Volatility

January 26, 2016

The USDA/Monsanto Deliberate Campaign to Contaminate All Alfalfa

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If successful, this campaign would lead to a Monsanto monopoly on alfalfa seed and render organic meat and dairy impossible under the current USDA standards. The USDA has always wanted GMOs to qualify under the organic standard, and has long seen GM alfalfa as a mode of attack to bring on this result.
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Persistence Proves Intent. If the US government and Monsanto see that this surging contamination is an inevitable direct effect of their action in deploying GM alfalfa and they continue with the deployment, that proves that this contamination is part of the intended effect. The major effects of a large-scale action are always an organic whole. It’s never true that a necessary government policy has ambivalent results. On the contrary, the major effects are always the desired effects, because if the government desired different effects, there’s always an alternative which could preserve the “good” effects without the allegedly “bad”. There’s really no such thing as “collateral damage”. That’s just a propaganda distinction to help with the lie that some effects weren’t sought by the policy-maker and are deplored by it. But if there really were major effects which the government did not anticipate and found bad, it would change the policy so as no longer to produce those effects in a major way. Persistence proves either that the effect, if truly unanticipated, is nevertheless welcome, or else that it was anticipated and consciously intended all along. Morally and practically it makes no difference. The major effects of an action comprise an organic whole, so anyone who wants one characteristic effect of an action will anticipate and want its other effects and will welcome any major effect he didn’t anticipate.
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In the case of GM alfalfa there’s no question that USDA and Monsanto had full prior knowledge of its extremely high rate of contamination. It’s a perennial pollinated by wide-ranging bees. So as soon as GM alfalfa is planted it’s off on an imperialistic campaign for the next 4-8 years. Indeed, the USDA was aware of contamination of alfalfa seed stocks just from GM field trials at least as early as 2005. There’s zero doubt that the rapid contamination was consciously anticipated.
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As for the contamination effect being desired, if the US government didn’t want to contaminate the entire alfalfa crop it would not have allowed and encouraged Monsanto to deploy the product. Some alternatives within the capitalist framework include the ante-biotech status quo, encouraging integrated weed management, government subsidies for hand-weeding labor instead of herbicide, encouraging greater organic production. Of course there’s a vastly better alternative to globalized corporate agriculture as such, but here I’m just sticking with options available to the USDA given its capitalist premises. The fact is that the government would not have set up the system the way it has in such a way as to maximize contamination, if it did not want to maximize this contamination.
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Monsanto’s own interest in total contamination is of course obvious and I assume uncontroversial. If Monsanto’s Roundup Ready gene can contaminate the rest of the alfalfa crop such as to render unattainable any of the benefits organic or non-GM conventional growers hope to gain – an organic premium, overseas markets for non-GM hay – then the company could expect farmers to take on the “if you can’t beat’em, join’em” mindset and just adopt the Roundup Ready system. There’s already ample precedent for this surrenderist attitude among farmers and academics. Monsanto often has explicitly stated its totalitarian goals.
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What about the USDA? In general, a corporate regulator is designed to second the goals and actions of the most powerful corporations. Monsanto, stupid and clumsy as it’s been in many other ways (public relations, farmer relations, attitude toward agronomy), has been particularly adept and aggressive at imposing its will on government and making regulators want to serve it. (This makes it particularly bizarre and counterproductive when people still look to regulatory agencies to put limits on corporate action and uphold any value other than corporate power. A coherent, disciplined, aggressive, ecological populist movement can sometimes pressure government agencies from outside, against their will, to do what it wants. But this is only because as a coherent cultural and political movement it possesses power, never because the regulator wants to do it or inherently feels like it should do it. On the other hand a mass of consumerist atoms, no matter how many of them come together for a superficial comment period or petition or gripefest, or for a one-off superficial political campaign, can never exert such pressure because they don’t constitute coherent, directed power. That’s part of why there’s zero chance of an FDA GMO labeling policy being anything other than a preemptive sham, and why it’s madness or treason for those who claim to oppose GMOs and pesticides to want such a thing.)
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More fundamentally for our kind of example, the ideology of regulators of agricultural poisons is based on the Poison Principle. This means that no matter what the problem, the only conceivable solution is poison, more poison is always better than less, poison doesn’t just solve problems but is actively good, all comparative study is to compare only poison with poison and never poison with an alternative to poison, and that the regulator’s job at all times is to maximize poison production, sales, and application. In Poison Spring E. Vallianatos describes working in the “Benefits and Use” division at the EPA, where these terms were religiously understood to mean “benefit” for the corporations and the biggest industrial farmers, and “use” of poisons (starting from production and marketing) always to be allowed, encouraged, and maximized. Vallianatos’s whole book is devoted to detailing the strategic and tactical execution of this ideology on the part of the EPA and the horrific real world results. He remarks that at its founding the EPA was staffed largely by former USDA cadres who imported the USDA’s poisoner ideology. Jack Kloppenburg’s First the Seed is one of several excellent books describing the USDA’s extreme culture of poison-based and crackpot high-technology “solutions”.
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But for the supply-based corporate capitalism which is the fundamental paradigm of the globalization system, and therefore for the regulators, the problem is never anything more or less than the maximized production of the corporate product, and the solution is “finding” a market for this supply-driven production, through some combination of propaganda, incentives, public subsidies, threats, extortion, legal coercion, and violence. For example, the USDA offers special financial incentives to alfalfa growers who maximize their Roundup use, provides them with legal cover for transgenic trespass while stripping the victims of all legal protection, and threatens non-compliant alfalfa growers with GM contamination and economic extinction. This is because the USDA is suffused with the poisoner mindset and poisoner ideology. The USDA wants to maximize poison deployment. Therefore to the average USDA cadre, alfalfa with maximal roundup is better than with less or none. This is ideological and is prior to any mundane “corruption”, though there’s lots of this as well.
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For a more specific case, the USDA has always wanted GMOs to be part of the official organic certification. The agency included GMOs within its original proposed standards in the 1990s, and only a massive outcry from the farmers and consumers who were forcing the agency to adopt an organic standard in the first place forced it to back down on “GMO organic”. But to this day the USDA has never relinquished this wish. When it tries to define “new” kinds of GMOs such as those which have been “gene edited” as not being GMOs at all, this is primarily to excuse them from all regulatory oversight. (In itself this is a strong manifestation of the poisoner ideology. It’s rare to see a bureaucracy seeking so ardently to lessen its own power.) But it’s also toward the hope that CRISPR and other such GMOs will become certifiable as organic. (And also of exempting them from being subject to labeling if this ever were preemptively centralized under FDA control.)
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In the specific case of alfalfa, organic meat and dairy farmers are dependent upon a reliable supply of non-GM alfalfa for hay. If this supply became too unreliable or were completely eradicated, organic meat and dairy farming as we have it might become impossible. We already know that the USDA would like to force GMOs into the organic certification, and we already know that the USDA is aggressively pushing alfalfa GM contamination policy. It follows that a primary goal of the USDA, in addition to maximizing glyphosate use on alfalfa as such, is to disrupt permanently the supply of non-GM alfalfa in order to render the existing structure of organic meat and dairy impossible. At that point either consumers will have to submit to weakening the standards to allow GM feed for organic meat and dairy, or else we’ll have to give up organic meat and dairy completely. Since the “organic” brand is so important to so many, and since consumers have a history of pliability on such things, the most likely outcome is the submission and adaptation. Let’s recall how industrial agriculture flacks and government supporters used the occasion of the Steve Marsh lawsuit in Australia to argue for the weakening of Australian organic standards to allow more GM DNA presence. In a similar context, the general attitude toward the Syngenta/China flap wasn’t to criticize Syngenta’s lies or the commodity stream’s inefficiency and inflexibility, but rather to condemn the buyer for his preferences and call upon him to abandon those preferences. This is always the attitude of corporate fundamentalism. I haven’t yet seen such specific calls in the US as a result of the alfalfa contamination scandal, but if this call is not being made yet it soon will be.
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This outcome would further three primary components of USDA ideology, to serve the big corporation, to render agriculture more “hi-tech”, and to maximize poison deployment.
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Another basic measure of USDA ideology, intention, and desired goal is its fraudulent “coexistence” policy. The agency knows coexistence is impossible and is consciously lying. Its own Environmental Impact Statement on GM alfalfa (which the agency never wanted to perform in the first place but was forced upon it by a lawsuit) concedes the inevitability of full contamination and therefore the impossibility of coexistence. All the evidence before and since has confirmed the prognostication of the EIS. Also and to say again, the agency recommends that the law place the full legal and financial burden on the victim of transgenic trespass and vandalism. This is contrary to all common sense notions of law and is contrary even to most law as it still exists in the US. It’s a radical doctrine which clearly seeks to encourage and maximize the trespass and contamination and evinces a fundamental contempt for the target. It’s crystal clear that the USDA thinks non-GM alfalfa has no right to exist at all and that it should not exist. No one who didn’t think that way would ever have concocted such a policy, allowing the deployment of GM alfalfa, in the first place. In reality “coexistence” means incremental surrender of all non-GM agriculture to the total domination of GMOs, with the pace of erosion and surrender to be as fast as possible.
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Here again we see that the agency wants only to serve the big corporation, to render agriculture more fraudulently “hi-tech”, and to maximize poison deployment.
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As for Monsanto’s own attitude toward organic agriculture and food, it would probably like to see it cease to exist. But a gradual erosion of standards and expectations with an ever higher regulatory allowance for contamination and eventually formally allowing GMOs under the standard would also be a good outcome. But the existing organic system is odious to all agrochemical companies.

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3 Comments

  1. […] own testimony about its profitable products as the state of science. This is because corporate regulators exist to serve the corporate “client”, as the regulators call them, so it follows that from the point of view of a regulator like the EPA […]

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  2. […] to normalize ever increasing levels of “adventitious presence”* that we have to call it a primary purpose of the GMO project. Meanwhile public health campaigner Aruna Rodrigues filed a petition with the supreme court for an […]

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  3. […] project is at the stage of conducting a massive uncontrolled experiment in genetic engineering (via transgenic contamination and in general the wholesale domination of wise stretches of habitat by agricultural GMOs), […]

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