Volatility

May 28, 2012

African Wannsee Conference; Or, Bono Parties With Monsanto

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The history of corporate agriculture and its “Green Revolution” is a perfect example of the unfulfilled promises, and therefore proven lies, of corporatism.
 
What was the Green Revolution? With a huge one-off injection of fossil fuels, and building upon ten thousand years of agronomy, corporate agriculture temporarily increased yields within the monoculture framework.
 
(This shouldn’t be confused with being more productive than holistic organic agriculture. Agronomy has proven that organic yields, in calories and nutrition, are comparable and often superior to those of industrial agriculture. But this assumes a natural human agricultural economy, not a corporatized one, for naturally local/regional markets, not for artificially commodified and globalized ones. It assumes diversified smallholder agroecology, which is inherently resistant to tyranny, instead of monocropping, which was designed to be dominated by hierarchies, and is inherently hierarchical.)
 
The “green revolution” (literally the first bogus corporate “color revolution”) increased commodification monoculture yields only by building a Tower of Babel. The soil is stripped of all nutrition and zombified by ever-increasing applications of synthetic fertilizer. Monoculture is ever more dependent on the increasing application of ever more toxic herbicides and pesticides. Deployment of GMOs escalates these vulnerabilities. Factory farms can exist only with ever increasing use of antibiotics. All these systems are extremely tenuous, vulnerable, not robust, not resilient. They’re all guaranteed to collapse. Hermetic monoculture, and industrial agriculture as such, is one big hothouse flower which requires perfect conditions to survive.
 
And all that’s before taking Peak Oil into account. The Green Revolution has been the massive one-off application of fossil fuels to agriculture (in the fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides, fuel to run the machinery and globalized distribution networks). With Peak Oil and energy descent, agriculture shall return to its pre-fossil energy baseline. We have the option to apply the right political and economic dispensation, along with the agronomic knowledge we’ve accumulated in the modern era, to produce sufficient food post-oil (through relocalized organic agriculture), and to do so in such a socially and culturally more fruitful way that we end up making a virtue of necessity. This is the Food Sovereignty movement.
 
Meanwhile, given the industrial monoculture framework (but see here for the truly productive and sustainable agroecological alternative), the Green Revolution did temporarily increase yields. The world produces far more than enough food for everyone – over 4.3 pounds per day of a diverse diet for everyone. But this potential food bounty was never used to “feed the world” and was never intended to do so. In reality this alleged increase in the globe’s “carrying capacity” really meant a great increase in the population of the food insecure, while the West temporarily benefited from lower food prices. This was just another aspect of the West’s temporary debt economy which was meant to misdirect middle class attention away from how their ultimate liquidation was being structurally prepared. Today’s food stagflation is a sign that the party’s over.
 
So the Green Revolution was a scam to use cheap fossil fuels to increase monocrop yield, drive tens of millions off the land, and use the stolen land and food to render food temporarily artificially cheap for Western consumerism.
 
This puts in perspective the new GMO colonialism planned for Africa. Africa has so far been relatively unpenetrated by GMOs, except for cotton in South Africa which has already proven a socioeconomic and declining-yield disaster. For some years now Monsanto, its flunkey Bill Gates (via his Association for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)), and the US government via its political aggression arm USAID, have been scheming to launch a full scale GMO invasion, replicating the 19th century colonial onslaught which submerged and devastated the continent. The people of Africa, subject to every kind of political and economic assault, kept as weak and divided as possible, considered culturally and racially inferior by Western elites and elitists, will always be a prime target.
 
So it is with the GMO Master Plan (the “New Alliance for Food and Nutrition Security”) unveiled at the recent G8 “Global Agricultural Development” forum at Camp David (after it was chased out of Chicago), held at the same time as the NATO summit. (Why does NATO still exist? If the system doesn’t disband the army when the external threat ceases to exist, that can only mean it’s meant to be turned within, as an instrument of internal aggression and domination. Meanwhile to this day “national security” types struggle to come up with a pseudo-plausible “mission” explaining why NATO still exists.) This elite conclave basically validated the agenda already presented by its host, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.
 

In March, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs released a white paper calling on the U.S. government to make global agricultural development and food security a priority agenda item at the G8 Summit. The white paper, developed by a bi-partisan working group, recommends G8 members spur innovation and engage the private sector by reducing regulatory barriers, building capacity, strengthening intellectual property protections and adopting and implementing policies to increase trade in commodities and food.

 
They basically set out to list every policy which is evil in intent and a proven failure in practice, and call for doubling down on it. This kind of Food Austerity is parallel to finance austerity. Every crime must be continued, escalated, accelerated, intensified. Everything proven to fail must be continued. Everything proven to humanly work must be suppressed.
 
The plan calls for billions in “public-private” investment from GMO rackets Monsanto, Dupont, Syngenta, along with affiliated assaults like a massive synthetic fertilizer factory to be built in Africa. Of course, the money for all this will come directly or indirectly from governments, i.e. the people. That’s the “public” part of the public-private scam, while what’s left “private” is all the profit and power. The people of Africa will be left to suffer the main physical and socioeconomic devastation.
 
The basic Big Lie is perfectly summed up by Obama hack Rajiv Shah, head of USAID:
 

We are never going to end hunger in Africa without private investment. There are things that only companies can do, like building silos for storage and developing seeds and fertilizers.

 
We know that this is a proven lie in every sector. There is no sector, including food, where corporatization doesn’t bring deteriorating results (and ever more frequent disaster) while our prosperity, freedom, democracy, and happiness are destroyed. In this case, we know that organic production and distribution bring better practical results than the corporate system, we know that only it can sustain the environment, we know that ALL innovation in agriculture throughout history has been the result of cooperative action in the public domain, while corporate enclosure like the intellectual property regime has functioned only to smother innovation, we know that the industrial system in unsustainable in terms of energy consumption, we know that even in the West it’s no longer keeping prices down, and we know that at every point it diminishes our freedom, autonomy, and community.
 
(Needless to say, cooperative and autonomous farmers have developed seeds and fertilizers for ten thousand years with no help from “companies”, although in recent decades companies have been great at stealing this heritage. We’ve also been building our own silos for awhile now.)
 
Meanwhile the real plan for African agriculture, prosperity, and democracy, based on agroecology and Food Sovereignty, is already functioning. Here’s just two proven examples, part of what could be a vast beneficial revolution:
 

19. Sometimes, seemingly minor innovations can provide high returns. In Kenya, researchers and farmers developed the “push-pull” strategy to control parasitic weeds and insects that damage the crops. The strategy consists in “pushing” away pests from corn by inter-planting corn with insect-repellent crops like Desmodium, while “pulling” them towards small plots of Napier grass, a plant that excretes a sticky gum which both attracts and traps pests. The system not only controls pests but has other benefits as well, because Desmodium can be used as fodder for livestock. The push-pull strategy doubles maize yields and milk production while, at the same time, improves the soil. The system has already spread to more than 10,000 households in East Africa by means of town meetings, national radio broadcasts and farmer field schools.

20. Agroecology is also gaining ground in Malawi, a country that has been at the centre of attention in recent years. Malawi successfully launched a fertilizer subsidy programme in 2005-2006, following the dramatic food crisis due to drought in 2004-2005. However, it is now implementing agroforestry systems, using nitrogen-fixing trees, to ensure sustained growth in maize production…By mid-2009, over 120,000 Malawian farmers had received training and tree materials from the programme, and support from Ireland has now enabled extension of the programme to 40 per cent of Malawi’s districts, benefiting 1.3 million of the poorest people. Research shows that this results in increased yields from 1 t/ha to 2–3 t/ha, even if farmers cannot afford commercial nitrogen fertilizers…An optimal solution that could be an exit strategy from fertilizer subsidy schemes would be to link fertilizer subsidies directly to agroforestry investments on the farm in order to provide for long-term sustainability in nutrient supply, and to build up soil health as the basis for sustained yields and improved efficiency of fertilizer response. Malawi is reportedly exploring this “subsidy to sustainability” approach.

21…One key reason why agroecology helps to support incomes in rural areas is because it promotes on-farm fertility generation. Indeed, supplying nutrients to the soil does not necessarily require adding mineral fertilizers. It can be done by applying livestock manure or by growing green manures. Farmers can also
establish a “fertilizer factory in the fields” by planting trees that take nitrogen out of the air and “fix” it in their leaves, which are subsequently incorporated into the soil. That, in essence, is the result of planting Faidherbia albida, a nitrogen-fixing acacia species indigenous to Africa and widespread throughout the continent. Since this tree goes dormant and sheds its foliage during the early rainy season at the time when field crops are being established, it does not compete significantly with them for light, nutrients or water during the growing season; yet it allows a significant increase in yields of the maize with which it is combined, particularly in conditions of low soil fertility. In Zambia, unfertilized maize yields in the vicinity of Faidherbia trees averaged 4.1 t/ha, compared to 1.3 t/ha nearby, but beyond the tree canopy. Similar results were observed in Malawi, where this tree was also widely used. The use of such nitrogen-fixing trees avoids dependence on synthetic fertilizers, the price of which has been increasingly high and volatile over the past few years, exceeding food commodity prices, even when the latter reached a peak in July 2008. In this way, whatever financial assets the household has can be used on other essentials, such as education or medicine.

 
These demonstrate what organic agriculture can accomplish in Africa. (The Malawi fertilizer subsidy also demonstrates, for any “sincere” supporters of industrial ag, that if one wanted to continue with food industrialization, the way to do it is with the old public-interest agricultural investment model, which worked well, given industrial premises. That’s why the IMF set out to eradicate all such programs. But Malawi proves that if elites wanted to preside over it, they could reinstate the old public investment model. So even given the industrial premise, there’s definitely no need for corporatism and the “public-private” scam.)
 
They also demonstrate how the method of propagating this knowledge and political consciousness must be decentralized, through truly democratic networks which involve small farmers as full participants. The most glaring symbol of the bad faith of this elite gala is how, even as it mouths platitudes about improving the condition of Africa’s small farmers, particularly women (that part’s a sop to Western liberal feminists), it included exactly zero legitimate representatives of these groups. On the contrary, the list of participants – corporate rackets, government elites including Obama, corporate liberal front groups, and useful-idiot celebrity tinsel – reads like a Tom Friedman dream guest list. it includes every illegitimate elite alien to the Earth, and excludes every part of humanity. Just like corporatism in general, and GMO imperialism in particular.   
 
The fact is that there’s no yield issue as far as feeding the world. We produce far more than enough food. The only problem is with the corporate distribution system. Anyone who truly wants to feed people has to want to change the distribution of the food we have, not struggle to produce “more” within a framework which has already proven it won’t distribute that food to humanity.
 
Anyone who truly wants to feed the world must want to abolish food corporatism, abolish food commodification, restore natural food markets (local/regional), and build the Food Sovereignty movement based upon truly organic agriculture.
 
Meanwhile anyone, like these elites in Chicago, who claims to want to “feed the world” but wants to do so by doubling down on the proven failure of a “Green Revolution”, is really a liar and a criminal.
 
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I won’t waste space writing here about my subtitle, but anyone who wants a rundown on how our liberal “celebrity” scum have been operating under Obama fascism, check it out here.

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21 Comments

  1. yeah… for real. Glad to see Creighton’s piece, too.

    can I repost this in full on Food Freedom?

    Comment by Rady — May 29, 2012 @ 1:47 am

  2. It’s worth noting that indigenous African peasant polyculture techniques are hands-down the best methods for battling soil erosion, dealing with aridity etc- many of the “organic” techniques in use in subsaharan Africa predate modern Western “organic” ag by centuries (if not millenia), and part of colonial violence in Africa has always been an effort to stamp out these (largely state-illegible) techniques and replace them with European-style agricultural methods which are totally inappropriate for the area. This new assault is just another in a very long line of attacks on this base of indigenous knowledge and prosperity dating back to the rise of European colonial projects

    Comment by paper mac — May 29, 2012 @ 9:27 am

    • Speaking of legibility to the state, many pieces like this one emphasize how this is intended to be a massive land grab.

      http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/05/18/149201/obama-to-announce-africa-farm.html

      The presidents of Ethiopia, Tanzania and Ghana have agreed to policy changes aimed at improving the business climate, Shah said, such as tackling corruption and reforming access to landownership.
      The reforms vary by country, Shah said. For example, in Ethiopia, reforms will allow more private-sector access to land and better titling of land, especially for female farmers, who represent more than half the farmers in Africa. Knowing they have legal title to their land could give small farmers the security to invest in upgrading their irrigation systems and soil, Shah said.

      Africa’s farmers have the gall to believe they are naturally part of the land and don’t need the artifice of “property”, which they rightly suspect is a trap. The Plan will serve as a pretext to drive millions more off the land and into concentration camps, er, shantytowns, while a newly legible “property” registry provides the legal vehicle for corporate enclosure.

      Here’s another piece which has a graphic depicting the corporate Lebensraum plan.

      http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_25508.cfm

      It also puts in perspective Obama’s alleged concern for the women farmers of Africa. Consider this when considering how liberal elites like Obama and Bono want to force them into cash cropping:

      Organic farming in Kenya is not about hugging a tree. It’s a simple financial matter. Those who rely on purchased inputs must use their scarce income to buy them. In Thika, where the population is concentrated and land sizes are tiny, many women supplement their farming income with prostitution. The area’s AIDS rate is sky-high, although it has come down from the 37 percent high it reached a decade ago. Poverty breeds AIDS by pushing women into prostitution, but AIDS also breeds poverty, as children are orphaned when their parents die. Some are raised by grandparents, others live in child-headed households. By allowing farmers to keep their money instead of spending it on costly inputs, organic farming gives hope of breaking this cycle. How many fewer women will need to enter prostitution if they can instead make ends meet by farming?

      Comment by Russ — May 29, 2012 @ 9:50 am

      • very important point, Russ… thanks for the references, too.

        Comment by Rady — May 29, 2012 @ 7:05 pm

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