May 2, 2017

Non-GM Supply Chain Reforms, Their Potential and Their Limits


Cargill is among the most powerful of the commodifiers who receive grain shipments from farmers, variously process the grains, and sell the grain products to food manufacturers. Commodifiers and input suppliers (sellers of seed, fertilizer, and pesticides, such as Monsanto) together maintain control of agriculture and have great power over the food supply. Therefore Cargill’s increasing participation in building a non-GMO supply chain is an important expansion of the restoration of the non-GM conventional sector. Food manufacturers and retailers increasingly have wanted to provide non-GMO products, but theirs is a relatively weak position. It’s very difficult for them to enforce changes in the supply chain from the buyer side. But when key elements of the supply side itself, commodifiers like Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland, are doing structural work toward building the alternative supply chain, it’ll become much easier for more manufacturers to choose this in deference to the demands of consumers.
This is an example of capitalism trying to save itself by reforming itself. Most of the corporate food chain, at least from manufacturer to end consumer, regards GMOs as a worthless, gratuitous, costly, politically inflammatory imposition upon them. From their point of view Monsanto is nothing but parasitic and predatory.
The response of Monsanto and its cultist fanboys proves once again that they are nothing more or less than religious fanatics and gangsters. They’re capitalists who in their shrill and feverish rhetoric turn against capitalism itself the moment other capitalists, who don’t share their religious commitment to this worthless technology, try to make a profit without it. Cargill’s CEO is quoted: “There’s a growing group of people who don’t want GMO ingredients. So let’s develop a supply chain for that, rather than say, ‘You’re wrong if you don’t want GMOs.’ Our mind-set is we’re going to empathize and understand the consumer on what they want in their food.”
As we’ve long known, “capitalism”, “property”, “contracts”, “satisfying the customer” are not values for the corporations and mean nothing to them. The ideology of these is only a set of lies they use and abuse as convenient toward their real goals of religion and power. We see this with Monsanto in its attacks on Chipotle, Dannon, and others who act in a truly rational capitalist way toward GMOs, treating these merely from the point of view of their profitability. Meanwhile the attitude of the pro-GMO capitalists is one of the best examples of how, contrary to its propaganda, capitalism usually is non-rational and irrational. Of course Cargill is doing this now only from this profit-seeking perspective, and only extreme naivete would see them as “good guys” or something, the way so many did with the Campbell’s PR scam.
(As for the “farmers” whose tweets are quoted in Ken Roseboro’s piece on Cargill, they’re likely paid trolls who may not even be farmers at all. Nor should humanity have any tolerance for the kind of farmer who willingly injects poison into our food, water, and environment. As for the content of their whining, how are they “suppliers” or anything else which implies agency? They’re slaves, 100% of their own volition. They’re willing slaves to Monsanto as well as to commodifiers like Cargill. So if they’re ever discomfited by a difference of opinion among their masters, they have no one to blame but themselves. Meanwhile anyone with a true farmer ethic supports anything which helps break the stranglehold on our food – first abolishing GMOs, then poisons as a whole, and then corporations as a whole. Any true farmer realizes the overriding importance of conserving and rebuilding the non-GM grain supply sector and improving its economy of scale. This is critical for non-GM farming, the organic sector, and most of all the rising community food sector.)
Roseboro’s piece finishes well: “The simple reason is that more and more people don’t want foods containing GMOs. If GMO technology is so great proponents should proudly feature it on food labels instead of trying to hide it and attacking companies and people that don’t want to use or eat the technology’s dubious fruits.” This is self-evident and indisputable. The pro-GMO activists claim to be so proud of their product in theory, yet in practice they’re obviously deeply embarrassed by it and ashamed of it to the point that they don’t want people to know when it’s there. Imagine if what you considered your great affirmative endeavor were so slimy that you had to skulk around in disguise like a pervert in a raincoat slinking into a porn theater.
Strategically, it seems superficially that the labelists are making progress toward their goal of reforming corporate industrial agriculture to purge it of GMOs. By the same token, corporations from Cargill to Dannon to McDonald’s evidently believe that the consumer movement against GMOs really is nothing more than a narrow-minded consumerist campaign, and that the labelists and “anti-GMO” people really don’t care about Food Sovereignty or the community food sector, at best care about the industrial organic sector, and really don’t care about pesticides either, but are just targeting this one product genre and can be appeased by giving them “non-GM” alternatives.
Indeed, a Bloomberg headline goes against common sense when it calls the Non-GMO Project an “anti-GMO group”. Since the Project, along with the rest of the testing sector, depends for its own rationale and funding upon the existence of GMOs and widespread contamination by them, by what logic could they be considered “anti-GMO”? The whole testing sector, and the whole complex of NGOs dedicated to seeking GMO labeling, depends upon co-existence, to use the cartel’s own term. This is simple capitalism and bureaucratic self-perpetuation as well, along with an ingrained ideological tendency inherent to reformism as such. (And of course even this bare minimum of reform has to assume: That it’s possible even now to sustain a non-GM supply chain, given how rampant contamination already is; how with many crops it’s impossible to prevent contamination; and how the very term and concept “non-GMO” keeps being diluted as the allowed level of “adventitious presence” mechanically and inexorably is increased. This is a fraud built into the whole notion of the co-existence of GMOs with non-GM products.)
We who work to abolish corporate industrial agriculture and build Food Sovereignty understand that no reformism within the corporate system or within industrial agriculture is possible or desirable. Therefore while we stand ready to use every opportunity to build community food and to condemn the evils and lies of the corporations and the technocratic cult, we must never be lulled into thinking reform is working well toward the necessary goals, or that it can become a goal in itself.
It’s not possible for corporate industrial agriculture to save itself. Industrial agriculture is doomed physically to collapse. At the same time, in spite of whatever short run calculations are shared by Cargill, the Non-GMO Project, and the labelist faction, in the long run GMOs as a primary mode of control over agriculture, food, and from there all of civilization, are too important for the corporate system to let them go without a war. So while the delays and obstructions forced by the reform campaigns are good, in the long run these won’t suffice. The system will, for as long as it has the power, force GMOs into our food supply and into agricultural and ecosystem genetics.
GMOs are physically totalitarian and politically totalitarian. For both these reasons humanity cannot co-exist with them, and therefore they must be abolished completely. And because industrial agriculture also is physically unsustainable and is guaranteed to collapse completely, even if GMOs could be abolished via the reform route while leaving conventional industrial agriculture in place, this would solve nothing toward the great looming food crisis and the great affirmative need for the global transformation to agroecology.
It’s true that the eventual physical collapse will bring an end to further GMO deployment once and for all and “abolish” them in that way. But until then they will wreak physical and cultural havoc, with incalculable reverberation effects long after Monsanto is dead and buried. Their existential presence will be much like the long run reverberation effects of extreme greenhouse gas concentrations, long after humanity’s artificial emissions have stopped. That’s why it’s insufficient for humanity to wait for the system to collapse. By then the contamination chaos will be wreaking dire, extreme harm, just as with climate chaos. These are among the practical reasons humanity must take its fate in its hands and build the transformation movement of its own free will and abolish corporate agriculture of its own agency, rather than waiting passively for the collapse. That’s in addition to the spiritual need freely and affirmatively to undertake the transformation work.
Unless we want the worst for ourselves and our progeny, we must affirmatively transform. This movement action must go hand in hand with the abolition action. Only this synergy will galvanize our spirit and provide the political basis for the affirmative work to go on in the face of the enemy’s obstruction and repression attempts. The squabbling in the media over “non-GMO” consumerist projects are just that, squabbles within consumerism over petty consumer “choices”. This is a tiny ripple amid the rising flood. Much bigger forces drive and comprise the flood tide, and much bigger forces must be deployed in order for us to swim amid it.

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