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September 29, 2013

Superweeds vs. Super-Ideology

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Three good pieces on the collapse of existing herbicides, thanks to the GMO system’s generation of glyphosate-resistant superweeds against itself. Of course, the cartel and the US government don’t take their absolute, abject policy bankruptcy as any reason to change the policy. On the contrary, they want to regress to GM crops resistant to the even more toxic herbicides, like 2,4-D and dicamba, which Monsanto promised its Roundup Ready suite would render obsolete forever.
 
Contrary to corporate and government lies, the Roundup Ready regime has resulted in a massive increase in the spraying of poisons on crops. Now the system wants to extend this toxic surge to even worse poisons. Meanwhile, superweeds are not only resistant to glyphosate, but are increasingly evolving traits which render them resistant to all existing herbicides. So products like Dow’s Agent Orange maize (resistant to 2,4-D) have already failed at controlling weeds, even before they’ve been deployed. If and when they are commercialized (the USDA has been uncharacteristically dragging its feet, but Canada’s already gone ahead with approval), the only result will be to accelerate the superweed evolution.
 
(Whenever there’s any question of what science says about GMOs, we should always keep in mind that GM proponents are evolution deniers, since anyone who understands and accepts evolution knew from the start that the only result of monocropping based on genetically modified herbicide tolerance and pesticide expression would be to generate superweeds and superbugs, and to do so at an accelerating rate.
 
Just one example of the basic ignorance of science and contempt for it displayed by GMO supporters. Another is their continued faith in the discarded genetic theory of “one gene = one trait”. All the alleged science of GMOs, including the faith-based doctrine of “substantial equivalence” which was promulgated to justify commercializing GMOs without long-term safety testing, is based on this false theory.
 
So we see how science rejects GMOs, which are on the contrary the province of crackpot technical engineering, scientistic pseudo-religion, and mercenary instrumentalism.)
 
If 2,4-D and dicamba are already failing even prior to the commercialization of the GM crops meant to receive them, what could be next for a system based on the ever-escalating use of poisons on our food? As these pieces describe, our “innovators” in the chemical and agribiz sectors have nothing. They’re completely out of ideas for any kind of new herbicide.
 
So we see another example of how the allegedly high-tech, “innovative” GMO regime is really a sclerotic dead end, where all ideas, research, innovation, and thought go to die.

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September 28, 2013

The Monsanto Protection Act, In Context

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Apparently Senate Democrats have followed through on their promise to eject the Monsanto Protection Act from the spending bill. The reason they promised in the first place was: 1. Their original support for this rider provoked a mass outpouring of anger, and they were now afraid of the political consequences of persisting in this particularly brazen policy. 2. It was a rider inserted by House Republicans, so it could be put into the category of the standard partisan struggle as depicted by the corporate media. From this point of view, sacrificing a minor pro-Monsanto provision was a price worth paying, in order to score partisan points.
 
I’ve never been able to muster the outrage many feel over the Monsanto rider. Nor do I feel elation at its removal. Sure, getting rid of it is good and all, but the fact is that the Monsanto Protection Act was not some atypical monstrosity, bizarrely inserted into otherwise legitimate legislative policy. On the contrary, the US government has to a significant extent structured itself around its aggressive promotion of GMOs. Agriculture policy is synonymous with Big Ag policy, and Big Ag in turn is completely dominated by the Monsanto imperative. Trade policy’s primary goal is to force GMOs upon Europe and Africa. As Wikileaks revealed, the State Department sees GMO propagation as a primary imperative for diplomacy. The primary driver of the Patent Office’s neoliberal intellectual property regime has been the hyper-aggressive ideology of the GMO cartel, ever since chemical companies started reinventing themselves as seed companies in the late 70s. The Justice Department stands ready as publicly-paid thug supporting this IP aggression. (We’ve also seen what the final word is from “the courts” on this. Go Monsanto, 9-0.)
 
These are just a few of the ways in which US policy = Monsanto policy.
 
When we look at it that way, we see how insufficient it is to start and finish our interest and emotion with a relatively trivial thing like the Monsanto Protection Act.
 
But that’s what the corporate media and liberal NGOs want us to do, because their job is to keep analysis and activism of all sorts within the system-approved range, and especially within such a range as to be able to shill for the Democrat Party, which in fact is nothing but one half of a single corporatist party, one half of a one party system.
 
This is also why Senate Democrats flip-flopped on the Monsanto rider after supporting it last spring. As anti-GMO feeling continues to build and surge, more and more “compromises” that the system used to reject will become acceptable to various coalitions within the system. Yesterday I predicted that we’ll soon see “co-existence” redux, centering on a central government labeling policy, which will actually be a sham whose only real teeth will be in its pre-emption of state-level labeling policy.
 
The high-profile corporate-media-friendly and NGO-friendly squabble over the Monsanto rider is another example.
 
(Just to be clear, Democrats are just as gung ho for Monsanto as Republicans are. Obama is the most aggressively pro-GMO president yet, and of course it was Bill Clinton who rolled out the red carpet in the first place, and provided aggressive support with pro-Monsanto offensives like NAFTA.)
 
Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad the thing’s gone. The USDA has also come under such bottom-up citizen pressure that it has demonstrated a partial slowdown of its GMO approval pipeline, in particular its procrastination over approving Dow’s Agent Orange maize. The Monsanto Protection Act was meant in part to be an encouragement and goad to the USDA.
 
But I also wonder if it’s not better for the movement that such high-profile provocations remain in place. One good effect of the mainstreaming of GMO issues, even if it occurs in the form of depicting it in typical media terms, as a partisan squabble, is that it attracts the interest of more and more people, and does so in a way that can make them receptive to anti-GMO ideas.
 
Therefore, the task here is the same as with labeling and with any similar mainstreaming. The abolition movement must support doing what’s right in every particular case, but at the same time take every opportunity to expand the conversation and publicize the bigger truths. These are:
 
1. The structural analysis of GMOs and their critical position for corporatism.
 
2. The need to totally abolish them, for health, environmental, socioeconomic, political, and animal welfare reasons.
 

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September 27, 2013

Note on GMO Labeling

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I have no faith in state governments to faithfully enforce meaningful labeling rules. The better way, and the only way, is total abolition of GMOs, and this will only come if the people rise to do it. Meanwhile the movement to achieve state-level labeling is best carried out as a vehicle for building permanent grassroots abolition organizations. These need to start out as vigilance groups, forcing state governments to enforce the policies and publicizing failure to do so. As for the central government, the only way it’ll ever institute a labeling policy will be as a sham whose only teeth will be in pre-empting state labeling policy.
 
All this is why I tell people never to view labeling as a panacea. Those who implicitly call it such are really trying to keep anti-GMO activism fenced in, in typical liberal fashion. Just look at the California campaign, designed by “professionals”, designed as a disposable “election”-type campaign, designed to fail. From that point of view, GMO labeling is supposed to be another version of the “co-existence” scam. That’s why Whole Foods, Gary Hirschfeld, and others are trying to hijack the labeling movement, because they were caught out badly before their customers in 2011. I predict that if the state-level momentum continues to build, perhaps if Initiative 522 in Washington passes, there will be another coalition of industrial organic and the Agriculture Department, this time with Monsanto’s support rather than its veto, to put through a federal-level scam “labeling” policy.
 
But as far as labeling being “increased regulation”, the way some people fret, government regulation has already built industrial agriculture and food in the first place. It’s absurd to suddenly take fright from a minor tweak which is supposed to rein in one of the worst abuses, the criminal secrecy and deception about what’s in our food. In the same way that anyone who shrieks about raw milk but cares nothing about GMOs or subtherapeutic antibiotic use in CAFOs has zero credibility as far as caring about food safety, so anyone who bristles at GMO labeling but doesn’t seem to mind Big Ag subsidies, globalization treaties, patents on plants, corporate “rights”, and so on, has zero credibility as far as caring about government regulation, since industrial agriculture could not exist other than as a planned economy project of big governments.

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September 25, 2013

Scientific Transparency vs. Obscurantism (GMO Labeling)

Filed under: Food and Farms, Freedom, Scientism/Technocracy — Tags: , — Russ @ 4:35 am

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1. Let’s never forget that, whatever else one thinks of GMOs or any other food additive, any dispute over labeling is a pure dispute of transparency vs. obscurantism.
 
2. By definition, rationalists and scientists are in favor of transparency and oppose secrecy and obscurantism. This is a core Enlightenment value. Any true scientist would support GMO labeling on this ground alone.
 
3. If a scientist truly believed that GMOs or any other additive were being unfairly maligned, he’d still support labeling. He’d then see his task as to publicly counter what he considers to be misinformation with what he considers to be the correct information. But the whole debate would be aboveground, fully in the public eye. This would include full public information about where the ingredient in question exists. It would include fully transparent labeling.
 
4. The fact that so many alleged “rationalists” and “scientists” want instead to strangle this debate in the cradle is proof that it’s they who are forced to spread misinformation wherever GMOs cannot prevail through might-makes-right and brute force. It’s they who desperately want to avoid public debate altogether through such devices as obscuring information and denying the public’s right to know what’s in our food.
 
5. Before we even reach the content of their lies, this initial obscurantism in itself proves that these are not scientists, but prostitutes and hacks who despise science, despise the Enlightenment, despise democracy, and despise humanity.
 
6. We must fully reciprocate this contempt, for all anti-scientists, all scienticians, all technocratic types.
 
Here’s the basic position of science on GMOs:
 
Transparency is a core democracy and freedom value. That’s part of why my strategic position starts out supporting labeling as such, however ambivalent I am about the labeling movement as it currently exists. It’s one good litmus test which separates at the outset those who believe in democracy, science, and reason, from those who despise these. I think that should help clarify the whole science vs. anti-science dispute, where unfortunately the anti-GMO movement is mostly pretty lame so far.
 
They tend to whine, “we are NOT anti-science!!!!” in reaction to hack lies, rather than affirmatively assert the truth: The only scientific position is to oppose GMO field testing and commercialization since the precautionary principle demands that the proponents of a dubious technology prove the need for it and the safety of it. GMO proponents have done neither of these. On the contrary, by now sufficient counter-evidence has piled up proving that there’s no need for GMOs, that they don’t work for any of the purposes advertised, and that they are unsafe for human health, animal health, and the environment. Therefore, the only scientific position is to demand the abolition of GMOs. Finally, since transparency is a core value of science, it was always self-evident that the only scientific position is to support full publicity for ALL food additives, including GMOs.
 
Those who support science and reason hold this position. Those who oppose this position oppose science and reason, and are its obscurantist, prostituted enemies.

 
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September 20, 2013

GMO Alfalfa Contaminates Crops and the Environment

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In late August a Washington alfalfa farmer reported to the state agriculture department that his crop, intended for export, had been rejected by the exporter because it was contaminated with genetically engineered (GE) material. The state did its own test and confirmed a “low-level presence” of the pollutant. The shipment was rejected because most big foreign buyers refuse to import GMO pseudo-crops.
 
The farmer bought and planted only conventional seed, but it became contaminated anyway. The culprit is Monsanto’s Roundup Ready (RR) alfalfa, engineered to withstand heavy spraying with the company’s highly toxic herbicide, Roundup. State officials speculated that he might have bought mislabeled seeds. Otherwise the field became contaminated from some environmental vector, with the GE material already loose in the environment. The subsequent state test proved this to be so. (It would’ve been interesting to see what kind of five-alarm recall there would’ve been if the “mislabeled seed” theory had turned out to be plausible. Would it have been comparable to the government-driven hysteria whenever a small farm is alleged to have made anyone sick, or merely to have produced a positive bacteria sample?)
 
This is the second known major contamination incident in the Pacific Northwest in recent months. Last spring an Oregon wheat farmer discovered RR spring wheat growing ferally in one of his fields. Monsanto conducted hundreds of field trials of RR wheat through 2005, but the genetically engineered pseudo-crop was never commercialized because of grassroots resistance from farmers and citizens in the US and Canada. But we see how the genetic pollution persists in ecosystems. Somehow GE material from these trials escaped to the environment and has managed to sustain itself. No one knows how widespread the pollution is, since no one tests for it.
 
The USDA’s confirmation of the wheat contamination led South Korea to temporarily suspend wheat imports from the US, while Japan rejected a shipment and Europe imposed extra-rigorous inspection procedures. The cost to US wheat exports has been immense.
 
The outbreaks in Washington and Oregon are just the latest examples of a long history of major GMO contamination events, going back to the Starlink debacle in 2000, and including the wholesale poisoning of the US rice crop by Bayer’s Liberty Link pharmaceutical rice, which escaped from supposedly secure Arkansas field trials in 2006. This disaster cost US rice growers billions and provoked a lawsuit which Bayer settled for $750 million.
 
We see from these and from hundreds of lesser-known examples (tallied by the USDA’s own Office of the Inspector General in 2005, and a GAO investigation in 2009) how it’s impossible to prevent GMO contamination of conventional and organic crops, and of the environment in general, once GMOs are allowed to be field tested, and certainly once they’re commercialized.
 
The ideological lie which seeks to obscure this fact is called “co-existence”. It claims that GMOs can peacefully co-exist with conventional and organic crops. But this is impossible for many reasons, all of them caused or aggravated by the totalitarian intent of the GMO cartel. I’ll write more on the economic and political goals of Monsanto and the other GMO rackets in subsequent posts. For now I’ll focus on the fact that even if corporations and governments were acting in good faith, it would be impossible for real crops to co-exist with GMOs.
 
The USDA itself, the US government’s primary domestic booster of GMOs, admits that GE alfalfa is guaranteed eventually to contaminate the entire alfalfa crop. This is because alfalfa is a perennial pollinated by bees who range for miles in their quest for nectar. As GE alfalfa spreads, it’ll become more of a sure bet that any alfalfa allowed to go to flower will be visited by bees who already visited GE plants. Already in 2005, at least one organic seed grower was documenting alfalfa seed contamination, either from field trials or illegal plantings. The process is bound to follow that of a previous Oregon disaster, the state’s 2002 field trial of GE bentgrass. Even though the technicians running the experiment tried to destroy the trial grass as planned, GE grass escaped. By now it seems permanently entrenched in the environment. The moment GE alfalfa was commercialized, it wasn’t going to be long before this pollution was documented. Now we have our first confirmation.
 
I said how this would be true even if corporations and governments were acting in good faith. But we know their intentions and goals are malignant, and the history of RR alfalfa commercialization tells an edifying tale about this. GE alfalfa was fiercely resisted by farmers, eaters, scientists, environmentalists, and civil society groups. For years the USDA was thwarted by lawsuits in its attempts to fully unleash the product. Finally it entered 2011 with a new Environmental Impact Statement (largely a sham) and facing the question of whether to fully deregulate GE alfalfa, or just “partially” do so. (Not approving it was an unoption, as Orwell would’ve said. This was even though there’s no need at all for this worthless product, and no natural market for it.) This question had been forced upon USDA by the opposition. It was in this context that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack (the Biotechnology Industry Organization’s 2001 “Governor of the Year”, and frequent traveler on Monsanto’s corporate jets) got together with the luminaries of industrial organic – Whole Foods Market, Stonyfield, Organic Valley, and others – to formulate an attempted compromise with Monsanto. The notion was that industrial organic and Monsanto would agree on “partial deregulation” of RR alfalfa (toward total deregulation somewhere down the road, of course), and the USDA would make a sham promise to really truly honestly enforce the partial regulations, including compensation for alfalfa farmers whose crops were destroyed by the inevitable contamination. This would be accompanied by a propaganda campaign which would lie about the contamination potential. They called this “co-existence”.
 
One problem with this scheme was that, as we said, such co-existence is impossible, and the contamination of conventional and organic alfalfa on a vast scale was inevitable. We can look at the record of RR canola, which has rendered organic canola effectively impossible in Canada, while organic canola growers are a major driver of the pushback against GMOs in Australia. This is also why farmers are fiercely resisting the pending commercialization of RR alfalfa in Canada. Here the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has already given full approval, through an even less democratic procedure than that of the USDA. Meanwhile a Monsanto front group, the Canadian Seed Trade Association (CSTA), has offered the same kind of sham “co-existence plan” which both Monsanto and the people rejected in the US (I’ll get to that in a minute). CSTA’s plan basically claims that GE material cannot be spread by any natural vector whatsoever, and the plan has no enforcement mechanisms for the scam prescriptions it does make.
 
So why did industrial organic want to make this “compromise”, and why did the USDA want to broker it? Both the USDA and the industrial organic sector have always wanted to bring GMOs under the umbrella of organic certification. Only massive consumer resistance forced the Clinton administration to back down on this when GMOs were first commercialized in the mid 90s. Today, they want to accomplish this through a combination of contamination and propaganda. They hope GE alfalfa deregulation will lead to a broad pollution of the general alfalfa crop, which will render the current meat/dairy certified-organic sector (which must use non-GMO feed) untenable. In this way the USDA and the Whole Foods contingent dream of making “certified organic” safe for GMOs. The intended goal is to be able to call GMOs “USDA organic” and still extract the premium from the “organic” brand. It’ll be difficult for them to do this, but we mustn’t underestimate the power of inertia and apathy. If the message seems overwhelming – “GMOs are safe, are perfectly compatible with the Organic concept, Organic is still good if it’s GMO, and everything is GMO anyway so There Is No Alternative, unless you want to go all the way to really knowing your local farmer or growing your own food, and we’ll do our best to stamp that out.” – many who vaguely oppose GMOs can be expected to surrender.
 
WFM and the others got what was coming to them: The “co-existence” notion was far too subtle for Monsanto, which is increasingly inclined to use main force. In January 2011, just as the “co-existence” plan was being unfolded, the cartel told Obama what it wanted instead. President Monsanto then issued an order to Vilsack to move directly to full deregulation. This left WFM and the rest of industrial organic exposed before their customers as having tried to sell them out. Since then there’s been increasing distrust of the industrial organic sector among the people. That’s why they’ve belatedly scrambled onto the labeling bandwagon. Of course, WFM wants to hijack the movement for its own purposes. While touting this idea as the correct form of anti-GMO activism, and while making pious noises about imposing its own labeling program on its suppliers, WFM will try again with “co-existence”. This time they, DC-based NGOs like the Center for Food Safety, and elements within the central government will try to get the cartel to go along with a sham federal labeling program whose only real teeth will be its pre-emption of state and local policy. The goal will be the same attempt to propagandize their customers while also derailing any real labeling efforts at the state level. That’s one reason why, whatever position we take toward state-level labeling campaigns, we must consistently and strongly oppose ANY central (“federal”) level policy which would pre-empt the people’s action at the state level.
 
Meanwhile, Monsanto wants to see the monoculture of “pure” alfalfa, which may temporarily benefit from a Roundup Ready variety, completely triumph over the far superior practice of growing alfalfa intermingled with grasses like fescue and orchardgrass. Hay made from an alfalfa/grass mix has more bulk and pound for pound is superior to monoculture alfalfa in nutrition and calories. The grass mix also maintains pasture health and provides natural weed suppression. As always, the GMO product provides no improvement over natural, agroecological practices, but on the contrary is meant to force the further intensification of industrial monoculture and all its most destructive practices.
 
And Monsanto, too, is targeting the organic sector. But I suppose it would just as soon see the sector completely destroyed by contamination (like some parts of it, e.g. organic canola in Canada, have been) as see it co-opted for GMOs. Organic farmers need non-GMO alfalfa for animal feed and soil-building. The system wants to either bring GMOs into the certification, or destroy the sector outright. Either of these is possible with GE alfalfa.
 
It’s fortuitous that this latest contamination event occurred in Washington, since Washington is the home of the GMO labeling initiative 522, to be voted in November. Yes on 522 is fighting to force the industrial food purveyors out of the shadows of secrecy and deception and into the sunshine. Corporate food, and the corporate agricultural system as a whole, depend upon secrecy and lying about their practices in order to survive. At all costs, we the people must not know what’s in our food. For our own good, of course. Every statement of the anti-labeling mercenaries reeks of elitism and hatred for democracy and freedom.
 
The idea of labeling campaigns is that once enough states force food manufacturers to tell the truth about what they’re selling, the manufacturers will purge their products of GMOs. This is the minimum strategic goal for the labeling movement, although we must beware of viewing this tenuous hope as a panacea, even and especially when these labeling initiatives and laws start coming into force.
 
Here’s what I think is necessary:
 
1. Transparency is a basic democratic value and human prerogative, so by all means we must take back our information as part of taking back our food. Labeling can be part of this.
 
2. But this action will be effective only at the state and local levels. Short of the corporate rackets themselves, the central US government is the most aggressively pro-GMO organization on Earth. Any central government labeling policy, if they feel forced into enacting one, will be a sham whose only real goal will be to pre-empt real labeling action at the state and local level. Beware of anyone who says a federal government labeling policy is the goal. And we must reject the very notion of central government pre-emption of lower-level governments in general. This is truly anti-federal and anti-democratic.
 
3. The real end goal must be nothing short of total abolition of GMOs. This must be an abolition movement. We must always be clear on this, no matter what proximate action we undertake for tactical reasons.
 
4. We must use labeling efforts as the vehicle for building permanent grassroots organizations which will seek the goal of abolition while also providing education and exercising permanent vigilance where it comes to any labeling policy which is enacted. We must reject the disposable “campaign” model, favored by “professionals”, and designed to fail, as it failed in California.
 
5. Labeling agitation and the building of abolition/vigilance organizations must accompany rather than supplant other kinds of action like campaigns to pressure supermarkets and direct action.
 
6. Meanwhile we need a core organization for the aggregation of facts about GMOs, their analysis within the framework of anti-corporatist philosophy, and the publicity of the facts and the ideas.
 
Taking the longest view and highest vantage on all this, we can see that the phenomena we’ve discussed here today – GMO contamination, the escalation of every kind of poison in farming, the self-inflicted wounds of the commodity export sector, corporatist government politics, industrial organic’s attempted sellout of the people – plus many evils we haven’t mentioned, are all part of the pathology of industrial corporate agriculture. We can see that it’s economically, politically, socially, environmentally destructive, and for our health, it’s death. But there’s a superb alternative.
 
GMO abolition is necessary part of the full embrace of agroecology, AKA organic farming using that term in the original sense as propagated by Albert Howard, Robert Rodale, and other pioneers. Decentralized, low external input (LEI) farming has been proven to outproduce industrial ag, acre for acre, in terms of calories and nutrition. This already proves humanity’s need to reject corporate ag, which has proven itself unable and unwilling to “Feed the World”, to use its own propaganda lie, and embrace agroecology. This need will become more pressing as the era of cheap fossil fuels, the irreplaceable energy basis of industrial ag, comes to an end.
 
The fight is vs. corporate agriculture, in all its economic and political dimensions. The embrace of agroecology’s companion political philosophy, Food Sovereignty, which maximizes political and economic democracy, also reminds us that we are human beings and citizens of a society, and do not wish or need to wait passively to be “fed” by corporations, as the “feed the world” hacks call upon us to do. If the concept of progress is to have any meaning at all, it has to mean the continuing development of democracy, toward our finally dismissing our regents, renouncing the idea that we need “representation”, and taking our politics and economies directly into our own hands. We can and must do this, and we must start by taking back our food. We must do this negatively, rejecting corporate agriculture, resisting the government’s food police, abolishing GMOs. We must do it affirmatively, building the Community Food movement in our localities and regions, fighting for Food Sovereignty for all the peoples of the world.
 
As we mentioned, GE wheat was never commercialized. That’s because farmers and eaters organized to reject it. This proves the strength we have, whenever and wherever we have the will to use it.
 

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September 19, 2013

Note on What Happened to Occupy

Filed under: American Revolution, Civil Disobedience, Freedom — Tags: — Russ @ 6:28 am

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This analysis is similar to my own. Occupy started with a wonderful action and commitment to direct democracy, but proved to be unable to develop its own movement coherence. There turned out to be no agreement on end goals, let alone operational goals, and little on strategy or tactics. In the absence of a developing movement culture, Occupy reified (Campbell’s appropriate term) the physical occupation itself, and turned the “consensus” process, which can never be anything more than a tool toward a goal, into a fetish and the goal in itself.
 
While the movement was right to refuse to make “demands” on governments and corporations, and was stellar in rejecting Democrat Party attempts to hijack it, it didn’t recognize that a movement must still make demands upon itself. It must still formulate its goals and impose them upon itself. Otherwise it remains incoherent, as in the end Occupy did.

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GMO Canola as Case Study: GMO Contamination is Inevitable

Filed under: Corporatism, Food and Farms — Tags: , , — Russ @ 5:07 am
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New report from Testbiotech (a European scientific watchdog) on the rampant feral spread of genetically modified canola. It’s more documentation that wherever GM pseudo-crops are field tested or commercialized, their contamination of conventional crops, organic crops, and the general environment, are inevitable. This is contrary to the lies of governments and corporations, in particular the “co-existence” scam in all its forms.
 
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September 18, 2013

Colombia’s Seed War: Winning A Battle

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For our physical survival and flourishing, everything starts with seeds. And for our political and economic sovereignty, everything starts with control of our seeds. That’s why a core goal of corporatism and globalization is to seize total control of the global seed supply and crush our right to save and plant our own seeds. That’s why a primary goal of the US government is to force GMOs on the world. GMOs are a crap product which have zero practical purpose and are poisonous to our bodies and the environment. Their sole purpose is to escalate and enforce corporate profit, enclosure, control, domination.
 
This is why globalization compacts try to force a repressive proprietary regime over seeds, and require subject governments to suppress seed sovereignty among farmers, gardeners, and the citizenry as a whole. This is a key part of the planned recolonization of Africa under the propaganda auspices of a “second Green Revolution”, as if the effects of the first weren’t disastrous enough. Governments adhering to the scheme are required to stop dispensing non-GMO seeds and take measures to prevent farmers from distributing seeds among themselves. The European Union is also plotting a repressive seed “certification” policy. This is just one of the EU’s endless schemes to let in GMOs, which have hit a brick wall of democratic rejection and opposition among the people of Europe, by the back door.
 
Bilateral “agreements”, like the one between the governments of the US and Colombia (such globalization pacts are always opposed by the vast majority of the people of all countries involved, and are always radically anti-democratic), are among the most repressive. In Colombia, the anti-seed provision is called Law 970. Over the last two years the government has aggressively sought to destroy the people’s seeds, most notoriously in a 2011 assault at the town of Campo Alegre, where government thugs destroyed 70 tons of rice seeds the farmers had grown, gathered, and were distributing. This crime inspired Victoria Solano’s film, “970” (in Spanish).
 
This occurs among the general process of small farmers being economically destroyed, forced off their land by the thousands, and driven into squalid shantytowns which spread at an accelerating rate around the fringes of cities all over the global South. This is the planned outcome of all neoliberal corporatist agricultural policy, and those who support such policy support this mass dispossession, ghettoization, immiseration, the worst crime against humanity history has seen. That’s the moral fact of support for GMOs and industrial agriculture.
 
But the world’s people are increasingly fighting back. Today we can celebrate, provisionally, a sign of victory in Colombia. The government’s assault on seeds was one of the prime causes of a farmer-led strike and protest movement which rose up in August. The farmers were quickly joined by miners, bus and truck drivers, students, teachers, civil society protesters, and many others. Workers went on strike, protesters blocked roads and fought the police. Over a dozen were killed, and hundreds arrested. In the face of this mass action, the government wavered from day to day, now calling for repression, now offering sham concessions, now denying that anything was going on at all.
 
Finally, at least for the moment, the government has had enough and is offering real concessions. It promises to suspend Law 970, release those arrested, and to enact a new mining law more favorable to miners. It promises to negotiate on the protesters’ other demands, including a partial dismantling of the country’s globalized agriculture policy, and compensation for the way this has economically harmed the country’s farmers. Of course, the proof will be in the execution, and we can’t count our seedlings till they’re sprouted. None of the promises have yet been written into law, and the promised suspension of Law 970 has several caveats. But the protesters vow to hold the government to its promises, and democracy activists and advocates everywhere can look with cheer to this uplifting demonstration of what democracy in action can accomplish, where the people are willing to stand up for themselves.

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September 14, 2013

Notions of Syria: Mass Escapism on the Part of the Left

Filed under: American Revolution, Corporatism — Tags: — Russ @ 5:32 am

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I’m starting to think that the whole obsession among leftists with the Syrian civil war, a problem which they can’t possibly do anything about, and where their positions couldn’t possibly be more irrelevant, is a kind of mass escapism on their part. All the furious disputation is so much meaningless sound and fury, since no one’s position could possibly have any effect on events whatsoever. The people, on their own, are opposing any US intervention just fine, without any help or influence from “the left”. The leftists might as well be hammering one another over what political form the US colony on Saturn’s moon Titan should take.
 
Why this irrelevant obsession? It’s an issue where the fiercely disputed positions (it’s not really clear what they’re fighting about, since almost no one among them advocates US intervention) are just so much competitive navel-gazing. I think this is exactly why the issue is so charming to them. Perhaps it’s a consolation for their general feeling of helplessness in the face of the corporatist onslaught. 
 
By contrast, the whole welter of anti-corporate struggles force upon them the feeling that in principle there must be something they can do, and yet they just can’t figure it out, or else just can’t get organized to do it. It would require lots more hard work, and they’re demoralized at the failure of all their efforts in recent decades. Obsessing on Syria is more like playing a game. The very fact that they can’t possibly do anything about Syria is the main attraction of the thing.
 
The whole Syria tempest-in-a-teapot is more evidence that the pre-existing Left is defunct.
 
 
I’m writing this toward my basic point that existing political categorizations are worthless, are artifacts of the Oil Age, and must be transcended.

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