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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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