Volatility

January 8, 2016

GMO News Summary, January 8th 2016

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*Climate change deniers of all stripes like to believe that such extreme effects as lessened precipitation becoming the occasion of drought* will be a big problem for the global South but not so much for the West. The overt deniers and nihilists openly say that climate change would be a winner for Western agriculture. The COP20 types and pro-GMO activists also believe this.
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But a new study published in Nature confirms that weather-affected drought is more destructively plaguing the monoculture agriculture of the US, Australia, and other industrialized countries than it is the agriculture of the unindustrialized world. This is because commodity monocrops, especially GMOs, are very high-maintenance and require optimal growing conditions, while the more diversified food-based agriculture of the global South is more resilient. As has been the case for thousands of years, rational societies today still organize their agriculture to be redundant and resilient, so that if bad weather or a pest or disease outbreak decimates one part of the harvest, other parts are likely to come through. The modern science of agroecology is built upon this and other fundamental facts. But such reason and science are of course anathema to irrational, anti-scientific commodity-based agriculture. Therefore the societies which shackle themselves to monocultures will reap the worst of the climate change whirlwind, while those which either transform to agroecology or, still practicing rational diversified agriculture such as in Africa, resist the corporate onslaught and supplement and build upon their traditions by adapting agroecological science to their conditions and traditions, will survive and thrive. There’s no other way forward, for facing up to the climate crisis and to the companion crises of this climactic era.
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[*As John Widtsoe described, drought is properly defined not as lack of sufficient precipitation, but a predictable lack of precipitation sufficient to sustain the water needs of an unsustainably thirsty economy or economic sector. That is, it’s an artificial condition, not a natural one. Truly unpredictable dearths are rare. There is nothing unpredictable or unpredicted about how industrial agriculture will fare very poorly under the onset of climate change.]
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Providing a good example of the ideas and actions necessary to get this necessary and prosperous transformation going, agroecology practitioners and campaigners in Britain just concluded their annual Oxford Real Farming Conference. The Conference is dedicated to exchanging ideas on the practice and economics of agroecology and the modes of spreading the agroecology idea among the people. The creativity, ferment, and excitement sharply contrasted with the dolor and stagnation in evidence at the establishment’s Oxford Farming Conference, attended by corporate and government hacks along with bootlick contract “farmers”. The stale monoculture of the atmosphere reflected the stale monoculture of their words, which of course were about nothing but dead physical monoculture. As the Guardian writer put it, “The Oxford Real Farming Conference has rapidly outgrown its decades-old establishment counterpart and is calling for radical reforms to the industrialised intensive model they represent.”
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*Even as Africa (whose people have contributed very little to the emissions and destruction of sinks driving climate change) struggles to hang on to its relatively much better adapted agricultural position, the exact same world historical criminals driving climate change to the crisis point are also trying to destroy Africa’s resiliency and force self-destructive monoculture upon it.
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Monsanto, the US and UK governments, and the Gates Foundation continue to push their “New Alliance” plan for the renewed colonial subjugation of Africa under the rule of corporate agriculture. Kenya was supposed to be the most important adherent to the plan, which basically uses US and UK taxpayer money to bribe African governments to allow Western corporations to rampage unrestrained across the land and people. African countries are to make any necessary changes to seed, IP, and land law, dismantle anything that’s left of the old-style public agricultural programs (largely wiped out years ago by the IMF’s “structural adjustment” assaults), steal tribal land and facilitate corporate land-grabbing, help construct any necessary globalization infrastructure, and submit to Western dumping and profit expatriation. The goal is to eradicate African diversified agriculture, economically liquidate millions of farmers and wipe out thousands of communities, turn the entire landscape into one vast corporate plantation export zone, and slam the coffin shut on any hope of an agroecological transformation. In the long run the entire continent is to become an uninhabited desert. This is the conscious goal of Bill Gates, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton (of course any Republican in office would push it as well), David Cameron, as well as useful idiots like Bono, Bob Geldof, and many others.
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Although several countries such as Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, the Ivory Coast, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Ghana have signed up, the prized adherent Kenya has so far disappointed the cabal. This is in large part because of intense grassroots opposition from the Kenyan people. The cartel and its allied governments are now making their strongest push yet to break through. The food sovereignty activists fighting in Kenya, Ghana, and everywhere else in Africa are fighting hard for all the people of Africa and the world, and richly deserve the full support of the world against this great crime.
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*Better news from Africa: What do you know, it actually is possible for a regulator to say No. It’s easy to forget that, given how the USDA, EPA, and FDA consistently claim that they have no choice but to approve everything put before them.
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In this case, South African regulators rejected the Agricultural Research Council’s application to market an insecticidal potato called SpuntaG2. The product concept is much like that of the GM potato variety Arpad Pusztai’s research found to be hazardous to mammal health. The regulator and appeals board cited biosafety, public health, and socioeconomic problems. One of the project’s own hired consultants concluded the GMO was “a solution in search of a problem”, thereby acknowledging that there’s never any need for any GMO. There’s always higher quality, far less expensive, safe, conventionally bred alternatives for whatever a particular GMO was supposed to do.
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So a regulator actually can say No. But according to the USDA, EPA, and FDA that word just doesn’t exist and is impossible to conceive.
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*In Pakistan and India Monsanto’s Bollgard II cotton continues to be decimated by the target pest, pink bollworm. This GMO contains two Bt toxins, the Cry1AC which generated resistance against itself and failed in the original Bollgard, and Cry2AB2, which is now failing as well. The GM cotton is also being ravaged by secondary pests like whitefly. Therefore all Bt cotton still requires massive and escalating insecticide use even during the period when it works against the target pest.
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Meanwhile according to the piece the Pakistan government is saying “Crop wiped out? Don’t worry, just feed it to livestock!” Needless to say that’s an insult to the farmers who have been economically wiped out by their destroyed crop. It also blithely overlooks the many dangers of deploying such livestock “feed”, dangers such as aflatoxin and the death of livestock which has often followed their feeding on Bt crop refuse. Most of all, there’s the ongoing fundamental idiocy of denying the proven fact that the product is a failure.
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*According to a Greenpeace report, Chinese farmers are “illegally” growing GM maize. A large proportion of samples taken from cornfields, markets, and processed food tested positive for GM contamination. The identifiable varieties include products from Monsanto, Syngenta, and DuPont. Of the six varieties identified, three are government-certified as conventional varieties, which if correct means they’ve been contaminated by illicit GM cultivation. The other three which tested positive are not certified. For a long time there have been rumors that seed from GM field trials was illicitly sold to farmers. That may be the source of the contamination. Probably these are all hybrid varieties. If so, commercial farmers would have a hard time saving seeds from them. In that case there’s either a constant influx of new GM seeds, or else the seed crop is becoming contaminated.
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The other day I briefly discussed the tumultuous and often inscrutable GMO situation in China. For more see here, here, here, here, and here. The GM corn phenomenon seems like a chaotic black market situation. Presumably the cartel is displeased with this black market trade.
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*The EPA continues living up to form. According to a press release from the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), EPA has once again flouted its own deadlines to complete new “risk assessments” for glyphosate, atrazine, and imidacloprid. The glyphosate assessment was supposed to have been done last summer. (Meanwhile in Europe the EFSA moved its own already-belated glyphosate deadline from December 2015 to June 2016. This is a constant among these regulators, procrastination. This is because it becomes more and more difficult for them to come up with even pseudo-plausible lies to justify the clean bill of health they criminally bestow upon these deadly poisons.)
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Just last year in June the EPA settled in the CBD’s lawsuit over another dereliction, EPA’s breaking the law in refusing to analyze the effect of these poisons on endangered species. According to the settlement EPA grudgingly agreed to obey the Endangered Species Act. We’ll see – breaking the de jure law as well as committing crimes against humanity is the daily routine at these regulators.
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It’s not just for central governments. Here’s Hawaiian state and county officials engaging in the same procrastination.
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*Since I have an upcoming post on Monsanto’s ongoing financial travails and consolidation among the GMO/agrochemical cartel, I’ll save comment for there. Monsanto really is in some serious trouble, though. If people wanted to get together to focus on getting Roundup banned everywhere possible, it could become a permanently crippling blow. Of course the US government will do all it can for its favorite non-Wall Street corporation.
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*Vermont’s GMO labeling law will go into effect in June 2016. Looking ahead to this and perhaps other state laws to come, Campbell’s is becoming the first manufacturer to break ranks and add “made with genetically engineered ingredients” to its packaging. In other words they expect/hope what some of us think likely, that actual labels may help normalize GMOs, and even “get [Campbell’s] credit for transparency” as one analyst says in the piece. That’s one of several reasons I’m ambivalent about labels.
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I continue to note the proliferation of the Frank Luntz propaganda term “patchwork” (one of his favorite “Words That Work”), originally propagated among Republicans to oppose California’s CAFE standards. Today it’s most often used among opponents of GMO labeling, including the frauds who want sham FDA labeling which would preempt the states. In this NYT piece we see both the quoted CEO as well as the “journalist” using the loaded term.
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*A legal settlement in Jackson County upholds the 2014 law passed by a vote of the people and ends a SLAPP suit filed by two alfalfa contractors backed by the GMO cartel. The deal means Jackson farmers who already have Roundup Ready alfalfa in the ground can continue working it for the remaining years of its productive life, but they nor anyone else can plant more. (Alfalfa is a perennial generally harvested for hay for 4-8 years before replanting.)
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Making the world safe for organic and conventional alfalfa, one county at a time, has been one of the main goals of the local food system initiatives community rights campaigners are promulgating in Oregon such as the Jackson GMO ban. As a wind-pollinated perennial crop GM alfalfa has the highest rate of cross-pollination and contamination of non-GM varieties. Many GM-contaminated hay shipments have been rejected by China, a major buyer of US hay. This is the main reason Canadian farmers have put up enough resistance to forestall the approval of RR alfalfa there so far.
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An ulterior motive for the way Monsanto and the USDA have pushed this worthless product is to render organic meat and dairy untenable by making it impossible to source reliably non-GM hay. GMOs are forbidden under the USDA Organic certification, including the feed given to animals which are to be the source of organic meat or dairy. The corporations and government want either to apply more pressure to ease the organic standards to allow GMOs (this has always been a fond wish at USDA) or else wipe out the sector completely. That’s why Agriculture Secretary Vilsack and the industrial organic sector tried to put over their alfalfa “co-existence” compromise in 2011.
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*Even as the US government continues to lie about how the TTIP, TPP, and CETA would legally empower corporations directly to sue countries based on nothing but the most fairytale unmet profiteering expectations, TransCanada is now suing the US government based precisely on such a fish story. Of course these legal assaults via investor-state-dispute-settlement (ISDS) have been ongoing under NAFTA, CAFTA, and many bilateral globalization deals for over twenty years now. We know for a fact that the TPP and TTIP would vastly escalate these stickups.
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Globalization and the compacts concluded under it have zero to do with legitimate demand-based trade. On the contrary, they drive a supply-based gangster economy where the corporate sectors use government subsidies and government muscle to force projects and products nobody wants upon supine populations.
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2 Comments

  1. […] for GMOs. The EPA also is used to breaking the de jure law wherever the Poisoner imperative makes it necessary. . But like I said above about the official “scientific literature”, so it is with […]

    Pingback by The EPA Fights For 2,4-D and Dioxin | Volatility — January 10, 2016 @ 7:41 am

  2. […] food economy and force all this land into commodity monoculture production at the exact moment that climate chaos makes industrial agriculture even more vulnerable, as a study in Nature recently documented. Climate change, a crime of corporate industrialism, […]

    Pingback by Africa Vantage | Volatility — January 16, 2016 @ 4:00 am


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