Volatility

March 18, 2016

GMO News Summary March 18th, 2016

>

*Imagine if every American who claimed to believe in property rights, and who claimed to believe that trespassers, vandals, and assailants should be punished, would be serious and actually apply that to real cases like poison drift. Imagine if America really believed in this kind of property right and really thought there was no right to trespass and destroy. Just one of many reasons pesticides could never have gotten started in the first place if this was a rational, moral society.
.
*Demand for non-GM conventional maize, soy, and other crops has been growing in recent years. Farmers who can deliver non-contaminated shipments are offered premiums by an increasing number of processors and manufacturers. This demand has been driven almost completely by grassroots political and consumer demand as embodied in the labeling movement and the rising abolition movement. Meanwhile farmers are also being driven away from GMOs by the overall poor and deteriorating performance of increasingly expensive GM crops. The political and consumer trend has been bolstered recently by low commodity prices, which are giving farmers an added incentive to make the switch from GM to non-GM cultivation. They look to the non-GM premium to make up for lost revenues. As a result in 2015 GM plantings in the US were stagnant for soybeans and declined for maize. But figures for both have been above 90% for years, and it’s likely that GMO cultivation has reached market saturation in the US as it has almost everywhere else on Earth. The cultural, scientific, and political movement to abolish GMOs therefore can contemplate the prospect that our main action can be to start driving back the monster, if natural and economic structural limits are already imposing a cordon on the GMO advance.
.
*The Central Institute for Cotton Research (CICR) is dedicated to industrialized commodity cotton production. By no stretch of the imagination is it anti-GMO. Nevertheless it seems free of the religious cultism which is standard among Western regulators and researchers. It looks soberly at GMO technology, assessing it from a “rational” capitalist point of view. (That is, as rational as one can be within the insane framework of commodity agriculture.) Today the CICR is of the opinion that India will lose nothing and be better off if Monsanto were to become the first ever Galtian crybaby to actually follow through on its threat to quit and go home. In this case the tantrum and threat are because the Indian government has once again cut the tax it will allow Monsanto to exact on its seed sales. It’s quite true that India will lose nothing and be better off. But Monsanto probably won’t do us the favor of following through on its hissyfit.
.
*A new industry report confirms what Charles Benbrook has been reporting for years, what Brazil’s National Cancer Institute said a year ago, and what we all know is the case, that GMOs greatly increase pesticide use. The report focuses on how GMOs have driven the great leap in glyphosate use in recent decades. The report is unrealistically optimistic about the future prospects for GMOs and glyphosate, however.
.
*Thanks to pressure from labeling advocates, the Senate voted very narrowly to reject cloture on the DARK Act. It’ll be back immediately, indeed this was a procedural vote rather than a “final” vote until a new bill comes along. While I agree that the DARK Act must be opposed, this is obviously not sufficient. I note the changed concepts of what’s the basic trend and what’s a positive development: A few years ago the trend was the gradual but progressive growth of the state level labeling movement, and what was good was any progress on this front. Today the trend is an ever more obsessive focus on the pro-Monsanto central government, and what’s good is endlessly fighting off iterations of the hard version of the DARK Act while increasingly swooning over soft-DARK proposals. Axiom: Any version of FDA preemption is philosophically abhorrent and fraudulent as a practical matter, if the goal is really supposed to be a strong labeling policy as a step toward abolition. But where it comes to many labeling advocates, I increasingly doubt either of those is a real goal. Is this war of attrition, this rut, really now the measure of progress? Am I the only one who’s already extremely sick of it?
.
.
.
.
.
Advertisements

March 16, 2016

Continuing A Perfect Pattern: Pro-GMO Activists Are Climate Change Deniers

>

Next time you run into a pro-GMO activist, just tell him that you were glad to see Ted Cruz is on the same page with the pro-GM version of “science”.
.
While you’re at it, also throw in all the avowed climate change deniers led by Marc Montagu and Ingo Potrykus who publicly and ardently endorsed Patrick Moore explicitly on grounds of his climate change denial.
.
On an institutional level, Australia’s Commonwealth Science and Industry Research Organization (CSIRO), which spends lavishly to research GMOs for eventual privatization and to propagandize for GMOs as such, is gutting its climate change research program.
.
These are just a few data points which exemplify the unanimous trend: Pro-GMO activists are climate change deniers. These two forms of anti-science naturally go together because both are in the service of techno-cultism and corporate profiteering.
.
The fact that mainstream media outlets often equate criticism of genetic engineering with climate change denial, or give space to those who do, is de jure proof that the media tells conscious, willful lies about this subject. All media outlets know for a fact that in reality pro-GMO activism and climate change denial go together, since it only takes five minutes of Internet searching to learn this.
.
.
.
.
.

March 11, 2016

GMO News Summary March 11th, 2016

>

*The movement to abolish glyphosate once and for all is developing. Over the past week the portents have been especially strong from Europe.
.
The magnitude of the crisis becomes ever more apparent as the latest study of glyphosate exposure found that well over 99% of Germans have glyphosate residue in their urine. “The report analysed glyphosate residue in urine and it concluded that 75% of the target group displayed levels that were five times higher than the legal limit of drinking water. A third of the population even showed levels that were between ten and 42 times higher than what is normally permissible.” Children, who are most vulnerable to glyphosate’s genotoxic and endocrine disruption effects, had the highest levels. When we consider that Germany has no cultivation of Roundup Ready crops and therefore significantly less indigenous use of glyphosate than countries like the US, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, or Australia, we can see how the aggressiveness with which this extreme poison is invading our food, water, and bodies has reached an intolerable level. No political prescription which wants to take the extremely circuitous route to an eventual glyphosate ban is sufficient to the crisis. The monarch butterfly won’t wait either.
.
This news added force to a rising momentum against at least the most rote re-approval of glyphosate, which the EU government had expected to see the member states wave through earlier this week. The Commission has proposed that the cancerous poison not only be fully re-approved through 2031 but that its use even be expanded. Meanwhile the EFSA is already in the process of almost doubling the allowed “tolerance” level for human ingestion. This is in spite of the fact that the EU has known since the 1980s that glyphosate causes cancer and birth defects, a decades-long cover-up finally and definitively unmasked by the WHO’s Cancer Agency in 2015. There’s no longer the slightest doubt, factually, morally, or legally (in Nuremburg terms) : Those propagating glyphosate, from the manufacturers and technicians to the regulators to the marketers to the users, are willfully causing cancer on a mass scale.
.
This realization and culpability isn’t enough to drive most governments to ban glyphosate, and in most cases they concur with the European Commission that glyphosate and cancer need to be maximized. But under rising pressure from the people, several European state governments are at least balking at the most rote fast-track procedure. The environmental ministers of France, the Netherlands, Italy, and Sweden stated that they would vote No if the re-approval is to be based only on the EFSA’s fraudulent assessment, which was nothing but a regulator rubber stamp on the industry’s own propaganda package, issued by Monsanto’s Glyphosate Task Force. The French environment minster stated that her agency concurs with the WHO’s assessment and rejects that of the EFSA. Even the Netherlands agriculture minister said that they need more information: “If there is no possibility to postpone the vote, then we will vote against the proposal.” Sustainable Pulse reported that Bulgaria, Denmark, Austria, and Belgium were also planning to vote No. Germany was said to be planning to abstain.
.
Facing this looming revolt, the EU postponed the vote rather than face possible defeat. Reports are that the vote is rescheduled for the next member state meeting in six weeks. They still need a decision before the end of June, at which time glyphosate’s license expires. Officials and the media are saying expiration would lead to a “legal limbo”, which I think means governments would have to scramble to concoct ad hoc “legalizations” which would in fact be illegal by EU law, in order to allow the poison to continue to be sold and used in defiance of the law. The policeman is there to preserve disorder, and no entity is more lawless than today’s governments and legal systems. Still, if they can’t coerce the vote I’d expect them to just put off the expiration date again. The June date is already an illegitimate extension by the EFSA from the original expiration in December 2015. The Commission is now discussing concessions it could make in order to get the vote it needs, such as proposing a shorter re-approval period than 15 years, or banning formulations containing POEA (as Germany has already done). But as the WHO’s IARC recently reiterated, the evidence is that pure glyphosate itself causes cancer, and not just commercial formulations. PAN Europe greeted the news that the EU had postponed the re-approval vote by calling for a ban not only on the POEA co-formulant but on glyphosate itself.
.
The increasingly hostile political climate I recently described continues to build and to force at least cosmetic concessions from the regulators. “Public pressure against glyphosate in countries across Europe has been intense, with nearly 1.5 million people petitioning Andriukaitis for a ban on the substance.” Now EU health and food safety commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis is saying his agency DG Sante will start to think about someday requiring scientific evidence for its assessments and rejecting the non-science, secret, ghost studies which make up the bedrock of all regulator assessments today.
.
Potentially as momentous, the European Chemicals Agency will reassess the human health effects of glyphosate in light of the WHO’s finding. If the ECHA finds that glyphosate is carcinogenic, harmful to the reproductive system, or an endocrine disruptor, according to EU law the chemical will have to be banned. But this assessment isn’t expected to be completed until late in 2017. Greenpeace calls for any reauthorization of glyphosate to be postponed until after this report is released. Whether or not this becomes a true legal and most of all political deadline for glyphosate or whether it’s another EFSA-style whitewash will depend on the grassroots will of the people. The more the motivated people force the facts into the public consciousness and pressure retailers to stop selling glyphosate, food retailers to stop selling food poisoned by it, and towns to stop buying it, the less tenable it will become for regulators to continue telling lies which will only further discredit themselves and destroy their own legitimacy.
.
Here’s a tally of some of the campaign accomplishments in Europe so far. Several retailers have pledged to stop selling glyphosate-based products. These include do-it-yourself shops in Germany (Bauhaus, Baumarkt, Hornbach, Obi and Toom), Switzerland (Coop, Migros), Austria (Bauhaus, Bellaflora) and Luxembourg (Cactus, Profi Zentrum). In the Netherlands, major garden centres and DIY shops have stopped selling glyphosate, including Intratuin, Praxis, Groenrijk, Ranzijn and Hornbach. Several cities including Edinburgh (Scotland), Barcelona (Spain), Hamburg (Germany), Rennes (France), Rovereto and Livorno (Italy) have promised to ban or otherwise end the use of glyphosate in public spaces.
.
In Europe there’s enough grassroots and public pressure to drive member governments to sometimes take pro-human positions. We see how glyphosate’s progress is tangibly being hindered, and how it will eventually be banned completely. The exact same thing can be done in America.
.
*If GM maize cultivation is legalized in Mexico, this will trigger a radical escalation of the already dire contamination of the world’s center of genetic diversity for this critical crop. Farmers, scientists, and civil society groups are fighting in court the government’s plan to legalize this cultivation. With one exception the court rulings have been in accord with the law and against the government, but in 2015 a corrupt judge removed the injunction against the GM plantings. The people appealed and have just won a restoration of the injunction. The legal struggle will continue toward a final trial, but for now the ban remains in place and no GM maize has legally been planted.
.
*Here’s the revolving door at its most frenetically swirling and a strong challenge to anyone who still wants to claim that a regulatory agency like the USDA has some kind of adversarial role vis its affiliated corporations, or indeed that there’s any real organizational demarcation between them at all. The evident fact is that there is no difference between corporations and regulatory agencies – no difference in ideology, no difference in a fundamentally sociopathic view of people and the environment, no difference in careerist commitment, no difference in the literal personnel. Regulators and what they themselves call their clients, the industry sectors, comprise one indivisible whole, the corporate state.
.
*It seems that after years of being a US poodle the Indian government may be following the lead of its fellow BRICS and looking to shake free of US/Monsanto agricultural domination. The central government is already threatening to reduce the tax it will allow Monsanto to collect on Bollgard II cotton seed, and now it’s making noises about revoking Monsanto’s patents altogether on the grounds that the technology doesn’t work. Of course regulators don’t usually care about that kind of thing, and the Modi government remains pro-GMO (though there’s factions within the coalition which oppose GMO expansion), so the answer may be that the government thinks India’s ready to start building its own GM crop system the way China’s seeking to do. Monsanto-Mahyco cotton has been a bust, and globalization has done nothing but harm to India’s cotton industry in general. So it would seem that a nationalist government would find it easy to cut Monsanto out, as long as it had the pretext to do so within the WTO system, since it doesn’t want to quit that system completely.
.
*Sell! “Weakness in ag markets, which are currently over-supplied, is likely to persist for the foreseeable future.” These markets have always been over-supplied. That’s what productionism and commodification, including the crackpot “yield” statistic, are all about. But the end is in sight. The agrochemical cartel’s last big hope is that a mass Asian middle class will rise and adopt Western-style CAFO consumption patterns in order to provide a use for all that grain overproduction. But that’s not going to happen. The glut, the price depression, and the need to dump like crazy will only get more dire. For any thinking flack or troll, this must generate lots of cognitive dissonance, what with their need to continue touting the “Feed the World” lie and to blow up another tech stock bubble around things like “hi-tech agriculture”. Ironically, those putting Monsanto in the Buy category may be right for the short run, if this bubble gets blowing.
.
But as this whole state of things demonstrates, the GMO and poison cartel have nothing left but force, lies and hot air. These won’t be enough to stem the reprisal of reality, they won’t be enough to keep down the people, and they won’t be enough to keep down the Earth. In the end a patent certificate and a spray bottle of Roundup will avail them little against the hurricane.

<
<

March 6, 2016

Prospects and Stagnation

<

Regarding opposition to poison-based agriculture a friend asked, “Where’s the outrage?” The elemental outrage which historically has driven the great movements? No, there’s very little of that so far in the US. As far as Roundup and GMOs, lots of people are basically in a consumerist snit, but that’s all. I understand how it seemed to make sense to take up the labeling idea at first, back in the 1990s (along with some other ideas which seemed plausible back then, like “better testing” or the precautionary principle), but shouldn’t we have matured way beyond that by now?
.
But not only are people terminally mired in the co-existence, consumerist ideology, but they’re digging in on refusal to even listen to alternative ideas. Thus the GMO Free USA Facebook group has started censoring my posts (i.e., simply refusing to post them; they’ve lately set up a filtering system, evidently to suppress “undesirable” ideas) starting with this piece, which my friend praised for what she saw as its optimism. I myself thought the piece was quite modest and was simply asking whether people intend to keep fighting a war of attrition against the DARK Act forever and ever, and whether they ever intend to move on to a more assertive position. But clearly the labeling idea* is becoming a political monoculture which needs its own version of Roundup against its own version of weeds.
.
Well, they want their endless DARK Act two-to-tango, and they’ll have it until the thing finally passes. At that point, according to their own testimony, most of them will pack it in and go home. When I say something like, “If the DARK Act and the TPP are forced upon us, that’s when the REAL fight has to start”, they clearly have zero idea what I’m even talking about.
.
So there seems to be precious little of the spirit that got Christianity and Islam going, got the American and French Revolutions going, got capitalism and communism going, got the original abolition movement going, got suffragism and Prohibition and unionism and civil rights going, that got the American Populist movement going. So for someone like me who thinks that kind of movement commitment is what’s needed against this worst onslaught in history, in the US it’s still stagnation times for now. As I posted in January, I think the American Populist movement provides the kind of template we need. But no template can work without the Populist type of moral commitment.
.
*I stress that most people want only the “idea” of labeling and couldn’t care less about the real thing. I was surprised to see how joyously most people embraced the Campbell’s ad campaign, which to me was clearly a stale old scam. Obviously I overestimated people’s knowledge of the GMA’s history as well as how sincere they were about effectively strong labeling or about a “right to know” (obviously a democratic and therefore anti-technocratic idea). It turned out that all most “labeling” people want is something they can call “mandatory labeling”, regardless of how weak, fraudulent, and preemptive it is. Just as they have a co-existence/consumerist mentality and not a political one, so they have a technocratic mentality and not a democratic one. The most bizarre, cult-like part is how they clearly believe there’s two different FDAs, the “bad” FDA of substantial equivalence and GMOs-are-GRAS, and the “good” FDA which they want to put preemptively in charge of labeling. But in the reality-based universe there’s only one FDA, and it’s 100% pro-GMO. So self-evidently any labeling it ever presided over would be done in the most Monsanto-friendly way possible. Yet even groups I used to think were firmly against preemption are all wobbling, while the rest sell out as fast as they can. It’s clear what a disastrously wrong turn the whole commitment to labeling as “the” idea has become. But a lot of people are just as committed to this idea as pro-GMO types are to the idea of pesticide-based agriculture, and there’s simply no arguing with such types.
.
One of the “anti-GMO” groups someone recently touted to me said explicitly in its group description, “we don’t want members arguing with one another”. Now there’s the spirit that gets real movements going. Historically, real movements haven’t started with ferocious disputation to thrash out the necessary ideas, oh no. The funny part is how Lynas, Campbell’s, the Cornell propaganda bureau and others have explicitly said that they fear controversy and “polarization” most of all. So it’s telling how, both among themselves and in their dealings with the GMA contingent, the labelists are so firm in wanting the same defusing, depolarization, “consensus”, everything designed to put the whole movement on ice. This is actually quite a testament to the raw material among the people: Even with the overwhelming temporal power of the pesticide and GMO cartels and the bona fide religious fanaticism of the scientism/techno-cult, the strong discipline and focus of both of these factions, contrasted with the inept and lukewarm, and often treacherous, “leadership” of the anti-GMO movement in the US (things are often better around the world), even given this seemingly lopsided situation it’s still such a constant uphill and very expensive struggle, financially and politically, for the cartel and the cult. I say this is a great testament to the powerful inertia of the people against the Poisoners. Imagine what a real abolition movement could accomplish. (I suppose those committed to labeling would want to claim credit for hindering the poison cartel’s progress, but the fact is that the progress continues nevertheless in spite of the will of the people, and the people have also voted against labeling each chance they’ve had to vote for it, while county-level bans have had much better success. The evidence is that the poison cartel is mostly resisted inertially on account of its self-evident evil, but as far as taking action people respond to more aggressive, ecological ideas, and not to lukewarm, reductionist, consumerist ideas which really seem to be part of the same system which has gone so badly wrong in the first place. Deep down everyone knows co-existence is impossible.)
.
Oh well, all this means it’s time to step back and focus on my book. The necessary abolitionist mindset can only develop organically or else never develop at all. For the moment it’s a slow development, though history proves one can never know when there will suddenly be a sea change. At any rate, I’ll just keep writing and see what happens. And I’ll still say we ought to launch a targeted campaign to ban glyphosate. But I’m a little sick of reminding labelists that their idea doesn’t even lay a finger (with a label or otherwise) on pesticides, a vastly worse evil even than GMOs in themselves.
.
.

March 4, 2016

GMO News Summary March 4th, 2016

>

*As we discussed last week the EU government shows what it thinks of the WHO-acknowledged fact that glyphosate causes cancer by calling for the re-approval of glyphosate in Europe for the next 15 years. This isn’t just an ongoing crime at the most monumental human and environmental level, but it even violates EU de jure law. (The latter is more important to most people who care at all.) The 2009 EU pesticides law requires that carcinogenic pesticides be banned.
.
Six European NGOs are now suing on the grounds that the German BfR and EU’s EFSA also broke the law in the tendentious way they reassessed glyphosate, in particular the way they whitewashed the WHO’s finding that glyphosate causes cancer.
.
Specifically, by its own admission the German BfR did nothing but regurgitate and launder the propaganda put out by the industry’s Glyphosate Task Force. The BfR then used fraudulent, industry-dictated methodologies to disparage the WHO’s procedure and falsely exculpate glyphosate. The EFSA then parroted the BfR’s whitewash, and the EU in turn will try to use this to justify re-authorizing glyphosate. The NGO suit is trying to have the GTF/BfR/EFSA fraud thrown out and force the regulators to start over.
.
There’s one element of the regulator strategy to continue literally to force this cancer agent into our bodies.
.
*Another element is what GMWatch hails as “a modest breakthrough” in the lies the European Union government is telling about glyphosate and other pesticides. Under stepped up pressure following the WHO’s 2015 finding that glyphosate causes cancer, such as the lawsuit I just mentioned, Germany’s BfR and the EFSA feel the need to go so far as to admit that maybe the commercial glyphosate formulations have some cancer risk. This was the only way they could try to assimilate part of the WHO’s finding while still politically exonerating glyphosate. One of the basic regulator frauds is to assess in ivory tower isolation only the so-called “active ingredient” in a pesticide and not the formulation which is used in the real world. In reality the terms “active” and “inert” have zero scientific meaning but are purely political, meant to facilitate this regulatory scam and fool people into thinking the dictionary definition of “inert” applies and that these ingredients are non-toxic. In reality these supplementary ingredients are there to render the primary ingredient more potent and therefore more toxic, and such supplementary ingredients as POEA (used in Roundup all over the world except in Germany itself, where it’s banned) are often more toxic than the primary ingredient. So a commercial formulation is actually far more poisonous by volume (in Poison Spring E. Vallianatos describes how one of the purposes of the active/inert scam is to greatly reduce the volume of poisons reported sprayed) and in its potency. (Not to mention synergy effects among the multiple poisons.)
.
Now, under the spotlight of parliamentary questioning in anticipation of the upcoming vote of member states to reauthorize glyphosate in Europe for the next 15 years, the European Commission says it will start to think about revising its assessment procedure to include some account of the real world product and not the falsely isolated “active ingredient” which is used nowhere in reality. As the bureaucrat put it, “In the context of the regulatory system we are opening a new area of work. This is not something we have done a lot before, looking at the co-formulant, looking at the end product.” Looking at the end product, imagine that! What’ll they think of next? Actually they’re not really thinking of it now either, only about “a lot of concerns we have heard, including from MEPs and civil society.” As always only political pressure can make anyone do anything. As with the FDA’s promise to test for glyphosate residues in some food products, they’ll see how far they can get with just the announcement, how long they can delay actually doing anything, and then what minimal level of action will be sufficient to appease enough erstwhile “concerned” people. Cf. the new GMO labeling proposal below for a similar example.
.
This is also meant to evade the Pesticides Law I mentioned above. The law applies to carcinogenic “active” ingredients. So if the EU can get away with blaming all the cancer evidence on tallowamine, it can claim that the continued authorization of glyphosate is legal as well as safe. But in fact regulators have known at least since the early 1980s that glyphosate by itself causes cancer. The fact that commercial glyphosate formulations are even more carcinogenic doesn’t exonerate glyphosate itself.
.
*For an example of what these glyphosate co-formulants, these “inert” ingredients, actually do to our health, see the new study which measures the endocrine disruptive effects of the co-formulants of six glyphosate herbicides. The study found that the co-formulants by themselves as well as each of the formulations decreased aromatase activity (essential for balancing production of testosterone and estrogen) at doses far below standard agricultural uses. This is why there’s no safe “tolerance” level for pesticide exposure or ingestion: They’re all endocrine disruptors, and these effects occur at very low doses. Endocrine disruption in turn is a major cause of reproductive problems, birth defects, and cancer.
.
*Given the standard operating procedure of regulators, it’s no surprise that the USDA muzzles scientists and persecutes those who adhere to the scientific method instead of the corporate science paradigm. Nor is it a surprise that the USDA concluded a review of this censorship process by congratulating itself and promising to stay the course. PEER, the NGO which has been organizing the pressure on this front, concludes, “Something now unmistakably clear is that no scientist in their right mind should report political manipulation of science inside USDA.” This is true, but the conclusion goes way beyond this. Something now unmistakably clear, if it wasn’t clear before, is that any citizen should recognize there is no science at the USDA, only corporate-dictated “science”.
.
*I forgot to include legal immunity as part three of my regulator template. (See here for one of my many descriptions of this heuristic which I’ve found to be broadly applicable to all kinds of political phenomena.) Do you still believe now there’s such a thing as a “rule of law”?
.
*BASF announces it’s rolling back the range of its genetic engineering projects. This follows the removal of its GE division from Europe to North Carolina a few years ago, a migration in search of a more favorable political habitat. If GMWatch’s take is right, this latest move sounds like Monsanto and BASF would not be a good match, since Monsanto can’t pretend to offer anything but more of the same genetic engineering hype which BASF may be gradually moving away from. Yet BASF was looking like Monsanto’s last chance to make the kind of diversification deal it needs. Monsanto needs to make a deal with someone who’s more product-diversified since it’s so dependent on Roundup, a product whose time may be running out. As we saw with Syngenta’s spurning of their suit last year, Monsanto may not have much that anyone else wants.
.
*In news related to the sector calcification we touched on in the above item, here’s more fraud centering on the hype of genetic engineering. As with patent pumping in general, this is looking more and more like another stock-pumping scam. A few weeks ago I discussed how “hi-tech agriculture” is looking like another dotcom bubble in the making.
.
*Purdue University is a liar. Monsanto publicists there have put out a fake “study” which claims to find that GM crops outyield non-GM. In order to obtain this result which runs counter to all prior evidence, they cherry-picked some answers from a USDA questionnaire which the agency itself said was completely unscientific, and then bogusly interpreted these extremely qualitative figures. Namely, they arbitrarily compared production figures for the variable “GMO” vs. “non-GMO” with zero knowledge of all other variables (such as fertilizer use) and fraudulently declared any differences to be caused by this variable. Anyone with a high school level knowledge of scientific method knows you can’t attain a result this way. But clearly Purdue professors never comprehended even this elementary concept. This kind of “science” is the norm under the corporate science paradigm.
.
*Clearly nothing is more loathesome than what Republican propaganda consultant Frank Luntz dubbed “the patchwork”. Luntz’s term is now extremely popular among both Republican and Democrat types. Thus we have broad consensus, from Monsanto to Merkley: Monoculture good, diversity (and democracy) bad. They disagree only on some details.
.
*Here’s a stark lesson in how the corporate system views the difference between real democracy, including real votes driven by the people, and the corporate-approved kangaroo elections being held this year for “president” and other corporate positions. In Washington the state supreme court is quashing ballot democracy in compliance with corporate demands. As the CELDF’s Mari Margil writes:
.

“Let the voters decide.”

While we hear that slogan often – especially in a presidential election year – the truth is that at the local level, Washington voters rarely get to cast a ballot in their own communities on critical issues.

That’s because our authority to place issues directly on the ballot – through the citizens’ initiative – has been under siege by business interests affected by its use and by courts friendly to those interests.

In February, the Washington Supreme Court continued that trend, removing a citizens’ initiative from the Spokane ballot that sought to protect community, environmental and worker rights. In its ruling, the court declared that the people’s local initiative power isn’t really a right at all, but merely a privilege granted by state government to our communities….

More than a century ago, the people of Washington enacted the citizens’ initiative process to secure our rights to directly make law. With its recent ruling, the state Supreme Court effectively eliminated our authority to do so.

With the court’s action, going forward we should expect few, if any, local citizens’ initiatives – in Spokane or other communities across Washington – to be placed on the ballot for a vote. This includes in Tacoma, where opponents of the proposed methanol plant are seeking to place an initiative on the ballot to give residents the authority to decide whether to grant permits to large water users, such as the methanol plant, that seek to use more than one million gallons a day….

State governmental power exercised in this manner, of course, is nothing new. State governments guard their powers jealously, even to the point of forcibly preventing local communities from protecting their own people, workers and the natural environment….

Our state Legislature is not unique in seeking to preempt local governing authority, even when that authority is exercised to protect people’s rights to their own health and safety. Across the country, state governments have now eliminated the power of communities to ban hydro-fracking for natural gas, genetically modified crops, corporate water bottling operations, pipelines and other practices.

It’s precisely when we watch our elected officials restricting our democratic rights that the people need the initiative power more than ever….

It’s time to push back against the power of the state to tell communities what they can and cannot do. It’s time to recognize a right of communities to expand rights at the local level and to insulate the exercise of that right from the power of state governments to override it.

.
Hostility toward participatory democracy and the technocratic lust for preemption of democracy is widespread and not limited to the corporations either. For example, this technocratic mindset is one thing upon which Monsanto and many GMO labeling advocates agree. As I mentioned above, nothing’s more abhorrent to monoculture believers of every sort than the “patchwork”, aka diversity, of ecology, democracy, and freedom.

<

March 2, 2016

Permanent DARKness Campaign

>

The campaigners who fought for Vermont’s labeling law should take pride in how they’ve terrified the corporate establishment all over America. If and when the DARK Act is forced upon them, I’d love to see them escalate their resolve by suing and then going ahead in defiance of this unconstitutional law which not only forbids state-mandated labels but which directly guts the First Amendment, forbidding “express or implied claims regarding safety or quality based on whether food is or is not bioengineered or produced or developed with the use of bioengineering…” In case anyone’s wondering where this will leave even voluntary private-sector labeling like the Non-GMO Project, it’ll be placed under the autocratic control of the Agriculture Secretary, who will be given power “to promulgate regulations establishing a national voluntary bioengineered food labeling standard.” So counties and states will be forbidden even to have their own voluntary standards. The secretary will adopt the “voluntary standards” as dictated by the Grocery Manufacturers’ Association.
.
It’s clear what a monumental effort will be necessary to get a semi-decent labeling policy in place (Vermont’s is only semi-strong and has lots of loopholes), what an endless war of attrition. People assume that because labeling is the modest measure while abolition would be the allegedly more radical one, therefore labeling must also be easier to achieve. But I’d say that with every passing month this proposition looks more and more dubious. The fact is that in extreme times (and with this massive, insane assault of the poisoners we are indeed in extreme times) the measures necessary to meet these extreme challenges are actually less difficult to achieve than allegedly “moderate” measures suited to moderate circumstances. I urge everyone seriously to ask themselves: Which do you really think will be less difficult to do, get a real GMO labeling policy in place and rigorously enforced at any government level (and not have to keep fighting the DARK Act over and over indefinitely), or abolish GMOs completely? And what’s the most likely route toward getting rid of Roundup, the circuitous and grossly contested labeling route, or the direct route of fighting for bans? I suggest that the evidence is increasingly clear that labeling in itself and abolition-via-labeling comprise a less practical aspiration than the direct goal of full abolition.
.
This question of the real practicality of labeling compared with abolitionism is ancillary to the greater truth that co-existence is impossible and even strong labeling policy would be insufficient. This is in addition to labeling’s many dubious philosophical and moral implications.
.
We must oppose all versions of the DARK Act because they’re anti-democratic and would hobble all legal attempts to constrain the poison products on the consumer front. So I’m not writing this to disparage the anti-DARKness efforts.
.
But I write to propose that even as we oppose DARKness we still need to look to the ideas which shine the strongest light. I argue that having to fight constantly on such an unproductive battleground in itself demonstrates how inadequate to the times the labeling idea is, and that this constantly looming specter of DARKness must be a spur to look to alternatives, to diversify strategy and tactics, most of all to transcend the consumerist front where the enemy is very happy to keep the attrition war contained.

>
>
>
<

March 1, 2016

Let’s Drink to Abolition

>

GMWatch asks: Glyphosate in German beer: What does it mean?, in response to the news that in spite of Germany’s rigorous Reinheitsgebot (Beer Purity Law) all 14 brands tested by the Munich Environmental Institute contained varying levels of glyphosate residue, many quite high. GMW answers in terms of getting opinions from some unnamed scientists, asking them to interpret the health implications in light of the findings of the 2009 Gasnier study which established that “small amounts of glyphosate herbicides had cytotoxic effects, and were genotoxic and endocrine disruptors in human cell lines.” The scientists answered conservatively that it’s hard to tell what the health effects might be from drinking these kinds of beers, although the levels are far above Europe’s “tolerance” levels for drinking water. They did say that for anyone who drinks a lot of beer it could be a significant source of the poison, and that beer produced from ingredients in other countries may be even more toxified.
.
When I saw the question I asked first, where does the residue come from? Under the German law these brewers wouldn’t be importing Roundup Ready ingredients. But they could be using barley or hops which have been subject to burn-down spraying. There’s one possible source. Perhaps even more ominous, it could be a result of the increasing omnipresence of glyphosate in our drinking water. Maybe it got into the beer from the water. GMWatch recommends drinking organic beer which can’t legally use pesticide-sprayed crop ingredients (though the USDA does allow a percentage of the EPA’s tendentious “tolerance” levels under the organic certification here in the US). But water quality is often a loophole in organic production. In the US water is assumed to be water for organic purposes and doesn’t have to be tested for poison residues.
.
The point today is that our water supply in general is increasingly being poisoned by everything from agricultural and industrial chemicals, to fallout from CAFOs and industrial and transportation sources of air pollution, to fracking and other extraction activities. Glyphosate’s omnipresence in what’s supposed to be legally purified German beer is just the latest measure of how nothing’s sacred any more. Environmental poisons are no respecters of our rule of law, no conformists to our law and order. Until we abolish glyphosate by whatever means necessary, this cancer bringer is going to become an ever more intimate part of our lives, an ever more physical element of our bodies.
.
The mainstream reformers continue to sigh that they don’t know, and their constrained horizon has no answer but the mythical “better testing”. In fact we do know glyphosate is an endocrine disruptor at these allegedly low residue levels (low only according to the false “tolerance” level the corporations dictate to the regulators; tolerance levels have zero scientific legitimacy and are pure propaganda memes) and that it causes cancer and birth defects even at such low doses. We know there is no safe level of glyphosate use, and we know there’s no reason for humanity to allow glyphosate to be used at all, since it’s a proven failure at all the things it’s claimed to do. Therefore we need no further testing, and we would be crazy to sit around waiting for “US regulators [who] have just begun to get together a battery of tests, though they are years off completing them.” Indeed, to even contemplate such a wait could only be procrastination on the part of those who are too afraid to draw the necessary conclusions. There’s no moral, rational, or practical alternative to complete abolition as fast as possible. No one can reasonably dispute the need to abolish glyphosate completely with all deliberate speed.

<
>
>
>