Volatility

January 12, 2016

The Two Versions of the DARK Act

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1. The only solution to the great ecological crises of our time, from the cancer epidemic to the chemical poisoning of ecosystems to the decimation of natural and agricultural biodiversity to climate change, is for humanity to abolish corporate industrial agriculture and transform civilization on the basis of agroecology and food sovereignty. This is easily possible and would be in accord with science, reason, morality, and spirit. It would have every kind of benefit. In every way, except from the point of view of the greedy and power-hungry, it would be a great boon and end or greatly diminish all banes. It’s desirable and necessary. The facts are all known, the science and empirical practice fully demonstrated. All humanity needs is the will to do it.
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The starting point for this greatest human mission will have to come from the people, from the grassroots up. Centralized regulators are completely alien to the vast diversity of foodsheds and watersheds which naturally exist. By their inherent character such unaccountable bureaucracies wouldn’t be able to make rational, safe, and ecologically sound agricultural and food policy even if they wanted to. Of course their entire history proves they don’t want to.
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2. GMO labeling is worthless if it’s not inherently for the sake of public health, food safety, and democracy, and ultimately toward the Food Sovereignty goal. This has to mean real GMO labeling as aspired to by such state-level initiatives and legislation as those of Vermont, Washington, and California. It cannot mean the fraudulent standards promulgated by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), and in any event real GMO labeling can never come via central government preemption.
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Therefore we have one core, non-negotiable premise for real vs. fraudulent GMO labeling: No preemption. This is self-evidently true if labeling is supposed to be an exercise in democracy. This includes the principle of a right to know, which can be argued only on a pro-democracy basis, what Karl Popper called the open society. On the other hand if one’s willing to throw democracy in the garbage by supporting preemption, then one also disarms oneself against those who claim there’s no such thing as a “right to know”. Other than democratically, what could that even mean?
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It’s also empirically true that any preemptive federal policy, “mandatory” or otherwise, would follow closely the sham standards promulgated by the GMA. It’s pure fantasy to even talk about a “strong” mandatory federal labeling policy. We have all we can handle just in staving off the DARK Act, i.e. just in blocking extremely bad federal policy. What could be rational or constructive in daydreaming about good federal policy? Such a thing is impossible. We’re not talking about those who mean well but are weak or confused or scared. We’re talking about those who mean us harm.
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But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s get to what’s happening.
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3. Sometime in January 2016 Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will convene a secret meeting of corporate and government “stakeholders” (that term’s always a tip-off that the goal is to gut the people) to discuss how to prevent Vermont’s GMO labeling law from going into effect.
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This is the #1 proximate goal: Prevent Vermont.
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As Vilsack has proclaimed, the longer-run goal is to lay to rest the GMO labeling controversy, and implicitly the entire controversy, once and for all.
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An implicit criterion for achieving this is the need to buy off as many labeling advocates as possible as cheaply as possible.
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Another, related need is to reach some status which would appease enough GMO critics and skeptics that it would either prevent the abolition idea from gaining ground, or at least delay it for several more years. They know humanity doesn’t have more years to give.
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4. Even though there’s legislators in Congress promising to reintroduce the so far thwarted DARK Act, it seems that some of the stakeholders think the DARK Act as so far conceived won’t attain these necessary goals even if it passes. The most pressing matter they all agree upon is to somehow prevent Vermont’s law from going into effect. That’s why Vilsack’s calling this conference now, without waiting to see if the DARK Act fares better in 2016.
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5. This is where the January Campbell’s announcement comes in. The idea of mandatory FDA-controlled labeling on a pro-corporate basis has been around for awhile. Obviously the GMA and its members preferred to preempt all mandatory labeling and offer at most a “voluntary” basis (and this too according to weak, sham standards). The DARK Act as we’ve known it so far has been written on this basis. But there was always the option of taking these same weak, fraudulent GMA standards and making them mandatory while preempting all stronger, far more truthful standards. That’s what Campbell’s proposes.
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Let’s be crystal clear:
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*Campbell’s is very strongly pro-GMO.
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*Campbell’s shares the goals of Vilsack conference: #1, Prevent Vermont. Longer run, make an end of the entire GMO controversy on the basis of a complete victory for GMOs.
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No one can dispute this, since Campbell’s explicitly pledges its support to GMOs*, explicitly condemns the state-level movement, and explicitly says its political proposal is meant to replace and obliterate the state-level movement. This automatically brings along the strong implication that the content and timing of the company’s announcement is targeted especially at Vermont’s law (which Campbell’s singles out for special mention), and that the company’s number one proximate goal is the same as that of Vilsack, to prevent Vermont’s law from going into effect and to destroy any possibility of any such laws being enacted in the future.
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For a detailed analysis of the weak and scam elements of the GMA’s labeling standards which Campbell’s wants to make mandatory, see here.
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If a labeling policy would not label the Arctic Apple and Innate Potato (any “mandatory” FDA policy would not label these nor any other “second generation” GMO, and it would forbid states to require the labeling of these), the most dangerous kind of GMOs of all for food safety, is it a policy worth supporting?
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Lest anyone mistake me, it’s possible to be glad that Campbell’s says it will voluntary label its own products, assuming they really go ahead and do it, while firmly rejecting its call for preemptive federal labeling. What’s been disturbing is to see how many self-alleged labeling advocates don’t separate the two and implicitly or even explicitly embrace preemption. This is a complete abdication and is completely irrational, assuming meaningful labeling was ever really their ideal in the first place.
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[*In addition to the standard Big Lie rhetoric, the Campbell’s announcements also contain a pure factual lie: “[T]he science indicates that foods derived from crops grown using genetically modified seeds are not nutritionally different from other foods.” There is in fact zero science supporting this assertion (and an assertion is all it ever was: the FDA promulgated “substantial equivalence” as a purely cultist, pseudo-scientific dogma), while all the science which exists contradicts it. (At that link, cf. “The sham of substantial equivalence” and the next two sections.) Because of Roundup Ready GMOs, Campbell’s products almost certainly are loaded with cancer-causing glyphosate. So in addition to the usual political lies, we see how Campbell’s is a liar in the straight factual and scientific sense as well, including about the literal life-and-death matter of cancer. I’m sure I’m not being sufficiently “grateful”, but somehow I just can’t find my way to feel good about someone trying to sell me cancer-causing products and lying about it.]
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6. That brings us to what’s really going on here. Campbell’s and probably others have lost confidence in the GMA’s preferred “voluntary” DARK Act strategy, just as the GMA itself previously lost confidence in the scorched-earth 100% anti-labeling strategy which Monsanto prefers. We can assume Campbell’s wouldn’t have gone out on a limb alone, but that they satisfied themselves there would be more support coming for its position, probably at the Vilsack conference. It’s obvious that Campbell’s timed its announcement to mesh well with the upcoming Vilsack conference and looming Vermont deadline. They wanted to ensure that the idea of a “mandatory” version of the DARK Act, what we can now call DARK Act Plan B, would become a major topic of discussion at the Vilsack conference. Campbell’s and any like-minded “stakeholders”, and perhaps Vilsack himself (who in 2011 tried to broker a “co-existence” scam with the support of the industrial organic sector), see this as the best way to head off the Vermont challenge and preempt any further state-level policy while peeling off a sufficient number of labeling advocates. They think there’s a significant faction who oppose DARK Act Plan A but would accept or even support DARK Act Plan B.
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7. So what strategic and tactical prescription follows if all this is correct? What’s at stake is to fight a morphed version of the same old DARK Act. We should simply continue with the ongoing opposition to the DARK Act, whether in its Plan A “voluntary” or Plan B sham-“mandatory” version. If all those who ever said they were firmly against preemption would stick with that point and oppose ANY preemptive measure as the same old DARK Act and in exactly the same way, refusing to be distracted by the shiny thing “mandatory labeling” which is pure misdirection, then it would be the same fight against the DARK Act as we’ve already been fighting so effectively.
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By DARK Act Plan B I’m referring technically to whatever legislative proposal eventually arises from the Vilsack conference or any similar conclave. Campbell’s timed its announcement in order to make its proposal a major topic of discussion there. But I’m also referring to the general idea being propagated by Campbell’s.
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Opposition to preemption was one of the core reasons everyone gave for opposing the DARK Act (just as the right to know and therefore democracy is always given as a core reason to want labeling in the first place), so why should any other version of preemption be any different. Such organizations as the Organic Consumers Association and Food Democracy Now have said preemption would be a deal-breaker for them. If everyone who ever said this would simply continue to hold firm on it and continue to call a DARK Act a DARK Act, whether it be in the Plan A or Plan B version, then it would be a continuation of the same fight in the same way that people intend to oppose the new proposals for the Plan A version which various Congress types are promising for 2016.
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So the way to view it and the way politically to express it is to call it the same DARK Act in just a different shade of dark. Or if people decided it needed a special name, how about DUSK Act – Denying Us Sufficient Knowledge. But I’d stick with “It’s the same old DARK Act, since it preempts and therefore denies our real right to know.”
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And with this knowledge, state-level campaigners would also continue to fight for real labeling at the state level and not pack it in. They’d have to make the same argument to the public and potential activists and donors: The state level remains the only viable level to attain real labeling, while at the federal level there would only be the DARK Act.
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7. In the end we the people must, can, and will take back our agriculture and food and put an end to the onslaught of poison-based agriculture. What’s negative is to feel such deep doubts about this that one looks for plausible ways to give up, or to not share this great and necessary goal in the first place. A purely consumerist fad, committed only to the idea of labeling while not caring at all about the substance, was never worth having in the first place. That’s what’s negative. What’s worth having is a real democracy-committed movement which is on the vector toward the necessary abolition goal. That’s what’s positive.
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Let’s keep faith with Vermont and the fighters there who forced its GMO labeling law into being. Ironically, Vermont’s impending policy is the proximate trigger for all this – Campbell’s desperation move, the Vilsack conference, these are all being undertaken under duress. This proves the movement has been on the right course. Campbell’s desperation is evidence that everyone should want to continue on that course, not throw Vermont overboard and surrender everything.
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To say it one more time if anyone mistook me on this, the Campbell’s announcement is indeed a significant development. A major player has broken openly with the GMA’s preferred front and said DARK Act Plan A isn’t working, and that they want to move on to DARK Act Plan B.
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This is a heartening development, but the positive response is to say “Look how we have the bastards running scared! Now’s the time to redouble our efforts on the course we’re already on – keep opposing the DARK Act in both its forms and continue with the vigorous grassroots state-level movement.” This includes exposing attempts to hijack and co-opt the movement for real GMO labeling.
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11 Comments

  1. Reblogged this on Ban GMOs Now Blog.

    Comment by Jeff Kirkpatrick — January 12, 2016 @ 9:47 am

  2. Re-blogged and will also share; everyone needs to know this.

    Comment by Jeff Kirkpatrick — January 12, 2016 @ 9:48 am

    • Thanks Jeff!

      Comment by Russ — January 12, 2016 @ 1:58 pm

  3. Let’s also always keep in mind that any consideration of labeling has to be put in the context of the specter of the TPP and TTIP, which Campbell’s has vigorously lobbied for and which the GMA would try to use to ban ALL GMO labeling. Sort of a trump card they think they’ll have, if all else fails.

    http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/34378-keystone-and-food-labeling-cases-demonstrate-tpp-s-threat-to-democracy

    Comment by Russ — January 13, 2016 @ 4:58 am

  4. […] but “mandatory”, FDA policy which preempts real labeling at the state level (DARK Act Plan B) would not only destroy the labeling movement but destroy the rising trend of advocacy beyond […]

    Pingback by GMO News Summary January 15th, 2016 | Volatility — January 15, 2016 @ 9:42 am

  5. […] Voluntary labeling equals NO labeling. Period. The FDA’s policy of voluntary GMO labeling is over 14 years old and since then not one company has ever put a label on any GMO product or GMO derivative. (Although it is true that Campbell’s has recently announced its intention to do so – under certain conditions). […]

    Pingback by CBS this Morning’s Report on GMOs: A Disservice to the People of America | Ban GMOs Now — January 18, 2016 @ 1:51 pm

  6. […] Voluntary labeling equals NO labeling. Period. The FDA’s policy of voluntary GMO labeling is over 14 years old and since then not one company has ever put a label on any GMO product or GMO derivative. (Although it is true that Campbell’s has recently announced its intention to do so – under certain conditions). […]

    Pingback by CBS this Morning’s Report on GMOs: A Disservice to the People of America – bangmosnow — January 18, 2016 @ 11:07 pm

  7. […] by the time such a policy was enacted. That’s a basic part of the scam being prepared for DARK Act Plan B. . Here’s another piece making the same point. . *Great to see some people still care about […]

    Pingback by GMO News Summary, January 22nd, 2016 | Volatility — January 22, 2016 @ 5:48 am

  8. […] from the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) of a new attempt at “compromise”, i.e. exactly the kind of scam I predicted all along. This is a version of what I call DARK Act Plan B. The idea is that since the […]

    Pingback by GMO News Summary February 19th, 2016 | Volatility — February 19, 2016 @ 9:26 am

  9. […] scam. Anti-GMO people must reject any subsequent “softer” FDA scam, any form of DARK Act Plan B. The same goes for the TPP and TTIP, which are intended to do things like outlaw any labeling […]

    Pingback by What if They Pass the DARK Act? | Volatility — February 24, 2016 @ 4:47 am

  10. […] they try again to pass a version of the DARK Act (Plan A version), let’s look ahead to a possible world where it’s been passed. . I recommend, and will […]

    Pingback by GMO News Summary February 26th, 2016 | Volatility — February 26, 2016 @ 3:15 am


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