Volatility

March 20, 2015

GMO News Report March 20th 2015

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*Good article on the current status of the land-grabbing onslaught, with special focus on Mozambique. As we knew all along, land-grabbing, like globalized corporate agriculture in general, has zero to do with food production and is about nothing but profit for the finance sector, Big Ag, and the corrupt governments of the target countries.
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*The most direct cause of the impending extinction of the monarch butterfly is the destruction of its larval food source, milkweed, by herbicides, in particular Roundup. A letter from 52 House members to Obama correctly points out that nothing short of “a sea-change in how the federal government address the use of herbicides, especially as applied to herbicide-resistant crops, vital monarch habitats will simply continue to disappear”. The letter implicitly wants to use monarch’s listing under the Endangered Species Act as the weapon to force a phase-out of herbicide-tolerant GMOs.
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I have my doubts about that. As I’ve written many times before, it’s one thing to muster a coalition to pressure the likes of the EPA or FDA to act against a specific industrial project or poison in an ad hoc way. It’s something different to expect the government to act against a whole genre which is not only tremendously profitable to a powerful corporate sector but which is critically important to the continued propagation of capitalism itself. Herbicide-tolerant GMOs are an example of these latter cases.
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If people want to try to use the ESA to fight for the monarch, that’s great as long as they’re conscious of the fact that no kind of ad hoc “habitat preservation” can work here. The problem is a systemic industrial practice. Thus the goal is not to preserve territory but to eradicate a practice. Meanwhile, the letter correctly points out that individuals planting milkweed, while a fine thing to do (I’ve done it too), is no systemic solution. To view that as sufficient would be an example of the same kind of delusion as that changing one’s light bulbs, in itself, is a meaningful action vs. climate change.
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*Here’s a good report on the Australia GM contamination case, now headed on appeal to the supreme court. It confirms the flippant attitude of the government toward the contamination that all rational observers, for example the insurance companies, considered inevitable. The pro-Monsanto judge who issued the initial decision against Marsh also implicitly acknowledged that “co-existence” is impossible and contamination is inevitable.
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*The Pakistani small and landless farmer union Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek is vowing to fight back against the country’s new draconian seed law. This law was unconstitutionally passed by the National Assembly even though in Pakistan agriculture is a state matter. (There’s a similar coup being attempted in India, where the proposed Biotechnology Regulatory Authority bill would usurp constitutionally declared state agricultural power and override it with central government preemption.) The law will enshrine the patent and taxation rights of Monsanto and other global corporations and would force a licensing system upon all seed marketing. The farmers have fiercely resisted equivalent bills at the state level. This policy and a similar pending Plant Breeder Rights bill (which will intensify the intellectual property licence being enshrined by the seed law) will further impose upon farmers the industrial model which is already a proven failure in Pakistan, just as it is in India. The goal in both countries is the same, to liquidate small farmers, drive them off the land and into shantytowns, and concentrate the farmland into large industrial plantations controlled by the corporations.
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As always with seed privatization laws, this one has no provision for quality control or farmer recourse in the case of failed or fraudulent seeds.

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