January 31, 2014

The Imminent End of the Scientism Cult

Filed under: Scientism/Technocracy — Tags: — Russ @ 5:14 am


The Archdruid:
“One of the standard tropes of the contemporary faith in progress, after all, insists that religion is an outworn relic sure to be tipped into history’s compost heap sometime very soon. By “religion,” of course, those who make this claim inevitably mean “theist religion,” or more precisely “any religion other than mine”—the civil religion of progress is of course supposed to be exempt from that fate, since its believers insist that it’s not a religion at all….
The imminent disappearance of all (other) religion that has featured so heavily in [pseudo-]rationalist rhetoric for the last century and a half or so thus fills roughly the same role in their faith as the Second Coming in Christianity: the point at which the Church Militant morphs into the Church Triumphant.  So far, at least to the best of my knowledge, nobody in the atheist [he means scientistic] scene has yet proclaimed the date by which Reason will triumph over Superstition—the initial capitals, again, tell you when an abstraction has turned into a mythic figure—but it’s probably just a matter of time before some [pseudo-]rationalist equivalent of Harold Camping gladdens the heart of the faithful by giving them a date on which to pin their hopes.”
At least one such date has long since come and passed. At the turn of the century Monsanto had high hopes that by this time GMOs would be globally Triumphant. I’m happy to report that we the people have disappointed them and did not “just sort of surrender”.
The turning point is at hand.


January 29, 2014

Corporations Striking Back Against Democracy in Hawaii


Anti-democracy forces are mustering all their legal weapons against Hawaii’s recently enacted county-level pesticide and GMO restrictions. These new laws, modest and inadequate as they are, are still too democratic for the poison corporations.
The new offensive has two prongs so far. The corporations have filed a federal lawsuit claiming that regional democracy, in the form of county-level legislation, is illicit according to federal and state law and the constitution.
Meanwhile there’s an attempt in the state legislature to pass a so-called “Right to Farm” law. This kind of law is really a pro-corporate scam. These laws claim to want to protect local farmers from onerous legislation, but are really meant to prevent communities from legally protecting themselves from corporate invasions, such as the pesticide test plantations which have turned Kauai into one big poison gas zone. For now, the bill may end up dying in the state House.
Anyone who really wants to help local agriculture would want to pass legislation strengthening communities against alien corporations. Most “Right to Farm” laws are meant to do the opposite, aggravating corporate prerogatives in order to override democracy. (Meanwhile such laws seldom do much to protect real farmers against truly onerous regulations. Often they explicitly exempt real farmers from protection.)
Philosophically/ideologically, we need to get our minds straight. We must recognize that agriculture is naturally local/regional, that commodification/corporatization of it is illegitimate, and that corporate agriculture is necessarily irrational and destructive. Two conclusions which follow from its illegitimacy are that no large-scale central government has any legitimacy to “regulate” agriculture or food, and that no corporation can hold a patent on any seed or plant, nor can government issue such a patent. The “supremacy clause” is illegitimate, as is the “commerce clause” as interpreted by the corporate courts. Examples of its necessary destuctiveness include the way centralized, commodified agriculture automatically relies on ever-escalating deployment of poison, and automatically degrades the soil and devastates the environment.
We must recognize that the corporate state is a monolith, with concentrated power itself constituting tyranny. Any nominal division of “public” government from “private” corporations is a meaningless, false, misdirectional distinction. Corporations are extensions of government, the Fourth Branch in US constitutional parlance. We must completely, non-negotiably reject the legitimacy of corporations and their prerogatives, and implicitly draw all conclusions which follow. There’s no such thing as corporate “rights”, corporations have no right to exist at all, and we the people would be much better off in every way if corporations were abolished completely.
Until we build this ideological discipline and refuse to be diverted from its full logic, we’ll remain confused and without self-assurance, and our actions will remain incoherent and non-cumulative. Our minds will remain the most potent weapons in the hands of the oppressor, as Biko put it.


January 27, 2014

GMO Labeling Status Report


There’s increasing noise about the GMO labeling fight moving toward an FDA deal. A labeling bill languishes in Congress, but nothing will come of it until enough corporations want FDA labeling. A year ago Walmart, Coca-Cola, General Mills, and other manufacturers and retailers, along with the industrial organic sector, met with the FDA to discuss a deal for a weak, preemptive federal labeling policy whose goal would be to smother the state-level labeling movement. Today there’s competition between two potential FDA policies.
There’s the hard line of the FDA continuing to refuse to require any labeling, while also banning state-level policy on the grounds that food labeling is purely a federal prerogative. (It’s especially funny to see the likes of New Hampshire Republicans advocating this Big Government position as if they were common liberals.) Monsanto and the cartel prefer this “solution”, and the Grocery Manufacturers Association declares this to be its preferred outcome.
Then there’s the softer scam of a false federal labeling policy whose only real teeth would be in its preemption of state policy, and of course in the way it would cut off the momentum of the grassroots movement at the knees. Just Label It and industrial organic are leading the charge for this inverted solution. The GMA is hedging its bets and has indicated that it would support this if it had to.
(As for the Boxer/DeFazio bill, I couldn’t find an analysis on whether or not it has a preemptive intent. Neither the Senate nor the House versions mention preemption, which I take to mean that it’s left to FDA discretion. We can assume this will mean the FDA would promulgate any policy preemptively. I found a quote from DeFazio which implies that this is the intent: “This may be actually a misstep by the GMA — to try and proactively prohibit meaningful labeling that may in fact really kindle a much more proactive grass-roots movement on the other side.” This is exactly the anti-democratic goal of preemption.)
The latest move in this squabble is a letter to Obama from over 200 organizations and businesses from the industrial organic sector, begging him to live up to one of his many “progressive” lies from 2008, that he would support FDA-level GMO labeling.
I’ve previously explained in detail why looking to the FDA for any kind of public interest policy is a bad idea, even leaving aside the preemption problem.
The FDA’s record is crystal clear: It doesn’t believe there should be any regulatory restraints on GMOs at all, and it believes they should not be labeled period. It, like Monsanto, would prefer to prohibit states to require labeling and would even outlaw private sector labels like the Non-GMO Project certification. So even if, against all odds, Congress or a president ever directed it to impose and enforce a real labeling policy, the FDA would be institutionally hostile, unwilling, and incapable of doing this. That’s because such a public interest policy would run against the grain of what a corporatist bureaucracy like the FDA is.
In a bourgeois “representative” system, government bureaucracies serve one kind of corporatist triangulator role. (System NGOs serve another.) Here’s how it works:
1. The corporate imperative itself is taken as normative. Under no circumstances may “regulation” halt or significantly hinder the corporate project, nor privilege any other value above corporate profit and power. In this case, the FDA would never under any circumstances do anything which would significantly hinder the GMO regime.
2. Depending on which bureaucracy it is, how important the particular issue is to the corporate sector, etc., and given the normative corporatist framework described in (1), the regulator will do what it can to ameliorate the worst effects of the corporate depredation, or lie and pretend it is doing so. Thus the FDA, understanding the critical importance of the GMO genre to the extremely powerful Monsanto, to corporate agriculture in general, and to corporatism as a whole, has always been the US government’s #1 pro-GMO liar. It was the FDA which first promulgated, over the objections of hundreds of working scientists within the agency, the “substantial equivalence” dogma, which is the Big Lie which has since been used by the US government and, in other forms, other governments to justify commercializing GMOs without requiring any safety testing. To this day not a single government has ever required a single safety test prior to approving any GMO for field testing or commercialization. It all started with the FDA.
The FDA has since consistently run interference on behalf of the cartel, implicitly and often explicitly backing up all its lies, including the lie that it has tested GMOs for safety. It also did this prior to GMO commercialization, as in its criminal participation in the cover-up of the lethal Showa Denko outbreak.
It has consistently said it rejects GMO labeling.
3. The regulator then puts its imprimatur on the fraudulent result, calls it “safe”, and implicitly or explicitly tells the people to go back to sleep and leave things in the hands of the regulatory bureaucracy.
If forced into the fray, the FDA can be counted on to do its best to perform this role with either a sham preemptive policy or with a ban on state-level policies. Either way the goal will be to gut the state-level movement.  
Any faith in the FDA as a candidate to meaningfully require GMO labeling is certainly, to say the least, “believing because it’s absurd.” People who sincerely want this either fail to understand what the FDA is, or else they do understand and approve. In that case they consider such triangulation to be desirable or at least “the best we can do”, which is surrenderism that amounts to the same thing.
(This analysis applies also to the malevolence of the “food safety” and “consumer” NGOs who have supported and demanded enforcement of the Food Control Act. (AKA its Orwellian name, “Food Safety Modernization Act”.) This too is a sham pro-corporate policy intended to whitewash unsafe corporate practices, assault small farms and the Community Food sector, and escalate globalization and corporate enclosure and control of agriculture and food. Monsanto lobbyists helped write it, and a top Monsanto cadre, serving as Obama’s “food czar”, is currently in charge of enforcing it.)  
Whichever version of FDA preemption the system types prefer, they agree that something needs to be done to stymie the momentum they see gathering at the state level. “Shifting the debate to Washington DC”, as one flack puts it, really means to end all debate by shifting it from the state laboratories of democracy to Washington, where democracy goes to die. The goal is to bring this disruptive movement to an end. Who knows where it might lead?
But is the state level action really gathering momentum, or are there shenanigans going on here too? Initiatives have been voted down by razor-thin margins, while state legislatures are passing what look like cosmetic bills the governments themselves openly deride, and which they telegraph their intent to neither enforce nor defend.
Maine’s labeling bill was passed overwhelmingly in the legislature (unanimously in the Senate) and recently signed by the governor. A real law? Not quite – it won’t go into effect until “five contiguous states” (starting with New Hampshire, which just rejected such a law) enact similar laws. In the case of Connecticut’s similar “trigger” provision it was argued that this is a safeguard against a single state being sued by the cartel. This is a dubious idea in itself, and in the case of Maine’s hyper-trigger, it’s clearly meant to be an obstruction rather than a precaution.
Meanwhile the Maine state attorney general has already said she doesn’t want to defend the law against any corporate challenge based on “free speech”. Since government lawyers are always happy to aggress and defend against the constitution anytime this serves the corporate prerogative, we can assume that her objection has nothing to do with the constitution and everything to do with the fact that in this case she’d have to act against type as an actual servant of the people and against the corporations.
[To be clear on this “challenge”:
1. Government-mandated ingredient labels are clearly constitutional. Otherwise none could exist at all.
2. Corporations have no right to keep product components a secret, especially where it comes to our food. Transparency here is essential, not only for a working democracy but also according to market philosophy. How can a consumer make an informed choice without the information? To claim anything less is nonsensical.
3. Constitutionally, there’s no such thing as corporate “rights”, period. We must build upon this fact as movement philosophy, since we won’t receive such morality and rationality from the courts, which are thoroughly corporatized.]
I’ll have more to say on this, expanding on these questions. For now I just want to observe that the labeling movement seems already to be in a “progressive” rut of exalting empty cosmetics over substance. The Maine and Connecticut legislative bills, with all the self-imposed barriers to ever going into effect, are nothing like the California and Washington initiatives, which would have become real laws if the voters had passed them.
And yet in spite of this seeming fecklessness, the GMO labeling movement is enough of a specter haunting corporatism that powerful forces are mustering to drive the action out of the state-level arenas (sealing those off) and into the federal realm of bureaucracy and anti-democracy where the corporate elites will be on their strongest home turf.
Even if we can’t decisively draw other conclusions yet, one conclusion which was already clear and now is being further confirmed is that labeling is no panacea and will never be sufficient. Labeling campaigns ultimately can be meaningful only as a organizational step toward total abolitionism.


January 26, 2014

Some Notes on Sources and Argumentation


(More of these to come.) I often say that we need to be personal exemplars and ambassadors on behalf of freedom, democracy, and physically sound agriculture and food systems. Therefore those of us who choose to do so must also testify against corporate agriculture and food systems, and in particular against GMOs. A friend asked me which sources are good to cite and refer people to. My blogroll now lists the best sources I’m aware of, and I look forward to adding more as I learn of them. 
Just keep in mind that most people who ask for sources don’t really want them, but are just hoping to catch you without a clear answer. You can usually tell by their demeanor. In a case like that I say, “I doubt you really want sources, but for anyone who does, here it is…”
(I also stipulate ahead of time such principles as that seed patenting is illegitimate. Thus I anticipate such nonsense as “so you think all the courts are corrupt?” This was in response to my citation the CFS report on Monsanto’s domination of the seed sector and legal persecution of farmers. I replied, “Of course they are, if they can enshrine seed patenting in the first place.” It’s good to stay ahead of the liars and trolls and never look like you’re the one trying to answer THEM. It should always be, “As I already said…..so your canned lies have long since been thoroughly disproven.” Of course, if one doesn’t start out placing opposition to GMOs within a comprehensive anti-corporate context, one loses much of the rationale for one’s opposition, reducing it to squabbling over the health effects of this additive but not that additive.)
Then we need to demand what their “sources” are and be ready to laugh and shoot it down when they give anything from the corporate media, front group NGOs, etc.
Outfits like the Center for Food Safety, Food and Water Watch, and the Environmental Working Group are irreproachable as sources, since no honest person could ever claim these are “extremists” or “scary radicals”. On the contrary, their recommendations are as sedately bourgeois-reformist as they come. Indeed, EWG is partnered with Just Label It. So anyone who would reject those as trustworthy reporters on a subject like this is indicating simply that he would never accept discouraging words about GMOs or other poisons from anyone, and that his demand for “sources” is fraudulent.
Meanwhile, GMWatch, Earth Open Source, ENSSER, and the others I have on my blogroll are excellent, scientific, journalistic sources. Anyone who’s going to scoff at these as “activist” is probably going to scoff at anything. Indeed, saying that someone like Gilles-Eric Seralini is “an activist, not a scientist” is one of the standard canned lies.
The fact is that Seralini is typical of the GM critics among scientists in that he started out being basically pro-GMO, but had increasing doubts as he became more familiar with the evidence of toxicity the industry’s own tests were compiling and how the regulatory process simply waved it off. He and his colleagues repeatedly called for the EFSA to require real safety testing, and after this was ignored for years he sought to carry out a real study himself. This was the study published in 2012. Like with others, to the extent he’s become a strong critic of the GM establishment, it was in response to how it demonized him and other real scientists who were simply doing their jobs.
That’s for the canned lie that someone like Seralini is an “activist”. Meanwhile, I’d demand to know how those who would regurgitate this lie can figure that a Monsanto spokesman, Monsanto-funded technician, or NYT writer, are not “activists”. Not that there’s any equivalence there. Unlike them, Seralini has never gone around saying what he was paid to say, unless it was earlier in his career when he still believed in this stuff.
In truth, the activist-not-scientist label fits the pro-GM technicians and flacks to a tee. They’re the ones who regard the Monsanto imperative as religious truth; who seem to feel a sense of mission about the technology as such with zero regard for whether it actually works, what harms it does, and whether it does anyone any good or not; who are willing to tell any lie necessary and recklessly disregard truth wherever necessary (thus the full canned attack on the Seralini study was being launched even before it was published; self-evidently, the attack came from those who couldn’t have even read the study and didn’t really care what it said, what evidence it could offer, but were only going to attack and lie no matter what; and this has since gone for almost all detractors, who have never gone beyond the original canned lies) ; and who automatically, knee-jerk fashion, shout down anyone who even questions the Monsanto imperative, let alone produces evidence against it.
In the same way that the hacks are desperate to claim fraudulently the imprimatur of “science”, they’re also desperate to deny that all this is in the service of Monsanto (or in another form of the lie, that Monsanto is any kind of big deal in itself). So if anyone ever tries to pull this trick, make sure to nail it to them: Monsanto’s whole history of pure destructiveness and tyrannical aggression, even getting a court in Mississippi to rule that its behavior “outrages the conscience” (a technical legal finding which, as you might imagine, courts don’t find against corporations every day); its proclaimed intent to achieve (with its fellow cartel members) oligopoly control of the seed sector; its aggressive behavior toward this goal and in using this power; the fact of its increasing control over academic research and media propaganda.
Putting all that together, it becomes self-evident that:
1. Support for GMOs = support for Monsanto.
2. Monsanto is a highly aggressive corporation which has consistently proven that it has a sociopathic attitude toward poisoning workers, communities, and the environment, and that it regards monopoly position as both a goal to be aggressively sought and power to be aggressively used, all for zero purpose than its own profit and power. In other words, it is veritably a totalitarian organization. It can be regarded only with horror and loathing by anyone who cares about freedom, democracy, science, or simple human decency.
(If anyone were to say that this description isn’t unique to Monsanto, but applies to plenty of other corporations, this doesn’t diminish the power of the analysis, but merely proves further that corporations in general are psychopaths which need to be abolished.)


January 23, 2014

Smash the Pro-GMO Elitists


From Hannah Arendt’s Origins of Totalitarianism, Chapter 7 “Race and Bureaucracy”, part iii “The Imperialist Character”:
Every growth of democracy or even the simple functioning of existing democratic institutions can only be a danger, for it is impossible to govern “a people by a people – the people of India by the people of England.” Bureaucracy is always a government of experts, of an “experienced minority” which has to resist as well as it knows how the constant pressure from “the inexperienced majority.” Each people is fundamentally an inexperienced majority and can therefore not be trusted with such a highly specialized matter as politics and public affairs. Bureaucrats, moreover, are not supposed to have general ideas about political matters at all; their patriotism should never lead them so far astray that they believe in the inherent goodness of the political principles in their own country…
Reading this nowadays, I think first of how most of today’s technical cadres are committed ideologues of corporatism and scientism, and how most are dedicated elitists who will side with corporatism and against any kind of outside-the-system dissent on anti-democracy principle.
I’ll add to the above that today’s corporate bureaucrats and technicians are utterly ignorant where it comes even to “specialized matters”, let alone its practical application. Where it comes to GMOs we have a near-perfect void of arrogant ignorance, where plant technicians presume to speak on human toxicology, molecular biologists on agriculture, and of course PR flacks on every branch of science. Nowhere will you find a credentialed cadre speaking knowledgeably about his own specialization.
(This is standard across all sectors by now, of course. No one knows less about the human economy than credentialed economists and Wall Street bureaucrats, no one less about health care than insurance bureaucrats, no one less about war than generals and War Department bureaucrats, etc.)
Thus we have the standard type: The credentialed technical cadre who knows nothing about agriculture or GMOs but who on principle supports Monsanto because the technocrats have to stick up for one another against the people, who they all see as the enemy. (This is even as they all live as pure leeches off our work and taxes.) Their contempt for democracy and the people comes out most clearly in their sneering dismissal of GMO labeling, which they openly oppose on the grounds that the people are too stupid to understand it.
Perhaps the most notorious example so far is last year’s anti-labeling editorial in “Scientific American”, once supposedly a legitimate scientific publication, but today a fully corporatized propaganda conveyor belt. The piece is remarkable in being straight, unmodified stenography of Monsanto’s own propaganda lies, no matter how tendentious, fanciful, or directly brazen these are. 
The whole piece reeks of contempt for the people and democracy, for how stupid and childish we are because we demand our rights and because we’re suspicious of the same propaganda campaign which said tobacco, asbestos, DDT, PCBs, thalidomide, and other technological wonders were safe.
Always remember that the arc of the GMO publicity fight is following with exactitude that of the fight against Big Tobacco. The only difference is that the stakes for humanity are much higher today in its struggle against the global campaign to toxify the entirety of our soil, water, and food.
Here’s just a few of the canned propaganda lies the piece plagiarizes:
*”We have been tinkering with our food’s DNA since the dawn of agriculture.”
Genetic engineering has nothing in common with conventional breeding, as anyone who knows anything about agronomy is aware.
*”Compared with conventional breeding techniques—which swap giant chunks of DNA between one plant and another—genetic engineering is far more precise and, in most cases, is less likely to produce an unexpected result.”
On the contrary, sexual reproduction is well-ordered, holistic result of billions of years of evolution, which occurs within the same species, or sometimes closely related species. Genetic engineering is a random, clumsy, violent, disorderly shotgun mechanism, invading a genome with utterly alien genetic material. The results of genetic engineering are largely inscrutable even to the engineers, except insofar as they can select trial plants which demonstrate the gross phenotype sought – herbicide tolerance or Bt poison expression. For the rest, it’s a pure blindfolded crapshoot.
*”Many people argue for GMO labels in the name of increased consumer choice. On the contrary, such labels have limited people’s options…Today it is virtually impossible to find GMOs in European supermarkets.” 
Yes. The marketplace spoke. The people had full choice and they chose. In the US, on the contrary, GMOs had to be covertly infiltrated into our food. Monsanto has openly said the goal was to dominate the marketplace by stealth, and then present consumers with an accomplished fact. In the well-known words of a cartel flack: “The hope of the industry is that over time the market’s so flooded that there’s nothing you can do about it. You just sort of surrender.”
Thus we have Monsanto openly admitting that the goal was to destroy the marketplace and rob consumers of all choice. Sure enough, it’s extremely difficult to choose non-GM food in US stores.
As we see, “Scientific American” and its fellow hacks are on board with this conspiracy against marketplace choice.
*”The measure would also have required farmers, manufacturers and retailers to keep a whole new set of detailed records and to prepare for lawsuits challenging the “naturalness” of their products.”
This is a canned lie lifted from the Grocery Manufacturers Association’s anti-labeling campaigns. It’s a direct lie – the labeling bills and initiatives which have been proposed do not allow for lawsuits against anyone.
*”Private research firm Northbridge Environmental Management Consultants estimated that Prop 37 would have raised an average California family’s yearly food bill by as much as $400.”
The GMA hired these flacks to package the lies it wanted to tell. But it’s clear that adding one line on the existing label wouldn’t increase anyone’s food bill one cent. Companies constantly change labels far more radically than that without having to raise the price.
*”Antagonism toward GMO foods also strengthens the stigma against a technology that has delivered enormous benefits to people in developing countries and promises far more.” 
Nowhere have GMOs done anything but increase and accelerate the immiseration of farmers and their being driven off their land and into shantytowns. Again, this is part of the intended goal of this escalation of corporate enclosure and control. The editors of “Scientific American” are complicit in this crime against humanity and must answer for it.
They invent, but fail to link to, a “study” claiming Indian farmers have benefited from Bt cotton. The factual record of debt slavery and mass suicide, adding up to veritable genocide, tells the true story.
*They regurgitate the standard lies about “golden rice”, which is nothing but a media hoax. The real story is that it doesn’t work, which is the only reason it hasn’t been commercialized after all these years of development and so much public research money stolen. The fact is that the cartel doesn’t actually want to bring golden rice to the market anyway, even if this were technically possible. (All the delays are 100% because of technical breeding problems, 0% because those nasty environmentalists are obstructing it.) 
*”Because conventional crops often require more water and pesticides than GMOs do, the former are usually more expensive.”
On the contrary, conventional and organic crops require less water and far less pesticides than do GMOs. Indeed, part of the purpose of GMOs is to force ever increasing use of agricultural poisons. The record is clear and unanimous over nearly twenty years of GMO commercialization. By now these hacks are reduced to telling straight lies, hoping to gull the ignorant.
*”The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has tested all the GMOs on the market to determine whether they are toxic or allergenic.”
This is a straight, unvarnished lie. The FDA has never tested a single GMO, ever. Not one. The authors of the piece know this, and went ahead with this lie. That right there strips “Scientific American” of all credibility for the duration of its miserable existence, which we can hope will be short. It’ll also be a smoking gun piece of evidence at any tribunal trying these crimes against humanity. They may try to weasel their way out on propaganda like “it’s just like conventional breeding”, but no lawyer could ever rescue them from full conscious culpability for saying the FDA ever tested a GMO.
*The piece closes by broaching some more hoaxes – allegedly “improved” cassava and maize. But the factual record is unanimous. There has never been a commercial GMO which did anything but deliver poison, and all hype about other types has never been anything but that – hype.
Meanwhile the record of conventional breeding and agroecological practice is similarly unanimous on the positive side. For any crop you can name, true breeding has developed and is continuing to develop superb new varieties which meet every human agricultural need. This is even though public interest breeding must persevere under conditions of severely constrained funding, since today the bulk of it goes down the corporate GMO rathole.
Just a sampling of these great, true crops are listed here and here.
Just to retort to their specific lie with examples of the true cassava future: Conventional breeding has been providing African farmers with high-yield, pest-resistant, disease-resistant, beta-carotene enriched cassava. (You hear that, hacks? Unlike your “golden rice” hoax, this non-GM cassava really does provide beta carotene, and in a nutritional form people can eat.)
That’s just one example of what the conventional breeding of true crops can accomplish. The same kind of example can be provided for any other crop. No one on earth except a handful of corporate gangsters needs GMO false crops. 
This criminal piece was clearly either written directly by cartel propagandists, or was done under their supervision. Either way we know that “Scientific American” has been bought and paid for, and is now nothing but a Monsanto propaganda outlet. It should be shunned, boycotted, reviled, and smashed out of existence.
It’s funny how incompetent the hacks have become. It would’ve been easy for the SciAm editors to write this in their own words, saying basically the same thing instead of regurgitating verbatim every canned lie from the professional troll playbook. But these hacks seem so stupid that they were incapable even of that. Or maybe it’s arrogance, part of the propaganda line, “there is no alternative, give up all hope, surrender.” Maybe they’re so confident in their vicious, bullying aggression that they’re proud of being so uncreative and brazen about their lies.
Whatever the cause, it’s up to we the people to prove that these criminals have made a very bad mistake.
It’s obvious why these criminals live in terror of transparency, and why they so shrilly and desperately try to shout down all dissent and smother all true debate. It’s because they have literally zero facts or evidence on their side, and the overwhelming factual evidence record against them. They have nothing but secrecy, lies, and brute force. GMO labeling is just one of the many truth-bearing threats to their vile existence.


January 21, 2014

Speak Truth to Power: Publicly Comment Against Agent Orange GMOs


As promised, here’s the USDA form to post a public comment on the impending commercialization of Dow’s Agent Orange corn and soy.
If you want to use a pre-written, one-click comment form, this one at Food and Water Watch is good. You can modify their text however you want. The deadline is March 11.
The point of commenting isn’t because we expect to stop the USDA, although so far the unprecedented public outrage over these GMOs has caused it to move much more slowly than it originally intended. (Dow expected to have these approved in 2012.) The point is to join with thousands, perhaps millions, in raising our voices in favor of democracy and freedom, making it impossible for the system to keep telling the lie that the people accept the poisoner assault.
For my comment I just adapted part of my prior post on this.
These are the same highly toxic and environmentally reckless herbicides which cartel and government propaganda originally promised would be rendered obsolete by glyphosate-resistant GMOs.
What happened instead? Every knowledgeable and honest commenter predicted it from the start: The massive deployment of glyphosate-tolerant crops resulted in a tremendous increase in glyphosate use. Like clockwork, this unrelenting, unabated slathering of one poison encouraged the target weeds themselves to become resistant to glyphosate. Today glyphosate-resistant superweeds are a major, chronic, spreading problem, unsolvable by the industrial agriculture methods which created it. The Roundup regime is in ruins. Industrial growers must spray ever greater amounts of glyphosate to attain continually diminishing results.
Now we’ve come full circle. 2,4-D and dicamba, originally relegated by GMO propaganda to history’s garbage heap, are now touted as the solution to the artificial problem of glyphosate’s collapse.
What will the specific results be? 2,4-D is an endocrine disruptor and causes birth defects and cancer, as well as being linked to Parkinson’s disease and other health detriments. It’s more volatile than glyphosate and causes far more problems with drift, trespass, and the destruction of other farmers’ crops. This is why the Agent Orange GMOs originally generated an unusual coalition of industrial opponents, including many specialty crop farmers and processors. 
The USDA itself expects 2,4-D use will increase two- to sixfold. Other more independent assessments predict it’ll go up as much as fiftyfold. The only thing it will do is escalate the chemical/bioweapons arms race which, as we knew from day one, the weeds will inevitably win. They’ve already routed glyphosate. Meanwhile there are already many documented instances of weeds resistant to 2,4-D.
All this proves the fundamental lie at the core of the whole GMO regime. Herbicide tolerant GMOs as a genre already comprise a proven failure from any reality-based point of view.


January 20, 2014

Corporate Agriculture is a Birmingham Jail


In April 1963, Martin Luther King and many of his fellow Birmingham direct actionists sat in jail. They had expected such a response from the segregationist power structure. Unfortunately, it was also predictable that they’d be hearing criticism and condemnation from most of the people who in theory should have been on their side. King seems to have anticipated this, as he was able to respond immediately with an eloquent refutation and exposure of this collaborationist position. This was the great Letter From Birmingham Jail.
Here MLK faces those who object to demonstrations, to boycotts, sit-ins, civil disobedience in general, indeed to anything but the most tepid (and “civil”) criticism which is guaranteed to remain impotent. He opens up with their immortal objection to any real resistance, that it’s “unwise and untimely”. Today this could be the signature of every media hack, Democrat partisan, and lukewarm “progressive”.
But the unfortunate truth, as MLK knew, is that true protest is always timely and wise in the broadest sense. As for the specific timing, a human being who wants humanity to have a future must recognize when the time has come, and when today is the day. Our task today isn’t exactly the same as that of the Civil Rights Movement. They sought a specific set of reforms. They were up against an obsolete set of attitudes and practices which were mostly an embarrassment to power, and which weren’t germane to power’s propagation. (Indeed, as we’ve seen, the end of segregation was put to good political use by corporatism; it has helped render racially astroturfed divide-and-conquer even more insidious and harder to counteract. This is of course the crime of the corporations and the rich, and the fault of malingering racists themselves, not of desegregation. But we should still be aware of this history of corporatism.)
Today we need nothing less than to abolish GMOs, which comprise a technological and organizational offensive against humanity. We need to build the alternative to the corporate agriculture and food system, counter to it where possible, in resistance to it where necessary. This is a permanent necessity, whose goal is the eventual complete replacement of this world of crime and malice by a world of democracy and universal prosperity. Judging from his activist trajectory, we can justly expect that if MLK were here today he’d see the need for this movement. Before his death he was already seeing the need to expand the civil rights movement to encompass labor issues in general and the war. I doubt it’s a coincidence that after all those years of death threats, they actually killed him only when he wanted to make the movement more comprehensive, more of a fundamental criticism of the basic structures themselves.
We’ll constantly be expressing the need for total abolition, and along the way we’ll probably encounter many opportunities for the kind of direct action and civil disobedience campaigns King so masterfully led. Two examples are direct action against GMO plantings, and civil disobedience on behalf of the Community Food movement which the corporate system is trying to repress as an economic and political threat to its domination. Up against these, we’ll no doubt also often encounter the same sort of opposition, including the liberal opposition he specifically addresses in this Letter.

I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.

You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations.

That could be the response to every apologist for the crimes of every system, including the extra crimes it commits trying to preserve its ill-gotten wealth and power. It goes for everyone who thinks a paper cut suffered by an elite criminal is worse than the robbery and murder of thousands of innocents.

In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self purification; and direct action. We have gone through all these steps in Birmingham.

1. There can be no doubt at all about the injustice.
There’s many reasons to fight to abolish Monsanto and GMOs. They’re agriculturally and environmentally totalitarian. They inevitably contaminate all other crops and the environment, and accelerate soil, water, air, and habitat destruction. They accelerate the same climate change which is cited as one of the reasons corporate ag must allegedly provide “new technology”. The more that GMOs are field tested and commercialized, i.e. the longer they exist at all, the worse this contamination shall become, and the more we’ll pass points-of-no-return where the contamination shall become significantly malign and irreversible.
They’re economically and politically totalitarian. The GMO cartel is increasing what’s already a non-competitive monopoly concentration in the seed sector. It aggressively uses this position to build horizontal and vertical monopoly power, enforce its dictates up and down the food production and distribution chains, drive non-GM seed varieties out of the market (and, more and more, out of existence), greatly jack up seed prices, force obscenely lopsided “contracts” upon farmers, persecute farmers with harassment, thuggery, and lawsuits, and get governments to enact repressive seed laws intended to escalate and accelerate this whole process.
That’s just one way in which the GMO cartel has seized control of governments around the world. While governments are naturally controlled by corporate power, the kind of control being exercised by the GMO corporations, and the unique threat to humanity and the Earth posed by such corporate control over agriculture and food, render this form of corporate control over government particularly nefarious. People can try to argue about the implication of corporate power where it comes to other sectors, but there can be no argument here – humanity must purge this clear and present danger to our freedom, our democracy, and our literal survival.
GMOs also present a clear and present danger to our health. All independent studies, and even almost all of the corporations’ own rigged studies, find reason for concern or alarm. The genetic engineering process itself, and the massive glyphosate residues in our food and water, wreck our microbiome (our internal gastrointestinal microbial community with which our bodies cooperate for mutual health), cause gastrointestinal inflammation which leads to every kind of disease, trigger escalations in allergies, asthma, autism, and every other kind of autoimmune disease, cause cancer, organ damage, infertility, miscarriages, and birth defects. These are just the best documented effects. Glyphosate-tolerant crops are also nutritionally denuded, and eating the processed foods made from them merely adds to the nutritional deficiency already inherent in diets centered on such “foods”, and the many diseases this can cause or exacerbate.
The most amazing thing is how all this is over such a pathetic, worthless product. GMOs are crap products which don’t work for any purpose which could actually help people. Their yield is poor, no improvement over non-GM conventional agriculture; they require far more pesticides than conventional ag; by helping weeds and insect pests build resistance to pesticides, they generate superweeds and superbugs against themselves, uncontrollable by the same poisons which were supposed to be the reasons for having these GMOs in the first place; the ”special” GMOs – those for drought resistance, vitamin fortification, nitrogen-fixing, etc. – are all media hoaxes.
All these factors build the despair, anger, and sense of social, political, and economic cramp which are driving the March Against Monsanto, and the vast global movement of which it’s a part.
The trenchline runs across the global South, while here behind enemy lines in the West we are rising to take back our corporate-invaded land and agriculture.
2. Not that we the people owe it to those who are in principle our public servants to negotiate with them, but nevertheless we have done so ad nauseum. For decades now, starting before GMOs were ever commercialized, scientists and public health advocates have called for mandatory long-term safety testing of GMOs and actual regulation. (I don’t say “better regulation”, since there was never ANY.) Citizens have fought for labeling in all the states of the union. Citizens have fought for and passed anti-corporate legislation at the local level. Citizens and farmers have filed lawsuits like OSGATA vs. Monsanto. Almost everyone involved with the rising Community Food movement has wanted to do so with the blessing of the power structure and has been appeasement-minded about it.
No, we’ve done all we can to negotiate. The fact is, representative democracy itself, the periodic elections, were supposed to constitute such negotiations. But we see that this was always a sham. System politicians have never done anything but lie to the people, and have never felt the slightest obligation to live up to their promises after the election. Indeed, many ideologues of pseudo-democracy (if not the practicing liar politicians themselves) have explicitly argued that the “representative” has no obligation to his constituents at all after the election is over, but is free to “vote his conscience”, conscience here being a euphemism for corrupt personal interest.
Reasonable people have to concede that the “negotiation” failed. We can never have a responsible, responsive, legitimate government in its current form.
In his own context, MLK came to a similar conclusion.

As in so many past experiences, our hopes had been blasted, and the shadow of deep disappointment settled upon us. We had no alternative except to prepare for direct action, whereby we would present our very bodies as a means of laying our case before the conscience of the local and the national community.

All that was left was self-purification, and then you go out there and do it.

You may well ask: “Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn’t negotiation a better path?” You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word “tension.” I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood.

The purpose of our direct action program is to create a situation so crisis packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. I therefore concur with you in your call for negotiation. Too long has our beloved Southland been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue.

This is a direct rejoinder to those who want to keep the people kettled within a polity-wide “free speech zone”.
King goes on to discuss the change of governmental administrations which never constitutes a structural change. He agrees with the anarchists: Only direct action ever accomplished anything, and it did so with nonviolent force.

My friends, I must say to you that we have not made a single gain in civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure. Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

We have not only the right, but the obligation, to disobey unjust laws:

One may well ask: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”

Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. Segregation, to use the terminology of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, substitutes an “I it” relationship for an “I thou” relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things. Hence segregation is not only politically, economically and sociologically unsound, it is morally wrong and sinful. Paul Tillich has said that sin is separation. Is not segregation an existential expression of man’s tragic separation, his awful estrangement, his terrible sinfulness? Thus it is that I can urge men to obey the 1954 decision of the Supreme Court, for it is morally right; and I can urge them to disobey segregation ordinances, for they are morally wrong.

All this is morally and intellectually clear. Genetic engineering, “intellectual property”, property in land, the corporate-held agricultural system, segregates we the people from our work, from our land, from our food, from our own bodies. The whole ideology of scientism, technocracy, instrumental reason, arises out of a fundamental self-loathing and hatred for the physical earth and the physical human body.
The I and Thou also signifies the human affinity with the earth, the soil, the crops, the food, and especially our human labor which indelibly interacts with these. The I and It demarcates our sundering from all that makes us human, our forced exile driven by corporate agriculture. Alien, anti-human corporations and all that is of them renders human society a destructive and self-destructive parasite squatter on the surface of the earth, but no longer a constructive part of it. With every action agricultural corporatism expresses its contempt for the earth. It insults the soil as the cradle of all complex life, treating it as nothing but an inert medium. It insults the seed as the universal embryo, treating it as a commodity to be painted, pimped, and most of all controlled. It adds the obscene injury of its wholesale poisoning of the soil, air, water, crops, and environment.
Legally and ideologically also this is a surface squatter regime, and an obscene alienation of humanity. The land, the soil, the very seed are “owned”, which word we must render in all corporate contexts as controlled and dominated, by an alien, anti-human entity. Indeed, a patent on a seed is alienation squared, since the patent is an abominable segregation and sundering of we the people from our common heritage, and it’s “owned” by an alien, anti-human entity whose very existence is also such an abomination.
Economically also this is a surface squatter regime and an obscene alienation from humanity. Growing our food is the essential human labor, the core human economic activity, the primary economy, and a deep spiritual endeavor, the main form of our communion with the earth and our thread of its harmony. We’re now to be alienated from this, driven off the land. For the Western middle class, into spiritual ghettos. For the Global South, into physical concentration camps called shantytowns. (This bell tolls also for us in the West, as our economic liquidation proceeds and the capitalist era reverts to a more feudal or ancient mode of tyranny.) 
We’re all too familiar with this type today:

I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

Except that today the “moderate” isn’t an outsider with a shallow understanding, but either a predatory collaborator or else part of the prey herd himself. His moderation and lukewarm state are homicidal and/or suicidal. He sides with the oppressor against those who would fight.
King describes how the inertial mass deplores those who fight as “extremists”, as instigators of violence, and as being too impatient. But these charges are false. It’s the enemy who’s extreme, it’s the enemy who’s violent, and we’ve been far too patient for far too long.
But in all the things we do, we aren’t the ones generating the “tension” so unpleasant to conformists. Where it comes to that, we’re merely symptomatic:

Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.

This is the only path forward.
King describes how the early Christians were sustained by their faith and their relentless will against long odds.

Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being “disturbers of the peace” and “outside agitators.”‘ But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were “a colony of heaven,” called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be “astronomically intimidated.” By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests.

That’s the hardest thing, to have to sometimes overcome the feeling of astronomical intimidation. The mission is daunting, and existing institutions are unlikely to offer any support:

Perhaps I have once again been too optimistic. Is organized religion too inextricably bound to the status quo to save our nation and the world? Perhaps I must turn my faith to the inner spiritual church, the church within the church, as the true ekklesia and the hope of the world.

This will also ring true for us today wherever we transpose it to representative government.

I hope the church as a whole will meet the challenge of this decisive hour. But even if the church does not come to the aid of justice, I have no despair about the future. I have no fear about the outcome of our struggle in Birmingham, even if our motives are at present misunderstood. We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal of America is freedom. Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with America’s destiny. Before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth, we were here. Before the pen of Jefferson etched the majestic words of the Declaration of Independence across the pages of history, we were here. For more than two centuries our forebears labored in this country without wages; they made cotton king; they built the homes of their masters while suffering gross injustice and shameful humiliation -and yet out of a bottomless vitality they continued to thrive and develop. If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands…

I wish you had commended the Negro sit inners and demonstrators of Birmingham for their sublime courage, their willingness to suffer and their amazing discipline in the midst of great provocation. One day the South will recognize its real heroes. They will be the James Merediths, with the noble sense of purpose that enables them to face jeering and hostile mobs, and with the agonizing loneliness that characterizes the life of the pioneer. They will be old, oppressed, battered Negro women, symbolized in a seventy two year old woman in Montgomery, Alabama, who rose up with a sense of dignity and with her people decided not to ride segregated buses, and who responded with ungrammatical profundity to one who inquired about her weariness: “My feets is tired, but my soul is at rest.” They will be the young high school and college students, the young ministers of the gospel and a host of their elders, courageously and nonviolently sitting in at lunch counters and willingly going to jail for conscience’ sake. One day the South will know that when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters, they were in reality standing up for what is best in the American dream and for the most sacred values in our Judaeo Christian heritage, thereby bringing our nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in their formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

In this piece King discussed the controversy over “patience”, which is also a controversy over the nature of time itself.

I have just received a letter from a white brother in Texas. He writes: “All Christians know that the colored people will receive equal rights eventually, but it is possible that you are in too great a religious hurry. It has taken Christianity almost two thousand years to accomplish what it has. The teachings of Christ take time to come to earth.” Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.

Time itself is neutral, and the flow of time itself has no characteristic independent of what we choose to do with it. Abolitionism is a way of life. It’s not just labor toward a goal, let alone the ideas contained in the goal itself. Most of all it’s a way of life. The goal is most realized in the here and now, every day. This way of life means not only exercising democracy in any way we can but also fighting for it everywhere we must. This adds to the challenge and striving, but this challenge is the challenge of being human at all. The essence of humanity is to take responsibility for oneself, to achieve power over oneself, and then to exercise one’s responsibility, combining one’s personal strength in free cooperation with others to build a free and prosperous human community. Only in such a community can we then create the space for the essence of humanity, positive freedom. This is spiritual freedom, creative freedom, political freedom, participatory freedom. All can exist only on the basis of the cooperative prosperity which affords the time and opportunity for this freedom. Only this deserves the name democracy, and only this can be called in the most profound sense civilization.
Today corporatist barbarians seek to destroy democracy, civilization, and humanity itself. These barbarians are the opposite of the original tribes raging out of Central Asia. Those were the vigorous barbarians of ascent toward a richer civilization. Today’s barbarians of decadence are rotted and malevolent, ugly and stupid, but infinitely wicked. Their technology and wealth renders them the most powerful ruling class in history, at the same time that their utter lack of any redeeming quality whatsoever renders them history’s nadir, history’s most degraded, nihilistic, parasitic, and worthless ruling class. They represent not a stage of Western Civilization but its final self-cannibalization. This is the end of this pseudo-civilization, for better or worse. The corporate barbarians certainly intend the worst – the full reinstatement of a slave economy, through the vehicles of debt indenture and corporate domination of agriculture and food.
But we can defeat this satanic plan if we redeem from the wreckage of the corporate industrial agriculture system the greatest treasure we’ve won: The consciousness that we the people can rule ourselves. That we can maximize our happiness and prosperity through full political and economic democracy. That we don’t need “elites” for anything, and that elites are never anything but parasites and criminals.
All we need to do is accept this fact, believe in it, and take responsibility for it. The true Human Renaissance beckons. This is the same human evolution and salvation for which Martin Luther King fought, for which he sat in jail, for which he wrote a letter from that jail.
We shall live up to the standard he and so many other great fighters for humanity have set for us. It’s a very high standard, and the forces ranged against it are formidable. But we can do it. Freedom is ours wherever and whenever we want it. The time is ours whenever we choose it. Our freedom will assert itself as soon as we freely choose to fight for it.


January 18, 2014

Health Hazards of Genetic Engineering: Overview and Perspective


Before getting into detail about the health dangers of GMOs and their related poisons, I thought it would be well to put the whole topic in perspective.
The health hazards of GMOs taken in themselves is not at the core of my project, which will be focused more on the corporate domination of agriculture and food, the crisis of agricultural germplasm diversity, GM contamination of non-GM and organic agriculture and wild relatives of crop varieties, and the proven ruinous health, environmental, and agricultural effects of poisons like glyphosate and 2,4-D.
Nevertheless, the health hazard of genetic engineering as such is also one of the reasons we must abolish GMOs. There’s plenty of evidence of harm, more than enough to prove the need for the precautionary principle. Those who believe in trying to reform the system must therefore fight for a recall of existing commercialized GMOs and a moratorium on further commercialization until rigorous long-term independent safety testing has been done. We who think the system can’t and won’t reform itself must fight for the total abolition of GMOs. In this case, as in most others where it comes to agriculture and food, the practical goal is therefore similar, and is anti-GMO as such.
(In considering the health dangers of this technology, we must be aware that there’s three separate, but interrelated and probably mutually aggravating, aspects. There’s the health devastation wrought by herbicides like glyphosate. This is proven and severe. There’s the harm from Bt and other endotoxins taken in themselves. Here there’s considerable evidence of harm. And then there’s genetic engineering taken in itself. Here common sense would have said, and sufficient evidence has compiled, that no sane system would unleash this into the food supply without extensive safety testing. In practice this was never done or required.)
The abolition movement knows that the corporatist system will never undertake reforms which would at the very least significantly slow down the deployment of this enclosure system which is critical for its future economic control and domination, and would probably, if honestly undertaken, lead to a ban. Therefore anyone who truly cares about the future of agriculture, the environment, human health, and human prosperity and freedom, must move on to setting total abolition as the goal. We must then relentlessly seek that goal with zero extraneous prejudices.
As for the evidence of harm from GMOs as such, we have:
1. We have the lethal Showa Denko epidemic, incontrovertibly caused by GE and nothing but GE. This is proof of principle that the worst could happen at any time. The X-SCID leukemia incident reinforces the proof.
2. We have the StarLink allergic epidemic. In spite of the FDA’s attempt at a coverup, it’s clear beyond a reasonable doubt that the GMO caused an epidemic of allergic symptoms, some life-threatening.
3. Episodes like that of the soybean engineered with a transgene from the Brazil nut which was found to be allergenic prior to commercialization.
4. Plenty of animal and human cell studies demonstrating that GE by itself can be toxic, allergenic, carcinogenic, and/or have other chronic disease effects. The most important of these include the 2012 Seralini study, the 1999 Pusztai study, the 2005 CSIRO study on its GMO peas. There are many others where the GE effect can’t clearly be separated from the effects of glyphosate and/or Bt, but which nevertheless provide evidence of harm, and that GE could be the cause or a contributor.
5. Vast anecdotal evidence from working farmers who have studied the effects of non-GM vs. GMO-based diets on their livestock. This has been confirmed by scientific studies like the 2013 Carman study.
To sum up the main hazards:
*Glyphosate and other herbicides proven toxic to humans are assimilated into the crop tissue and are systemic in any food these crops become part of, including meat and dairy from GM-fed animals.
*Bt and other endoxins are also endemic.
*Antibiotic resistance among potentially pathogenic microbes is abundantly documented. The use of antibiotic resistance markers in GMOs is a major driver of this public health crisis.
*Genetic engineering in itself has probably greatly aggravated allergies and autoimmune diseases.
*Genetic engineering in itself probably causes liver and kidney disease, and has harmful effects on other organ systems.
*There’s also considerable evidence that genetic engineering as such can cause cancer.
I’ll document all this in the subsequent posts.
In assessing any evidence, we must always keep in mind the system’s near-complete refusal to undertake any safety studies itself, the barriers it has set up against such study, and the viciousness with which it has attacked the studies which have been done and the scientists who have done them, or who have even expressed any criticism at all of GMOs. This willful negligence and attempted intimidation and censorship on the part of corporations and governments is in itself strong proof that the system fears what the results of truly systematic, well-funded independent study would be. I’ll be writing lots more on this later, as we compile a Nuremburg brief.
What’s the probability of harm? Given the odds of a harmful mutation, promoter effect, harmful collateral protein etc., and considering all the stages through which a genetic modification must go to reach the human body, it may be unlikely in a given case that there will be a harmful effect from genetic engineering as such. (This leaves aside risks from pollen or crop dust inhalation, topical contact etc., as well as direct Frankenfoods which may be eaten cooked (sweet corn, salmon, “golden rice”, potatoes) or even raw (sweet corn, “non-browning apples”, papaya).)
But this is like air travel and plane crashes. The odds may be very low for any given flight, but have enough flights and plane crashes will happen. They do happen, sometimes catastrophic ones. So it is with GMOs. So far there’s only been one Showa Denko, and one StarLink. But no one knows how many lesser crashes there have been, since no epidemiological studies are done. Even more importantly, no one knows how gradual the most catastrophic crashes may be, where they involve later-developing chronic diseases like cancer. Again, the system assiduously avoids epidemiological study and tries to prevent independent researchers from carrying it out.
Lots of people say they don’t know what to think about this. If you’re not sure, here’s the basic default, for science, reason, and common sense:
1. WE DON’T KNOW what the health hazards are of GMOs. Anyone who claims to know GMOs are safe is expressing fundamentalist cult faith, or just lying. It’s not rational.
2. There’s copious evidence of harm to human health, and several incidents which prove the danger, including a lethal outbreak.
3. All this is for something worthless, a crappy product which doesn’t work and is good for no one but corporate gangsters, good for nothing but corporate profit and control.
4. All this is for nothing but to load our soil, water, crops, and food with severe poisons which are known to be destructive of human, livestock, and environmental health.
5. All this is to prop up an industrial agricultural system which is destructive and suicidal, and to forestall and suppress the great and necessary agroecology solution, which is the only possible way forward for agriculture and humanity.
GMOs are intended to destroy the future of humanity once and for all. Their health hazards are just one piece of this vast overall war. But knowledge and publicity of these hazards will help us protect ourselves and wage the political war. These hazards are one of the reasons we need to abolish GMOs, and the publicity of them will be one of the potent weapons in this abolition struggle.


January 15, 2014

An Abolitionist Future


As I predicted a few weeks ago, the “supreme court” has now refused to accept an appeal from the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association of its suit against Monsanto seeking protection against the company’s litigation persecution of farmers, and the invalidation of its seed patents. There was no reason for the court to revisit the matter, since the appeals court decision largely upheld the legal status quo. Meanwhile the SCOTUS last year handed down a rousing 9-0 pro-Monsanto smackdown. I’ll wager the supreme corporatist court along with Monsanto are content with this status quo. For the court to take another Monsanto case could hardly add anything to Monsanto’s legal impregnability, but would only run the risk of generating more bad political publicity.
(The appeals decision last June did achieve two possibly worthwhile things: 1. The court acknowledged that genetic contamination of non-GM crops by GM crops is inevitable. (The notion that this contamination is rare or even doesn’t happen at all is still a standard lie of the pro-GM hacks, and in their actions government regulators still try to pretend it’s not happening.) 2. Monsanto felt constrained to issue a statement that it has not in the past and will never sue farmers for collateral contamination. At the time I considered this to be worthless, since it was a lie in describing the past, and therefore sounded like nothing but empty words which left the way open for the continuation of the same practice. But I suppose at least at the trial court level it could be of some use, if anyone ever tries legally to resist. At any rate, as a political statement it now holds. So when Monsanto continues to sue the victims of its trespass and property destruction, we’ll have their own formal promise to hold against them. Perhaps that will be of some use politically.)
So we have it confirmed again that the people shall never get justice through the courts, just as we never shall through any other system channel. So where shall we find it, and how? 
We won’t do it as we are, and we won’t do it by doing things the way we’ve been doing them. We the people have become atomized and have long been mired in a stupid, depraved inertia. That’s why by now I regard it as axiomatic that those who are still “consumers” will never rouse themselves to undertake even the most modest structural changes. (To believe in the sufficiency of voting is part of consumerism.)
Therefore, I don’t see strategy in terms of trying to build a mass movement right off the bat, let alone a political party to run political candidates. That kind of laziness and impatience, the demand for instant gratification, so typical not just of “progressives” but even of many who fancy themselves radicals, is part of the same consumerist pathology.
For now we need to start an organization with those people who care deeply, want to fight, and are willing to commit to disciplined reporting, analytical, and publicity work, plus whatever activism the members wish to undertake. Even if it’s just a few people at first, once that nucleus exists, it’ll be a constant beacon, and a constant example for others to form similar organizations.
Eventually the thing will cohere as a real movement, a presence in the public consciousness, and as it grows it’ll be able to take on more tasks, more aggressively. At some point, once it has a firm and disciplined enough movement culture, it might be able to organize politically. It can seek to elect monkeywrenchers. (Another current pathology shared even by radicals is that an “alternative” party can seek to elect officials who could then enact good policy. But it should be obvious by now that’s impossible. On the other hand, it could be possible for legislators from an anti-corporatist party to help organize ad hoc coalitions to defeat BAD bills (i.e., all of them) and enforce gridlock. This could even help break up the two party system. The only expedient goal for electoralism is to elect cadres who act as obstructionists from within to help the movement whose real action is outside that system.)  
At that point it can start preparing to become a mass organization, as the crises get worse, and as nothing works anymore, and the people are ready to try anything. At that point abolitionism could present itself as the key to breaking all logjams, unplugging all bottlenecks.
I’m working on GMOs and corporate agriculture. We need abolition organizations here most of all. But the same principles apply to every other sector. We’ll know the real actionists in accord with how they accept and apply those principles. But it seems to me that everything else has been proven not to work under these circumstances.


January 13, 2014

Climate Change, “Green Capitalism”, and Abolitionism


It’s long been obvious to me that Western governments will never mitigate one iota of GHG emissions, nor will global corporatism as a whole. They’re going to burn every BTU worth of fossil fuel they can extract. That’s a done deal. Nor is anyone within the system interested in any kind of adaptation. For both mitigation and adaptation, all we have are scams. As with everything else, these are most pronounced in the agricultural sector.
That stands to reason. Taken as a whole industrial agriculture is the worst driver of climate change, since it’s the #1 GHG emitter and the worst destroyer of carbon sinks.
That’s why the one and only answer, here as with every other issue, for both mitigation and adaptation, is to abolish corporate agriculture and transform to agroecology on a food sovereignty basis. This is what’s necessary, and only this will be sufficient. Strategy and tactics have to be geared to meet this objective, with no other prejudice. Everything else is a fraud. This piece gives a good overview of the “green capitalism” scam. It’s hard to believe anyone was ever naive enough to think capitalism, which must continue to expand, violate, and subjugate in order to exist, could ever be reconciled with environmentalism. On the contrary, all this was an earlier version of what with GMOs is called the “coexistence” scam.
The Truthout piece is good in skewering all these frauds. As for its prescriptions, it’s not wrong, but it’s still mired in the whole “socialism vs. capitalism” ideological morass, not to mention that it has a scarcity-based mentality and rhetoric. None of that’s going to fly. People are sick of obsolete ideology, and to tell people that we face scarcity is likely to make them more conservative. By “conservative” I’m referring to temperament and unwillingness to rock the boat. That’s why GMO labeling campaigns fail.
But the fact is that this is a world of abundance, and we can have broad-based, democratic abundance if we break the corporate stranglehold. I would like to recast all conceptions of scarcity, even the ones which are actually physically based, as political bottlenecks caused by corporatism. It’s certainly true that corporations directly cause or badly aggravate every problem humanity faces. Which leads to the political program: A movement dedicated to abolishing corporations and corporatism. It has a clear goal, rather than the intentional vagueness of past ideologies, and I think it offers lots of opportunities to drive political wedges, to slash through all the obsolete, by now tribal dichotomies which no longer reflect any kind of reality, but are on the contrary a misdirection and escape from reality – “left vs. right”, “liberal vs. conservative”, “Republican vs. Democrat”, etc.
As for the measly notion of carbon taxes, command-and-control, etc., there’s no chance of mustering anyone to fight for that. It’s too picayune a goal, and yet to win a such a temporary victory would take just as hard a fight as to wipe out the enemy once and for all. That goal’s not going to stir the soul, fire the imagination, set people in motion driven by an inner flame. But a movement which sets great goals could possibly do this.


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