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November 30, 2013

Seralini and Science

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Here’s an excellent summary by ENSSER of how fraudulent and irresponsible “Food and Chemical Toxicology” is being in retracting the Seralini study.
 
ENSSER points out how pathetically bogus are the reasons given by FCT’s editor-in-chief, how the alleged “objections” are flimsy and were already dealt with by the original peer review committee, how FCT is violating Committee on Publication Ethics (of which it is a member) guidelines for retraction, the lack of transparency about who was involved in the retraction decision and what their methods were, and how this action seeks to suppress science and knowledge about GMOs, as part of a general pattern of secrecy and enclosure of information. The system keeps corporate research secret, except for the cherry-picked parts it chooses to disseminate. It restricts access to critical materials on “proprietary” grounds, thus imposing prior restraint upon science and free speech. It demonizes all independent research which does manage to take place. And as we see here, it tries to censor and suppress this independent, truly scientific research.
 
As ENSSER sums it up, the retraction “is a flagrant abuse of science and a blow to its credibility and independence.”
 
The refutation includes the technical reason why this study’s number of animals was sufficient to support its results. A principle of this kind of experimentation is that the reason you may need a larger sample size is to guard against false negatives, not false positives. If a smaller sample size finds a significant correlation between a variable and a health hazard, this is sufficient to be noted and published, if only to call for further study. The principle is that if we’re to err, we should do it on the side of caution regarding human health, rather than on the side of negligence. This is related to the precautionary principle and supports it.
 
This principle, of course, assumes that the purpose of a scientific study is to support human well-being, not to give the corporate imperative the benefit of the doubt. In principle, science is supposed to assess the safety of variables for human health, not exonerate corporations of responsibility and bolster their lies.
 
But in practice, the “scientific” establishment is now increasingly dedicated to the latter. FCT’s despicable and cowardly action here is a typical example, albeit with a higher profile than most. But this result of corporate capture and corporate coordination is becoming more the norm than the exception among so-called “peer reviewed” science. As we see in this case, when the “peers” are corporate cadres and flunkeys, we can expect, not science, but the trampling and strangling of science.
 
But as the ENSSER statement avows, this “will not succeed in eliminating critical independent science from public review and scrutiny. Such days are over.”
 
Since the establishment has abdicated all responsibility and disavowed even the most basic standards of fidelity to scientific truth and simple human decency, where it comes to such dire threats to human health, we the people shall have to take back science from the hands of those who only abuse and repress it. We must expose corporate scientism for what it is and rout it from the earth. We must rebuild science from the soil up, as we, the true scientific practitioners, spent thousands of years doing in the first place.
 
Fortunately, the great work of human science is still intact and at our service, as soon as we the people choose to regain control of it. This control, exercised as part of reclaiming our politics and our economies, is the only thing we really need to rebuild here. To do so all we need to do is rescind our confidence in the elitist technical establishment and revoke all political and economic support for it. This is part of fighting for the abolition of GMOs, and this abolitionism in turn is part of driving out the traitors to science and redeeming science as servant of the democratic people.

 
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November 29, 2013

Monsanto’s Gleichschaltung of “Peer Review” Proceeds: The Seralini Study is Retracted

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“Food and Chemical Toxicology Review”, the typical peer-review publication which published the 2012 Seralini study, has now retracted it. The editor begged Seralini to voluntarily withdraw it, but he refused, since the study is valid and the retraction is being done for anti-scientific political reasons. The reasons given for the retraction are lies. The action is driven by Monsanto cadre Richard Goodman, who joined FCT’s editorial board early in 2013 when the publication was under tremendous pressure from Monsanto and was desperate to placate the aggressive corporation. We now see the result – the publication’s scientific history is being rewritten from within. Actual science, which always produces results which question GMO corporate orthodoxy, must be suppressed, while this corporate ideological orthodoxy must then be substituted for it and masquerade as “science”. 
 
The 2012 Seralini study was a landmark in scientific history. Although in itself it was a preliminary study and a contribution to future science, it was nevertheless the first scientific toxicology study ever performed upon a GMO, Monsanto’s NK603 Roundup ready maize.
 
The study was designed to extend scientific examination beyond the results of the cartel’s own feeding trials, which themselves weren’t toxicology studies and were in fact rigged to suppress toxicity effects, but which nevertheless found evidence of toxicity. Seralini had gone to court to get Monsanto’s raw data on these feeding trials. In 2009 he published a review of the Monsanto tests and called for a full-length two year study. His team then performed this full-length study and published the results in 2012. 
 
*It was the first safety study which was performed over the full life cycle of the animal subjects, two years for rats, rather than the 90 day industry standard which is calibrated to test how the food affects animals being raised for slaughter, but not for humans eating it over their full life span. The 90 day length is meant to prevent evidence of long-run toxicity from manifesting.
 
*The study design also eliminated the bogus “historical” data groups which were fed various kinds of uncontrolled diets and kept under uncontrolled conditions. This fraudulent methodology, standard in industry tests, is meant to generate noise in order to drown out any toxicology signal which does arise. The Seralini study isolated the GMO, the herbicide, and the non-GM maize equivalent. It carefully controlled for other variables to eliminate this noise.
 
In these two ways the study was similar to but vastly superior to all the industry studies which were previously accepted at face value by regulators like the European Food Safety Agency. When I say “similar but superior”, I mean that Seralini did exactly what a real scientist is supposed to do. He saw what he considered poorly designed studies. In this case, the Monsanto studies were too short, used the bogus “historical” groups, and didn’t test for enough toxicity parameters. So he designed his study to be the same as Monsanto’s, but changing only the flawed elements. His goal was to produce a study which was basically the same as the ones the EFSA had accepted as “proving” NK603’s safety for human consumption, but done with vastly superior methodology, and see what the results would be.
 
This disposes of the most common “criticisms” of the study, namely the type of rat used and the number of rats used. The type was identical to the type Monsanto used, and the number was similar to the numbers used in the various Monsanto trials. FCT itself, although initially commenting on the number of rats used for the study, agreed to publish anyway on the ground of the study’s “merit”. It could hardly do otherwise, since the group sizes were similar to those in the Monsanto studies FCT had previously published.
 
The basic rule for assessing this study, if you know nothing else about it: It’s the same as Monsanto’s own studies, except that it improves upon several methodological flaws. There’s no criticism one can make of the Seralini study which wouldn’t apply at least as much to the Monsanto studies. If this study should be retracted, so should those. If the Monsanto studies were sufficient to approve NK603 for importation in food (as the EFSA judged), then this study gives even stronger reason to revisit that judgement. 
 
The study found a strong link between organ toxicity and Roundup, as well as the GMO itself without Roundup. It also found evidence linking these to cancer, although the study wasn’t designed as a carcinogenicity study and therefore didn’t claim to have proven this. In the cases of both toxicity and cancer, Seralini team called for more study.
 
(The study also confirmed the results of the cartel’s own feeding trials, which as I said above weren’t toxicology studies and were rigged against such study, but which still found evidence of toxicity.)
 
How did the so-called “scientific” establishment react to this scientific advance? With a campaign of outright demonization. The fraudulent attacks which quickly became standard were being launched before the study was even published. It’s clear that no one ever had any scientific objection to the study, but purely political and ideological ones. There were no independent critics. The attacks all came from the GMO establishment and were often laundered through pro-Monsanto government bodies and the corporate media.
 
FCT was pressured to retract the study, but refused. At this point the cartel shifted its pressure on the publication. They now accused it of being biased against GMOs. To prove its lack of bias, it was forced to accept Monsanto’s man onto its editorial roster. The truth is, of course, the exact opposite. FCT was demonstrating its lack of bias either way, and was serving science. It was then forced to accept Goodman so that it could be subject to Gleichschaltung, attaining the ideologically correct pro-Monsanto bias, from within.
 
FCT’s cowardly action now demonstrates how well this corporate coordination process has worked. You can look at their excuse for the retraction and see that it’s nothing but a retread of the same tired lies which attacked the study from day one. If FCT refused to retract on these grounds in 2012, why is it doing so now? Because it was taken over from within, following the injection of a Monsanto cadre. There’s no other explanation.
 
Seralini is being penalized for his services to science and humanity. He even tried to perform a service for the EFSA, demonstrating to it how bogus its previous approval process had been, and offering a way for it to correct itself. As you might imagine, the EFSA was ungrateful and tried to respond with a laughable dismissal of the study. But no one could fail to see the fact that the EFSA itself had approved NK603 based on data which was similar but far less comprehensive. Ironically, after coming under great public and scientific pressure, the EFSA implicitly admitted it hadn’t done sufficient study and announced it was commissioning a two-year feeding study. The French government made a similar announcement. If these two studies are actually done and are scientifically performed, they’ll be the very first times ANY government body has ever commissioned a safety study of ANY GMO. These studies are being talked about at all only because of the Seralini study. So if these studies go forward, then Seralini will have accomplished one of his proclaimed goals, to foster more study.
 
This, of course, is the goal of any true scientist. We see the exact opposite from all pro-GMO technicians and credentialed types. These all do their best to suppress study and deny the need for study. Their slogan runs, “the debate is over”, as one of their leading spokesmen put it, and as they constantly echo.
 
We can see right there who stands for science, and who is a vicious enemy of science.
 
But Seralini has accomplished more than just this. His study was a landmark in the evolution of public consciousness about the health dangers of GMOs, as well as adding to the overwhelming evidence which has long since proven that glyphosate/Roundup is highly toxic to humans and causes human cancer.
 
The Seralini study itself helps build the public consciousness of GMO health hazards. The smear campaign it’s been subject to, and now its official suppression, will help build the political consciousness that humanity cannot co-exist with GMOs, and that nothing short of the total abolition of GMOs will suffice for us. We see what liars the pro-GMO cadres are, their moral vileness, their infinite contempt for human health and freedom, their totalitarian intent, and the fact that they’ll never stop until they achieve total domination, or until humanity stops them once and for all.
 
More immediately, we see how the “scientific” review process is increasingly a fraud, how “peer-review” is more and more dictated by corporate imperatives, and how we the people cannot trust any element of the system to do anything but seek our harm and indenture. Bigger picture, we see how science is a battleground, where the majority of credentialed personnel are anti-science obscurantists, fighting on the side of corporate power against scientific truth, against scientific transparency, against the bedrock ideas of science and reason as such. 

 
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November 27, 2013

Saluting Sofia Gatica

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I won’t try to do so with any high-falutin’ rhetoric. I’ll just let the facts speak for themselves.
 
Sofia Gatica is a regular Argentine working woman who lives amid the soy plantations. For years her home has been bombarded with Roundup on a regular basis. Her three older children all suffer from illnesses related to this poison. Her fourth died as an infant of kidney failure. These diseases and deaths are common in Argentina’s GMO soy country. This is why Argentina has become ground zero for scientific research on the health effects of glyphosate. Clinical and epidemiological studies have established that glyphosate causes miscarriages, birth defects, cancer, and child mortality. The experience of Gatica’s family is typical. The evidence is so complete that the Cordoba province was moved to pass laws strictly regulating the application of glyphosate. Although there’s been some improvement, these laws are seldom enforced.
 
Her family’s suffering, and her will to ensure that future families won’t have to endure the same tragedies in order to feed the profits of a handful of corporations, is what’s motivated Sofia Gatica to become an activist. She and many others started out lobbying government for reforms, including the Cordoba laws. When they saw how this doesn’t work, they moved on to direct action. Today they’re engaged in the occupation of a site in Malvinas where Monsanto plans to construct a massive seed processing factory. Gatica and others manning this blockade have previously been beaten by the police.
 
Throughout, Gatica has been a cogent spokeswoman for this movement, proving the need for it and its moral authority though her words and what she represents, the nimbus of how her family has been assaulted.
 
This is why Monsanto has targeted her. After the typical smear campaign failed to work, the criminals have moved on to violence. A few days ago Gatica’s life was threatened by a man holding a gun. Two days later, she was beaten up outside her workplace. She’s reported both of these crimes to the police, but no one expects much police action, since they know whose side the police are on. Not that of the people.
 
Gatica went to the hospital to have her injuries treated, but within a few hours she returned to the occupation site to continue sharing direct action with the many farmers, democracy advocates, and regular working people who have had enough of they and their families being poisoned.
 
This kind of violence is nothing new for anyone who questions GMOs in the global South. In 2010 Andres Carrasco, the scientist most publicly involved in the research I linked above, was assaulted by a gang of thugs and had a public presentation broken up. The same kind of violence is rife around the world.
 
While in most parts of the West we’re not yet up against this kind of direct violence (except from the police at demonstrations, of course), the vicious tone of GMO flacks clearly portends violence. The kind of person who launches a vicious personal attack on anyone who even questions the Monsanto imperative certainly will not shrink from violence if he thinks its necessary to enforce his criminal prerogative. The violence in Argentina demonstrates this. There’s a clear continuity from the technical hacks and professional trolls who infest Internet comment threads and the thugs who physically use fists and guns. Abolitionists must think this through and be ready.
 
I salute Sofia Gatica and her comrades for their courage and perseverance under such harsh conditions and against such long odds. A tragedy like she suffered would reduce most Westerners to passivity, and often to apologizing for the corporations attacking them. But she and the millions like her show the best of the human spirit and the human potential. I thank them, and will do my best to support them and conduct the same abolition fight from within the West, however that can be done. 
 

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November 26, 2013

GMO Assault on Europe – Bureaucratic Slipperiness

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Over three years ago I wrote about the way pro-GMO forces within the unelected, autocratic European Union bureaucracy were planning to play whack-a-mole with federalism, in order to ensure maximum legal penetration for GMOs. It’s not working at the centralized level? Re-disperse authority to the member states.
 
Today we’re seeing the flip side of the plan. The “European Court of Justice”, really a European Commission (EC) bureaucratic tribunal (an unaccountable “court” run by the bureaucracy, similar to administrative court systems run by the Tsarist secret police and Nazi SS) has found that the European Council (another bureaucratic committee, albeit in theory answerable to the quasi-representative European Parliament) has been too dilatory in its assessment of Pioneer’s application for cultivation of its 1507 stacked maize variety. The police tribunal ordered the Council to vote on the application at its next meeting in December, with the strong implication that anything other than full approval will be overridden by the EC.
 
At the same time, the European Commissioner said that such EC-level approval could be overridden by country-level bans, as per the existing federalism. In the case of MON810 maize, the only GMO currently authorized for commercial cultivation in the EU, many countries including Germany, France, Austria, Luxemburg, Hungary, Italy, and Poland have banned it.
 
Here we see this propaganda aspect of the federalism plan (the “subsidiarity” plan, according to the translation I linked) – since member states can institute state-level bans, there’s allegedly no reason not to give 1507 and the many other applications in the approval pipeline a smooth path to EU-level approval.
 
But in fact there are many reasons not to do this. The whole plan is part of the typical Monsanto strategy to get the camel’s nose into the tent by any means necessary – anything from partial regulatory approval, as in this case, to illegal planting, as in the case of Mexico, Brazil, and India. Then, once the crop is in the field and polluting other crops, present its presence as an accomplished fact which should then be legally ratified. Governments so far have been happy to be thrown into this briar patch.
 
In the case of the EU, once several more GMOs have been approved for cultivation at the central level, the next move will be to revoke the right of member states to ban them. If you doubt that, then consider how, right from the start, Monsanto and the US government have opposed any restrictions whatsoever on cultivation in Europe. This includes opposition to the federalism plan. It’s similar to the Obama White House’s nixing in 2011 of a “co-existence” plan being negotiated between the industrial organic sector and Obama’s own Agriculture Department. We see here how Monsanto is increasingly disdainful of any kind of subtlety or misdirection, but instead wants to bull ahead with main force.
 
In the EU as well, the cartel and the US government comprise the aggressive totalitarian coalition. Do you have any doubt about their will to keep up the pressure on the EC until it tries to revoke the ability of member states to ban GMO cultivation? Especially since the EC has always wanted total power over this, has always been ardently pro-GMO, and promulgated the federalism policy only under great bottom-up duress, in an attempt to make EC-level approval less politically incendiary, as I described above.
 
As for 1507 itself, it’s been in the approval pipeline since 2001, and in itself is becoming obsolete. It’s one of the constituents of the SmartStax variety which recently was approved for EU importation in food products, and for field trials in various European countries. So why is it such a big deal to the cartel and the EC that this old variety be approved for cultivation?
 
The SmartStax applications and approval justifications give the answer. Pro-GM regulatory bureaucracies in the UK, the Netherlands, and Romania parrot the line that because individual SmartStax genetic modifications (“events”), including 1507, are being cultivated elsewhere, there’s no reason why the “stacked” product SmartStax should undergo any special assessment. As I’ll write about in part 2 of my SmartStax post (I know everyone’s been waiting for it), this completely ignores everything we know about complex systems. Each individual genetic modification may have chaotic reverberations far beyond the intended effect. Denial of this, on the part of corporations, governments, and scientistic hacks, is one of the core reasons why GMO ideology is anti-scientific and anti-safety.
 
Similarly, a stacked GMO like SmartStax (which has eight events – it endemically manufactures six Bt poisons which will then be part of the food we eat, and is tolerant to two herbicides) will add the chaotic interaction of the eight modifications to the reverb effects of each individual modification.
 
As for 1507 itself, there’s so many unanswered questions about its health and environmental safety that even the pro-GMO European Food Safety Authority has recommended the go-slow approach.
 
So we see how the goal of the EU’s “federal” policy on GMO approval is to help get more GMOs partially approved and cultivated in the first place, in whatever way is politically possible, and then later impose them on the entire EU.
 

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November 24, 2013

GMO Labeling and Movement Strategy 5 of 6: Actions

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Parts one, two, three.
 
In part four I wrote about the kind of grassroots organizations we need to build and what the actions of those organizations will be. Here I’ll describe the array of possible anti-GMO actions we can undertake right now.
 
GMO labeling campaigns are currently the best publicized form of activism, but they’re just one part of the range of options for action. One of the reasons we need to build permanent abolitionist organizations is to place labeling in the right systemic context. Labeling campaigns should be taken primarily as occasions for education and organization, and the campaign should be placed alongside a range of other actions, and publicized as just a step toward abolition rather than being any kind of sufficient goal, let alone a panacea. Otherwise these campaigns and the measures they seek, even if successful in themselves, will remain within the realm of consumerism and “co-existence”, which is an impossible position, politically and physically.
 
At the moment there’s no clear road to ultimate victory. One thing that is clear is that we need to jettison all prejudices about how to attain the necessary goal, and cultivate the mindset of organizational, strategic, and tactical flexibility, adaptability, always surveying the landscape for every opportunity.
 
(I suggest this as a good general principle, for anyone who seeks any clear goal. As I mentioned before, I think we need to replace vague aspirations with clear operational goals.)
 
This includes launching the anti-GMO counteroffensive on every front: public health, scientific, environmental, economic, political, philosophical, spiritual, religious.
 
1. To start by reprising my prior post, the organizations we need will serve as pressure groups to ensure that labeling measures which are enacted are then actually enforced. These organizations will report to their constituency on this and on all other aspects of GMOs, always interrelating this issue to other economic and political sectors. This will be part of the analysis we’ll perform. We’ll do all we can to systematically, relentlessly publicize all the information and analysis we compile.
 
There’s a great need for reportage from an abolitionist perspective, and for analysis in an abolitionist context, toward fighting for the abolitionist goal. It seems to me there’s very little of this work being done as of yet, which is part of the reason I’m calling for this type of organization to be formed.
 
2. Besides the online publicity work (and in whatever other media we can use), these groups can help individuals: Learn about GMOs and how to purge them from their diets (there’s already plenty of good information and guides out there); encourage them to become personal ambassadors of abolitionism who talk to others in individual and group conversations and in community public speaking, always propagating the facts about GMOs, the abolition idea, and giving practical advice on how to change people’s individual diets. The organization can provide a community and practical advice to these field ambassadors. Even if one never actively participates in any kind of campaign, this kind of personal exemplification and publicity work is important. I find it fulfilling and fruitful in my own life.
 
3. What about within-the-system things like petitions, lawsuits, etc.? As a rule these are bound to be ineffective in themselves, but just like with labeling campaigns they can be good occasions for participation, education, and publicizing abolitionism and its organizations. I recommend this template:
 
*We can support anything in principle as long as it doesn’t involve preemption of any lower government level or of the grassroots.
 
*Use it as an educational opportunity and organizing vehicle.
 
*Use the forum to argue the impossibility of co-existence, the fact that at best government and most NGOs will only ever want to enshrine co-existence (the federal government certainly supports Monsanto’s totalitarian goal), and that abolition is the necessary goal.
 
This is not to say that it’s impossible abolitionism will ever reach any part of its goal through governments. It’s possible that as the movement grows, the combination of exemplary rejection, consumer and movement pressure on retailers, manufacturers, etc., movement pressure on government, combined with outside-the-system actions, could reach such a critical mass that government support wavers, that bureaucracies take fear, that corporate welfare for the GMO cartel dries up, that institutional aggression on behalf of GMOs abates.
 
But although we should craft our strategy so that these kinds of effects can be brought about and aggravated, we should never expect this outcome or enshrine it as a main goal.
 
For example, anti-GMO people who have regarded labeling as insufficient have tended to call for legal bans. It’s possible that the general movement’s effect will be to make bans possible at some government levels, and wherever this is possible we should campaign for such bans.
 
But the main goal is always abolition, not a “ban”. The abolitionist mindset focuses on a physical end goal, that GMOs cease to exist, and regards any tactic or measure in terms of being a mere step toward that physical goal. The mindset of seeking a ban, on the other hand, in addition to implicitly accepting the fictional bounds of legalism and system politics, is likely to focus on the legal artifice itself, the “ban”, as the outcome, rather than in what way this artifice contributes to an actual physical change.
 
Legalism must not be a principle, and it’s certainly not a legitimate goal. It’s nothing but a tactic among others. I’ve written before about the history of those who tend to focus on system “process” and the fraudulent mirage of change as nothing but going through the system’s process motions, while they don’t care at all about real world outcomes. Labeling campaigns are vulnerable to this pathology, as is even the more assertive campaign for a legal ban. But the abolition imperative, where consistently and firmly held, is proof against it.
 
4. I’ve written previously about the how retailers are a weak link in the GMO propagation system. They have to face the public directly, and they’re under increasing economic pressure. Therefore targeting them directly with picketing and boycott calls would have a better chance of achieving real results than trying to get better government policy. Plus, as exercises in participatory democracy, they would help build a real grassroots movement. There are already many examples of successful campaigns to pressure supermarkets and restaurant chains into shunning various GM products or requiring labels for them.
 
Supermarkets are the closest point of contact between the system and consumers. It’s here where consumer pressure can be potent: Everything from individuals talking to store managers and writing letters to headquarters, to consumers and citizens forming groups to undertake such pressure work, everything from making requests to making demands to declaring personal boycotts of a particular chain to organizing boycotts of that chain. I think that pressure here, from petitions to picketing, is likely to be far more effective than petitioning the government, calling congressmen, etc. (Although those can help as well, especially where it comes to averting bad government policy. Not so much where it comes to getting good policy, which is likely impossible by now.)
 
The same can be true of pressure on manufacturers. The Organic Consumers Association-led boycott of organic brands owned by conglomerates who help fund anti-labeling propaganda seems to have gotten some results. Unilever, which owns Ben and Jerry’s, and who helped fund Monsanto’s counterattack in California, has since stayed out, while B&J has been among the organizational leaders of labeling campaign efforts in Connecticut, Washington, and elsewhere.
 
This kind of consumer pressure may be especially potent and assertive where it comes to Frankenfoods, GMOs which are meant to be directly sold and eaten, like GMO salmon, sweet corn, “non-browning” apples, and others. (Almost all GMOs so far are field crops like corn, soy, canola, sugar beets, which are used as animal feed or processed before becoming food for people. These are still dangerous to our health, as some of the GM material survives processing. But still, processing is one step between engineering and ingestion which does not exist in the case of Frankenfoods.)
 
Consumer rejection, where it’s organized and channeled, can be one of the most effective ways to fight GMOs and drive them out of our food. This in turn makes them less economically viable, and therefore softens them up for the full abolition blow. We must look for every opportunity to focus consumer negativity this way. In fact, I think that where it comes to reformism, this kind of campaign has been more effective than labeling campaigns, and should become the main form of reform action.
 
But labeling campaigns, and the monied corporate attacks which they generate, will help build the consumer outrage which can only manifest as an increasing backlash against retailers and manufacturers, who are the most vulnerable to this outrage. They want to carry Monsanto’s water, let them suffer the full consequences.
 
So whether our strategy designates campaigns for government-level labeling policy as the main form of reform action, or whether first place goes to pressure on retailers and manufacturers, either way these complement one another.
 
But perhaps not to the same extent. I spoke of how labeling campaigns complement retailer pressure by demonstrating how action through normal politics is walled off from us by corporate money. Since it’s proven that we can’t get justice through governments, we’ll have to directly get it with retailers and manufacturers. Plus, this either disarms many of the opponents of labeling who claim that the people should act “through the marketplace”, or else reveals them to be rank hypocrites, if they also oppose the marketplace action. In the case of Whole Foods’s announced labeling policy, the GMA has declared its opposition even to voluntary marketplace labeling. This proves the totalitarian intention and goal of the GMA and its members.
 
Labeling campaigns are also important because, more than marketplace campaigns, they can serve as an educational forum. Canvassers going door to door or manning booths will be able to do more teaching, and learn more themselves, than people involved in pressuring supermarkets. The exception to this may be picketing.
 
On the other hand, retailer campaigns may not do much to enhance labeling campaigns, and to the extent that they’re offering a more direct route through the marketplace, may even undercut them. (That is, if we’re getting the results we need through consumer pressure, why do we need government policy?) Indeed, if retailers and manufacturers fear direct pressure and boycotts more than they do a neutered, preemptive federal labeling policy, then retailer campaigns may increase the lobbying for this. We come back to the dynamic where, once any sort of government labeling policy has been enacted, there will be pressure on the people to stand down, go home, go back to sleep. People may say, “why pressure this supermarket chain if the government is already requiring labeling?”
 
Those are just some speculations, and I’m not trying to depict this as an either/or between labeling campaigns and retailer/manufacturer pressure campaigns. I’d like it to continue to grow as a both/and. 
 
But the two campaigns should be strategically coordinated and should guard against undercutting one another. As always, everyone must always reject and oppose all central government preemption. We must also make sure that any victory is not taken as an excuse to relax and relent. Rather, we must take every victory as a spur to escalate our efforts, and to point out all the other efforts which haven’t yet succeeded and still need fighting support.
 
But if, on account of limited resources, it does come down to an either/or, then as a general rule (subject to the specific conditions of a situation) we should focus on the retailer campaigns, since those have a better record of success and are more direct in trying to deny the ground to GMOs.
 
5. Since the beginning of the GMO assault, the people have fought back with direct action against field trials and commercial plantings. While I think the main effort should be to organize political and economic opposition to the GMO cartel, I also support direct actionists anywhere they choose to act.
 
Increasingly, the people find themselves forced into direct action, because governments do nothing but lie and continue the assault, as in the case of Philippine “golden rice”, and “the law” does nothing even where a GMO assault is illegal, as in the case of the Wetteren potato trial. We’re increasingly in the position where no legal route, no within-the-system route, is available.
 
(On that note, today in America the cartel is organizing a push to get the federal government to not just preempt state-level GMO labeling with a sham FDA policy, but to simply ban the states from doing this altogether. How’s that for the system in action, and for what options we the people have available? This kind of top-down assault on democracy is only going to get worse as we the people continue to build movements for community food and against agricultural poisoning offensives.
 
That’s part of why I call for the building of permanent grassroots organizations completely outside the system, dedicated to the goal of total abolition of GMOs, and conscious of the potential need to do this completely in defiance of the corporate system.)
 
We the people will do what we have to do, all over the world, for the sake of our survival and future happiness and prosperity. If we have no legal recourse, no way to find justice within existing systems, we’re given no choice but extralegal and illegal courses.
 
In general, if it’s impossible to gain effective results working within the system, we’re forced to work outside the system. So even if many of us work in such ways that we don’t undertake direct action against field trials and commercial plantings ourselves, we must always celebrate and justify such actions on the grounds of freedom and necessity.
 
6. Monsanto’s goal is to wipe out all seed freedom. The destruction of agricultural biodiversity, through economic coercion and physical contamination, is one of the worst effects of the GMO onslaught, and one of the core reasons it’s impossible for humanity to co-exist with GMOs and necessary to abolish them.
 
Monsanto’s goal is to impose proprietary, industrial monoculture-oriented varieties as the monopoly standard wherever possible, causing adaptive and democratic heirloom varieties to become unavailable. This goal has already been achieved for many commodity crops, in the US, India, and elsewhere. 
 
Conversely, one of the main tasks of the community food movement, as an economic sector and as a political movement, is to defend our seed heritage. We must save, breed, plant, and exchange as many locally/regionally adapted seed varieties as possible.
 
We still have the gardener and organic seed trade, and grassroots seed saving. Continued buyouts, the contamination onslaught, and other forms of strong-arming are intended to wipe out as many of the small businesses as possible.
 
What to do where it comes to our seeds? Part of supporting local food, local farmers, is to support small, independent, locally/regionally oriented seed sellers. We must also build a Freedom Seed network of decentralized seed banks, seed libraries, and exchange among them. The toughest part of this will be building the infrastructure (the number of plants required, and the responsibility to grow them) and precision skill set to reliably save seeds from cross-pollinators like brassicas, and to continue to breed these varieties.
 
So there’s another dimension of the necessary work, and one of the many confluences of the GMO abolition movement and the community food movement.
 
***
 
Always, abolition is the necessary goal. There must be no strategic or tactical prejudices where it comes to this goal. Debate should focus only on what can work, what’s a good expenditure of energy.
 
We must undertake all the necessary tasks, from interpersonal education and advocacy to participation in labeling and supermarket campaigns to any other context, with the abolitionist consciousness and always seeking to spread this consciousness to others.
 
GMO abolitionism in turn is part of one war, corporatism’s aggression against humanity. No matter what’s one’s specific fight, every fight must be seen in this all-encompassing aspect.
 
The banks who keep pushing austerity are the same who want all agricultural practice and food production and distribution reconfigured along corporate-enclosed GMO lines. Debt slavery and corporate domination of our food are two core manifestations of the same totalitarian strategy. The rest of the struggles ramify out from there.

 
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November 23, 2013

Indian Scientists Against GMOs

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A few weeks ago I wrote about the statement issued by the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER) proving, contrary to the lies of GMO propaganda, that there is no consensus among scientists on the alleged safety of GMOs. The statement gives a brief overview of the massive amount of contrary evidence which has been assembled by independent scientists, usually working against serious institutional barriers, as well as how the industry’s own rigged tests have still found evidence of toxicity. To date the statement has been signed by over 230 scientists.
 
Now there’s a similar statement issuing from India. Over 250 Indian scientists have signed a statement calling upon the government to accept the recommendations of the Technical Expert Committee (TEC) appointed by the Indian supreme court to advise it on GMO-related matters. The five scientists on this committee issued its final report this past summer. (A sixth appointee from industry, belatedly added to express the Monsanto point of view, abstained from the report.) They recommended:
 
*That no GMO be approved unless a need for it is demonstrated. They were skeptical that there is any such need.
 
*A moratorium on new field trials or commercializations on account of the danger of contamination, until much better protocols have been devised.
 
*In particular, there must be no approval of GM varieties of crops for which India is a center of biodiversity, such as brinjal (eggplant).
 
*That Bt food crops not be approved until thorough safety testing is done.
 
*Herbicide tolerant crops are environmentally and socioeconomically inappropriate for India and should never be approved.
 
*The report echoed the findings of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture, issued in August 2012, that India’s regulatory system is chaotic and full of conflicts of interest. (That the government was able to pressure the court to add a sixth, pro-Monsanto appointee to the five independent scientists the court originally appointed, is a perfect example of the kind of practice the report deplores.) It recommended the moratorium as also necessary until conflicts of interest are purged from the system.
 
This statement of over 250 scientists endorses the TEC report, elaborates upon its reasoning, and calls upon the government to implement its recommendations.
 
For citizens, the report and this statement are good sources for the most up-to-date evidence on the proven harms and potential hazards of GMOs, and provide a good overview of what kind of policy is needed, from a reform point of view.
 
But all the talk of moratoria really implies that nothing short of total abolition will suffice, since the evidence “for” GMO safety will never be found, and the safe protocols for open-air releases are impossible to devise. The fact that cartel and governments refuse to perform the necessary tests and refuse to even try to devise the protocols is an admission on their part that the tests will only further confirm the evidence of toxicity and carcinogenicity, and that GMO contamination of non-GM crops and wild relatives is inevitable wherever GMOs are allowed into the environment, no matter how “strict” the protocols.
 
As with every honest assessment (and as implicitly from every failure to assess on the part of the system), the TEC report confirms that the total abolition of GMOs is the necessary goal.
 

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November 21, 2013

GMO Labeling and Movement Strategy 4 of 6: The Organizations We Need

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Parts one, two, three.
 
I’ve been saying we need to form permanent grassroots anti-GMO organizations, wherever we are or (for starters) to run parallel to GMO labeling campaigns. Here’s a basic rundown on why we need these.
 
In the context of the labeling effort, we must always keep in mind two facts which are proven by history.
 
1. Concentrated power always inertially encroaches on liberty and democracy, and often aggressively seeks to destroy them. This was one of the basic elements of the political philosophy of the American Revolution. The only solution, short of not allowing power to concentrate in the first place, is vigilance on the part of an active, responsible citizenry.
 
2. Wherever corporatism runs up against regulatory limits (the few that still exist), it will relentlessly, at every moment, seek to destroy them. The war of attrition is a constant wherever corporations exist, and wherever they find any limit whatsoever to the infinitude of their aggressive prerogatives. Corporatism is totalitarian.
 
Assuming that a labeling initiative is voted up, or a labeling bill passed, it will next need to be instituted and enforced by a government which is probably hostile to the policy. Whatever this government tries to do will face the constant hostility and counteraction of the corporations with which the government naturally identifies and sides.
 
(Here I’m talking about state governments. The FDA, of course, is aggressively pro-GMO in principle, and will never try to undertake any policy other than with the approval of the GM cartel. Any FDA labeling policy would focus primarily on preempting lower-level, stronger measures. For these reasons, it’s stupid and malign to want the FDA to take any part in this. No, anyone who truly wants GMO labeling seeks it only at the state and local levels, and completely rejects the notion of putting the FDA in charge.)
 
We can never trust any government on its own to do the right thing by the people. Similarly, we can’t trust system NGOs. These have a long history of collaborating with corporations, seeking top-down central government intervention, selling out democracy, wanting only to look to their own funding and insider influence. Sure enough, many of the outfits involved in the labeling movement openly say they want the FDA to take over from us. Others advertise their goal of finding a “solution” acceptable to the big corporations. Almost all of the “food safety” and “consumer advocate” groups have already worshipped at the feet of Monsanto and the FDA, as they supported the Food Control Act, supported increasing the FDA’s power to assault the community food sector and small farms on behalf of its Big Ag clients, and even pressured the FDA to move faster in imposing its “rules” when it was procrastinating.
 
We know what we can expect from NGO types once an initiative passes. They’ll say, “We won! Now we professionals will hold a conclave with the other stakeholders, government and corporate, and work out the details and look after the deployment. You peasants can go back to sleep. You’ve completed your role. We’ll keep you informed on behalf of the system.” Their agenda is clearly not to help we the people Take Back Our Food. We’re supposed to remain basically passive “consumers”. We’re just supposed to be a little better educated about it.
 
The first purpose of forming permanent grassroots organizations is to ensure that we the people don’t go back to sleep, and that we don’t leave oversight and reporting to “professionals”, but that we continue the job we started. Anything short of this degrades the labeling movement to a temporary interruption of the usual passive consumerist pattern instead of the beginning of active participatory democracy it needs to be.
 
A democratic movement needs its own democratic organizations. If in the course of the labeling movement we build these, we’ll come out stronger even if we lose at the ballot box. The real work toward the real goals of the future will have begun.
 
Forming a permanent organization means permanent action beyond the initial electoral or legislative campaign. In the first place, if the initiative or bill passes we must continue the campaign by turning it into a vigilance campaign. The people’s organization must monitor the rule-making, deployment, and enforcement. It must pressure the government where the government is dragging its feet or being derelict. It must keep its constituency informed and organize the direct pressure of the people on the system to ensure that our right to know is honored and we get our rightful information from the system.
 
But the nature of these organizations as vigilance/pressure groups is only their proximate action. The real goal is the abolition of GMOs. These organizations must explain the need for abolition and propagate the abolitionist idea in reformist contexts. The three basics: Reforms are not sufficient, co-existence is impossible, total abolition is the necessary end goal. In this way the grassroots organizations will serve as a bridge from reformism to fully developed abolitionism.
 
For starters, these organizations can be formed in parallel with various reform campaigns, campaigns led by system NGOs, etc. We can collaborate, join these reform groups and their campaigns, help win the reforms, all the while maintaining the integrity of our own groups, propagating the abolition idea, encouraging reformers to become abolitionists. 
 
(Many such groups won’t fully exemplify all these ideas from the outset. But as events develop, and as we see how the cartel counterattacks, how flimsy system institutions of “democracy” are, how impossible it is to co-exist (politically or physically) with GMOs or the corporations which force them upon us, how there’s no alternative to total abolition, the real fighters for freedom and democracy will become abolitionists, and the real groups will evolve to this position.)
 
What will these abolition organizations do? They’ll need to sustain themselves, and recruit writers/analysts, organizers, speakers, activists. The first task is to publicize the abolition idea relentlessly, in a focused, disciplined way, as broadly as possible so that this idea becomes part of the public consciousness.
 
1. So that GMOs are known for all their evils. In particular, that they’re recognized as a tremendous economic bottleneck, and as poisons.
 
2. Their abolition is linked with every kind of health, economic, political, social goal. They’re at the core of the general anti-poison and anti-corporatist movement.
 
3. The cartel’s position is weak, it can be toppled, GMOs can be abolished.
 
At first, this doesn’t have to mean convincing the public. The first task is to make the abolition idea something people think of on a regular basis, an idea that’s available, doable, worthwhile for all sorts of reasons.
 
Why wait for the corporate state to label the corporate product? We can label the whole system ourselves. We can label the brands, we can label the retailers, we can label the manufacturers, we can label the government bureaucracies (FDA and USDA) which serve as pro-GMO propagandists and thugs, we can label the NGOs who run interference for Monsanto, we can label GMOs in general, we can label corporate and industrial ag as a whole.
 
We can label these as unwanted, worthless, pointless, inefficient, anti-innovation, uneconomic, bad for our health, bad for our crops, bad for our food, bad for our water, bad for our soil, bad for our environment, bad for our politics, bad for our economies, bad for our societies, impossible to sustain in their fossil fuel use, impossible to sustain in their water use, impossible to sustain in their destruction of the soil, guaranteed to lead to famine and debt indenture for us all.
 
So the organization will provide day-to-day reportage, synthetic reports, analysis, philosophy. It will encourage consumers to shun GMO products, individuals to purge them from their diets, and for citizens to then spread the word about how they did this, that it wasn’t so difficult, and all the benefits that ensued. We’ll spread the word about GMOs on a personal level, foster public discussions, and undertake public presentations about them. The organizations will provide guidance on doing this and on how to get community discussion groups going.
 
Beyond this we’ll undertake whatever actions are promising, for their own sakes and to further the goals of recruitment and publicity. I’ll write more about these in Part Five. For now I’ll just say that although I’ve been writing about these permanent grassroots organizations as forming amid the context of the labeling movement, as the main form of anti-GMO activism right now, and to some extent in response to the need for vigilance/pressure groups which this movement generates, labeling is in fact just one of an array of anti-GMO actions and campaigns. It should be undertaken, not exclusively, but as one part of a broad strategy.
 
We must place all this in the context of a general critique of corporate industrial agriculture as agronomically and environmentally destructive, politically and economically inefficient, anti-innovation, stifling, and malign, unsustainable on a practical level, unable to cope with any of humanity’s needs, from providing food to providing prosperity, self-fulfillment, and happiness.
 
The war of ideas must contrast this malign system with the great affirmative solution, decentralized organic farming and agroecology as the basic agricultural solution, Food Sovereignty as the basic political and socioeconomic form of society.
 
These ideas, too, must be developed and systematically, relentlessly publicized through writing, public speaking, and interpersonal discussion.
 
Meanwhile the ground is ready for a true Community Food movement to cohere, and this political/social movement is already being built, parallel to its spontaneous rise as a new and distinct economic sector. The GMO abolitionist movement, as a vector of anti-corporate, pro-democracy ideas, is separate from but complements this Community Food movement.
 
All this is in the best participatory spirit and practice. The point is to be our own activists and have our own organization. As Lawrence Goodwyn analyzed in his great book on the 19th century Populist movement, its triumphs and the reasons for its eventual failure, this kind of movement building is the way to build the necessary individual self-respect and political self-confidence which make organization so potent. We must build the will to organize, to act cooperatively, have the fortitude and patience to build a true movement, which is the only possible foundation of all democratic politics and economic practice.
 
(As I’ll write about in Part Six, one of the problems with labeling campaigns as they’ve existed so far is that they’re typical examples of putting the political cart before the movement horse. That’s part of why so far the initiatives have been failing.)

 
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November 19, 2013

Why I Became A GMO Abolitionist

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After years of writing across many topics as a general anti-corporatist, I’ve become a focused GMO abolitionist. Why did I end up here?
 
1. Food production and distribution is the primary economy of humanity. We need to focus ideology and strategy here.
 
2. Conversely, food corporatism is the core battleground for corporatism as a whole, where its war to impose total domination will be won or lost.
 
3. Specifically, the goal of corporatism is to overcome the final limits to capitalism’s accumulation process and therefore the end of its ability to profit. 
 
How can capitalism overcome the limits of the earth? Only by becoming able to wipe out large swaths of its resources and synthetically replace them with its own enclosed proprietary products. This is the reason for the corporate state’s GMO project. If it works the way corporations and governments hope, the core human economy, physically and organizationally, will become a synthetic corporate product under the total control of the technocratic elites. They will be able to manipulate the entirety of its production and distribution mechanisms with precision control, allowing or denying food to any individual, group, or region, every crumb of it a pure profit-generator (on paper), every crumb of it firmly enclosed within the patent regime, this regime ruthlessly enforced by the full might of the police state.
 
Best of all, from the corporatist point of view, since agriculture will be under total technical control, the technicians will be able to wipe the slate clean at will. Is a particular set of GMOs no longer expedient for whatever reason? Discontinue it and replace it with a brand new set.
 
The ongoing fiasco with herbicide tolerant and Bt-expressing varieties becoming unable to cope with the superweeds and superbugs they generate against themselves, and the need to add 2,4-D and dicamba tolerance on top of glyphosate tolerance, and the need to stack six Bt insecticides where one used to suffice, is just an early, very clumsy form of this planned obsolescence.
 
Meanwhile the elites also hope this will eventually allow them to realize the old dream of human domination over nature itself. Although so far GMO contamination of wild plants is happening in an ad hoc, uncontrolled manner, the elites hope someday to strategically inject genetic modification into the environment at large in order to sculpt it the way they desire. This will also further enclose the entire surface of the earth as “property”, since in addition to the legal ownership of land, there will be proprietary control of the flora, as well as the water and air which carry the proprietary genetic material. Indeed, under these circumstances, wherever convenient for the elites this proprietary control will supersede “ownership” rights. “Libertarian” types gripe about government bureaucracies today interfering with the alleged right to enjoy one’s property, but that’s nothing compared to the control Monsanto has in mind, once everything on your land carries its patented genes.
 
How do they plan to do all this? No doubt this whole plan is still mostly hazy and theoretical. But the corporatists think that once today’s level of mechanization becomes impossible (on account of there being insufficient economically extractable fossil fuels), they’ll be able to keep industrial agriculture going through the increasing use of slave labor. This is expected to overcome, for a while at least, the declining ability of fossil fuels, aquifers, synthetic fertilizers, industrially mined phosphorus, and the ravaged soil, to sustain production. In this way the elites hope to gradually wind down the industrial civilization and return to some pre-oil mode of empire, while keeping their power intact, without suffering a non-linear collapse along the way.
 
How are the people to be forced to become such slaves? I’ve already written out my vision of a domination system based on debt indenture, so I don’t need to repeat it here. I mentioned above how the entire food system will be proprietary and based on predatory paper profits. Obviously it won’t be possible for the people to pay the prices the system will demand. On the contrary, neoliberalism is currently in the process of economically liquidating the Western middle class.
 
But at the same time the system continues to ratchet up the propaganda of belief in the reality of money and debt. Basically, the goal is to impoverish everyone but still bolster the people’s belief in a central money system and its concomitant debt regime. Thus the people will, if all goes according to plan, submit to a system where they continue to function, now as destitute laborers, where every day they go deeper into an impossible debt. The system won’t intend to collect these debts, which exist only on paper, measured in money which the elites recognize as worthless. The elites care only about POWER. The debt system will be used psychologically to help enforce the elites’ physical power, and will also provide a management mechanism for the selective use of this physical power, since anyone who is considered a problem in any way can immediately be arrested and dealt with permanently as a criminally culpable debtor. All prisons will become de facto debt prisons, while the death penalty for debt will also return. (It was common at least as late as the 17th century.)
 
That’s corporatism’s end goal. GMOs are intended to serve as the linchpin holding together and enforcing this system.
 
This is insane, of course. It’ll never be possible to sustain industrial agriculture this way. But if things continue the way they’re going, the system will push as far as possible toward this goal, causing inconceivable destruction, suffering, and death along the way, and perhaps rendering humanity’s recovery permanently impossible.
 
4. It’s to try to avert this outcome that I became a GMO abolitionist, and why I think anyone who wants to fight corporatism, capitalism, statism, elitism, tyranny, should also focus on this fight.
 
5. In spite of corporatism’s insane plan, and in spite of various utopian notions, industrial agriculture is unsustainable for the reasons I already mentioned above. Post-oil, the earth still can sustain a population even greater than today’s, but only if humanity switches in an organized way from industrial, corporate agriculture to decentralized, low-external-impact polyculture agroecology, along with food sovereignty as the rational and democratic mode of political and economic organization. If we do this, we can all feed ourselves well. If we don’t, the collapse of industrial ag will result in mass famine.
 
GMOs comprise a doubling down on all the worst aspects of industrial ag, as well as the system’s most vicious attempt to forestall the agroecology/food sovereignty solution.
 
Food sovereignty and agroecology vs. corporate agriculture is the most critical war of ideas humanity has ever undertaken. GMO abolitionism, first to discredit and then to obliterate GMOs totally, is a critically important part of this war.
 
6. As a strategic matter, GMO abolitionism focuses on a clear, non-negotiable operational goal. Organizational, strategic, tactical questions can then be answered according to this goal.
 
I think as a general proposition that part of the problem with “the left” has been its focus on excellent but vague aspirations like “social justice”, “ending inequality”, “fighting capitalism”, etc. These are all noble goals, but they’re not very clear, and don’t answer for themselves questions like, “What to do?” “Where should we be heading?” Thus it’s no wonder that so many people do nothing but keep spinning in place on a hamster wheel, or go off on corrupting, co-opting tangents.
 
But if we commit to a specific operational goal and then measure our activist lives according to what we’re doing toward that goal, we have a much better chance of getting somewhere. I’d recommend this to anyone. The core conflict of our age is humanity vs. corporatism. Since the corporate assault cuts across all pre-existing definitions, identifications, dichotomies, rendering all of these obsolete, where they weren’t scams from the beginning, it follows that all meaningful action must be one form or another of corporate abolitionism. Corporations themselves must be abolished completely.
 
Therefore, we must all, in our own ways, seek such abolitionist goals, wherever these are possible.
 
7. One of the great advantages of fighting food corporatism is that here we can actually build our own alternative right here and now. We can grow our own food, economically and politically support our local farmers, build our own local/regional processing and distribution infrastructure. While where it comes to other sectors it’s often hard to figure out what we can actually DO, here the work is obvious, it’s everywhere around us, and we can achieve great results immediately. Here, far more than in any other sector, we can vigorously build the new within the old, in the process making ourselves politically and economically stronger, more politically self-confident, building our movement as a general fortress of communities, a strong point for all counteroffensives against corporatism.
 
Community Food and Food Sovereignty are the currents which comprise this great affirmative movement. GMO abolitionism is its great and necessary negative corollary.
 
8. Finally, regarding those false dichotomies – left/right, public/private, science/religion, liberal/conservative, socialism/”free market”, protectionism/”free trade”, republican/democrat, many others – concern over our food, corporate domination of our food, and in particular GMOs being forced into our food, is a concern that cuts across all identifications. Therefore these kinds of issues, and GMO abolition in particular, can serve as a potent wedge slicing through lots of calcified dogmatic structures, perhaps breaking them open completely. This is an ideological sweet spot.
 
Since one of the worst problems we face is all sorts of calcified, sclerotic divisions which don’t reflect any sort of reality but serve only the divide-and-conquer purposes of corporatism, anything which helps slice through these divisions is a potent weapon. I think GMO abolitionism can serve as such a wedge.
 
9. All GMOs are probably poisonous, Bt-expressing ones certainly are (by definition), and they’re designed to cause a massive escalation in the use of horrific environmental poisons like glyphosate and 2,4-D.
 
We also face the contamination crisis. GMOs in the environment will continue to contaminate crops and wild relatives, with dire consequences for the future of agriculture and ecosystems. Nothing short of total abolition can prevent the worst.
 
Nothing in humanity’s history has been as insane and evil as this plan, undertaken by the mainstream of modern elites, to undertake the wholesale poisoning of our food, water, soil, and environment. Nothing in history has even come close to the insanity and evil of this.
 
 
So those are the reasons I became a GMO abolitionist.

 
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November 17, 2013

The GMO Soy Project Faltering? It’s the FDA To the Rescue!

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It’s a typical dynamic of corporatism. Corporate aggression and government nanny-statism work hand in glove.
 
In this case it’s the FDA’s proposed ban on trans fats. Trans fats are an artificially generated problem of corporate food and of the industrial soybean project in particular.
 
Soybeans, like corn, are the subjects of a US government planned economy based on maximizing production without regard to any actual demand, and then forcing the overproduction into the marketplace by any means possible. Thus processed food was reinvented to buy up as much soy as possible.
 
But soybean oil doesn’t work very well for industrial food. It quickly turns rancid. In order to give it a tenable shelf life, it has to be hydrogenated. And this fills it with trans fats. The answer is to use other oils, not to hydrogenate this one. But that would hinder the corporate soy project. So the Tower of Babel must be built higher.
 
(Meanwhile there are health risks from the industrial soy diet in general. In Asian cuisine soy is eaten in a particular way – limited amounts, mostly as a condiment, with nutritionally complementary foods. But the way unfermented soy is crammed down the Western maw generates hormonal problems, thyroid problems, and may contribute to some cancers. The answer is to eat less soy period, and to eat it the way Asians do.)
 
On account of the trans fat problem, restaurants and manufacturers have switched on a large scale to other oils. This has indeed hindered the corporate soy project. In particular, shiny new Monsanto and DuPont GMO varieties, allegedly engineered to produce a lower-rancidity fat, all USDA-approved and dressed up for the ball, are languishing with few customers and few plantings. Poor little dears. What shall become of them?
 
THIS is a job for the FDA! And for the NYT, never backward in shilling for Monsanto. According to the piece, Monsanto and DuPont have high hopes that an effective ban on partially hydrogenated oils (which the FDA proposal would achieve) would open up a big market opportunity to reclaim lost soybean oil share.
 
The goal: Build the Tower of Babel yet higher!
 
No legitimate profit opportunity? Get the government to construct a planned economy of soy productionism! No market for it? Get the food industry to massively use soy oil! Soy oil doesn’t work, because it turns rancid? Hydrogenate it! Hydrogenation makes the food so unhealthy that even the FDA has to acknowledge it? Replace the regular (Roundup Ready GMO) soy with specially gene-silenced RR soy!
 
And what to do about the even worse problems this will lead to? Never fear – when psychopathy combines with power, no problem can’t be transcended by making it even worse. 
 
The piece is laden with standard corporate media lies: That this product would benefit consumers (replacing just one of the many poisons in a product with an even worse one is not a benefit); that existing GMOs benefit farmers (as the NYT hack knows, existing GMOs cost farmers more in input costs, and further indenture them economically); that GMOs were meant to help control weeds and insects (they were meant to escalate corporate profit, enclosure, control, power, domination; meanwhile the cartel knew that weed and insect control would quickly be subject to an ever-accelerating process of planned obsolescence as the RR and Bt-expressing crops dialectically generated superweeds and superbugs against themselves; this was part of Monsanto’s business plan); that the two new varieties were safety reviewed by the FDA (a “voluntary” review, no less!). As the NYT hack knows, the FDA doesn’t require any safety tests for ANY GMO. The voluntary process goes like this: Monsanto sends a letter to the FDA saying “this product is safe”. The FDA writes back saying “we understand that you say this product is safe”. That’s it. That’s the whole thing. Monsanto goes ahead and says the FDA signed off on the product’s safety, the FDA endorses this lie, and the corporate media starting with the NYT propagates the lie.
 
(There’s also an appearance by Michael Jacobson of the CSPI, which is rapidly becoming one of the most prominent of Monsanto front groups, and Jacobson himself one of the most vile shills.)
 
Meanwhile, the double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) genetic engineering process used in these soybeans presents special health hazards in addition to all the usual ones for which the federal government never requires safety testing. Not did it require testing in this case, in spite of the fact that this technology presents such health risks that even researchers within the USDA itself called for testing.
 
As the piece ruefully admits, this may be too little too late. Most restaurants and manufacturers have moved on to other oils. (Not that these are much better – GMO canola and palm oil, just as environmentally and socioeconomically ravaging as any GMO. The point is that corporate industrial agriculture and its food system as such is a poisonous, destructive, unhealthy system that produces toxic, expensive, poor-quality food.) Soybean oil has lost significant market share since 2005. An anonymous cadre from “one of the country’s largest food companies” said his company had already largely completed the switch to canola, “so I’m not sure why we would need to switch to these other products.”
 
But the soy-industrial complex is expressing optimism, and who knows what kind of government subsidies and other corporate welfare may be deployed to drive down the wholesale price of soybeans and soy oil so that it can regain that lost market share? The only thing we can be sure of is that the farmers themselves won’t see a cent of the “benefit” the corporate media trumpets.
 
Meanwhile, as usual there’s a perfectly good alternative within the soy complex itself. “Monsanto and Dow [sic; probably a typo for DuPont] could also face competition from a high-oleic soybean developed through conventional breeding, not genetic engineering, by researchers at the University of Missouri and the Agriculture Department.”
 
This kind of caveat can almost always be added to any media puff piece touting the latest greatest GMO. Indeed, the GM varieties have almost always merely pirated such conventionally bred varieties, merely injecting them with glyphosate tolerance so more poison can be sprayed upon them, rendering them toxic and nutritionally worthless.
 
So there you have it. This product merely builds upon an already tottering structure of failure and unhealthiness, and if you insist on continuing to build, lower cost and safer material exists.
 
But the US government is never interested in pushing the conventional alternative, since this isn’t profitable for its master Monsanto, it doesn’t contribute to the totalitarian enclosure of agriculture and food the way a proprietary GMO does, and it doesn’t contribute to the overarching corporatist role of GMOs in propping up corporatism as a whole.
 
Meanwhile the true alternative, for productive agriculture and healthy, delicious food, is decentralized agroecology. 
 

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November 16, 2013

New Report on GMO Contamination

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An excellent new report from Testbiotech on the state and prospects of GMO contamination in non-GM crops and wild relatives.
 
The report finds that it’s likely some GM contamination in some places, such as from bentgrass in the US Pacific Northwest, canola in Canada, the US, Europe, Japan, and elsewhere, and cotton in Mexico, has become indelibly entrenched among wild plants.
 
For others, such as corn, rice, and poplar trees, it’s probable that the contamination will become permanent if GMOs keep being pushed into the environment.
 
The modes of contamination are pollen dispersal from field tests and commercial plantings. This is dispersal by wind, insect pollinators, and other means. Seeds can also be carried by wind, floodwaters, birds, eaten by animals and deposited in their droppings. Viable seeds are also part of agricultural transport, which is why feral GM canola infests roadsides, railways, and shipping ports wherever the seed has been transported. Seeds and volunteer plants often linger wherever a GM crop was planted. Meanwhile, wild relatives who have taken up a trait like herbicide tolerance find it easy to encroach on agricultural zones, since they have an advantage over other weeds which lack that trait. This increases the proximity of wild relatives and agricultural crops, which increases the cross-breeding among them.
 
The report finds that as with health risks and food safety, there has been little will among governments to study the rate of contamination or assess the dangers. Just as with the health dangers, it’s been up to independent researchers to scrounge up on their own whatever meager funding they can find to do real research on this. Similarly, the legal safeguards against it are conceptually meager and poorly enforced. It’s not surprising that a government which doesn’t care whether GMOs are safe to eat also doesn’t care that they inevitably contaminate non-GM crops and wild relatives.
 
The report makes a few basic deductions about the rate of GM pollution, among crops and in the wild.
 
*As a rule cultivated crops are less able to survive in the wild and require constant replanting. But crop-wild hybrids may have some advantages, such as insect resistance.
 
*Once the contamination spreads to wild relatives, there’s a much greater chance of its becoming indelible.
 
*Where herbicides are being sprayed, feral herbicide tolerant (HT) crops and crop-wild hybrids which have taken up the HT trait will have an advantage. At the fringe area between cultivation and wild land they may become dominant and then spread beyond. Wind and water drift of glyphosate and other herbicides may aggravate this phenomenon.
 
*In general, invasive species have a lower rate of success among stable ecosystems than among ecosystems in turmoil. Therefore wherever human actions are disrupting ecosystems, including the disruptive effects of climate change, GM-contaminated plants may have a better chance to establish themselves.
 
*Cross-pollinators will spread more rapidly than self-pollinators. The typical length of seed dormancy will help or hinder propagation by the route of stray seeds latent in the soil, or blown by the wind, carried by birds or trucks, etc.
 
*Unlike with most crops, many domesticated grasses like bentgrass, rice, and sorghum are both invasive on their own and remain genetically close to many wild relatives in close proximity. These have a high potential for permanent contamination.
 
*Perennials like trees or alfalfa have a high potential, as they continue to disseminate their contaminated material for many years.
 
*I’ll add that, at least in Monsanto’s dreams (and the courts have done all they can to support these nightmares), the spread of proprietary material confers ownership and control wherever it goes. Therefore it’s an unspoken, perhaps in many cases unconscious, goal of government policy to contaminate as much of agriculture and the environment as possible. This also gives these genes an advantage, wherever the power of the corporate state can exert itself.
 
Contamination of wild relatives is especially hazardous in the crops’ centers of genetic origin, which are the geographic repositories of the biodiversity upon which agriculture depends. These centers of diversity include Mexico for cotton and maize, Andean regions for potatoes, the Mediterranean region for sugar beets and canola, the Middle East for many grains, India for cotton, Southeast Asia for rice and eggplant, China for soybeans and rice.
 
The bulk of the report is a series of regional case studies. Each examines the current knowledge as to the extent of GMO contamination, gives an analysis of how it’s happening, and offers prognostications. The case studies are:
 
Creeping bentgrass in Oregon; cotton in Mexico; maize in Mexico; canola in Canada, the US, Japan, Australia, the EU, and Switzerland; poplar in China; rice in China.
 
I won’t go over all the details here, but encourage you to check it out for yourself. The examples give a broad overview of how contamination occurs, the geographical distances over which it can range, the possible vectors even where no GM crops are being planted, modes of entrenchment amid wild populations, and other aspects of the problem.
 
I’ll only draw special attention to the case of GM canola in the EU, where it was briefly commercialized by Bayer but whose commercialization was revoked in 2007. Bayer was then enjoined to clean up residual contamination within five years. Yet even though the product was commercialized for only a few years and never grown extensively, contaminated plants are lingering persistently in the environment. Thus in 2012 the five-year term had to be extended for another five years.
 
If it’s this hard to clean GMO canola out of Europe, it must be permanently entrenched in Canada and the US, where it’s been grown longer and much more extensively. This example refutes any lies about the system being able to control the spread of GM material and to clean up any contamination which does occur.
 
The report closes with recommendations.
 
 

On the basis of the documented cases and current gaps in knowledge regarding dispersal, interactions
with the environment and long-term ecological behaviour of genetically engineered plants, we recommend
strengthening the precautionary principle and prohibiting releases of genetically engineered
organisms if
 
a. they can persist and invade the environment if they unintentionally escape their containment.
 
b. there are major doubts about whether they can be withdrawn from the environment within a
reasonable period of time if this is urgently required.
 
c. it is already known that they will persist or show invasive behaviour after release into the environment.

 
This report adds to the vast amount of evidence which proves the answers to those ifs.
 
a. They can and will.
 
b. There are.
 
c. It’s known.
 
In truth, by now the precautionary principle has decided once and for all against GMOs. We know that:
 
1. Contamination is inevitable, and will inevitably become indelible.
 
2. No one can predict the long-term results, other than that they’ll diminish biodiversity, which is likely to have only bad, and perhaps disastrous, effects.
 
3. Therefore GMOs can never legitimately be released into the environment. ANY planting of a GMO is a crime, plain and simple.
 
This report provides more evidence for the proposition that humanity cannot co-exist with GMOs, and that GMOs must be totally abolished.

 
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