April 26, 2017

De Jure Corruption is Just A Small Part of Systemic Corruption


Get your microscope and we’ll search for the conflicts within.

A few weeks ago I commented on a new study which reviews the derelictions of the National Academy of Science regarding its cover-up of the conflicts of interest, these measured according to the system’s own standards, of six out of twenty panelists on its GMO review.
Initially the NAS rejected the criticisms of study authors Sheldon Krimsky and Tim Schwab. But now, as a result of this and similar pressure, they’re talking about some lukewarm reforms.
These lame promises don’t comprise even the most reasonable minimum by reform standards. For example, they say they’ll now include acknowledgements of conflict within the text of the published study instead of hidden somewhere on the NAS website. Big of them. But they say nothing about changing their policy that a panelist or researcher declare only “current” industry financial ties rather than relations over the past several years. In other words the NAS denies there’s any such thing as a revolving door.
But the squabbling over such reforms implies the much greater scope of the problem, a problem which cannot be confronted through such lukewarm reformism. The 6 of 20 panelists with de jure conflicts is a problem peripheral to the certain fact that all twenty panelists have a strong bias in favor of productionism, technocracy, capitalism, and corporate rule, and the mode of “science” which is dictated by this prior ideological commitment, the corporate science paradigm. It follows that all panelists, regardless of their formal corporate ties, agree that agriculture should be centralized, commodified, and that it should maximize deployment of high-maintenance technology and poisons. All this comprises an ideological commitment which automatically engenders a very strong pro-GMO bias, which comes prior to any scientific mode, and which dictates this mode. That’s the primary way such a panel is biased, rather than some additional de jure corruption.
The piece includes some of the original peer reviewers* of the NAS report defending it. But the same structural bias and corruption is endemic to peer review itself. Just like the careerist system of corporate science itself, a peer reviewer receives more or fewer invitations based on his willingness to review within the ideological/religious framework of the corporate science paradigm. Anyone who questions this framework is ostracized as a rogue, as “anti-science”. Indeed, from the corporate-technocratic perspective he is such a rogue, regardless of what Karl Popper would say.
The fact is that the entire scientific establishment is systemically corrupt from the point of view of true falsificationist science, especially ecology, as well as from any rational point of view. Everything we’re talking about here with de jure “conflicts” is only a squabble within the corporate science paradigm.
The PLOS One study points out that no panelists had any link to GMO-skeptic groups. This is a specific manifestation of the general fact that this panel, like almost all others, includes no critics of the extreme energy mode of civilization as such. If you accept that extreme energy consumption, productionism, technocracy, capitalism, and corporate rule are normative and dogmatically “right”, that these are beyond debate and that there’s no scientific debate to be had about them, then it’s only a small step further to accept what the pro-GMO activists claim, that “the debate is over” and that the alleged safety of GMOs should simply be accepted as science dogma without further ado, as the FDA and regulators worldwide did from the outset with their religious doctrine of “substantial equivalence”. The NAS panelists and peer reviewers all accept GMO benevolence as this kind of religious tenet, as a logical extension of their religious faith in technocracy, corporate rule, and corporate poisonism.
If this is all most people are arguing over – the pro-GMO activists, the GM critics, the NAS, the PLOS One authors – within an overall consensus on extreme energy consumption and technocracy, then isn’t this just a narcissism of small differences, just like all reformism?
By contrast, if your objection to GMOs and pesticides is primarily that they aggravate and escalate every pathology of corporate industrial agriculture and portend a resurrected eugenics campaign, then the anti-GMO fight is one part of the great struggle against corporate rule and technocracy itself, and the necessary goal is nothing less than the total abolition of GMOs and all other agricultural poisons.
In that case, our main objection to the NAS and the model of “science” practice it represents isn’t to the 6 of 20 de jure corrupt panelists, but to the systemic corruption of all twenty as well as their peer reviewers. In truth, our main enemy isn’t the consulting gigs of panelists and Monsanto’s donations to the NAS, but the fact that the NAS as such is a pillar of the corporate science establishment and a lead propagandist for the corporate science paradigm as such.
There’s not really a “conflict of interest” given the Kuhnian framework of the modern corporate-technocratic establishment and the mode of science it controls. The real conflict of interest is that of this establishment against humanity and the entire ecology of the Earth.
*Why, one might ask, is communications professor, frequent media pundit, and all-around pro-corporate ideologue Kathleen Hall Jamieson among the peer reviewers of what’s allegedly a scientific report dealing with such subjects as public health, human medicine, and ecology? In fact this indicates the real character and purpose of the NAS report: Pro-GMO propaganda, plain and simple, dressed up in pseudo-scientific garb. Thus they not only consulted a media professor on their “messaging” but actually made her part of “peer review”, trying to make their propaganda look more science-y.
Ironically, according to the standards of credentialism she’s far more qualified for the real purpose of this report than is the average scientist whenever he or she comments on GMOs.


  1. Russ:

    Speaking of corruption at the Federal level, here, in Western Oregon, where there are few public protections against aerial spraying of such powerful herbicides as 2,4-D and Atrazene, along with the more common glyphosate and imazapyr, the Oregon Senate just killed a trio of bills meant to offer some minimal protection to folks neighboring these environmentally disastrous private industrial clear cuts. Here is an excerpt from the report of an NGO called Beyond Toxics:

    “Rural Oregonians will continue to be poisoned on their own property and have their property rights denied. Beyond Toxics introduced the concepts for a set of bills comprising the Aerial Spray Protection and Right to Know legislation (SB 499, 500 & 892). The key bill, SB 892, required giving advanced notice to residents of imminent aerial pesticide sprays and required that chemical mixtures be reported five days after the spray. At the public hearing, committee members heard heart-wrenching testimony from folks coming from as far south as Gold Beach and as far north as Rockaway Beach. Senator Dembrow, the bill’s sponsor, worked hard to find compromise, but in the end the key vote, Senator Roblan (Dist. 5 – Coos Bay) voted against the bill, showing his disdain for the science on pesticide drift and for rural residents who have come to the legislature for years begging for relief.”

    So much for Oregon’s vaunted green image: it’s mostly a p.r. “greenwash.”
    So much for Oregon’s Democratic Party Blue State image: in this case, at least, as with so many issues relating to the Financial Forestry undertaken by the corporate owners of so much of Oregon’s private timber lands, these Dems are interchangable with their Republican “colleagues.”

    Joseph Patrick Quinn
    Camas Valley, Oregon

    Comment by Joseph Patrick Quinn — April 26, 2017 @ 2:11 pm

    • Everything I hear about the Oregon political establishment is terrible, and it’s hard to tell who’s more vile, Dems or Reps.

      The good stuff I hear is from real grassroots groups. I have some contact with the community rights people who have pushed the county ballot initiatives to ban GMOs and/or certain pesticide use in several counties. I also read about a successful campaign against an LNG terminal. That’s the kind of action we need everywhere, committed for the long haul.

      Comment by Russ — April 26, 2017 @ 2:39 pm

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