true of complex systems in general. But with multiple-transgene GMOs the doctrine is supposed to be the opposite: a complex system is nothing but the sum of its parts. Complex systems don’t have complex effects. This is a specific application of the overarching NPK ideology of industrial agriculture in general.
 
So the cartel says that if each of its constituent parts has been approved anywhere, a stacked product should be approved everywhere. Conversely, if a stacked product is approved anywhere, then all its constituent parts should automatically be approved everywhere they aren’t already approved.
 
5. GMO corporations should be able to play a switch game with their applications, sending one application to the EFSA to be rubber-stamped there, then sending a different one (but still with EFSA’s imprimatur) to the more “political” part of the EU approval process (EB/BIO 6).
 
This may be in part because the genomes of all the most common GMO varieties, and probably of all GMOs, keep spontaneously mutating and changing in significant ways. Therefore “the” genome which is described in the EU application is significantly different from that of any physical specimen of the crop. Not that the current system worries about this, but legally it’s obligated to do so. There’s been controversy over this injected into the current struggle over DuPont’s application for EU cultivation of its stacked 1507 maize variety. This variety has been found to have a real-world Bt expression levels significantly different from that described in the application. This is a significant variation in itself, and could reflect underlying genomic instability.
 
6. The US and EU should have “mutual recognition” of approvals with third countries from the point of view of the TTIP and TPP. So if some miniscule country with a corrupt government adhered to the TPP and then immediately approved every GMO application in existence, these approvals should automatically be accepted as valid by the EU and all other parties (EB/BIO 7).
 
7. The EU should declare the EFSA to be the only authority where it comes to GMOs (EB/BIO 6, BIO 15). The EFSA is well known to be not only ideologically committed to GMO corporatism, but corrupt in the conventional sense of the term.
 
This EFSA monopoly is of course to provide a ceiling only, while any relevant agency is supposed to be proactive in racing to the bottom.
 
A specific complaint of the BIO (15) regards the recently revised requirement for 90-day rat-feeding tests, which it brands as “political interference in the EFSA risk assessment process”. This requirement (inadequate – the life cycle of the rat is 2 years; a 90-day test is designed to not measure chronic effects; thus the technical term for it, “subchronic”) was indeed adopted by the EFSA under duress on account of the great political pressure upon it following the findings of the 2 year Seralini study. This study exposed the fraudulence of EFSA procedure before the world. It became so untenable for EFSA to continue insisting that no testing whatsoever was necessary, that it agreed to the sham 90-day requirement, in hopes of forestalling anything more rigorous. But as we see, this is in turn too much from the cartel point of view.
 
8. In the longer run, gut EU country-level cultivation bans as well, and any authority member countries have to restrict GMOs. The US and the cartel have long objected to this example of decentralization, which the EC instituted as an ad hoc pro-GM measure. The idea was to make the overall cultivation approval process politically easier by allowing member countries to “opt out” with individual country-level bans. Thus MON810 maize, the only variety currently approved for EU cultivation, has been banned in Germany, France, Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary, Luxemburg, Italy, Poland, and Greece. It’s currently being widely grown only in Spain and Portugal.
 
But the US wants to gut all EC-level regulations, and then force total GMO license on all of Europe.
 
9. Since the US says the antibiotic resistance markers (ARMs) used in most GMOs are safe, the EU has to agree to this as well (EB/BIO 7). Although the EU doesn’t enforce them, in theory it has regulations which would have required it to reject importation approval for GMOs which are engineered to be resistant to kanamycin. This includes most of the common varieties. Contrary to industry lies, kanamycin is still widely used in medicine, and the intentional and systematic propagation of genetic resistance to it is a significant part of the overall antibiotic resistance crisis being intentionally caused and escalated by industrial agriculture.
 
Wanting to phase out ARMs has been a periodically expressed “reform” position among some GMO supporters. EB/BIOs comment here is hoping to forestall this position from making any progress.
 
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Those are the main points. BIO includes a few others (17-18) such as better labor mobility (it wants to extend the wage race to the bottom to the genetic engineers themselves; that one I support wholeheartedly), better coordination of customs enforcement with regulators; “investor dispute settlement” (ISDS); some pesky tariffs still persisting for chemical raw materials; and a final repetition of the call for more lucrative government procurement, just for good measure.
 
The two big things left out of the BIO and EB/BIO comments are:
 
1. The explicit call to gut the precautionary principle.
 
2. Any mention* of the EU’s GMO labeling policy for food products.
 
In part one I described how part of the goal of regulatory coordination is to set up mechanisms to attack and destroy hated regulations through administrative means. In many cases the corporations will prefer to leave some particularly politically inflammatory issues out of the formal text of the TTIP, but instead leave those to be dealt with by coordinated bureaucratic assault beyond the reach of democratic procedure or accountability, once the TTIP has been safely ratified by the parliament. It looks like the cartel views labeling and the precautionary principle as being examples of this kind of politically hot issue in Europe.
 
So it follows that one tactic for Europeans who want to prevent ratification should be to get the public to view the TTIP as if it were a formal eradication of labeling and precaution, and encourage the people to pressure their parliamentary representatives accordingly.
 
(*Other trade groups such as the National Confectioners’ Association have explicitly called for the TTIP to wipe out GMO labeling. As usual, the cartel is forcing this kind of politically risky advocacy on the manufacturers and retailers.)
 
In part three I’ll describe how ardently the European Commission has responded to these corporate demands.

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March 3, 2014

The TTIP and Globalization’s Corporate “Coordination” Master Plan (1 of 3)

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In October 2012 the US Chamber of Commerce and BusinessEurope issued a joint manifesto on “Regulatory Cooperation in the EU-US Economic Agreement”. This was designed to provide the basic ideological framework for the upcoming TTIP/TAFTA negotiations, as well as the specific plan for what is variously being called regulatory cooperation or regulatory coherence. To best put it in historical context, I call it “coordination”, following the German term for this kind of ideological and organizational/strategic/tactical doctrine, Gleichschaltung. The basic idea is to fully formalize and rationalize the subservience of government regulatory bureaucracies to corporate bureaucracies, and to render the service of regulators on behalf of corporations systematically aggressive and proactive.
 
To start with some definitions, as the terms are used in this and a few other documents I’ll be discussing. This is also what these terms mean for globalization and corporatism in general, and what they mean when used in the corporate media.
 
*”Trade”, “investment”, “investor”: Corporate imperative, corporate prerogative (including the right to any conceivable profit, to be enforced and/or directly paid by the government itself, as we’ll see in the case of “investor dispute settlement”), corporate power, a command economy based on maximizing these.
 
*”Stakeholder”: Corporate oligopoly sectors. The corporate persons who populate these sectors are the only recognized citizens of the globalization commonwealth, and therefore the only ones who are considered to have a legitimate stake in anything government does. Government’s proper job is to serve these corporate citizens and only these corporate citizens. This is the totalitarian principle of corporatism and the globalization command economy.
 
*”Equivalence”: The race to the bottom, for all regulation which would impose any restriction whatsoever on corporate actions. Also in some cases a race to the top for corporate welfare conveyances and regulator aggression against economic rivals of corporate oligopolies.
 
*”Cooperation”, “coherence”: Coordination (Gleichschaltung) of government bureaucracy under the control of corporate bureaucracy. The plan for corporate bureaucratic rule, still mediated mostly through the nominal control of government bureaucracy and the nominal rule of neoliberal pseudo-democracy. But it’s a significant step forward in formalizing and rationalizing actual corporate control.
 
*”Regulation”, “legislation”, “non-legislative acts”: Weapons on behalf of the corporate imperative, where possible. But can also mean atavistic (i.e. political) manifestations of democracy, which are to be fought and suppressed. These documents lay out a battle plan for the coordination of the offensive weaponry and defensive suppression measures. Under corporate leadership, government regulators are to systematically organize and act upon their inherent hostility to democracy and politics as such.
 
This is why we must reject in thoughts and words any concession to the Big Lie that globalization has anything to do with legitimate trade. Real trade is demand-based and develops naturally and organically from human economies. Globalization, so-called “free trade”, is a top-down planned economy based on intentional overproduction and the subsequent forced creation of “markets” for this overproduction. To be anti-globalization is therefore to be pro-trade in the real economic sense, and vice versa.
 
This corporate document is a perfect example of the economic planning involved in globalization. It may be taken as a general statement of what all the corporate sectors want. Following this I’ll do a similar discussion for the plans written by the GMO sector. That’ll be part two. In these corporate plans everything is always to be understood in terms of supply-based corporate imperatives (profit and control). Throughout, it’s taken for granted that the goal of the TTIP and of all globalization policy (and government policy as such) is “market liberalization”, i.e. a command economy based on overproduction, corporate welfare, dumping, coerced markets, and the total gutting of all public interest regulation. Note well that only public interest regulation and demand-side policy like local buying requirements are targeted for “equivalence” and “coordination”. Corporate welfare, such as Big Ag crop insurance, is not considered a “regulation” which needs to be “equalized” among the parties to the compact.
 
The US CoC and BE start out proclaiming that the a US/EU globalization compact has both domestic and international coordination goals. Domestically, the goal is to “enhance regulators’ efficiency and thus effectiveness in fulfilling their domestic regulatory mandates” (p.1). In other words the coordination provisions encoded here are also to control domestic regulatory policy. Globally, the goal is to “establish a clear goal” of “equivalent regulatory outcomes” for all US and EU regulators, and to “provide new tools and a governing process to guide regulatory cooperation on both a cross-cutting and sector-specific basis”.
 
There’s the race to the bottom and the plan for total coordination. “Cross-cutting” refers to the permanent and constantly expanding generic plan for regulatory coordination. “Sector-specific” refers to whatever pro-corporate floors and ceilings the TTIP specifically sets for a given sector. But since some of the corporate demands, such as completely eradicating EU GMO regulations and labeling, are so politically inflammatory that their de jure enshrinement in the compact could endanger its ratification by the parliament, the coordination plan leaves lots of things vague and intended to be settled bureaucratically at some unspecified future time, once the democratic part of the process is safely over.
 
In general, the coordination plan is meant to shift all real power and control in space and time to future bureaucratic consultations, and away from anything even pretending to be accountable or democratic.
 
This goes along with the more specific “strong and binding technical barriers to trade (TBT) and sanitary/phyto-sanitary provisions”.
 
“Obviously, a determination that specific regulatory approaches are compatible can come only after intensive study and establishment of full trust and confidence between counterpart regulators.” Regulation is to be subjected to a coordination assessment between collaborating government bureaucrats (US and EU, under the supervision of corporate bureaucrats). The paragraph goes on to describe how this assessment is to be permanent, ongoing (“evergreen”), flexible, and involve the exchange of information and the setting up of one-size-fits-all sham procedures for regulatory applications for approval, safety assessment, testing.
 
The manifesto is then divided into six sections. The Preamble (p.2) lays out the propaganda goals. These are cast primarily as meant to indoctrinate regulators themselves with a “unified vision”, in the US and EU as well as in “third countries”. It’s also meant to “give US and European citizens greater confidence in traded products and services even as it helps regulators ensure optimal allocation of their scarce resources”. This euphemism for lying while robbing means that the people are to be subject to an intensified campaign of promises and intimidation. But the term “scarce resources” indicates that more and more the propaganda is meant to instill fear and resignation rather than hope. The propaganda is also to include a heavy element of sham solicitude for “small and medium sized businesses”. In practice this means corporate contractors who are nominally independent but really indentured entities. Actual, entrepreneurial small businesses will be excluded from all these benefits, at best. And they’ll often be the targets of aggressive regulator coordination.
 
The second part describes the “Regulatory Principles” (p.2). These are said to have already been well-enshrined in earlier US-EU joint statements. The new emphasis is “to make the regulatory component of the overall agreement comprehensive”, to set a new standard for “regulatory best practices” in all subsequent globalization compacts, and most of all to enshrine the principle that governments and regulators are always to “go beyond” wherever they are at the moment, toward more intensely realizing the “market liberalization” goal, i.e. the goal of total corporate domination. The manifesto stresses that the whole coordination process is to be “evergreen”, meaning that everything in it is to be always in motion. No matter how total corporate control and domination is at any given time, regulators are to consider the project to be just beginning and to look for ways to keep it moving. This is the essence of the totalitarian mindset and mode of action.
 
The “Regulatory Outcomes” section (p.3) lays out a basic strategy for permanent action. The paper emphasizes that while full regulatory equivalence is always the ultimate goal, the immediate goal to attain at least full information sharing and a coordination framework among all government bureaucrats under corporate discipline. In other words even if the bureaucracy as a whole can’t immediately achieve total victory over politics and democracy, it’s at least building the ideology and practicing the coordination work for a world of total corporate domination. Even if full equivalence is ever attained, the concept of equivalence in itself is never to be stable, but always in motion, since in principle there is no floor which is low enough for corporate freedom, and no ceiling high enough for the burdens to be imposed on alternative, rival sectors, as well as upon political and legal concepts of democracy, citizenship, legal standing, etc., wherever these could work in favor of human beings.
 
“This process should be oriented to allow stakeholders as well as regulators to identify entire sectors and regulations within sectors which are ripe for an equivalence evaluation. Such a regulatory cooperation component will add a proactive requirement directing and empowering regulators to seek mutual recognition, as well as a process by which regulators would be required to respond to stakeholder-identified opportunities to examine equivalence – neither of which currently exist in the EU or the US.” 
 
Bureaucrats are also to see their job as to undermine existing legislative policy wherever this is counter to the corporate prerogative. The compact is to override “any statutory barriers to cooperation”. They’re to craft and enforce regulations according to corporate specifications. Lower-level bureaucrats as well as higher officials are to have an open-door policy for corporate lobbyists. They’re to be “required to respond” to corporate demands. They’re to conduct pro-corporate assessments and keep the corporations informed of everything they know and do. This is all to apply not just in “trade” contexts but in purely domestic affairs as well. It’s a blueprint for the total corporatization of nominally public bureaucracies under an ideological and disciplinary regime more comprehensive and systematic than hitherto.
 
Corporations are to be closely involved in all regulatory assessments and consultations, adding input as they see fit. But regulators are to have a “proactive requirement” to always be looking for action opportunities on their own. This is a key part of the “evergreen” concept, how everything must constantly be in motion. In the same way a Stalinist was always looking for opportunities to inform and cause arrests, while insufficient activity on this score would become a cause for oneself to be arrested, so the mark of a good regulator is always to be on the lookout for ways to render regulation ever more pro-corporate. He’s to be proactive in evading, gutting, or being aggressive, always creatively interpreting and doing, in service to the corporate imperative. 
 
The most specific attack is on the EU’s precautionary principle. The goal is to replace this in the EU with US-style “ex-post assessments”, meaning that corporations are to be allowed to do whatever they want with no restraints, and then regulators will pretend to assess the effects afterward. As we’ve seen with GMOs, this is state-of-the-art corporatist regulatory doctrine, the radical opposite of the precautionary principle.
 
1. The presumption is to let corporations do whatever they want. This is the way GMOs are “regulated” in the US. The USDA does only a superficial technical assessment, the EPA punts, and the FDA fabricates the ideological lie of “substantial equivalence” to justify its own complete lack of action and the general sham character of US regulation.
 
2. Pretend that the government will assess the result. If there are bad effects, government will impose necessary regulation later. With GMOs this would require labeling (so everyone could easily trace GMOs in the food supply) and epidemiological studies.
 
3. In practice, this assessment will never take place. In practice the US government requires neither labeling nor epidemiological studies. Yet it happily tells the lie that GMOs have been assessed in practice and found to be safe. Since no such assessment is possible without studies, and since the government never performed or required the studies, it’s impossible to know if GMOs aren’t already causing chronic health detriments. This is one of the core Big Lies of cartel and government hacks, that GMOs have been proven safe in practice. In truth there’s zero evidence for this, while the independent studies which have been done have found significant evidence against it. To repeat, government has NEVER tested at all, “ex post” or otherwise. This example, which is typical, proves that the whole notion of replacing the precautionary principle with ex post assessments is a lie. In practice it means gutting the precautionary principle and replacing it with nothing.
 
4. In practice no bad result, if independently discovered, will ever be recognized. Thus the FDA and EFSA have always seen part of their job as to run interference for GMOs against all the independent evidence of their dangers which has been compiled.
 
5. It boils down to getting the corporate action in place. Then as an accomplished fact it can never be dislodged. This is in accord with standard bureaucratic practice – once something exists, it can never be dismantled. The ideology of the “accomplished fact” is also explicit. For example a corollary lie to the canned lie about a fraudulent “scientific consensus” in favor of GMO safety (these days often rebranded, “scientific majority”) is the explicit assertion that there should be a much higher burden of proof on evidence which challenges the dominant ideology. This is fraudulently called “scientific”, but it’s self-evidently nothing but an assertion of Might Makes Right. Actual science, on the contrary, weighs all evidence in the exact same unbiased way, whether it supports or contradicts a popular theory.
 
6. That sums up the basic lie of the whole concept, whose only meaning is to remove ALL regulatory barriers. To put it another way, the goal is to completely dissolve government as such*, other than as the facilitator of the corporate prerogative and political fig leaf for corporate rule.
 
[*In which case we'd be better off without centralized government. Especially under the corporatist framework, statism is stupid from any point of view other than that of the 1%.]
 
All this is more proof that it’s in vain to look to central government regulators for public interest action. For example, the FDA never actually could meaningfully regulate GMOs, including labeling them, since this is not its function in the first place. On the contrary, its function is intrinsically pro-corporate, and this corporatist function is slated to be escalated under these globalization compacts.
 
I dwelt on this goal of gutting the EU’s precautionary principle because:
 
1. This is the #1 specific goal of the US for the TTIP.
 
2. It’s the best example of how the general goal of globalization compacts is to gut even the most threadbare public interest regulation (in practice the EC and EFSA do all they can to evade and subvert the precautionary principle; only strong pressure from the European people forces them to adhere to it to any extent; but EU regulation of GMOs, which much stronger than that of the US, is still badly inadequate) and replace it with sham principles and total freedom of action for these criminal organizations.
 
Section 4 is on “Transatlantic Regulatory Tools” (p.4). This is primarily about enshrining the formal mechanisms of Gleichschaltung. It lists some “possible factors that might trigger the formal consultative role”, including any proposed new regulation or legislation which could affect an existing sector or in an “emerging policy area or developing sector”. So regulators are supposed to call meetings to formulate pro-corporate strategy to deal with any political threat or economic opportunity, as these come up.
 
But the core provision is the ongoing “Regulatory Compatibility Analysis” (RCA) and the permanent overall coordination committee (often called a “Regulatory Council”). This is a formal mechanism to systematize the way US and EU regulators come together to coordinate all their actions, all the while receiving “meaningful input” from the corporations. The goal of it all is to “put stakeholders at the table with regulators to essentially co-write regulation”. The manifesto lists seven questions as a “starting point” for the evergreen “consultation with regulators and stakeholders” (p. 5). These all involve assessing any and all government action from the point of view of costs and savings to the corporations, how much something will “increase transatlantic trade”, whether full equivalence is or isn’t desirable in a particular case, whether or not it’s better to promulgate a regulation within the one-world bureaucracy rather than domestically, and whether or not whole realms of regulation can be dispensed with completely.
 
All of these are to be approached with tactical flexibility. The only constant principle is that every action is to be toward increasing corporate power. Everything else is always in flux, though things like seeking equivalence or completely getting rid of regulation are general principles.
 
There’s a tentative paragraph about how to square coordinated information sharing with “business sensitive” information. The only thing they’re sure about is “harsh penalties for the release of confidential business information outside of a regulator-to-regulator context”. So the compact is to standardize the persecution of whistleblowers and real journalists at a harsh extreme. (This part also gives the lie to the notion that “small and medium businesses” can be part of all this. Are they also to have access to this information sharing? Their own information will be given to the big corporations, of course.)
 
Section 5 lists the “Institutional Provisions” for the overall coordination committee or regulatory council (p. 6). This council is to coordinate communications and timetables, measure progress, propose action of its own, harmonize the actions of coordinated regulators vis “mismatched authorities” like EU member states, US states, attack “failures of regulatory compliance”, and of course “work with stakeholders” throughout.
 
So the regulators and their coordination committee, taxpayer-funded bureaucracies nominally functioning in the public interest, are really supposed to perform cost/savings analysis for the corporations, craft and enforce regulation in the public interest, and then fraudulently tell we the people how they’re really serving us. In this manifesto we have the corporations themselves telling us how what I call regulatory triangulation really works. All this means further collusion, the further binding of corporation and state into the corporate state.
 
There’s a final fig leaf on “Preserving regulator decision-making authority”, which is just a sop to the neoliberal facade. In principle regulators retain a “veto” right to declare particular products outside the scope of the coordination. Of course at this point the “investor dispute settlement” provision would kick in. As we’ll see, regulators are also supposed to give consultations and assessments of regulatory action which help ensure victory at these tribunals.
 
To sum up, the plan is to be vague and flexible wherever necessary during the negotiation of the formal provisions of the globalization compacts (the TPP has its own version of everything here), postponing the most politically inflammatory assaults for the coordination process to follow on a permanent “evergreen” basis.
 
The manifesto I analyzed here was issued by the US Chamber of Commerce and BusinessEurope. Its provisions are typical of the consensus among all corporate “trade” groups and the various sector and industry groups.
 

The proposal is clearly not just any proposal.  On both sides, many other cross-sector business groups explicitly support the proposal or suggest a similar approach in their contributions to the official consultations on TTIP, including BDI (German Industry Association), Confederation of British Industry, Coalitions of Services Industries, British American Business, National Foreign Trade Council, Roundtable on Trade and Competition, Transatlantic Business Council, National Association of Manufacturers, Eurometaux and the United States Council for International Business. Some, notably the Competitive Enterprise Institute, take a step further and demand that businesses are able to choose freely which set of standards and regulations they will apply.

On top of this, 30 business associations, including most of the aforementioned, have written a common letter to the US Trade Representative and to Commissioner de Gucht’s department to stress the importance of a system of “regulatory cooperation”. They include sectoral lobby groups from the chemicals industry, car industry, the financial sector, biotechnology, pharmaceutical industry and many more. They point to the existing structures on regulatory dialogue, the High Level Regulatory Cooperation Forum, and assert that they “can be made much more effective and should include enhanced opportunities for dialogue with stakeholders”.

 
This is explicit confirmation from the corporations themselves that their goal is total economic control and domination, to be leveraged into total political control and domination. This confirms everything I’ve written about corporate totalitarianism and that humanity’s great need is to completely abolish the de jure corporate mode of organization. We have to abolish the corporations completely.
 
In part two I’ll give a similar analysis of the specific demands of the GMO cartel, then in part three the EC’s ardent response to all this.

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February 24, 2014

Corporatism and Globalization: The Context of the TTIP and TPP

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Perhaps the best way to prove the tyrannical intentions of the globalizers is to start with their own words. If we look at the manifestoes and comments issued by the various business consortiums, industry groups, and individual corporations, we find the unvarying demand that all government action be subordinated to the corporate profit prerogative, and that no other value be allowed to interfere with this.
 
This is why I call corporations and their intent totalitarian. My definition of this term: A powerful person or entity is relentless in pursuit of an imperative, at every moment wants to enforce the domination of that imperative to the fullest extent possible, and refuses to recognize the right of any other value to exist at all. A totalitarian may or may not be willing to “tolerate” the existence of something purely extraneous. But where there’s any conflict between the corporate domination imperative and any other value, it’s taken for granted there can be no compromise. The non-corporate value must submit, if necessary to the point of its own extinction. As the historical record makes clear, this is true of all human values – health, happiness, prosperity, culture, tradition, religion, morality, simple human decency and fairness. None of these can coexist with corporations. In the long run these must all go extinct, if corporatism continues to exist.
 
One of the reasons I became a GMO abolitionist is that this fact of the impossibility of coexistence is most clearly demonstrated in the case of agricultural poisons, where the unrelenting, uncompromising assault contaminates not just every economic and political aspect it touches, but goes the farthest in extending its indelible physical corruption to every physical medium – the soil, the water, the air, the wild plants and animals, the cultivated crops and livestock, our own bodies.
 
But the same phenomenon is general across all corporate sectors, which is why every kind of thinker, writer, and activist, however much one may want to resist this choice, will in the end have to choose between humanity, and therefore corporate abolition, or a total corporate domination which will destroy whatever it is one values. Many, certainly most established NGO types, seem already to be making their choices, though in a sense it’s an early day as yet. We must not succumb to one of the standard pathologies of progressives, that of demanding instant gratification.
 
In particular, there’s the pathology that any idea which can’t be boiled down to running candidates in the next election (and not just monkey-wrenching, gridlocking anti-corporate candidates, but affirmatively “good”, policy-intending ones, no less) is bad, “impractical”, objectionable, offensive, certainly to be rejected. We need to be aware that we’re in this for what from the point of view of a human life is the long haul. We’re not likely to see the abolition of corporations, perhaps not even of GMOs, in our lifetimes. (Well, at over 40 I’m not likely. Perhaps someone half my age may live to see it.) I’m clear that I was put here to be a writer, to express these ideas as well as I can, to broadcast them as far as I can, and leave it to people to use these expressions (not the ideas themselves, which can only coincide or not with the drive of the people; no one can ever convince anyone of anything they don’t already feel) in whatever way people find good.
 
And so back to the analysis of globalization as an economic and anti-political offensive being carried out by corporatism toward the goal of total domination. By economic and anti-political I mean that the goal is total domination through total economic domination, while all real manifestations of politics are to be suppressed completely. (The neoliberal phony semblance of “politics” – sham elections, nominal constitutional rights and so on – may continue for some time.) Power will be exercised at the command of corporate oligopoly sectors, by executive government bureaucracies and extranational globalization tribunals, and increasingly, directly by the corporations themselves.
 
The policies business wants encoded in the TTIP and TPP and enforced by governments and World Bank tribunals provide a clear picture of what these persons are. They’re nominally “businessmen” seeking “profit”. They’re really political and economic totalitarians seeking total power and control. They seek this under the rubric of business ideology, and using the corporation as their basic mode of organization. But any large corporation is not really trying  to provide a good/service and make a profit, but is rather a power-seeking organization using its particular economic sector as its base of operations. It seeks to attain total power within that sector and use that economic base to assert political domination as extensively as possible.
 
I was about to say, “just because it’s not overtly political, the way a de jure political party or political pressure group is, doesn’t make it any less the same kind of organization.” But in fact anyone who pays attention to corporate actions knows they’re every bit as openly political as any non-profit, de jure political group. Corporations and their trade groups describe and disseminate political principles, devise political strategies and carry them out, lobby nominal politicians and regulators. There’s really no such thing as a lobbyist-politician dichotomy, but only two political activists talking to one another. In every way corporations are organizations which seek political power. The only difference is that under representative democracy a de jure “party” is the kind of organization which runs someone called a “candidate” for a particular type of political office, while corporations are bureaucracies, identical in a de facto way to nominal government bureaucracies like the USDA or FDA.
 
Under the conditions of complex globalized economies real power naturally tends to accumulate with the bureaucracies, and whether these are nominally “public”, like the USDA, or nominally “private”, like Monsanto, makes no difference. Even an executive office-holder like a US president, let alone a legislator, would need to powerfully exert himself to alter this bureaucracy’s inertia in any significant way. Indeed, only revolutionary regimes have been able to do so. But then that could be a definition of a revolutionary government under modern conditions: A government whose leaders want to alter significantly the inertial trajectory of the bureaucracy. This is hard to do for a nominal government bureaucracy. For a private one like a corporation, it may be impossible unless the corporation wants to alter itself. Since under no circumstances would a corporation want to do this at the behest of a bottom-up people’s movement, it follows that while a people’s movement in theory may think of seizing the reins of government and altering the trajectory of government bureaucracy, such a movement can logically think only of abolishing corporations.
 
Still, if one wants to continue with complex commodification and globalization, one must accept the domination of bureaucracy in one form or another. The whole question becomes simpler if we understand that commodification and globalization as such are unnecessary for prosperity and undesirable from any human point of view. If we then seek not just to abolish corporations but to abolish all supply-based planned economy and restore purely demand-based economies, we can think of dispensing completely with bureaucratic rule. We can even think of having a choice among various forms of direct or assembly-based democracy.
 
Those are questions for another time. Under today’s conditions centralized representative government is not and cannot be anything but a sham. Neoliberalism has been, among other things, the art of perfecting the aesthetics, emotional manipulation, and intellectual astroturfing potential of this sham. It hasn’t just enlisted the mass media, the entertainment industry, the arts, the law, academia, the scientism ideology and scientific establishment, and the twin bourgeois ideologies of conservatism and liberalism, all of which would have happened anyway. It has convinced these adherents and practitioners to accept corporate rule as veritably a law of nature, something never to be questioned or even noticed, even in thought, and brought all these realms to the most potent level of marketing appeal to the atomized mass. All this is just the facade of power and culture.
 
Real power is inertially in the hands of the bureaucracies, “public” and “private”. But of course bureaucracies don’t just passively receive and use the power which economic structures deliver to them. On the contrary, globalization is a planned economy. It’s been planned by those same bureaucrats toward the goal of permanently increasing and expanding their power. Going back to the rise of imperialist ideology and corporate lobbying in the 19th century, corporatism has relentlessly and with ever greater self-consciousness and intentional focus sought to build this command economy. (I won’t here get into the history of where corporatism came from in the first place, but I wrote extensively about it here and here.)
 
This reached a new level of aggressiveness in the post-war time, and especially since the end of the Cold War. NAFTA and the “trade” pacts based upon it have comprised the state of the art in post-Cold War globalization offensives. Today the TTIP and the TPP propose to expand the NAFTA model from North America across both oceans to encompass Europe and the Pacific Rim under a single corporate umbrella, turn the Atlantic and Pacific into ponds upon one big corporate park, use this power position to overawe Latin America and ruthlessly subjugate Africa, and to crush what’s left of the substance of democracy and economic self-determination in every country encompassed, including America and the EU.
 
The twin bureaucratic structures, corporate and regulatory, understand this mission well. They see total power within their grasp. Today they’re gearing up to reach for it. The coupled mechanisms of the globalization compacts through which they intend to attain the totalitarian goal are “investor-to-state dispute settlement” (ISDS) and “regulatory coherence”. The former is a direct assault on democracy, civil society, and politics as such, as well as being a massive corporate welfare conveyor. The latter is a formula for total bureaucratic Gleichschaltung (coordination). More specifically, it’s a plan to fully and formally institutionalize the subservience of government bureaucracy to corporate bureaucracy, and to fully rationalize the processes of this subservience.
 
In subsequent posts on this I’ll relate the corporate plan for regulatory coherence in the corporations’ own words, relate the echo as it has come back from the governments and regulators, and do the same for ISDS. That’ll bring us to the EC’s upcoming, much-hyped “consultation” on ISDS with the people of Europe. Throughout, my examples will focus on GMOs and the GMO cartel. But this sector is not only extremely aggressive, but in principle is typical of them all. So the same description and the same kind of examples will apply in all other powerful sectors. Because the GMO cartel’s obsession with kicking down Europe’s door is at the core of the US government’s goals for the TTIP/TAFTA, I’ll naturally be focusing on the Atlantic side. But the TPP has the same provisions and the same goals.
 
Next up – the “regulatory coherence” wish lists and strategic plans of the US Chamber of Commerce, BusinessEurope, and the GMO cartel.

 
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February 21, 2014

GMO News Summary 2/21/14

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*In Russia the proposed bill to tighten GMO labeling standards on imported products and ban GMO cultivation within the country (there’s currently a bureaucratic moratorium) continues to wend its way through the legislative process while a new poll found that 80% of Russians distrust GMOs. The media is also touting organic exports as a potential Russian trade advantage which ought to be exploited. This reinforces part of the impression I have, that unlike the EU, Russia views this as a competitive issue rather than one of self-sacrifice to corporate domination.
 
I’ve been thinking the same thing about European agriculture in general. It looks to me like the proposed TTIP/TAFTA is an old-fashioned power move by the US government against European power, at the behest of the truly international corporate system (e.g., of the GMO cartel’s Big Five, three are nominally from the US, two from Europe, and their combined interest transcends both). Corporatism is veritably an attempt at One World Government, in the only form such a thing can exist, a totalitarian supply-based command economy. This is why corporatism’s lackey, wants to shift power from national governments: (1) as much as possible directly to the corporations, (2) where another layer of “government” is deemed necessary, to supranational globalization cadres like the IMF, WTO, and the corporate tribunals the TTIP and TPP would establish. The European Commission, itself a supranational bureaucracy, identifies with this global corporate system rather than with the countries, let alone the people, of Europe.
 
*A new study further confirms the link between glyphosate and celiac disease and gluten intolerance, two of the many digestive system-related diseases whose incidence has surged in correlation with the rise of GMOs and their concomitant agricultural poisons, like glyphosate, in our diets.
 
*I’ve previously written about the Sarpo Mira corporate welfare GM potato. Now there’s more information coming out about this government product. As we suspected, it’s a typical hoax which, even if it performs as claimed, is inferior to the conventional breeds which were pirated to produce it. Yet 3 million British pounds and counting in taxpayer funds have been thrown down this hole, while the real potato breeders are starved of research funds.
 
(The publicly-funded research institute, the John Innes Center, is the same I’ve previously mentioned for performing brassica research on behalf of Monsanto and running a completely pointless GM wheat field trial at its Rothamsted plot. We can see how the JIC is nothing but a taxpayer-funded corporate welfare conveyor and propaganda disseminator. These trials, where they aren’t conceived as actual profitable research on behalf of the cartel, are mostly examples of propaganda by action, as I described in my post on British field trials.) 
 
This is one example, small in itself but typical, of how the GMO research agenda is coordinated by governments to attain the related goals of conveying corporate welfare to the GM cartel, and smothering agroecological and sustainability research through denying it funding.
 
The corporate media runs a similar program, loudly touting even the most absurd claims on behalf of GMOs while imposing a blackout on the real progress made by conventional breeding and agroecology. Two classic examples are those of “drought-resistant GM maize” and the “cancer-fighting GM purple tomato”. In both cases the product is a fraud, while information about the conventionally bred varieties which really do the great things claimed is systematically suppressed. 
 
*Transcripts from the Steve Marsh lawsuit against trespassing and vandalism will be published online. The defendant, GM canola contractor Michael Baxter, claims his plantings met regulatory standards. If true, this is simply more proof that regulations are drawn up to meet whatever specifications the cartel demands, and not to achieve any actual public interest requirement. The alleged “public interest” character of regulatory bureaucracies is a propaganda sham, while their actions always obey corporate demands. And if Baxter’s plantings were fully legal, that’s further proof that coexistence with GMOs is impossible, and that humanity must abolish them completely.
 
*Speaking of “coexistence”, the USDA is extending till March 4 the comment period on its fraudulent and ideological coexistence policy. “Coexistence” is physically and politically impossible, as GMOs and the corporations which purvey them are totalitarian in both ways. The USDA wants to promulgate this policy as a propaganda offensive, and as a way to extend to agriculture the general trend of stripping the people of such rights as the right to go to court as a group, and instead to substitute coerced corporate “arbitration” in place of the judicial branch. This is a typical part of the general plan to shift all power from nominally “public” government to nominally “private” corporations. To put it in terms of US constitutionalism, corporatism involves the wholesale shift of power and control from the first three constitutional branches of “government” to the extraconstitutional Fourth Branch called “corporations”.
 
In reality, where it comes to power there is no government/corporation dichotomy, and no public/private dichotomy. There is only concentrated power, which is inherently tyrannical and inefficient from any reality-based point of view. Nominal governments and corporations together comprise the corporate state. Globalization compacts like the TTIP and TPP and cadres like the WTO are attempts to further consolidate this corporate state monolith, coordinate its actions, and intensify its power and control.
 
The GMO regime is a core part of the whole project. So that’s another reminder of how GMOs are economically and politically totalitarian, and how humanity cannot coexist with them but must abolish them completely. Here’s three reminders on how coexistence is physically impossible.
 

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February 4, 2014

New Report on Genetic Engineering and the TTIP aka TAFTA

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Testbiotech has contributed a new report to the fight against the Transatlantic Trade/Investment Partnership (TTIP), aka TAFTA. The report covers just one part of the ground in demonstrating how globalization assaults like this have nothing to do with legitimate trade* or investment, and everything to do with supply-driven corporate planned economy aggression.
 
The core goal of TAFTA, as the US emphasis on agricultural issues during the negotiations has demonstrated, is to accelerate the GMO assault on European economies, markets, and societies.
 
[*It's awful how even those who oppose corporatism and globalization seem to have largely assimilated the enemy's Orwellian propaganda term "free trade". It should go without saying that what corporatism calls free trade is not free and has nothing to do with legitimate trade, which can only be demand-driven. "Free trade" globalization, on the contrary, is a command economy dedicated to forcing "markets" for overproduction and for production of things like GMOs which no one wanted in the first place and for which there has never been a natural market. ("Free market" is another such ideological term which even its enemies seem happy to adopt.)
 
I stress this point of our lack of terminological discipline because I think that such sloppy expression probably reflects underlying sloppy thinking. It's no wonder almost everyone continues to believe in "reforming" corporatism even in the face of the unanimous evidence against the possibility of this.
 
Also, most people tend to have an unexamined positive reaction to terms like "free trade" and "free market". That's why these fraudulent terms were made mainstays of corporate propaganda in the first place.
 
So why would anti-globalization analysts and polemicists want to adopt the same terminology, use the enemy's own terms?]
 
The basic thrust of the report is to describe how EU regulation has greatly slowed the commercialization of GMOs, compared to the US; how the US and the GMO cartel hope to use TAFTA as the jackboot to kick in Europe’s door; and the more newfangled kinds of genetic engineering assaults which are newly being deployed or are on the drawing board and which the corporations hope to force upon us with no regulatory hindrance. TAFTA is supposed to forestall any repetition of what happened in Europe with GMOs.
 
These newfangled, even more dangerous forms of GE include stacked GMOs with ten or more transgenes, composed of at least SIX different plants; GE trees; GE animals; and synthetic genome technologies. The report gives a basic introduction to the status of these and discusses the future the corporations envision for them. I’ll write more about these later on.
 
But the main goal for now is to kick in the door for regular GMOs.
 
The EU’s regulatory policies, while meager and insufficient, are still different in principle from those of the US, which are purely mercenary.
 
Agricultural policy in the EU differs from that in the US in that agriculture in the EU is meant to
be sustainable, have multiple functionality and not only serve food production. In Europe, there are
also many small structured agricultural landscapes, which are unlikely to benefit economically from
practices such as streamlining herbicide applications, which are an issue in the US.
The EU also has different rules and regulations on risk assessment and labelling to those in the
US. EU regulations require a centralised system for risk assessment and market authorisation of all
genetically engineered organisms. Labelling is mandatory for food and feed derived from genetically
engineered crop plants……
 
These regulations request that:
›› the precautionary principle has to be observed in release or market authorisation of genetically
engineered organisms,
 
›› all genetic engineered organisms have to undergo risk assessment before they can be allowed for
marketing,
›› food and feed which are derived from genetically engineered organisms have to be labelled.
 
An important element in this regard is Regulation 178/2002, which states that the precautionary
principle can be applied in cases where there is scientific uncertainty in order to provide a high level of
protection for human health and the environment. As Article 7 reads:
 
“In specific circumstances where, following an assessment of available information, the possibility of harmful
effects of health is identified but scientific uncertainty persists, provisional risk management measures
necessary to ensure the high level of health protection chosen in the Community may be adopted, pending
further scientific information for a more comprehensive risk assessment”
 
Also according Directive 2001/18, the precautionary principle is the basis of risk analysis prior to
allowing deliberate release or a market authorisation of genetically engineered organisms (Article 1
of Dir. 2001/18). Thus, the precautionary principle is of particular relevance for uncertainties in risk
assessment where there is no evidence of a hazard but there are remaining doubts about the safety of
genetically engineered organisms. (pp. 5, 29)
 
The precautionary principle is also enshrined in the Convention on Biosafety and the Cartagena Protocol.
 
The US government, along with its flunkeys in the European Commission (EC) bureaucracy, wants TAFTA to do away with all this.
 
Part 2 of the report details how eager the cartel is to escalate its infiltration of Europe. As things are only one GMO, MON810 Bt maize, is approved for cultivation in Europe. Compare that to the US, the world’s most GMO-occupied territory, where c. 90 GMOs are approved for cultivation. In the EU 49 are approved for import in food and feed. Around half of these are stacked varieties. As of December 2013 there were 55 applications pending.  
 
The EU parliament recently voted to reject Pioneer’s application for cultivation of its 1507 stacked variety, though the European Council can still vote to allow individual countries to approve it. (I think I have that right, though the Byzantine workings of this absurd EU structure aren’t always clear.) The European Court of Justice invalidated the EFSA’s approval of BASF’s Amflora potato (which it had already stopped selling for lack of customer interest) on procedural grounds which call into question other EFSA approvals.
 
Last summer Monsanto announced to great fanfare that it was withdrawing from Europe. This report details the extent of this alleged “withdrawal”. Monsanto did withdraw six applications for cultivation of GMOs (five for maize, one for sugar beets). But two applications, for NK603 maize (the subject of the 2012 Seralini study) and for Roundup Ready soybeans, are still active. Monsanto has 18 applications pending overall, for cultivation and/or for import in food and feed. We can see how bogus the media hype was.
 
Nevertheless, Monsanto and the other members of the cartel are extremely frustrated with Europe. They look to the impending globalization accord to accomplish what all their propaganda, lobbying, and capture of European regulators has been unable to do: To overcome and smash European democratic resistance to their economic and physical (via food) domination.
 
As the report describes, the cartel’s ideological program was laid out in a 2013 statement from the European Academy Scientific Advisory Panels (EASAC), a de facto Monsanto front group. The statement, written by cartel flacks, express the totalitarian intent.
 
Priorities include introducing insect-resistance and herbicide-tolerance into wheat, barley, oil seed rape,
soybean, potato, vegetable brassicas and other horticultural crops. (p. 30)
 
As everyone knows, genetically engineered insect resistance and herbicide tolerance are failed technologies. That the GM hacks keep demanding the escalation of what’s already a proven failure is proof that their only priorities are corporate profit and control. Their mindset and intention toward humanity and the earth is clearly malevolent and criminal.
 
The main goal is to jettison the precautionary principle.
 
Even if stringent application of the precautionary principle had been justifiable in the early days of GM
crop research and development when there were more uncertainties about impact, it is difficult to defend
the merits of retaining a rigid, cautious, technology-specific regulation today when there is much less
uncertainty. (p. 31)
 
There is indeed much less uncertainty. We know for a fact that GMOs don’t work, depress yield, require far more pesticide, fertilizer, and water use, and cost vastly more. We also have an ever-growing mountain of evidence that GMOs are harmful to human health. We also know for a fact that corporate agriculture causes human hunger. We know that the further escalation of corporate control over agriculture, as under the GMO regime, will escalate food insecurity, hunger, and eventually famine.
 
We know that GMOs = death.
 
The Testbiotech report summarizes the deregulatory goal of the cartel, as laid out in the EASAC statement:
 
If the opinion of EASAC´s experts is adopted in new regulations this would mean:
›› replacing the precautionary principle with a system that will only accept evidence of adverse effects
as a trigger for regulatory measures;
 
›› abolishing regulations for centralised registration and risk assessment covering all genetically engineered
organisms;
 
›› abolishing comprehensive and mandatory labelling of genetically engineered organisms and products
thereof and leading to less transparency and less choice for farmers and consumers.
 
EASAC also wants to exclude new technologies in the context of synthetic genome technologies
from any regulation:
“(…) here is need for urgent action to agree the status and regulation of New Breeding Techniques and,
in particular, to confirm which products do not fall within the scope of legislation on genetically modified
organisms.” (p. 31-2)
 
This sums up the goal to be attained through TAFTA’s override of European democracy. The EC supports this assault.
 
These lobbying activities are accompanied by statements from various sides pretending that so far no
evidence for damage caused by genetically engineered organisms has been produced and that “consensus”
should exist that these products are safe. Anne Glover who was appointed as Chief Scientific
Adviser to the President of the European Commission in 2011 is one of the most vocal protagonists
amongst those denying specific risks :
 
“There is no substantiated case of any adverse impact on human health, animal health or environmental
health, so that’s pretty robust evidence, and I would be confident in saying that there is no more risk in
eating GMO food than eating conventionally farmed food,”
 
It has to be assumed that the extremely biased position of Glover, who is Manuel Barroso’s first ever
Chief Scientific Adviser, mirrors the position of the majority of the EU Commission.
Such lobbying activities are showing initial results: The EU Commission unofficially announced that
there will be an expert discussion on whether the precautionary principle should still be applied to
genetically engineered plants. (p. 34)
 
The EU’s meager regulation is not sufficient to protect the people from GMOs, and is no substitute for abolition. But it has significantly slowed the assault of the US government and Monsanto upon Europe. For the time being Europe’s safeguards, threadbare as the are, are necessary and must be retained and bolstered.
 
The TTIP/TAFTA is intended to be the jackboot that kicks in the last door of European democracy and agricultural sanity. This is especially critical for corporatism since European non-GM agriculture performs far better than US GMO-based agriculture.
 
Genetic engineering is an impractical, shoddy, dangerous, destructive technology which no one needs and no one wants. It works for nothing but to poison soil, water, crops, food, and people. It serves zero purpose but to prop up and intensify corporate tyranny. It cannot solve any problem but on the contrary is designed to prevent the deployment of any solutions like agroecology. GMOs are designed to prevent solutions while it aggravates existing problems and generates more and more new ones.
 
The same can be said of corporatism in general. The purpose of globalization “agreements”, cadres, and policies is to force corporate domination upon us ever more securely even as the failure, stupidity, and evil of everything corporations do becomes ever more manifest in every economic sector, and as the poison infects every political element as well.
 
Gradually, we the people are becoming aware of what’s being done to us, and we’re developing the will to resist and fight back. That’s why older political structures are becoming less sufficient for corporations to maintain control. That’s why they keep pushing for totalitarian rule by globalization bureaucrats.
 
As this report describes, the GMO front is at the core of this onslaught. Anyone who wants to resist GMOs, from reformers to abolitionists, needs to view the globalization struggle as a core battleground. 
 

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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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