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February 28, 2014

GMO News Summary February 28, 2014

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*GMO plantings are peaking in the industrialized countries, according to one of the cartel’s own leading propaganda purveyors. US plantings continue to decelerate, increasing less than 1%. For the first time there was a slight decline overall. The ISAAA’s report attributes the decline to decreased GM canola plantings in Canada and decreased GM cotton plantings in Australia. GM cotton plantings are also down in the US. In both cases the cause is drought, and the fact that non-GM varieties perform much better under any condition of less-than-optimal water supply, as India’s GM cotton farmers have learned to their great despair.
 
This bodes ill for the GMO juggernaut, which as the core project of global corporatism must continue growing and expanding or the whole thing collapses. The ISAAA and many corporate media outlets (but far from all; the GMWatch link is to a Bloomberg piece) put an upbeat spin on things, stressing an alleged big increase in plantings in the “developing” world. Overall global plantings are said to have increased 3%, driven mostly by Brazil’s GM soy plantings. Brazil was a later adopter of GMOs, which is a big part of the reason its plantings are still increasing.
 
We can see why Monsanto is so fixated on Africa as the last great colonial frontier. The GMO power scheme, really just a big plundering expedition meant to be permanent in all the regions GMOs can conquer, is as dependent as Wall Street on corporate welfare, a permanent US government bailout, inflated stock prices, and the general perception of omnipotence. This is because its product is as fictive as any finance scam, as worthless from any reality-based point of view, and even more completely larcenous and destructive.
 
*More good news from Oregon about people who are trying to take back their communities from corporate occupation. Josephine County joins Benton County and two others in placing ordinances on the ballot banning GMO cultivation and rejecting corporate and preemptive central government interference with local/regional democratic rule where it comes to GMOs. This kind of activism is part of the ultimate solution.
 
*Scientists and public health professionals in Bangladesh are objecting to the way the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) has rushed to commercialize four varieties of Bt brinjal (eggplant) in 2014 without having performed or required safety testing. The equivalent of India’s requirement for a 90 day sub-acute toxicity test would be meager and insufficient enough, yet even this is too stringent for Bangladesh “regulators” acting as de facto Monsanto cadres. Instead they accepted as compliance a set of industry tests done by Mahyco, which is Monsanto’s Indian subsidiary, upon a different Bt brinjal variety than the four now being commercialized in Bangladesh. As in every other country where GMOs have been commericialized (Bangladesh is now #29), the government does not perform or require any real independent safety testing, only at most some industry tests which don’t measure toxic effects.
 
Meanwhile India and the Philippines continue their moratoria on Bt brinjal, on account of fears that it will contaminate the world’s center of eggplant genetic diversity. Bangladesh has over 4000 native varieties, which in itself proves no GMO variety is necessary. This is purely about profit and power, including the intentional plan to destroy the existing eggplant germplasm diversity and replace it with a proprietary monoculture. The evil intent here can be seen in the disconnect between government propaganda, which has assured farmers they’ll have full ownership of the crops and seeds, and the language of the licensing agreement, which stipulates that Mahyco retains its full intellectual property prerogatives.
 
*Some strange goings-on in China. First there was a notice posted at the cafeteria of the education ministry building, warning of the dangers of GMOs and lauding the cafeteria’s non-GM policy. This could have been just an ad hoc initiative from a low-level officer. But the same can’t be true of a communique issued shortly afterward by the finance ministry, similarly warning about “serious threats to the health of the people” and announcing that their cafeteria will also be going GM-free.
 
These announcements come in the midst of an ongoing economic skirmish with the US, as Chinese customs has repeatedly rejected corn shipments contaminated with Syngenta’s MIR162 variety. The reason officials have given for these rejections is that MIR162 hasn’t been approved for import in food and feed. That’s true, but it’s also true of several other varieties widely cultivated in the US. Why is it only MIR162 which seems to be contaminating the shipments? Are the Chinese picking on a particular variety as some kind of signal to the US? Are these ministry announcements, making for flashy PR but not having much substantive significance, part of a propaganda war? Monsanto’s concerned enough about the situation that its CEO made a trip to China in December. All this follows upon a June 2013 deal China made to allow the import of Monsanto’s Intacta soybeans from Brazil. This deal came as a surprise after China had stressed its desire to import non-GM soybeans, to the point that Brazil’s soy industry trade group had publicly claimed it could fill that order. China’s seeming about-face came as a big disappointment to campaigners in the UK who have been trying to pressure British supermarkets to continue their commitment to poultry products from farmers who use only non-GM feed.
 
Instead of repeating the whole story I’ll link to my post from the time. The affair raises the issue of how viable Brazil’s non-GM soy exports really are. It must also be placed in context with Monsanto’s seemingly dire legal peril, as Brazil’s courts continue to threaten to shatter its entire business model in this, the one country pretty much single-handedly driving the global increase of GMO plantings, as I described above.
 
Brazil…China. And Russia, as I mentioned last week. I haven’t yet had the time to delve into the geopolitics and power politics of all this, so I don’t yet have much of a theory of what’s going on, other than that various power centers are trying to figure out how to assert their own power in the face of the US/Monsanto power bloc. None of these governments, we can assume, want to become Monsanto’s poodles the way the governments of, for example, Britain and India, and of course the US itself, have. (But it’s a safe bet neither of the governments or Russia or China, whatever they sometimes say, could ever be actually anti-GMO either. Most likely they want to shield themselves from the worst of the US/Monsanto onslaught while they try to figure out how to build their own rival cartel. If that’s true, the abolitionist position remains clear.) 
 
More on this to come.
 
*The US Geological Survey has published a study which found that 75% of air and rain samples collected in Mississippi in 2007 contained glyphosate residue. The study compared 2007 levels in the air and water of various agricultural poisons with levels from 1995. In 2007 glyphosate, the main ingredient of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, was by far the most common poison. This is entirely on account of the explosive surge in its use since the commercialization of GMOs. In pre-GMO 1995 its usage was so low it wasn’t even measured. For comparison, atrazine, metolachlor, and propanil were detected in 50% or more of the samples in both 2007 and 1995. This is a good demonstration of how the claim made for Roundup Ready GMOs, that they would lower overall poison use, was a lie. Instead, glyphosate use has skyrocketed while the use of other herbicides has remained steady.
 
*The annual report of the USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) was boosterish as usual in its tone, though amid the hype it admits that GMOs don’t actually work. Specifically, they don’t increase yield, they’re not economically beneficial for farmers, and they increase rather than reduce pesticide use.
 
*California state senator Noreen Evans, with support from a coalition of farmer, consumer, and citizen groups, is sponsoring a bill to label GMOs. This will supposedly be a more sleek and clear version of the one voters narrowly voted down in 2012.
 
*GMO labeling campaigners have not been rewarded for trying to be “moderate” where it comes to the labels they demand. Their attempts to establish labeling for raw and processed foods but not for meat and dairy products were not according to inherent logic, nor did it make sense from the point of view of trying to claim transparency and the right to know as a principle. The moderation was supposed to be political and economic, on the grounds that labeling policies around the world are crafted in the same incomplete, inconsistent way. But not only has this not worked politically, but the so-called “loopholes” were attacked, perhaps with some effect, by cartel propaganda. (Campaigners in California didn’t help their cause when they produced awful publicity material embracing the enemy framing and saying things like “Loopholes are good!”)
 
Therefore it’s good to see that proponents of labeling in the US, and of better labeling in the UK (which already has labeling of raw and processed foods, but not of meat and dairy), are increasingly insisting that GMO labeling needs to encompass these products as well.
 
That’s what makes sense from the point of view of health aspects, as well as according to any principle of transparency, democracy, or just consumer choice.

 
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February 26, 2014

Comment Against the US Government’s Sham “Coexistence” Policy

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“Coexistence” is a fraudulent propaganda term. Coexistence is physically impossible, as contamination of non-GM crops and wild relatives by GMO maize, cotton, canola and other types is already rampant, as is the feral spread of GMO canola in various forms.
 
The USDA wants to promulgate “coexistence” as the official ideology and practical recommendation of the US government. There’s currently a comment period open on this, which expires March 4. Here’s one of the several pre-written comment and submission forms available, if that’s easier.
 
The contamination problem will only get worse, the longer GMOs exist. Meanwhile the poisons associated with GMOs, so far primarily glyphosate, inevitably drift and contaminate soils, water, air, other plants, and accumulate in our bodies. This problem will significantly escalate as “second generation” GMOs resistant to the far more volatile and drift-prone 2,4-D are commercialized. There’s still time to comment on this as well, as the comment period has been extended to March 11.
 
All this is in addition to the malign socioeconomic and political effects of poison-based corporate agriculture. I’ve written on this many times; here’s just a few examples. Here too it’s impossible for human beings to coexist with GMOs. It’s untenable to have our very food dominated by corporations whose one and only imperative is to force us to apply the maximum poison in and on our food. Humanity’s only path forward is the complete abolition of GMOs.

 
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February 24, 2014

Corporatism and Globalization: The Context of the TTIP and TPP

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Perhaps the best way to prove the tyrannical intentions of the globalizers is to start with their own words. If we look at the manifestoes and comments issued by the various business consortiums, industry groups, and individual corporations, we find the unvarying demand that all government action be subordinated to the corporate profit prerogative, and that no other value be allowed to interfere with this.
 
This is why I call corporations and their intent totalitarian. My definition of this term: A powerful person or entity is relentless in pursuit of an imperative, at every moment wants to enforce the domination of that imperative to the fullest extent possible, and refuses to recognize the right of any other value to exist at all. A totalitarian may or may not be willing to “tolerate” the existence of something purely extraneous. But where there’s any conflict between the corporate domination imperative and any other value, it’s taken for granted there can be no compromise. The non-corporate value must submit, if necessary to the point of its own extinction. As the historical record makes clear, this is true of all human values – health, happiness, prosperity, culture, tradition, religion, morality, simple human decency and fairness. None of these can coexist with corporations. In the long run these must all go extinct, if corporatism continues to exist.
 
One of the reasons I became a GMO abolitionist is that this fact of the impossibility of coexistence is most clearly demonstrated in the case of agricultural poisons, where the unrelenting, uncompromising assault contaminates not just every economic and political aspect it touches, but goes the farthest in extending its indelible physical corruption to every physical medium – the soil, the water, the air, the wild plants and animals, the cultivated crops and livestock, our own bodies.
 
But the same phenomenon is general across all corporate sectors, which is why every kind of thinker, writer, and activist, however much one may want to resist this choice, will in the end have to choose between humanity, and therefore corporate abolition, or a total corporate domination which will destroy whatever it is one values. Many, certainly most established NGO types, seem already to be making their choices, though in a sense it’s an early day as yet. We must not succumb to one of the standard pathologies of progressives, that of demanding instant gratification.
 
In particular, there’s the pathology that any idea which can’t be boiled down to running candidates in the next election (and not just monkey-wrenching, gridlocking anti-corporate candidates, but affirmatively “good”, policy-intending ones, no less) is bad, “impractical”, objectionable, offensive, certainly to be rejected. We need to be aware that we’re in this for what from the point of view of a human life is the long haul. We’re not likely to see the abolition of corporations, perhaps not even of GMOs, in our lifetimes. (Well, at over 40 I’m not likely. Perhaps someone half my age may live to see it.) I’m clear that I was put here to be a writer, to express these ideas as well as I can, to broadcast them as far as I can, and leave it to people to use these expressions (not the ideas themselves, which can only coincide or not with the drive of the people; no one can ever convince anyone of anything they don’t already feel) in whatever way people find good.
 
And so back to the analysis of globalization as an economic and anti-political offensive being carried out by corporatism toward the goal of total domination. By economic and anti-political I mean that the goal is total domination through total economic domination, while all real manifestations of politics are to be suppressed completely. (The neoliberal phony semblance of “politics” – sham elections, nominal constitutional rights and so on – may continue for some time.) Power will be exercised at the command of corporate oligopoly sectors, by executive government bureaucracies and extranational globalization tribunals, and increasingly, directly by the corporations themselves.
 
The policies business wants encoded in the TTIP and TPP and enforced by governments and World Bank tribunals provide a clear picture of what these persons are. They’re nominally “businessmen” seeking “profit”. They’re really political and economic totalitarians seeking total power and control. They seek this under the rubric of business ideology, and using the corporation as their basic mode of organization. But any large corporation is not really trying  to provide a good/service and make a profit, but is rather a power-seeking organization using its particular economic sector as its base of operations. It seeks to attain total power within that sector and use that economic base to assert political domination as extensively as possible.
 
I was about to say, “just because it’s not overtly political, the way a de jure political party or political pressure group is, doesn’t make it any less the same kind of organization.” But in fact anyone who pays attention to corporate actions knows they’re every bit as openly political as any non-profit, de jure political group. Corporations and their trade groups describe and disseminate political principles, devise political strategies and carry them out, lobby nominal politicians and regulators. There’s really no such thing as a lobbyist-politician dichotomy, but only two political activists talking to one another. In every way corporations are organizations which seek political power. The only difference is that under representative democracy a de jure “party” is the kind of organization which runs someone called a “candidate” for a particular type of political office, while corporations are bureaucracies, identical in a de facto way to nominal government bureaucracies like the USDA or FDA.
 
Under the conditions of complex globalized economies real power naturally tends to accumulate with the bureaucracies, and whether these are nominally “public”, like the USDA, or nominally “private”, like Monsanto, makes no difference. Even an executive office-holder like a US president, let alone a legislator, would need to powerfully exert himself to alter this bureaucracy’s inertia in any significant way. Indeed, only revolutionary regimes have been able to do so. But then that could be a definition of a revolutionary government under modern conditions: A government whose leaders want to alter significantly the inertial trajectory of the bureaucracy. This is hard to do for a nominal government bureaucracy. For a private one like a corporation, it may be impossible unless the corporation wants to alter itself. Since under no circumstances would a corporation want to do this at the behest of a bottom-up people’s movement, it follows that while a people’s movement in theory may think of seizing the reins of government and altering the trajectory of government bureaucracy, such a movement can logically think only of abolishing corporations.
 
Still, if one wants to continue with complex commodification and globalization, one must accept the domination of bureaucracy in one form or another. The whole question becomes simpler if we understand that commodification and globalization as such are unnecessary for prosperity and undesirable from any human point of view. If we then seek not just to abolish corporations but to abolish all supply-based planned economy and restore purely demand-based economies, we can think of dispensing completely with bureaucratic rule. We can even think of having a choice among various forms of direct or assembly-based democracy.
 
Those are questions for another time. Under today’s conditions centralized representative government is not and cannot be anything but a sham. Neoliberalism has been, among other things, the art of perfecting the aesthetics, emotional manipulation, and intellectual astroturfing potential of this sham. It hasn’t just enlisted the mass media, the entertainment industry, the arts, the law, academia, the scientism ideology and scientific establishment, and the twin bourgeois ideologies of conservatism and liberalism, all of which would have happened anyway. It has convinced these adherents and practitioners to accept corporate rule as veritably a law of nature, something never to be questioned or even noticed, even in thought, and brought all these realms to the most potent level of marketing appeal to the atomized mass. All this is just the facade of power and culture.
 
Real power is inertially in the hands of the bureaucracies, “public” and “private”. But of course bureaucracies don’t just passively receive and use the power which economic structures deliver to them. On the contrary, globalization is a planned economy. It’s been planned by those same bureaucrats toward the goal of permanently increasing and expanding their power. Going back to the rise of imperialist ideology and corporate lobbying in the 19th century, corporatism has relentlessly and with ever greater self-consciousness and intentional focus sought to build this command economy. (I won’t here get into the history of where corporatism came from in the first place, but I wrote extensively about it here and here.)
 
This reached a new level of aggressiveness in the post-war time, and especially since the end of the Cold War. NAFTA and the “trade” pacts based upon it have comprised the state of the art in post-Cold War globalization offensives. Today the TTIP and the TPP propose to expand the NAFTA model from North America across both oceans to encompass Europe and the Pacific Rim under a single corporate umbrella, turn the Atlantic and Pacific into ponds upon one big corporate park, use this power position to overawe Latin America and ruthlessly subjugate Africa, and to crush what’s left of the substance of democracy and economic self-determination in every country encompassed, including America and the EU.
 
The twin bureaucratic structures, corporate and regulatory, understand this mission well. They see total power within their grasp. Today they’re gearing up to reach for it. The coupled mechanisms of the globalization compacts through which they intend to attain the totalitarian goal are “investor-to-state dispute settlement” (ISDS) and “regulatory coherence”. The former is a direct assault on democracy, civil society, and politics as such, as well as being a massive corporate welfare conveyor. The latter is a formula for total bureaucratic Gleichschaltung (coordination). More specifically, it’s a plan to fully and formally institutionalize the subservience of government bureaucracy to corporate bureaucracy, and to fully rationalize the processes of this subservience.
 
In subsequent posts on this I’ll relate the corporate plan for regulatory coherence in the corporations’ own words, relate the echo as it has come back from the governments and regulators, and do the same for ISDS. That’ll bring us to the EC’s upcoming, much-hyped “consultation” on ISDS with the people of Europe. Throughout, my examples will focus on GMOs and the GMO cartel. But this sector is not only extremely aggressive, but in principle is typical of them all. So the same description and the same kind of examples will apply in all other powerful sectors. Because the GMO cartel’s obsession with kicking down Europe’s door is at the core of the US government’s goals for the TTIP/TAFTA, I’ll naturally be focusing on the Atlantic side. But the TPP has the same provisions and the same goals.
 
Next up – the “regulatory coherence” wish lists and strategic plans of the US Chamber of Commerce, BusinessEurope, and the GMO cartel.

 
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February 21, 2014

GMO News Summary 2/21/14

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*In Russia the proposed bill to tighten GMO labeling standards on imported products and ban GMO cultivation within the country (there’s currently a bureaucratic moratorium) continues to wend its way through the legislative process while a new poll found that 80% of Russians distrust GMOs. The media is also touting organic exports as a potential Russian trade advantage which ought to be exploited. This reinforces part of the impression I have, that unlike the EU, Russia views this as a competitive issue rather than one of self-sacrifice to corporate domination.
 
I’ve been thinking the same thing about European agriculture in general. It looks to me like the proposed TTIP/TAFTA is an old-fashioned power move by the US government against European power, at the behest of the truly international corporate system (e.g., of the GMO cartel’s Big Five, three are nominally from the US, two from Europe, and their combined interest transcends both). Corporatism is veritably an attempt at One World Government, in the only form such a thing can exist, a totalitarian supply-based command economy. This is why corporatism’s lackey, wants to shift power from national governments: (1) as much as possible directly to the corporations, (2) where another layer of “government” is deemed necessary, to supranational globalization cadres like the IMF, WTO, and the corporate tribunals the TTIP and TPP would establish. The European Commission, itself a supranational bureaucracy, identifies with this global corporate system rather than with the countries, let alone the people, of Europe.
 
*A new study further confirms the link between glyphosate and celiac disease and gluten intolerance, two of the many digestive system-related diseases whose incidence has surged in correlation with the rise of GMOs and their concomitant agricultural poisons, like glyphosate, in our diets.
 
*I’ve previously written about the Sarpo Mira corporate welfare GM potato. Now there’s more information coming out about this government product. As we suspected, it’s a typical hoax which, even if it performs as claimed, is inferior to the conventional breeds which were pirated to produce it. Yet 3 million British pounds and counting in taxpayer funds have been thrown down this hole, while the real potato breeders are starved of research funds.
 
(The publicly-funded research institute, the John Innes Center, is the same I’ve previously mentioned for performing brassica research on behalf of Monsanto and running a completely pointless GM wheat field trial at its Rothamsted plot. We can see how the JIC is nothing but a taxpayer-funded corporate welfare conveyor and propaganda disseminator. These trials, where they aren’t conceived as actual profitable research on behalf of the cartel, are mostly examples of propaganda by action, as I described in my post on British field trials.) 
 
This is one example, small in itself but typical, of how the GMO research agenda is coordinated by governments to attain the related goals of conveying corporate welfare to the GM cartel, and smothering agroecological and sustainability research through denying it funding.
 
The corporate media runs a similar program, loudly touting even the most absurd claims on behalf of GMOs while imposing a blackout on the real progress made by conventional breeding and agroecology. Two classic examples are those of “drought-resistant GM maize” and the “cancer-fighting GM purple tomato”. In both cases the product is a fraud, while information about the conventionally bred varieties which really do the great things claimed is systematically suppressed. 
 
*Transcripts from the Steve Marsh lawsuit against trespassing and vandalism will be published online. The defendant, GM canola contractor Michael Baxter, claims his plantings met regulatory standards. If true, this is simply more proof that regulations are drawn up to meet whatever specifications the cartel demands, and not to achieve any actual public interest requirement. The alleged “public interest” character of regulatory bureaucracies is a propaganda sham, while their actions always obey corporate demands. And if Baxter’s plantings were fully legal, that’s further proof that coexistence with GMOs is impossible, and that humanity must abolish them completely.
 
*Speaking of “coexistence”, the USDA is extending till March 4 the comment period on its fraudulent and ideological coexistence policy. “Coexistence” is physically and politically impossible, as GMOs and the corporations which purvey them are totalitarian in both ways. The USDA wants to promulgate this policy as a propaganda offensive, and as a way to extend to agriculture the general trend of stripping the people of such rights as the right to go to court as a group, and instead to substitute coerced corporate “arbitration” in place of the judicial branch. This is a typical part of the general plan to shift all power from nominally “public” government to nominally “private” corporations. To put it in terms of US constitutionalism, corporatism involves the wholesale shift of power and control from the first three constitutional branches of “government” to the extraconstitutional Fourth Branch called “corporations”.
 
In reality, where it comes to power there is no government/corporation dichotomy, and no public/private dichotomy. There is only concentrated power, which is inherently tyrannical and inefficient from any reality-based point of view. Nominal governments and corporations together comprise the corporate state. Globalization compacts like the TTIP and TPP and cadres like the WTO are attempts to further consolidate this corporate state monolith, coordinate its actions, and intensify its power and control.
 
The GMO regime is a core part of the whole project. So that’s another reminder of how GMOs are economically and politically totalitarian, and how humanity cannot coexist with them but must abolish them completely. Here’s three reminders on how coexistence is physically impossible.
 

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February 15, 2014

Monsanto Admits: 1. We Don’t Need Genetic Engineering, 2. We Don’t Need Monsanto

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Recently Wired magazine ran a Monsanto infomercial touting its alleged change of strategic course on vegetables. Monsanto, through its subsidiaries Seminis and others, is selling a line of high-end conventional vegetables dolled up as some kind of high-tech breakthrough. Contrary to the tone of the piece, these products, and the thinking behind them, aren’t new. The vegetables have been on sale for years. The only thing new is the expanded media blitz in Wired and other corporate media outlets.
 
The most interesting thing about this marketing campaign is the way it admits that genetic engineering doesn’t work and conventional breeding does.
 

Furthermore, genetically modifying consumer crops proved to be inefficient and expensive. Stark estimates that adding a new gene takes roughly 10 years and $100 million to go from a product concept to regulatory approval. And inserting genes one at a time doesn’t necessarily produce the kinds of traits that rely on the inter­actions of several genes. Well before their veggie business went kaput, Monsanto knew it couldn’t just genetically modify its way to better produce; it had to breed great vegetables to begin with. As Stark phrases a company mantra: “The best gene in the world doesn’t fix dogshit germplasm.”

 
That’s Monsanto itself speaking through its media mouthpiece. This is key, an admission of what GM critics have been saying for many years: It doesn’t work to try to engineer complex factors like nutritional content, perishability, drought resistance, salt tolerance, nitrogen efficiency, and the many other traits which have so long been touted in the media, in the form of hoaxes like “Golden Rice”. Such traits can be developed only through conventional breeding, as Monsanto now admits. The only things that ever worked in genetic engineering were simple, stupid, and brutal – plants that produce their own poison, and plants resistant to being sprayed with poison.
 
The reason for hoaxes like Golden Rice and frivolous misdirection like these boutique vegetables is to rehabilitate the Monsanto brand name and whitewash the GMO brand in general.
 
Monsanto and the corporate media are now reduced to a more narrow lie, that Monsanto can do conventional breeding better than others. This is based on fraudulent touting marker-assisted selection (MAS), which was developed over many decades by publicly funded research, as “the new Monsanto way” (as Wired’s lie would have it). MAS can be a useful supplement to conventional breeding, but is only as good as the uses to which it’s put. In recent years it’s been subjected to the same process as other aspects of agricultural breeding – public funding and university research are hijacked on behalf of the goals of the GMO cartel. Huge amounts of funding which could have gone to public interest MAS, or to the much less expensive but sophisticated techniques of conventional breeding, instead go to narrowly conceived corporate goals.
 
Thus, while MAS is a more intelligent and precise technology than genetic engineering, Monsanto puts it to a stupid and clumsy use, in the process sucking up critical research resources, impoverishing the range of germplasm which is researched at all, and trying to enclose this range. So Monsanto’s conventional breeding, in the same way as its genetic engineering, is neither innovative nor beneficial. 
 
But let’s go through the main examples and ask whether we need these products, do they work, are they safe, and whether or not we need Monsanto for anything.
 
*Biofortified broccoli. Dubbed the “Beneforte” broccoli, the main attraction is that it’s bred to be rich in glucoraphanin, metabolic precursor to the antioxidant sulforaphane. (Ironically, the #1 GMO hoax, Golden Rice, could be a potent retinoic acid over-stimulator, which may cause cancer. It’s also ironic that a glucoraphanin-rich vegetable has such an affinity with the same over-the-counter supplements the FDA has often scapegoated, including for a lethal disaster caused by genetic engineering, and which “professional skeptic” scammers like to beat up on even as they genuflect before GMO junk science.)
 
Glucoraphanin is denatured by cooking, and may require digestive support from a healthy microbiome (gut bacteria), which glyphosate and GMOs help destroy. So the touted high-glucoraphanin broccoli may be similar to the Golden Rice hoax also in that its nutritional enrichment may not be effective within the cuisine it’ll likely be part of. Want any special benefit from this broccoli? Get ready to eat a lot of it raw.
 
Excessive doses of glucoraphanin may also be harmful to the thyroid, cause goiter, and may actually boost free radicals instead of detoxifying them. Its touted anti-cancer properties may also damage healthy cells.
 
As always, there’s no substitute for eating a healthy diet mostly of unprocessed, unpoisoned, and as much as possible locally produced food. Only in that context could we get any supplementary benefit from this broccoli. But in that context we wouldn’t need it. Less expensive regular broccoli is at least as good and perhaps better since it doesn’t have any potential health downsides.
 
That Monsanto makes such a big deal out of how this variety is a cross between “commercial broccoli” (which kind is evidently a trade secret; they don’t want you to see how they pirated a public domain variety) and a wild relative from Italy is an acknowledgement of the importance of maintaining the natural germplasm biodiversity. While the “Beneforte” variety is not important to humanity, others which may be bred from this wild germplasm may be important. But wild brassicas, under threat from contamination by GM canola (cf. pp. 28-29), are just one of the many genetically beleaguered wellsprings of critical biodiversity.
 
The corporate publicity page touts how it was researchers from the publicly-funded John Innes Center who found and analyzed this wild brassica. So who created the Beneforte broccoli? In descending order of importance, each standing atop the foundation of the previous levels:
 
1. Nature.
 
2. Farmers working on broccoli breeding for thousands of years.
 
3. Public sector broccoli breeders in the 20th century.
 
4. Publicly-funded research in marker-assisted breeding.
 
5. Publicly-funded researchers at outfits like the John Innes Center.
 
6. Breeders at seed companies like Seminis, which the pesticide company Monsanto simply bought.
 
7. I can’t quite figure out which part Monsanto contributes at the end, in spite of the hyper-ventilating of Wired.
 
There’s even less to say for the “innovation” involved in the two other featured products.
 
*”Frescada” lettuce. It purports to be biofortified as well, so it’s a glorified vitamin supplement. But its real alleged feature is that under globalization conditions (mechanized poison-based growing, warehousing, transport, supermarket and big box retailing) it’ll maintain its texture and taste better than other industrial varieties.
 
The lettuce is sold “cored, trimmed, and ready to use”. Therefore much of its price premium is really for standard post-harvest value-adding, “convenience”.
 
So this is really a glorifed convenience product which will allegedly taste better and maintain its texture and nutrition better than other industrial lettuces under globalization conditions.
 
Again, it’s no substitute, either in taste or nutrition, for lettuce grown and distributed in a sustainable way. But it is far more expensive.
 
*”BellaFina” peppers. This is just silly. These have no feature other than smallness. My seed catalogs include several such varieties, such as Cupid in Johnny’s, and Shishito in High Mowing. There’s nothing new here but the branding hype.
 
For both of these varieties as well, Seminis did nothing but use the existing heritage of bred germplasm and technology in a corporate-directed way, to produce a pointless industrial product, and Monsanto does nothing but orchestrate the propaganda and collect the profits.
 
Meanwhile Monsanto isn’t guaranteeing that these products actually do any of the things claimed for them. On the contrary, in what’s standard procedure for Monsanto, all the risk and liability is shifted to the contract farmers. According to the piece: “Harvests [must] meet the standards of firmness, sweetness, or scent.” In other words there’s no reason to believe any of this even consistently works in reality the way they claim it does in the lab and in their test marketing. If anything goes wrong, the farmers will get the blame, as they have in the case of the epidemic of superweeds Monsanto generated with its Roundup regime. 
 
So that’s what’s up with Monsanto’s “going organic in the quest for a perfect veggie”, as Wired fatuously blathers? It’s an admission that genetic engineering doesn’t work and isn’t necessary, dressed up in the best virtue-of-necessity PR finery.
 
That doesn’t mean we should believe that Monsanto has given up on its prior avowed goal of enclosing all vegetables within the GMO enclosure. The fact that GM vegetables don’t work doesn’t differentiate them from herbicide-tolerant and insecticide-producing crops, which also don’t work. The fact that these are failed technologies hasn’t slowed down Monsanto and its government lackeys.
 
Even if for the sake of argument we were to believe Monsanto has given up on GE vegetables, the master plan remains the same: Pirate the germplasm, get Certificates of Protection (COPs), use market muscle to drive the non-Seminis etc. varieties out of the commercial trade, force growers to become indentured contractors. As usual the expensive new products are unnecessary at best, and likely to be hoaxes (e.g. glucoraphanin-rich broccoli). They’re boutique products with a fraudulent “hi-tech” aura meant to appeal to the Whole Foods contingent. (“Enhanced premium veggies for an elite buyer.”) Therefore they’re part of the propaganda of the industrial organic sector, which is meant to normalize GMOs (even though these aren’t GMOs).
 
Therefore, this “news” changes nothing from the point of view of abolitionism. It’s confirmation that genetic engineering is a shoddy, hyper-expensive technology which doesn’t work and was never necessary anyway. It’s confirmation of everything critics have always said, that conventional breeding is sufficient and superior to GE. Most of all it’s confirmation that corporations like Monsanto, with all the evils they perpetrate, are unnecessary, that they do nothing but steal (in this case, the public domain germplasm), enclose (the goal is to drive non-“protected” varieties out of the market), and destroy (the agricultural and wild germplasm; and as always everything which is destroyed by poison-based agriculture – the soil, the air, the water, forests, the environment, human and livestock health), toward their own power goals.
 
But the purpose of propaganda like this media campaign is to try to make failure look like success, theft look like innovation, and the prison walls of our agricultural economy look reasonable and normal.

 
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February 14, 2014

GMO News Report 2/14/14

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*A victory for democracy in Benton County, Oregon. The Benton County Community Rights Coalition, a local group affiliated with the nationwide Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), has won a court ruling enabling it to get its food sovereignty and local rule measure on the ballot for 2014. This bill would ban GMO cultivation in the county and affirms the sovereign right of communities to rule themselves on food issues. It declares itself against the tyrannical prerogative of corporations and alien central governments to force their power upon democratic communities.
 
It therefore directly contradicts the corporate tyranny preemption law the state passed in 2013 in direct response to similar ordinances passed in other counties.
 
In the end none of this will be settled in courtrooms or legislatures, but on the ground in our communities, in our neighborhoods, at our homes, and through our will to unite with all others who are fighting it out on their ground. Courtrooms and legislatures will either eventually ratify what the people enforce, or shall continue to ratify what corporate power can enforce, if the people don’t rise to defend their own lives, freedom, and future.
 
*A similar win for local rule in New Zealand. The country’s Environmental Court has ruled that local councils have a right to place restrictions on GMO cultivation. 
 
A central bureaucrat has already promised to try to suppress the court ruling by autocratic fiat. Again, court rulings like these are great, but in the end we the people will never enjoy any freedom, liberty, or prosperity which we don’t seize and enforce on the ground.
 
*New film “Ten Years of Failure: Farmers Deceived By GM Corn” details the agricultural and socioeconomic disaster of widespread adoption of GM corn in the Philippines. As elsewhere, the crops yield poorly, the herbicides and insecticides fail to work as weeds and pests deliver resistance. Meanwhile seed and poison prices skyrocket. Farmers are driven off the land and into shantytowns. The farmers still on the land are unable to escape from the GMO treadmill because of debt and the unavailability of non-GM seed, which Monsanto systematically drives out of the market.
 
*The European Council has voted against approving the DuPont/Dow stacked maize variety 1507. But the vote didn’t achieve enough of a supermajority to be binding, so in the end the European Commission will dictatorially make the decision. It’s under strong bottom-up pressure to adhere to the Council vote and the earlier, much more lopsided Parliamentary vote.
 
The wild card is Germany’s abstention. If Germany had joined France in voting No, it would’ve been difficult for the Commission would override the Council. But with Germany abstaining, that makes such an autocratic override conceivable.
 
Several pro-GM governments, such as Portugal, Belgium, and the Netherlands, also abstained, though Britain and Spain (by far the largest cultivator of MON810 in Europe) voted Yes.
 
We can see a clear hierarchy of lessening democracy and intensifying corporate rule: The people oppose GMOs; the Parliament strongly votes against 1507’s cultivation; the Council votes against it by a lesser margin (with several pro-GM governments abstaining; because of political pressure from below?); the Commission and its EFSA certainly want to approve it.
 
If the TTIP is ratified this will impose an even more purely corporatist layer on top of the Commission.
 
There’s the hierarchy of corporate totalitarianism. 1507’s “approval” process is a good case study.
 
*French legislators are proposing a new law to ban all GMO cultivation, in response to the an attempt by the country’s high administrative court to overturn the country’s democratic ban on cultivation of MON810.
 
*The Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) has announced it is releasing four types of GMO brinjal (eggplant) seedlings. These are engineered to produce Bt insecticidal toxin. This will make Bangladesh the 29th country to approve GMOs for cultivation.
 
*The latest “biofortified” GM hoax: Flax allegedly engineered to produce higher levels of Omega 3 fatty acids. It’s the standard drill with these hoaxes (the most famous is “golden rice”). They don’t work, and are unnecessary anyway. In this case, Omega 3 is easily found in a healthy diet. Not to mention all the supplements already on sale.
 
In this case, unlike with golden rice, the flacks can’t even make the false claim that this is meant to help the poor of the Global South. In principle it’s basically just another one of those nutritional supplements I just mentioned, and will be used overwhelmingly for CAFO feed.
 
As usual with these hoaxes (see last week’s “purple tomato” for another example), the goal isn’t necessarily even to commercialize this product. Rather, the idea of it does propaganda work. Again, golden rice is the best-known example. The purpose of these GMO media hoaxes is to distract attention from the fact that in reality GMOs do only two things, both involving poison: They’re engineered to allow one or more herbicides to be sprayed directly on them, and/or they endemically produce one or more endotoxins, usually Bt toxins. In both cases they become literal poison plants, all their cells suffused with endotoxin and or herbicide residue, which then becomes endemic in our food. GMOs literally poison our food.
 
That’s in addition to the health hazards of genetic engineering as such.
 
*A new analysis by Testbiotech finds that DuPont’s 1507 stacked maize, which currently has an application for cultivation within the EU before the European Commission (the Parliament and the Council already voted it down), has widely varying levels of Bt toxic expression in individual plants. This is contrary to its application, which claims a stable level of expression of the Cry1F endotoxin.
 
This is not, however, contrary to the record of other GMOs. Indeed, every GMO which has had the genomes of field-grown crops comparatively assessed has turned out to have wildly varying genomic characteristics. Such unstable GMOs are illegal under European law, but have been allowed for cultivation and/or in imported food and feed anyway. These common GMOs include MON810 maize, MON863 maize, GA21 maize, Bt 176 maize, Bt 11 maize, Liberty Link maize, Roundup Ready 40-3-2 soybeans, and GTSB77 sugar beets. Nowhere but in their regulatory applications do “the” genomic versions of these crops exist. This everyday extreme variation is proof of the instability of transgenic genomes, their propensity for ongoing mutation, and their changeability in response to environmental factors.
 
In every way, we see how the promises that genetic engineering was a precision technology whose effects could be predicted were all lies. The only thing predictable about GMOs is how chaotic their existence and effects are.
 
*Mexican honey contaminated with GM material from GMO soybeans grown nearby. The latest of thousands of examples proving that “co-existence” with GMOs is impossible, and that those who support them are totalitarians who claim a total right to trespass on the land of others and damage and destroy their crops and agricultural products. Speaking of whom…
 
*More on the lawsuit of Australian former organic farmer Steve Marsh against a GMO farmer whose false canola contaminated Marsh’s land where he grew oats and wheat, costing him his organic certification and the revenue from his crop.
 
Marsh chose not to challenge Monsanto’s non-liability contract which it forces farmers who buy its seed to sign. I guess this is because he felt he couldn’t afford the suit and might lose in a corporatist court, even though such a contract is clearly invalid.
 
Instead he sued the individual farmer, which is something which ought to be done more often in contamination cases. This is trespass and destruction of property, plain and simple. But with GMO contamination it’s interesting to see the way pro-corporate types, who often fetishize “property” rights in other contexts, are forced to openly proclaim that a GMO grower has the right to trespass on the property of other farmers and damage or destroy those farmers’ property.
 
The moral fact of this issue is clear, and if we had any such thing as the “rule of law” then the law would be clear as well: Anyone who manufactures, sells, or grows any type of GMO has strict liability for all contamination resulting from that type. This strict liability is necessary because it’s seldom possible to trace the exact source of the contamination, yet everyone knows that contamination is inevitable. Therefore everyone who sells or grows GMOs contributes to the ongoing contamination onslaught.
 
Meanwhile this case is putting Australia’s strong organic standards in a quandary. If Marsh loses his case, there will be strong pressure for the standard to be watered down, in the name of “co-existence”. Which is exactly the line Monsanto, the USDA, and industrial organic have been pushing for several years in the US.
 
As I wrote here:
 
GE alfalfa was fiercely resisted by farmers, eaters, scientists, environmentalists, and civil society groups. For years the USDA was thwarted by lawsuits in its attempts to fully unleash the product. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack (the Biotechnology Industry Organization’s 2001 “Governor of the Year”, and frequent traveler on Monsanto’s corporate jets) got together with the luminaries of industrial organic – Whole Foods Market, Stonyfield, Organic Valley, and others – to formulate an attempted compromise with Monsanto. The notion was that industrial organic and Monsanto would agree on “partial deregulation” of RR alfalfa (toward total deregulation somewhere down the road, of course), and the USDA would make a sham promise to really truly honestly enforce the partial regulations, including compensation for alfalfa farmers whose crops were destroyed by the inevitable contamination. This would be accompanied by a propaganda campaign which would lie about the contamination potential. They called this “co-existence”.
 
Why did industrial organic want to make this “compromise”, and why did the USDA want to broker it? Both the USDA and the industrial organic sector have always wanted to bring GMOs under the umbrella of organic certification. Only massive consumer resistance forced the Clinton administration to back down on this when GMOs were first commercialized in the mid 90s. Today, they want to accomplish this through a combination of contamination and propaganda. They hope GE alfalfa deregulation will lead to a broad pollution of the general alfalfa crop, which will render the current meat/dairy certified-organic sector (which must use non-GMO feed) untenable. In this way the USDA and the Whole Foods contingent dream of making ”certified organic” safe for GMOs. The intended goal is to be able to call GMOs “USDA organic” and still extract the premium from the “organic” brand. It’ll be difficult for them to do this, but we mustn’t underestimate the power of inertia and apathy. If the message seems overwhelming – “GMOs are safe, are perfectly compatible with the Organic concept, Organic is still good if it’s GMO, and everything is GMO anyway so There Is No Alternative, unless you want to go all the way to really knowing your local farmer or growing your own food, and we’ll do our best to stamp that out.” – many who vaguely oppose GMOs can be expected to surrender.
 
Meanwhile in Canada the GM alfalfa struggle continues.
 
*To close with some good news, Monsanto’s proposed pesticide seed factory in Malvinas, Argentina has run into further legal barriers as the provincial government has found the company’s environmental review to be inadequate. Monsanto will now start over again. A new review may take two months. (An absurdly short time.)
 
This factory is slated to produce maize seeds infused with multiple insecticides and fungicides and is likely to produce a constant emission of toxic waste in the air and water. It would be a further affliction upon a region already physically devastated by Roundup spraying on the omnipresent soybean plantations, and economically devastated by this same commodified agriculture system. The factory, intended to further concentrate economic power, would be a further self-cannibalization for the country.
 
The only reason it hasn’t already been built is that the citizens of the region have physically blocked the construction, persisting and enduring in the face of police and thug violence. Only this community of resistance and freedom has forced the government to take any semi-real regulatory action at all.
 
This reinforces the lesson of the community rights struggles I led off with. As all the news in between demonstrates, we’re up against a totalitarian assault upon all human values and our right to exist as a people at all. Governments and regulators are part of the assault.
 
In the end, we the people directly shall organize and act to defend and assert our freedom, liberty, and prosperity, or we’ll let ourselves be enslaved and destroyed.

 
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February 12, 2014

It’s Official: Monsanto Wants FDA Preemption on GMO Labeling

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The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), Monsanto’s main front group which coordinates propaganda among corporate manufacturers and retailers (who are all under the thumb of the GMO cartel), has put together a coalition of corporate groups calling for FDA preemption of state-level GMO labeling policy.
 
The press release hits all the points, calling upon the FDA to label, to perform “safety reviews”, to define the term “natural” in food labeling, to impose its own regulation on voluntary non-GMO labeling, and to preempt stronger state-level policy. This is the development I’ve been discussing since my November post on preemption. It tells us three things: It further demonstrates the totalitarian, anti-democracy goal of the GMO cartel and of food corporatism in general. It tells us that the state-level fight, in spite of setbacks, is working; it is striking fear in the corporations. And it tells us that Monsanto is confident that the FDA shall do its pro-GMO duty.
 
This also puts in perspective the propaganda of Just Label It and other ostensibly anti-GMO groups who also call for an FDA solution. Aren’t the GMA and JLI talking about the same FDA? Does JLI repose its hopes in the same place Monsanto does? Or do these labeling groups and commenters think there’s two different FDAs?
 
The fact is that there’s only one FDA, and it is pro-corporate by its nature as well as by the conscious intent of its cadres. As I explained in my preemption post (also in this post), a bourgeois bureaucracy is designed in the first place to seek pro-corporate outcomes. So the FDA will be like a fish in water if legislatively mandated along the lines Monsanto and the GMA want.
 
By contrast, if by some miracle Congress told the FDA to really label and regulate GMOs, the FDA would be hostile, obstructionist, and just plain befuddled. The result would be poor at best.
 
As I’ll be writing about at greater length, the impending “regulatory coherence” Gleichschaltung provisions in the TPP and TTIP, if these globalization compacts are ratified and go into force, will further intensify this corporation/regulator affinity.

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February 10, 2014

The TTIP, Corporatism, and GMOs

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Negotiation of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP, aka TAFTA) has been slowed over the EU’s felt need to take time for a “consultation” with the people of Europe over its “investor rights” provisions. That means it needs more time for propaganda. Meanwhile any cosmetic revisions of this draconian provision won’t affect the harshness of the proposed compact’s other provisions.
 
As with previous compacts, the corporate drivers of this plan hope to enshrine a race to the bottom, where all regulation and public interest policy, as well as all aggressive corporatist policy, has to be “equalized” at the most pro-corporate, anti-human level among the adherents to the pact. For example, since GMO labeling is required in Europe but not in the US, Europe would be expected to relinquish its labeling policies, which would equalize regulation between the entities where it came to this issue. The same will be true of European agricultural and food safety policies in general. Similarly, US law and constitutional jurisprudence would have to conform to Europe’s less strict regulation of the finance sector, and perhaps to its more strict regulation of seeds.
 
In general, US regulation is more lawless and corporate-aggrandizing than that of the EU. As its proximate goal, the proposed compact is intended primarily to dismantle European protections and open up Europe to an escalated US corporate assault.
 
Given how one-sided the compact will be, how generally pro-US (including in the term “US”, US-based corporations, which are best seen as extensions of the US government and of US power), the eagerness of European Commission (EC) bureaucrats to conclude this deal looks like economic malpractice and treason to the European people. Where it comes to real economic fundamentals Europe is doing very well. In particular, Europe’s agricultural sector outperforms that of the US in every qualitative way and in all the meaningful quantitative ways. Looking toward the post-fossil fuel future, Europe, while far from having a truly resilient agriculture and food system, is in a far better position to transform these systems to post-oil needs.
 
Destroying Europe’s agricultural advantages and opening up Europe to the full onslaught of US agricultural products and systems is the main goal of the US in pushing for this compact in the first place.
 
Why does the EC want to do this? What does this say about the nature of the EU bureaucracy? And why would European governments want to go along with this? The answers must go to the core of why Europeans feel they need this economic union, even as they still feel extreme ambivalence about the political coordination it implies, and which the EC is trying to enforce.
 
All the types of regulation and public interest policy the TTIP would gut are among the irritating political residue which corporatism seeks to abolish.
 
1. Corporatism is the process by which the 1% seeks to shift decision-making power and control from nominally “public” government to nominally “private” corporations. In US constitutional parlance, the system is transferring this power asset from the three branches of government enshrined in the written constitution to the extra-constitutional Fourth Branch, the corporations. In this way, power and control are shifted from nominally accountable “representative democracy” to power structures which are totally unaccountable even in principle. The nominal government remains as corporate welfare bagman and police thug, and to maintain the fraudulent facade of elections and whatnot. This process is also called neoliberalism, since it seeks to maintain the semblance of classical liberalism and pseudo-democracy even as it institutes most of the substance of fascism.
 
2. The EC, like any bureaucracy, despises democracy and accountability, and politics as such, and seeks to maximize its own power as such without any necessary reference to what its nominal job is supposed to be.
 
3. To its ongoing frustration, the EC hasn’t been able to persuade Europeans to relinquish political power, nor has economic Gleichschaltung (coordination) gone as far as they want (which is always the maximum conceivable).
 
GMOs are an excellent case study: Politically and culturally they’re rejected by Europe. From any rational point of view they’re clearly against the European economic interest. Yet the EC wants to force Europe to subject itself to the full GMO takeover of commodity agriculture, as has been happening in the US. This is the most clear-cut example of how globalization and corporatism have nothing to do with trade or economic rationalism, and everything to do with power.
 
4. The TTIP is meant to override European democracy and European politics in general. I’ve previously written about how globalization is inherently anti-political. Corporatism sees politics as such to be an atavism. Globalization is meant to impose bureaucratic, anti-political solution to this atavism.
 
(I still consider the NYT piece I wrote about here to be a classic of corporate media “journalism”. Every sentence embodies the assumption that the corporate project must go forward. The inconvenient fact that the people of Europe don’t want the GMO element of this project to go forward is depicted as a technical hurdle to be overcome. From the point of view of corporatism and technocracy, human needs and wants are indeed nothing but technical problems to be “solved”.)
 
The name “Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership”, although meant as an anodyne euphemism to replace the politically inflammatory “TAFTA”, expresses what the globalization process sees as the only real sovereign group and political constituency – corporate “investors”. Meanwhile the term “trade” is purely Orwellian, since globalization is not about legitimate demand-based trade, but the extreme opposite: Forcing supply upon markets which don’t demand it at all, or don’t demand it in the form corporatism wants to supply it. Whether one looks at GMOs as a discrete genre of product, or as a form of agricultural production, either way there’s zero demand for them. All “demand” is forced into being by planned economy measures. Pro-GMO TTIP policy is an escalation of this command economy.
 
(This is yet another reason to eschew the propaganda term “free trade”. We should never let this term pass unnoticed in our thoughts and words. Globalization has nothing to do with legitimate trade. It is all about maximizing the imperatives and prerogatives of supply-driven corporate “markets”, toward the corporate concentration of all economic and political power.)
 
This leads us to the specific case of GMOs and their structural importance. Obviously the US government and the GMO cartel see Europe as a massive, relatively untapped market. But beyond this, they have a structural imperative to force all economies to come under GMO domination. They also loathe the current state of European agriculture as a real world alternative which has proven superior in every way to GMO domination. Europe proves every day that even given the parameters of industrial agriculture, GMOs are unnecessary and inferior. Europe proves every day that conventional agriculture performs better and less expensively without them. This is an ongoing embarrassment and affront to US corporatism. The US corporate system tries to deny this in the same way that during the Cold War the US and USSR would deny the very existence of ways in which they were outperformed by the other.
 
They would have destroyed these embarrassing facts if they could. Today the US government is trying to use the TTIP to wipe out the embarrassing fact of Europe’s superior agriculture and its far healthier food system. The EC bureaucracy is coordinated with this goal, since by its nature it sees things in terms of corporate one-world government rather than as a power struggle with the US-corporatist bloc.
 
The people of Europe have a more clear view of the real nature of the power struggle, although they too have been indoctrinated into the commodification/”growth” ideology to the point that they accept most of its premises even as they demonstrate great ambivalence in practice. This ideological indoctrination is why they tolerate the “European Union” in the first place. European national governments are ambivalent, feeling caught in the middle. Then there’s the EU’s position of institutionalized ambivalence, the European Council. This is the level of the system where governments function though bureaucratic fiat, but can still feel political pressure from the people. Meanwhile the European Parliament is the EU version of a “representative” assembly, primarily a powerless facade.
 
We have a good current case study with the application for cultivation of DuPont’s 1507 stacked maize variety. The people of Europe overwhelmingly reject it. The European Parliament voted it down. The Council just voted it down, albeit with many abstentions by both pro-GM and ostensibly anti-GM governments. These abstentions at the level of representatives of national governments, meant to shield those governments from political backlash while helping to give the EC bureaucracy cover if it unilaterally decides to approve the application, exemplify the ambivalence over the whole EC economic coordination project.
 
No one outside the bureaucrats and the corporations really likes the EU concept, and proposed compacts like the TTIP drive this ambivalence to extremes. That’s why the EC feels the need to take time out to “consult” the people on the “investor rights” provision, and why the compact is slated to include a “regulatory coherence” provision meant to postpone the most inflammatory detailed policy-making till after the “agreement” is concluded. I’ll be writing more about these shortly.
 
So there’s some notes on what’s going on with TTIP/TAFTA, globalization, and the GMO regime.

 
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February 7, 2014

GMO News Summary February 7/2014

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I’m intending to do a weekly news summary. Here’s the first installment.
 
*If the monarch butterfly goes extinct, as it looks poised to do within our lifetimes, the main cause will be herbicide-based agriculture. GMO abolition can still prevent this outcome.
 
*Scotts’ GM Kentucky bluegrass is looking to be the first commercialized GMO to enter a non-regulatory black hole the USDA has created. GMO regulation in the US is already a joke, in principle and practice. But for newer varieties, as far as the USDA is concerned there’s to be no regulation at all.
 
(Another good example of how under Democrat power the GMO assault has been escalated and accelerated. In practice there’s no difference between Democrats and Republicans, and GMO policy is one of the best examples of this. It’s impossible for anyone who cares about GMOs to think there’s anything to choose here. Obama’s been the most aggressively pro-Monsanto president yet in every way, and clearly considers this a core element of his presidency.)
 
*It’s a race to the bottom, and indeed probably illegal, to find experimental subjects for the alleged “cancer-fighting GM purple tomato”. The thing is probably not even meant to be commercialized. It’s more potentially useful as hype than as another failed GM product like the Kenyan GM sweet potato or any glyphosate-tolerant variety. It’s worthless and unnecessary. Meanwhile, as always in these cases, there exists a higher-quality, non-hazardous, less expensive non-GM variety. High-anthocyanin purple tomatoes have been conventionally bred in Brazil.
 
*The editor of Food and Chemical Toxicology refuses to retract a recently published bogus study, although in every way it’s inferior to Seralini study, including in being far less “conclusive”. Hayes gave as his reason for the retraction that the Seralini was “inconclusive”. This is not only a lie – the Seralini study is above average among scientific studies in general in the strength of its conclusions – but violates Committee on Publishing Ethics (COPE) guidelines, which allow for retraction only in the case of fraud, misconduct, or gross incompetence. Hayes cleared Seralini of any such problems. (Given his general willingness to lie, we have to figure the reason Hayes didn’t accuse Seralini of fraud while he was at it is that he’s a coward. Seralini has a history of successfully suing hacks for libeling him, so Hayes was probably too cowardly to cross a certain line in his lies.)
 
*New website dedicated to the rising protest of scientists against the suppression of the Seralini study and the corporate hijacking of science it exemplifies.
 
*Speaking of Seralini, he’s part of a team out with a new study comparing nine commercial poison formulations (three herbicides, three insecticides, three fungicides) with their official “active ingredients” in isolation. The study compares the toxicity of these poisons to human cells in vitro. The results: in 8 of 9 cases, the commercial formulation is more toxic, in most cases far more so, than the “active ingredient”.
 
This is further support for what citizens, scientists, public health workers, environmentalists, and many others have long been documenting, that regulation which focuses on a single arbitrary “active” ingredient rather than the true toxic brew which will be deployed in reality is a sham. The commercial formulations are far more toxic.
 
*Germany (the EU’s “rapporteur state” on glyphosate) recommends the EU recertify glyphosate and allow an increased level in food. As always, these recommendations of regulators that allowed levels of poisons be increased has zero to do with scientific evidence of safety (and usually directly contradicts the evidence), but simply authorizes whatever level the corporations want to deploy. This is regulator triangulation at its most stark and malevolent.
 
*Russian legislators are pushing a bill to ban all GM cultivation and restrict imports. Currently no cultivation has been approved, but several varieties are authorized for import in food and feed. The only restriction on these is that food containing them must be labeled. Meanwhile a new state registry for GMOs and products containing them is supposed to go into effect in June 2014. I’ve read conflicting reports on whether this is a good thing or not. Some campaigners oppose it claiming it will give the prime minister dictatorial discretion to allow GMO cultivation and expanded importation. The current PM, Medvedev, hasn’t sounded very pro-GMO, and in September ordered government agencies to study the prospect of a ban. Certainly a legal ban is much better instead of or on top of any government registry.
 
Although I haven’t had a chance to study Russia’s GMO situation yet, my default is to assume that their situation is similar to that of China. The elites don’t oppose GMOs out of the kindness of their hearts. If they have a go-slow or even oppositionist position, it’s because they view the Monsanto/US GMO cartel in the same way they’ve always viewed aggressive, domination-seeking US power. In that case they’re probably thinking in terms of building their own rival cartel.
 
*The latest experimental release of Oxitec’s GM mosquitoes will be in Panama this month. These frankenbugs allegedly are meant to help cut down on the population of mosquitoes which transmit dengue fever. Previous releases in the Cayman Islands and Malaysia, and an ongoing experiment in Brazil, have produced no evidence that this method works. The most likely result is that if it does work to reduce the target species, another species which also transmits dengue fever will expand to occupy the ecological niche. Such secondary pests are a regular result of GMO gambits, such as mirid bugs in China ravaging any Bt cotton which does temporarily work to suppress the target weevil.
 
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Let me know if there’s any other news. I didn’t get a chance yet to read about Bangladesh’s impending commercialization of BT brinjal (eggplant), an awful development. There’s zero reason for this product, and Southeast Asia is the world’s germplasm heritage center for eggplant. There are thousands of well-adapted varieties, including for insect resistance. No one on earth except for a handful of corporate gangsters needs or wants GM eggplant, and it would be a disaster for everyone except for these criminals.
 
This naturally effective biodiversity is exactly what GMO-based monoculture seeks to eradicate. That’s why Monsanto wants to eradicate the world’s resilient, public domain eggplant germplasm heritage and replace it with a hyper-vulnerable, genetically crippled and sterile, sure-to-fail proprietary enclosure.
 
So far Monsanto’s offensive has stalled out in India and the Philippines, but they’ve been hoping to break through in Bangladesh. The goal will then be to illegally infiltrate the rest of Southeast Asia, achieve a genetic coup, and present governments with an accomplished fact.
 
If this attack succeeds, the result could be the middle-run total enclosure of a radically diminished eggplant germplasm, and the long-run complete failure of the crop, with subsequent famine. This is what humanity is up against with all GMOs. This is why “coexistence” with GMOs is impossible, and why their total abolition is necessary.

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February 4, 2014

New Report on Genetic Engineering and the TTIP aka TAFTA

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Testbiotech has contributed a new report to the fight against the Transatlantic Trade/Investment Partnership (TTIP), aka TAFTA. The report covers just one part of the ground in demonstrating how globalization assaults like this have nothing to do with legitimate trade* or investment, and everything to do with supply-driven corporate planned economy aggression.
 
The core goal of TAFTA, as the US emphasis on agricultural issues during the negotiations has demonstrated, is to accelerate the GMO assault on European economies, markets, and societies.
 
[*It’s awful how even those who oppose corporatism and globalization seem to have largely assimilated the enemy’s Orwellian propaganda term “free trade”. It should go without saying that what corporatism calls free trade is not free and has nothing to do with legitimate trade, which can only be demand-driven. “Free trade” globalization, on the contrary, is a command economy dedicated to forcing “markets” for overproduction and for production of things like GMOs which no one wanted in the first place and for which there has never been a natural market. (“Free market” is another such ideological term which even its enemies seem happy to adopt.)
 
I stress this point of our lack of terminological discipline because I think that such sloppy expression probably reflects underlying sloppy thinking. It’s no wonder almost everyone continues to believe in “reforming” corporatism even in the face of the unanimous evidence against the possibility of this.
 
Also, most people tend to have an unexamined positive reaction to terms like “free trade” and “free market”. That’s why these fraudulent terms were made mainstays of corporate propaganda in the first place.
 
So why would anti-globalization analysts and polemicists want to adopt the same terminology, use the enemy’s own terms?]
 
The basic thrust of the report is to describe how EU regulation has greatly slowed the commercialization of GMOs, compared to the US; how the US and the GMO cartel hope to use TAFTA as the jackboot to kick in Europe’s door; and the more newfangled kinds of genetic engineering assaults which are newly being deployed or are on the drawing board and which the corporations hope to force upon us with no regulatory hindrance. TAFTA is supposed to forestall any repetition of what happened in Europe with GMOs.
 
These newfangled, even more dangerous forms of GE include stacked GMOs with ten or more transgenes, composed of at least SIX different plants; GE trees; GE animals; and synthetic genome technologies. The report gives a basic introduction to the status of these and discusses the future the corporations envision for them. I’ll write more about these later on.
 
But the main goal for now is to kick in the door for regular GMOs.
 
The EU’s regulatory policies, while meager and insufficient, are still different in principle from those of the US, which are purely mercenary.
 
Agricultural policy in the EU differs from that in the US in that agriculture in the EU is meant to
be sustainable, have multiple functionality and not only serve food production. In Europe, there are
also many small structured agricultural landscapes, which are unlikely to benefit economically from
practices such as streamlining herbicide applications, which are an issue in the US.
The EU also has different rules and regulations on risk assessment and labelling to those in the
US. EU regulations require a centralised system for risk assessment and market authorisation of all
genetically engineered organisms. Labelling is mandatory for food and feed derived from genetically
engineered crop plants……
 
These regulations request that:
›› the precautionary principle has to be observed in release or market authorisation of genetically
engineered organisms,
 
›› all genetic engineered organisms have to undergo risk assessment before they can be allowed for
marketing,
›› food and feed which are derived from genetically engineered organisms have to be labelled.
 
An important element in this regard is Regulation 178/2002, which states that the precautionary
principle can be applied in cases where there is scientific uncertainty in order to provide a high level of
protection for human health and the environment. As Article 7 reads:
 
“In specific circumstances where, following an assessment of available information, the possibility of harmful
effects of health is identified but scientific uncertainty persists, provisional risk management measures
necessary to ensure the high level of health protection chosen in the Community may be adopted, pending
further scientific information for a more comprehensive risk assessment”
 
Also according Directive 2001/18, the precautionary principle is the basis of risk analysis prior to
allowing deliberate release or a market authorisation of genetically engineered organisms (Article 1
of Dir. 2001/18). Thus, the precautionary principle is of particular relevance for uncertainties in risk
assessment where there is no evidence of a hazard but there are remaining doubts about the safety of
genetically engineered organisms. (pp. 5, 29)
 
The precautionary principle is also enshrined in the Convention on Biosafety and the Cartagena Protocol.
 
The US government, along with its flunkeys in the European Commission (EC) bureaucracy, wants TAFTA to do away with all this.
 
Part 2 of the report details how eager the cartel is to escalate its infiltration of Europe. As things are only one GMO, MON810 Bt maize, is approved for cultivation in Europe. Compare that to the US, the world’s most GMO-occupied territory, where c. 90 GMOs are approved for cultivation. In the EU 49 are approved for import in food and feed. Around half of these are stacked varieties. As of December 2013 there were 55 applications pending.  
 
The EU parliament recently voted to reject Pioneer’s application for cultivation of its 1507 stacked variety, though the European Council can still vote to allow individual countries to approve it. (I think I have that right, though the Byzantine workings of this absurd EU structure aren’t always clear.) The European Court of Justice invalidated the EFSA’s approval of BASF’s Amflora potato (which it had already stopped selling for lack of customer interest) on procedural grounds which call into question other EFSA approvals.
 
Last summer Monsanto announced to great fanfare that it was withdrawing from Europe. This report details the extent of this alleged “withdrawal”. Monsanto did withdraw six applications for cultivation of GMOs (five for maize, one for sugar beets). But two applications, for NK603 maize (the subject of the 2012 Seralini study) and for Roundup Ready soybeans, are still active. Monsanto has 18 applications pending overall, for cultivation and/or for import in food and feed. We can see how bogus the media hype was.
 
Nevertheless, Monsanto and the other members of the cartel are extremely frustrated with Europe. They look to the impending globalization accord to accomplish what all their propaganda, lobbying, and capture of European regulators has been unable to do: To overcome and smash European democratic resistance to their economic and physical (via food) domination.
 
As the report describes, the cartel’s ideological program was laid out in a 2013 statement from the European Academy Scientific Advisory Panels (EASAC), a de facto Monsanto front group. The statement, written by cartel flacks, express the totalitarian intent.
 
Priorities include introducing insect-resistance and herbicide-tolerance into wheat, barley, oil seed rape,
soybean, potato, vegetable brassicas and other horticultural crops. (p. 30)
 
As everyone knows, genetically engineered insect resistance and herbicide tolerance are failed technologies. That the GM hacks keep demanding the escalation of what’s already a proven failure is proof that their only priorities are corporate profit and control. Their mindset and intention toward humanity and the earth is clearly malevolent and criminal.
 
The main goal is to jettison the precautionary principle.
 
Even if stringent application of the precautionary principle had been justifiable in the early days of GM
crop research and development when there were more uncertainties about impact, it is difficult to defend
the merits of retaining a rigid, cautious, technology-specific regulation today when there is much less
uncertainty. (p. 31)
 
There is indeed much less uncertainty. We know for a fact that GMOs don’t work, depress yield, require far more pesticide, fertilizer, and water use, and cost vastly more. We also have an ever-growing mountain of evidence that GMOs are harmful to human health. We also know for a fact that corporate agriculture causes human hunger. We know that the further escalation of corporate control over agriculture, as under the GMO regime, will escalate food insecurity, hunger, and eventually famine.
 
We know that GMOs = death.
 
The Testbiotech report summarizes the deregulatory goal of the cartel, as laid out in the EASAC statement:
 
If the opinion of EASAC´s experts is adopted in new regulations this would mean:
›› replacing the precautionary principle with a system that will only accept evidence of adverse effects
as a trigger for regulatory measures;
 
›› abolishing regulations for centralised registration and risk assessment covering all genetically engineered
organisms;
 
›› abolishing comprehensive and mandatory labelling of genetically engineered organisms and products
thereof and leading to less transparency and less choice for farmers and consumers.
 
EASAC also wants to exclude new technologies in the context of synthetic genome technologies
from any regulation:
“(…) here is need for urgent action to agree the status and regulation of New Breeding Techniques and,
in particular, to confirm which products do not fall within the scope of legislation on genetically modified
organisms.” (p. 31-2)
 
This sums up the goal to be attained through TAFTA’s override of European democracy. The EC supports this assault.
 
These lobbying activities are accompanied by statements from various sides pretending that so far no
evidence for damage caused by genetically engineered organisms has been produced and that “consensus”
should exist that these products are safe. Anne Glover who was appointed as Chief Scientific
Adviser to the President of the European Commission in 2011 is one of the most vocal protagonists
amongst those denying specific risks :
 
“There is no substantiated case of any adverse impact on human health, animal health or environmental
health, so that’s pretty robust evidence, and I would be confident in saying that there is no more risk in
eating GMO food than eating conventionally farmed food,”
 
It has to be assumed that the extremely biased position of Glover, who is Manuel Barroso’s first ever
Chief Scientific Adviser, mirrors the position of the majority of the EU Commission.
Such lobbying activities are showing initial results: The EU Commission unofficially announced that
there will be an expert discussion on whether the precautionary principle should still be applied to
genetically engineered plants. (p. 34)
 
The EU’s meager regulation is not sufficient to protect the people from GMOs, and is no substitute for abolition. But it has significantly slowed the assault of the US government and Monsanto upon Europe. For the time being Europe’s safeguards, threadbare as the are, are necessary and must be retained and bolstered.
 
The TTIP/TAFTA is intended to be the jackboot that kicks in the last door of European democracy and agricultural sanity. This is especially critical for corporatism since European non-GM agriculture performs far better than US GMO-based agriculture.
 
Genetic engineering is an impractical, shoddy, dangerous, destructive technology which no one needs and no one wants. It works for nothing but to poison soil, water, crops, food, and people. It serves zero purpose but to prop up and intensify corporate tyranny. It cannot solve any problem but on the contrary is designed to prevent the deployment of any solutions like agroecology. GMOs are designed to prevent solutions while it aggravates existing problems and generates more and more new ones.
 
The same can be said of corporatism in general. The purpose of globalization “agreements”, cadres, and policies is to force corporate domination upon us ever more securely even as the failure, stupidity, and evil of everything corporations do becomes ever more manifest in every economic sector, and as the poison infects every political element as well.
 
Gradually, we the people are becoming aware of what’s being done to us, and we’re developing the will to resist and fight back. That’s why older political structures are becoming less sufficient for corporations to maintain control. That’s why they keep pushing for totalitarian rule by globalization bureaucrats.
 
As this report describes, the GMO front is at the core of this onslaught. Anyone who wants to resist GMOs, from reformers to abolitionists, needs to view the globalization struggle as a core battleground. 
 

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