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March 31, 2014

European Commission Comment Period on ISDS in the TTIP

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The European Commission’s ISDS “consultation” for the TTIP globalization compact has been posted. ISDS = “investor-to-state dispute settlement”. That’s the NAFTA model whereby corporations directly sue governments over any law/regulation/court decision which allegedly affects their hypothetical profits. TTIP = “Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership”. Of course it’s not really about one cent’s worth of legitimate trade or investment. It’s only about corporate aggression.
 
This period of public comment, allowed by the EC under duress, as European civil society has been vigorously protesting the looming compact in general and the ISDS provision in particular, is both less and more democratic than a USDA or FDA comment process. On the one hand it’s an imposing, ponderous series of propaganda pieces touting the righteousness and benevolence of the globalization compact, each followed by a text box asking “what is your opinion of that?” This plus some initial questions seem calculated to intimidate a regular citizen. By contrast US comment forms are vastly simpler.
 
On the other hand, a motivated commenter is given far greater scope to refute the lies and condemn the premises in detail. A US comment form tries to induce a shorter, more general statement.
 
The comment period runs till June 21. Although I gather it’s supposed to be only for European citizens, I might post a comment anyway. By their own globalization logic, as well as by the fact that US citizens are necessarily just as affected as Europeans are by anything the EU does with this, we have full right to comment.
 
Many European citizens and democracy groups will comment, but far more important will be the publicity of rejection and resistance. The main goal among European democracy advocates is to pressure their European Parliament representatives, who must ratify the compact, to vote against it. If the EP votes it down, there will be no TTIP. Otherwise only massive civil disobedience could stanch it. Meanwhile I don’t think anyone expects the US congress to reject it.

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March 29, 2014

The Community Rights, Anti-Corporate Movement, and its Liberal Pro-Corporate Detractors

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As the community rights and anti-corporate movement gathers momentum, it will increasingly strike fear in mercenary minds, and in the minds of all who remain stagnated in the obsolete ideologies of “left” and “right”, “liberal” and “conservative”, let alone the cretins who remain partisans of either the Democrat or Republican halves of the one-party corporatist state we now have.
 
At a website which claims to stand for a “participatory society”, and which likes to affect some radical-chic vibes, some members recently outed themselves as just another gang of masked liberals with an ethically and intellectually challenged hatchet job on the CELDF movement. Evidently when they say they want participation they don’t really mean participation, heavens no. How silly of us to misunderstand that word and think it means we the people politically and economically rule ourselves.
 
The fact is that this entire critique is from the point of view of statist, corporatist, pro-Democrat liberalism. It’s therefore irrelevant in principle, since the community rights movement cherishes participatory democracy and economic self-determination and rejects the legitimacy and authority of corporations and centralized states. The piece is also forced to lie at every practical point, since nothing has been more completely proven to be an historical failure than representative liberalism, insofar as it ever actually wanted to improve the lives of regular people and prevent concentrated power from preying upon the people. Of course, if it ever did want to do any such thing, it has long since ceased from any such intention and become a pro-corporate scam.
 
I’ll just make a few general replies to the piece.
 
1. It engages in bourgeois quibbling about what is and isn’t “constitutional”, what does and doesn’t derive from the Declaration of Independence in some sense a duly certified law professor would agree with, etc.
 
But citizens of a democracy care nothing about any piece of paper, except insofar as it expresses and helps realize political and economic democracy and freedom. Today we must care only about what’s effective toward anti-corporate abolitionism. The fact is that none of these documents has any eternal meaning at all, except to antiquarians talking about what they meant at a particular time in a particular context hundreds of years ago. Anyone who claims to think the Declaration of Independence, for example, has any ineffable “nature” other than what the people of a time are willing to fight to make it mean is a liar or is being completely ahistorical. (I’m not sure which of those a system academic is more likely to be.) But the only way these documents matter to modern abolitionists is in how they can help attain the abolitionist mission.
 
Of course, these liberal scribblers agree with me. Throughout the piece they repeatedly assert that what’s “constitutional” isn’t anything stable, anything based on principle, but is merely whatever the bourgeois courts say it is. The constitution is nothing but what Monsanto’s Clarence Thomas says it is. This is one of their core points.
 
Let’s correct a few historical facts obfuscated and falsified in the piece. In reality, the Declaration of Independence was not an affirmative statement of synthesized laws, but a rejection of illegitimate, usurped, and therefore tyrannical “law”. Therefore when we reject the legitimacy of the “laws” and rule of corporations, globalization tribunals, and the centralized governments who serve them, we are taking exactly the same stance as the signers of the Declaration. And when we cite it as precedent, we are using it in exactly the same way its original promulgators did. The dispute here is over whether the rule of Monsanto, the CAFOs, the frackers, Wall Street, is legitimate. We say it is not. The authors of this piece and their ideological ilk say it is. So it’s clear that there’s no common ground here, and that these scribblers are simply perpetrating a fraud when they claim to be arguing from some common principle, and that therefore people should listen to them and turn away from the anti-corporate struggle. But to be for or against corporate domination is the only meaningful demarcation today, which cuts across all other issues and gives them their true character, as opposed to the false divisions which system ideologues and partisans struggle to keep in place.
 
Similarly, the notion of constitutionalism propounded here, that “the constitution” is whatever is written and called a constitution, of course as interpreted by a handful of elite legal priests, is historically false and tendentious. On the contrary, one of the fiercely contested political controversies of the era leading up to the first stage of the American Revolution was the question of whether or not there’s an underlying sovereign constitution, of which even a written constitution is only a provisional expression, its legitimacy contingent on the institutions it establishes continuing to act in accord with the underlying people’s sovereignty. The gradually-adopted decision of the rebels that this sovereign constitution precedes any written one became a basic principle of this first stage of the Revolution. But this philosophical development was also an extension of the long evolution of the logic of political thought. When today a US liberal takes up the old British/Loyalist position, that the constitution is whatever a piece of paper (and really a handful of corporatist judges) says it is, and pretends this is “the” position, he’s simply trying to lie this controversy and this history out of existence. He’s probably totally ignorant of this history anyway.
 
So there’s our basic conflict over what is or isn’t constitutional: We say that this can only be decided through political struggle. They say it’s a purely elitist determination and decree. And there we see the basic difference between democratic philosophy and liberalism, which is inherently hierarchical, authoritarian, elitist. According to them, the courts and by extension the government are legitimate, the people are not. This is the basic liberal elitism. We see the basic contempt for a community-based organization daring to lay claim to constitutional interpretation, filthy peasants having the temerity to contradict Our Betters in the courts, academia, and of course among the professional liberal NGOs. 
 
2. They seem to have basically liberal-reformist objections to a more anarchistic philosophy. That’s irrelevant since the anti-corporate movement is, of necessity, both ideologically and on a practical level, anti-liberal. That’s because liberalism is inherently pro-corporate and pro-centralization, and also because it’s a proven failure at everything except helping to increase corporate power.
 
They also engaged in smear tactics, fraudulently seeking to conflate explicitly anti-corporate movements with, for example, racist “states’ rights” movements. This demonstrates their bad faith and their conceptual idiocy, since “states’ rights” makes no sense as a concept, while community sovereignty obviously does. It comes much closer to humanity’s natural and rational political and economic state, as well as being in much closer accord with the principle, paid lip service to even by today’s statist/corporatist tyrannies, that sovereignty can repose only in the people themselves, and that political power can only be conditionally delegated to any kind of hierarchy.
 
By now we know that these hierarchies, and the political philosophies which sought to justify them, including liberalism, were always frauds which have not improved the happiness, prosperity, and freedom of the people. At most they were able to use the age of cheap oil to build mass middle classes in the West. Here isn’t the place to debate whether or not this Western middle class existence is the highest utopia humanity can aspire to, the way liberals would have it. (I’d say the record shows that middle class existence, even where it was temporarily stable, didn’t seem to make people happier, and in many ways left them less content.) But I will stress the fact that as we reach the end of the Oil Age, this middle class is being ruthlessly liquidated, and the system is clearly headed back, as fast as it thinks it can politically get away with, to some pre-fossil fuel form of economic tyranny: Some kind of feudalism or debt slave society which will be much worse than even the medieval variety.
 
There’s no disputing this basic trend toward increasing corporate domination and the destruction of the economic middle class as well as the destruction of the Bill of Rights-based system of civil rights/liberties. All this is inherent to the system. Today liberalism, as an ideology and as a set of political prescriptions, is a massive scam meant to help this corporate domination plan along. That’s the basic aspect of the term “neoliberalism”: Liberal terms, concepts, forms like representative government, etc., have been completely harnessed to the goal of shifting all real power and control to corporate bureaucracies while maintaining nominal government as corporate welfare bagman, thug, and the impresario of circus “elections” and “representation”. I defy anyone to give me an example of any significant government initiative of recent decades which transcends those three basic categories.
 
(Obamacare, for example, is really a corporate bailout and a poll tax. It has no public weal character, but is a combination of corporate welfare conveyance (its main proximate goal was to bail out the financially beleaguered health insurance sector; from there it’s simply meant to keep this worthless corporate sector in profitable existence), political circus (it poses as a big public-interest program), with a thug element as well (the poll tax is meant to help force people who are trying to break free of the corporate cash economy back into it). Anyone who had really wanted a government program to provide better health care to the people would have demanded Single Payer, which would have been vastly less expensive for the people and would actually have helped people. But that’s not what government does any more, and that’s not what today’s liberal and conservative supporters of big government want to do. They want nothing but to aggrandize corporate power.) 
 
3. According to the comment thread, they’re the types who accuse anyone who disagrees with them of being a “troll”. But as I said in points (1) and (2), they themselves are technically trolls in that they’re pretending to be making a critique of participatory democracy and natural real economies, based on some alleged common ground, when really there is no common ground between anarchism/mutualism/positive democracy and centralizing corporatist bourgeois liberalism. There’s no substantive common ground, just some vague alleged affinity of ideals. But as we’ve seen, liberalism has been nothing but the ongoing betrayal of these ideals, and is a definitively proven failure and/or treachery.
 
I will agree with one strategic point. My understanding of the CELDF strategy is that it seeks to use the concepts and rhetorical forms of constitutionalism and of the first stage of the American Revolution in an innovative and tactically effective way, to help organize modern anti-corporatism and rational economic tendencies toward building a coherent movement. But so far it seems pretty vague on what the next steps are, once organizations dedicated to fighting for these ordinances have been brought into existence.
 
But the hatchet job I critiqued here clearly has no goal other than as typical liberal gatekeeping. They’re trying to distract attention from the complete failure of their own scam and discourage people from taking up new ideas and new forms of activism and organization.
 
I especially like their horror at the prospect of communities fighting to resist interstate highways or fracking pipelines. And you always gotta love when so-called “leftists” take up the canned Frank Luntz term “patchwork”. Bush consultant Luntz called this one of his “words that work”, and we see how this term has indeed worked, to the point that it’s now a staple of alleged “left” discourse as well, wherever our pseudo-radicals are opposing the people where the people are trying to fight back at the community level, which is after all the natural level of human existence. Because liberals and authoritarian leftists have no such human basis for their existence, but are only synthetic products of mass society, they could never understand this kind of humanism.
 
(“Conservatism” is another part of the overall corporate propaganda scam, but in this case we’re concerned with a liberal and/or radical chicist attack, so I focused on that.)
 
In the end, the only meaningful diagnosis is that corporations are the overwhelmingly dominant form of economic and, increasingly, political tyranny today. Corporations are totalitarian, and are the radical enemy of all human values, as well as of our physical basis for existence. It follows that the only meaningful prescription is to commit to the clear goal of the total abolition of the corporate form.
 
This is not only the only meaningful analysis and goal, but has the virtue of presenting a clear goal, unlike the vapid “anti-“s of reformism and pseudo-radicalism. These clearly just want to talk and do nothing, which is why they intentionally claim to be for high-flown principles but offer only the most vague objections to “capitalism” or whatever in place of a clear prescriptive goal.
 
The community rights movement doesn’t have all the answers yet, but it does understand three basic facts which no one else seems to understand: The people and only the people are sovereign, corporations by definition are illegitimate and have no right to exist, and corporations are actively destructive of all human values and needs, and must therefore be fought to the end with all means at hand.

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March 28, 2014

GMO News Summary 3/28/14

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*On March 20th over a hundred citizen activists occupied the headquarters of the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) in Parma, Italy, to protest this bureaucracy’s aggressively pro-GMO policy, its unscientific and fraudulent review procedures, its brazen revolving door with the GMO cartel, and its ongoing campaign to slander independent science and subvert, weaken, and flout public interest GMO and agricultural policy.
 
*In spite of the standard lie and FDA policy dogma that GMO false crops are “substantially equivalent” to true crops, there has never been a real comparative analysis of the levels of endemic herbicide residue in crops engineered to be herbicide-tolerant, compared to non-GM conventional and organic crops.
 
Now for the first time an independent study has performed such an analysis on an array of soybean varieties grown under commercial conditions, and the results are damning.
 
The study finds that soybeans engineered to be Roundup Ready and subsequently sprayed during the growing season contain extremely high levels of glyphosate and its breakdown product AMPA, an average of 9.0 mg/kg. This is a level much higher than the 5.6 mg/kg which Monsanto itself called “extreme” in a 1999 publication.
 
The poison and its breakdown residues are incorporated into the tissues of the crop, which is engineered merely to assimilate them, sustaining significant weaknesses and nutritional deficiencies along the way but not dying. The poison is then an intrinsic part of the food people and livestock eat. It can’t be washed off, any more than endemic Bt insecticidal poisons, or the many other agricultural poisons which are designed to be suffused through all the tissues of the crop. When we eat any of these false crops, we are eating what are literally poison plants.
 
Neither organic nor non-GM conventional soybeans contained these residues. The study also found several other significant differences in nutritional composition, with organic soybeans displaying the healthiest profile.
 
The knowledge gap this study has begun to fill is one of the many which the corporate/government system has been doing its best to leave gaping. Always keep in mind that no corporation or government has ever performed a toxicology or any other safety test on ANY GMO, nor have any of these entities ever performed or required a single epidemiological study on the effects of GMOs and their companion poisons in the human diet. Such a willful, systematic lack of desire to know, and such an attempt at the suppression of such knowledge through choking off research funds to independent science, proves two things:
 
1. Governments and corporations are afraid of what the results of such tests would be.
 
2. Governments and corporations strongly suspect such testing would further prove GMOs and their associated poisons to be hazardous to human and animal health.
 
After all, if they really believed what they say, why wouldn’t they be eager to spend the pennies it would cost them to prove it?
 
*Such studies provide strong evidence backing the efforts of a Brazilian federal ombudsman to force the health ministry to review agriculture ministry’s approval of glyphosate and several other herbicides, impose a moratorium while these reviews are conducted, and cancel the commercialization of Agent Orange GMOs engineered to resist 2,4-D application.
 
*More on glyphosate. Another new study has found that dairy cows and rabbits fed with GMO-based feed (which means most non-organic grain feed) have higher levels of glyphosate residues in their organs and urine than animals who ate non-GM feed. Chronically ill humans are also found to be more likely to have higher levels in their urine than healthy people.  
 
*Rootworm is now widely resistant to two of the three Bt toxins which GMOs are engineered to produce against it.
 
*Citizens of Lane County Oregon will move forward with gathering signatures to place a local food systems ordinance on the 2014 ballot in spite of a recent judicial decision overturning the county’s determination that the proposed ordinance met the requirements to be placed on the ballot. They will work to reformulate the initiative, which is similar to one which has already received judicial approval in neighboring Benton County. These two community food initiatives join initiatives to ban GMO cultivation and seed patents in Jackson and Josephine Counties, and also a Josephine ordinance imposing restrictions on corporate use of agricultural poisons.
 
The very fact that only such pro-community ordinances, but not pro-corporate, usurping ones, must jump through such hoops in only one piece of proof for why such laws are needed, and why just passing such laws can never be sufficient.
 
*Mora County, New Mexico, is the first county in the US to pass a law attempting to defend itself against corporate assaults by banning oil and gas drilling. Several corporations promptly sued in federal court, where we can expect the courts to affirm that corporate prerogatives trump all human rights and sovereignty, and that the central government is the rightful thug enforcing these prerogatives.
 
Every such case, just as every such corporate invasion, is further proof to anyone with eyes to see that humanity is in a zero-sum total war with these corporations, and that either they must perish from the earth, or else we must inevitably become starving slaves struggling to survive on a trashed poisoned, earth.
 
There’s no debate over this. No rational person can dispute the totalitarian character and goals of corporatism. It follows that humanity’s clear goal must be to abolish corporations as such. Corporations are the dominant organizational form of tyrannical forces today. All such forces have been mustered within this form. Abolishing the form will, for awhile at least, completely disperse the evils of our time. It will give humanity and the earth breathing space to recover, and to try again to fulfill the responsibility of citizenship and civilization, which is never to allow power to concentrate to the point that it transcends human communities and natural, rational economies.
 
As for those who claim to share human values but oppose the abolition imperative, we need only ask what alternative they offer. It’s immediately apparent that they offer no alternative whatsoever, just the same proven failures and lies. It becomes apparent that they’re really lying when they claim to support humanity in the first place.
 
One thing is proven beyond any reasonable doubt: The established molds of ideology and politics, “left-right”, “liberal-conservative”, electoralism, system reformism in general, let alone the “two” corporatist parties which really form a single ideological and policy monolith, are completely obsolete, and no one any longer espouses them in any but a purely reactionary way whose only goal is to prop up the existing tyranny and help perpetuate it. By definition any idea with any chance of offering a new beginning and a way forward will cut across and transcend all these obsolete categories, divisions, dichotomies, scams.

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March 21, 2014

GMO News Summary, March 21 2014

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*In a major ruling a Brazilian appeals court has invalidated the government’s approval of Bayer’s application for commercialization of its Liberty Link glufosinate-resistant maize. It ordered CTNBio, Brazil’s bioregulator, to conduct a full environmental review prior to granting the application and to provide better transparency for its approval process.
 
While this ruling immediately applies only to LL, it calls into question all other Brazilian GMO approvals, since CTNBio has never undertaken an environmental review for any of them. In theory this ruling should be extended to invalidate all prior approvals.
 
*A UN FAO report documents the spread of GMO contamination throughout the commodified food supply and the escalating number of incidents of shipments being rejected by import countries for so-called “low level presence”. This term has no stable definition, but merely indicated how much pollution a trader/miller/importer is willing to accept as trivial. The GMO cartel and its US government flunkey, of course, want to raise this level indefinitely and eventually render it moot by forcing globalized approval of all GMOs. That’s one of the core goals of the TTIP and TPP.
 
*The Mayan community of the Mexican state of Campeche has won a federal court victory against the central government’s approval of Roundup Ready soybean cultivation in their state. The court agreed that this centralized fiat decision violates the right of the indigenous community to control its own agriculture. In particular, the people of the community fear that GMO cultivation will harm their vibrant beekeeping culture.
 
Agriculture and food systems are naturally local/regional, and an economy based on natural exchange and demand-based markets and trade would reflect this. A sure measure of impractical and tyrannical centralization is the extent to which control of agriculture has been arrogated by centralized corporations and governments. Globalization compacts represent the most extreme manifestation of this usurping corporatization.
 
This court victory follows 2013’s big victory for Mexican agriculture and democracy as a whole, as the courts imposed a moratorium on government plans to approve field trials and commercialization of GM maize.
 
*Continuing the legal struggle over GMO alfalfa, the Center for Food Safety has filed a new lawsuit against the USDA to force it to obey the Freedom of Information Act. The CFS is trying to make public the details of how the Obama White House forced the USDA to go back on its original partial deregulation plan for Roundup Ready alfalfa and fully deregulate it instead.
 
This is the latest round in a sordid saga which highlights the unchanging nature of anti-democratic bureaucracy as well as the identical corporatist ideology and policy of Republican and Democrat adminstrations.
 
USDA originally approved Monsanto’s RR alfalfa in 2005. In response to a lawsuit from CFS and others, a 2006 court decision ordered the USDA to undertake a full environmental review, the first it would ever perform. This court order was similar to the new one from Brazil, with the difference that the Brazilian decision has much broader theoretical implications, while the US court in 2006 found that as a perennial which widely spreads its pollen, alfalfa was a special case.
 
The court order was upheld through a series of appeals, and the USDA finally completed its review in 2010. The review found that Roundup Ready alfalfa presented special contamination problems and should be approved only with special restrictions. This is “partial deregulation” in the parlance. This is a sham which could never work in practice. The record of Bt refugia proves that such restrictions are widely flouted with impunity, while even the restrictions placed on field trials don’t prevent GM contamination from proceeding, as demonstrated by many such examples as Oregon’s infestation of GM creeping bentgrass, or 2013’s discovery of feral RR wheat which escaped and has persisted since field trials ended several years ago. Under no circumstances could GM alfalfa commercialized under “restrictions” be prevented from broadly contaminating all alfalfa over time.
 
Trying to make a virtue of necessity, agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack brokered a political alliance between USDA and the industrial organic sector led by Whole Foods Market and Stonyfield’s Gary Hirshberg. The plan was to whitewash this partial deregulation plan by calling it a “co-existence” plan. Industrial organic, which wants someday for GMOs to be allowed under the “organic” certification, would be the lead marketers for the scam. USDA would fraudulently promise to rigorously police growing practices to prevent contamination, and to set up a compensation mechanism for the victims of such GMO trespass.
 
This plan to normalize Roundup Ready alfalfa by stages was too subtle for Monsanto, though, which simply prevailed upon Obama to override Vilsack. The USDA promptly ordered full deregulation, and a whole new poison and contamination front was opened.
 
Now CFS is back in court trying to get more details on how the executive fiat went down, but the basics are already known.
 
*Sri Lanka’s president has issued a ban on the sale of Roundup in the country following the recent study which documents the causal link between Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown origin (CKDu) in farm workers and a combination exposure to Roundup and heavy metals in the drinking water.
 
The government plans to launch a program to convert the country’s rice paddies to organic weed control and fertilization. This is a sane plan under any circumstance, and especially given the chronic epidemic being caused by these imported poisons.
 
*Pending a new law to ban cultivation of MON810 maize in France, the agricultural ministry has issued a ban on plantings until the new law is codified.
 
There’s lots about legal bans in this week’s news. While legalistic bans are not a substitute for abolitionism in concept or practice, they’re certainly an effective tool wherever attainable.
 
*This one makes me chuckle. South Africa’s government has been highly accommodating to the Monsanto agenda, in spite of the disastrous record of GMOs there.
 
Or perhaps some parts of the government are finally getting fed up. In response to a complaint from the African Center for Biodiversity, the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) ordered Monsanto to cease from an advertising campaign touting the benefits of GMOs in broad terms. When the agency asked Monsanto to submit evidence from independent science backing up its claims, Monsanto merely sent in links to its own website. Unusually for a government body, the agency rejected this as unsatisfactory.
 
Here’s part of the verbiage which was prohibited as fraudulent: GMOs “enable us to produce more food sustainably whilst using fewer resources; provide a healthier environment by saving on pesticides; decrease greenhouse gas emissions and increase crop yields substantially”. These are all direct factual lies which have been disproven around the world, everywhere GMOs have been commercialized, including in South Africa. But as anyone at all familiar with the propaganda environment has seen, these are also the standard lies of GMO supporters.
 
The quality of pro-GMO “science” Monsanto offered here is, of course, exactly the same as it is in the US. But while it’s not unprecedented for Monsanto’s advertising to be flagged as the consumer fraud it is (the company has been sanctioned in France and in New York state), more commonly such straight lies are waved through, as well as repeated by the government itself. The FDA and USDA both consciously see themselves as part of the Monsanto PR team. The FDA was the original purveyor of the Big Lie of “substantial equivalence”, which has since been disseminated worldwide. The WHO and UN FAO adopted wholesale the GMO safety ideology promulgated by the trade group ILSI (International Life Sciences Institute). The advertising depicted above is standard in most countries.
 
But it’s funny to see what happens the moment an advertising regulator drops the ideological agenda and simply looks at the fact. Monsanto is immediately recognized as an outlaw, totally beyond the pale.
 
 
*There’s growing skepticism and resistance among apple growers to the idiotic “non-browning” Arctic Apple being pushed by Okanagen Specialty Fruits, a company which should be subject to a total boycott dedicated to driving it out of business. Consumers don’t have such leverage with Monsanto, but as consumers we can certainly commit to a permanent embargo on one obnoxious industrial fruit company.
 
*The British government’s latest exercise in laundering Monsanto propaganda is a fraudulent “report” issued by the prime minister’s Council for Science and Technology (CST). (That kind of name is always a tip-off. Science and technological engineering are two completely separate things. In principle they have radically different mindsets and goals. The fraudulent conflation of the two always means science is being hijacked to serve mercenary technological instrumentalism. Genetic engineering is of course a form of technological engineering and in itself has zero to do with science.)
 
The “report” contains zero new findings or evidence, but merely launders cartel propaganda through the names of a list of allegedly “independent scientists” who are really on the payroll of the GMO corporations. As Claire Robinson of GMWatch points out, this report is nothing but a “sales pitch”, and it’s revealing that the CST evidently was unable to find a single person NOT having some career/financial stake in GMOs to participate in this report. Under fire, the government admitted that corporations largely control academic research today.
 
This is a typical example of the corporatization of credentialed personnel, who are not scientists in any meaningful sense of the term, but are merely mercenary technicians. This is typical of today’s “scientific” establishment. With GMOs we’re simply reprising the same history of corruption as when long lists of “scientists” assured us that cigarettes were safe, asbestos was safe, DDT, PCBs, dioxin, thalidomide. In all these cases, too, the majority of system-credentialed personnel parroted the party line upon demand.
 
At what point are we the people going to learn that these “experts” don’t know a damn thing and do NOT want what’s best for humanity?
 
*The people of Colorado have an initiative on the 2014 ballot which would legally affirm communities’ right to self-rule and invalidate the illegitimate, usurping preemption prerogatives of corporations, the state, and the central government.
 
This plan for publicity and civil disobedience based on community sovereignty is based on the anti-corporatist strategy of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). Here’s a good description of the philosophy and strategy written by CELDF founder Thomas Linzey during an earlier stage of the struggle, when Longmont was the first Colorado town to pass a ban on fracking. In November 2013 four more towns passed such bans. In 2014 four Oregon counties will have GMO cultivation bans on the ballot. These are examples of a nationwide movement of community self-assertion against corporate tyranny.

 
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March 15, 2014

The GMA’s FDA Preemption Plan for GMO Labeling

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I’ve been writing about the corporate gambit which wants the FDA to forestall the rising GMO labeling movement by instituting a “voluntary” labeling policy which would preempt stronger state-level policy. Failing this, the manufacturers and retailers would prefer a sham “mandatory” FDA policy whose only real strength would be the same preemption. At that point the corporate sectors would join hands with most of the NGO “leaders” of the labeling movement, in a typical corporation/NGO consensus.
 
Let’s look over the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) “summary of discussion draft” for a “voluntary” FDA labeling policy.
 
Title I purports to describe “Bioengineered Food”. Section 101 defines this to exclude all food which includes genetic engineering as part of the processing, but which does not actually include a GMO as an ingredient. So anything which used GE enzymes, yeast, etc. – a vast array of foods – would be excluded from the purview of this policy, and no one could ever apply any label voluntarily (e.g., “this bread was made without genetically engineered yeast”) or make it mandatory (“made with genetically engineered yeast”). All this would be preempted by the FDA.
 
(The lethal Showa Denko epidemic was caused by contaminants in an over-the-counter supplement which used genetic engineering in the processing. The contaminants were produced by the GE process.)
 
Presumably, though it doesn’t explicitly say this here, it would also apply to the gaping void in GMO awareness, meat and dairy from GMO-fed animals. It would probably also forestall BGH labeling once and for all.
 
So the policy applies only to GMO crops and directly engineered animals like the Frankensalmon.
 
Section 102 changes existing FDA notification policy. As things are, GMO developers don’t have to have any contact at all with the FDA. They deal only with the USDA, and the USDA grants commercialization approval. But the corporation may send a voluntary notification letter to the FDA. This letter says nothing more than, “we think this GMO product is safe”, and the FDA replies, “we understand that you think this product is safe”. That’s the entirety of FDA “oversight”. The Clinton administration had wanted to make this farce mandatory, but the cartel resisted even that, and the Bush administration encoded the coluntary status quo.
 
Now the GMA wants to revert to the Clinton mandatory notification. The reason for this is that one of the “principles” listed in the GMA draft is that the policy will “Mandate FDA Safety Reviews”. Of course there won’t really be any safety review whatsoever. But the GMA hopes that if the sham letter exchange is made mandatory, they’ll then be able to depict this in GMO propaganda as a mandatory safety review.
 
In the course of boilerplate about the FDA’s mandate to “protect the health and safety”, the draft reaffirms the FDA’s ideological dogma of “substantial equivalence”: “The use of bioengineering does not, by itself, constitute a material difference.”
 
So the FDA will pretend it’s on the lookout for “material differences”, when in fact it ideologically defines all material differences out of existence. (GMOs are self-evidently radically different in principle from the true crops from which they’re derived, as well as materially different in many unpredictable secondary ways.) The real teeth of this part are found here: “..or to prevent the label of the bioengineered food from being false and misleading.” This means that the FDA will severely regulate the content of voluntary non-GMO labels and force them to include pro-GM dogma like, “The FDA has determined that there is no material difference between genetically engineered food and other foods.”
 
Section 103 describes how all GMO labeling will be purely voluntary. Corporations will be able to apply “non-GMO” labels to anything with a so-called “adventitious presence” of GM material. This means, collateral contamination will be let through under non-GM labeling policy. Voluntary outfits like the Non-GMO Project will be encouraged or if necessary forced to allow their labels for whatever the FDA considers “low level” contamination. No one will be allowed to institute a more rigorous voluntary non-GM certification process. The goal here is to co-opt and discredit non-GMO labeling as such, and to help normalize the increasing contamination of food and agriculture with collateral GM contamination.
 
It explicitly says that GM-fed dairy, as well as food which used GE processing aids like yeast, could be labeled “non-GMO”. Labels cannot say or imply that “non-GMO” is better, or that GMOs are potentially harmful. Instead, the FDA will place restraints on voluntary non-GMO labeling as I described above.
 
The draft does include a vague passage which seems to give corporate producers free rein to make the label say anything they want, including touting an alleged GMO benefit or even the benefit of something being non-GMO. The FDA’s oversight is clearly to apply only to the organic and non-GM sector.
 
Section 104 is explicit on preemption: “This section would preempt any state laws that are not identical to the Federal program.”
 
That, of course, is the #1 goal of the whole corporate endeavor here. Under the guidance of Monsanto, the GMA originally wanted there to be no labeling policy at all.
 
Title II is on so-called “Natural Foods”. Here the GMA merely wants the FDA to encode the scam which allows the term “natural” to be applied to foods containing GMOs and almost any other kind of poison. As things are now, “natural” can be slapped on anything except for foods containing anything from a short list of specific additives. It’s therefore basically a scam term. There are retailers and manufacturers whose whole business model is to produce and sell conventional GMO-based food as some kind of “natural” higher quality food.
 
One of the goals of some labeling campaigns, California’s in particular, was to put an end to this consumer fraud by banning the use of the term “natural” for any food which contains GMOs. With this part of the proposal the GMA wants the FDA to preempt such a derogation of this terminological scam. Here too its call for preemption is explicit (section 203).
 
That concludes the GMA’s commentary on the legislative proposal. The rest of the draft is a combination of blather and straight lies, meant to provide talking points to supportive lawmakers and bureaucrats. It concludes with the list of “principles” which the policy will allegedly embody. “Mandate FDA Safety Reviews” refers to the scam I described above. “Require Federal GMO Labeling for Safety” refers to the part about “material difference”; you can rest assured that the GMO labels will be mandatory in any case where the ever-vigilant FDA considers it necessary. If the FDA says it’s not necessary, you can rest easy and go back to sleep, since the food is safe. “Create a National Standard for Voluntary Labels” refers to the Gleichschaltung of all voluntary certification programs such as the Non-GMO Project, like I described above.
 
It concludes with the two Orwellian and anti-democratic expressions of contempt for the people, “Increase Transparency” when it will do the opposite, and the hoary lie about “Preventing Consumer Confusion”.
 
Consumers, in fact, to the extent the information has been readily available to them, have been far less confused about GMOs than any other group. Unlike most others, consumers have rightfully been suspicious of such a counterintuitive product. Sure enough, 100% of the evidence to date has supported this consumer unease.
 
Monsanto’s default has been to oppose all labeling. But the fact that the GMA, under pressure from such members as Walmart and Coca-Cola, is now promulgating this proposal for FDA preemption is proof of how fearful the corporations are of the GMO labeling movement. There’s a growing consensus among manufacturers and retailers that FDA preemption is preferable to continuing to fight a scorched earth war against labeling at the state level. Monsanto itself supports the FDA’s existing draft guidance on voluntary labeling, which is hostile to it and would censor it as I described above. So Monsanto can be expected to support the formal enshrinement of this FDA “guidance”. The fact that the GMA is now calling for FDA preemption is proof that Monsanto is at least not actively opposing a formal FDA policy on labeling.
 
The proposal has some high-profile senatorial support. “Progressive” heroes Elizabeth Warren and Mark Udall are among the senators shilling for the GMA/Monsanto plan.
 
Part of the point of the GMA’s promulgation of this preemptive “voluntary” scheme is to position a sham mandatory FDA preemptive policy as the middle position, in case this voluntary policy is politically rejected as being too lax. Here is where the GMA would join hands with most of our NGO “leaders”, who have helped lay the groundwork by consistently representing a formal FDA policy as being the desirable end goal. So the likes of Just Label It, the Center for Food Safety, and Food and Water Watch implicitly agree with Monsanto and the GMA that the state-level movement (not to mention county-level bans) represents some undesirable “extreme”.
 
The GMA will do all it can to get the “voluntary” FDA preemption policy enshrined in law. But failing this, it will settle for a sham “mandatory” policy. In any event it wants to strangle the rising local and state movement, especially since the idea of outright bans on GMO cultivation is gaining, as more and more citizens come to realize that labeling would not be sufficient, and that since the enemy is going to fight so ferociously against the more modest labeling policy, there’s no reason not to escalate on our own side to a more sound, rigorous, and necessary abolitionist policy.
 
Meanwhile my recent series of posts on globalization and corporatist coordination of government bureaucracies should also be read as part of my ongoing analysis of how the FDA is inadequate in principle to effectively regulating GMOs. Therefore, to look to the FDA for any kind of good policy is delusional in principle. Nothing but a democratic movement of the people, taking direct action, putting direct pressure on manufacturers and retailers, and putting direct pressure on the lower levels of government, will be sufficient to defeat the GMO enemy.

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March 14, 2014

GMO News Summary 3/14/14

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*Led by its buffoonish environment minister, the UK government is supporting a plan to fast track GMO approvals in the EU and UK. This comes as Food and Water Europe is challenging the government to rethink its position in light of the recent report on the failure of “coexistence” in the wide open spaces of the US. Coexistence would never have a chance in the much smaller confines of Britain.
 
There’s little chance any public interest group will get a hearing with the British government, which is as determined to be the US’s poodle on GMOs as it was on Iraq. It’s ironic, and of course hypocritical, the way Britain has always been so ambivalent about the supra-government of the European Union, but on selected corporate fronts it’s as aggressive on behalf of Corporate One World Government as the corporations themselves.
 
*Syngenta is suspending sales of its Agrisure Duracade maize in Canada. It’s recalling seed which has already been shipped. This variety has been approved for cultivation in the US and Canada and for import at some destinations, but has not been approved for import in China or the EU. This variety is a companion product to MIR162 Agrisure Viptera which over the past year repeatedly has been detected in shipments to China from the US, causing the shipments to be rejected. (Duracade is a stacked variety which includes MIR162.) Canadian farmers and exporters such as ADM and Cargill fear that it will contaminate shipments from Canada. ADM and Cargill also have announced they will reject US maize consignments slated for export which contain Duracade.
 
MIR162 is a newer variety, and the fact that it immediately became a common interloper in shipments which weren’t supposed to include it is typical evidence of how difficult to impossible it is to prevent contamination, by GMOs of non-GM, or in this case of the regular commodity stream by a GM variety which is supposed to be segregated.
 
The standard propaganda line on problems like this is that it’s the fault of the countries who haven’t approved the product. As always, the corporation has implicit total license to forcibly sell whatever it pleases, and no one has any right to ask questions, let alone to not buy. This gangster attitude is typical of corporatism, and of the GMO regime in particular. It’s a window into the vileness of these people.
 
Obviously, the problem is the dubious product itself, not whatever prudent regulatory procedures still exist in Europe or China (by that I mean, more prudent than in the US and Canada). The customer is right, and if he wants to buy apples but not oranges, only the seller’s negligence would hand over a mixed bag with both. That today’s GMO commodifiers find it so impossible to keep commerce streams separate from one another tells us several things.
 
It’s typical of their flip, willfully negligent attitude in general. Also of their incompetence at anything but brute force. It demonstrates how the system is intentionally designed to force a homogenized commodification on all of agriculture. Part of the reason they can’t keep one maize variety separate from others is that such a task runs counter to the whole point of the system, which is to eradicate all diversity and resiliency. Not, as the Big Lie would have it, because this is more “efficient”. (If it’s so efficient, why does the entire system need to be propped up with such a constant, massive infusion of corporate welfare?)
 
Rather, the purpose of it all is to enforce control and domination over the sector by the input sellers and commodifiers. By forcing the naturally vast array of agricultural diversity through a handful of tight bottlenecks, these corporations attain control and profit, as well as the political influence to generate vastly more profit through corporate welfare. None of this profit is capitalistically “legitimate”, but is all based on monopoly and monopsony racketeering. Meanwhile it leaves farming economically unviable, and therefore farmers too have to be propped up with subsidies. These subsidies too are therefore really laundered corporate welfare. It also renders agriculture as a whole dangerously unresilient and vulnerable, and destroys the food security of societies.
 
That’s part of why the commodification system is malign as a whole, and why any country which still sets up hurdles against it, however modest, is within its rights and is doing a good thing. Any resistance, of whatever form, humanity can oppose to agricultural commodification is good in that it weakens this fragile system and helps generate space and opportunities for alternatives to grow.
 
Finally, the MIR162 scandal, including Syngenta’s temporary surrender, is yet more proof that “coexistence” is impossible. If the system is unable to take coexistence action to protect a major new product of one of the GMO cartel members, how could it possibly afford coexistence in the vast majority of cases where it doesn’t care or is hostile?
 
Meanwhile, the very existence of the related MIR604 line, which is also stacked into Duracade and is engineered to kill rootworm, and the fact that some farmers feel the need for it, is another typical chapter in the ongoing saga of insect resistance to these poison plants. Prior to the GMO era, rootworm was not a major problem for maize growers. It only started becoming more of a problem as a result of the abandonment of rational crop rotation practices. This abandonment was encouraged by government and Monsanto propaganda. Roundup Ready and borer-resistant maize varieties were supposed to give farmers the freedom to grow maize every year.
 
This generated several intractable problems – borer resistance, superweed resistance, a surge of new maize diseases and fungal infections, soil degradation, and others. One intended, artificially created problem was that it turned rootworm from a nuisance into a chronic problem needing remediation. Monsanto was ready in 2003 with its first rootworm-resistant Bt varieties. It was meeting a new market “need” it has artificially generated. For good measure, it stacked the rootworm trait with existing traits and forced many more maize farmers to buy it than wanted it. Monsanto carefully gauged the moment when there was enough actual (albeit artificially generated) demand that it could launch the product on a broader coercive basis.
 
Subsequent events were easily predicted. Rootworm quickly developed resistance to the Bt varieties deployed against them. This is the ongoing, clockwork mechanism of superbug and superweed evolution. Given the premises of this insane system, each failed iteration of the product genre has to be answered with a new species which will also inevitably fail, each time more quickly than the last one. Today the newer Syngenta varieties use a different Bt insecticidal protein called VIP (vegetative insecticidal protein) to replace or supplement the older Bt poisons. The stacked Duracade is typical in that it incorporates both VIP and first-generation Bt poisons. As usual, the newest poison-generating and poison-resistant traits are stacked on top of the old ones. The old failed poisons – Roundup, Bt – aren’t retired but are still deployed in ever escalating amounts. New blasts of poison are merely added to the existing toxic assault. These Syngenta varieties are the latest, highest level of this tottering Tower of Babel. 
 
This is further proof of how insect resistant GMOs as a whole comprise a failed product which a rational economic and political system would have discontinued by now. The Agent Orange herbicide-resistant varieties prove the same for the herbicide tolerance genre. These are the two basic kinds of GMOs. The complete practical failure of the two kinds of GMOs proves that GMOs as a whole are a practical failure and should be discontinued on this basis alone. That’s of course in addition to the many other reasons they must be abolished – genetic contamination and the fast erosion of agricultural genetic diversity; the health and environmental hazards of agricultural poisons and GMOs themselves; the malign socioeconomic and political effects of GMO-based agriculture and food systems.

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March 12, 2014

The TTIP and the “Right to Profit” (Investor-to-State Dispute Settlement)

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In 2012 US-based Lone Pine Resources sued Canada in the World Bank’s corporate tribunal under NAFTA’s Chapter 11 process, claiming that Quebec’s moratorium since 2011 on fracking was costing Lone Pine $250 million in lost profits. Lone Pine wants to engage in fracking right under the St. Lawrence River. Fracking is highly destructive, has been documented by the US government to cause earthquakes, poisons the groundwater and wells of whole regions, wastes tremendous amounts of water, destroys farmland where the wells are drilled, disrupts and terrorizes communities, wrecks local economies, and produces little gas. Most wells produce nothing, while the most productive fizzle out in a year or two, leaving nothing but wholesale economic, physical, soil, and water destruction in their wake. The main power function of fracking is as a typical Wall Street securitization bubble. Any sane region or country would ban it.
 
But according to NAFTA, none of this matters or has any standing whatsoever as a basis for legitimate public policy. According to NAFTA, public interest policy literally has no right to exist, wherever it gets in the way of corporate profit. 
 
Also in 2012, US-based Strongpoint Solutions filed a similar suit with the tribunal for $27 million. Although its complaint is somewhat vague, in effect it claims that Canada’s federal and provincial statutes against burglary, extortion, murder, and other acts interfere with its ability to offer such profitable services as contract murder. It claims these laws comprise “technical barriers to trade” and are according to NAFTA an illegal constraint on “investor rights”.*
 
I’ve previously written (parts one, two, three) about the provisions of the TTIP and TPP for regulatory Gleichschaltung (coordination) under corporate rule. While that’s meant to be a longer-term project, a more immediate and direct attack on democracy and politics will be these compacts’ souped-up corporate tribunals called “investor-to-state dispute settlement” (ISDS).
 
ISDS is a way for corporations to directly sue countries over any policy provision which allegedly costs them profit. The suits take place in secret tribunals presided over by corporate lawyers. These tribunals are lawless administrative courts outside of any kind of democratic oversight or accountability. They’re most similar to administrative courts which have been run by secret police organizations like the tsarist Okhrana and the Nazi SS. The process gives oligopoly corporations based in any country which is party to a compact special privileges over the rights of the people or of any legitimate business within any country which is also a party. It exalts the “right” to corporate profit as the supreme imperative of society, lofting it far above all other values, rights, goals of policy and law.
 
If the TTIP and TPP are ratified, their ISDS provisions will follow the NAFTA model for filing disputes. From the corporatist point of view this is an improvement over the older WTO model. Under less rigorous globalization compacts, when a corporate sector based in a country feels hampered by a law or regulation in another participating country, its government sues the other government in a WTO corporate tribunal. When, hardly ever “if” (the complainant almost always wins), the WTO finds the law in question to be a barrier to “trade”, it grants the plaintiff country the right to impose retaliatory tariffs on imports from the defendant country. These so-called retaliatory tariffs themselves are chosen in a way to penalize certain imports in order to support certain exports, so what the complainant wins at the tribunal is not so much a right to retaliate as a right to commit new aggression.
 
But from the point of view of the original surly sector, this is a highly convoluted process which doesn’t necessarily do IT any good. Thus at the behest of the Monsanto the US government sued the EU over its GMO regulations. In 2006 the US won at the tribunal and has since been able to impose tariffs on some EU exports, mainly some peripheral luxuries. This “win” therefore hasn’t done Monsanto and the GMO cartel much good.
 
But under the ISDS provision of NAFTA and the over 3000 multilateral and bilateral compacts based upon it, a corporation directly sues a government at a World Bank International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) tribunal. This tribunal is similar to a WTO tribunal, but instead of rewarding a government plaintiff with the right to impose a tariff, it rewards the corporate plaintiff with a direct monetary award, paid for by the taxpayers of the target country. This is meant to be (1) a direct corporate welfare conveyance laundered as a “judicial” award, and (2) a pretext to gut regulation and law at lower levels of government which isn’t sufficiently pro-corporate, and to impose a chill effect which prevents the enshrinement of such laws and regulation in the first place.
 
Chapter 11 lets corporations complain about any policy, law, regulation, court decision, which in any way allegedly infringes on any hypothetical profit the corporations can conceive. This has nothing to do with uneven treatment between foreign and domestic businesses. Even where the provision applies equally to all, it’s held to strict liability as far as how it impacts any corporation’s alleged ability to profit.
 
This is proof that globalization compacts are not about trade, but about power. If they were about trade, then a law which applied to everyone equally wouldn’t be a problem.
 
NAFTA also prohibits “performance requirements”, such as that in order to receive various permits a company has to commit to a region for a period of time, source local inputs, etc. In every way it seeks to enshrine a regime of 100% “rights”, i.e. license, 0% risks or responsibilities for the corporations.
 
The boorish quotes here exemplify the psychopathy of the concept of corporate “rights”.
 

Lone Pine claims the Quebec moratorium is an “arbitrary, capricious, and illegal revocation of [its] valuable right to mine for oil and gas.” The firm says the government acted “with no cognizable public purpose,” even though there is broad public support for a precautionary moratorium while the environmental impacts of fracking are studied. Milos Barutciski, a lawyer with Bennett Jones LLP, who is representing Lone Pine in the arbitration, described the moratorium as a “capricious administrative action that was done for purely political reasons – exactly what the NAFTA rights are supposed to be protecting investors against.” It may seem unbelievable but this lawyer may be correct that Lone Pine’s right under NAFTA to make a profit is more important than the right of communities to say no to destructive and environmentally dangerous resource projects.

 
We see again how from the point of view of corporatism politics as such is an atavism, and such values as democracy, public health, environmental protection, are by definition “capricious”.
 
This notion of a “right to profit” is a piece of extremism by any measure. As the provisions are crafted, the “legitimacy” of this hypothetical profit only needs to be confirmed by any friendly government bureaucrat. All that’s needed is for an official with any relevant agency to tell the corporation that he expects it to be able to get a permit, qualify according to a law, etc., and/or that he expects the proposed corporate action to be profitable. No matter how bogus, no matter how suborned, this is enough to establish the profit as some kind of mystical reality. (I wouldn’t be surprised if the accounting regulators then let the company list it as some kind of Account Receivable or other asset.) Needless to say, even now it’s easy for a big corporation to find a regulator chummy enough to give this testimony. It’ll be even easier under regulatory coordination. Indeed, in that case regulators will have a duty to seek such mystical “profit” opportunities on the corporations’ behalf and notify them of these.
 
There’s something Kafkaesque about it – the people comprise the real defendant and will pay the judgement, yet are not allowed any real representation or to observe the proceedings. Their “representatives” are government bureaucrats who are on the side of the prosecutor, and who helped the prosecution prepare its case.
 
Beyond this, the concepts which guide ISDS and globalization and corporatist policy in general – “risk-benefit analysis”, “best practices”, core good regulatory practices”, “Regulatory Impact Assessment”, “market liberalization”, “equalization”, “sound science”, “necessity”, “effectiveness”, and so on set up an adversarial antagonism between corporate profit and human society, with a strong presumption in favor of the corporations.
 
This includes modes of measurement which are automatically in favor of the corporation. There’s nothing scientific or rational about anything like “risk-benefit analysis”, which is on the contrary a purely ideological concept. RBA is arbitrary by definition, in that is arbitrarily enshrines corporate profit as the only value. It can be meaningful at all only to those who adhere to this ideology. If you don’t recognize any right of corporations to a profit, or if you think profiteering shouldn’t exist at all, or if you think the profit motive is only a tool to be used to help increase human well-being, from any of these points of view RBA or anything like it would be absurd and depraved.
 
Humanity must reject the entire concept in principle. We must apply the constitutional corporatism test – do corporations with special privileges legitimately exist at all? We deny the right of corporations to exist at all, and we deny their right to a profit (let alone any other “rights”). Therefore we reject the whole mode of measurement and comparison these compacts fraudulently claim to enshrine. I say “fraudulently” because there could never be any measured result which this regime would consider so little a gain to the corporation as not to be worth the damage it would cause, or too big a loss to the people that it wouldn’t be worth any corporate gain.
 
Thus the goal is to enshrine a guaranteed income for any corporate con artist. If a corporation can envision a profit, it has a right to be awarded this profit in reality. The job of the government and the tribunal is to ensure this profit. This is an extreme manifestation of the fact that corporatism is not designed to provide good products and services, but to guarantee itself a profit and maximize its power. As I said earlier, corporations are not such good/service providers, but power-seeking organizations who hijack and use an economic sector as their base of operations for economic and political domination.
 
Meanwhile the “right to profit” is part of the mysticism of power, and any provision enshrining it is the essence of a command economy.
 
Both Canada and Mexico have lost cases totaling several hundred million dollars in “damages”. That’s in addition to legal costs (which aren’t awarded to the defendant even when it wins) and tribunal fees. Extractive sectors like mining and fossil fuels have been especially aggressive in using these tribunals. Over 50% of ISDS cases have been filed by extractive corporations against Latin American countries. But as the Lone Pine case described above exemplifies, extractors are looking to the CETA and the TTIP to open up Canada and Europe to fracking, and to tribunal suits against any country which tries to protect its people, economy, and environment.
 
Similarly, although Monsanto and the GMO cartel have had little to complain about in the US or Canada so far (Mexico may be a different story these days), they’re eager for the TTIP to give them the power to sue the EU over the many regulatory and political hurdles Europe poses to the GMO assault. Such suits would be win-win for Monsanto, since they’ll either win money awards, or better yet the existence of the ISDS tribunal will give the EC the final inducement it needs to jettison all concern with European democracy and directly approve many or all GMO applications, the way it has always wanted to.
 
The possibilities for lawsuits and extortionate “damage” awards are limitless. Eli Lilly is suing Canada for $500 million for what it views as an insufficiently strong patent for anti-depression drugs. Renco is suing Peru for $800 million over extraction permits. Canada is suing the EU over the European Fuel Quality Directive, which disadvantages its filthy tar sands oil (the same which is slated to be conveyed through the Keystone Pipeline in defiance of US law). Today there are over 500 suits pending before the World Bank tribunals.
 
Civil society, democracy advocates, real businesses, farmers, scientists, public health professionals, environmentalists, and many others, every part of human society and the human economy, have long pointed out that there’s no conceivable public need for this form of extra-constitutional, supra-legal form of tribunal. For any and all actual needs, existing national and regional law is more than sufficient. As in so many other cases, the reform point of view and the abolitionist position agree that ISDS and these tribunals shouldn’t exist at all and serve no purpose other than to aggrandize corporate power and domination.
 
This may bode well for the future of the TTIP in the European Parliament.
 

In June 2011 a European Parliament resolution on the EU–Canada negotiations stated that, “given the highly developed legal systems of Canada and the EU, a state-to-state dispute settlement mechanism and the use of local judicial remedies are the most appropriate tools to address investment disputes.” In July that year, the Commission’s own Sustainability Impact Assessment of CETA came to the same conclusion, recommending a state-to-state dispute process only.

 

 
The ISDS provision is so clearly hostile to democracy and economically bad for the people of any country that its inclusion in the TTIP has become a major rallying point for the opposition in Europe. It’s so inflammatory that in January the EC felt the need to retrench. It announced it would issue a public “consultation” in March, followed by a three month public comment period.
 
We already know this “consultation” will be a scam, since we’ve already been through a similar consultation on ISDS with the EU-Canada trade compact (CETA), set to go into effect in 2014. CETA is evil in itself, and is a forerunner of the US-EU TTIP. The Seattle to Brussels Network was able to see a leaked copy of the secret CETA negotiation text on “investment protection” and ISDS and compare it to the public “consultation” note. The public note is just a propaganda document which is much weaker and loaded with anodynes than the real text. It has boilerplate about a theoretical “right to regulate” and misleading definitions and depictions of the scope of the corporate powers being conferred.
 
The main point is that the real text gives coordinated regulators and tribunals vast discretionary power to interpret the provisions and their own powers to act on behalf of corporate imperatives. Much of the language is vague and meant to preserve this discretionary power of bureaucracy, much like with the regulatory coordination provisions. Also like those, it’s meant to postpone specific harsh measures for the subsequent administrative process, rather than daring to run the political gauntlet by including them formally in the compact.
 
The public CETA consultation note promises certain limits on the right to profit, on concepts like “fair and equitable treatment” (FET), on what constitutes an “investment”, a code of conduct for the arbitrators on the tribunal, a promise of transparency, and other anodynes. But the actual negotiation text is significantly different in each case, and in each case what the note says or implies is much weaker, or is mere vague boilerplate with no corresponding provision in the real text. The actual text also contains all sorts of preemptions of the constraints alleged in the note, such as “most favored nation” and similar clauses. Even if constraints on ISDS were initially to be encoded, these would be subsequently subject to “equalization”, “harmonization”, and other modes of destruction under the permanent ongoing regulatory coordination process.
 
We can expect the upcoming TTIP public “consultation” to be a similar propaganda ploy.
 
Meanwhile, as the EC negotiators made clear, it’s only the ISDS provision which is being delayed at all, and only this may in theory be changed. The rest of the TTIP – the negotiations over the sectoral assaults and the regulatory Gleichschaltung plan are at full steam ahead, and these will not be ameliorated one bit.
 
The TTIP (and TPP) as a whole is an assault on freedom, democracy, economic prosperity, and human happiness. It’s to be a major escalation of corporate tyranny, a major step toward corporate domination. As we should have abundant experience by now, all of its promises are lies, and none of its promised benefits will come true. It’ll only accelerate the corporate destruction of the real economy and what’s left of democratic politics, leaving behind only austerity, serfdom, hunger, disease, and an ever more severe police state.
 
We need to reciprocate the EC’s political ploy by seizing the opportunity of the sham “consultation” to expose the overall sham of the TTIP and engineer its political defeat. This is likely to be the last chance the politics of representative democracy gets.
 
[*Actually, that case is a rumor and may not really exist. But even if no such suit has been filed, I defy anyone who supports ISDS to tell me by what logic it shouldn’t be able to succeed at the tribunal if it was filed.]

 
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March 10, 2014

The TTIP and the Corporatist Coordination Plan, Part Three

Filed under: Corporatism, Globalization, GMO Corporate State, Law, Sovereignty and Constitution — Tags: , — Russ @ 9:05 am

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In Part One I described the corporations’ basic regulatory Gleichschaltung (coordination) plan they hope to attain with the TTIP and TPP globalization compacts. In Part Two I described the specific demands of the GMO cartel within this framework. Now in Part Three I’ll discuss the eagerness with which the European Commission (EC) has responded to these plans and demands. First a few words about the position of a nominal government bureaucracy like the EC.
 
In being formally totalitarian, dedicated only to profit in principle, corporate bureaucracies are explicitly established as the direct exercise and rule of power (Might Makes Right), mediated only by government regulatory action. Strictly speaking, corporations are not supposed to be restrained directly by law. On the contrary, part of the purpose of the corporate form is to place absolutory legal barriers between the actions of corporate cadres and those actions’ having any actionable legal character, civil or criminal.
 
Government bureaucracy, meanwhile, is supposed to be restrained by law and by respect for democracy. But here too individuals are often formally absolved of personal responsibility for actions. This kind of absolution goes to the core of the evil of any such hierarchies, since nothing is so firmly proven as that if you give individuals power and freedom from consequences for their actions, they’ll take their actions to bad extremes. That’s why humans should never allow power to concentrate, and should never grant individuals a blank check, and most of all should never combine the two. Meanwhile it’s laughable to expect any bureaucrat to respect democracy. By its nature bureaucracy respects only administrative power and process, and despises law and democracy.
 
With this Gleichschaltung plan, a more complete formalization and rationalization of government bureaucracy’s subordination to corporate bureaucracy, the nominally “legal” bureaucracy is to be subsumed under the direct power bureaucracy. The government regulators are then to use their nominal fig leaf of legality, not as a restraint on power, but as propaganda on power’s behalf (and, where appropriate, as a weapon against rivals). This is the most institutionalized and rationalized form of the neoliberal scam.
 
So EC bureaucrats and similar bureaucracies (e.g. the FDA and USDA) exemplify the mindset and role of the bureaucrat, which is to carry out the dictates of power in an automated way. As corporate power increases, these government bureaucracies will naturally become more inherently pro-corporate. This is according to their basic inertia, what they inherently are, rather than “capture” or “corruption”. These latter do exist, but are epiphenomenal. To emphasize those is to reinforce the lie that corporations and regulators have any kind of inherently adversarial relationship. On the contrary, where corporations hold the power, bureaucrats naturally see them as their true constituency. All this is also naturally pleasing to the inherent elitism and anti-democratic tendencies of bureaucrat types.
 
The existing EU system is not pleasing to the EC. Although it has vast power to propose and decree “legislation” (what really are administrative decrees for the most part), it’s subject to some checks and balances from the European Council of national ministers and, to a lesser extent, the elected Parliament. Both of these latter bodies are subject to considerable bottom-up pressure from the people, and in turn put pressure on the EC. The best example of how the EC has been hamstrung is how relatively few GMO applications it had approved, even though in theory it could have decreed the approval of far more.
 
So in the EU there’s mostly administrative rule in theory, but to its disgust the EC has to jump through lots of political hoops. It looks to the TTIP to solve this problem of residual democracy. That’s why the EC is so ardent to embrace a compact which will turn it into a flunkey of the US government and mostly US-based corporations. The EC would rather hold a lower position in a fully rationalized, coordinated hierarchy of administrative rule, than be at the top of what it sees as a mishmash.
 
The EC wants to fully throw Europe open to the corporate onslaught, but it’s craven. Only European corporations and bureaucrats want the TTIP. There’s zero need for it from any human point of view. On the contrary, it will further destroy any broadly shared prosperity in Europe, making it more like the US in this sense. (Obviously it will also only further harm the American people as well.) This is why the EC’s negotiator Karel de Gucht has been lying to the people of Europe all along.
 

On the European side, there are fears that negotiators will simply cave in, change the rules, and open the door to US products of various kinds that have created fear and anxiety for public health and the environment. A set of high-profile cases are gaining prominence, including GMOs and chlorine chickens, certain chemicals which are approved in the US but banned in the EU. But governments as well as negotiators have taken care to stress there is no danger as they will not give in on the fundamentals. Protection levels are not on the table, and will not be negotiated away, they say. Such assurances have even come from the EU’s top negotiator,  Commissioner Karel de Gucht, who stated recently that “nothing under this agreement will lower standards of protection. Removing regulatory barriers is not a race to the bottom.”

 
The immediate political point of the regulatory coordination chapter, or “Regulatory Coherence” as the EC calls it in its reply to the US and the corporations, is to keep these kinds of politically inflammatory measures out of the explicit language of the compact. The compact has to be approved by the European Parliament, and the fact that the EC’s negotiator has felt constrained to hold a delaying “consultation” on ISDS and promise there will be no race to the bottom demonstrates how the EC fears the Parliament may reject the TTIP if it explicates the real goals. So regulatory coherence is meant to postpone the formalization of these goals and shift them to the non-democratic bureaucratic realm.
 
Although the original EC mandate for negotiation with the US didn’t say much about regulatory coordination, the EC team has been in close talks with such corporate groups as the US Chamber of Commerce and BusinessEurope since at least autumn 2012. The EC invited these to draw up guidelines, which turned into the corporatist manifesto I analyzed in Part One.
 
In autumn 2013 Gucht openly proclaimed his support for a Regulatory Cooperation Council.
 

“Here again we have learned from the past: If we want regulators to work together in the future we need to make sure that they are equipped to do so. I therefore propose that the TTIP establishes a new Regulatory Cooperation Council that brings together the heads of the most important EU and US regulatory agencies.”

 
In December an EC draft proposal, “TTIP: Cross-Cutting Disciplines and Institutional Provisions” for “Regulatory Coherence”, was leaked. This is the EC’s broad proposal to US negotiators, and its signal to the corporations that it has fully embraced their plan.
 
It kicks off by defining the Scope: To coordinate all regulation which has anything to do with “any planned and existing trade”. That means all regulation, law, court decisions, etc. It’s the same principle as with the totalitarian expansion of the commerce clause in US constitutional jurisprudence, since it can encompass literally anything power wants it to. The coordination is also to be extended by whatever means necessary to EU member countries and US states. Specific sectoral provisions will supersede “cross-cutting horizontal” coordination, which sets a floor.
 
The section on the Institutional Framework takes up with gusto, down to details, the CoC/BE proposal for a Regulatory Cooperation Council which will supervise the whole coordination effort. This executive committee is to meet twice a year with the attendance of such officials as the EC secretary general and the head of the US Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). It’s to gauge the progress of the ongoing, always escalating and accelerating corporate assault. It’s to receive “substantive joint submissions” from the corporations and be “assisted by sectoral ad hoc working groups” such as the ones the BIO demanded be set up for GMOs and pharmaceuticals. An “advisory committee” of corporate bureaucrats would join the EC and US bureaucrats in “crafting regulatory measures”. This harkens back to the US bureaucratic ideal that the corporations “would essentially co-write regulation”.
 
While coordinating among themselves government bureaucrats are to keep the corporations informed throughout.
 
The proposal goes through the basics. The section on “Essential requirements for effective regulatory cooperation” describes how regulators “should actively cooperate” toward furthering corporate imperatives and the coordination goal. They must seek “equivalence”, exchange data and information, make any necessary communications to the corporations and other government bureaucracies. Lower-level cadres are to be proactive toward corporate goals. For example, an FDA cadre is not only to do what Big Ag and Big Drug ask, not only to consciously think of what the corporations want and carry out their instructions. He’s also to proactively look for ways to improve the corporate power position. The corporations are to give direct orders as they see fit.
 
The section is clear that constitutions, laws, democracy in general must not interfere with the bureaucratic coordination plan. These political elements are explicitly called “barriers” and “inflexibilities”. This underlines how democracy and politics as such are considered atavistic by the technocratic corporate and government bureaucracies.
 
Section 3 regarding “Periodic information on upcoming initiatives in the pipeline” is a kind of early warning system. Regulators are to keep one another and the corporations posted about “any regulatory and legislative initiatives with potential trade impact as of planning stage”. This obligation extends even to informal rumors and such. Thus if a USDA cadre hears though the grapevine about a proposal which may affect Monsanto’s interest, he’s obligated to inform Monsanto.
 
When we combine this duty to notify the corporation “regardless of whether [the regulator was officially] notified” with the strong requirement that regulators be “proactive”, as in the CoC/BE manifesto, this implies that regulators should also serve as corporate spies.
 
(The EC draft doesn’t emphasize the “evergreen” motion and proactivity of the regulators as strongly as the CoC/BE manifesto. But the fact that the EC agrees to the establishment of the Coordination Council, meeting twice a year, subordinated to the corporations, implies that in practice it will support and carry out all the elements of the manifesto.)
 
There’s also the duty to reply to any “reasoned request for information on upcoming regulatory measures”, including anything at the level of US states and EU member states. So these government regulators are to serve as publicly funded corporate political research and strategy agencies. They already serve as corporate marketers and propagandists, roles which will be expanded under Gleichschaltung.
 
“Regulatory dialogues” are to be held whenever a party requests one. These dialogues are to foster the coordination goal and be strategy sessions against any kind of democratic threat. One of the specific subjects will be to decide whether particular regulatory activity should be enshrined at the domestic level or at the extra-national level, within the globalization entities.
 
This includes specifics on how to influence and/or fight EU regulation which isn’t sufficiently pro-corporate, and the same for US executive or legislative action. The central government should “facilitate a dialogue”, i.e. threaten or cajole a US state or EU member country.
 
There will be ongoing taxpayer-funded “Impact assessment/Cost-benefit analysis” which will always be tendentious. It’ll recognize only costs and benefits to the corporations, including trumping up phony costs of public interest regulation and phony benefits to justify corporate welfare. Only fraudulent benefits will be touted to the people, while information about the vast costs to the people is suppressed. The analysis will be performed to corporate specifications: “Impact assessment should be informed by appropriate input from the stakeholders [corporations] concerned”. This fraudulent monetized measure of the value of policy will become the sole basis for all government policy.
 
Throughout this evolution regulators will be constantly reinforced in their consciousness of being corporate servants, and constantly spurred to serve the corporate imperative in all their day to day actions.
 
This also means they should make plans and seek to accomplish goals without regard for constitutions, laws, regulations which aren’t sufficiently coordinated, and court decisions.
 
They’ll be assisted in this by “investor to state dispute settlement” (ISDS), which will be the subject of another post. In addition to its corporate welfare goal, ISDS will seek to quash existing policy which isn’t sufficiently pro-corporate, and politically chill and preemptively quash any such prospective policy.
 
To sum up. Regulatory coordination as enshrined under the TTIP and TPP will seek to:
 
*Formally coordinate all regulators under the goal of serving corporate power. It will formally subordinate government bureaucracy to corporate bureaucracy. Bureaucracy will go to war against democracy, politics and whatever’s left of law, while sham law will be enlisted to serve corporate power. All real government power (i.e. the power of violence) will be put under corporate control.
 
*A race to the bottom among all governments in all regulatory sectors.
 
*The direct access of corporations to regulators. Corporations shall directly write regulations.
 
*Regulators shall always be proactive.
 
*Regulators shall always inform the corporations of any threat and help them to fight it.
 
*Regulators are to be required to respond to any corporate demands.
 
*All this is to be always in motion, always accelerating, always seeking the next way to further amplify corporate profit, power, control, domination.

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March 9, 2014

Agroecology and Food Sovereignty Are the Future, GMOs and Corporate Agriculture Are the Past

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Over a hundred Indian farmer unions combined to issue a Charter of Demands upon all political parties as the country enters its Lok Sabha (national parliamentary) elections. The demands include a basic guaranteed income for farmers and a moratorium on GMO field trials. Such modest and rational measures would be a minimum for any sane society which intends to eat in the future.
 
The farmers emphasize how economically untenable their position is, and how this has resulted in history’s most prodigious and sustained suicide wave – over 300,000 to date, with another suicide every 30 minutes – and one of history’s most massive forced refugee migrations, as over 2300 farmers are forced off the land every day.
 
These overwhelming movements of tragedy are caused directly by globalized commodity agriculture, which renders smallholder farming economically impossible in globalized country economies where no socioeconomic protections or safety net for farmers exist. This was already a crisis prior to GMOs, and the advent of GMOs, in every way a doubling down on all the most pernicious aspects of corporate industrial agriculture, has made it much worse.
 
This record of agricultural globalization and corporatization is clear and unbroken across Latin America and Asia, and to a lesser extent North America and Europe. By now there can be no doubt about the effect of globalization in agriculture: It drives massive numbers of people off the land and into concentration camps called “shantytowns”, from which there’s no escape for the mass; and it accelerates landgrabbing, the concentration of land and resources in the hands of a tiny number of corporations and other 1% entities.
 
By now this record is clear enough that anyone who still supports any form of agricultural globalization, for example the looming “New Alliance” plan for a “Second Green Revolution in Africa”, is willfully planning the economic and physical destruction of many millions of African smallholder farmers. Just as anyone who supports globalization in India is by now a willful supporter of the ongoing mass expropriation and what has to be called a genocide there. What else can you call a campaign of economic aggression which has forced hundreds of thousands to suicide? If a gangster hounds a debtor to suicide, it’s really a murder. If a gangster syndicate hounds 300,000, it’s a genocidal campaign committing crimes against humanity.
 
The alternative is clear. Organizations like Campesino a Campesino and the Asian Farmer Field Schools already exist to propagate the most cutting edge agroecological knowledge and techniques to smallholder farmers. Of course this modern knowledge is really a refinement of and supplement to the age old techniques. But unlike fraudulent technologies like GMOs, these conceptual refinements and enhancements which require little in the way of expensive inputs really do produce great gains in yield and nutritional quality.
 
Helped by this knowledge, which Southern farmers can largely propagate among themselves with little help from the West (and this help too being primarily in the form of non-proprietary knowledge; and of course we in the West have at least as much to learn from the innovators of the South), Southern farmers can provide for themselves and their communities. Southern communities can attain prosperity and security through their own efforts, if the neoliberal corporate West would only leave them alone.
 
Meanwhile the appalling poverty of large parts of the South is primarily the result of the depredations of corporate imperialism, AKA globalization.
 
So the road to a human future is clear enough. Support and join the efforts of Indian farmer unions like these, and the efforts of the hundreds of farmer and citizen groups who have combined to form the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa, and the efforts of the Landless Workers’ Movement in Brazil and elsewhere across Latin America, and the efforts of La Via Campesina, the Peasant Way, and the efforts of those of us in the West who are trying to build such movements here.
 
If humanity is to have a future, this great movement must succeed. We must defend ourselves as farmers and citizens, we must preserve our ability to democratically produce and distribute the true crops and real food, and we must build this effort as a movement to ensure the future of humanity.

 
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March 8, 2014

“Coexistence” With GMOs Is Impossible

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Organic farmers don’t get the massive corporate welfare subsidies that GMO-based agriculture does, even though the latter is destructive of agriculture and the environment. Organic farmers also aren’t paid by society for their immense services in improving human and animal health, the soil, water, air, and environment.
 
That’s our basic situation, already a tremendous injustice and stupidity. And that’s the context where an added assault is going on, compounding all the artificial obstacles already in place against real farmers.
 
Organic and non-GMO conventional farmers in the US face a growing crisis as their crop is increasingly damaged by the trespass and contamination committed by GMO growers. The word “crisis” is not exaggerated, as the economic damage is severe, and as contamination proceeds, our ability to physically maintain the genetic integrity of real crops becomes increasingly questionable.
 
This is the context of the USDA’s attempt to promulgate a so-called “co-existence” policy. “Coexistence” (CE, as I’ll abbreviate it) is not a practical measure, and no one thinks it is. The corporations, the USDA, and the courts all concede that GMO contamination is inevitable and cumulative. The “stewardship” measures the government recommends are both physically insufficient and economically impractical. These measures are all examples of “voluntary” self-regulation which everyone knows doesn’t work. If you want to have capitalism, you have to expect everyone to act like capitalists. In that case the only conceivable restraint is regulator force. But we know the regulators are and see themselves as helpmates of the big corporations, not honest referees. The USDA’s panel, the Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture (AC21), postulates GMO domination, i.e. the domination of a handful of corporations, as normative. This is standard government bureaucratic policy. (For those still mired in partisan consciousness, I’ll remind them that this is a typical part of Obama’s aggressive pro-Monsanto policy. Assisting the GMO cartel toward its domination goals is one of the realms with the most pure and complete concurrence between Democrats and Republicans.)
 
System terminology calls GMO contamination an “adventitious presence”, but this is a false euphemism, meant to imply the contamination is accidental and unintended. But the cartel, USDA, and courts all admit it’s inevitable and foreseen. Therefore it’s premeditated. We can call it “collateral”, as long as it’s understood that “collateral damage” doesn’t mean an “accident”, but refers to a premeditated effect, even if the effect is not technically “intended”. Of course in this case the cartel at least certainly does intend that contamination proceed. That’s part of its avowed goal to replace all non-GM agriculture with proprietary GMO agriculture.
 
CE is not practical or just and is not intended to be. On the contrary, the USDA’s notion of CE, which places all the responsibility and cost upon non-GM farmers to set up buffers, schedule their plantings so as to minimize contamination risk, and to buy extra crop insurance, is just another example of the familiar “altruism and self-sacrifice for you, egoism and selfishness for me”, i.e. for the GMO contractors. (As we must call those who grow GMOs. They exist under contract to Monsanto and other cartel members, they must obey Monsanto down to the fine print details, and their whole principle is to put agriculture under the control of idiot-proof technology algorithms. So they’re not “farmers” in any meaningful sense of the term. I stress that the technology is foolproof only in principle, but doesn’t work well at all in practice. But those who want to plant GMOs do so in the hope of greatly simplifying their task, so that they can stop being farmers and become the equivalent of managers of fully automated factories. The fact that the factory runs on poison and produces poison justifies any scorn we feel.)
 
Organic and non-GM farmers have been striving heroically to survive in this artificially created harsh circumstance, but so long as GMOs exist they’ll be fighting a losing battle. The USDA knows this, which is why it’s promulgating a CE policy, not as any seriously intended attempt to even slow GM contamination, but as a propaganda exercise. The basic goal is to convince farmers and citizens that CE is possible, and in this way to box out such ideas as that a legal ban or total abolition is necessary. It’s also meant to help provide legal cover to the trespassers and vandals, as the idea spreads of farmer lawsuits against the contractors who commit these crimes.
 
There’s no doubt at all about the moral and legal status here. When a contractor grows a GMO false crop and its pollen or seeds spread and contaminate the non-GM crops of a neighbor, he has trespassed on his neighbor’s land and vandalized his property. The same is true when he applies agricultural poisons and the poison drifts onto the land of anyone else. (This trespass and vandalism is set to increase exponentially as Agent Orange GMOs become commercialized. The herbicide 2,4-D is far more drift prone than even glyphosate, which has become ubiquitous in water, air, and soils.)
 
A government CE policy is meant to efface the entire history of morality and law and replace it with a GMO-friendly blank slate. It’ll implicitly reinforce the legally invalid way Monsanto and the cartel already force purchasers of GMO seed to take full legal responsibility for any contamination damage. Contamination is the predicted effect of the proper use of the product, so the seller can’t disavow responsibility for it within any legitimate legal framework. So far as I know no one’s tried to test this in court yet, since any small, resource-poor plaintiff like an organic farmer is likely to shrink from directly challenging the infinite resources of Monsanto. But if anyone did, we’d likely find the courts continuing to overthrow all conventional notions of law in order to uphold Monsanto’s prerogatives, as they’ve repeatedly done in affirming Monsanto’s lawsuits against innocent victims of contamination, refusing to force Monsanto to desist from this kind of action, and of course allowing patents on seeds, plants, and the products of life in general.
 
The USDA CE policy is meant to reinforce the theoretical liability of the growers themselves rather than the cartel, completely removing the cartel from the political/legal picture. It’s then meant to extend political and legal protection to the destructive contractors, shifting the entire economic and political burden to non-GM producers. It’s meant to render their position economically untenable, and politically put them in the position of being recalcitrant holdouts who won’t get with the GMO program, “luddites”. In Australia the Steve Marsh lawsuit is already being used by GMO proponents to argue that organic certification standards are too rigorous and need to be watered down. (And not just being argued by them. As in the US, the industrial organic sector supports the “CE” concept because it too wants the standards watered down. In 2011 US industrial organic, with support from secretary of agriculture Vilsack, tried to make a CE deal with Monsanto toward that goal. But Monsanto wasn’t interested.)
 
The fact is that industrial agriculture is physically unsustainable and totally destructive of the soil, water, and environment. GMOs, in addition to the poisons inherent to them, represent a doubling down on the whole unsustainable, destructive, obsolete, sclerotic paradigm. Only crackpot enthusiasts buy into the superficial notion that GMOs represent some cutting-edge technology. On the contrary, GMOs are part of an antiquated, backward, dinosaur, luddite set of ideas and practices. The AC21’s name is a fraud, as it does not look forward to the 21st century, but wants to keep us mired in the 20th until the industrial agricultural system completely collapses.
 
Agroecology, which means conventional breeding and sustainable practices enhanced and systematized by modern agronomic knowledge supplemented with advanced technology like marker assisted selection, is the cutting edge of agricultural science, knowledge, and practice. It’s the true bright future of agricultural technology, as well as the only possible way forward in the post-oil, post-aquifer period. Today’s organic agriculture strives against great economic and physical hardship to innovate toward this great goal. GMOs are the worst part of the system which economically cramps this entrepreneurship and sets up a bottleneck which is trying to jam all innovation. It does the same for the non-GM conventional sector, which has been attempting a resurgence as the failure of GM crops becomes evident.
 
So it’s GMOs and their supporters who are the luddite reactionaries trying to prop up the decrepit past and prevent, by force, the future from ever being born.
 
That’s the context in which the USDA has publicized its proposed “coexistence” policy and conducted a comment period on it, which just recently closed. As part of unmasking the whole concept as fraudulent, Food and Water Watch and OFARM (the Organic Farmers’ Agency for Relationship Marketing) conducted a survey of certified organic farmers to find out their attitudes toward CE, their expectations about GMO contamination, what measures against it they feel compelled to take, and what economic damage they’ve already sustained.
 
Evidently farmers were more willing to say they personally have suffered than to say the whole thing can’t work in principle, as the number declines from “I have been harmed and/or fear personal harm” (84%) to “I think so-called ‘good stewardship’ practices can’t work” (68%) to “it’s impossible for coexistence to work at all” (48%). (Those are my paraphrases of the positions.) That’s an example of how theoretical consciousness lags behind personal experiences, and why a movement is needed to publicize the facts, make individuals aware of how common their experiences are, render confrontations with the system more generic in action and concept, and in this way induce a broad consciousness of the basic facts of our situation. That’s what the 19th century Populist movement in America was able to achieve among cotton farmers, and that’s how it was able to build support for the Farmers’ Alliance co-ops, help everyone understand what this co-op movement was up against, and develop a broad consciousness of the need for greenbacker money and strong support for such policy as the subtreasury plan.
 
Similarly, we need to build support for the community food sector, relocalized organic agriculture, non-GM agriculture in general, a completely new system for the production and distribution of seeds, and the total abolition of GMOs.
 
This report certainly should help everyone involved (all the “stakeholders”, as the system would say; in our case this includes real farmers as well as everyone who eats food) understand the economic attack on organic farmers. To summarize the numbers:
 
*To set up buffers as the USDA recommends costs organic farmers a median of $2500 a year, with some reporting losses of over $20,000 in a year. This buffer recommendation is imposed only on the organic farmer who is the victim of the trespass and vandalism, not on the GMO contractor who is the trespasser and vandal.
 
*To delay planting to try to evade contamination from neighboring crops (again something forced on the recipient of the contamination) costs organic maize farmers a median $5280, $3312 for soy farmers.
 
*Organic certification, including special measures taken to meet the standards, costs an average of $1350 a year. According to one estimate, about a quarter of this on the average is measures to avoid GMO contamination. By this measure, GMOs cost the average organic farmer $340 a year in certification costs.
 
*Farmers report taking other measures to prevent contamination such as monitoring what neighbors plant, additional cleaning of equipment, choosing not to plant certain crops, buying extra-expensive seeds, and having seed testing done. These add up to a median cost of $520 a year.
 
*20% of organic farmers reported doing their own GMO testing on-farm, which cost a median of $200 a year.
 
*The total annual median cost to organic farmers of ensuring their crop was free of GM contamination is $6532-8500 a year respectively for soy and corn farmers, less but still significant for other kinds of farmers.
 
Organic farmers report a growing incidence of contamination.
 
*31% reported that they or buyers had detected contamination in their crop. This includes 34% of organic maize growers and 35% of soy farmers.
 
*Of those, 52% had a load of grain rejected because of contamination, costing a median $4500. This includes 59% of maize farmers and 57% of soy growers. Several respondents reported much higher losses, one as much as $367,000. When these rejections occur, the farmer must then pay a “double freight” cost to take the load back, costing an average of $1000-2000.
 
The advent of GMO alfalfa, which even the USDA admits will inevitably contaminate non-GM, will greatly worsen this crisis.
 
The report briefly mentions how contractors are increasingly surly and unwilling to cooperate in even trying to coexist, which is further proof that CE cannot work. It also goes to show what liars many Americans are when they claim to care about privacy and property. As usual, they only care about their own privacy and property, and feel they have license to assault that of others. Real farmers and citizens who support non-poisonous agriculture had better reciprocate.
 
The abolitionist political platform has to include, as a transitional measure, strict liability for any and all corporate producers, shareholders, sellers, contractor/growers, of any GMO variety, for any and all contamination caused by that variety. Since it’s often difficult to figure out the exact source of the contamination, we must hold each member of the GMO regime strictly accountable for any contamination caused by it, just like with any other conspiracy law.
 
This is no “radical” position, but merely turns the existing position right side up. Since the cartel and its contractors want 100% license and 0% responsibility, we have to turn this right side up and say anyone who exercises this license must be held 100% responsible for its bad effects.
 
One farmer wrote: “If [GMO] was not here this would not be going on. It’s their contamination that’s the problem but we have to guard against something we have no control over. How do you even get a patent on something you can’t control? The whole object is control and that is not our [organic farmers’] problem.” (p. 5)
 
Since this patented material inexorably expands itself and seeks to turn itself into a commons, we must also declare that all such patents are invalidated on this ground (along with all the other reasons GMO patents are invalid). If a property owner voluntarily gives away his property as a gift, it’s no longer his property. The cartel itself acknowledges that GMOs inevitably contaminate their surroundings. It also, through its lawsuits against the innocent victims of this contamination, affirms that this contamination is part of its “property”, and therefore takes responsibility for it.
 
Therefore, since this is a freely chosen, formally avowed, and intended (collateral) result of the GMO endeavor, and since the GMO regime claims to be a benefactor of humanity, from all this it follows that this contamination process is a unilateral and voluntary divestment of any property right. All farmers are therefore morally and philosophically free to save and replant any GMO they choose. They’d be legally free in any jurisdiction which had the rule of law. This is simply a logical extension of the ongoing dissemination process which the cartel itself acknowledges is inevitable, for which it takes full ownership wherever it thinks this can be profitable for it, and for which it therefore takes full responsibility, even though it wants to disavow this responsibility wherever it chooses.
 
According to reason, logic, and morality, we mustn’t allow this cherry-picking of responsibility and irresponsibility. If Monsanto can claim its patent anywhere it chooses, then we must impose the costs of contamination upon it, wherever these costs are incurred. More, we must recognize that Monsanto has in fact relinquished its patent rights to the world.
 
(Not that we actually want farmers to take control of GMO seeds and keep replanting them over the long run. But if one’s going to plant GMOs anyway, it’s better to accept them as the gift Monsanto implicitly says they are than to pay for them.)
 
The report includes some recommendations, which unfortunately comprise a set of “reforms” still mired in the same CE mentality which the report documents as being futile. These ideas for some kind of GMO contamination superfund, or for “Better Coexistence” stewardship measures, are really no ideas at all, especially since the USDA clearly intends to continue in the opposite direction. This is further confirmation that coexistence cannot work, and that nothing short of total abolition will suffice.

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