April 16, 2012

GMO Labeling


The GMO labeling initiatives and legislation being pushed in California and elsewhere will attempt to use the weapon of consumer choice, normally such a bedrock principle of the system, against the system itself.
Everywhere on Earth the people have rejected GMOs. No vote has ever affirmed them. Everywhere the people have, by overwhelming majorities, demanded labeling of GMO “foods”, foods with GMO ingredients, foods derived from GMOs (for example meat or dairy from animals who were given GMO feed; that’s almost all animals whose products aren’t certified organic). If there was a wider understanding of the “natural food” scam (that term has no meaning, and in practice usually means it’s GM and has lots of other nasty features), eaters would reject it as well. The labeling initiatives seek to purge this bogus term.
GMO processed “foods” are scarce in Europe because the EU requires such labeling, and with the labeling, buyers reject them. (This policy is not in place because EU technocrats support labeling – quite the contrary – but because bottom-up pressure forced them.)
As a Monsanto scumbag put it:

“If you put a label on genetically engineered food you might as well put a skull and crossbones on it.” — Norman Braksick, president of Asgrow Seed Co., a subsidiary of Monsanto, quoted in the Kansas City Star, March 7, 1994

The goal of the labeling campaign in America is to use the same principle to drive GMOs out of our stores. If California requires labeling, processors and retailers will drop GMOs from their roster in that state. Since California’s economy is so massive, it won’t be cost-effective for them to have one policy for that state and another for elsewhere where labeling isn’t required. That would also look bad politically. Instead, they’ll just drop GMOs completely. It would be a devastating blow, using the system’s own consumerism ideology and practice against it.
That’s the ambitious goal of this reform campaign.
I support it but have three questions about it:
1. If enacted as intended, will it really accomplish what we hope for it? The best answer I can come up with so far is “Maybe.” We won’t know until it’s tried.
2. If passed, will it be enacted as intended. In practice there’s lots of ways it can be hijacked or subverted. The wording might be distorted, or the government might interfere to obscure or obfuscate the label, or force its own counter-labels (in violation of the 1st Amendment, by the way). Then there will be the inevitable litigation which is likely to tie up enactment indefinitely. One of the intended functions of the courts is to put pro-democracy policy on ice.
Or it’ll be thrown out in federal court as unconstitutional. I wonder how many “progressives” are hoping this labeling initiative will be a stake in the heart of Monsanto, but are at the same time insisting that Obama’s Stamp mandate is constitutional? But the exact same totalitarian commerce clause logic which would find Obama’s poll tax “constitutional” could also find that a state-level labeling requirement is “unconstitutional” if it harms the general commerce in GMOs. This harm is a stated goal of labeling supporters.
3. If the initiatives and proposed legislation are defeated by a combination of threats, fraud, and weaponized money; or if the California initiative is voted up but thrown out, or smothered in the courts or by subverted enforcement; if these happen, will labeling supporters then say, “We tried the reform route, we tried to work within the system, we tried to play by the rules, and we see how none of that works. Now we know that nothing short of a full-scale democracy and direct action movement will suffice.” ?
Or will they say, “we have to keep trying what’s already been proven not to work”?
The measure of a sincere democracy activist vs. a con artist and astroturfer is the answer to this question.
I do think that this, like some other attempts at throughgoing reform, will have to be tried before a significant number of people will realize that reformism does not and cannot work. (And who knows, maybe this thing will surprise those of us already convinced against reformism.) For that and other reasons the democracy movement will have to support and engage in some kinds of reform activism.
But our goal at all times, in addition to doing our best to see if the reform can accomplish anything, is to consistently argue that “if this doesn’t work, it proves that the whole reformist project can’t work”, and teach about why and how this is.
This is true in general of initiatives, lawsuits, constitutional amendment movements, and anything which attempts significant reform from the bottom up, but playing by the system rules. Probing the limits of what’s possible within those rules, we’ll see if anything’s possible, or if on the contrary nothing is possible. In the latter case, reformism will be a proven failure, once and for all, and no one will still be able to argue for it with any integrity or credibility.



  1. Russ,

    Completely off-topic. How familiar are you with Aristotle’s “Nichomacean Ethics” and “Politics”?

    Comment by Tao Jonesing — April 18, 2012 @ 10:03 pm

  2. I haven’t read those in a long time. As I recall, I agreed with many of his Golden Means and found it pretty easy to adapt them to democratic society (even though he was writing from the framework of the “noble/aristocratic” ideology).

    Of course many if not all of them are also easily instrumentalized for any purpose one wants. In the end no ethical precept is worth more than the principles it’s trying to strengthen.

    Meanwhile, the fact that a human being is a “political animal” is the core of positive democracy and positive freedom. It’s why hierarchy, “representation”, corporatism, not to mention overt autocracy, are on their face humanly illegitimate and immoral as affronts to our humanity, even apart from all the other crimes they commit. Even a representative democracy which functioned exactly as the “progressives” want would still be elementally anti-human.

    Comment by Russ — April 19, 2012 @ 6:03 am

  3. Russ,

    Thanks for this post. I enjoyed reading it, and have learned a lot from your blog!

    Comment by Sophie — April 19, 2012 @ 6:42 am

    • You’re welcome, and thanks!

      Comment by Russ — April 19, 2012 @ 7:53 am

  4. Hi Russ,

    This is a bit off topic, however, regarding your interests in ‘ecologically sound’ agriculture, I thought I would pass along a link to one of Paul Stamet’s recent videos (many others are available and other related info is available at his website – :
    http://www.fungi.com/front/intro/index.html )

    Paul Stamets on Fungi: Benefactors of Aall Earth’s Species

    I think that his work on fungi and interest in ‘green’ agricultural technology sounds very appropriate wrt permaculture concepts as well as to a variety of other health-related matters. There is another link over at Naked Capitalism website today (this was my introduction).

    Comment by wilwon3 — April 22, 2012 @ 7:40 pm

    • Thanks William. I’ve heard of Stamets but not gotten around to researching his stuff yet. But I first became interested because one of our prospective projects here is to try to reclaim lead-toxified soil using mycoremediation. I’ll check out this information.

      Comment by Russ — April 23, 2012 @ 4:50 am

      • Hi Russ,

        As I mentioned in the past, MMT was a concept founded by L R Wray, W F

        Mitchell and W Mosler within the past 10 years (you would have to

        search a bit for exact dates). Drs Wray (American) and Mitchell

        (Australian) are acedemics and both argue that MMT should include a

        concept of a job guarantee (employer of last resort) or something

        similar; W Mosler is a financial entrepreneur and has a similar view.

        Many others argue (sort of like you do) that MMT is/can be used by the

        crooks, but those arguments are currently attributed to something

        abbreiated as MMR or something else as they take advantage of the

        accounting/mechanics attributes of MMT but do not include the

        necessity of job guarantee. Dr Wray has frequently written about the

        misdeeds of the banksters and the hopelessness of the Obama

        administration (note that his ideas seem allied to those expressed by

        M Hudson and W K Black).

        Dr L R Wray (one of the founders of MMT) points out that the La laws

        are unique in the USA and that the legal system there may permit

        pursuit of the banksters even though Prez Obummer/A G Eric Holder are

        looking the other way in an attempt to continue receiving Wall St

        funding of the Obummer administration. Wray has some interesting links

        in his article (see below). One can only hope that someone with some

        backbone goes after the crooks.


        Finally Go the Way of the Gambinos?
        Author: L. Randall Wray
        April 21st, 2012




        Also related:





        Comment by William Wilson — April 23, 2012 @ 7:09 pm

      • I should have included a link to Randy Wray’s recent MMT Primer entry which discusses the jog guarantee in some detail:


        Comment by William Wilson — April 23, 2012 @ 8:15 pm

      • Hi William,

        Even if a “job guarantee” were possible, and wouldn’t be a sham in practice (e.g. Auerback specifically stipulated that his plan would involve only the most degrading work at starvation wages, and would never seek to “compete with the private sector”; I wrote a post somewhere skewering it), why would we ever settle for something so far beneath us? Why should OUR WORK be stolen, enclosed, and then parceled back to (some of) us in the form of “jobs”? And why would an activist liberal welfare state doing so be any more legitimate than a big corporation?



        Comment by Russ — April 24, 2012 @ 9:01 pm

  5. […] I wrote earlier about how the GMO labeling campaign is seeking a worthy goal, but how we need to prepare for it to […]

    Pingback by Representative Government Needs A Label « Volatility — May 9, 2012 @ 6:53 am

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