March 12, 2014

The TTIP and the “Right to Profit” (Investor-to-State Dispute Settlement)


In 2012 US-based Lone Pine Resources sued Canada in the World Bank’s corporate tribunal under NAFTA’s Chapter 11 process, claiming that Quebec’s moratorium since 2011 on fracking was costing Lone Pine $250 million in lost profits. Lone Pine wants to engage in fracking right under the St. Lawrence River. Fracking is highly destructive, has been documented by the US government to cause earthquakes, poisons the groundwater and wells of whole regions, wastes tremendous amounts of water, destroys farmland where the wells are drilled, disrupts and terrorizes communities, wrecks local economies, and produces little gas. Most wells produce nothing, while the most productive fizzle out in a year or two, leaving nothing but wholesale economic, physical, soil, and water destruction in their wake. The main power function of fracking is as a typical Wall Street securitization bubble. Any sane region or country would ban it.
But according to NAFTA, none of this matters or has any standing whatsoever as a basis for legitimate public policy. According to NAFTA, public interest policy literally has no right to exist, wherever it gets in the way of corporate profit. 
Also in 2012, US-based Strongpoint Solutions filed a similar suit with the tribunal for $27 million. Although its complaint is somewhat vague, in effect it claims that Canada’s federal and provincial statutes against burglary, extortion, murder, and other acts interfere with its ability to offer such profitable services as contract murder. It claims these laws comprise “technical barriers to trade” and are according to NAFTA an illegal constraint on “investor rights”.*
I’ve previously written (parts one, two, three) about the provisions of the TTIP and TPP for regulatory Gleichschaltung (coordination) under corporate rule. While that’s meant to be a longer-term project, a more immediate and direct attack on democracy and politics will be these compacts’ souped-up corporate tribunals called “investor-to-state dispute settlement” (ISDS).
ISDS is a way for corporations to directly sue countries over any policy provision which allegedly costs them profit. The suits take place in secret tribunals presided over by corporate lawyers. These tribunals are lawless administrative courts outside of any kind of democratic oversight or accountability. They’re most similar to administrative courts which have been run by secret police organizations like the tsarist Okhrana and the Nazi SS. The process gives oligopoly corporations based in any country which is party to a compact special privileges over the rights of the people or of any legitimate business within any country which is also a party. It exalts the “right” to corporate profit as the supreme imperative of society, lofting it far above all other values, rights, goals of policy and law.
If the TTIP and TPP are ratified, their ISDS provisions will follow the NAFTA model for filing disputes. From the corporatist point of view this is an improvement over the older WTO model. Under less rigorous globalization compacts, when a corporate sector based in a country feels hampered by a law or regulation in another participating country, its government sues the other government in a WTO corporate tribunal. When, hardly ever “if” (the complainant almost always wins), the WTO finds the law in question to be a barrier to “trade”, it grants the plaintiff country the right to impose retaliatory tariffs on imports from the defendant country. These so-called retaliatory tariffs themselves are chosen in a way to penalize certain imports in order to support certain exports, so what the complainant wins at the tribunal is not so much a right to retaliate as a right to commit new aggression.
But from the point of view of the original surly sector, this is a highly convoluted process which doesn’t necessarily do IT any good. Thus at the behest of the Monsanto the US government sued the EU over its GMO regulations. In 2006 the US won at the tribunal and has since been able to impose tariffs on some EU exports, mainly some peripheral luxuries. This “win” therefore hasn’t done Monsanto and the GMO cartel much good.
But under the ISDS provision of NAFTA and the over 3000 multilateral and bilateral compacts based upon it, a corporation directly sues a government at a World Bank International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) tribunal. This tribunal is similar to a WTO tribunal, but instead of rewarding a government plaintiff with the right to impose a tariff, it rewards the corporate plaintiff with a direct monetary award, paid for by the taxpayers of the target country. This is meant to be (1) a direct corporate welfare conveyance laundered as a “judicial” award, and (2) a pretext to gut regulation and law at lower levels of government which isn’t sufficiently pro-corporate, and to impose a chill effect which prevents the enshrinement of such laws and regulation in the first place.
Chapter 11 lets corporations complain about any policy, law, regulation, court decision, which in any way allegedly infringes on any hypothetical profit the corporations can conceive. This has nothing to do with uneven treatment between foreign and domestic businesses. Even where the provision applies equally to all, it’s held to strict liability as far as how it impacts any corporation’s alleged ability to profit.
This is proof that globalization compacts are not about trade, but about power. If they were about trade, then a law which applied to everyone equally wouldn’t be a problem.
NAFTA also prohibits “performance requirements”, such as that in order to receive various permits a company has to commit to a region for a period of time, source local inputs, etc. In every way it seeks to enshrine a regime of 100% “rights”, i.e. license, 0% risks or responsibilities for the corporations.
The boorish quotes here exemplify the psychopathy of the concept of corporate “rights”.

Lone Pine claims the Quebec moratorium is an “arbitrary, capricious, and illegal revocation of [its] valuable right to mine for oil and gas.” The firm says the government acted “with no cognizable public purpose,” even though there is broad public support for a precautionary moratorium while the environmental impacts of fracking are studied. Milos Barutciski, a lawyer with Bennett Jones LLP, who is representing Lone Pine in the arbitration, described the moratorium as a “capricious administrative action that was done for purely political reasons – exactly what the NAFTA rights are supposed to be protecting investors against.” It may seem unbelievable but this lawyer may be correct that Lone Pine’s right under NAFTA to make a profit is more important than the right of communities to say no to destructive and environmentally dangerous resource projects.

We see again how from the point of view of corporatism politics as such is an atavism, and such values as democracy, public health, environmental protection, are by definition “capricious”.
This notion of a “right to profit” is a piece of extremism by any measure. As the provisions are crafted, the “legitimacy” of this hypothetical profit only needs to be confirmed by any friendly government bureaucrat. All that’s needed is for an official with any relevant agency to tell the corporation that he expects it to be able to get a permit, qualify according to a law, etc., and/or that he expects the proposed corporate action to be profitable. No matter how bogus, no matter how suborned, this is enough to establish the profit as some kind of mystical reality. (I wouldn’t be surprised if the accounting regulators then let the company list it as some kind of Account Receivable or other asset.) Needless to say, even now it’s easy for a big corporation to find a regulator chummy enough to give this testimony. It’ll be even easier under regulatory coordination. Indeed, in that case regulators will have a duty to seek such mystical “profit” opportunities on the corporations’ behalf and notify them of these.
There’s something Kafkaesque about it – the people comprise the real defendant and will pay the judgement, yet are not allowed any real representation or to observe the proceedings. Their “representatives” are government bureaucrats who are on the side of the prosecutor, and who helped the prosecution prepare its case.
Beyond this, the concepts which guide ISDS and globalization and corporatist policy in general – “risk-benefit analysis”, “best practices”, core good regulatory practices”, “Regulatory Impact Assessment”, “market liberalization”, “equalization”, “sound science”, “necessity”, “effectiveness”, and so on set up an adversarial antagonism between corporate profit and human society, with a strong presumption in favor of the corporations.
This includes modes of measurement which are automatically in favor of the corporation. There’s nothing scientific or rational about anything like “risk-benefit analysis”, which is on the contrary a purely ideological concept. RBA is arbitrary by definition, in that is arbitrarily enshrines corporate profit as the only value. It can be meaningful at all only to those who adhere to this ideology. If you don’t recognize any right of corporations to a profit, or if you think profiteering shouldn’t exist at all, or if you think the profit motive is only a tool to be used to help increase human well-being, from any of these points of view RBA or anything like it would be absurd and depraved.
Humanity must reject the entire concept in principle. We must apply the constitutional corporatism test – do corporations with special privileges legitimately exist at all? We deny the right of corporations to exist at all, and we deny their right to a profit (let alone any other “rights”). Therefore we reject the whole mode of measurement and comparison these compacts fraudulently claim to enshrine. I say “fraudulently” because there could never be any measured result which this regime would consider so little a gain to the corporation as not to be worth the damage it would cause, or too big a loss to the people that it wouldn’t be worth any corporate gain.
Thus the goal is to enshrine a guaranteed income for any corporate con artist. If a corporation can envision a profit, it has a right to be awarded this profit in reality. The job of the government and the tribunal is to ensure this profit. This is an extreme manifestation of the fact that corporatism is not designed to provide good products and services, but to guarantee itself a profit and maximize its power. As I said earlier, corporations are not such good/service providers, but power-seeking organizations who hijack and use an economic sector as their base of operations for economic and political domination.
Meanwhile the “right to profit” is part of the mysticism of power, and any provision enshrining it is the essence of a command economy.
Both Canada and Mexico have lost cases totaling several hundred million dollars in “damages”. That’s in addition to legal costs (which aren’t awarded to the defendant even when it wins) and tribunal fees. Extractive sectors like mining and fossil fuels have been especially aggressive in using these tribunals. Over 50% of ISDS cases have been filed by extractive corporations against Latin American countries. But as the Lone Pine case described above exemplifies, extractors are looking to the CETA and the TTIP to open up Canada and Europe to fracking, and to tribunal suits against any country which tries to protect its people, economy, and environment.
Similarly, although Monsanto and the GMO cartel have had little to complain about in the US or Canada so far (Mexico may be a different story these days), they’re eager for the TTIP to give them the power to sue the EU over the many regulatory and political hurdles Europe poses to the GMO assault. Such suits would be win-win for Monsanto, since they’ll either win money awards, or better yet the existence of the ISDS tribunal will give the EC the final inducement it needs to jettison all concern with European democracy and directly approve many or all GMO applications, the way it has always wanted to.
The possibilities for lawsuits and extortionate “damage” awards are limitless. Eli Lilly is suing Canada for $500 million for what it views as an insufficiently strong patent for anti-depression drugs. Renco is suing Peru for $800 million over extraction permits. Canada is suing the EU over the European Fuel Quality Directive, which disadvantages its filthy tar sands oil (the same which is slated to be conveyed through the Keystone Pipeline in defiance of US law). Today there are over 500 suits pending before the World Bank tribunals.
Civil society, democracy advocates, real businesses, farmers, scientists, public health professionals, environmentalists, and many others, every part of human society and the human economy, have long pointed out that there’s no conceivable public need for this form of extra-constitutional, supra-legal form of tribunal. For any and all actual needs, existing national and regional law is more than sufficient. As in so many other cases, the reform point of view and the abolitionist position agree that ISDS and these tribunals shouldn’t exist at all and serve no purpose other than to aggrandize corporate power and domination.
This may bode well for the future of the TTIP in the European Parliament.

In June 2011 a European Parliament resolution on the EU–Canada negotiations stated that, “given the highly developed legal systems of Canada and the EU, a state-to-state dispute settlement mechanism and the use of local judicial remedies are the most appropriate tools to address investment disputes.” In July that year, the Commission’s own Sustainability Impact Assessment of CETA came to the same conclusion, recommending a state-to-state dispute process only.


The ISDS provision is so clearly hostile to democracy and economically bad for the people of any country that its inclusion in the TTIP has become a major rallying point for the opposition in Europe. It’s so inflammatory that in January the EC felt the need to retrench. It announced it would issue a public “consultation” in March, followed by a three month public comment period.
We already know this “consultation” will be a scam, since we’ve already been through a similar consultation on ISDS with the EU-Canada trade compact (CETA), set to go into effect in 2014. CETA is evil in itself, and is a forerunner of the US-EU TTIP. The Seattle to Brussels Network was able to see a leaked copy of the secret CETA negotiation text on “investment protection” and ISDS and compare it to the public “consultation” note. The public note is just a propaganda document which is much weaker and loaded with anodynes than the real text. It has boilerplate about a theoretical “right to regulate” and misleading definitions and depictions of the scope of the corporate powers being conferred.
The main point is that the real text gives coordinated regulators and tribunals vast discretionary power to interpret the provisions and their own powers to act on behalf of corporate imperatives. Much of the language is vague and meant to preserve this discretionary power of bureaucracy, much like with the regulatory coordination provisions. Also like those, it’s meant to postpone specific harsh measures for the subsequent administrative process, rather than daring to run the political gauntlet by including them formally in the compact.
The public CETA consultation note promises certain limits on the right to profit, on concepts like “fair and equitable treatment” (FET), on what constitutes an “investment”, a code of conduct for the arbitrators on the tribunal, a promise of transparency, and other anodynes. But the actual negotiation text is significantly different in each case, and in each case what the note says or implies is much weaker, or is mere vague boilerplate with no corresponding provision in the real text. The actual text also contains all sorts of preemptions of the constraints alleged in the note, such as “most favored nation” and similar clauses. Even if constraints on ISDS were initially to be encoded, these would be subsequently subject to “equalization”, “harmonization”, and other modes of destruction under the permanent ongoing regulatory coordination process.
We can expect the upcoming TTIP public “consultation” to be a similar propaganda ploy.
Meanwhile, as the EC negotiators made clear, it’s only the ISDS provision which is being delayed at all, and only this may in theory be changed. The rest of the TTIP – the negotiations over the sectoral assaults and the regulatory Gleichschaltung plan are at full steam ahead, and these will not be ameliorated one bit.
The TTIP (and TPP) as a whole is an assault on freedom, democracy, economic prosperity, and human happiness. It’s to be a major escalation of corporate tyranny, a major step toward corporate domination. As we should have abundant experience by now, all of its promises are lies, and none of its promised benefits will come true. It’ll only accelerate the corporate destruction of the real economy and what’s left of democratic politics, leaving behind only austerity, serfdom, hunger, disease, and an ever more severe police state.
We need to reciprocate the EC’s political ploy by seizing the opportunity of the sham “consultation” to expose the overall sham of the TTIP and engineer its political defeat. This is likely to be the last chance the politics of representative democracy gets.
[*Actually, that case is a rumor and may not really exist. But even if no such suit has been filed, I defy anyone who supports ISDS to tell me by what logic it shouldn’t be able to succeed at the tribunal if it was filed.]


March 10, 2014

The TTIP and the Corporatist Coordination Plan, Part Three

Filed under: Corporatism, Globalization, GMO Corporate State, Law, Sovereignty and Constitution — Tags: , — Russ @ 9:05 am


In Part One I described the corporations’ basic regulatory Gleichschaltung (coordination) plan they hope to attain with the TTIP and TPP globalization compacts. In Part Two I described the specific demands of the GMO cartel within this framework. Now in Part Three I’ll discuss the eagerness with which the European Commission (EC) has responded to these plans and demands. First a few words about the position of a nominal government bureaucracy like the EC.
In being formally totalitarian, dedicated only to profit in principle, corporate bureaucracies are explicitly established as the direct exercise and rule of power (Might Makes Right), mediated only by government regulatory action. Strictly speaking, corporations are not supposed to be restrained directly by law. On the contrary, part of the purpose of the corporate form is to place absolutory legal barriers between the actions of corporate cadres and those actions’ having any actionable legal character, civil or criminal.
Government bureaucracy, meanwhile, is supposed to be restrained by law and by respect for democracy. But here too individuals are often formally absolved of personal responsibility for actions. This kind of absolution goes to the core of the evil of any such hierarchies, since nothing is so firmly proven as that if you give individuals power and freedom from consequences for their actions, they’ll take their actions to bad extremes. That’s why humans should never allow power to concentrate, and should never grant individuals a blank check, and most of all should never combine the two. Meanwhile it’s laughable to expect any bureaucrat to respect democracy. By its nature bureaucracy respects only administrative power and process, and despises law and democracy.
With this Gleichschaltung plan, a more complete formalization and rationalization of government bureaucracy’s subordination to corporate bureaucracy, the nominally “legal” bureaucracy is to be subsumed under the direct power bureaucracy. The government regulators are then to use their nominal fig leaf of legality, not as a restraint on power, but as propaganda on power’s behalf (and, where appropriate, as a weapon against rivals). This is the most institutionalized and rationalized form of the neoliberal scam.
So EC bureaucrats and similar bureaucracies (e.g. the FDA and USDA) exemplify the mindset and role of the bureaucrat, which is to carry out the dictates of power in an automated way. As corporate power increases, these government bureaucracies will naturally become more inherently pro-corporate. This is according to their basic inertia, what they inherently are, rather than “capture” or “corruption”. These latter do exist, but are epiphenomenal. To emphasize those is to reinforce the lie that corporations and regulators have any kind of inherently adversarial relationship. On the contrary, where corporations hold the power, bureaucrats naturally see them as their true constituency. All this is also naturally pleasing to the inherent elitism and anti-democratic tendencies of bureaucrat types.
The existing EU system is not pleasing to the EC. Although it has vast power to propose and decree “legislation” (what really are administrative decrees for the most part), it’s subject to some checks and balances from the European Council of national ministers and, to a lesser extent, the elected Parliament. Both of these latter bodies are subject to considerable bottom-up pressure from the people, and in turn put pressure on the EC. The best example of how the EC has been hamstrung is how relatively few GMO applications it had approved, even though in theory it could have decreed the approval of far more.
So in the EU there’s mostly administrative rule in theory, but to its disgust the EC has to jump through lots of political hoops. It looks to the TTIP to solve this problem of residual democracy. That’s why the EC is so ardent to embrace a compact which will turn it into a flunkey of the US government and mostly US-based corporations. The EC would rather hold a lower position in a fully rationalized, coordinated hierarchy of administrative rule, than be at the top of what it sees as a mishmash.
The EC wants to fully throw Europe open to the corporate onslaught, but it’s craven. Only European corporations and bureaucrats want the TTIP. There’s zero need for it from any human point of view. On the contrary, it will further destroy any broadly shared prosperity in Europe, making it more like the US in this sense. (Obviously it will also only further harm the American people as well.) This is why the EC’s negotiator Karel de Gucht has been lying to the people of Europe all along.

On the European side, there are fears that negotiators will simply cave in, change the rules, and open the door to US products of various kinds that have created fear and anxiety for public health and the environment. A set of high-profile cases are gaining prominence, including GMOs and chlorine chickens, certain chemicals which are approved in the US but banned in the EU. But governments as well as negotiators have taken care to stress there is no danger as they will not give in on the fundamentals. Protection levels are not on the table, and will not be negotiated away, they say. Such assurances have even come from the EU’s top negotiator,  Commissioner Karel de Gucht, who stated recently that “nothing under this agreement will lower standards of protection. Removing regulatory barriers is not a race to the bottom.”

The immediate political point of the regulatory coordination chapter, or “Regulatory Coherence” as the EC calls it in its reply to the US and the corporations, is to keep these kinds of politically inflammatory measures out of the explicit language of the compact. The compact has to be approved by the European Parliament, and the fact that the EC’s negotiator has felt constrained to hold a delaying “consultation” on ISDS and promise there will be no race to the bottom demonstrates how the EC fears the Parliament may reject the TTIP if it explicates the real goals. So regulatory coherence is meant to postpone the formalization of these goals and shift them to the non-democratic bureaucratic realm.
Although the original EC mandate for negotiation with the US didn’t say much about regulatory coordination, the EC team has been in close talks with such corporate groups as the US Chamber of Commerce and BusinessEurope since at least autumn 2012. The EC invited these to draw up guidelines, which turned into the corporatist manifesto I analyzed in Part One.
In autumn 2013 Gucht openly proclaimed his support for a Regulatory Cooperation Council.

“Here again we have learned from the past: If we want regulators to work together in the future we need to make sure that they are equipped to do so. I therefore propose that the TTIP establishes a new Regulatory Cooperation Council that brings together the heads of the most important EU and US regulatory agencies.”

In December an EC draft proposal, “TTIP: Cross-Cutting Disciplines and Institutional Provisions” for “Regulatory Coherence”, was leaked. This is the EC’s broad proposal to US negotiators, and its signal to the corporations that it has fully embraced their plan.
It kicks off by defining the Scope: To coordinate all regulation which has anything to do with “any planned and existing trade”. That means all regulation, law, court decisions, etc. It’s the same principle as with the totalitarian expansion of the commerce clause in US constitutional jurisprudence, since it can encompass literally anything power wants it to. The coordination is also to be extended by whatever means necessary to EU member countries and US states. Specific sectoral provisions will supersede “cross-cutting horizontal” coordination, which sets a floor.
The section on the Institutional Framework takes up with gusto, down to details, the CoC/BE proposal for a Regulatory Cooperation Council which will supervise the whole coordination effort. This executive committee is to meet twice a year with the attendance of such officials as the EC secretary general and the head of the US Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). It’s to gauge the progress of the ongoing, always escalating and accelerating corporate assault. It’s to receive “substantive joint submissions” from the corporations and be “assisted by sectoral ad hoc working groups” such as the ones the BIO demanded be set up for GMOs and pharmaceuticals. An “advisory committee” of corporate bureaucrats would join the EC and US bureaucrats in “crafting regulatory measures”. This harkens back to the US bureaucratic ideal that the corporations “would essentially co-write regulation”.
While coordinating among themselves government bureaucrats are to keep the corporations informed throughout.
The proposal goes through the basics. The section on “Essential requirements for effective regulatory cooperation” describes how regulators “should actively cooperate” toward furthering corporate imperatives and the coordination goal. They must seek “equivalence”, exchange data and information, make any necessary communications to the corporations and other government bureaucracies. Lower-level cadres are to be proactive toward corporate goals. For example, an FDA cadre is not only to do what Big Ag and Big Drug ask, not only to consciously think of what the corporations want and carry out their instructions. He’s also to proactively look for ways to improve the corporate power position. The corporations are to give direct orders as they see fit.
The section is clear that constitutions, laws, democracy in general must not interfere with the bureaucratic coordination plan. These political elements are explicitly called “barriers” and “inflexibilities”. This underlines how democracy and politics as such are considered atavistic by the technocratic corporate and government bureaucracies.
Section 3 regarding “Periodic information on upcoming initiatives in the pipeline” is a kind of early warning system. Regulators are to keep one another and the corporations posted about “any regulatory and legislative initiatives with potential trade impact as of planning stage”. This obligation extends even to informal rumors and such. Thus if a USDA cadre hears though the grapevine about a proposal which may affect Monsanto’s interest, he’s obligated to inform Monsanto.
When we combine this duty to notify the corporation “regardless of whether [the regulator was officially] notified” with the strong requirement that regulators be “proactive”, as in the CoC/BE manifesto, this implies that regulators should also serve as corporate spies.
(The EC draft doesn’t emphasize the “evergreen” motion and proactivity of the regulators as strongly as the CoC/BE manifesto. But the fact that the EC agrees to the establishment of the Coordination Council, meeting twice a year, subordinated to the corporations, implies that in practice it will support and carry out all the elements of the manifesto.)
There’s also the duty to reply to any “reasoned request for information on upcoming regulatory measures”, including anything at the level of US states and EU member states. So these government regulators are to serve as publicly funded corporate political research and strategy agencies. They already serve as corporate marketers and propagandists, roles which will be expanded under Gleichschaltung.
“Regulatory dialogues” are to be held whenever a party requests one. These dialogues are to foster the coordination goal and be strategy sessions against any kind of democratic threat. One of the specific subjects will be to decide whether particular regulatory activity should be enshrined at the domestic level or at the extra-national level, within the globalization entities.
This includes specifics on how to influence and/or fight EU regulation which isn’t sufficiently pro-corporate, and the same for US executive or legislative action. The central government should “facilitate a dialogue”, i.e. threaten or cajole a US state or EU member country.
There will be ongoing taxpayer-funded “Impact assessment/Cost-benefit analysis” which will always be tendentious. It’ll recognize only costs and benefits to the corporations, including trumping up phony costs of public interest regulation and phony benefits to justify corporate welfare. Only fraudulent benefits will be touted to the people, while information about the vast costs to the people is suppressed. The analysis will be performed to corporate specifications: “Impact assessment should be informed by appropriate input from the stakeholders [corporations] concerned”. This fraudulent monetized measure of the value of policy will become the sole basis for all government policy.
Throughout this evolution regulators will be constantly reinforced in their consciousness of being corporate servants, and constantly spurred to serve the corporate imperative in all their day to day actions.
This also means they should make plans and seek to accomplish goals without regard for constitutions, laws, regulations which aren’t sufficiently coordinated, and court decisions.
They’ll be assisted in this by “investor to state dispute settlement” (ISDS), which will be the subject of another post. In addition to its corporate welfare goal, ISDS will seek to quash existing policy which isn’t sufficiently pro-corporate, and politically chill and preemptively quash any such prospective policy.
To sum up. Regulatory coordination as enshrined under the TTIP and TPP will seek to:
*Formally coordinate all regulators under the goal of serving corporate power. It will formally subordinate government bureaucracy to corporate bureaucracy. Bureaucracy will go to war against democracy, politics and whatever’s left of law, while sham law will be enlisted to serve corporate power. All real government power (i.e. the power of violence) will be put under corporate control.
*A race to the bottom among all governments in all regulatory sectors.
*The direct access of corporations to regulators. Corporations shall directly write regulations.
*Regulators shall always be proactive.
*Regulators shall always inform the corporations of any threat and help them to fight it.
*Regulators are to be required to respond to any corporate demands.
*All this is to be always in motion, always accelerating, always seeking the next way to further amplify corporate profit, power, control, domination.


March 8, 2014

“Coexistence” With GMOs Is Impossible


Organic farmers don’t get the massive corporate welfare subsidies that GMO-based agriculture does, even though the latter is destructive of agriculture and the environment. Organic farmers also aren’t paid by society for their immense services in improving human and animal health, the soil, water, air, and environment.
That’s our basic situation, already a tremendous injustice and stupidity. And that’s the context where an added assault is going on, compounding all the artificial obstacles already in place against real farmers.
Organic and non-GMO conventional farmers in the US face a growing crisis as their crop is increasingly damaged by the trespass and contamination committed by GMO growers. The word “crisis” is not exaggerated, as the economic damage is severe, and as contamination proceeds, our ability to physically maintain the genetic integrity of real crops becomes increasingly questionable.
This is the context of the USDA’s attempt to promulgate a so-called “co-existence” policy. “Coexistence” (CE, as I’ll abbreviate it) is not a practical measure, and no one thinks it is. The corporations, the USDA, and the courts all concede that GMO contamination is inevitable and cumulative. The “stewardship” measures the government recommends are both physically insufficient and economically impractical. These measures are all examples of “voluntary” self-regulation which everyone knows doesn’t work. If you want to have capitalism, you have to expect everyone to act like capitalists. In that case the only conceivable restraint is regulator force. But we know the regulators are and see themselves as helpmates of the big corporations, not honest referees. The USDA’s panel, the Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture (AC21), postulates GMO domination, i.e. the domination of a handful of corporations, as normative. This is standard government bureaucratic policy. (For those still mired in partisan consciousness, I’ll remind them that this is a typical part of Obama’s aggressive pro-Monsanto policy. Assisting the GMO cartel toward its domination goals is one of the realms with the most pure and complete concurrence between Democrats and Republicans.)
System terminology calls GMO contamination an “adventitious presence”, but this is a false euphemism, meant to imply the contamination is accidental and unintended. But the cartel, USDA, and courts all admit it’s inevitable and foreseen. Therefore it’s premeditated. We can call it “collateral”, as long as it’s understood that “collateral damage” doesn’t mean an “accident”, but refers to a premeditated effect, even if the effect is not technically “intended”. Of course in this case the cartel at least certainly does intend that contamination proceed. That’s part of its avowed goal to replace all non-GM agriculture with proprietary GMO agriculture.
CE is not practical or just and is not intended to be. On the contrary, the USDA’s notion of CE, which places all the responsibility and cost upon non-GM farmers to set up buffers, schedule their plantings so as to minimize contamination risk, and to buy extra crop insurance, is just another example of the familiar “altruism and self-sacrifice for you, egoism and selfishness for me”, i.e. for the GMO contractors. (As we must call those who grow GMOs. They exist under contract to Monsanto and other cartel members, they must obey Monsanto down to the fine print details, and their whole principle is to put agriculture under the control of idiot-proof technology algorithms. So they’re not “farmers” in any meaningful sense of the term. I stress that the technology is foolproof only in principle, but doesn’t work well at all in practice. But those who want to plant GMOs do so in the hope of greatly simplifying their task, so that they can stop being farmers and become the equivalent of managers of fully automated factories. The fact that the factory runs on poison and produces poison justifies any scorn we feel.)
Organic and non-GM farmers have been striving heroically to survive in this artificially created harsh circumstance, but so long as GMOs exist they’ll be fighting a losing battle. The USDA knows this, which is why it’s promulgating a CE policy, not as any seriously intended attempt to even slow GM contamination, but as a propaganda exercise. The basic goal is to convince farmers and citizens that CE is possible, and in this way to box out such ideas as that a legal ban or total abolition is necessary. It’s also meant to help provide legal cover to the trespassers and vandals, as the idea spreads of farmer lawsuits against the contractors who commit these crimes.
There’s no doubt at all about the moral and legal status here. When a contractor grows a GMO false crop and its pollen or seeds spread and contaminate the non-GM crops of a neighbor, he has trespassed on his neighbor’s land and vandalized his property. The same is true when he applies agricultural poisons and the poison drifts onto the land of anyone else. (This trespass and vandalism is set to increase exponentially as Agent Orange GMOs become commercialized. The herbicide 2,4-D is far more drift prone than even glyphosate, which has become ubiquitous in water, air, and soils.)
A government CE policy is meant to efface the entire history of morality and law and replace it with a GMO-friendly blank slate. It’ll implicitly reinforce the legally invalid way Monsanto and the cartel already force purchasers of GMO seed to take full legal responsibility for any contamination damage. Contamination is the predicted effect of the proper use of the product, so the seller can’t disavow responsibility for it within any legitimate legal framework. So far as I know no one’s tried to test this in court yet, since any small, resource-poor plaintiff like an organic farmer is likely to shrink from directly challenging the infinite resources of Monsanto. But if anyone did, we’d likely find the courts continuing to overthrow all conventional notions of law in order to uphold Monsanto’s prerogatives, as they’ve repeatedly done in affirming Monsanto’s lawsuits against innocent victims of contamination, refusing to force Monsanto to desist from this kind of action, and of course allowing patents on seeds, plants, and the products of life in general.
The USDA CE policy is meant to reinforce the theoretical liability of the growers themselves rather than the cartel, completely removing the cartel from the political/legal picture. It’s then meant to extend political and legal protection to the destructive contractors, shifting the entire economic and political burden to non-GM producers. It’s meant to render their position economically untenable, and politically put them in the position of being recalcitrant holdouts who won’t get with the GMO program, “luddites”. In Australia the Steve Marsh lawsuit is already being used by GMO proponents to argue that organic certification standards are too rigorous and need to be watered down. (And not just being argued by them. As in the US, the industrial organic sector supports the “CE” concept because it too wants the standards watered down. In 2011 US industrial organic, with support from secretary of agriculture Vilsack, tried to make a CE deal with Monsanto toward that goal. But Monsanto wasn’t interested.)
The fact is that industrial agriculture is physically unsustainable and totally destructive of the soil, water, and environment. GMOs, in addition to the poisons inherent to them, represent a doubling down on the whole unsustainable, destructive, obsolete, sclerotic paradigm. Only crackpot enthusiasts buy into the superficial notion that GMOs represent some cutting-edge technology. On the contrary, GMOs are part of an antiquated, backward, dinosaur, luddite set of ideas and practices. The AC21’s name is a fraud, as it does not look forward to the 21st century, but wants to keep us mired in the 20th until the industrial agricultural system completely collapses.
Agroecology, which means conventional breeding and sustainable practices enhanced and systematized by modern agronomic knowledge supplemented with advanced technology like marker assisted selection, is the cutting edge of agricultural science, knowledge, and practice. It’s the true bright future of agricultural technology, as well as the only possible way forward in the post-oil, post-aquifer period. Today’s organic agriculture strives against great economic and physical hardship to innovate toward this great goal. GMOs are the worst part of the system which economically cramps this entrepreneurship and sets up a bottleneck which is trying to jam all innovation. It does the same for the non-GM conventional sector, which has been attempting a resurgence as the failure of GM crops becomes evident.
So it’s GMOs and their supporters who are the luddite reactionaries trying to prop up the decrepit past and prevent, by force, the future from ever being born.
That’s the context in which the USDA has publicized its proposed “coexistence” policy and conducted a comment period on it, which just recently closed. As part of unmasking the whole concept as fraudulent, Food and Water Watch and OFARM (the Organic Farmers’ Agency for Relationship Marketing) conducted a survey of certified organic farmers to find out their attitudes toward CE, their expectations about GMO contamination, what measures against it they feel compelled to take, and what economic damage they’ve already sustained.
Evidently farmers were more willing to say they personally have suffered than to say the whole thing can’t work in principle, as the number declines from “I have been harmed and/or fear personal harm” (84%) to “I think so-called ‘good stewardship’ practices can’t work” (68%) to “it’s impossible for coexistence to work at all” (48%). (Those are my paraphrases of the positions.) That’s an example of how theoretical consciousness lags behind personal experiences, and why a movement is needed to publicize the facts, make individuals aware of how common their experiences are, render confrontations with the system more generic in action and concept, and in this way induce a broad consciousness of the basic facts of our situation. That’s what the 19th century Populist movement in America was able to achieve among cotton farmers, and that’s how it was able to build support for the Farmers’ Alliance co-ops, help everyone understand what this co-op movement was up against, and develop a broad consciousness of the need for greenbacker money and strong support for such policy as the subtreasury plan.
Similarly, we need to build support for the community food sector, relocalized organic agriculture, non-GM agriculture in general, a completely new system for the production and distribution of seeds, and the total abolition of GMOs.
This report certainly should help everyone involved (all the “stakeholders”, as the system would say; in our case this includes real farmers as well as everyone who eats food) understand the economic attack on organic farmers. To summarize the numbers:
*To set up buffers as the USDA recommends costs organic farmers a median of $2500 a year, with some reporting losses of over $20,000 in a year. This buffer recommendation is imposed only on the organic farmer who is the victim of the trespass and vandalism, not on the GMO contractor who is the trespasser and vandal.
*To delay planting to try to evade contamination from neighboring crops (again something forced on the recipient of the contamination) costs organic maize farmers a median $5280, $3312 for soy farmers.
*Organic certification, including special measures taken to meet the standards, costs an average of $1350 a year. According to one estimate, about a quarter of this on the average is measures to avoid GMO contamination. By this measure, GMOs cost the average organic farmer $340 a year in certification costs.
*Farmers report taking other measures to prevent contamination such as monitoring what neighbors plant, additional cleaning of equipment, choosing not to plant certain crops, buying extra-expensive seeds, and having seed testing done. These add up to a median cost of $520 a year.
*20% of organic farmers reported doing their own GMO testing on-farm, which cost a median of $200 a year.
*The total annual median cost to organic farmers of ensuring their crop was free of GM contamination is $6532-8500 a year respectively for soy and corn farmers, less but still significant for other kinds of farmers.
Organic farmers report a growing incidence of contamination.
*31% reported that they or buyers had detected contamination in their crop. This includes 34% of organic maize growers and 35% of soy farmers.
*Of those, 52% had a load of grain rejected because of contamination, costing a median $4500. This includes 59% of maize farmers and 57% of soy growers. Several respondents reported much higher losses, one as much as $367,000. When these rejections occur, the farmer must then pay a “double freight” cost to take the load back, costing an average of $1000-2000.
The advent of GMO alfalfa, which even the USDA admits will inevitably contaminate non-GM, will greatly worsen this crisis.
The report briefly mentions how contractors are increasingly surly and unwilling to cooperate in even trying to coexist, which is further proof that CE cannot work. It also goes to show what liars many Americans are when they claim to care about privacy and property. As usual, they only care about their own privacy and property, and feel they have license to assault that of others. Real farmers and citizens who support non-poisonous agriculture had better reciprocate.
The abolitionist political platform has to include, as a transitional measure, strict liability for any and all corporate producers, shareholders, sellers, contractor/growers, of any GMO variety, for any and all contamination caused by that variety. Since it’s often difficult to figure out the exact source of the contamination, we must hold each member of the GMO regime strictly accountable for any contamination caused by it, just like with any other conspiracy law.
This is no “radical” position, but merely turns the existing position right side up. Since the cartel and its contractors want 100% license and 0% responsibility, we have to turn this right side up and say anyone who exercises this license must be held 100% responsible for its bad effects.
One farmer wrote: “If [GMO] was not here this would not be going on. It’s their contamination that’s the problem but we have to guard against something we have no control over. How do you even get a patent on something you can’t control? The whole object is control and that is not our [organic farmers’] problem.” (p. 5)
Since this patented material inexorably expands itself and seeks to turn itself into a commons, we must also declare that all such patents are invalidated on this ground (along with all the other reasons GMO patents are invalid). If a property owner voluntarily gives away his property as a gift, it’s no longer his property. The cartel itself acknowledges that GMOs inevitably contaminate their surroundings. It also, through its lawsuits against the innocent victims of this contamination, affirms that this contamination is part of its “property”, and therefore takes responsibility for it.
Therefore, since this is a freely chosen, formally avowed, and intended (collateral) result of the GMO endeavor, and since the GMO regime claims to be a benefactor of humanity, from all this it follows that this contamination process is a unilateral and voluntary divestment of any property right. All farmers are therefore morally and philosophically free to save and replant any GMO they choose. They’d be legally free in any jurisdiction which had the rule of law. This is simply a logical extension of the ongoing dissemination process which the cartel itself acknowledges is inevitable, for which it takes full ownership wherever it thinks this can be profitable for it, and for which it therefore takes full responsibility, even though it wants to disavow this responsibility wherever it chooses.
According to reason, logic, and morality, we mustn’t allow this cherry-picking of responsibility and irresponsibility. If Monsanto can claim its patent anywhere it chooses, then we must impose the costs of contamination upon it, wherever these costs are incurred. More, we must recognize that Monsanto has in fact relinquished its patent rights to the world.
(Not that we actually want farmers to take control of GMO seeds and keep replanting them over the long run. But if one’s going to plant GMOs anyway, it’s better to accept them as the gift Monsanto implicitly says they are than to pay for them.)
The report includes some recommendations, which unfortunately comprise a set of “reforms” still mired in the same CE mentality which the report documents as being futile. These ideas for some kind of GMO contamination superfund, or for “Better Coexistence” stewardship measures, are really no ideas at all, especially since the USDA clearly intends to continue in the opposite direction. This is further confirmation that coexistence cannot work, and that nothing short of total abolition will suffice.


March 5, 2014

The TTIP and the Corporate Coordination Master Plan 2 of 3 (GMOs)


In part one I described the basic bureaucratic coordination plan the corporations propose to be enshrined in the TTIP and TPP. Here I’ll outline the basic demands of the GMO cartel. The three main sources I cite here are the “comments submitted” on the TTIP by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (which I’ll cite as BIO) to the US Trade Representative; the “response to consultation” on GMOs sent jointly by the BIO and its European counterpart EuropaBio (hereafter EB/BIO) to the EU-US High Level Working Group; and Testbiotech’s recent report on “Free Trade for High-Risk Biotech” (which I’ll call TBT).
The BIO commentary starts out with general principles for the biotech sector as a whole (including pharmaceuticals). There’s a constant drumbeat of begging for more corporate welfare (BIO 1,7), on account of how costly it is for the sector to develop its alleged innovations. There’s lots about how government procurement must always be at the highest proprietary price. There’s encomiums to how well central planning has been going so far (2, 13-14), a call for escalated coordination, and a wish list for the future (3,4,7) including the preemption of all laws, regulations, rulings, court decisions, which could in any way hinder the cartel. The USTR is to make the sector a priority (2,3) and establish a sectoral working group (5).
Anti-transparency and intellectual property “require priority attention” (5,6,7-8,9ff). Regulators are to keep all information secret except where corporations want something published. Conversely, biotech corporations are to have complete license to say whatever they want about their products without regulatory restraint. US and EU regulators are to be aggressive in supporting intellectual property prerogatives and policing violations.
(Note well that there’s no difference between government secrecy based on “national security” and corporate secrecy based on “intellectual property rights”. (Or media secrecy based on either.) These are fraudulent justifications with no real world importance, in both cases fig leaves for bureaucratic secrecy for the sake of power, since the monopoly of information is a part of concentrating power.
The same goes for surveillance. Neither the NSA nor Facebook has any legitimate reason to collect data on the people. In both cases it’s a bureaucracy collecting information to seek and defend power.)
The basic goals specific to GMOs are to normalize GMO contamination; speed up, weaken, and eventually gut Europe’s regulatory approval process; and coordinate all relevant regulatory activity on behalf of the cartel and GMOs.
The EB/BIO consultation is especially forthcoming on how GMO contamination is inevitable: “100% purity is impossible in the production of food, feed, seed. Agricultural commodities inevitably become intermixed to a small extent…It has become increasingly difficult over the last years [for the EU] to import commodity grains from countries that widely use GM varieties.” (EB/BIO p. 4; the idea is expanded on 5, 7) The anodyne qualifiers “100% purity” and “to a small extent” are supposed to imply that the contamination remains at a very low, innocuous level. But in truth the contamination is systematic, cumulative, ever rising. The key concession here is the term “increasingly difficult”. The comments rightly admit that non-GM agriculture and regulation which has a zero-tolerance contamination policy are incompatible with GMOs (EB/BIO 5, 7; BIO 16ff). When we couple these demands with the “evergreen” ideology of permanent regulator proactivity, we find that the goal is: 1. to do away with “zero tolerance” for small, so-called “adventitious” contamination, 2. to then keep moving the toleration bar as contamination becomes more entrenched, as it systematically proceeds. This goes to the core of why “coexistence” is impossible and complete abolition is necessary. This demonstrates the truth of that both physically and politically.
(The “100% purity” line also offers a broader lesson about the alleged “left” apologists for corporate criminality who like to berate thinkers and activists for being “purists”. Whenever you see someone accuse others of being purists or having a purity test, remember that just as in this case they’re not really talking about an adventitious, stable piece of impurity which can be mopped up later. They’re almost always defending a moving mass of corruption which is systematically getting bigger. Their accusations about “purity” will therefore always defend the current level of evil as being low, normal, accidental. But that level is in fact always moving higher, and is doing so in a systematic way. Such apologists are simply another kind of criminal publicist.)
The BIO doesn’t want there to be a specific bioregulator or biosafety agency (BIO 13). They want to continue with the status quo of pre-GMO agencies having their theoretical areas of authority over GMOs split irrationally between them. Thus in the US the USDA has authority over GMOs insofar as they could become “plant pests”, the EPA has authority over pesticides including Bt crops insofar as they are pesticide plants, the FDA has authority over “food” but not crops, and never mind that the GM aspects of the crops become aspects of our food, and so on. No one has authority over the combined GMO/herbicide system, and no one has a mandate to assess the seed-to-food life cycle of the GMO product or any authority over it.
But the corporations do want such combined assessments and power to be deployed on their own behalf. The BIO’s Gleichschaltung plan (17) calls for the US and EU to set up a special Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Committee. This Committee should set up “working groups across the various areas of agriculture”, all focusing on regulatory coordination under GMO cartel oversight. “Trade and agricultural ministers from the US and EU should commit to annual bilateral meetings focused on SPS issues”.
Thus the cartel wants an especially privileged position within the general coordination framework I described in part one. In addition to the general Regulatory Coordination Committee, it wants a special SPS coordination committee which will perform the same role, but specifically on behalf of Monsanto and the other cartel members. This coordination effort is to compel the regular personal attention of the highest relevant US and EU officials.
Now to the specific goals. 1. The #1 goal is to progressively weaken EU regulation. As I described in detail in part one, in principle this means to gut Europe’s precautionary principle and replace it with the US “ex post assessment” concept (BIO 14, TBT 31). Judging by the silence of the EB and BIO as far as an explicit attack on the precautionary principle, an attempt to formally gut it may not be included in the TTIP itself, but will be left for the administrative coordination process which will follow. But another pro-cartel organization, the European Academy Scientific Advisory Panel (EASAC) isn’t so shy (TBT 30ff). It’s explicit about how the US and EU must “unify and harmonize the regulatory and innovation-enabling roles” to eradicate the precautionary principle and replace it with a corporatist “innovation principle”. This is rendering explicit this particular goal of the bureaucratic coordination. The BIO (13,14,16) and EB/BIO (6) also give implicit statements of this goal.
(The EASAC report is an example of how under neoliberalism many corporate propaganda duties are farmed out to nominally independent, non-profit institutions, in this case an establishment “science” academy. But the report was written by the cartel’s academic mercenaries led by Joachim Schiemann and Jorg Romeis (TBT 30), and is substantively identical to the submissions from de jure industry groups like BIO and EuropaBio.)
The cartel wants the assessment of individual GMOs weakened and sped up (BIO 14ff, EB/BIO 3,6). It wants the EU renewal process to be first weakened, and then to be done away with completely (BIO 15-16). In this case the BIO and EB want to supersede the coordination framework and impose “binding requirements” (EB/BIO 3,6) for this acceleration and weakening of the process.
2. Expanding their goal, they want the EU to follow the USDA in declaring certain types of GMOs to be unregulatable in principle and therefore not to be regulated at all (TBT 30). They want new classes of GMOs to automatically be placed in this non-regulation category (TBT 32). Ultimately, they want to abolish regulation for “GMOs” as any particular kind of product at all (TBT 31), so that the default would be zero regulation.
3. I discussed above the basic ideology they want to promulgate on GM contamination. More specifically, they want to relax contamination tolerance threshholds and anti-contamination procedures. They want to take the EU’s existing “technical solution” doctrine which tolerates a .1% contamination level in imported animal feed and extend it to food and seed (BIO 16ff, EB/BIO 4,7). They want to expand existing “low level presence”  (LLP) doctrine to a greater range of contamination types, and also extend this from imported feed to food and seeds (BIO 16ff, EB/BIO 4,7). They want testing to be done by the exporter and then just rubber-stamped by EU customs. But they’re explicit that all this is just an inadequate temporary reform, while the real and necessary goal is to abolish the existing “zero tolerance” policy as such. This is because, as I said above, they recognize that coexistence is impossible and contamination is inevitable (and indeed desirable, from their point of view).
So they want to progressively increase the level of allowed contamination until the very concept is jettisoned, and at the same time they want to accelerate the contamination process by eliminating what meager safeguards do exist. 
The cartel’s basic position is that GMO contamination is not a physical problem which has to be physically solved through the abolition of GMOs. Rather, it’s a political problem to be “solved” by approving the hitherto unapproved contaminants. Just like with allowed pesticide threshholds in food, water, air, soil, the allowed level of GM contamination is to be an ever-rising formal validation of the physical level forced into being by the corporate action, the level required for them to sustain their profits and increase their power and control. The regulators already see this as their job, and this regulator ideology is supposed to be further formalized and radicalized by the coordination process the TTIP and TPP will enshrine.
So here’s the basic goal regarding contamination:
A. Extend the “technical solution” of allowing some low-level contamination to all food and seed products.
B. Under “LLP” let in everything which has been approved in the US (or anywhere else), and to which the EFSA has given a positive opinion (this too is a rubberstamp). This would comprise a de facto overthrow of the EU approval system.
C. The exporter’s own sampling is to be sufficient. EU customs sampling is to be abolished.
The BIO comments to the USTR aren’t as overt on as the EB/BIO consultation on the inevitability of contamination and the impossibility of coexistence. I wonder if that’s because “coexistence” isn’t taken seriously in Europe, while the cartel thinks it can be a successful Big Lie in the US. Therefore the BIO doesn’t want to concede anything in its US-geared comment.
4. Stacked products should be rubber-stamped as the sum of their parts, though this is scientifically indefensible (BIO 15, EB/BIO 3). It’s a well-established fact of drug prescription that the synergistic effects of multiple drugs together needs to be considered and where necessary guarded against. This is true of complex systems in general. But with multiple-transgene GMOs the doctrine is supposed to be the opposite: a complex system is nothing but the sum of its parts. Complex systems don’t have complex effects. This is a specific application of the overarching NPK ideology of industrial agriculture in general.
So the cartel says that if each of its constituent parts has been approved anywhere, a stacked product should be approved everywhere. Conversely, if a stacked product is approved anywhere, then all its constituent parts should automatically be approved everywhere they aren’t already approved.
5. GMO corporations should be able to play a switch game with their applications, sending one application to the EFSA to be rubber-stamped there, then sending a different one (but still with EFSA’s imprimatur) to the more “political” part of the EU approval process (EB/BIO 6).
This may be in part because the genomes of all the most common GMO varieties, and probably of all GMOs, keep spontaneously mutating and changing in significant ways. Therefore “the” genome which is described in the EU application is significantly different from that of any physical specimen of the crop. Not that the current system worries about this, but legally it’s obligated to do so. There’s been controversy over this injected into the current struggle over DuPont’s application for EU cultivation of its stacked 1507 maize variety. This variety has been found to have a real-world Bt expression levels significantly different from that described in the application. This is a significant variation in itself, and could reflect underlying genomic instability.
6. The US and EU should have “mutual recognition” of approvals with third countries from the point of view of the TTIP and TPP. So if some miniscule country with a corrupt government adhered to the TPP and then immediately approved every GMO application in existence, these approvals should automatically be accepted as valid by the EU and all other parties (EB/BIO 7).
7. The EU should declare the EFSA to be the only authority where it comes to GMOs (EB/BIO 6, BIO 15). The EFSA is well known to be not only ideologically committed to GMO corporatism, but corrupt in the conventional sense of the term.
This EFSA monopoly is of course to provide a ceiling only, while any relevant agency is supposed to be proactive in racing to the bottom.
A specific complaint of the BIO (15) regards the recently revised requirement for 90-day rat-feeding tests, which it brands as “political interference in the EFSA risk assessment process”. This requirement (inadequate – the life cycle of the rat is 2 years; a 90-day test is designed to not measure chronic effects; thus the technical term for it, “subchronic”) was indeed adopted by the EFSA under duress on account of the great political pressure upon it following the findings of the 2 year Seralini study. This study exposed the fraudulence of EFSA procedure before the world. It became so untenable for EFSA to continue insisting that no testing whatsoever was necessary, that it agreed to the sham 90-day requirement, in hopes of forestalling anything more rigorous. But as we see, this is in turn too much from the cartel point of view.
8. In the longer run, gut EU country-level cultivation bans as well, and any authority member countries have to restrict GMOs. The US and the cartel have long objected to this example of decentralization, which the EC instituted as an ad hoc pro-GM measure. The idea was to make the overall cultivation approval process politically easier by allowing member countries to “opt out” with individual country-level bans. Thus MON810 maize, the only variety currently approved for EU cultivation, has been banned in Germany, France, Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary, Luxemburg, Italy, Poland, and Greece. It’s currently being widely grown only in Spain and Portugal.
But the US wants to gut all EC-level regulations, and then force total GMO license on all of Europe.
9. Since the US says the antibiotic resistance markers (ARMs) used in most GMOs are safe, the EU has to agree to this as well (EB/BIO 7). Although the EU doesn’t enforce them, in theory it has regulations which would have required it to reject importation approval for GMOs which are engineered to be resistant to kanamycin. This includes most of the common varieties. Contrary to industry lies, kanamycin is still widely used in medicine, and the intentional and systematic propagation of genetic resistance to it is a significant part of the overall antibiotic resistance crisis being intentionally caused and escalated by industrial agriculture.
Wanting to phase out ARMs has been a periodically expressed “reform” position among some GMO supporters. EB/BIOs comment here is hoping to forestall this position from making any progress.
Those are the main points. BIO includes a few others (17-18) such as better labor mobility (it wants to extend the wage race to the bottom to the genetic engineers themselves; that one I support wholeheartedly), better coordination of customs enforcement with regulators; “investor dispute settlement” (ISDS); some pesky tariffs still persisting for chemical raw materials; and a final repetition of the call for more lucrative government procurement, just for good measure.
The two big things left out of the BIO and EB/BIO comments are:
1. The explicit call to gut the precautionary principle.
2. Any mention* of the EU’s GMO labeling policy for food products.
In part one I described how part of the goal of regulatory coordination is to set up mechanisms to attack and destroy hated regulations through administrative means. In many cases the corporations will prefer to leave some particularly politically inflammatory issues out of the formal text of the TTIP, but instead leave those to be dealt with by coordinated bureaucratic assault beyond the reach of democratic procedure or accountability, once the TTIP has been safely ratified by the parliament. It looks like the cartel views labeling and the precautionary principle as being examples of this kind of politically hot issue in Europe.
So it follows that one tactic for Europeans who want to prevent ratification should be to get the public to view the TTIP as if it were a formal eradication of labeling and precaution, and encourage the people to pressure their parliamentary representatives accordingly.
(*Other trade groups such as the National Confectioners’ Association have explicitly called for the TTIP to wipe out GMO labeling. As usual, the cartel is forcing this kind of politically risky advocacy on the manufacturers and retailers.)
In part three I’ll describe how ardently the European Commission has responded to these corporate demands.


March 3, 2014

The TTIP and Globalization’s Corporate “Coordination” Master Plan (1 of 3)


In October 2012 the US Chamber of Commerce and BusinessEurope issued a joint manifesto on “Regulatory Cooperation in the EU-US Economic Agreement”. This was designed to provide the basic ideological framework for the upcoming TTIP/TAFTA negotiations, as well as the specific plan for what is variously being called regulatory cooperation or regulatory coherence. To best put it in historical context, I call it “coordination”, following the German term for this kind of ideological and organizational/strategic/tactical doctrine, Gleichschaltung. The basic idea is to fully formalize and rationalize the subservience of government regulatory bureaucracies to corporate bureaucracies, and to render the service of regulators on behalf of corporations systematically aggressive and proactive.
To start with some definitions, as the terms are used in this and a few other documents I’ll be discussing. This is also what these terms mean for globalization and corporatism in general, and what they mean when used in the corporate media.
*”Trade”, “investment”, “investor”: Corporate imperative, corporate prerogative (including the right to any conceivable profit, to be enforced and/or directly paid by the government itself, as we’ll see in the case of “investor dispute settlement”), corporate power, a command economy based on maximizing these.
*”Stakeholder”: Corporate oligopoly sectors. The corporate persons who populate these sectors are the only recognized citizens of the globalization commonwealth, and therefore the only ones who are considered to have a legitimate stake in anything government does. Government’s proper job is to serve these corporate citizens and only these corporate citizens. This is the totalitarian principle of corporatism and the globalization command economy.
*”Equivalence”: The race to the bottom, for all regulation which would impose any restriction whatsoever on corporate actions. Also in some cases a race to the top for corporate welfare conveyances and regulator aggression against economic rivals of corporate oligopolies.
*”Cooperation”, “coherence”: Coordination (Gleichschaltung) of government bureaucracy under the control of corporate bureaucracy. The plan for corporate bureaucratic rule, still mediated mostly through the nominal control of government bureaucracy and the nominal rule of neoliberal pseudo-democracy. But it’s a significant step forward in formalizing and rationalizing actual corporate control.
*”Regulation”, “legislation”, “non-legislative acts”: Weapons on behalf of the corporate imperative, where possible. But can also mean atavistic (i.e. political) manifestations of democracy, which are to be fought and suppressed. These documents lay out a battle plan for the coordination of the offensive weaponry and defensive suppression measures. Under corporate leadership, government regulators are to systematically organize and act upon their inherent hostility to democracy and politics as such.
This is why we must reject in thoughts and words any concession to the Big Lie that globalization has anything to do with legitimate trade. Real trade is demand-based and develops naturally and organically from human economies. Globalization, so-called “free trade”, is a top-down planned economy based on intentional overproduction and the subsequent forced creation of “markets” for this overproduction. To be anti-globalization is therefore to be pro-trade in the real economic sense, and vice versa.
This corporate document is a perfect example of the economic planning involved in globalization. It may be taken as a general statement of what all the corporate sectors want. Following this I’ll do a similar discussion for the plans written by the GMO sector. That’ll be part two. In these corporate plans everything is always to be understood in terms of supply-based corporate imperatives (profit and control). Throughout, it’s taken for granted that the goal of the TTIP and of all globalization policy (and government policy as such) is “market liberalization”, i.e. a command economy based on overproduction, corporate welfare, dumping, coerced markets, and the total gutting of all public interest regulation. Note well that only public interest regulation and demand-side policy like local buying requirements are targeted for “equivalence” and “coordination”. Corporate welfare, such as Big Ag crop insurance, is not considered a “regulation” which needs to be “equalized” among the parties to the compact.
The US CoC and BE start out proclaiming that the a US/EU globalization compact has both domestic and international coordination goals. Domestically, the goal is to “enhance regulators’ efficiency and thus effectiveness in fulfilling their domestic regulatory mandates” (p.1). In other words the coordination provisions encoded here are also to control domestic regulatory policy. Globally, the goal is to “establish a clear goal” of “equivalent regulatory outcomes” for all US and EU regulators, and to “provide new tools and a governing process to guide regulatory cooperation on both a cross-cutting and sector-specific basis”.
There’s the race to the bottom and the plan for total coordination. “Cross-cutting” refers to the permanent and constantly expanding generic plan for regulatory coordination. “Sector-specific” refers to whatever pro-corporate floors and ceilings the TTIP specifically sets for a given sector. But since some of the corporate demands, such as completely eradicating EU GMO regulations and labeling, are so politically inflammatory that their de jure enshrinement in the compact could endanger its ratification by the parliament, the coordination plan leaves lots of things vague and intended to be settled bureaucratically at some unspecified future time, once the democratic part of the process is safely over.
In general, the coordination plan is meant to shift all real power and control in space and time to future bureaucratic consultations, and away from anything even pretending to be accountable or democratic.
This goes along with the more specific “strong and binding technical barriers to trade (TBT) and sanitary/phyto-sanitary provisions”.
“Obviously, a determination that specific regulatory approaches are compatible can come only after intensive study and establishment of full trust and confidence between counterpart regulators.” Regulation is to be subjected to a coordination assessment between collaborating government bureaucrats (US and EU, under the supervision of corporate bureaucrats). The paragraph goes on to describe how this assessment is to be permanent, ongoing (“evergreen”), flexible, and involve the exchange of information and the setting up of one-size-fits-all sham procedures for regulatory applications for approval, safety assessment, testing.
The manifesto is then divided into six sections. The Preamble (p.2) lays out the propaganda goals. These are cast primarily as meant to indoctrinate regulators themselves with a “unified vision”, in the US and EU as well as in “third countries”. It’s also meant to “give US and European citizens greater confidence in traded products and services even as it helps regulators ensure optimal allocation of their scarce resources”. This euphemism for lying while robbing means that the people are to be subject to an intensified campaign of promises and intimidation. But the term “scarce resources” indicates that more and more the propaganda is meant to instill fear and resignation rather than hope. The propaganda is also to include a heavy element of sham solicitude for “small and medium sized businesses”. In practice this means corporate contractors who are nominally independent but really indentured entities. Actual, entrepreneurial small businesses will be excluded from all these benefits, at best. And they’ll often be the targets of aggressive regulator coordination.
The second part describes the “Regulatory Principles” (p.2). These are said to have already been well-enshrined in earlier US-EU joint statements. The new emphasis is “to make the regulatory component of the overall agreement comprehensive”, to set a new standard for “regulatory best practices” in all subsequent globalization compacts, and most of all to enshrine the principle that governments and regulators are always to “go beyond” wherever they are at the moment, toward more intensely realizing the “market liberalization” goal, i.e. the goal of total corporate domination. The manifesto stresses that the whole coordination process is to be “evergreen”, meaning that everything in it is to be always in motion. No matter how total corporate control and domination is at any given time, regulators are to consider the project to be just beginning and to look for ways to keep it moving. This is the essence of the totalitarian mindset and mode of action.
The “Regulatory Outcomes” section (p.3) lays out a basic strategy for permanent action. The paper emphasizes that while full regulatory equivalence is always the ultimate goal, the immediate goal to attain at least full information sharing and a coordination framework among all government bureaucrats under corporate discipline. In other words even if the bureaucracy as a whole can’t immediately achieve total victory over politics and democracy, it’s at least building the ideology and practicing the coordination work for a world of total corporate domination. Even if full equivalence is ever attained, the concept of equivalence in itself is never to be stable, but always in motion, since in principle there is no floor which is low enough for corporate freedom, and no ceiling high enough for the burdens to be imposed on alternative, rival sectors, as well as upon political and legal concepts of democracy, citizenship, legal standing, etc., wherever these could work in favor of human beings.
“This process should be oriented to allow stakeholders as well as regulators to identify entire sectors and regulations within sectors which are ripe for an equivalence evaluation. Such a regulatory cooperation component will add a proactive requirement directing and empowering regulators to seek mutual recognition, as well as a process by which regulators would be required to respond to stakeholder-identified opportunities to examine equivalence – neither of which currently exist in the EU or the US.” 
Bureaucrats are also to see their job as to undermine existing legislative policy wherever this is counter to the corporate prerogative. The compact is to override “any statutory barriers to cooperation”. They’re to craft and enforce regulations according to corporate specifications. Lower-level bureaucrats as well as higher officials are to have an open-door policy for corporate lobbyists. They’re to be “required to respond” to corporate demands. They’re to conduct pro-corporate assessments and keep the corporations informed of everything they know and do. This is all to apply not just in “trade” contexts but in purely domestic affairs as well. It’s a blueprint for the total corporatization of nominally public bureaucracies under an ideological and disciplinary regime more comprehensive and systematic than hitherto.
Corporations are to be closely involved in all regulatory assessments and consultations, adding input as they see fit. But regulators are to have a “proactive requirement” to always be looking for action opportunities on their own. This is a key part of the “evergreen” concept, how everything must constantly be in motion. In the same way a Stalinist was always looking for opportunities to inform and cause arrests, while insufficient activity on this score would become a cause for oneself to be arrested, so the mark of a good regulator is always to be on the lookout for ways to render regulation ever more pro-corporate. He’s to be proactive in evading, gutting, or being aggressive, always creatively interpreting and doing, in service to the corporate imperative. 
The most specific attack is on the EU’s precautionary principle. The goal is to replace this in the EU with US-style “ex-post assessments”, meaning that corporations are to be allowed to do whatever they want with no restraints, and then regulators will pretend to assess the effects afterward. As we’ve seen with GMOs, this is state-of-the-art corporatist regulatory doctrine, the radical opposite of the precautionary principle.
1. The presumption is to let corporations do whatever they want. This is the way GMOs are “regulated” in the US. The USDA does only a superficial technical assessment, the EPA punts, and the FDA fabricates the ideological lie of “substantial equivalence” to justify its own complete lack of action and the general sham character of US regulation.
2. Pretend that the government will assess the result. If there are bad effects, government will impose necessary regulation later. With GMOs this would require labeling (so everyone could easily trace GMOs in the food supply) and epidemiological studies.
3. In practice, this assessment will never take place. In practice the US government requires neither labeling nor epidemiological studies. Yet it happily tells the lie that GMOs have been assessed in practice and found to be safe. Since no such assessment is possible without studies, and since the government never performed or required the studies, it’s impossible to know if GMOs aren’t already causing chronic health detriments. This is one of the core Big Lies of cartel and government hacks, that GMOs have been proven safe in practice. In truth there’s zero evidence for this, while the independent studies which have been done have found significant evidence against it. To repeat, government has NEVER tested at all, “ex post” or otherwise. This example, which is typical, proves that the whole notion of replacing the precautionary principle with ex post assessments is a lie. In practice it means gutting the precautionary principle and replacing it with nothing.
4. In practice no bad result, if independently discovered, will ever be recognized. Thus the FDA and EFSA have always seen part of their job as to run interference for GMOs against all the independent evidence of their dangers which has been compiled.
5. It boils down to getting the corporate action in place. Then as an accomplished fact it can never be dislodged. This is in accord with standard bureaucratic practice – once something exists, it can never be dismantled. The ideology of the “accomplished fact” is also explicit. For example a corollary lie to the canned lie about a fraudulent “scientific consensus” in favor of GMO safety (these days often rebranded, “scientific majority”) is the explicit assertion that there should be a much higher burden of proof on evidence which challenges the dominant ideology. This is fraudulently called “scientific”, but it’s self-evidently nothing but an assertion of Might Makes Right. Actual science, on the contrary, weighs all evidence in the exact same unbiased way, whether it supports or contradicts a popular theory.
6. That sums up the basic lie of the whole concept, whose only meaning is to remove ALL regulatory barriers. To put it another way, the goal is to completely dissolve government as such*, other than as the facilitator of the corporate prerogative and political fig leaf for corporate rule.
[*In which case we’d be better off without centralized government. Especially under the corporatist framework, statism is stupid from any point of view other than that of the 1%.]
All this is more proof that it’s in vain to look to central government regulators for public interest action. For example, the FDA never actually could meaningfully regulate GMOs, including labeling them, since this is not its function in the first place. On the contrary, its function is intrinsically pro-corporate, and this corporatist function is slated to be escalated under these globalization compacts.
I dwelt on this goal of gutting the EU’s precautionary principle because:
1. This is the #1 specific goal of the US for the TTIP.
2. It’s the best example of how the general goal of globalization compacts is to gut even the most threadbare public interest regulation (in practice the EC and EFSA do all they can to evade and subvert the precautionary principle; only strong pressure from the European people forces them to adhere to it to any extent; but EU regulation of GMOs, which much stronger than that of the US, is still badly inadequate) and replace it with sham principles and total freedom of action for these criminal organizations.
Section 4 is on “Transatlantic Regulatory Tools” (p.4). This is primarily about enshrining the formal mechanisms of Gleichschaltung. It lists some “possible factors that might trigger the formal consultative role”, including any proposed new regulation or legislation which could affect an existing sector or in an “emerging policy area or developing sector”. So regulators are supposed to call meetings to formulate pro-corporate strategy to deal with any political threat or economic opportunity, as these come up.
But the core provision is the ongoing “Regulatory Compatibility Analysis” (RCA) and the permanent overall coordination committee (often called a “Regulatory Council”). This is a formal mechanism to systematize the way US and EU regulators come together to coordinate all their actions, all the while receiving “meaningful input” from the corporations. The goal of it all is to “put stakeholders at the table with regulators to essentially co-write regulation”. The manifesto lists seven questions as a “starting point” for the evergreen “consultation with regulators and stakeholders” (p. 5). These all involve assessing any and all government action from the point of view of costs and savings to the corporations, how much something will “increase transatlantic trade”, whether full equivalence is or isn’t desirable in a particular case, whether or not it’s better to promulgate a regulation within the one-world bureaucracy rather than domestically, and whether or not whole realms of regulation can be dispensed with completely.
All of these are to be approached with tactical flexibility. The only constant principle is that every action is to be toward increasing corporate power. Everything else is always in flux, though things like seeking equivalence or completely getting rid of regulation are general principles.
There’s a tentative paragraph about how to square coordinated information sharing with “business sensitive” information. The only thing they’re sure about is “harsh penalties for the release of confidential business information outside of a regulator-to-regulator context”. So the compact is to standardize the persecution of whistleblowers and real journalists at a harsh extreme. (This part also gives the lie to the notion that “small and medium businesses” can be part of all this. Are they also to have access to this information sharing? Their own information will be given to the big corporations, of course.)
Section 5 lists the “Institutional Provisions” for the overall coordination committee or regulatory council (p. 6). This council is to coordinate communications and timetables, measure progress, propose action of its own, harmonize the actions of coordinated regulators vis “mismatched authorities” like EU member states, US states, attack “failures of regulatory compliance”, and of course “work with stakeholders” throughout.
So the regulators and their coordination committee, taxpayer-funded bureaucracies nominally functioning in the public interest, are really supposed to perform cost/savings analysis for the corporations, craft and enforce regulation in the public interest, and then fraudulently tell we the people how they’re really serving us. In this manifesto we have the corporations themselves telling us how what I call regulatory triangulation really works. All this means further collusion, the further binding of corporation and state into the corporate state.
There’s a final fig leaf on “Preserving regulator decision-making authority”, which is just a sop to the neoliberal facade. In principle regulators retain a “veto” right to declare particular products outside the scope of the coordination. Of course at this point the “investor dispute settlement” provision would kick in. As we’ll see, regulators are also supposed to give consultations and assessments of regulatory action which help ensure victory at these tribunals.
To sum up, the plan is to be vague and flexible wherever necessary during the negotiation of the formal provisions of the globalization compacts (the TPP has its own version of everything here), postponing the most politically inflammatory assaults for the coordination process to follow on a permanent “evergreen” basis.
The manifesto I analyzed here was issued by the US Chamber of Commerce and BusinessEurope. Its provisions are typical of the consensus among all corporate “trade” groups and the various sector and industry groups.

The proposal is clearly not just any proposal.  On both sides, many other cross-sector business groups explicitly support the proposal or suggest a similar approach in their contributions to the official consultations on TTIP, including BDI (German Industry Association), Confederation of British Industry, Coalitions of Services Industries, British American Business, National Foreign Trade Council, Roundtable on Trade and Competition, Transatlantic Business Council, National Association of Manufacturers, Eurometaux and the United States Council for International Business. Some, notably the Competitive Enterprise Institute, take a step further and demand that businesses are able to choose freely which set of standards and regulations they will apply.

On top of this, 30 business associations, including most of the aforementioned, have written a common letter to the US Trade Representative and to Commissioner de Gucht’s department to stress the importance of a system of “regulatory cooperation”. They include sectoral lobby groups from the chemicals industry, car industry, the financial sector, biotechnology, pharmaceutical industry and many more. They point to the existing structures on regulatory dialogue, the High Level Regulatory Cooperation Forum, and assert that they “can be made much more effective and should include enhanced opportunities for dialogue with stakeholders”.

This is explicit confirmation from the corporations themselves that their goal is total economic control and domination, to be leveraged into total political control and domination. This confirms everything I’ve written about corporate totalitarianism and that humanity’s great need is to completely abolish the de jure corporate mode of organization. We have to abolish the corporations completely.
In part two I’ll give a similar analysis of the specific demands of the GMO cartel, then in part three the EC’s ardent response to all this.


February 28, 2014

GMO News Summary February 28, 2014


*GMO plantings are peaking in the industrialized countries, according to one of the cartel’s own leading propaganda purveyors. US plantings continue to decelerate, increasing less than 1%. For the first time there was a slight decline overall. The ISAAA’s report attributes the decline to decreased GM canola plantings in Canada and decreased GM cotton plantings in Australia. GM cotton plantings are also down in the US. In both cases the cause is drought, and the fact that non-GM varieties perform much better under any condition of less-than-optimal water supply, as India’s GM cotton farmers have learned to their great despair.
This bodes ill for the GMO juggernaut, which as the core project of global corporatism must continue growing and expanding or the whole thing collapses. The ISAAA and many corporate media outlets (but far from all; the GMWatch link is to a Bloomberg piece) put an upbeat spin on things, stressing an alleged big increase in plantings in the “developing” world. Overall global plantings are said to have increased 3%, driven mostly by Brazil’s GM soy plantings. Brazil was a later adopter of GMOs, which is a big part of the reason its plantings are still increasing.
We can see why Monsanto is so fixated on Africa as the last great colonial frontier. The GMO power scheme, really just a big plundering expedition meant to be permanent in all the regions GMOs can conquer, is as dependent as Wall Street on corporate welfare, a permanent US government bailout, inflated stock prices, and the general perception of omnipotence. This is because its product is as fictive as any finance scam, as worthless from any reality-based point of view, and even more completely larcenous and destructive.
*More good news from Oregon about people who are trying to take back their communities from corporate occupation. Josephine County joins Benton County and two others in placing ordinances on the ballot banning GMO cultivation and rejecting corporate and preemptive central government interference with local/regional democratic rule where it comes to GMOs. This kind of activism is part of the ultimate solution.
*Scientists and public health professionals in Bangladesh are objecting to the way the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) has rushed to commercialize four varieties of Bt brinjal (eggplant) in 2014 without having performed or required safety testing. The equivalent of India’s requirement for a 90 day sub-acute toxicity test would be meager and insufficient enough, yet even this is too stringent for Bangladesh “regulators” acting as de facto Monsanto cadres. Instead they accepted as compliance a set of industry tests done by Mahyco, which is Monsanto’s Indian subsidiary, upon a different Bt brinjal variety than the four now being commercialized in Bangladesh. As in every other country where GMOs have been commericialized (Bangladesh is now #29), the government does not perform or require any real independent safety testing, only at most some industry tests which don’t measure toxic effects.
Meanwhile India and the Philippines continue their moratoria on Bt brinjal, on account of fears that it will contaminate the world’s center of eggplant genetic diversity. Bangladesh has over 4000 native varieties, which in itself proves no GMO variety is necessary. This is purely about profit and power, including the intentional plan to destroy the existing eggplant germplasm diversity and replace it with a proprietary monoculture. The evil intent here can be seen in the disconnect between government propaganda, which has assured farmers they’ll have full ownership of the crops and seeds, and the language of the licensing agreement, which stipulates that Mahyco retains its full intellectual property prerogatives.
*Some strange goings-on in China. First there was a notice posted at the cafeteria of the education ministry building, warning of the dangers of GMOs and lauding the cafeteria’s non-GM policy. This could have been just an ad hoc initiative from a low-level officer. But the same can’t be true of a communique issued shortly afterward by the finance ministry, similarly warning about “serious threats to the health of the people” and announcing that their cafeteria will also be going GM-free.
These announcements come in the midst of an ongoing economic skirmish with the US, as Chinese customs has repeatedly rejected corn shipments contaminated with Syngenta’s MIR162 variety. The reason officials have given for these rejections is that MIR162 hasn’t been approved for import in food and feed. That’s true, but it’s also true of several other varieties widely cultivated in the US. Why is it only MIR162 which seems to be contaminating the shipments? Are the Chinese picking on a particular variety as some kind of signal to the US? Are these ministry announcements, making for flashy PR but not having much substantive significance, part of a propaganda war? Monsanto’s concerned enough about the situation that its CEO made a trip to China in December. All this follows upon a June 2013 deal China made to allow the import of Monsanto’s Intacta soybeans from Brazil. This deal came as a surprise after China had stressed its desire to import non-GM soybeans, to the point that Brazil’s soy industry trade group had publicly claimed it could fill that order. China’s seeming about-face came as a big disappointment to campaigners in the UK who have been trying to pressure British supermarkets to continue their commitment to poultry products from farmers who use only non-GM feed.
Instead of repeating the whole story I’ll link to my post from the time. The affair raises the issue of how viable Brazil’s non-GM soy exports really are. It must also be placed in context with Monsanto’s seemingly dire legal peril, as Brazil’s courts continue to threaten to shatter its entire business model in this, the one country pretty much single-handedly driving the global increase of GMO plantings, as I described above.
Brazil…China. And Russia, as I mentioned last week. I haven’t yet had the time to delve into the geopolitics and power politics of all this, so I don’t yet have much of a theory of what’s going on, other than that various power centers are trying to figure out how to assert their own power in the face of the US/Monsanto power bloc. None of these governments, we can assume, want to become Monsanto’s poodles the way the governments of, for example, Britain and India, and of course the US itself, have. (But it’s a safe bet neither of the governments or Russia or China, whatever they sometimes say, could ever be actually anti-GMO either. Most likely they want to shield themselves from the worst of the US/Monsanto onslaught while they try to figure out how to build their own rival cartel. If that’s true, the abolitionist position remains clear.) 
More on this to come.
*The US Geological Survey has published a study which found that 75% of air and rain samples collected in Mississippi in 2007 contained glyphosate residue. The study compared 2007 levels in the air and water of various agricultural poisons with levels from 1995. In 2007 glyphosate, the main ingredient of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, was by far the most common poison. This is entirely on account of the explosive surge in its use since the commercialization of GMOs. In pre-GMO 1995 its usage was so low it wasn’t even measured. For comparison, atrazine, metolachlor, and propanil were detected in 50% or more of the samples in both 2007 and 1995. This is a good demonstration of how the claim made for Roundup Ready GMOs, that they would lower overall poison use, was a lie. Instead, glyphosate use has skyrocketed while the use of other herbicides has remained steady.
*The annual report of the USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) was boosterish as usual in its tone, though amid the hype it admits that GMOs don’t actually work. Specifically, they don’t increase yield, they’re not economically beneficial for farmers, and they increase rather than reduce pesticide use.
*California state senator Noreen Evans, with support from a coalition of farmer, consumer, and citizen groups, is sponsoring a bill to label GMOs. This will supposedly be a more sleek and clear version of the one voters narrowly voted down in 2012.
*GMO labeling campaigners have not been rewarded for trying to be “moderate” where it comes to the labels they demand. Their attempts to establish labeling for raw and processed foods but not for meat and dairy products were not according to inherent logic, nor did it make sense from the point of view of trying to claim transparency and the right to know as a principle. The moderation was supposed to be political and economic, on the grounds that labeling policies around the world are crafted in the same incomplete, inconsistent way. But not only has this not worked politically, but the so-called “loopholes” were attacked, perhaps with some effect, by cartel propaganda. (Campaigners in California didn’t help their cause when they produced awful publicity material embracing the enemy framing and saying things like “Loopholes are good!”)
Therefore it’s good to see that proponents of labeling in the US, and of better labeling in the UK (which already has labeling of raw and processed foods, but not of meat and dairy), are increasingly insisting that GMO labeling needs to encompass these products as well.
That’s what makes sense from the point of view of health aspects, as well as according to any principle of transparency, democracy, or just consumer choice.


February 24, 2014

Corporatism and Globalization: The Context of the TTIP and TPP


Perhaps the best way to prove the tyrannical intentions of the globalizers is to start with their own words. If we look at the manifestoes and comments issued by the various business consortiums, industry groups, and individual corporations, we find the unvarying demand that all government action be subordinated to the corporate profit prerogative, and that no other value be allowed to interfere with this.
This is why I call corporations and their intent totalitarian. My definition of this term: A powerful person or entity is relentless in pursuit of an imperative, at every moment wants to enforce the domination of that imperative to the fullest extent possible, and refuses to recognize the right of any other value to exist at all. A totalitarian may or may not be willing to “tolerate” the existence of something purely extraneous. But where there’s any conflict between the corporate domination imperative and any other value, it’s taken for granted there can be no compromise. The non-corporate value must submit, if necessary to the point of its own extinction. As the historical record makes clear, this is true of all human values – health, happiness, prosperity, culture, tradition, religion, morality, simple human decency and fairness. None of these can coexist with corporations. In the long run these must all go extinct, if corporatism continues to exist.
One of the reasons I became a GMO abolitionist is that this fact of the impossibility of coexistence is most clearly demonstrated in the case of agricultural poisons, where the unrelenting, uncompromising assault contaminates not just every economic and political aspect it touches, but goes the farthest in extending its indelible physical corruption to every physical medium – the soil, the water, the air, the wild plants and animals, the cultivated crops and livestock, our own bodies.
But the same phenomenon is general across all corporate sectors, which is why every kind of thinker, writer, and activist, however much one may want to resist this choice, will in the end have to choose between humanity, and therefore corporate abolition, or a total corporate domination which will destroy whatever it is one values. Many, certainly most established NGO types, seem already to be making their choices, though in a sense it’s an early day as yet. We must not succumb to one of the standard pathologies of progressives, that of demanding instant gratification.
In particular, there’s the pathology that any idea which can’t be boiled down to running candidates in the next election (and not just monkey-wrenching, gridlocking anti-corporate candidates, but affirmatively “good”, policy-intending ones, no less) is bad, “impractical”, objectionable, offensive, certainly to be rejected. We need to be aware that we’re in this for what from the point of view of a human life is the long haul. We’re not likely to see the abolition of corporations, perhaps not even of GMOs, in our lifetimes. (Well, at over 40 I’m not likely. Perhaps someone half my age may live to see it.) I’m clear that I was put here to be a writer, to express these ideas as well as I can, to broadcast them as far as I can, and leave it to people to use these expressions (not the ideas themselves, which can only coincide or not with the drive of the people; no one can ever convince anyone of anything they don’t already feel) in whatever way people find good.
And so back to the analysis of globalization as an economic and anti-political offensive being carried out by corporatism toward the goal of total domination. By economic and anti-political I mean that the goal is total domination through total economic domination, while all real manifestations of politics are to be suppressed completely. (The neoliberal phony semblance of “politics” – sham elections, nominal constitutional rights and so on – may continue for some time.) Power will be exercised at the command of corporate oligopoly sectors, by executive government bureaucracies and extranational globalization tribunals, and increasingly, directly by the corporations themselves.
The policies business wants encoded in the TTIP and TPP and enforced by governments and World Bank tribunals provide a clear picture of what these persons are. They’re nominally “businessmen” seeking “profit”. They’re really political and economic totalitarians seeking total power and control. They seek this under the rubric of business ideology, and using the corporation as their basic mode of organization. But any large corporation is not really trying  to provide a good/service and make a profit, but is rather a power-seeking organization using its particular economic sector as its base of operations. It seeks to attain total power within that sector and use that economic base to assert political domination as extensively as possible.
I was about to say, “just because it’s not overtly political, the way a de jure political party or political pressure group is, doesn’t make it any less the same kind of organization.” But in fact anyone who pays attention to corporate actions knows they’re every bit as openly political as any non-profit, de jure political group. Corporations and their trade groups describe and disseminate political principles, devise political strategies and carry them out, lobby nominal politicians and regulators. There’s really no such thing as a lobbyist-politician dichotomy, but only two political activists talking to one another. In every way corporations are organizations which seek political power. The only difference is that under representative democracy a de jure “party” is the kind of organization which runs someone called a “candidate” for a particular type of political office, while corporations are bureaucracies, identical in a de facto way to nominal government bureaucracies like the USDA or FDA.
Under the conditions of complex globalized economies real power naturally tends to accumulate with the bureaucracies, and whether these are nominally “public”, like the USDA, or nominally “private”, like Monsanto, makes no difference. Even an executive office-holder like a US president, let alone a legislator, would need to powerfully exert himself to alter this bureaucracy’s inertia in any significant way. Indeed, only revolutionary regimes have been able to do so. But then that could be a definition of a revolutionary government under modern conditions: A government whose leaders want to alter significantly the inertial trajectory of the bureaucracy. This is hard to do for a nominal government bureaucracy. For a private one like a corporation, it may be impossible unless the corporation wants to alter itself. Since under no circumstances would a corporation want to do this at the behest of a bottom-up people’s movement, it follows that while a people’s movement in theory may think of seizing the reins of government and altering the trajectory of government bureaucracy, such a movement can logically think only of abolishing corporations.
Still, if one wants to continue with complex commodification and globalization, one must accept the domination of bureaucracy in one form or another. The whole question becomes simpler if we understand that commodification and globalization as such are unnecessary for prosperity and undesirable from any human point of view. If we then seek not just to abolish corporations but to abolish all supply-based planned economy and restore purely demand-based economies, we can think of dispensing completely with bureaucratic rule. We can even think of having a choice among various forms of direct or assembly-based democracy.
Those are questions for another time. Under today’s conditions centralized representative government is not and cannot be anything but a sham. Neoliberalism has been, among other things, the art of perfecting the aesthetics, emotional manipulation, and intellectual astroturfing potential of this sham. It hasn’t just enlisted the mass media, the entertainment industry, the arts, the law, academia, the scientism ideology and scientific establishment, and the twin bourgeois ideologies of conservatism and liberalism, all of which would have happened anyway. It has convinced these adherents and practitioners to accept corporate rule as veritably a law of nature, something never to be questioned or even noticed, even in thought, and brought all these realms to the most potent level of marketing appeal to the atomized mass. All this is just the facade of power and culture.
Real power is inertially in the hands of the bureaucracies, “public” and “private”. But of course bureaucracies don’t just passively receive and use the power which economic structures deliver to them. On the contrary, globalization is a planned economy. It’s been planned by those same bureaucrats toward the goal of permanently increasing and expanding their power. Going back to the rise of imperialist ideology and corporate lobbying in the 19th century, corporatism has relentlessly and with ever greater self-consciousness and intentional focus sought to build this command economy. (I won’t here get into the history of where corporatism came from in the first place, but I wrote extensively about it here and here.)
This reached a new level of aggressiveness in the post-war time, and especially since the end of the Cold War. NAFTA and the “trade” pacts based upon it have comprised the state of the art in post-Cold War globalization offensives. Today the TTIP and the TPP propose to expand the NAFTA model from North America across both oceans to encompass Europe and the Pacific Rim under a single corporate umbrella, turn the Atlantic and Pacific into ponds upon one big corporate park, use this power position to overawe Latin America and ruthlessly subjugate Africa, and to crush what’s left of the substance of democracy and economic self-determination in every country encompassed, including America and the EU.
The twin bureaucratic structures, corporate and regulatory, understand this mission well. They see total power within their grasp. Today they’re gearing up to reach for it. The coupled mechanisms of the globalization compacts through which they intend to attain the totalitarian goal are “investor-to-state dispute settlement” (ISDS) and “regulatory coherence”. The former is a direct assault on democracy, civil society, and politics as such, as well as being a massive corporate welfare conveyor. The latter is a formula for total bureaucratic Gleichschaltung (coordination). More specifically, it’s a plan to fully and formally institutionalize the subservience of government bureaucracy to corporate bureaucracy, and to fully rationalize the processes of this subservience.
In subsequent posts on this I’ll relate the corporate plan for regulatory coherence in the corporations’ own words, relate the echo as it has come back from the governments and regulators, and do the same for ISDS. That’ll bring us to the EC’s upcoming, much-hyped “consultation” on ISDS with the people of Europe. Throughout, my examples will focus on GMOs and the GMO cartel. But this sector is not only extremely aggressive, but in principle is typical of them all. So the same description and the same kind of examples will apply in all other powerful sectors. Because the GMO cartel’s obsession with kicking down Europe’s door is at the core of the US government’s goals for the TTIP/TAFTA, I’ll naturally be focusing on the Atlantic side. But the TPP has the same provisions and the same goals.
Next up – the “regulatory coherence” wish lists and strategic plans of the US Chamber of Commerce, BusinessEurope, and the GMO cartel.


February 12, 2014

It’s Official: Monsanto Wants FDA Preemption on GMO Labeling


The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), Monsanto’s main front group which coordinates propaganda among corporate manufacturers and retailers (who are all under the thumb of the GMO cartel), has put together a coalition of corporate groups calling for FDA preemption of state-level GMO labeling policy.
The press release hits all the points, calling upon the FDA to label, to perform “safety reviews”, to define the term “natural” in food labeling, to impose its own regulation on voluntary non-GMO labeling, and to preempt stronger state-level policy. This is the development I’ve been discussing since my November post on preemption. It tells us three things: It further demonstrates the totalitarian, anti-democracy goal of the GMO cartel and of food corporatism in general. It tells us that the state-level fight, in spite of setbacks, is working; it is striking fear in the corporations. And it tells us that Monsanto is confident that the FDA shall do its pro-GMO duty.
This also puts in perspective the propaganda of Just Label It and other ostensibly anti-GMO groups who also call for an FDA solution. Aren’t the GMA and JLI talking about the same FDA? Does JLI repose its hopes in the same place Monsanto does? Or do these labeling groups and commenters think there’s two different FDAs?
The fact is that there’s only one FDA, and it is pro-corporate by its nature as well as by the conscious intent of its cadres. As I explained in my preemption post (also in this post), a bourgeois bureaucracy is designed in the first place to seek pro-corporate outcomes. So the FDA will be like a fish in water if legislatively mandated along the lines Monsanto and the GMA want.
By contrast, if by some miracle Congress told the FDA to really label and regulate GMOs, the FDA would be hostile, obstructionist, and just plain befuddled. The result would be poor at best.
As I’ll be writing about at greater length, the impending “regulatory coherence” Gleichschaltung provisions in the TPP and TTIP, if these globalization compacts are ratified and go into force, will further intensify this corporation/regulator affinity.


February 10, 2014

The TTIP, Corporatism, and GMOs


Negotiation of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP, aka TAFTA) has been slowed over the EU’s felt need to take time for a “consultation” with the people of Europe over its “investor rights” provisions. That means it needs more time for propaganda. Meanwhile any cosmetic revisions of this draconian provision won’t affect the harshness of the proposed compact’s other provisions.
As with previous compacts, the corporate drivers of this plan hope to enshrine a race to the bottom, where all regulation and public interest policy, as well as all aggressive corporatist policy, has to be “equalized” at the most pro-corporate, anti-human level among the adherents to the pact. For example, since GMO labeling is required in Europe but not in the US, Europe would be expected to relinquish its labeling policies, which would equalize regulation between the entities where it came to this issue. The same will be true of European agricultural and food safety policies in general. Similarly, US law and constitutional jurisprudence would have to conform to Europe’s less strict regulation of the finance sector, and perhaps to its more strict regulation of seeds.
In general, US regulation is more lawless and corporate-aggrandizing than that of the EU. As its proximate goal, the proposed compact is intended primarily to dismantle European protections and open up Europe to an escalated US corporate assault.
Given how one-sided the compact will be, how generally pro-US (including in the term “US”, US-based corporations, which are best seen as extensions of the US government and of US power), the eagerness of European Commission (EC) bureaucrats to conclude this deal looks like economic malpractice and treason to the European people. Where it comes to real economic fundamentals Europe is doing very well. In particular, Europe’s agricultural sector outperforms that of the US in every qualitative way and in all the meaningful quantitative ways. Looking toward the post-fossil fuel future, Europe, while far from having a truly resilient agriculture and food system, is in a far better position to transform these systems to post-oil needs.
Destroying Europe’s agricultural advantages and opening up Europe to the full onslaught of US agricultural products and systems is the main goal of the US in pushing for this compact in the first place.
Why does the EC want to do this? What does this say about the nature of the EU bureaucracy? And why would European governments want to go along with this? The answers must go to the core of why Europeans feel they need this economic union, even as they still feel extreme ambivalence about the political coordination it implies, and which the EC is trying to enforce.
All the types of regulation and public interest policy the TTIP would gut are among the irritating political residue which corporatism seeks to abolish.
1. Corporatism is the process by which the 1% seeks to shift decision-making power and control from nominally “public” government to nominally “private” corporations. In US constitutional parlance, the system is transferring this power asset from the three branches of government enshrined in the written constitution to the extra-constitutional Fourth Branch, the corporations. In this way, power and control are shifted from nominally accountable “representative democracy” to power structures which are totally unaccountable even in principle. The nominal government remains as corporate welfare bagman and police thug, and to maintain the fraudulent facade of elections and whatnot. This process is also called neoliberalism, since it seeks to maintain the semblance of classical liberalism and pseudo-democracy even as it institutes most of the substance of fascism.
2. The EC, like any bureaucracy, despises democracy and accountability, and politics as such, and seeks to maximize its own power as such without any necessary reference to what its nominal job is supposed to be.
3. To its ongoing frustration, the EC hasn’t been able to persuade Europeans to relinquish political power, nor has economic Gleichschaltung (coordination) gone as far as they want (which is always the maximum conceivable).
GMOs are an excellent case study: Politically and culturally they’re rejected by Europe. From any rational point of view they’re clearly against the European economic interest. Yet the EC wants to force Europe to subject itself to the full GMO takeover of commodity agriculture, as has been happening in the US. This is the most clear-cut example of how globalization and corporatism have nothing to do with trade or economic rationalism, and everything to do with power.
4. The TTIP is meant to override European democracy and European politics in general. I’ve previously written about how globalization is inherently anti-political. Corporatism sees politics as such to be an atavism. Globalization is meant to impose bureaucratic, anti-political solution to this atavism.
(I still consider the NYT piece I wrote about here to be a classic of corporate media “journalism”. Every sentence embodies the assumption that the corporate project must go forward. The inconvenient fact that the people of Europe don’t want the GMO element of this project to go forward is depicted as a technical hurdle to be overcome. From the point of view of corporatism and technocracy, human needs and wants are indeed nothing but technical problems to be “solved”.)
The name “Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership”, although meant as an anodyne euphemism to replace the politically inflammatory “TAFTA”, expresses what the globalization process sees as the only real sovereign group and political constituency – corporate “investors”. Meanwhile the term “trade” is purely Orwellian, since globalization is not about legitimate demand-based trade, but the extreme opposite: Forcing supply upon markets which don’t demand it at all, or don’t demand it in the form corporatism wants to supply it. Whether one looks at GMOs as a discrete genre of product, or as a form of agricultural production, either way there’s zero demand for them. All “demand” is forced into being by planned economy measures. Pro-GMO TTIP policy is an escalation of this command economy.
(This is yet another reason to eschew the propaganda term “free trade”. We should never let this term pass unnoticed in our thoughts and words. Globalization has nothing to do with legitimate trade. It is all about maximizing the imperatives and prerogatives of supply-driven corporate “markets”, toward the corporate concentration of all economic and political power.)
This leads us to the specific case of GMOs and their structural importance. Obviously the US government and the GMO cartel see Europe as a massive, relatively untapped market. But beyond this, they have a structural imperative to force all economies to come under GMO domination. They also loathe the current state of European agriculture as a real world alternative which has proven superior in every way to GMO domination. Europe proves every day that even given the parameters of industrial agriculture, GMOs are unnecessary and inferior. Europe proves every day that conventional agriculture performs better and less expensively without them. This is an ongoing embarrassment and affront to US corporatism. The US corporate system tries to deny this in the same way that during the Cold War the US and USSR would deny the very existence of ways in which they were outperformed by the other.
They would have destroyed these embarrassing facts if they could. Today the US government is trying to use the TTIP to wipe out the embarrassing fact of Europe’s superior agriculture and its far healthier food system. The EC bureaucracy is coordinated with this goal, since by its nature it sees things in terms of corporate one-world government rather than as a power struggle with the US-corporatist bloc.
The people of Europe have a more clear view of the real nature of the power struggle, although they too have been indoctrinated into the commodification/”growth” ideology to the point that they accept most of its premises even as they demonstrate great ambivalence in practice. This ideological indoctrination is why they tolerate the “European Union” in the first place. European national governments are ambivalent, feeling caught in the middle. Then there’s the EU’s position of institutionalized ambivalence, the European Council. This is the level of the system where governments function though bureaucratic fiat, but can still feel political pressure from the people. Meanwhile the European Parliament is the EU version of a “representative” assembly, primarily a powerless facade.
We have a good current case study with the application for cultivation of DuPont’s 1507 stacked maize variety. The people of Europe overwhelmingly reject it. The European Parliament voted it down. The Council just voted it down, albeit with many abstentions by both pro-GM and ostensibly anti-GM governments. These abstentions at the level of representatives of national governments, meant to shield those governments from political backlash while helping to give the EC bureaucracy cover if it unilaterally decides to approve the application, exemplify the ambivalence over the whole EC economic coordination project.
No one outside the bureaucrats and the corporations really likes the EU concept, and proposed compacts like the TTIP drive this ambivalence to extremes. That’s why the EC feels the need to take time out to “consult” the people on the “investor rights” provision, and why the compact is slated to include a “regulatory coherence” provision meant to postpone the most inflammatory detailed policy-making till after the “agreement” is concluded. I’ll be writing more about these shortly.
So there’s some notes on what’s going on with TTIP/TAFTA, globalization, and the GMO regime.


January 29, 2014

Corporations Striking Back Against Democracy in Hawaii


Anti-democracy forces are mustering all their legal weapons against Hawaii’s recently enacted county-level pesticide and GMO restrictions. These new laws, modest and inadequate as they are, are still too democratic for the poison corporations.
The new offensive has two prongs so far. The corporations have filed a federal lawsuit claiming that regional democracy, in the form of county-level legislation, is illicit according to federal and state law and the constitution.
Meanwhile there’s an attempt in the state legislature to pass a so-called “Right to Farm” law. This kind of law is really a pro-corporate scam. These laws claim to want to protect local farmers from onerous legislation, but are really meant to prevent communities from legally protecting themselves from corporate invasions, such as the pesticide test plantations which have turned Kauai into one big poison gas zone. For now, the bill may end up dying in the state House.
Anyone who really wants to help local agriculture would want to pass legislation strengthening communities against alien corporations. Most “Right to Farm” laws are meant to do the opposite, aggravating corporate prerogatives in order to override democracy. (Meanwhile such laws seldom do much to protect real farmers against truly onerous regulations. Often they explicitly exempt real farmers from protection.)
Philosophically/ideologically, we need to get our minds straight. We must recognize that agriculture is naturally local/regional, that commodification/corporatization of it is illegitimate, and that corporate agriculture is necessarily irrational and destructive. Two conclusions which follow from its illegitimacy are that no large-scale central government has any legitimacy to “regulate” agriculture or food, and that no corporation can hold a patent on any seed or plant, nor can government issue such a patent. The “supremacy clause” is illegitimate, as is the “commerce clause” as interpreted by the corporate courts. Examples of its necessary destuctiveness include the way centralized, commodified agriculture automatically relies on ever-escalating deployment of poison, and automatically degrades the soil and devastates the environment.
We must recognize that the corporate state is a monolith, with concentrated power itself constituting tyranny. Any nominal division of “public” government from “private” corporations is a meaningless, false, misdirectional distinction. Corporations are extensions of government, the Fourth Branch in US constitutional parlance. We must completely, non-negotiably reject the legitimacy of corporations and their prerogatives, and implicitly draw all conclusions which follow. There’s no such thing as corporate “rights”, corporations have no right to exist at all, and we the people would be much better off in every way if corporations were abolished completely.
Until we build this ideological discipline and refuse to be diverted from its full logic, we’ll remain confused and without self-assurance, and our actions will remain incoherent and non-cumulative. Our minds will remain the most potent weapons in the hands of the oppressor, as Biko put it.


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