What must be done? As one living in the West, I’ll write mostly about what must be done in the West. Here we live in occupied territory. Monsanto is in power in the US and Canada. The governments of Britain and the EU want the same thing for Europe, and GMOs continue to infiltrate England (but not Scotland or Wales), but a much more vigorous rejection by the people has forced a stalemate on the continent. The much vaster trench line extends across the global South, and it’s there where GMOs, and global corporatism itself, shall persist or suffer a mortal defeat.
The 2012 report Combatting Monsanto gives a good overview of the action across the South and in Europe. GMOs now dominate North America and large parts of Latin America and Asia, but have mostly stalled out on these continents and are now achieving only ever-diminishing gains of ground at ever-increasing cost. More countries are resisting as a whole, thus for example Peru and Thailand have imposed moratoria on GM cultivation and importation. India is in a state of figurative civil war, where amid a farmer genocide (300,000 indenture-driven “suicides”; but if gangsters hound a farmer literally to death, I’d call it murder) the states are increasingly defying the central government, which in turn is openly preparing to try to force its own pro-GMO policy on the states and the people. The same is true in Australia and New Zealand, where in spite of intense government aggression, the people continue to force retrenchments and even setbacks. (At least one Australian state has since banned the cultivation of GMOs.) In Europe as well the people continue to reject and resist GMOs in spite of the worst efforts of the EU bureaucracy and US diplomatic aggression. It’s gotten to the point that Germany’s BASF is removing its biotech division from Europe to the US, while Monsanto has announced that it’s putting plans for European expansion on the back burner.
In all these places the analogy to trench warfare is useful to describe not just the totality and viciousness of the combat, but also the increasingly costly futility of the aggressor’s action. In 1914 the Germans were able to rampage across Belgium and into northern France, but then stalled out and could achieve no further meaningful advance. Their temporary gains in 1918 were so costly as to deal themselves a mortal blow.
The final frontier, as I’ve been discussing, is Africa. Except for South Africa’s already devastating experience with cotton (repeating that of India), the continent so far has suffered only minor GMO infiltrations. That’s why the elites of the West view this as the soft underbelly of humanity, the front where they can get the stalled GMO juggernaut rolling again and achieve a decisive breakthrough.
How must the global movement evolve and fight? The people of each region and continent must decide for themselves. For example, whether or not they think they can “take back their governments”, ban GMOs, and restore the old-style public agricultural investment; or whether they end up having to build revolutionary movements; or anything in between and all at once. For now it looks like there’s not going to be any further constructive investment, but only the subjugating neoliberal “investment” of Monsanto and the Big Ag gang.
We can figure out a few basic guidelines for action which will apply everywhere.
We need both a political advocacy and publicity movement, and also a movement for practical agroecological education, based on the horizontal exchange of information. The world standard for the political movement is La Via Campesina (the Peasant Road). In America the 19th century Farmers’ Alliance movement with its lecture system also offers an excellent model. Models for the practical educational movement include Latin America’s Campesino a Campesino (Farmer to Farmer), Africa’s PELUM (Participatory Land Use Management), and Asia’s Farmer Field Schools. This practical research and information exchange will have to continue to be done in an ever more decentralized, democratic way, since system agricultural research is already far more privatized and corporatized than even the police/military or the schools.
These two kinds of movement need to be effectively coordinated, since neither can sustain itself without the other. Agroecological practice will be suppressed if it cannot politically fight for itself, while as we saw with the American Populist movement, no kind of innovative politics will suffice to rescue farmers still mired in the same commodity system practices which were indenturing and liquidating them in the first place.
This will have to be done by the Southern movement in a state of skepticism, at best, toward Western NGOs. Most of these are congenitally corporatist, and many are mere astroturfs running pro-Monsanto scams.
We who are physically and legalistically in the West but are spiritually and, in a more profound way, physically of the Earth, must view our legal and system-political surroundings as the artifices of a destructive parasite squatter civilization. This regime shall soon pass from the Earth, however facially destructive its ravages are at the moment, and however long this moment seems to we who must live through it.
We’ll have to fight any way we can. If there were a real anti-corporate fortress somewhere, arguably our job might be to serve as a pressure group for it. No such regime exists, and we probably don’t want “regimes” of our own. But we can infer a global movement for Food Sovereignty and against GMOs and food corporatism in general. How can we assist the Southern movement? We in the West can envision this movement, then act: (1) as a post-Western primalist movement ourselves, (2) as a pressure group on behalf of grassroots movements in the South against Western globalization and corporatism.
Our view of Western NGOs, and of system reform strategy and tactics like labeling panaceas and lawsuits, must be the same combination of ambivalence and rejection as the South deploys. I think that on the whole we can find excellent reportage from many of the NGOs, and that they do lots of excellent publicity work, but that we must always consider them incompetent to give practical political advice, since at best they’re congenitally system-oriented, hierarchy-oriented institutions.
What kind of action could a grassroots abolition movement take? At first it would mostly engage in publicizing the facts of GMOs, educating the public about this vicious poisoning of our bodies and our societies, impressing upon people the need for us to purge them from both our personal lives and from our public lives, from our politics, economies, and communities.
This won’t primarily be accomplished through any kind of corporate media interaction. The corporate media will never do anything but ignore, ridicule, slander, or patronize and misrepresent us. (The same goes for any democracy cause, and any anti-corporate cause. We know this well enough by now, so that we know any “leader” type who wants to focus on engaging the system media is some kind of astroturfer and misdirectional scammer.)
No, just as farmers need to retail directly to eaters, so we need to publicize directly to the people. We need a relentless, disciplined, systematic online writing project. As much as possible we need to disseminate information in print form. We need an ongoing campaign of public presentations and town hall discussions. All these could be publicized through social media as well as the time-tested physical means of signs on lawns, canvassing, etc. It will be the kind of grassroots campaign that should have been run during California’s Right to Know voting season (instead of the “professionalized” disposable election campaign which actually was run), and it will be permanent, with the goal of constantly extending the range of people who know what GMOs are and what they do, who have purged them from their individual lives and present themselves as exemplars, and who have resolved to purge them from the Earth.
This resolve, if it reaches a critical mass, could possibly force bans and such from some levels of government (though probably not the central US government). Better, it can serve as the nucleus for a more general movement determined to abolish corporations and corporatism as such. At the same time the anti-GMO movement will complement and intertwine with the movement to aggrandize the rising Community Food sector, as an economic sector and as a way of life upon which we can forge a new beginning for our communities, economies, and politics.