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May 31, 2014

Western Australia Supreme Court Declares: “Coexistence” With GMOs Is Impossible

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A judge writing for the supreme court of the state of Western Australia has issued a summary judgement against Steve Marsh, an organic farmer whose certification was revoked when his land was trespassed upon and his soil damaged by GMO canola grown by a neighboring Monsanto contractor. This trespass and vandalism caused severe financial damage to Marsh, over $85000.
 
The court hung its hat on a legalistic peg, that the defendant Michael Baxter harvested his canola in a legal and “orthodox” way. Some quotes from the media summary:
 
 

Mr Baxter had grown a lawful crop in 2010. In deciding both to grow and to swathe that crop that season he had acted with advice of a local agronomist, Mr Robinson. (p.4)
 
Mr Baxter had used an orthodox and well accepted harvest methodology by swathing his RR canola crops in 2010….Mr Baxter was not to be held responsible as a broad acre farmer merely for growing a lawful GM crop and choosing to adopt a harvest methodology (swathing) which was entirely orthodox in its implementation….Mr Baxter had not been shown to have acted negligently, either by growing or then by swathing the lawfully grown GM canola crop in 2010. (p.5)
 
If this is correct, then it’s a stark declaration coming from the highest court in the land that GMOs cannot coexist with organic and non-GM conventional crops. It’s saying that even given the most punctilious adherence to the best practices, contamination is still inevitable. It’s further proof that GMOs are physically totalitarian and offer no options but total abolition or total surrender. See my basic statement on the fact that coexistence with GMOs is impossible.
 
It’s also more proof that the institutions of “our” governments are in fact alien to us and predatory upon us, and see all of humanity as a colony to be ruthlessly exploited. The court is clear that it will recognize no value as having any rights as against the corporate imperative. On the contrary, at least as long as the corporate assault follows the nominal law*, which is generally written and enforced on behalf of the corporations in the first place, humanity is to be allowed no recourse within the system.
 
For these reasons the conclusion some reformers want to draw, that societies need “biotrespass” laws which would specifically address GMO trespass and property destruction, is inadequate. Such a legal proposal goes against the mainstream legal push in favor of the corporate GMO project, and is also part of the “coexistence” framework which cannot physically work regardless. What would even damage awards avail us if non-GMO farming became physically impossible and agricultural germplasm continued to be suicidally narrowed and depleted?
 
The court also saw fit to criticize the Australian organic standards as being too strict: The certification organization had and “unjustified reaction” and made an “erroneous application” of organic standards in decertifying Marsh. So now we have lawyers moonlighting as organic agronomists. This kind of ignorant layman opinionation is typical of GMO proponents, where it’s commonplace to see molecular biologists pontificating about agriculture and plant technicians bloviating about human medicine. (Mind you, it’s not abolitionists who insist that formal credentials necessarily mean anything. We believe in judging people by the content of their character and quality of their ideas, not according to how much alphabet soup follows their names. But since it’s the GMO hacks who constantly insist that democracy must defer to their credentialed expertise, we shall hold them to their own standard and point out that according to their own standard almost all of them are nothing but opinionated, formally ignorant laymen.)
 
In this the court is regurgitating a canned talking point the GMO hacks have been touting since early in the case. Contrary to this canned lie, the organic standards are moderate, and it took severe contamination of Marsh’s land for this land to fail to meet the standard. But in Australia as in the US, organic standards are under assault and being watered down. The goal everywhere is to normalize GMOs under the “organic” rubric.
 
This is another confirmation that coexistence is impossible, since there’s no level of rigor for any non-GMO standard which this court and institutions like it wouldn’t declare to be too rigorous. The court is clear that any such standard is an irritant which the system must not tolerate. Again, nothing is to be allowed to get in the way of the corporate imperative.
 
This case therefore exemplifies how GMOs are totalitarian in the physical sense as well as how their regime is totalitarian in a political and socioeconomic sense. These lead the reasons why “coexistence” is impossible, and why humanity must abolish GMOs. This court’s decision is a document further proving the abolitionist case.
 
[*Monsanto cannot profit unless its seed keeps being planted. The “farmers” who plant this seed, really a kind of industrial shift supervisor, thus primarily function as vectors of corporate profit. They’re under contract to Monsanto to deliver this profit, and to do so according to Monsanto’s strict specifications.]
 
[**The difference between what I call passive corporatists and active corporatists is this concern for the forms of law. Active corporatists support the corporate assault in every context even where it directly breaks the law.]

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May 30, 2014

GMO News Summary May 30th, 2014

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*The third March Against Monsanto brought together hundreds of thousands of demonstrators  through thousands of actions worldwide. These dedicated days of action are tips of an iceberg which help the billions of dissenters worldwide see their cause out in the open and take heart that all of humanity is with them.
 
*The Global GMO-Free Coalition has launched. It plans to coordinate worldwide news and facts about GMOs and counteract the canned lies of the cartel.
 
*Earth Open Source has released a new, greatly expanded edition of its 2012 report, “GMO Myths and Truths”. The original version has been one of the resources I’ve consulted most often, especially where it comes to the health implications of GMOs.
 
*I’ve long said that when GMO labeling becomes mandated by law, it will still largely be up to citizen groups to be vigilant where it comes to compliance and enforcement. We can see an example of what we’ll be up against, and what’s needed, in a new report from the African Center for Biosafety, which has found a general flouting of South Africa’s GMO labeling requirements across most leading white bread brands. 
 
*An analysis commissioned by the Chinese Academy of Medical Science has found high levels of glyphosate and its breakdown product AMPA in imported soybeans and in food products derived from these soybeans.
 
*The Chinese study is part of the huge amount of work we need in order to fill in the abyss of negligence and fraud which pro-GMO scientism and regulation has created with its refusal to abide by even the most basic rules of scientific procedure and integrity. The story of how Monsanto’s Roundup Ready (RR) soybeans were approved for importation into Japan provides a typical example of this charlatanism of corporate researchers and regulators.
 
A research team within the Health and Welfare Ministry was allowed to assess the Monsanto application. It did so under severe time and logistics restrictions. They weren’t allowed to make copies and had to take notes by hand as they worked their way through the mountain of documents. It’s general Monsanto practice to submerge what little content there is in their “safety reports” under thousands of pages’ worth of empty bureaucratic loquacity. The reason for this becomes clear to anyone who does have the opportunity and fortitude to look for the substance, since the actual data raises red flags at all points. The research team found six major problems, each of which proves the claims of Monsanto and the regulator that RR soybeans are safe.
 
1. RR soybeans are not “substantially equivalent” (as the ideological jargon calls it) to the isogenic conventional variety. On the contrary, RR soybeans had elevated levels urease and lectin when toasted as they would be for food processing. These are respectively a potentially harmful enzyme and protein. Monsanto rigged the test by ordering the soybeans to be heated to ever-higher, unrealistic temperatures until these substances were finally destroyed, then submitted that as its official “result”.
 
2. Monsanto claimed to have sufficiently analyzed the transgenic soy proteins for allergenicity but in fact analyzed only 3% of the amino acid sequences, and then dogmatically declared that the rest of the sequnce in the soybeans must be the same as the sequence in the bacteria. The “analysis” thus cited the protein of the E. coli bacterial DNA which is inserted into the soybean genome, rather than the protein of the transgenic soybean DNA itself. 
 
3. Based on this “finding”, Monsanto then used the E. coli-derived proteins for all the animal tests, rather than the realistically relevant RR soybean proteins. This is a standard experimental fraud perpetrated by the GMO cartel and abetted by regulators. This same fraudulent procedure is routinely used for Bt varieties, where the Bt tested is derived from the bacterial source rather than from the actual Bt-expressing crop. One of the main bombshell results of the 1998 Pusztai experiment was his finding that transgenic lectin-expressing potatoes had toxic effects which did not manifest where rats were fed non-GM potatoes which were mechanically injected with the same lectin.
 
4. RR soybean-based feed was found to have considerably higher levels of residue of glyphosate and its breakdown product AMPA than was allowable under the EPA standards of the time. Indeed, in the document’s conclusion Monsanto openly expressed its intention to lobby the EPA to raise the allowable level of residue in order to encompass the levels which RR soy was bound to assimilate. And so the EPA did, and so all regulators always do – they raise the level of what’s called a “safe” poison concentration to whatever the corporate sellers need.
 
5. Meanwhile the RR soybeans used in animal feeding trials was not sprayed with Roundup! In addition to the other ways in which Monsanto rigs its feeding tests – using an irrelevantly short duration, measuring only industrial parameters like quick weight gain but not looking for symptoms of toxicity, introducing fraudulent “historical” data sets to drown out any evidence of toxicity which is forced upon the experimenters’ attention – this alone completely invalidates the results, since how can a combined transgenic/herbicide-sprayed system be assessed for safety if you don’t spray the herbicide?
 
6. In spite of all these experimental frauds, the male rat groups still showed statistically significant physical differences, which the regulator dogmatically declared to be of “no significance”. 
 
This is typical of how every kind of GMO was approved in every country where they have been approved. Never once, anywhere on earth, has any government performed or required a legitimate safety study of any GMO, nor has any corporation ever performed such a study.
 
(As we also see here, regulation of poisons like glyphosate is also a farce.) 
 
*Commenting on the people’s vote in Jackson County, Oregon to ban GMO cultivation in the county, Syngenta claims it’ll obey the law. Syngenta leases fields in the county where it grows its GMO sugar beet seeds. Of course this is not the same as pledging not to sue to quash this democratic outcome, and the company is being noncommittal about that.
 
Meanwhile officials in Josephine County are already talking about trying to weasel out of enforcing the law the county’s people just voted by a wide margin. County officials say they don’t know how to enforce the law in the face of state-proclaimed preemption powers. The answer, of course, is to go ahead and enforce it as written and deal with state attempts to override the results as those come up.
 
What they really mean is they don’t want to enforce the law, much like Maine’s attorney general openly said she doesn’t want to defend that state’s new GMO labeling law against any corporate lawsuit. She said she agrees with the “corporate speech” position.
 
So here’s another example of how activists for labeling or for bans will need not only to fight to get the measures legally in place, but will often have to fight to force recalcitrant officials to obey the very laws they’re supposed to represent.

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May 27, 2014

The Corporate Poison Regime and Regulatory Shamming: The EFSA’s “Public Consultation” on Glyphosate

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GM-Free Cymru has filed a formal complaint over the EFSA’s farcical “public consultation” over whether the EU should renew its approval of glyphosate and raise the allowable level of the poison in water and food, as Germany, the EU’s “rapporteur state” for glyphosate, recently recommended.
 
Although the EFSA is legally required to receive public comments, it flouted this requirement by setting up a tortuous, arcane online submission system which was designed to make it near-impossible to submit substantive comments. Respondents were required to tailor their comments to EFSA specifications including tight space restrictions. The EFSA required commenters to sign a waiver basically disavowing their right to have their comments published at EFSA discretion. This too is designed to evade the law. There are several other parts of GM-Free Cymru’s complaint detailing how the process is openly discouraging to potentially adverse commenters, and how the initial German assessment is corrupt and has had information illegally and unscientifically redacted from public releases. 
 
Most substantively fraudulent, the EFSA declared that it would delete any comments which referred to Roundup. Respondents are allowed to comment only on glyphosate. This is in spite of the fact that in agricultural practice it’ll be Roundup and similar formulations which are actually sprayed, while pure glyphosate is never used anywhere but in the laboratory test.
 
This is a standard scam on the part of poison manufacturers and regulators. The regulatory process, meager and inadequate as it is, deals only with an isolated so-called “active ingredient” such as glyphosate. It never deals with the kind of commercial formulation which will be used in the real world. Therefore it’s a fraud from any scientific or government ethics point of view. “Active ingredient” isn’t a practically meaningful term, since the commercial formulation will contain several bioactive ingredients. Instead this is an ideological term meant to isolate one ingredient in an unworldly ivory tower manner. Under such isolation of a single ingredient which never appears in isolation in reality, it’s easier for corporations and regulators to manufacture the sham semblance of testing and assurances of safety.
 
Meanwhile independent testing and epidemiological evidence has abundantly documented that many such commercial poisons are far more toxic in their real-world form than the “active ingredient” is in laboratory isolation.
 
In the case of glyphosate, the evidence proves that the combination of glyphosate with the surfactant POEA is far more toxic to human health than glyphosate in isolation. This combination, along with several other truly active poisons, is typical of glyphosate’s commercial formulations including Roundup.
 
Regulators are practically robotic in mechanically raising allowable levels of industrial poisons in air, water, soil, crops, food, and human bodies in response to corporate demands. It’s literally the case that the regulator sets the “safe” level of the poison based on how much of the poison the corporations expect to sell. When the corporations project a market expansion and concomitant increase in the environmental presence of the poison, they lobby the regulator to raise the “safe” level commensurately. The regulator invariably complies, since the regulator sees its job as to assist the corporate prerogative, never to hinder it.
 
I’ve described this process before, calling it “regulator triangulation”. By triangulation I mean the regulator pretends to be a public servant but is really trying to represent a corporatist agenda as “public service”.
 
1. The government regulator regards the corporate prerogative as normative. Indeed, as an EFSA memo discussing the EU law which would gradually ban endocrine-disrupting chemicals like Roundup openly says, the regulator ideology is based on an assumed corporate right to maximum profit. Any competing value is generally considered an irritant to be quashed. Under no circumstance will even the most conscientious regulator do anything which would seriously hinder corporate profit and control.
 
2. Given (1), a regulator may or may not try to ameliorate the worst harms and “abuses”. As we see in this case and many others, the EFSA is the kind of bureaucracy which doesn’t even want meager amelioration, but is gung ho on behalf of the full corporate onslaught.
 
3. The regulator then places its imprimatur on the resulting policy. It calls this the result of meticulous deliberation which takes the public interest into account. It declares the product “safe” and promises its own professional vigilance in ensuring the policy is carried out. But in fact only the corporate agenda and how to camouflage it went into the deliberation, “safe” is an Orwellian term which means, “what’s the minimum paper restraint we can politically get away with?”, and there’s seldom even a modest attempt on the regulator’s part to enforce this sham minimum. The US EPA’s “refugia” policy for Bt crops is a good example of a policy which is weak and insufficient in principle and is indifferently enforced in practice, whose only real purpose is as propaganda.
 
By means of this parallax effect the regulator helps direct public attention to a sham depiction of “good government” and “public health” while the real position is a direct, coordinated assault of the corporate state on public health and on every other human value.
 
The EFSA’s campaign to help force more of this viciously toxic poison upon us while making it look “safe” is a typical example. As is the contempt for democracy and accountability it’s demonstrating in the process. But then, the whole “public comment” process is intrinsic to the basic regulation scam.

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May 26, 2014

The Underground Memorial

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This is a day where everyone’s talking about those who fought for freedom, which is odd because officially it’s a day to celebrate those who fought for empire and power. However that may be, I’m grateful for the reminder to celebrate the domestic activists – abolitionists, anti-corporate dissidents, community rights activists, farmer organizers, labor organizers, environmentalists, civil rights activists, suffragettes, civil liberties defenders, and others – who are the true fighters for freedom and democracy in American history. It’s lean times for us these days.
 
For the moment we still live in a society where as a rule one won’t be arrested and disappeared for saying something in opposition to the government. Nevertheless, the more I think about it the more it seems to me that the situation of real dissidents against the corporate state today is more like that of the illegal, underground Russian movement under the tsar’s regime than that of, say, the decriminalized and openly legal German socialist party under the kaiser.
 
True, unlike the Russian socialists we can openly and freely disseminate our blogs and social media presences and, if we can afford them, our newspapers. We can call public meetings and talk about whatever we want if anyone shows up. But while we won’t be arrested for this, we will be utterly swamped by the corporate noise machine and ignored by the inertia of the mass society. Wherever we become recognizable at all, we’re targeted not for direct repression but for misdirection and co-optation by a propaganda and organization machine of unprecedented skill and professionalism. This campaign is more insidious even than that of the tsarist secret police, which also had its wiles in addition to its brute violence.
 
Unlike the German party, which was massive, with its ideas and influence ubiquitous, or similar American mass movements, we struggle to consistently even recognize one another and communicate, let alone organize and carry out action.
 
If this assessment of true anti-corporatist dissent (as opposed to the innumerable forms of reformist compromise with evil, and the innumerable forms of de jure scamming and selling out) as a kind of de facto persecuted underground movement is correct, then what organizational, strategic, and tactical conclusions would follow?

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May 24, 2014

March Against Monsanto 2014

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Today, May 24th, is the third March Against Monsanto. It’s a day of solidarity and action for the growing world movement against this worst of all corporate scourges. There will be hundreds of actions around the world.
 
This day of action for democracy and freedom, along with previous and future ones, is a punctuation of the worldwide day-to-day resistance movement across the global South and Europe. If the event was thought up in the West, and is top-loaded with North American events, this is because the West hasn’t yet developed a permanent basis for a constant, relentless, disciplined struggle. But along with the community rights, food sovereignty, and labeling movements, the publicity and education stemming from this event will help generate a political will and recruit abolitionists who will then form the fighting organizations we need.
 
There’s many reasons to fight to abolish Monsanto and GMOs. They’re agriculturally and environmentally totalitarian. They inevitably contaminate all other crops and the environment, and accelerate soil, water, air, and habitat destruction. They accelerate the same climate change which is cited as one of the reasons corporate ag must allegedly provide “new technology”. The more that GMOs are field tested and commercialized, i.e. the longer they exist at all, the worse this contamination shall become, and the more we’ll pass points-of-no-return where the contamination shall become significantly malign and irreversible.
 
They’re economically and politically totalitarian. The GMO cartel is escalating what’s already a non-competitive monopoly concentration in the seed sector. It aggressively uses this position to build horizontal and vertical monopoly power, enforce its dictates up and down the food production and distribution chains, drive non-GM seed varieties out of the market (and out of existence), greatly jack up seed prices, force obscenely lopsided “contracts” upon farmers, persecute farmers with harassment, thuggery, and lawsuits, and get governments to enact repressive seed laws intended to escalate and accelerate this whole process.
 
That’s just one way in which the GMO cartel has seized control of governments around the world. While governments are naturally controlled by corporate power, the kind of control being exercised by the GMO corporations, and the unique threat to humanity and the Earth posed by such corporate control over agriculture and food, render this form of corporate control over government particularly nefarious. People can try to argue about the implication of corporate power where it comes to other sectors, but there can be no argument here – humanity must purge this clear and present danger to our freedom, our democracy, and our literal survival.
 
GMOs also present a clear and present danger to our health. All independent studies, and even almost all of the corporations’ own rigged studies, find reason for concern or alarm. The genetic engineering process itself, and the massive glyphosate residues in our food and water, wreck our microbiome (our internal gastrointestinal microbial community with which our bodies cooperate for mutual health), cause gastrointestinal inflammation which leads to every kind of disease, trigger escalations in allergies, asthma, autism, and every other kind of autoimmune disease, cause cancer, organ damage, infertility, miscarriages, and birth defects. These are just the best documented effects. Glyphosate-tolerant crops are also nutritionally denuded, and eating the processed foods made from them merely adds to the nutritional deficiency already inherent in diets centered on such “foods”, and the many diseases this can cause or exacerbate.
 
The most amazing thing is how all this is over such a pathetic, worthless product. GMOs are crap products which don’t work for any purpose which could actually help people. Their yield is poor, no improvement over non-GM conventional agriculture; they require far more pesticides than conventional ag; by helping weeds and insect pests build resistance to pesticides, they generate superweeds and superbugs against themselves, uncontrollable by the same poisons which were supposed to be the reasons for having these GMOs in the first place; the “special” GMOs – those for drought resistance, vitamin fortification, nitrogen-fixing, etc. – are all media hoaxes.
 
All these factors build the despair, anger, and sense of social, political, and economic cramp which are driving the March Against Monsanto, and the vast global movement of which it’s a part.
 
The trenchline runs across the global South, while here behind enemy lines in the West we are rising to take back our corporate-invaded land and agriculture.
 
On every front, from Southern farmer opposition, to Western consumer and citizen opposition, to the growing consensus that GMOs are shoddy and inferior in every way to either organic or non-GM conventional production, to the cartel’s own broadening implicit admission that GE doesn’t work for anything beyond poison delivery, to the incontrovertible fact that nature is routing GMOs on every front, and that all the new-fangled “second generation” products are nothing but desperate rearguard actions against the surging weeds and insects (which can be effectively controlled ONLY through agroecological practices), it’s increasingly clear that nothing but brute force keeps GMOs in the field at all, literally or politically/economically. GMOs are about nothing but greed for money and power, and are the enemy of every human value.
 
The March Against Monsanto is part of the rising counterforce of humanity which shall break and rout this scourge upon our earth.

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May 23, 2014

GMO News Summary May 23rd, 2014

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*Congratulations to the Community Rights movement and the people of Jackson and Josephine counties in Oregon who voted by wide margins to ban cultivation of GMOs. The initiatives also declare seed patents invalid. These defensive measures are part of an affirmative effort to rebuild local food sovereignty.
 
Benton County will vote on a similar measure in November, and several other Oregon counties are in varying stages of preparation to launch their own initiatives.
 
*As the Russian parliament ponders a bill which would effectively ban cultivation of GMOs, the non-profit Genetic Safety Public Association is enlisting researchers and raising funds to perform what it says will be the “first-ever independent international research on GMOs.”
 
*A new meta-analysis further confirms the link between glyphosate and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which is especially prevalent among farmers and agricultural workers.
 
*European Commission bureaucrats are plotting to evade enforcement of a law passed by the European Parliament which would effectively ban for most uses endocrine disrupting poisons like glyphosate and neonicotinoids. The EFSA and DG SANCO (the EC’s chemicals regulators) have been dragging their feet and missed several legislatively mandated deadlines for presenting plans to enforce the law. Sweden has announced it will file suit in the European Court of Justice to force EC bureaucrats to obey the law.
 
A memo from an EFSA cadre to DG SANCO proposes that the two bureaucracies team up to evade the law by expanding a narrow exemption for uses that create “negligible exposure” for humans into a giant loophole. The mechanism presumably would be the normal one wherein the bureaucracy simply raises the level of exposure which it dogmatically declares to be “safe” or “negligible”. This has been the pattern of US and EU bureaucracies all along – allowed levels of human exposure to any agricultural poison are set not according to any scientific standards based on health evidence, but instead are set at whatever level the corporations desire. The bureaucracy then declares this level to be “safe” in doctrinaire fundamentalist fashion.
 
The memo also delves into EFSA philosophy. It objects to the law in principle on the grounds that the law would restrict what the government bureaucracy sees as a corporate right to profit. It’s easy to see why the EC is so ardent for the TTIP, with its “Investor/State Dispute Settlement” (ISDS) provision, to be concluded and forcibly imposed on Europe. Only this can maximize the ideology and enforcement of a corporate license to seek profit regardless of any and all other values.
 
*New Zealand’s High Court has overruled a ruling by the NZ Environmental Protection Agency that a “genome editing” technique being used by the country’s publicly funded corporate research group Scion does not qualify as genetic engineering and therefore does not need to be regulated as such.
 
This is one win amid a general trend in the US and elsewhere to try to remove new kinds of GMOs from any regulatory oversight at all, meager as this oversight is.

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May 17, 2014

Make It Up on (Propaganda) Volume – The Golden Rice Hoax Marches On

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The hoax product “golden rice” continues to be touted through the corporate media and academia bullhorn. This is even though it doesn’t exist except in flawed experimental form while its own proprietor, the International Rice Research Institute, admits that even if it ever were perfected and available to the public, it may not actually work to reduce vitamin A deficiency. The PR campaign has an inverse ratio of noisy lies to real world achievement.
 
The media continues to spew the typical lies. The fact is that never once has anyone actually tried to deliver “golden rice” anywhere and been prevented from doing so by citizen action. That’s because the product doesn’t exist in deployable form. Researchers continue to struggle to breed an indica variety of the product. Any phony regulatory struggle hasn’t even begun yet, as the technical problems of the project remain insurmountable. Yet we keep being told by professional liars that the US government and the GMO cartel, the most powerful government and one of the most powerful corporate oligopoly sectors on earth, are being thwarted by “powerful forces”. When I ponder the flimsiness and sheer idiocy of the lies GMO proponents tell, I don’t know what’s greater, these people’s moral depravity or their intellectual stupidity.
 
Of course, citizens will indeed fight wherever we have to, as we do vs. every other predatory poison GMO.
 
The fact is that golden rice has never been anything more than a media hoax. Since all real-world GMOs are simply poison delivery systems (they either produce insecticide inside their own tissues, and/or can withstand having herbicide sprayed upon them, which then suffuses all their tissues), the core propgagnda gambit of the GMO cartel, that GMOs are necessary to “feed the world”, seems suspicious on its face. This has actually long since been proven to be false. Since corporate agriculture has been in control of global agriculture and food systems for over fifty years, and the world now produces enough food for 10 billion people, and yet of 7 billion alive now over 1 billion go hungry, it’s a proven fact that corporate agriculture cannot feed the world and does not want to. Which stands to reason, since corporate agriculture doesn’t produce food, it produces commodities.
 
When you think about it for a moment, and add the fact that GMOs do nothing but double down on every aspect of corporate industrial agriculture, it becomes obvious that “feed the world” is nothing more or less than a classical Big Lie.
 
That’s the huge hurdle the pro-GMO liars have to surmount in their propaganda. How to get people not to think! The “golden rice” hoax was concocted toward this goal. It’s said to be humanitarian, it’s about vitamins rather than poison, it piggybacks on the immiseration/helplessness theme of the Green Revolution and 80s-era celebrity philanthropy, it’s allegedly being offered to the disadvantaged “Third World” as charity.
 
These are all standard lies. What the global South needs is the revitalization and strengthening of its own agricultural systems in order to produce food for itself on its own land, rather than the accelerating destruction of its self-sustaining community agriculture in favor of corporate commodity plantations on stolen land.
 
The epidemic of vitamin A deficiency is a direct result of this destruction of sustainable agricultural communities. Throughout agricultural history people have grown a plethora of regionally-adapted nutrient-rich crops, including the root crops and leafy vegetables which are rich in vitamin A. But all this is lost to industrialized farmers who grow not food but export commodities, and the much vaster mass of ex-farmers driven off their land and into shantytowns. Those who are driven off their land lose all ability to provide any food for themselves and their people, while those who hang on as industrial farm laborers also lose their ability to grow nutritious food, since they now grow only commodities.
 
The epidemic of night blindness is a typical proof that those economically destroyed by commodification cannot use cash to buy what they need. Specifically, it’s one of many pieces of proof that corporate ag cannot “feed the world”. Since it was the corporate control of agriculture which generated the epidemic in the first place, why would any sane person trust them to provide the solution using their own methods? It’s self evidently a lie.
 
Meanwhile in the Philippines a government program of vitamin A supplementation has already temporarily treated the symptom, and vitamin A deficiency is no longer a major problem, or won’t be so long as this program exists. So why is such a golden rice propaganda offensive being undertaken there? Precisely because the corporate system seeks to eradicate the few effective government programs which still exist. The successful Philippine program is an ongoing affront to corporatism. The privatization of all “solutions” is of course a major goal in itself.
 
Of course supplementation is no real solution. The problem is the destruction of humanity’s organic presence on the land and the naturally nutritious diet which goes with this. The true solution is to transform our agriculture on an agroecological basis and our communities and economies on a food sovereignty basis. This is the only way forward, from the point of view of big problems like the unsustainability of industrial agriculture, the wholesale toxification of our natural environment, climate change, and escalating economic and political tyranny, all the way down to specific problems like vitamin A deficiency disease.
 
Meanwhile “golden rice”, if it worked, would be nothing but a glorified vitamin supplement. But this vitamin supplement would be the result of a properly configured “public-private partnership”, where the public pays all the costs and bears all the risks while the corporations glean all the profit. Although Syngenta claims to have “donated” its patents on golden rice, this only contemplates the product’s targeted humanitarian “demonstration” stage. If the product were ever truly commercialized, this commercialization would be on the standard proprietary basis. Even the IRRI explicitly reserves the right to take out patents. But the fact that Syngenta seeks to drum up such an altruistic propaganda nimbus is in itself a strong indication that the product is not expected to ever work in a practical way, but is intended to never be anything more than the sum of its hype.

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May 16, 2014

GMO News Summary May 16th, 2014

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*The farming trial of Bt brinjal (eggplant) in Bangladesh has turned into a fiasco, with the twenty farmers who received the seedlings lamenting their participation in the government trial. The seeds haven’t yet been released for commercial sale, but instead the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI), with much fanfare, provided selected farmers with the seedlings and gave them technical support throughout the trial. The crops are a joint project of Monsanto and BARI. (That means a “public private partnership” where the government does all the intellectual work, the taxpayers pay the costs, and the corporation pockets the profits.)
 
The result, by all accounts, has been dismal. The crops grew poorly and were attacked by pests. The government claims “only” secondary pests attacked, the farmers say the crop’s endemic Bt poison performed poorly even against the target fruit and shoot borers. Of course even such instantaneous attacks by secondary pests would constitute a significant speeding up of nature’s inexorable counterattack against GMOs. Usually where a Bt crop temporarily functions against the target insect, it takes a few years for secondary pests to fill the vacuum and ravage the crop. Either way, heckuva job BARI! It’s a new world record for GMO failure.
 
Unfortunately we can’t just laugh at this. That GMOs are a failure for farmers is par for the course. But a far more dire problem is that Southeast Asia is the world’s center of origin and diversity for eggplant. Over thousands of years the farmers of India, Bangladesh, and other countries have developed thousands of eggplant varieties superbly adapted to every regional vagary. But the scorched earth monoculture model of industrial GMOs threatens to contaminate, level, and eradicate this vast genetic diversity. The legal and economic structures of patented seed are designed to wipe out all non-patented seed. The goal of the GMO cartel is to eradicate natural brinjal biodiversity and replace it with a perilously narrow genetic range of patented varieties. When these inevitably fail, as this first release is already failing, the result will be the complete collapse of the crop.   
 
*The EFSA wants to nearly double the allowed daily human intake of glyphosate, a poison which is known to cause birth defects, reproductive failure, endocrine disruption, DNA damage, organ damage, and cancer. As always, regulator-approved exposure levels are based not on scientific evidence of safety, but simply on how much exposure industrial agriculture is forcing upon workers and eaters.
 
Also as always, what meager regulator appraisal there’s been has been only on the so-called “active ingredient” glyphosate, and not on the far more toxic commercial formulation Roundup which is used in real life. The adjuvants and surfactants, alleged “inert ingredients” in Roundup and other commercial poisons, by themselves or in synergy with the “active” ingredient are often far more toxic than the active ingredient itself.
 
*Mi Zhen-yu, a Chinese general and former coordinator of military science, has published an article in the government newspaper “Science and Technology Abstracts” criticizing China’s increasing dependency on poison-based agriculture and the health harms which are already manifesting, and the worse effects likely to come. (This newspaper is part of the Chinese equivalent of the corporate media. It’s telling that a government publication prints such a criticism of agricultural poisons.)
 
He singles out two factors: How China is increasingly shifting from its historical soy cuisine, based on using fermented soy as a condiment, to the use of cheap soybean oil directly in food, and to the Western pattern of using soybean oil in processed food; and the massive application of human-toxic glyphosate to the GMO soybeans China imports. Glyphosate is designed to suffuse the cells of the plant, and it becomes an inextricable, omnipresent part of the tissues of Roundup Ready crops. Studies demonstrate how RR soy contains very high endemic levels of glyphosate and its breakdown component AMPA, which are not found in soybeans which are grown organically or in non-GMO conventionally grown soy.
 
Zhen-yu also emphasizes the fact that since glyphosate is a potent mineral chelator, Roundup Ready crops are nutritionally denuded. The transgene enables them to survive the herbicide application, but they’re not unscathed. Symbolically of the effect industrial food has on people, an RR GMO survives but in a weakened, malnourished state. This chelation and subsequent malnutrition, along with glyphosate’s hindering of the EPSPS enzyme which is critical for nutritional assimilation, is how glyphosate kills plants. Roundup Ready GMOs merely have mechanisms which help them grimly endure the toxin.
 
The article surveys the scientific evidence on Roundup, tallies the declining health of Chinese in recent years concurrent with China’s switch from being a soybean exporter to importer, gives examples of typical government collusion with the poisoners, points out the systematic refusal of governments and corporations to perform ANY safety study on GMOs and their associated poisons, and adds Zhen-yu’s voice to the growing chorus of scientists, public health professionals, farmers, consumers, and citizens calling for real studies to be done on GMOs and their companion poisons like glyphosate.
 
Of course we already have sufficient scientific evidence to draw a conclusion about poison-based agriculture. The presence or absence of the political will to abolish it will in the end be a measure of political consciousness and moral courage. Science can only supplement this. Meanwhile hack scientism does all it can to help repress morality and ensure that the only politics of agriculture and food are the anti-politics of corporatism.
 
*The Chinese army has announced a ban on sourcing of GMO grains and oil, according to a city grain bureau website report.
 
In considering this and previous moves by Chinese government ministries (see here, for example), I assume that no one in the Chinese hierarchy really cares about the health or environmental hazards of GMOs, nor that they care about the socioeconomic effects on farmers. Rather, I assume that their main perspective, which is correct from their point of view, is that this is a power struggle with the US corporatist system. GMO propagation is a critical strategic weapon of Western corporatism. The Chinese, and probably the Russians, want to prevent their own agriculture from being subsumed in the Monsanto-dominated Western regime, while they figure out their own agricultural strategy for the era of oil’s decline. This may include trying to build their own rival GMO cartel.
 
Meanwhile in 2013 the Chinese agricultural ministry went against expectations and approved Monsanto’s Intacta stacked GM soybeans for import from Brazil. This followed a diplomatic dance where the Chinese were saying they wanted non-GM conventional soybeans, and Brazil’s industrial soy trade group was claiming it could fill that order.
 
While Brazilian production of conventional soybeans has been increasing for years, apparently the country would still struggle to produce enough to supply both Europe and China, and China felt it had no choice but to grudgingly approve Monsanto’s soybeans for importation. Unless this is part of a power struggle among different Chinese ministries. Monsanto has been assiduously lobbying in China, trying to find allies there.
 
*Pakistan’s Lahore High Court has ordered the government to stop approving GMO varieties and to impose a moratorium on growing of approved varieties until a rigorous regulatory review system is in place.
 
In particular, the order affects the recent decision of the National Biosafety Committee to approve for sale several dozen varieties of Bt maize and cotton.
 
The ruling was in a case brought by the farmer group Kisan Board Pakistan. The farmers are complaining mostly about the poor quality of the seeds the government has previously approved for sale, the extremely low germination rate the government allows, the often low levels of Bt expression which usually fail to kill the target pest and serve mostly to select quickly for resistance (such lemon Bt seeds have always been a major problem in India as well), and the fact that seed vendors and packaging often fail to inform the farmer that Bt seeds require far more water than conventional seeds and therefore won’t work in rainfed fields. massive consumer fraud on this point has played a big role in the Indian farmer suicide epidemic. The suit also established how the government is incompetent to assess or regulate the health and biodiversity implications of GMO cultivation.
 
We see how wherever the GMO peddlers can get away with it, they cast all product quality control to the wind. But then, this is congenital to the industrial seed sector. The very first American Seed Trade Association convention in the 1880s was dedicated to the question of how to prevent regulators from requiring seed sellers to warrant any kind of quality standards whatsoever. So it goes to this day…  
 
*Vermont has once again confirmed its reputation as a social pioneer by becoming the first state to pass a real law (without “triggers” which essentially render the thing little more than a propaganda exercise, as in Connecticut and Maine) which will mandate labels on products which may contain GMOs, starting in 2016.
 
It’s part of Vermont’s honor to thus become the first state threatened with a lawsuit by the liars, louts, and thugs at Monsanto’s political combat wing, the Grocery Manufacturers Association. It’s a testament to how the pro-GMO thugs have zero right or even argument on their side that their entire position is based on legal technicalities (that state-level labeling allegedly usurps the prerogatives of the federal government; of course this is false both in terms of human sovereignty and in terms of the constitution as well), along with the standard rhetoric that the people are too stupid for democracy – labels will “confuse” the childish consumer. In truth consumers have a vastly better record than any cadre in how they’ve viewed GMOs – with a rational, prudent “show me” attitude, rather than the fundamentalist dogmas of supporters and the conformists and cowards among the “professional classes”.
 
The law includes setting up a fund to fight the expected lawsuits. The fund can receive public donations. of course in a better, more just world, agribiz and corporate contract growers would be taxed to pay for this self-defense measure on the part of the people.
 
(The GMA is also pushing for a federal preemption law, the DARK Act, which would try to quash the state-level democratic movement.)
 
This is a good step, but it’s still too modest. If the policy is enacted as planned, all it’s going to require is an unobtrusive line below the ingredients list saying something like “This product may contain genetically modified organisms”. It’s not going to have “GMO!” emblazoned across the front of the package in big neon letters. It’s possible the main effect will be to lull the worries of many of the people who became interested in the problem, just as may be the main effect of the toothless Connecticut and Maine laws.
 
If this is going to have any effect, then the work of the labeling movement has only begun. Once the packages have the obscure labels on them, the job of the movement will be to catalog these and publicize the list in a more
 
*The people of Jackson and Josephine counties in Oregon will vote on 5/20 to start regaining control of their farms, communities, and ecosystems when they vote on initiatives to ban GMO cultivation and impose other restrictions on poison use. In Benton County the campaign is underway to gather signatures for the November vote on their own Local Food System initiative.
 
*Wonder what the community rights movement is all about? Read this excellent FAQ.

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May 15, 2014

Work to Rule

Filed under: Freedom — Tags: , — Russ @ 4:45 am

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Here’s an action which attained modestly good results, but which also provides an example of what could be done if a critical mass of workers broke free of system indoctrination and determined to stop giving free labor and self-sacrificial obedience to economic and political hierarchies.
 
Imagine if all workers acted toward employers (and all citizens toward the government, where it comes to laws, regulations, etc.) the way those hierarchies act toward us. If we stopped being altruistic toward them, stopped being self-sacrificial, stopped cooperating in order to make up for the idiocies of the corporatist system, wherever such cooperation would be for the benefit of elites rather than for ourselves, the system would jam up and collapse very quickly.
 
Of course that wouldn’t really be reciprocating the way they act toward us, since Work to Rule means punctiliously following the rules. Government and employers, on the other hand, feel free to break each and every one of their own rules whenever they like.

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May 13, 2014

Andres Carrasco, Scientist for the People

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Argentine molecular biologist Andres Carrasco has died at age 67. Carrasco’s legacy includes his pioneering lab study on the effects of glyphosate on animal health. He and his team demonstrated that glyphosate causes birth defects in amphibians (classic “indicator species” in ecology and biology) and chickens. He theorized that the main mechanism of these effects is retinoic acid oversignaling triggered by the poison. This regular pathway of glyphosate function is just as potent as glyphosate’s inhibition of the EPSPS pathway, which is the “intended” function which makes it a potent herbicide. So glyphosate is an herbicide, and it’s equally a human/animal toxin. The corporate/government system has systematically propagated it as the former, while suppressing the evidence of its concurrent function as the latter. 
 
Carrasco’s lab work corroborated epidemiological surveys which found high levels of birth defects, reproductive failure, and cancer among rural Argentines heavily exposed to the Roundup spraying which is omnipresent on the great soy plantations of the country.
 
Carrasco tirelessly and courageously publicized his findings in the face of the smear campaigns, character assassination, dirty tricks, violent threats, and violence which are typical in the experience of those who question the agricultural poison regime. We must always keep in mind that there’s a smooth continuum from the Internet trolls who try to shout down GMO skeptics to the thugs who physically assault scientists and community activists.
 
Along with his colleagues who conducted the epidemiological research, Carrasco has provided the one-two punch knocking out any claim that Roundup is safe. He and his colleagues have proven that Roundup causes birth defects and reproductive failure, and have provided a strong link between Roundup and cancer.
 
Referring to his work, he’s often been quoted saying, “You can’t block out the sun with one hand.” The hacks of poison-based agriculture and the ignorant conformists who enable them continue to try to do so. They believe that because they temporarily have more brute power, therefore might makes right even where it comes to truth itself. But nature’s truths continue to blaze over and through, diminishing that pathetic hand-wave of lies to nothing. Today we suffer from a temporary bout of insanity which is enabling history’s most vicious evil. Centuries hence, when humanity has rebuilt the soil and enjoys the prosperity of a productive natural agriculture, people will look back at these times and shake their heads in disbelief at how such madness can have been possible. They’ll also celebrate the legacy of those who fought the great evil, refuted the lies, and tried to draw attention to the sun. Andres Carrasco will be remembered as one of the few real scientists of this time, which means someone who always followed where the evidence led, and did so always conscious of the fact that the purpose of science is to serve humanity, not to be a mercenary tool helping to enslave and destroy it.

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