Volatility

August 6, 2015

There Is No Science of Genetic Engineering

>

There’s no such thing as a science of GMOs. There’s an ideology of genetic engineering which is based on debunked junk science. This ideology has nothing to do with the actual practice of genetic engineering, which is a scattershot empirical approach. Engineers basically throw gobs of money and laboratory brute force at a technical problem and hope something sticks. When you finally find a needle in a haystack you base your business model upon it. That’s why genetic engineering is so inefficient, wasteful, and expensive compared with conventional breeding. A genetically engineered variety costs over ten times as much to develop as whatever conventional variety it pirates and builds upon. And then the genetically engineered variety will be inferior to its forebear, being nothing but this forebear with a poison transgene inserted into it along with whatever genome scrambling and mutations it picked up along the way during the GE process.
.
Genetic engineering developed its own version of the NPK ideology. Its dogma is: One gene = one trait. This dogma, along with the older one that genetics are the main (or only) factor dictating real life outcomes, enabled technicians to claim that they’d soon be able to precisely analyze, predict, and manipulate the relationship between genetic codes and the way plants, animals, and humans would develop and act in real life. This was their path to funding and influence, and it soon became the path to power for biotech corporations engaging in genetic engineering. One-gene-one-trait became the basis for all the foundation lies of genetic engineering: That it was a precision technology, that its effects could be precisely calibrated, that it would not have unforeseen effects, that food products generated this way would be safe and nutritious. The goal is to achieve total corporate enclosure, control, and domination through GMOs and eugenics.
.
Based on these lies governments moved aggressively to approve and commercialize GMOs without performing any safety testing. To this day no government has ever performed a scientific safety trial on any GMO. The US set the standard for this anti-scientific, anti-public health policy under the banner of “substantial equivalence”, the lie that GMO crops are identical to real crops and therefore, by definition, don’t need to be safety tested.
.
But all these the basic elements of genetic engineering ideology, so-called genetic engineering “science”, have been debunked.
.
1. The foundation dogma of genetic engineering can be summed up as: One gene = one trait. This is also called the sequence hypothesis. DNA is composed of a series of bases, this series is transcribed onto RNA, which then uses this sequential code to arrange amino acids to form a protein. Based on this, and on what Francis Crick called the “central dogma” that this transcription process is the only thing happening (cf. #2), it should follow that since there are c. 100,000 human proteins, there must be c. 100,000 genes in the human genome. How could the same initial DNA “sentence” be transcribed in ways that result in different proteins?
.
But in reality the sequence hypothesis turned out to be false. One-gene-one-trait has been completely disproven, most spectacularly by the corporate system’s own Human Genome Project. The expected 100,000 genes in the human code turned out to be just over 20,000. We now know that most genes have multiple effects, and that the range of these effects is very difficult to catalog. Similarly, we know that many phenotype traits, to the extent they have a genetic basis, are the result of several genes collaborating. Similarly, it’s very difficult to identify all the genetic contributors.
.
2. Along with the sequence hypothesis, Francis Crick promulgated what he called genetic engineering’s Central Dogma, the faith that there is only a one-way transmission of genetic information, from DNA to RNA to protein. As Crick put it, “Once information gets into protein it cannot get out again.” A connoisseur of hubris might suspect that a proposition dubbed by its own founder the “Central Dogma” would be full of holes, and so it has turned out for Crick’s article of faith. Five times as many proteins as genes is rather wide of the expected one-to-one correspondence, and the reason is that special proteins work to rearrange the DNA base code in myriad ways creating an array of messenger RNA molecules so that one original sequence can be used to produce many proteins, and so that multiple original sequences can be combined in various ways to produce proteins. It turns out that proteins are in fact very active in producing new genetic information, and that lots of information is indeed “getting out” of these proteins.
.
Even more fundamentally, DNA itself is not immaculately self-replicated, but rather replication is performed by the organic cell. This includes the action of coordination and repair enzymes, without which DNA replication would contain vastly more numerous errors than it does. So not only do proteins work on RNA, they keep the exalted DNA itself honest. Information gets out of proteins and into the DNA itself.
.
So we have the far more intrepid role of proteins in genetic coding than was allowed for by genetic engineering “science”, or as it calls itself in this case, dogma. Then there’s the fact that protein folding is as important as protein coding. Mad Cow Disease is caused by a protein in the brain chemically identical to the normal one, but folded differently. The disease-causing alternative folding is transmitted from one protein molecule (called a prion) to another. Scrapie is another disease caused by self-transmission of prions. As usual, Crick had simply assumed that the genetically-determined amino acid sequence of a protein also dictated how it folded itself. Only some kind of genetic screw-up could cause a misfolding. But subsequent science found the opposite. Contrary to the central dogma, the coded protein still needs the proper assistance of other proteins called “chaperones” to be correctly folded. Conversely, prions containing no nucleic acid can on their own “infect” and cause contiguous proteins to refold themselves in conformity to the prion’s shape, and then become infectious themselves. That’s how Mad Cow spreads. There we have two more examples of how proteins transmit genetic information in defiance of GE’s central dogma.
.
These facts don’t just demolish the theoretical pretensions of genetic engineering science. They also give a clear picture of how complex and holistic genetic processes are, and therefore how easily the bull-in-a-china-shop genome havoc wreaked by the genetic engineering process can cause every kind of genetic disruption, mutation, and disease-causing structural malfunction.
.
3. Beyond any prior philosophical debates about nature vs. nurture, genetic determinism has long been refuted on purely scientific grounds. Phenotype is affected at least as much by epigenetics and environmental factors as it is by the genetic code, which in many ways sets up a range of possibilities rather than dictates an outcome. In effect, a genetic potentiality is often a switch which must still be turned on (or off) by some external factor: Climate, the parent/mother’s health and diet during pregnancy, or the conditions under which an egg or seed develops, an infant’s diet, infant exposure to agents in the water or air, psychological stresses, environmental stresses on a growing crop, etc. This last turned out to cause serious unforeseen, because not calculable according to the paper-mapped genome, problems for Roundup Ready soybeans. Genetic determinism is a debunked fraud which is kept in the field only by its inherent usefulness for GMO propaganda, the Big Pharma model of medicine, and its implications for a revived eugenics program, which remains the great goal for these technicians.
.
.
So the three basic theories of genetic engineering have been completely disproven. Yet to this day all advocacy of GMOs, and all the alleged “science” supporting GMOs, is based on these same three crackpot falsehoods: That heredity is destiny, that genetic information flow is unidirectional and easily described, and therefore precisely manipulable, and that one gene = one trait. We see how, just as genetic engineering has zero to do with science and is simply technical manipulation, so pro-GMO ideology has zero to do with science, but is rather a fraudulent political ideology based on nothing but Big Lies. For its true believers, it’s a fundamentalist secular religion.
.
The takeaway: Genetic engineering is not science, and support for GMOs is anti-scientific, based on fidelity to crackpot lies.
.
We can go into further detail.
.
4. The myth that genetic engineering is the same as conventional breeding is essential to the propaganda of pro-GM activists. But this is pure snake oil.
.
Breeding works with whole genomes among related species only (and no mutation-mongering tissue culture). Risks are rare and predictable, and can occur only in a few scenarios. Genetic engineering is qualitatively different in that the possible range of transgenic insertions is indefinitely greater than the genetic transfer possible in breeding, or in nature. With GE the potential for harmful chaotic effects is vastly greater and completely unpredictable. Every genetically engineered genome which has been independently studied has displayed the complete mess left behind by the “event”. Submissions to regulators detailing the alleged genome of the GMO are mystical fictions which have no relationship to the unpredictably messy reality. More on this below.
.
As for natural mutations and unforeseen effects of conventional breeding, which the pro-GMO activists claim means genetic engineering is the same as these processes, where these happen they happen locally. They run up against naturally evolved safeguards against mutation, and such changes would need time and effort to run a gamut of naturally imposed challenges, or the challenges of breeder selection, to become established. GE, on the contrary, aggressively seeks to override these safeguards and leap over these challenges. It seeks to deploy the infected genome in the environment over vast regions as fast as it can. This is such a difference of magnitude, speed, and geographical reach as to comprise a qualitative difference.
.
Black Swan author Nassim Taleb recently co-authored a paper on this systemic risk aspect of genetic engineering. GE has zero in common with conventional breeding, physically or ecologically. The lies and denials of pro-GMO activists with regard to this fact demonstrate their general ignorance of evolution and flippant disregard for its implications. The most extreme manifestation of pro-GM evolution denial is this incapacity or refusal to recognize the great difference between adaptation in confrontation with a wide range of natural environmental hurdles over evolutionary time, vs. seeking to leap over all the hurdles in an instant, with the entire process from genetic extraction to insertion to breeding to distribution taking place in a totally artificial, hermetic, alien, non-contextual bubble, and from there to deploy a biological technology developed in this anti-environmental way all at once on a global basis in the real world. Under such circumstances a rational person would expect nothing but disaster.
.
No rational person even slightly familiar with ecology, biology, genetics, agronomy, or history could take this seriously for a moment. Any natural allele, mutation, horizontal genetic transfer, etc. must run a long gauntlet of safeguards developed by evolution including the genome’s own repair mechanism, then the greater hurdles of the local environment, must adapt and spread over millions of years. Farmer selection and conventional breeding have followed such a pattern for 10,000 years.
.
But the genetic engineering technique which has existed for just a few years now claims to supersede these thousands and millions of years. It claims to be able to leap over the evolutionary genetic hurdles using technology. This is impossible. Therefore GE implicitly seeks to maximize the harmful mutations, latent weaknesses, unfit traits, and hazards.
.
Similarly, genetic engineering and the ramified GMO dissemination structure claim to be able to leap over the evolutionary environmental hurdles, as well as the geographic hurdles, using economic brute force. This means it wants to spread the infected, harmful genetic and biological material, and the harms which shall follow from it, as globally as possible as fast as possible.
.
To sum up, genetic engineering ideology wants to leap over the entire evolutionary time and action during which all matters of fitness, quality, and toxicity are worked out by nature, or by human thought and labor in conjunction with nature. The hubris and contempt for science on display with these persons is staggering. No, genetic engineering has nothing in common with conventional breeding. GE can only be a debilitating parasite free riding on conventional breeding and destroying its work.
.
With GMOs we have a phenomenon where politics and economics meld inextricably with ecology. Ecologists are really the only scientists fully qualified to speak about GMOs. Beyond that this technology is fundamentally a political and economic phenomenon. GMOs as deployed in the real world, rather than in the depraved minds of their idolators, have very little to do with science. This renders it all the more ironic when the pro-GM activists go hysterically braying about how even the most modest questions or criticisms are “anti-science! anti-science!”
.
5. I’ll be writing more about “substantial equivalence” as an ideological dogma among regulators. It’s also a core element of GE junk science.
.
Substantial equivalence is self-evidently an idiotic lie, since every GMO is, unlike its forebear, a poison plant. It is either suffused with herbicide residue and toxic breakdown products, and/or it produces its own endemic Bt toxins in every cell. This is obviously an extremely significant difference, and the fact that genetic engineering “science” can say with a straight face that in this way Radical Difference = Equivalence, demonstrates how far this body of claims has departed from anything recognizable as legitimate science, rationality, or indeed bare sanity.
.
Beyond this self-evident radical difference between a GMO and its isogenic forebear (the true crop which was pirated and had the transgene inserted into its genome), independent study has found that every GMO genome analyzed has significant differences from its ancestor, while the GM crops which grow from these scrambled genes are compositionally different from their non-GM counterparts in many ways. (At that link, cf. “The sham of substantial equivalence” and the next two sections.)
.
All the bogus “studies” which claim to provide evidence of the safety of GMOs but which do nothing of the sort, and which often provide evidence for the opposite thesis, are in effect nothing but another version of restating the original fundamentalist dogma, “they’re safe because they’re equivalent, so they don’t need to be tested.” To say something new governments and corporations would actually have to perform non-fraudulent studies, which they resolutely refuse to do.
.
It’s worth mentioning that according to substantial equivalence, Mad Cow proteins are identical to the regular protein. Therefore beef containing them would pass regulatory muster by this standard.
.
On a philosophical level, the substantial equivalence dogma is part of a general philosophy of faith in sterile, hermetic “being” over real-life processes of becoming. Genetic engineers and their fanboys want to envision, and want regulators and society to envision, an inert crop or food which is “substantially equivalent” to some indeterminate natural variety. The “process”, the actual becoming, is to be seen as ineffable and effectively meaningless and irrelevant. Only a Platonic idea of the static product matters. This junk philosophy is the progenitor of the junk science of “the” genome, whether it be the propaganda idea conjured by the Human Genome Project (“the” human genome; but this can never be more than a synthesis from a sample); or the regulatory submissions which claim to describe “the” genome of a GMO even though it doesn’t describe the real genome of any actual commercial crop, since these vary naturally, and the genetically engineered versions vary far more, often chaotically; or the pseudo-scientific fraud so often run in the criminal courts where the authorities test a defendant’s DNA vs. another piece of DNA and declare them “matched” by the measure of some tendentiously defined genomic range (again a fraudulent synthesis said to represent reality).
.
This pseudo-scientific trend among engineers and other scienticians is part of their general hostility to genealogy, history, learning about origins. Scientism, technocracy, like the general bourgeois ideology of which they are part, are anti-history. Then journalism and academia join the regulators in dogmatizing history out of existence. That’s the overarching ideological backdrop where we see such specific greed-based corruptions at work as the corporations lobbying the regulators to consider only the final “product” and not the “process”, never mind that the radically different process results in a substantially very different product. Behind it all is the age old authoritarian hatred of change except for change the “authority” premeditates and sets in motion. Beyond this it yearns to fix things in place once and for all, at least in thought.
.
6. The same appetite for control is the source of the quasi-religious doctrine of genetic engineering’s “precision”, really an article of fundamentalist faith. In reality, the insertion process is scattershot and very messy. The most common method of insertion is to literally fire the transgenic material from a gun into a mass of target tissue. (This should remind us of another “precision” lie, that of so-called “smart bombing”, which has always been just as scattershot, dumb, and murderous as the regular kind.) The transgene ends up in a random part of the target genome, often with parts of the gene cassette separated and splattered elsewhere, or else inexplicably duplicated in other parts of the target genome. (The cassette itself is precisely assembled only on paper. The real thing is often a cobbled-together mess.) The violence of the process damages the target genome in unpredictable ways. Insertion always generates mutations. The process is so haphazard that the cassette must include an identification marker, usually an antibiotic resistance marker, so that after the insertion the transgenic material which successfully was inserted can be identified. This means dousing the target cells with a strong antibiotic which kills all the cells except those which incorporated the transgene. This joins subtherapeutic antibiotic abuse in factory farms as one of industrial agriculture’s campaigns to eradicate antibiotics as a medically effective treatment, through the willful, systematic generation of antibiotic resistant bacteria.
.
The transgenic material must now be grown into seedlings in tissue culture, which causes more mutations. Then plants are grown, assessed, and selected, first in greenhouse laboratories and then in field trials. This selection is based on testing whether the poison plant “works” (does it tolerate the herbicide and/or express the insecticide in its cells), and beyond that simple eyeballing of which specimens look the best. The great bulk of genomic chaos and mutations, including any harmful or maladaptive traits, especially ones latent and ready to be switched on by any number of environmental factors, are invisible to this selection process.
.
In practice all the classic GMOs demonstrate the results of this gross imprecision, such as Monsanto’s flagship Roundup Ready soybeans and MON810 maize. Since all the stacked varieties merely combine the original single-trait varieties, they incorporate and multiply the genetic chaos of GMOs.
.
Conceptually, the GE ideologues seem to feel no cognitive dissonance where they contradict their own “genetic engineering = conventional breeding” lie. The same who make that claim will then flip 180 degrees and claim that conventional breeding, as well as evolution itself, are sloppy and messy while their genetic engineering is a “precision” improvement on these. Here we go beyond simple evolution denial and into the realm of creationist religion. More on that in future posts. This is evolution denial, and is also a de jure lie in that it claims genetic engineering is something separate from conventional breeding, when in fact GE is nothing but a perversion of pre-existing breeding, upon which it depends 100% to produce functional germplasm wherein it can then be inserted.
.
So if conventional breeding were in fact “sloppy”, genetic engineering would only be exacerbating this chaos. But in truth evolution proceeds in a relatively orderly way, just as you’d expect from a process honed over billions of years, while these sniveling little brats who just discovered a toy a minute ago are the ones who do nothing but make a frightful mess.
.
To repeat, here we see the most extreme and far-ranging aspect of the evolution denial of genetic engineering “science”.
.
But we should also note that scientism cultists including these engineers tend to have a dual-track, mutually contradictory view of evolution. At the most exalted level they view neo-Darwinism as meaning a flawless process of unflaggingly perfect adaptations, with all biological phenomena encompassed within this perfection and explainable within this perfection framework. But at the same time they also deride evolution as a messy, wasteful process which needs to be improved by their technological activism. Here we see an example of the cult fundamentalist mindset I described in a previous post, with its exalted “principles” and nihilistic disdain for day-to-day truth, even where it comes to direct contradiction of the acclaimed principle. The genetic determinism dogma, however, can be applied at either level, the ivory tower Darwinian or the gutter GE-creationist.
.
To finish with the junk science and propaganda lies of “precision”, the new “gene editing” techniques are no more precise than those of GE 1.0. (Cf. the section, “Is GM technology becoming more precise?”) It’s funny how we now have two contrary lines of propaganda running simultaneously: The original genetic engineering techniques were magically precise, and yet they really weren’t precise but the new techniques are so precise, honest and for true this time. Yet studies have already documented that the CRISPR technique causes mutations in human cells.
.
7. “Junk DNA” = junk science. When scientists first ascertained that less than 2% of human DNA is formed into genes and didn’t know what if anything the rest of it does, they indulged their standard strong aversion to saying “I don’t know”. As much as any other religious type, scientists feel a strong need to make things up where they don’t know, and so in this case without further ado they branded the non-gene DNA “junk DNA”. There was no scientific evidence for this dismissal, just the felt need for a placeholder concept which pretends to “know something”, where a true scientist would admit ignorance.
.
Since then the evidence has proven that the junk DNA dogma was wrong. Indeed, today the likes of the NIH are rushing to opposite dogmas about the infinite potentiality of this DNA. Meanwhile dead-enders continue to defend the junk science.
.
The state of the science implies that the genome does far more than just code for proteins, but no one knows the extent of this action. One thing which this science does prove, to add to all the other proofs, is that genetic engineers have no idea what they’re doing.
.
8. There are many more examples of the crackpot “science” and lies which comprise the defense of genetic engineering. We can list just a few of these. These and the foregoing have all been disproven and repose on the trash heap of junk science. Nevertheless to this day they make up the “scientific” part of pro-GMO ideology.
.
*The whole is just the sum of the biggest parts. Smaller parts, and any kind of holistic network, don’t matter. (The “NPK mentality”, as Albert Howard called it.)
.
*The Cauliflower Mosaic Virus (CaMV) promoter functions only in plants, not in animals.
.
*A synthetically modified organism (SMO) is identical to the corresponding GMO.
.
*Glyphosate affects only the shikimate enzyme pathway, and this is found only in plants, not animals. In truth it affects mammalian CYP and retinoic acid pathways as well as having a general mineral chelation effect. Meanwhile the shikimate pathway is found in the bacteria of the human microbiome, which is a symbiotic part of our digestion and plays an important role in other human physiological systems. I included this with “genetic engineering” because these lies and junk science are part of the rationalization of the Roundup Ready GMO system.
.
*Bt becomes toxic only amid the alkalinity of an insect’s digestive tract, not that of the mammalian. Bt toxins cannot enter the human bloodstream.
.
*GE material is destroyed in processing/cooking/the gut. It never enters the bloodstream.
.
*There’s only linear (“dose-dependent”) effects. There’s no such thing as non-linear effects.
.
.
——-
.
.
Genetic engineering claims to be able precisely to insert selected transgenic DNA into an alien genome, where this DNA will seamlessly command the indigenous resources to produce the desired RNA which will produce the desired proteins, which will then cause the desired phenotype manifestations. Meanwhile all the host organism’s native genetic functions except the specific ones being modified or overriden by the transgene will continue in the same way as before. All this is supposed to happen in a precisely calibrated way.
.
As we’ve seen, all this is bunk. Since the parts which weren’t premeditated lies from the start were debunked long ago, by now they’re all nothing but willful lies. Persistence Proves Intent.
.
What really happens in genetic engineering? The insertion is a brutish, sloppy process creating a genetic mess. Where “successful”, the transgenic DNA will attain the desired effect. But it also causes incalculable chaotic effects, from unpredictable levels of protein expression to the production of completely new proteins and other metabolites to alternative folding of proteins.
.
The disruption and mutations caused by transgene insertion may also affect the indigenous processes of the host genome in chaotic ways. This includes its DNA repair mechanisms, its RNA transcription and splicing, its protein formation, and the many ways its proteins interact with one another.
.
The organic chaos which follows from the brutal, mutagenic GE process is seen in the profligate waste of the subsequent GM crop development process. Even after identification of the crop tissue which successfully incorporated the transgene, it’s very difficult for the engineers to grow suitable crops from the transgenic material, it’s so genetically damaged and weakened. Then there’s the ongoing genetic and phenotype unpredictability as the seeds are commercialized and the crops deployed across a great range of climates, environments, and agricultural practices. I’ve written before about how GMOs are a rich man’s technology and require optimal conditions in order to have any decent chance of functioning as advertised, i.e. in a way similar to how they functioned under perfect lab and optimal field trial conditions. Any deviation from this optimum, and you have a crapshoot at best.
.
This brings us back to the radical difference between genetic engineering, which is inherently reductionist and controlling, especially in the extremely narrow range of genetics it seeks to have dominate all of agriculture (since all commercial GMO varieties, no matter how varied the back-crossing, which as a rule doesn’t have much variation, come from the same original “event” and continue to inbreed the event’s weaknesses, hazards, and chaos), vs. conventional breeding, which in principle as well as in participatory and organic practice is inherently expansive, manifold, diverse, and resilient.
.
All this proves how GMOs don’t make sense in principle. Just as the inherently messy and chaotic transgenic insertion process guarantees that even the reductive poison plants which actually “work” will work only in haphazard, unpredictable ways, so pleiotropy rules out the long-promised-never-delivered GMOs designed to produce better agronomic and product quality traits. If genetic engineering can barely cope with producing transgenic effects which involve just one inserted transgene, imagine trying to solve for multi-gene effects.
.
Rendering crops poisonous is not an improvement, but literal poison plants (those which exude a systemic insecticide, those which systemically absorb herbicide, and usually both at the same time) are the only kinds genetic engineering can create.
.
.
Genetic engineering does not produce the results it claims. I stress that this is not just because genetic engineering is a stupid, shoddy practice, though it is that, but because the underlying “science” of genetic engineering is wrong and fraudulent in theory.
.
In truth, support for GMOs has nothing to do with science, but rather is political and financial. Technological development is always part of politics and political economy. It’s clear that the real world struggle of pro-GMO activism vs. humanity has nothing to do with science but is purely a political and economic struggle, part of the ongoing assault of predatory corporations upon humanity. Indeed, another reason GMOs make no sense in principle, in this case except from the point of view of corporate power and control, is that their history proves that GMOs cannot be capitalized, developed, produced, distributed other than through big corporations. Indeed GMOs were developed in the first place to intensify corporate control and domination. But corporate control is antithetical to productive, food-based, sustainable agriculture. By definition corporate agriculture, producing commodities and poison instead of food, with food then supposed to “trickle down” as a side effect, is incoherent, irrational, and an abdication. GMOs represent the extreme manifestation of corporate agriculture.
.
It’s funny how confused and stupid pro-GM activists, including the credentialed “scientists”, are about this. It’s a good measure of their general ignorance, stupidity, and hysterical emotionality that, facing any criticism of GMOs from any angle – economic, political, agronomic – they immediately start shrieking, “anti-science! anti-science!” It seems they’re so dumb they really can’t tell the difference between a scientific criticism and a socioeconomic criticism. But then, they know that the only thing which gives their otherwise obvious lies any obscurantist cover at all is a fraudulent appeal to the authority of their bogus “Science”, so their desperate propaganda need abets their idiocy. Of course, the science is also 100% against them.
.
Unfortunately, a complete ignorance of agriculture and farming is the standard state of pro-GMO activists, and the STEM-credentialed ones most of all. Being such a complete ignoramus actually helps one believe in genetic engineering “science”, since this fends off potential doubts about germplasm quality and diversity, the genetics of produce quality, how weeds and insects react to poisons, and the position of agriculture amid ecosystems and the sustainability of fossil fuel dependent industrial monoculture as such. (As far as the socioeconomics, the pro-GM activists mostly understand that the purpose of GMOs is to drive hundreds of millions of people off their land, and the activists consider this to be a good thing.)
.
—–
.
.To summarize this most recent series of posts on agriculture and science.
.
1. There’s no such thing as genetic engineering science.
.
2. The dogmas of scientism cannot be applied to agriculture at all.
.
If by science we mean a coherent theory which has truth value and relates to the real world, then where it comes to industrial agriculture there’s no science involved at all. The real world practice is just brute force empiricism based on seeking power goals, not on any kind of scientific concept, no more than how much a whip-wielding slave driver theorizes about how people might best live in peace with one another.
.
Those who call this or GMOs predominantly a “science” matter are regurgitating a corporate propaganda lie, or else naively abetting this lie. Too many even among GM critics let them get away with this lie. Many even gratuitously place themselves in the defensive position of arguing that there’s merely holes or abuses in the corporate science. There’s even the lament that “our” scientists deserve a hearing as well, and indeed among the few independent scientists who have followed where the evidence leads, the main yearning seems to be to maintain standing among the scientific establishment and win credibility there. But I propose that this is all wrong.
.
The fact is that corporate “science” has nothing to do with science at all. Corporations and their operatives do not seek scientific fact and do not find it and do not act upon it. They seek corporate profit and power, they base their work upon it, present their “findings” in service to it, and act from there. They are corporate activists, and GMO proponents are pro-GMO activists. The scientific establishment has abdicated completely where it comes to all agriculture and food matters. (Other matters as well, but I’ll leave analysis to those who focus on those matters.) The only science which exists here is the agroecological science which has been steadily in the building since the mid-twentieth century. This science is fully demonstrated and ready to be deployed, wherever the political will exists to do so.
.
We scholars, scientists, and agronomic practitioners of the ecological philosophy have won complete victory in the science fight, and we know that the corporate “science” paradigm is nothing but a structure of lies and force. Only we have science at all. So whatever political guidance we deduce from the situation, and whatever any of us wants to accomplish with agriculture and food, anything from reforms to the necessary abolition and transformation, let’s communicate in a way that stops respecting enemy lies and which respects only truth.
.
Across the board, in general and at every point of detail, science affirms and supports agroecology and Food Sovereignty and condemns the failures, poison, and destruction wrought by corporate agriculture.

<

Advertisements

August 4, 2015

There Is No Science of Big Agriculture

>

There is no valid science underlying Big Agriculture’s practices, just empiricism. While propped up by cheap, plentiful fossil fuels and aquifer water, along with massive government subsidies, Big Ag has been successful at concentrating power and wealth, maximizing poison usage for profit and for poison’s own sake, building a modern commodified agricultural input sector (aka agribusiness), and attaining three desirable (from the corporate point of view) socioeconomic outcomes: dispossessing and disenfranchising vast numbers of people by driving them off the land, rendering this mass available as inexpensive industrial labor, providing cheap calories for this proletariat.
.
Although the second is no longer a goal, the first and third (nowadays as cheap calories for cheap consumerism) continue in full force.
.
Therefore the empiricism has been successful, but the science is 100% against the basic ideas and practices.
.
1. Industrial agriculture is based on a completely false and anti-scientific view of nature. It comprehends nature as a machine with discrete, interchangeable, mass-producible parts. This comes from 19th century agricultural dogma which decreed that all plant growth and health is based on three nutrients: Nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K). The dogma holds that only these three important nutrients are necessary and sufficient for plant growth. This led to what organic agriculture pioneer Albert Howard called “the NPK mentality”, which would reduce all natural processes to simple manipulations of a few variables, preferably supplied synthetically and from off the farm. Once you’ve simplified everything that way, and done so in a way which recognizes only a few readily industrialized factors as meaningful, your path is open to organize everything according to the rhythms of industrialization, mechanization, corporate organization, and power and wealth accumulation.
.
The NPK mentality was the perfect ideology to complement the rising industrialization of agriculture and its increasing control by big corporations and governments. Who cares that food production and distribution was always naturally locally and regionally based? Since agriculture is nothing but the measured application of three nutrients and some water, it’s best to put it under the control of centralized power hierarchies who can deliver these few inputs most prodigiously and efficiently.
.
We find the same crackpot view of nature in Big Ag’s concept of the soil. The NPK ideology considers the soil to be an inert medium, there just to hold the roots in place. This is completely false. On the contrary, the soil comprises a rich ecosystem of microbes, annelids (like earthworms), and other organisms. These engage in an incredibly complex interaction among themselves and with a vast array of soil nutrients, far beyond the big three of industrial dogma, to create the organic basis of plant growth. Plants depend upon this soil ecology for their nutrition, for water (an organically healthy soil retains moisture far better than the sterile soils of monoculture), for the physical integrity of their roots, stems, leaves, flowers, fruits. Plant health starts from soil health (and of course seed health), and plant resistance to pests and disease depends upon the basic health of the plant and the soil.
.
To sum up:
.
Ideologically, NPK is the specifically agricultural version of scientific mechanism/reductionism, whose entire record proves its great limitations for real-world explanation and prescription, as well its psychopathy: It started with the dogma that animals are mere machines which feel no pain. From day one this was intended to justify cruelty to people as well as animals.
.
Factually, NPK has long since been debunked as junk science. Plants require a far greater array of nutrients than the big three of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. And far from being an inert medium, soil is a critical ecosystem, both for agriculture and for the environment in general.
.
Another reductive notion related to the NPK ideology is a distorted version of germ theory which claims that a germ comes along and “causes” a disease. This too is crackpot science. Organic terrain theory has proven the opposite. In most cases, for there to be a significant incidence of a disease, the pathogen must first find the right habitat (the “terrain”) where it can thrive, and then it must find an already weak target. This is the usual scenario where an epidemic breaks out. In agriculture, pest or disease outbreaks are usually from a combination of three factors: A degraded habitat provides the right terrain for a pathogen to proliferate, and unhealthy crops provide a good target for this pathogen. Of course to acknowledge the real science here would deprive industrial agriculture of another pillar of its fraudulent ideology and “science”.
.
.
2. The Poisoner ideology exalts poison for its own sake and sees it as the only way to deal with agricultural pests or any other problem with living things. For corporate and industrial agriculture ideologues, this appetite for poison has calcified into a mental constriction unable even to think in a broader, let alone new, way. Then there’s the veritably religious cult of poison worship among scienticians and the militarist technology and mindset brought to agriculture. The same engineers who worked on poison gas weapons, insecticides and herbicides for the military now brought the technology, the mindset, the terminology to civilian life. It’s not much of a stretch since with poison-based agriculture the practitioners focus not on growing crops by balancing an ecosystem, but on growing them by killing an enemy. Big Ag ideology is a propaganda-driven extension of the history of poison-based agriculture as war technology refurbished for civilian use.
.
Genetic engineering and the poisoner ideology are especially narrow, myopic, fraudulent, and destructive manifestations of the reductionist mechanist ideology. These will get their own separate posts.
.
A typical example I’ll briefly discuss here is the growing evidence that pesticide synergy, especially the combined effect of the “active ingredient” with so-called “inert ingredients” such as surfactants and adjuvants, is far more toxic than the action of the so-called active ingredient by itself. But one of the standard methodological and regulatory frauds of the corporate science paradigm is to test and regulate only the ivory tower version of the poison which is never deployed in real life, while the far more toxic real-world commercial formulations are never tested by the establishment or regulated. That’s why the system invented the propaganda categories “active ingredient” and “inert ingredient”. These terms have no scientific meaning and do not mean the “inert” ingredients are non-toxic or even less toxic than the “active” component. On the contrary, the whole purpose of the inert ingredients is to render the active ingredient more toxic, and many such as POEA in Roundup are highly toxic in their own right.
.
This dogma, that it’s meaningful to study an isolated ingredient and declare this to be sufficient for the combined product which will be deployed in reality, is a typical anti-scientific feature of corporate so-called “science”. The same dynamic applies to the combined effects of many poisons (i.e. multiple “active” ingredients at work); regulators never set upper limits to the combined poisons to be inflicted upon food or water, only each poison by itself. Same for the combined effects of “stacked” multiple-transgene GMOs, and any other synergy. It’s corporate science dogma that a stack or any other combination equals exactly the sum of its parts, nothing more and nothing less. Big Ag corporate science imposes its flat earth dogma across the board. Each individual part is to be considered only by itself and never in conjunction with any other part, no matter how promiscuously these parts are combined in real life.
.
.
3. Big Ag “science” fetishizes industrial monoculture cropping as a kind of orderly, rational system. But much like with fascist mass rallies, in spite of the surface regimentation and “orderliness” monoculture does not mean law and order. On the contrary it means intellectual and agronomic/environmental chaos. Superficially orderly, monoculture is feverish with latent chaos. It’s really a great disorder, the ultimate form of decadence. Monoculture farming wipes out functional, balanced ecosystems and replaces them with a void which then is filled by vermin and disease, which then can only be fought off with an ever-escalating onslaught of poisons. Agriculture can never be removed from ecology. It can exist only as part of an ecological balance, or else it can eradicate this balance and open the void to be filled by pathogens and pests. This is true for all of industrial agriculture. Factory farms comprise the most extreme embodiment, but a monocrop field is the same incubator of biological and environmental pathology. It’s the same on the socioeconomic level, as corporate industrial agriculture wipes out human communities and generates, on one side shantytowns and on the other a small class of super-rich psychopaths and parasites with their pathological support structure. So socially as well monoculture destroys human balance and breeds pathology.
.
Contrary to the junk science of Big Ag ideology, real science proves that where it comes to both insects and weeds, greater biodiversity and diversity of organic practice = fewer and more tractable pests. Few gambits in the history of science and technology have so quickly been so thoroughly disproven in principle and practice as have been the two GMO genres, insect resistance and herbicide tolerance. What keeps them in the field is nothing but brute economic and political force and a psychotic religion of poison. But the science has spoken as definitively on this as it ever has on anything – the concept is wrong, the practice doomed.
.
Big Ag science’s denial of the evolution of insects and weeds in the face of poison pressure is of course a manifestation of evolution denial as such. We see how readily the ideology disposes of one of the iconic concepts of modern science the moment this concept becomes inconvenient for the corporate propaganda line. Lots more to come on corporate science’s evolution denialism in the GE “science” post.
.
Meanwhile the canned lie that GMO cultivation can help sequester carbon through chemical no-till, also more euphemistically called “conservation tillage”, is being completely debunked as the spread of Roundup-resistant weeds increasingly requires the most aggressive tillage to give farmers any hope of keeping their fields partially clear.
.
The concept of chemical no-till as carbon sequestration tactic was bogus in principle, since the slathering of Roundup destroys the soil ecosystem which incorporates carbon as humus in the first place. The very term “sequestration” demonstrates the fundamental error of the approach: Nature doesn’t “sequester” anything, but actively incorporates it into a dynamic system. Poison-based agriculture, of which the Roundup Ready system is the ultimate example, automatically destroys the soil ecosystem and leaves sterile dirt which would be incapable of incorporating carbon. That’s why irrigation water has to be fortified with chemical additives to bind it to dirt molecules. That’s the only way to keep the water from running off the site immediately, eroding all the dirt with it. Sure enough, studies found that chemical no-till could at best “sequester” a small amount of carbon in the immediate topsoil where the biomass from the previous crop degrades, but does nothing to build organic matter deeper into the dirt, turning it into real soil. The whole concept of chemical no-till is incorrect. That’s to be expected, as it’s an extension of the absolutely erroneous NPK ideology, which is the source of all the agronomic and ecological pathologies in the first place.
.
So monoculture generates, in the short run the void to be filled by pathogens and poison, in the longer run chaos and destruction. It’s the agricultural manifestation of the lawlessness and chaos of corporate rule in general. “The policeman is there to preserve disorder.”
.
.
4. Productionism is the crackpot obsession with “yield” as such, with no concern for how efficiently the calories yielded are used. Only a lunatic would look at how CAFO meat production takes 10 calories of grain* and turns it into for 1 calorie of food for people and call this efficient, rational, or sane. Grain-for-CAFO feed is second only to the GMO regime as an example of how the Big Ag system is set up through government policy and subsidies to promote production for profitable commodification, while food means absolutely nothing in itself**. The agrofuel rathole, as well as the fact that the system wastes up to one third of the food produced, also demonstrate how the yield-based system is not concerned with producing food at all or whether human beings have access to what food is produced. Nothing but profit and power matter, while food is expected to trickle down as an afterthought.
.
Here the establishment science directly prostitutes itself by parroting the productionist lies in general (that producing mass calories of field crops has anything to do with food for human beings), as well as through such de jure direct lies as that acre for acre industrial agriculture produces more food than decentralized polyculture agroecology, or that GMOs out-produce either organic production or non-GM conventional. Here the alleged “science” doesn’t even have a false theory, but simply tells direct political lies.
.
—-
.
Each of these concepts/practices is 100% dependent upon cheap fossil fuels, cheap fossil water, cheaply mined phosphorus.
.
Each is unsustainable in its own right even given infinite energy.
.
.
Scientism/technocracy ideology exalts sterility, hermetic artificiality, total control, and extreme monocultural conformity as normative, desirable, and as the way nature and scientific truth realistically work. This is the basis of the reductive, mechanist ideology of science which has prevailed since Descartes. But all this is nothing but religious fantasy and falsehood.
.
I stress that the whole notion that science is the study of things which can be removed from the general context and studied in hermetic isolation is precisely among the propositions we deny. On the contrary, we insist that science can provide meaningful and worthwhile results only when it’s practiced with an eye to the entire dynamic framework. So it’s in the nature of things that our discussion of science from here on will frequently shift to its interactions with other disciplines and areas of life. While scientific experimentation often artificially isolates certain variables, the findings then must be adapted back to the context of life in order to have validity and meaning. Only this comprehensive discussion can render science anything more than what’s at best sterile scholasticism, and often something far worse.
.
.
Science condemns the industrial agricultural experiment as having failed at everything it ever promised it would do. All it accomplished was to use to use the temporary fossil fuel surplus to produce more gross calories. But it’s been an absolute failure in terms of ending hunger, food’s denuded nutritional value, food toxification, the destruction of the environment including greenhouse gas emissions – the industrial agriculture sector is by far the worst greenhouse gas emitter and worst destroyer of carbon sinks – and the destruction of economies, polities, and communities. Food corporatism and its “Green Revolution” promised to solve all these problems, all of which corporate industrial agriculture generated or exacerbated in the first place. By any scientific standard it’s a proven failure. To wish to continue the experiment is proof that the experimenters were lying about their proclaimed goals all along. Persistence Proves Intent. We know these facts: Corporate rule is purely wasteful and destructive, does nothing for humanity, and accomplishes nothing but to enable a small group of criminals to further concentrate wealth and power and exercise domination. In the end power and domination are their only goals and their only reasons for being.
.
—-
.
*Each of those ten calories requiring many more caloric equivalents of fuel and other inputs, as globalized commodity grain production is extremely inefficient and irrational in itself even before it reaches the factory farm.
.
**That’s also how it’s possible for governments, corporations, academia, and media to turn food into poison, or support this poison system, with a clear conscience. In their minds they’ve completely jettisoned any connection of agricultural commodification with food for human beings. It’s very similar to how the Nazi system of assembly line mass murder removed the moral implication from view for most participants. Today, although we don’t (yet) have gas chambers, we do have the hideous assembly line animal cruelty of CAFOs, and the mass dispossession and immiseration of hundreds of millions of people driven off the land and into shantytowns, which are veritable economic concentration camps. The Big Ag system does what it can to render these monumental and ongoing mass crimes invisible to most participants. What little vestige of conscience is left for any of this is met with the “Feed the World” Big Lie, a lie as depraved as that which was posted at the entrance to Auschwitz.
.

August 2, 2015

The Abdication of Establishment Science

>

1. As I wrote in my post on science, science is the action of the people engaged in our democratic work toward our individual and community health and prosperity. The most important science was preceded by the empirical work of the active labor field, usually by regular people without any formal, specifically scientific training. Science has built upon this foundation. Therefore true science, practical science, starts with experimentation which leads to empirical success. Meta-knowledge of empirically established truth can then follow. For science the preliminary induction leads the way, with science as the theory induced and the patterns of deduction then building upon that. All this must be in the service of the people. Even if one disputes the moral character of science, one cannot dispute its need to possess a truth value, and the impossibility of its doing so the moment it diverges from the public good and becomes the tool of capitalism or of any other tyrannical hierarchy.
.
Whether one sees science this way or in the more minimal sense of the scientific method, either way establishment science has abdicated. This is because it has fully embraced an ideology and framework which are antithetical to all human values, all truth values, all objectivity, all integrity. This framework is the corporate “science” paradigm. The US and most other governments, the corporate media, a large majority of STEM professionals and professionals in general, even many self-alleged radicals, regard the corporate science framework simply as what science “is”. Wherever we see an official or establishment type talking about science, he’s probably not talking about anything we’ve been told about a quest for truth or a scientific method. He’s talking precisely about “science” as dictated and controlled by corporations. Governments claim to respect science and derive policy from it, the media claims to report upon it, “supporters” claim advocacy of it, but these all are really propagators of corporate scientism, which is first of all a political and economic ideology, and for many a religion.
.
2. What is this paradigm? It has fastened its vise grip from above and “below” through two mutually reinforcing processes. Through lobbying for corporate welfare in the form of pro-corporate government funding and strategic deployment of their own money, the corporations have gained control of academic science programs. Their control of agricultural education is especially complete. They’ve imposed their own norms as normative for education as such. They’ve rooted out most ideas of public service careers. Career paths all point to the corporate track. Government service is consciously seen as corporate service. The corporation is explicitly seen as “the client”. The regulator sees himself as a corporate agent. Regulatory agencies and corporations increasingly engage in de jure collaborative projects. Where necessary legislation further encourages or mandates the pro-corporate ideology of the regulator. The executive branch always provides very aggressive pro-corporate impetus. The TTIP and TPP would systematize this entire coordination process in an even more total way. The “revolving door” is barely distinguishable any more, the lines between government and corporation are already so blurred. Classical bribery is still rampant in the form of no-show jobs and speaking junkets for suspiciously high emoluments.
.
All this leaves very little room for doubt or even for conceiving an alternative. The vast majority of STEM types never question corporate domination for a moment. Once you completely assimilate the profit motive and its accessories such as patents, and once you see the corporate executives who run this system as embodiments of the Fuhrerprinzip (Leadership Principle), it follows automatically that whatever kind of scientific framework and result these Leaders want is Science as such.
.
What follows is that almost all working scientists, and certainly all who aspire to high positions in the hierarchy, envision their entire endeavor in terms of producing the results the corporation wants. They choose their projects and methodologies for these projects accordingly. They interpret their data accordingly. Where they generate unwelcome data they directly censor and suppress it, tendentiously rule it out as irrelevant, or fraudulently claim it really supports their thesis.
.
That’s a sketch of the top-down corporate seizure of control of all scientific institutions. From another direction, that of the technician rank and file, we have their historically characteristic mercenary mentality which is always ready to serve existing power. Same for their inherently elitist, misanthropic, anti-democratic bent, including their fierce hatred for any kind of democratic oversight. This contrasts completely with their meek submission to regimented control where this comes from an authoritarian bureaucracy. Thus we see the contradiction between STEM disdain for non-credentialed citizens who comment on matters related or allegedly related to science, vs. their groveling endorsement of commentary and directives dispensed by non-credentialed corporate executives and politicians. It boils down to a mindset which is, prior to all content, authoritarian and anti-democratic. From there the ideology seamlessly ramifies itself as the religion of scientism and the political ideology of technocracy. Technocracy is really just a front for direct corporate dictatorship.
.
When I call scientism a religion this is not a metaphor or rhetoric. Historically, scientism and technophilia are rooted in Christian extremism, and often remained overtly so through much of the twentieth century. Even among today’s scienticians who call themselves “atheists”, their intense religiosity is clear to see. Cults like artificial intelligence or “the singularity” are explicitly religious, while cults of eugenic creationism via genetic engineering (along with its companion junk science of genetic determinism) or “getting off the rock”, the scientism version of the Rapture, conceal their religious character only with great difficulty.
.
Indeed, the STEM fraternity displays all the classic traits of religious fundamentalism. They’re fanatical and aggressively intolerant in principle, yet in their day to day actions and words they have no sense of truth or consistency at all. Actual living makes no difference because the promised land is “there” somewhere in the future and beyond the clouds. Where it comes to STEM types this psychological and ideological way of being is often called instrumental reason. This term sums it up well: One exalts “Reason” (or “Science”) as a transcendent value, and also tries to use it to get a job done. But where life actually happens, in deciding what is to be done in the first place, reason, truth, evidence, let alone any human value, mean nothing at all. One just follows orders and cashes one’s paycheck. All morality is referred to the divine beyond.
.
It’s clear how well the scientism religion/ideology melds with the corporate program of total control, and how these mutually reinforce one another.
.
As for the few practicing scientists who dare to question corporate rule in principle, and/or who design experiments in accord with regular notions of the scientific method rather than seeking to reinforce the corporate propaganda line, and who therefore accept corporate-adverse evidence as the real scientific data instead of censoring it, these are viciously assaulted by the attack dogs of the fraternity. Their mafia-type attitude where it comes to their version of Our Thing betrays their lack of self-confidence about their endeavor and exposes their knowledge that unless their framework is constantly enforced with lies and persecution of dissent it’ll be unmasked and destroyed. It also demonstrates the fundamentalist character of their commitment to the paradigm, their religious cult faith that corporate “science” is Science itself, the god to which they’ve dedicated their being.
.
And so as if crushed in a vise, institutionalized science (and professionalism in general) have surrendered completely. They’ve completely embraced the corporate science paradigm and function completely within it.
.
3. We can briefly survey a few examples of how the corporate science paradigm manifests.
.
*Peer review is increasingly turned upside down, with the reviewers now policing not truth-based scientific quality but faithfulness to corporate norms and needs. The more pro-corporate papers one has published, especially those done to order and paid for by the corporations, the more he’s invited to review subsequent papers. In this way corporate science reproduces and reinforces itself as more corporate science cadres become the reviewers and can more enforce the corporate line. In this way the rich get richer, metaphorically and literally. If from the perspective of the corporate science paradigm peer review “fails” in an important case, the practitioners can take more rigorous measures to “correct” the result. In an extremity even a duly peer reviewed study can be scrubbed from the record if subject to enough anti-scientific political pressure. This then puts a chill into researchers and funders, putting them on notice that the “scientific” establishment will not tolerate actual scientific studies on GMOs and other products critical for the corporations, only rigged ones.
.
We still see the fetish of “peer review” cropping up often among GMO critics, but this is misguided. Peer review can’t be relied upon any more than any other institution of establishment “science”. In this radically corrupted environment we have to take any alleged piece of science on a case-by-case basis, judging according to its transparency (100% is required), methodology (for example, food safety research must be of a duration which encompasses the full life cycle of the animal subjects*; this rules out the most common fraudulent method), who performed the research, and who paid for it.
.
At the same time the practitioners assert protocols for rationalizing corporate secrecy where it comes to adverse data. From any reality-based point of view there’s no such thing as “secret science”, and data which is kept secret is automatically ruled out of science. Those such as corporations and regulators who claim to base policy on secret science are openly proclaiming their contempt for science and truth, and openly broadcasting their character as liars and con men. We the people can reject all they say and assume the worst about what the secret data really indicates. This is a basic part of rational method. But among regulators, the corporate media, and evidently the vast majority of STEM types, the truth value of “secret science” is an article of religious faith. This is tantamount to a direct assertion that science is whatever the corporation says it is.
.
The same goes for the practice, institutionalized under the corporate science paradigm, of the regulator letting the corporation police itself and accepting the corporation’s own account as the actual state of “science”. But this is fundamentally irrational in principle, since a rational person would never trust a sociopathic corporation to certify the safety of its own profitable actions. That’s irrational in theory, and then there’s the fact that corporations like Monsanto or Dow are historically proven to be systematic liars. We know as an empirically proven fact that anything a chemical corporation says about its product’s safety is a lie. Again, rational method would never trust an interested party to give its own unevidenced account, would never believe a proven liar, and would automatically reject anything the proven liar claims, where the evidence is not 100% transparent and public. The result of such an irrational, idiotic process can never have anything remotely to do with real science, and in fact comprises the radical rejection of all scientific standards.
.
In these ways we can see how radically irrational the corporate science paradigm is in principle. Of course its practice is dictated by its contempt for reason or truth and its total commitment to authoritarian power and greed. Corporate “science” is simply the absolute corruption and abdication of all allegedly scientific institutions and the vast majority of so-called scientific practitioners. Under this framework science has gone completely through and beyond the looking glass, where the corporate Humpty Dumpty intones, “science is whatever I say it is.” The Big Lie = Truth.
.
[*An upcoming post will discuss whether it’s worth sacrificing more animals to the quest to get a hearing from establishment “science”.]
.
*Related to the doctrine of Secret Science, and also indicative of the scienticians’ disregard of day-to-day truth norms, is their belief that scientific claims can be made, and science-related policy formulated, by anonymous cadres, the “science” equivalent of hooded judges. In public debate as well, anonymous attacks on independent science are standard, whether these come from industry forums such as AgBioForum or from smears published by regulators.
.
*Under corporate “science” we see bizarre terminological inversions. For example “skepticism”, which in regular English means not taking things on faith, especially obvious lies, now often is used in an Orwellian way to mean the exact opposite: “Blind faith in whatever the corporate PR office says.” As with other kinds of fundamentalists, the corporate science fundamentalists use words to mean the opposite of what they normally mean, or in ways which have no meaning at all. Perhaps this is why they can so easily keep regurgitating direct lies which were disproven many years ago, such as that GMOs reduce pesticide use or yield better than non-GM crops. It’s also why they consistently can talk about non-existent hoaxes like golden rice or the GM Kenyan sweet potato as if these fairy tales actually exist. Again, to a fundamentalist all “truth” is bound up in the religious idol which is removed to the realm of the ideal, while the actual day-to-day real world is merely the realm of Satan anyway. Therefore there’s no need to care about the difference between fact and fiction, truth and lies. The implication, which the corporate science practitioner vigorously exercises, is that there’s no reason not to lie relentlessly in the day-to-day world, in the service of the idol.
.
Therefore it’s especially ironic that many of these pathologically lying religious fundamentalists pride themselves on their “atheism”.
.
*Under constant pressure from reality, this cult has improvised the doctrine of “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”, as a further layer of insulation from truth. Now there’s to be regular evidence (that is, pro-corporate “evidence”, especially anything produced by hierarchical establishment “science”), and disenfranchised unevidence (anything which indicates against the corporate party line, especially where this comes from independent science). Now it’s demanded that the latter produce itself in an “extraordinary” quantity in order to get a hearing. Of course the extraordinary amount necessary is never quantified, and as we’ve already seen no amount would ever be enough. Real science has already amassed vastly more than enough actual evidence against agricultural poisons to convince any rational person.
.
In truth, real science recognizes only one kind of evidence and judges it according to the methods by which it was gathered, in the same way that real justice would impartially assess the testimony of a homeless person and a billionaire who are in dispute. But as we see with the “extraordinariness” doctrine, the corporate science paradigm with its extreme pro-corporate bias exemplifies the kind of “justice” which has always favored billionaires.
.
(Actually, if we take the extraordinariness doctrine at face value, then since there’s zero evidence in favor of GMOs, only dogma and lies, and vast agronomic evidence against them along with substantial evidence of their health dangers, it would follow that by now it must require extraordinary evidence for a pro-GM contention to get a hearing. Here, as with credentialism, I propose we hold the pro-GMO activists to their own proclaimed standard.)
.
*Under the corporate science paradigm, this general bifurcation of science based on whether it is being practiced by the corporate establishment or by independent practitioners, by those who accept complete corporate oversight and control of their scientific practice vs. those who resist or reject such oversight, is extended to access to research materials themselves. From the beginning of the genetic engineering era the corporations have allowed access to research material only to those researchers who are willing to accept corporate control over their work. This is one of the main purposes of enclosing the materials by patents. The general acceptance of this intellectual property regime on the part of rank and file scientific practitioners and STEM types is in itself a strong barometer of their faithful adherence to the corporate “science” framework. According to traditional norms of science, such enclosure and prior restraint would have been considered outrageous and automatically non-scientific and anti-scientific. But today’s science establishment accepts and helps enforce this enclosure as an integral part of Science as such.
.
*The extraordinariness doctrine is a manifestation of a more general phenomenon of propaganda and policy under corporate rule, where the more obviously malign or insane a policy is, the less it’s held to any kind of reality-based standards whatsoever. Corporate science cultists here exemplify the classical “I believe because it’s absurd.” Poison-based agriculture joins Wall Street and the energy extraction sector as a prime beneficiary of this forbearance.
.
By contrast, system cultists demand 100% a priori theoretical perfection from any dissenter or advocate of any alternative to corporate rule.
.
In science, this is typical of how rank and file practitioners and propagandists work under the dominant paradigm. Again we see how, for those within the framework, the truth or falsity of anything is irrelevant, only how faithfully it reinforces the corporate party line and assists the corporate prerogative on its way.
.
*This is demonstrated by the complete fraudulence of their work where it comes to such harmful and shoddy, but profitable, products as GMOs. No government or corporation has ever performed a legitimate, full-length toxicity or cancer study, or an epidemiological study (in spite of requirements in Europe and elsewhere to do so), upon any GMO. They’ve done only short-term (“subchronic”) trials which measure only industrial parameters like fast weight gain. According to pro-GMO activists, smoking doesn’t cause lung cancer because the cancer rate among 14-year old smokers is negligible. These industry trials generally include fraudulent methodology like the use of “historical control groups” to drown out any toxicity or cancer data which does manifest. The researchers regularly engage in such fraudulent procedures as replacing animal subjects mid-study or obtaining leftover subject material from unrelated studies and pawning it off as new. They directly suppress adverse results or else define these away through such bogus classifications as “biological relevance” or “normal variation”, which are ideological measures meant to render as unevidence anything the corporation doesn’t like.
.
Every compendium of so-called “studies” sponsored by the pro-GMO activists – the Snell report, the EU SAFOTEST report, the Nicolia survey, the “Trillion Meal Study”, GENERA, the “GMO Pundit” list, etc. ad nauseum – is nothing but another list of these same bogus industry trials.
.
So the positive scientific evidence for the safety of GMOs is zero.
.
Meanwhile we have the very strong implicit evidence of the self-evident fact that the only reason governments and corporations refuse to perform real full-length safety studies is that they’re terrified of what the results will be. This is proof that Monsanto and the US government believe the products of genetic engineering are dangerous to health.
.
In all these ways we have a classical example of a dominant paradigm “science” regime which ruthlessly polices the day to day actions of its practitioners in order to obtain the result pre-determined according to ideological norms.
.
*A particularly vile dereliction of corporate science is its massively criminal violation of the principle that scientific experimentation requires informed consent. Obviously the vast human feeding experiment GMOs are now undergoing never obtained consent from the billions of human beings it has turned into guinea pigs. Worse, the experimenters and their supporters in the professional and academic ranks want to withhold all the information they can by opposing real safety testing, suppressing adverse data from the inadequate tests which industry has done, slandering independent science, and opposing labeling.
.
*An effective catch-22 is to render epidemiological study impossible by systematically keeping the presence of GMOs and other poisons in the food supply incalculable, though such suppression of data as refusing to label foods containing them. This anti-science obscurantism then sets up what are pure lies from a scientific as well as political point of view, where the pro-GMO activists claim to know that “people have been eating GMOs and aren’t getting sick”. What’s really happened is that with the system’s suppression of labeling information and subsequent briar-patch refusals to perform epidemiological study, science has been willfully and systematically driven out.
.
*In general there’s been a complete ethical collapse among “scientists” in their rejection of the rational and human-oriented precautionary principle (rational in principle and in light of the historical record, as we noted above regarding the lack of trustworthiness and known psychopathy of the corporations, as well as for the purely scientific reasons Nassim Taleb recently discussed), their refusal to demand or exercise objectivity in discourse, or to disclose conflicts of interest. This collapse is simply the process of STEM types completely assimilating the values of their corporate masters. Indeed, from the perspective of the corporate science paradigm, there is no conflict of interest to disclose since the science interest = the corporate interest. The very concept of a “conflict” becomes meaningless, and those who still refer to such a thing are talking in a foreign language.
.
*To sum these up as a few basics:
.
– The refusal of the corporate “science” paradigm to perform legitimate safety tests is implicit proof that the corporations and governments know or believe that the true scientific evidence would be devastating for them, their system, and their products. The fact that in place of real science they build such a massive structure of fraud and lies confirms this proof. GMOs and other agricultural poisons are known by the government and corporations to have extremely bad effects on human and animal health, the environment, and on agronomy.
.
– The corporation always lies, and we can and should reject out of hand anything it says unless it makes complete public disclosure of 100% of the evidence. Again, the fact that it resorts to Secret Science proves the corporation’s malign intent and how bad the evidence against the corporation must be.
.
– There’s no such thing as Secret Science. Any appeal to it or claim that it can exist at all is automatic proof that we’ve left any realm of legitimate science and are dealing purely with ideological liars and con men who are perpetrating simple consumer fraud.
.
– In their embrace of all these things the practitioners, publicists (including mainstream “journalism”, which adheres to a parallel corporate journalism paradigm; same for academia and the professions), and fanboys demonstrate their opportunistic and/or religious commitment to a purely ideological framework which has zero relationship to any traditional idea of science, and which represents the radical repudiation and destruction of all the things science is supposed to stand for. The lot of them are nothing more or less than corporate propagandists who through their words and other representations and actions are full participants in corporate crimes against humanity.
.
4. We can apply our standard corporatism template to the corporate scienticians, as we’ve previously applied it to regulators and system NGOs:
.
***1. The corporate prerogative is normative. The corporate project must go forward. Corporate power, corporate control, corporate rule are to be taken for granted as “the way of the world”, the best way or at any rate the only way.
.
***2. Scientific institutions and research must be controlled by the corporations or by corporate-oriented regulators or educational institutions. They must be designed to serve corporate propaganda goals, produce corporate-friendly results, practitioners must be willing to practice their profession under corporate supervision and be subject to corporate censorship. Where political pressure forces it, such as in the case of weed and insect pest resistance, the corporations may loosen the reins a little, and in these enclaves the practitioners may have some tiny space to “do real science”, though even then they are subject to persecution from the scientism mob. Everyone must join the mob ranks to condemn bona fide independent science which deviates from the paradigm and produces results which firmly contradict the party line and which, if admitted as the state of science, would harm corporate profits.
.
Through all this the “science” establishment must pretend to stand for real science and to be real scientists holding the system accountable. As much as anyone else the corporate scienticians claim that science is objective, rational, fact-based, impartial, and in the service of humanity. Therefore this pose is a systematic fraud which is only pretending to prevent or correct system “abuses”, let alone the depredations of organized crime. In practice a few stray studies don’t change anything. So far the WHO’s IARC finding that glyphosate causes cancer, for all the media noise including the mob howling against it, is having almost zero effect on the ideology or policy of Western governments, universities, or media.
.
***3. Then put the imprimatur of “science” on the structure of fraud and lies and tell the people to go back to sleep. Tell them to trust the “experts”. Apply the meaningless but polemically potent “anti-science” epithet to any deviation.
.
5. This is the current state of establishment “science”. This means that science as an established intellectual framework and collective endeavor, as something which is trustworthy, legitimate, and possessing any rational authority, has abdicated. All that is left of science, the true science, are some fugitive, persecuted independent scientists, as well as the vastly greater range of empirical practitioners who increasingly infuse their work with agroecological science, albeit with almost no help, and plenty of hindrance and harm, from establishment sources. And yet in spite of all this the evidence is clear and overwhelming: Across the board, in general and at every point of detail, science affirms and supports agroecology and Food Sovereignty and condemns the failures, poison, and destruction wrought by corporate agriculture.
.
6. A de jure, self-conscious scientific movement won’t be identifiable until a new framework rises to challenge and overthrow the established dereliction. Likely wellsprings of this movement will be ecology, systems analysis, chaos theory and other disciplines at the vanguard of holistic thinking, most of all the thinkers and practitioners of agroecology, all of these infused with the spirit of science.
.
7. My focus upon corporate agriculture is among other things a case study in this general war of ideas. Science and scholarship have been hijacked by corporate power. The ability of GMOs and pesticides to continue their march to world domination in spite of their complete practical failure and proven health detriments is the most extreme example of this modern evil. If we were to sum it all up in a single epitome, we can call it the final conflict of totalitarian eugenics vs. organic philosophy, science, and society. This is the basic status of the war of ideas and the war of actions.
.
The abolition of GMOs and pesticides is necessary on health, environmental, biodiversity, and political/economic grounds. The same goes for corporate agriculture as such, and for corporate rule as such. Humanity’s future will depend upon, among other things, our will to take back our science and reason from these ideological criminals. Since the corporate scientific establishment refuses to police itself, we the people shall have to rescind our confidence in it and our tolerance of it, and we are doing so.
.
With the rise of intense specialization in science and technical engineering, the only way it could work for society to invest any confidence, repose any faith, in technical personnel like scientists would be if each discipline were to be aggressively self-policing, since beyond some obvious basics we’ll discuss here, there’s no way anyone outside the discipline can police within it.
.
We now know this self-policing did not happen, and given the economic authoritarianism of industrialism and its technical knowledge, it was probably impossible. Since we know the technicians cannot be trusted, our only option is to retract our confidence in their whole endeavor. Where it comes to them all we can do is empirically judge prospects and results. If a prospect and result are beneficial we can allow technicians to continue along a path. If prospect looks bad or a result is bad, we must not allow them to continue. In any case, decisions about technical education, provision of social resources for technological actions, and tolerance for any particular action, must be 100% in the hands of the people.
.
Since the establishment has abdicated all responsibility and disavowed even the most basic standards of fidelity to scientific truth and simple human decency, where it comes to such dire threats to human health, we the people shall have to take back science from the hands of those who only abuse and repress it. We must expose corporate scientism for what it is and rout it from the earth. We must rebuild science from the soil up, as we, the true scientific practitioners, spent thousands of years doing in the first place.
.
Fortunately, the great work of human science is still intact and at our service, as soon as we the people choose to regain control of it. This control, exercised as part of reclaiming our politics and our economies, is the only thing we really need to rebuild here. To do so all we need to do is rescind our confidence in the elitist technical establishment and revoke all political and economic support for it. This is part of fighting for the abolition of GMOs, and this abolitionism in turn is part of driving out the traitors to science and redeeming science as servant of the democratic people.
.
Which brings us to our final point on science vs. corporate anti-science. Scientists, however much pride they take in their endeavor, are humble about the limits of this endeavor. The recognize the much greater uncertainty which encompasses whatever seems certain. Most of all, assuming they respect democracy, they recognize that all control belongs in the hands of the people. They see themselves as advisers of the people, helping to make political decisions.
.
But where technicians side against the people, telling mercenary lies on behalf of corporate power, they abrogate the role of scientists and cast away any right to that name.
.
But we still have real scientists, and we have this statement, as well as the great and ongoing work of independent researchers on GMOs, fracking, and the many other corporate assaults which are bolstered by the lies of junk “science”. We have the work of these scientists counteracting these lies, doing what they can to ensure that in the end science shall live up to its role as a servant of democracy and watchdog of human health and freedom.
.
Plenty more fleshing all this out as we go.

<

August 1, 2015

The DARK Act and Going Forward, Labeling and Beyond

<

A few more thoughts on labeling and the DARK Act.
.
1. I oppose the DARK Act because it’s an intensified centralizing preemptionist legal assault on democracy and community rights. Not just state-level labeling but any kind of lower-level bans on pesticides and/or GMOs as well as initiatives supporting food sovereignty and community food would be outlawed. While in theory this could help hasten a motion toward the civil disobedience/extralegal mindset, in practice this isn’t happening much so far.

.
2. As for the effect on labeling in itself, this isn’t as important since the labeling-as-panacea mindset is something we need to get beyond anyway. If anything, I think the idea of labeling as something martyred to corporate power is more useful than the thing itself could ever be.

.
3. We already know from examples like that of Scott Faber and Just Label It that labeling advocacy is compatible with a basically pro-Monsanto position. Indeed, labeling advocates used to point to how in Europe Monsanto made a virtue of necessity and pretended to embrace labeling. Of course Monsanto didn’t mean it, but the point is that although Monsanto doesn’t want labeling, it can coexist with it if necessary. Now that kind of “coexistence” is further disproof of the notion that labeling can enable a peaceful coexistence between GMOs and any kind of healthful, democratic food and agriculture.

.
The fact that labeling advocates have always touted how their proposed policy can coexist with Monsanto also puts in perspective any claim they ever had that Labeling = Anti-GMO.

.
4. I’ve already written many times about why labeling is physically and politically insufficient. Also, non-GMO labeling deals with only one kind of agricultural poison, but lets through many others. The rise of a non-GMO testing and certification sector generates yet another group with a vested interest in the continuation of the GMO regime. Here I’ll make one more point about the politics of it. To whatever extent people are supposed to see labeling as sufficient, and therefore the fight for it as sufficient, it can only function to misdirect energy and passion and delay the abolitionist consciousness and movement. We can be sure that wherever labeling is actually enacted, the party line from both the mainstream system and from professionalized labeling advocates will be, “Now we have to give the labeling system time to work. For now go about your business and stop worrying about it.” This is meant to buy time for Monsanto, and we don’t have time, perhaps many years, to waste.

.
5. On the other hand, many people fear and loathe GMOs and other agricultural poisons and want to get rid of them, and turn to labeling because that’s the only action they see being touted. They turn to it because they haven’t yet been able to see an alternative.

.
6. So where we talk about labeling, and where we support and get involved with labeling campaigns, and where we oppose measures like the DARK Act on behalf of the idea of labeling, our goal has to be to encourage the latter mindset and oppose and discredit the former. The goal is to use the idea of labeling, and the example of its suppression by Monsanto’s system, to move the discussion and consciousness along the vector from “better consumerism” and “coexistence” to abolitionism.

>