April 15, 2017
The so-called Cornell Alliance for Science has nothing to do with science but rather is a political front funded by Bill Gates and designed to muster pro-GM activism and package it with a fraudulent pseudo-scientific sheen. Its existence is exemplary of the complete fraudulence and lack of the most basic integrity on the part of today’s universities and scientific establishment. These have long since jettisoned any scientific integrity they ever had and have transformed themselves into nothing but corporate PR fronts. The Cornell/Monsanto project is among the most prominent and formally instituted of these front groups.
Today the Alliance has a new scam going. This is a survey of selected industry tests which purports to analyze whether or not the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is correct in asserting a “consensus” on GMO safety. Self-evidently there is no such consensus, so on its face the AAAS is simply propagating a political lie in claiming there is. See here for another typical AAAS systematic fraud on the public, this one in collaboration with the Pew Center.
As we see, the AAAS itself is a corporate marketing division, not a science organization. So when Cornell’s Alliance analyzes the AAAS’s claim it’s pure theater, one propagandist trying to launder another. I suppose the AAAS then can review the Alliance’s proclamations and find them correct. But just as regulators like the EPA and EFSA do nothing but launder propaganda which is conveyed to them by Monsanto, so these sham pseudo-scientific outfits do nothing but the same. See here for similar lies on the part of the National Academy of Science. Someone needs to design a meme: Monsanto in big letters in the center, with arrows radiating out directly to the names of regulatory agencies and “science” fronts, these names circling the center. That would be an accurate symbolic rendering of reality.
Today’s STEM establishment comprises nothing more or less than a corporate research and propaganda bureau. It considers this corporate science paradigm to constitute science as such, and when they say “science” they mean, in all sincerity, “whatever the corporate marketing department decrees.” History will look back in astonishment and disgust at how the science community threw away its entire legitimacy, laboriously built over centuries, for nothing but to serve as PR flacks for a handful of agrochemical, tobacco, and similar poison-peddling corporations. Why did they do throw it all away? For nothing but the most gutter impulses of hate and power.
Thus the Gates/Cornell Alliance is recruiting “citizen scientists”, which means paid and volunteer Monsanto operatives and techno-fundamentalists, to survey only the abstracts of the selected industry “studies”. This is because all industry tests engage in many kinds of methodological fraud. By sticking only with the abstracts, each of which is just a non-technical summary of the study written according to the interpretative biases of the researchers, the Cornell Alliance plans to suppress knowledge of the massive scientific fraud and propagate only a summation of the non-scientific, political covering statements of the corporate-funded researchers.
For a quick review, all industry tests have been rigged in at least one way: Their length is far shorter than the normal lifespan of the animal, two years in the case of rats. Ninety days is a standard length for corporate rat studies. This is meant to ensure that chronic health dangers are unlikely to manifest during the duration of the test. Most studies also don’t compare the effects of eating the GM feed to the effects of a non-GM diet based on the non-GM equivalent of the GM variety. Nor are the alleged control groups fed a non-GM, non-pesticide laden diet. This is meant to obfuscate any effect which might manifest.
Almost all industry tests are the most minimal kinds of feeding tests, meant to ensure that a CAFO animal fed on GM-based feed will quickly put on weight and not immediately drop dead from acute toxicity. These trials never tested for other kinds of toxicity or for chronic health effects. But the corporations, mainstream media, and pseudo-science media like the Cornell Alliance and the AAAS then fraudulently claim these were legitimate food safety tests with relevance for humans eating such a diet over a lifetime. Picture if we organized a test which would feed human subjects nothing but large amounts of cake, pastries, ice cream, candy, etc. for 60 days (and with no exercise), with our only measure being to test whether the subjects would gain weight and not drop dead. Then afterward we trumpet the test as having proven that such a diet is healthy over the long run. That’s what’s been going on with these corporate feeding trials. True scientists reject these industry tests as nothing but systematic fraud. According to Nuremburg standards the Cornell Alliance propagandists are criminals for propagating this lie.
Even many of these tests nevertheless have found evidence of biological changes and toxicity. Such evidence is routinely dismissed as “insignificant” or suppressed completely by the researchers, often through the methodological fraud of trumping up enough “historical control groups” to introduce enough irrelevant noise to drown out whatever data signal the experiment actually generated. Of course all such evidence is censored out of the study abstracts. This is why Cornell will be citing only the abstracts and not the studies themselves, to censor out of existence any element of the actual studies which goes against the party line.
This latest gambit of the Cornell/Monsanto Alliance for Junk Science is typical of the relentless, congenital lying of all pro-GMO activists. (This is a historical fact. From the beginning in the early 1970s genetic engineers and their publicists and fanboys never were willing rationally to justify and defend their endeavor. On the contrary, from day one they resorted to epithets and insults, and quickly to systematic lying. The culture of the lie is endemic to all such technocratic endeavor.)
Credentialed “scientists” and other cadres are especially shameless and aggressive in their lies, and they provide the lies which then are widely deployed in the mainstream media and by politicians and other publicists. The Cornell Alliance for Science is dedicated to this propaganda mission, receiving the lies from the corporations and re-packaging them as “scientific” truth. Thus they’re now distilling the political abstracts from the industry’s own fraudulent feeding trials and will make their most aggressive attempt to claim these were food safety tests in the first place, and that these tests have found GMOs to be safe.
Thus the Cornell Alliance for Science, with full conscious malice aforethought, will tell the people that dangerous poison is safe to eat. This is the act of a gang of insidious murderers. Humanity must hold them to account.
March 31, 2017
Belgium’s Field Liberation Movement (FLM) has released a video opposing the latest Belgian field trial of GM poplar trees engineered for ready processing into biofuels. See here for more on the concept of biofuel-ready GMOs. The FLM is best known internationally for its 2011 action against an illegal field trial of GM potatoes, and the Belgian government’s subsequent, much-condemned attempt to prosecute these participatory citizens as a criminal organization. This was a typical example of the corporate gangsters calling the kettle black.
GM trees are easy to understand. Their purpose is the same as the purpose of corporate agriculture in general, albeit in a specially radical way, and they’re designed and deployed toward the same goals.
1. The goals of GM tree plantations are to drive deforestation, destroy ecosystems, and drive the people off the land. The goal is to destroy all human cultural diversity and wild biodiversity.
2. The goal is to destroy all diversity and impose social and environmental monoculture. The goal is to replace humanity and the Earth with a monocultural dead zone.
3. Corporations and governments do this for the sake of power. They and the scientism cult work to generate the monocultural dead zone for its own sake, on religious/ideological principle, and because monoculture, physically and culturally, always helps concentrate power and wealth.
4. For public consumption, this is for the sake of the propaganda idea of sustaining the extreme energy consumption mode of civilization and of doing so while finding solutions to climate change and environmental destruction.
Of course this always is only the idea of these, never the reality, always the contrary. Nothing can replace fossil fuels to enable the continuation of modernity’s extreme energy consumption, nor can such consumption be done in a way which doesn’t radically aggravate climate change and every other environmental crisis.
Biofuels are among the worst criminal frauds in both ways: Like other so-called “alternative” energy sources they depend completely on the foundation of fossil fuels; they’re less efficient than fossil fuels as energy sources; and they’re even worse greenhouse gas emitters and destroyers of carbon sinks. Meanwhile they function effectively to destroy agricultural land and food production by taking this land out of food production and consigning it to this purely worthless, destructive purpose. Biofuel-ready GM trees aggravate deforestation and climate chaos in the name of mitigating them. Other types of GM trees serve similar criminal purposes.
All GMOs are hoaxes and frauds in these same ways, in addition to their many other evils. GM tree plantations, which add a great escalation of the direct destruction of forests to the direct and indirect deforestation driven overwhelmingly by corporate industrial agriculture, comprise a new level of criminal destruction and evil being premeditated and carried out by those responsible, from the engineers to the media propagandists.
GM agriculture, and corporate industrial agriculture, offer nothing to humanity and the Earth but social and economic destruction, environmental destruction, famine, pandemics, war, and death. It’s clear that here is no way forward, only the deadest of dead ends.
The only way forward to survival, transcendence, and victory is the return home to the Earth. The broad highway home is the necessary global transformation to agroecology and Food Sovereignty. We must turn the clock forward.
March 23, 2017
Britain’s Sainsbury Laboratory, a typical publicly funded corporate research division, continues its program to develop inferior, dangerous, highly expensive “hi-tech” GM potatoes as a substitute for already existing non-GM potatoes which are much less expensive and superior in every way. Why would anyone want to do something so pointless and stupid? As with every other GMO and the GM endeavor as such, the only reasons are religious cultism and corporate power.
Sainsbury has applied to British regulators for permission for an open-air field trial. Field trial applications always are flimsy where it comes to substantive information, since both corporate applicant and pro-corporate regulator are in the business of making the project go forward with only the minimum politically necessary fake “regulation” to hinder it along the way.
For example, a field trial application usually includes rudimentary information on the genetic composition of the original laboratory-cultured GM crop. This information is at best irrelevant to real-world conditions, and usually fraudulent even on its own terms. But this charade allows the corporate applicant and the regulator to claim to the public that the GMO has been tested and assessed for safety.
The current Sainsbury application is attempting an innovation on this fraudulent process. They haven’t performed even the fake analysis, and indeed “most of the transgenic plants described in this application are currently in the transformation pipeline”, meaning that they don’t yet exist even in the laboratory stage.
Vegetatively propagated direct-food GMOs like potatoes are the most dangerous because 1. They’re direct food or just minimally processed, which means genetically modified and other mutated genetic fragments will be least broken down during processing; 2. Since they’re clones they carry along unexpurgated all the mutations of the entire genetic engineering process. (As opposed to crops like maize where the original genetically engineered plants then may have been back-crossed with another variety, and therefore may have had some of the mutations bred out of them. Not so for cloned potatoes.) Plus, industrial potatoes are among the most pesticide-laden crops.
That’s one of the reasons why an accurate genetic analysis would be even more critically necessary for GM potatoes than for most other GMOs. In fact we know that all GMO genomes are riddled with mutations from the engineering process. Even the few independent analyses have only begun to catalog the extent of the genetic chaos. What they’ve proven clearly is that GMOs comprise an extremely hazardous flouting of evolutionary safeguards and that by forcing GMOs into the food supply, governments and corporations are performing a massive, nonconsensual feeding experiment upon all of us. The US government and the GM corporations believe that GMOs are poisonous and will harm human health. If they didn’t believe this they would have performed legitimate safety tests from the outset. They always have refused to do this, and always have lied about it. This proves that they believe the product is highly dangerous. Since they felt it was politically impossible to perform real food safety science, they’ve instead embarked upon this massive human feeding experiment to find out the extent of the harm. They figure by the time the results are in, corporate control of food and agriculture will be total, and it will be too late for humanity to do anything about its biological poisoning and servitude. The experiment’s results then will help technocracy design a more truly scientific genetic engineering program toward eugenic goals. That’s the way in which agricultural GMOs are a stalking horse for eventual GE-based human eugenics.
Sainsbury’s application for an as yet nonexistent product, and its invitation to the regulator to assure the public of the safety of this thing which doesn’t yet exist, is the best commentary on the fact that everything the corporate system tells us about GMOs, in addition to being always a lie, is always a pure fabrication. The corporations and governments tout nothing but the idea of “GMOs” as such, while in reality the actual GM crops always have comprised a poorly-designed, shoddy, backward, failure-prone product.
This is also the best commentary on the fact that field trials have no scientific basis or purpose, but rather are propaganda exercises. They propagate the fraud that GMOs are tested for environmental safety and agronomic performance when the tests are designed to give no meaningful information on either of these, just as corporate feeding trials test nothing but industrial parameters irrelevant to food safety.
Therefore field trials are designed to serve as propaganda vehicles. They’re meant to normalize the GMO ideology as such and to impress upon the people the sense of the alleged ubiquity and necessity of GMOs and the alleged inevitability of GMO domination.
Typically a high-profile field trial combines the “positive” side of the propaganda – how great the product is, why it’s necessary, how it’s going to save the world – with the negative side meant to reinforce the sense that GMOs are omnipresent, unstoppable, and that there’s no alternative but to surrender to them. As with all such propaganda, this has the dual purpose of reinforcing cult worship as well as the intimidation of opponents.
We see how GM field trials serve as a stage of the GMO propaganda process just as they comprise a stage of the GM crop development process. This parallel is poetically appropriate since GMOs as such serve only fictive purposes, including an overall propaganda function. Their ultimate purposes – profit, power, control – have nothing to do with natural reality, but only with the totalitarian will to obliterate existing reality and replace it with a malign, ideologically determined reality. And thus it’s also appropriate, and was always inevitable, that all of the real-world effects of GMOs – environmental, health, agronomic, economic – are purely destructive.
As with every GMO case, to say again, there already exist much better, safer, less expensive non-GM potato varieties for all the traits touted for the high-maintenance product. We call this the Law of the Inferiority of GMOs, and it is a law because there are no exceptions to it. GMOs invariably are worse performing, more dangerous, and far more expensive than already existing non-GM varieties. (The link is to my piece on Simplot’s GM potatoes; the same criticisms and disproofs apply even more firmly in this case.) As always, GMOs have zero purpose but to reinforce corporate industrial prerogatives and to serve as propaganda for the cult of technocracy as such.
In the final analysis that’s all that GMOs are about: Whether one is to be an anti-science, flat-earth cultist of technocracy, or whether one chooses to embrace reality. Technocracy is already a proven failure according to all its claims, and the inevitable final, complete collapse of hi-tech industrial agriculture shall be its final and worst failure. The GM cult is designed to induce and force humanity to remain shackled to this sinking ship until we’re all engulfed by famine. That’s what the GMO regime is designed to do, nothing more or less.
We know the true and only way forward, the way of health, vibrancy, and abundance: Agroecology, a fully demonstrated science and set of practices ready for full global deployment, needing nothing but the fully renewable resources we already have, thus needing only the commitment and will to do it.
Help propagate the new and necessary ideas.
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March 6, 2017
The National Academy of Science consciously, willfully, deliberately lied about what, from the point of view of the mythology of “scientific method”, is the conflicts of interest of panelists in the body’s 2016 review of the record of GMOs. That’s in addition to the many substantive lies it told about this fraudulent, failed technology.
But this, and the open corporate funding for the group’s propaganda campaign touting the report, demonstrates the real state of science under the corporate science paradigm. Today’s scientific establishment believes, in the most literal sense of these words, that corporate profiteering interests are in fact part of science. The scientific establishment truly believes that scientific method rightly includes taking into account how a line of research can be monetized by corporations, and how the results of research can affect corporate profits. This is the ideology of the NAS, it’s the ideology of all regulatory agencies, it’s the ideology of most or all university science departments, and it’s the ideology of science writers in the mainstream media.
This doesn’t change the fact that the NAS consciously, willfully lied about what it knows is considered by almost all non-STEM people to be conflicts of interest, even though the NAS itself considers such a corporate-science combined organism to be normative.
March 3, 2017
GMO field trials are part of a power struggle among Kenyan officials. The National Biosafety Authority (NBA) gave the Kenyan Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) and the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) the go-ahead for open-air field trials of GM maize. These are publicly funded organizations which perform corporate research on the taxpayer dollar, with the product then privatized at the juncture most profitable for the corporations. The AATF is funded by the Gates Foundation, Cornell University, and USAID. The first two of these specialize in transforming public money into corporate welfare. USAID is a de jure government body explicitly dedicated to capitalist goals.
Health and environmental officials have blocked the approval on the grounds that Kenya’s existing ban on GM imports applies to field trials within the country as well. Evidently they have enough clout to force a deadlock. I’m not well enough versed in internal Kenyan politics to know the underlying issues of the power struggle, but our default always is to assume no government official has any principled objection to any GMO deployment. Our attitude toward any such delay must be to do what we can to encourage and support it but never to regress to any faith-based view of government.
The US government will be displeased. The US has been pressing Kenya to commit to the GMO campaign for many years, since the inception of its “New Alliance” plan for a “second Green Revolution in Africa”. This is a typical US-fomented “color” revolution indeed. (The “green” revolution was so-named in the 1960s in contradistinction to “red” rhetoric. It’s a Cold War propaganda term.)
(I stress, the US government, which remains the same no matter which criminal heads it up. Many people seem especially confused about that these days. But in 2009 the Obama/Clinton state department, in one of its first memos to department personnel defining the new administration’s priorities, included using US muscle to force “Government acceptance of genetically modified food and propagation of genetically modified crops” at the top of its list of the attacks it planned in Africa.)
The article says Kenya has been importing maize from Mexico and Ukraine “because of drought.” Maize yields in Kenya have been halved “because of drought.”
This is standard deceptive framing. “Drought” almost always is an artificial problem. Drought happens when a society deploys modes of cultivation and grows crop varieties which aren’t well-suited to the rainfall conditions of the region. Historically, drought was seldom a problem for traditional agriculture, and today it’s seldom a problem for agroecology, for these are designed to be diverse and resilient in the event of dry seasons. It’s only industrial commodity monoculture which is designed to be highly vulnerable to drought.
What’s more, today’s increasingly volatile rainfall patterns and periods of low rainfall are features of the climate chaos being driven most of all by that same industrial agriculture. This sector is the worst greenhouse gas emitter and by far the worst destroyer of carbon sinks.
In both these ways “drought” is a man-made, intentional crisis. And as we see here, in classic exploitation manner the drought which is driven intentionally by corporate agriculture then is used as a propaganda pretext on behalf of GMOs. These would only escalate the crisis since GMOs do nothing but escalate every pathology of corporate industrial agriculture. GMOs require even more water and synthetic fertilizer (the primary source of nitrous oxide emissions, a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide) than non-GM crops.
The solution to all these artificially and intentionally generated problems – food insecurity, drought, climate chaos, hunger – is one and the same solution, and it is the only solution. Humanity must abolish corporate agriculture and transform its food production to agroecology. Even amid such a hostile political environment agroecology is accomplishing great things already in Africa. Agroecology is a fully demonstrated science and set of practices and is ready today for full global deployment, wherever humanity has the wisdom and will to do it.
Meanwhile everyone knows the quote: Insanity/stupidity/evil is doing the same thing over and over while expecting/claiming to expect a different result. Nowhere is this more true than with GMOs.
Please propagate these pieces.
March 2, 2017
Humanity’s struggle against corporate agriculture, especially in the form of GMOs, becomes increasingly fierce around the world. One of the most critical and infamous battlegrounds is India. Here, Bt cotton is the locus of the struggle over commodification, the agronomic performance and socioeconomic character of GMOs, and this false crop’s role in history’s greatest suicide epidemic. It failed immediately for the small farmers of India and Africa. More recently it failed for the better-equipped farmers of the South. It soon will fail completely for all cotton farmers everywhere. India’s ongoing sea change against Bt cotton and against commodity cotton in general is only the tip of the iceberg. The consensus is changing. This most typical of GMOs is nearing the end of its time as a marketable product and useful propaganda item.
Bt cotton is one of the most notorious examples of how GMOs and the propaganda campaigns that tout them comprise a massive hoax and fraud on farmers and society. India’s Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture found in its 2012 report that “After the euphoria of a few initial years, Bt cotton cultivation has only added to the miseries of small and marginal farmers”. In 2014 this committee followed up with the finding that government claims of rising cotton farm income are false. Only debt and risks have risen, giving “ample proof to show that the miseries of farmers have compounded since the time they started cultivating Bt cotton”.
GMOs are a rich man’s technology. This is true of the corporations which control and distribute them, tightening their control of agriculture and food. It’s true for the farmers themselves. The only way GMOs may work temporarily as advertised is in the context of high-input industrial agriculture. GMOs require lavish external inputs and best case scenarios. They need to be supplemented heavily with irrigation, synthetic fertilizer, pesticides, and mechanization. GMO seed sellers are also sellers of agricultural poisons such as herbicides and insecticides. The corporate goal always is to maximize both seed revenue and poison sales. That’s what GMOs are designed to do. They’re very costly to grow and require either huge cash reserves or that farmers go into debt. Only rich growers who can afford these expensive inputs can have any hope of getting GM crops to perform in the field as advertised so they can turn a profit on these very expensive crops. That’s why GMOs are an abject failure everywhere they’re not propped up with massive government subsidies.
In spite of these facts, corporations and governments consistently have targeted small farmers for GMO marketing. These farmers, who comprise the great majority of food producers worldwide, lack the resources to get the crop to grow as advertised or to render it economically viable. Across the global South the pattern has always been the same. Corporations and government launch a propaganda blitz targeting small farmers, promising high returns and threatening with economic extinction those who are slow to adopt the technology. The marketing campaigns promise lower pesticide costs, more effective pesticide coverage, and higher yields and revenues. Governments promise subsidies and generous credit. Lacking independent sources of information, often following local leaders in the pay of the cartel, small farmers buy the GM seeds. The GMO corporations use every tactic, from buying seed companies to imposing contracts on seed growers and sellers to having governments offer temporary subsidies to having “unapproved” seeds outlawed, in order to drive non-GM alternatives out of the market.
The farmer pays far more for this seed with its added “technology tax”. He quickly finds he must increase fertilizer application. Pesticide savings never materialize. He must go into debt to procure the expensive inputs he now needs. His farming dependent on rainfall, he learns too late that the Bt crop needs artificial irrigation to get enough water. Pests and diseases ravage the GMO crop in a way they hadn’t with conventional crops. The harvest is poor. Meanwhile the same corporate system is dumping globalized commodity crops on the market. The harvest price plummets. The farmer is wiped out. He’s driven off his land and into a shantytown. In India, he may kill himself by drinking his own pesticide. This individual tragedy is multiplied over hundreds of thousands, millions of small farmers. These millions are economically destroyed, forcibly subject to a mass expulsion from the land, one-way tickets to the terminal slums thrust into their worn hands. These slums have sprawled out from the fringes of the Southern cities in proportion to the intensifying death grip of corporate agriculture, their inmates the cast-off human destruction of this corporate assault.
This pattern has been unbroken wherever corporate agriculture has gone. Wherever commodity cropping has prevailed its primary effect has been to destroy community farmers and drive the people off their land. GMOs reinforce and intensify every pathology of corporate industrial agriculture and especially are evil in how they aggravate this social carnage. Today the goal of corporations and governments in pushing GMOs upon small farmers is to squeeze them for every cent possible, then drive them out. For small farmers and for society as a whole, GMOs are history’s most monumental socioeconomic fraud. That’s why the 2009 International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science, and Technology for Development (IAASTD) rejected GMOs as unable to play any constructive role in the future of farming and food.
Bt cotton is the best-documented example of this pattern of fraud, failure, and human destruction. In India a human drama unequaled in history has been playing out, with millions of small farmers under economic assault by globalized agriculture. They’ve been viciously duped by Monsanto and the Indian government. They’ve been subject to a “ruthless drive to use India as a testing ground for genetically modified crops”. The story begins in the mid 1990s. Under economic pressure and in thrall to commodification propaganda, small cotton farmers began switching from their traditional diversified polycultural practices, which included intercropping with food and other crops for personal use and local sale, to monoculture based on hybrid varieties and destined for global markets. This first put them on the treadmill of rising input costs, pesticide use, and debt. According to government data, 75% of rural debt in India is from the need to purchase farming inputs. The seed dealers themselves double as moneylenders at usurious rates, thus repeating the 19th century American tragedy of impoverished sharecroppers and “the man”. The suicide epidemic is caused by this vicious circle. In Maharashtra state, ground zero of the epidemic, 2.8 million of 3.6 million farmers were in debt in 2006.
Hybrid varieties are highly vulnerable to insect pests. Each year farmers had to invest more borrowed money, time, sweat, and anguish into applying an ever more prodigious and complex mix of poisons. As if their situation wasn’t parlous enough, in 2001 the US radically stepped up the dumping of its own heavily subsidized cotton on the Indian market, causing the price to collapse. For all its cotton production, third in the world, India became a cotton importer on account of the low global price. India’s small cotton farmers were desperate.
This was the context for the commercialization of Bt cotton. It was first grown illegally in the Gujarat province starting in the late 1990s, then launched legally across the whole cotton belt in 2002. The first legal varieties were a joint project of Monsanto and its Indian subsidiary Mahyco. Farmers, trapped on the treadmill paying ever more for pesticides that worked ever more poorly, were desperate for a solution. It’s no surprise that they ardently listened when the massive Mahyco advertising blitz, bolstered with bullish government and media testimonials, promised them a Bt panacea. Bt cotton came from “magic seeds” which would solve all their problems and give them a prolific, profitable crop. It would rout pests once and for all, cost less to grow, yield better, and gross more at harvest time. Bollywood stars toured the countryside exhorting farmers to get on board. The government promised support and lenient credit.
Small farmers faced this marketing offensive with few independent sources of information. “There are no independent expert agencies in this country”, according to a 2014 panel report to the Ministry of Environment and Forests. There’s practically no one but industry and its government flunkeys to advise farmers. Because of this, the adoption of Bt cotton has had little to do with knowledge and experimentation but was mostly a social response. In a time of agricultural deskilling and economic uncertainty, farmers fell back on following a leader or following their neighbors. This environment was rich to be manipulated by Monsanto/Mahyco’s propaganda blitz.
Most Indian cotton farmers heard about Bt cotton through word of mouth, from neighbors who had been tapped by Mahyco to serve as proselytizers, or from advertising coordinated by seed dealers. In Maharashtra 79% of farmers said they’d heard of it from seed dealers. These Mahyco-licensed dealers are often also peddlers of the expensive inputs needed as accessories to Bt crops and loansharks offering the credit needed to buy this expensive apparatus.
This information problem is aggravated by the fact that Bt seeds have been highly unreliable in germination, Bt expression, and yield. This again is a function of how lavishly expensive external inputs are applied, but is also inherent to the shoddy GMO seed itself. If small farmers who are unable financially to deploy the whole input apparatus follow the lead of a local bigshot who can afford it, or believe the lies of government and industry, this is a recipe for economic self-destruction.
Throughout its history the private seed business has been about nothing but marketing, trivial “product differentiation” which even the National Academy of Sciences derided as “pseudo-varieties” representing no kind of actual improvement, destroying farmer choice through enforcing monopoly, and fiercely resisting attempts to enforce transparency and quality control. Jack Kloppenburg’s First the Seed gives an excellent historical account. Just from this historical record it was easily predictable that GMO seeds would comprise a shoddy, fraudulent product. This prediction has been borne out. Bt cotton may be the best case study of how high maintenance GM crops are, how they require a vast, exorbitantly expensive apparatus of inputs and optimal conditions in order to work as advertised, and therefore how inappropriate they are for small farmers. GMO agriculture and smallholder agriculture are antithetical and cannot “co-exist”, to use the GM cartel’s favored propaganda term. Any assertion or advertisement to the contrary is perpetrating a hoax and a fraud. It’s a Nuremburg level crime. As is Monsanto’s aggressive campaign to impose a near-monopoly on cotton seed in India.
The lies were aggressive and virulent from the start and remain so to this day. “Bollgard protects you! Less spraying, more profit! Bollgard cotton seed: the power to conquer insects!”, blared an early poster. “Our products provide constant and significant benefits to both large- and small-holder growers. In many cases farmers are able to grow higher quality and better-yielding crops.” That’s from Monsanto’s “Pledge Report” for 2006, which was the exact time it was rolling out Bollgard II with two Bt toxins. This was in response to the collapse of the original Bollgard on account of bollworm resistance to its single toxin. Clearly the only “constants” are the ever-escalating pesticide treadmill, the ever-rising Tower of Babel as GMOs have to incorporate more and more stacked poisons, and Monsanto’s revenue from this business model of captive markets and planned obsolescence. The other constants are the vicious circles of farmer struggles, debt, misery, exodus from the land and into slums, and suicide. And the lies march on, as the Advertising Standards Council found when it recently flagged Monsanto-Mahyco’s campaign for falsely claiming “Bollgard boosts Indian cotton farmers’ income by over Rs.31,500 crores” (over 315 billion rupees, which is around $4.725 billion as I’m writing this but was much more at the time).
Taking advantage of Indian cotton farmers’ parlous economic circumstance and their lack of information, the propaganda campaigns worked. In spite of the unprecedented high price of the seeds, farmers began planting Bt cotton. By the time they realized the debt and monopoly trap they were in, it was too late. The result has been a disaster.
We’ll survey in detail the real world performance of Bt cotton in India. This is in contrast to the “studies” of Monsanto flacks like Matin Qaim, much touted in the corporate media. Qaim, who barely set foot outside the Mahyco greenhouses and field test sites during his few visits to India (he’s based in Germany), simply propagates corporate-asserted numbers based on secret data from the corporate trials. There’s no reason to trust these numbers in the first place, and even if they were true they’d be valid only for the ivory tower conditions of the trial sites. Either way these figures have zero validity for real world agriculture of any sort, let alone that practiced by small farmers. Yet this person is the main “scientific” source for the corporate media and pro-GMO activists everywhere. Since we can assume Monsanto provides the best flackery it can, in dismissing Qaim we can dismiss the entire pro-Bt “side of the story” as fraudulent and invalid. Now let’s move on to what reality testifies.
*In reality Bt cotton never improved yields. Data compiled by government and trade groups tells a stark story: The great bulk of the yield increase (measured by nationwide average kilograms per hectare) of the commodity cotton era in India occurred from the 2000-01 to the 2004-05 seasons, at which point only 5.6% of cotton acreage was planted to Bt varieties. During the Bt acreage surge from 2005-06 (18% of cotton acreage) to 2008-09 (84%) yield increased only a slight amount, then stagnated and declined. In the ensuing years as Bt acreage crept up above 90%, yields have declined. Overall, yield increased 70% from 2000-01 to 2004-05 when Bt acreage was negligible, and increased only 2% from 2005-06 to 2011-12, with a decline since the 2007-08 peak.
This proves that the entire increase was from other causes and had nothing to do with the GMO. The real cotton yield surge came from the switch from traditional polyculture-based cotton farming to hybrid monoculture deploying massive, expensive inputs – irrigation, fertilizer, pesticides. This is only monocultural yield, not food for people or farmer income. “Yield” by itself is a crackpot measure with no inherent meaning. It can have meaning only within some socioeconomic, political, or environmental context.
In fact almost the entire yield increase came from improvements in conventional hybrids and expanded irrigation. As for pesticides, Keshav Kranthi of the Central Institute of Cotton Research (CICR) scoffs at the notion that Bt crops can hold their own. On the contrary, he attributes the viability of any kind of hybrid cotton, Bt or conventional, versus a wide range of what from the Bt point of view are secondary pests (Bt cotton’s target pest is the bollworm; secondary pests include whiteflies, jassids/leafhoppers, mealy bugs, mirid bugs, thrips, stink bugs, and many others), to the standard seed treatment with the neonicotinoid imidacloprid. This too is a deadly poison we need to abolish, and jassids increasingly are resistant to it. Therefore, to the extent poisons contribute to yield at all, this non-GM poison is far more important than genetically engineered Bt. The great increase in the years of low Bt acreage and stagnation of the years of Bt domination prove that this GMO offers no yield benefit whatsoever and is actually inferior to conventional cotton hybrids.
These numbers, damning as they are, actually exaggerate GMO performance since they’re skewed by the relatively better results from Gujarat state. Gujarat is an outlier in that its agriculture is dominated by fewer, bigger, richer farmers than is typical in other states. Gujarat is far better served by irrigation projects and fertilizer subsidies. Its more capital-rich farmers can better afford the expensive inputs Bt cotton requires. The better Bt cotton production in this state therefore confirms the thesis that GMOs work only for rich growers who can afford lavish outlays for irrigation, fertilizer, and pesticides. Take Gujarat out of the equation and Bt’s performance for small farmers across the cotton belt has been dismal and worsening.
Besides its overall poor yield, Bt cotton (and Bt crops in general, everywhere on earth) has performed in an extremely variable way. There have been several regional crop failures, most recently in Karnataka in 2014. In general the national and state averages obscure extreme local variability. As a rule, how the GM crop will perform is a crapshoot and will vary from farmer to farmer. Seed quality is often poor and Bt expression in the crop is highly variable. Is this caused by the chaotically modified genetics, by agronomic factors like watering levels or soil quality, by environmental factors like temperature? Who knows? No government or corporation has ever studied this in Bt cotton. Not Monsanto, not the US government, not the Indian government, no one. An independent study of Bt expression in GM maize, however, found great variation depending on climatic conditions. We see how climate chaos driven by the corporate system is intended to maximize the chaos of all aspects of agriculture, right down to the performance of the corporate flagship product.
At the farm level, Bt cotton intrinsically yields less than conventional hybrids. Given high inputs it may have better operational yield for the first few years until the bollworms develop resistance. Given the low inputs which comprise the limit for indebted small farmers, Bt always yields much less, along with many acute failures. Yields have always been far less, often by more than half, than what Monsanto’s advertising promised. Poor yields continue to this day. The meager overall numbers conceal a vast number of individual tragedies.
For the individual farmer, growing Bt cotton is like “playing Russian roulette in order to get out of poverty”, as Nassim Taleb put it regarding civilization and GMOs as a whole.
*Here’s a good place to add a critical point. While the individual small farmer crushed by commodity agriculture is often impoverished, the opposite is true of agriculture as a whole. Here we’re talking about cotton, which isn’t directly a food although the seeds are pressed into oil which is used in processed foods. Nevertheless in any discussion of GMO yields we must always stress the fact that industrial agriculture produces far more than enough food for everyone on earth today, and more than enough even for the highest future population projections. The fact is that there’s zero problem with the quantity of food produced, today or at any time in the future for as long as industrial agriculture persists. (It won’t for much longer. Humanity must transform to agroecology and food sovereignty if we want to continue eating.) Therefore there’s zero need to increase yields in order to “feed the world”. Feed the World is a classical Big Lie. The world currently produces enough food for 10 billion people, yet of the 7 billion here, one billion go hungry (and another 2 billion suffer from dietary diseases such as malnutrition or obesity, often both at the same time). This is caused purely by pathological economic and political systems for maldistributing the cornucopia we have. For example, India has vast food stocks, indeed it allows vast amounts of stockpiled food to rot, yet 250 million go hungry. The problem, today and tomorrow, is 100% from corporate maldistribution, 0% from insufficient production. It’ll be a great leap forward for civilization when we can completely purge the “Feed the World” notion from rational and moral discussion as the criminal Big Lie it is.
*Perhaps the core lie Monsanto-Mahyco and the Indian government told cotton farmers is that Bt cotton is suitable for rainfed cultivation. In reality Bt cotton is dependent upon artificial irrigation. In fact Bt cotton requires as much as twice the water needed by conventional hybrids and cannot be effectively grown without expensive artificial irrigation. The vast majority (70%) of India’s farmers depend completely upon rainfall. In Karnataka state where yields collapsed in 2014, most cotton cultivation is rainfed. Gujarat is the exception again, reversing the proportions of irrigated (65%) and rainfed (35%) farms. Here the irrigated area has accounted for 84% of the state’s cotton production, 689 lint kg/ha, while the rainfed area produces only 247 kg/ha. That’s a typical yield difference between Bt cotton grown with irrigation vs. rainfall.
To try to sell Bt cotton, or any GMO, to a rain-dependent farmer is criminal fraud. Investigative journalist PJ Sainath went further – “promoting [Bt cotton] in a dry and unirrigated area like Vidarbha [ground zero for the cotton farmer suicide epidemic] was murderous. It was stupid. It was killing.”
*Another core lie is that the Bt technology can be a permanent panacea against insect pests. On the contrary, Monsanto knew from the start that pests would develop resistance to any Bt toxin just as they do with any other pesticide. This is elementary knowledge of how evolution works. Monsanto built the planned obsolescence of each GMO variety and its being superceded by ever more complex and expensive “stacked” varieties into its business strategy. They called this marketing plan “expanded trait penetration”. But in the early 2000s Monsanto was promising the opposite, that single trait Bt cotton would maintain its potency versus the bollworm indefinitely.
Farmers who believed the lies were quickly disabused. Overall there was never a real decline in pesticide use in Indian cotton farming. Indeed, nationally pesticide use went up 10% during the peak years of Bt expansion. This was despite the increased use of lower-volume, higher-toxicity poisons during these years. In some regions Bt may have used less pesticide than conventional hybrids for the first few years, with a difference range from minuscule to significant. It’s a function of how much water and fertilizer the crop gets. (As always, every possible agronomic benefit of a GMO is dependent upon lavish and expensive artificial inputs. To spend less on pesticides you need to spend more on water and fertilizer.) Any temporary relief also depends upon high-quality trait expression. But many varieties are inconsistent, shoddy, or just fraudulent. There’s never a lasting decline. After four years at most the pesticide use and cost equals out. A few more years and Bt cotton needs more applied pesticides than non-GM conventional cotton. In terms of aggregate poison use and environmental and health hazards all the numbers comprise a false accounting because they don’t account for the Bt endotoxins themselves. But these too are pesticides and must be counted as such.
Meanwhile all commodity cotton, even Bt cotton, always needs sprayed and seed-treated pesticide since cotton is attacked by the widest array of insect types. In the case of anti-bollworm Bt cotton, secondary pests quickly move in to fill any temporary void left where the Bt toxin has temporarily killed the target pest. As I mentioned above, according to the CICR’s Kranthi without neonic seed treatments Bt cotton would be routed by whiteflies, jassids, mirids, aphids, thrips, and many others. As Monsanto’s own propaganda often emphasized, Bt adoption has to be put in the context of the failure of earlier pesticides. Since the same companies propagate both kinds of poisons, applied and GMO endemic, it’s obvious that the poison treadmill culminating in stacked Bt poisons is planned obsolescence, a form of disaster capitalism.
In some cases the Bt cotton never worked against the target bollworms at all. In every case bollworms developed resistance within a few years. In 2006 Monsanto introduced Bollgard II containing two Bt toxins, the original Cry1AC plus Cry2AB, thus admitting that the original Bollgard no longer worked. Bollworms have since developed resistance to Cry2AB. This is standard for the GMO pesticide treadmill.
The result of all this has been that farmers found any reduced-pesticide dividend to be minimal and temporary at best. While pesticide use and cost may have declined by a small amount at first, within a few years these were back to pre-Bt levels. Today Bt cotton farmers have to spend more on pesticides than farmers growing non-GM conventional hybrids. And to correct the false accounting again, the great expense of Bt seeds has to be entered as a pesticide cost, since farmers are purchasing the Bt endotoxins the crops allegedly will produce.
This ongoing pesticide disaster of insurgent secondary pests, resistant target pests, and soaring pesticide use and costs has reached new levels of infamy since 2015, as Bollgard II is collapsing in the face of resistant bollworms even as secondary whiteflies decimate the crop in many states. There’s a rising consensus among Indian farmers, agronomists, and even officials that the Bt cotton experiment has been a disaster India needs to purge.
*As Monsanto flooded the market with its seeds it pressured seed growers and sellers to stop producing and offering non-GM seeds. Monsanto calls this tactic “seed replacement”. Once enough farmers had adopted Bt cotton and GM seeds had attained a dominant market position Monsanto jacked up the price to astronomical levels. Here too there has been great variation over time and across regions, but distilling from many sources tells us that seed prices soared to 2-10 times as much as the price of non-GM hybrids. Prices have run from 700-2000 rupees per packet. For contrast, the original Desi varieties cost 5-10 rupees a packet. The bulk of this price explosion is Monsanto’s technology tax. By one estimate, by spring 2014 Monsanto had extracted 5000 crore in taxes (50 billion rupees; c. $810 million in contemporary dollars) from Indian cotton farmers. Imagine what this wealth could have accomplished if Indian society had invested in agroecological food production instead of throwing it down a corporate commodification rathole.
This extremely high priced seed input and accompanying tax is unique to the GMO varieties and therefore piles a new burden on the backs of already beleaguered farmers.
Various Indian state governments and some central government officials have made half-hearted attempts to relieve the crisis. In 2005 the government of Andhra Pradesh banned three Monsanto-Mahyco varieties for poor performance and sought in vain to force Mahyco to compensate farmers. In 2006 the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission (MRTPC) issued an anti-monopoly pricing order against Monsanto-Mahyco, which Mahyco has done all it can to flout. The central government in 2008 as well as the state governments of Maharashtra in 2008, Maharashtra again in 2011 and 2012, and Karnataka in 2014 undertook regional farmer bailouts in response to atrocious Bt performance and crop failures. At various times Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka have banned Mahyco seeds for bad performance and fraudulent sales practices. But these ad hoc, piecemeal measures have been utterly insufficient. In 2016, even as Karnataka geared up for its second farmer bailout, the Indian central government ordered price caps on cotton seed and the tax Monsanto imposes on the seeds. The government also threatened to revoke the Monsanto’s Bollgard II patent on the grounds that the product is a failure and a fraud.
The result of these escalating input costs has been that Bt cotton is considerably more expensive to grow than non-GM hybrids. At the same time cotton prices forcibly have been depressed and kept low by US dumping of heavily subsidized cotton. The result is that even for the best-equipped farms, Bt cotton’s profit margin is razor-thin, worse than for non-GM conventional. For small farmers, it’s a wipeout. It’s near impossible for them to do anything but lose even more and sink deeper into debt each year.
As all this has been going on India’s conventional agricultural credit structure, based on nationalized banks and lenient payment terms (obviously the right way for society to handle its food producers if it’s to force them to incur debt at all, which of course it should not), has been gutted by the same globalization process which has driven first monoculture hybrid commodification and then Bt commercialization. As a result farmers have been forced to turn to usurious “microlenders” and the seed and poison dealers themselves who often double as loansharks. This sinks them even deeper in the quicksand.
Around the world this pattern has held everywhere, from the richest countries like the US and Australia (both suffered yield declines and subsequent reduced Bt plantings during the drought of 2013) to Asia to Latin America. In Argentina the same pattern of partial but fleeting success for wealthy growers, failure and bankruptcy for small farmers, prevailed. The Colombian government fined Monsanto for the awful performance of its Bt cotton seeds. It was the same story: for small farmers Bt cotton didn’t perform well against pests, didn’t reduce pesticide use or costs, yielded poorly.
Returning to Asia, Chinese production, long afflicted by the secondary mirid bug, is suffering from surging bollworm resistance. Chinese problems with Bt cotton aren’t new. A 2006 Chinese/Cornell study already documented the standard pattern: Seven years of Chinese Bt cotton cultivation had seen a temporary decline in pesticide use and rise in income, then the surge of secondary pests drove farmers back to spraying as much as 20 times a year. Soon they were paying more for pesticides and making less money than non-GM conventional farmers. In Pakistan pesticide use and costs are rising steeply on account of the rampant fraud and the generally dismal performance of the seeds against pests. In Africa’s Burkino Faso farmer success or failure with Bt cotton has been a function of farmer access to credit on rational terms and the ability of farmers to pay for expensive inputs.
African cotton farmers, like the small farmers of India, are especially devastated by US dumping of its heavily subsidized cotton. The same US government which touts GMOs around the world as a great bet for small farmers is ruthlessly dumping its corporate welfare crops on the heads of those same farmers like hot coals. China and the EU also subsidize cotton.
Second to the Indian debacle, the most infamous Bt cotton rollout was the abortive deployment in the Makhathini Flats region of South Africa from the latter 1990s to 2005. In Makhathini, the neoliberal government deployed the same kind of propaganda campaign, promised loans and subsidies, told the same high-flying lies. This propaganda was directed at the international community and world media at least as much as at Makhathini’s farmers. (The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization bit. Its 2004 State of Food and Agriculture (SOFA) report swallowed the lies whole and has been a favorite citation of corporate and media flacks to this day.) The seed cartel enlisted local leaders to attest to the alleged benefits of Bt cotton. Economically beleaguered small farmers responded by adopting the Bt technology with the same result as in India – increased costs, crop failure, the poison treadmill, the debt trap, ending in their being driven off the land. Some were able to stick around as laborers on land they’d once stewarded. Most survivors abandoned cotton completely. By the late 1990s over 90% of Makhathini cotton farmers had adopted Bt varieties. By 2004 drought (lack of irrigation), pesticide costs (secondary pests and then target resistance), depressed cotton prices (US dumping), and impossible debt had caused most farmers to abandon cotton completely.
The worldwide evidence record of the agronomic and environmental performance of Bt cotton has been the same everywhere. It has always led to failure and disaster for small farmers. The fact that Monsanto, governments, academia, and the media continue to hype Bt cotton as appropriate for small farmers constitutes one of history’s ultimate frauds. It “works” for no one but the destructive, parasitic elites who profit off it and use it to exert ever greater control over agriculture. By Nuremburg standards it’s a crime against humanity.
From this history we see how Bt cotton has aggravated the poison/debt agronomic treadmill and economic trap which enclose small farmers in hopelessness and misery, to the point that in the end their only avenues of escape are suicide or to flee the land for the terminal shantytown slums. Bt cotton has turned an agricultural crisis into a catastrophe.
This result was no accident, nor was it unforeseen. On the contrary, it’s simply an escalation of standard “green revolution” phenomena: The replacement of food-based (or in this case textile-based) agriculture with a poison and commodity basis; the enclosure and concentration of agricultural power and profitability on an elitist basis; the forced mass expulsion of the people from the land. The fact that government, corporate, academic, and media elites touted Bt cotton to small farmers knowing it could lead only to their destruction comprises a great crime against humanity. The same is true of all GMO deployment.
It’s clear that Bt cotton is a product which, where it works at all, works only for a brief period and only where supplemented by an expensive, cumbersome apparatus of artificial inputs. Like all other GMOs, it’s an extremely high maintenance hothouse flower. Industrial agriculture as such is highly destructive, wasteful, and unsustainable. GMOs represent an escalation of all the worst aspects of corporate industrial agriculture while conferring no benefits. As a whole GMOs are the extreme manifestation of a backward, economically cramping, agronomically destructive, retrograde technology and mindset. Collectively GMOs are a hoax and a fraud, and most of all where touted for small farmers. The goal of marketing GMOs to small farmers is to destroy them economically and drive them off the land so that large-scale corporate industrial plantations can more “efficiently” enclose and monopolize agriculture. In First the Seed Jack Kloppenburg discusses how the corporations faced barriers to the full commodification of farming itself (as opposed to the system of agricultural inputs and processing). Here we see the answer: One of the basic purposes of GMOs is to drive up the costs of farming to the point that it becomes economically impossible for small independent farmers to exist. Bt cotton provides one of the best case studies.
In fact, the failure of Bt cotton and the great fraud it incarnates are typical of the insecticidal and herbicide tolerant GMOs in general. These essentially are the only two types of GMOs. Both are literally poison plants. They’re engineered to produce their own endemic Bt insecticide and/or to tolerate copious slatherings of herbicide, usually Monsanto’s Roundup. The herbicide is taken into the crop itself and suffuses all its cells. Therefore GMOs add two completely new, massive, indelible presences of extreme poison in our food.
In both cases the poison treadmill and the business strategy of planned obsolescence are fully operational. Except for a few trivial exceptions like the small and declining acreage of MON810 cultivation in Spain, no single-trait Bt maize variety has been effective for years. They’ve been replaced by stacked varieties which produce as many as six Bt toxins. Varieties which produce even more are in the pipeline, as pest resistance escalates and accelerates. Meanwhile the Roundup Ready GMO regime no longer works, as over a dozen glyphosate resistant superweeds rampage across North America, Brazil, and elsewhere. The only solution the system offers is to stack herbicide tolerances. Monsanto originally touted Roundup Ready GMOs as rendering even more toxic poisons like 2,4-D and dicamba obsolete while glyphosate (the main ingredient of Roundup though not the only actively toxic ingredient) would never suffer weed resistance.
Today Roundup Ready is in ruins, and the cartel and governments are pushing GMOs tolerant of the exact same ultra-toxic 2,4-D and dicamba which those same corporations and governments promised us would be a thing of the past if we just believed them about Roundup Ready. The results with each of these shall be exactly the same total failure, but with even worse socioeconomic, agronomic, environmental, and health destruction wrought along the way. This is why the Technical Expert Committee appointed by India’s supreme court to advise it on GMOs recommended, among several other important restrictions, that herbicide tolerant GMOs never be commercialized because of how badly they would aggravate the ongoing socioeconomic carnage by wiping out vast numbers of agricultural laborers. Economically, herbicide tolerant crops are meant to be standard “labor-saving”, job-destroying devices. They’re also designed to save time so the farmer can expand his acreage, thus feeding the classical vicious circle of agricultural overproduction and trying to “make it up on volume”. This of course also adds to the Get Big or Get Out pressure.
We can see how both the insecticidal and herbicide tolerance genres as a whole are massive frauds of the exact same character as Bt cotton. Bt cotton just provides the most clear example of how GMOs as such comprise a monumental fraud and crime.
GMOs are worthless, wasteful, counterproductive, and destructive. They impose a severe constraint and bottleneck on all attempts to innovate and advance in agriculture, farming, and food. They are designed and intended to drive out all small and independent producers and, through attaining total corporate control of agriculture and food, impose such a strangulation grip on the throat of humanity that we’ll never break free.
GMOs must be completely abolished.
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February 17, 2017
The program to breed a commercially deployable version of “golden rice” continues its perfect record of failure. In the latest screw-up, an attempt to back-cross a GM rice variety with a conventional Indian variety resulted in a crop with reduced yield, stunted growth, and growth abnormalities.
The authors of the new study documenting this result blame the effects on transgenic interference with the plant’s growth hormones. Worse, the transgene is fully active not just in the rice grains as “intended”, but in the leaves as well. This resulted in reduced photosynthetic ability.
These visible effects had not manifested in the GM variety. Therefore the engineers assumed the transgenic effect was “stable”, and that this stability of transgenic effect could be taken for granted throughout the process of back-crossing the transgene into the Swarma variety, perfecting this Indian version of golden rice, increasing the seed, and commercially deploying it.
This is typical of how GMOs are developed. The entire process, from tissue culture to seed increase, focuses only on whether the crop visibly seems to meet commercial standards. That’s the full extent of the quality control and safety testing. It’s the same as how all alleged safety tests in the lab really have been tests of nothing but whether CAFO inmates can reach their slaughter weight being fed grain from the crop. This and similar industrial parameters comprise the sum total of the “safety tests” performed by corporations, accepted by regulators, and touted by regulators and media. The same paradigm applies to agronomic testing. Therefore it’s no surprise that under new conditions, conditions not as controlled as the laboratory greenhouse, GMOs often break out with completely unexpected deficiencies, sicknesses, and crop failures. This is especially true under real world agronomic conditions.
Michael Antoniou commented that this latest GMO failure is probably yet another example of the pathology of the GM insertion process. “The GM transformation process as used in the development of GMO crops selects for the insertion of the GM gene into active regions of the genome (areas where plant host genes are switched on and functioning). This bias in the GM gene insertion into active regions therefore maximises the possibility of disrupting the function of one or more host genes, with potentially adverse effects such as poor crop performance or even toxicity.” In order for the GM process to work the transgene must be inserted into the most active part of the recipient genome, and the gene cassette usually includes an epigenetic component called a “promoter” which keeps the transgene turned on to maximum expression mode at all times. Therefore the entire development and deployment process selects for maximum effects of the transgene, both the advertised effects as well as the unheralded ones.
Evolution crafted our genomes in an exquisitely nuanced way, including a complex orchestration of notes, volumes, and rests for all genetic elements. Genetic engineering, being a very stupid, imprecise, blunt-force tool, is incapable of any kind of nuance whatsoever, and engineers have always had a fundamental contempt for complex systems which reflects the limitations of their own minds. Their only tool isn’t even a hammer but a caveman’s club. That’s why they loathe evolution and its works and yearn so fervently to subjugate evolution to the brute force simplifications of their concepts and engineering processes. That’s why they’re congenitally incapable of comprehending the fact that nature works, genetic engineering does not. And that’s why they carry their evolution denial to the extreme of wanting to leap over all the evolutionary tests and safeguards of competition, space, and time, to deploy their shoddy, half-baked, failure prone product as completely across the entire planet as possible, and completely to eradicate as much of non-GM agricultural biodiversity and wild biodiversity as possible. It’s a fundamentalist hatred of evolution, of nature, of life itself.
The effects of this have always been well known to all. Contrary to the standard lie, genetic engineering has zero in common with conventional breeding and disavows all principles of sound breeding. Unlike conventional breeding, unlike conventional sexual reproduction, this technological evasion of sex generates an artificially hyper-active section of the genome which can generate severe unpredicted effects at any time. (CRISPR “gene editing” is designed to render this genetic chaos far more severe.)
The crisis points especially occur wherever there’s a discrete change in circumstances, as in the case of this golden rice back-crossing project. Such crisis points occur often in the real world, amid the general environment, wherever GMOs are commercially deployed. These real world crisis points will become far more common as the climate chaos driven by corporate industrial agriculture becomes more intense. As Antoniou points out, this breeding blunder goes to show that any golden rice variety, if released so that it can cross with non-GM varieties, may cause general rice crop failures and endanger harvests over vast regions. (Rice has moderate cross-pollination, and GM contamination has been rife in China where Bt rice was widely if illicitly released.) And yet certain smug, racist Westerners, even among “GMO critics”, have seen fit to lecture Philipino farmers about how uncivil it was for them to tear up a golden rice field trial in 2013.
We must stress that there is nothing at all “unintended” about these effects. The effects of genetic engineering are grossly unpredictable, but this unpredictability is known and embraced ahead of time. “Unpredictable” has nothing conceptually in common with “unintended.” We can compare the typical operations of poison-based agriculture to spinning a roulette wheel where the various colors and numbers indicate various chaotic effects, many of them to be a surprise. Which number will come up is unpredictable, but one spins the wheel with full malice aforethought, full intent to trigger the chaos.
Genetic engineers and breeders involved in developing GM crops for commercial release have full knowledge of their inability to predict anything, therefore they intend chaotic results, just as they do with their broader mandate to drive climate change and pump as much synthetic poison into ecosystems as possible. The pro-GMO activists simply lie about all this when they make any claim to “precision” or predictability. No one who wanted stable, predictable results would still be working with genetic engineering. Where it comes to our food, agriculture, and environment, we’re not just spinning the roulette wheel. We’re playing Russian roulette, as Black Swan author Nassim Taleb put it.
Therefore I recommend to anyone interested in conceptual and terminological discipline that we discard the whole false notion of “unintended” effects of GMOs, pesticides, climate change, etc. This is factually wrong and morally far too lenient. Chaos is the predictable effect of genetic engineering, therefore the pro-GM activists intend chaos. That’s one of the purposes of this massive uncontrolled human feeding experiment, to log the unpredictable effects of the globally promiscuous deployment of GMOs in the environment and diet. They premeditate the chaos so they can hope someday to understand it, toward vastly more far-reaching eugenic goals. As a US mayor once said following a police riot, in a profound slip, “The policeman is there to preserve disorder.”
And what if golden rice ever were to overcome the incompetence of its designers and actually “worked” to the point it could be deployed commercially? Like every other technological dodge, and like every other element of corporate agriculture, it would only increase hunger and aggravate the very malnutrition diseases it’s allegedly being designed to treat.
This is because golden rice, like all other forms of “improved seed”, is designed for industrial monoculture commodity agriculture in a globalization framework. Therefore in addition to the special contamination problems golden rice presents, it would make the standard contribution to corporate agriculture’s general destruction of soil, environment, farmers and communities, and the standard contribution to increasing hunger and malnutrition.
What’s the real market for a commercialized golden rice, beyond some token food aid shipments paid for by taxpayers? I suppose it could become an ingredient in “biofortified” processed foods, similar to enriched and fortified breakfast cereals. But how could it ever actually do the thing it’s allegedly supposed to do, provide vitamin A to impoverished people suffering from deficiency disease? How are the people who need it supposed to pay for it? The reason they suffer the night blindness symptom is that they can’t afford real foods containing vitamin A like green, yellow, and orange vegetables. The reason they have no money to pay for these is the same reason they can’t grow real food themselves: They were driven off their land by the same corporate agriculture now offering this techno-solution in exchange for the same money these people don’t have.
It’s clear that “golden rice” has always been a media hoax. After nearly twenty years of hype the thing doesn’t exist in deployable form and there’s no evidence it ever will be worked into such a form. Nor is there any evidence that there’s any system intent truly to deploy it, since it’s very hard to see what the commercial market is. Unless the plan is for Western taxpayers to pay for the whole production and distribution shebang, 100% corporate welfare for Syngenta and the rice commodifiers. It’s true that each individual corporation contemplates the taxpayers as an infinitely deep trough. But how much longer can they all maximize their gorging?
Far worse, golden rice is a core part of the overall “Feed the World” hoax. Corporate agriculture causes hunger, drives hunger, maximizes hunger. It can never do otherwise, nor can any element of it do otherwise. Just like every other product of corporate industrial agriculture, golden rice is designed to cause malnutrition, it’s designed to cause hunger. It’s designed to force ever more people into the trap where they have no money, can get no money, and yet need money to get food.
Night blindness resulting from vitamin A deficiency has one and only one cause: Corporate agriculture destroys food production, drives people off their land, requires them to use money it denies them the ability to get, and leaves them to sicken and starve. Golden rice, like every other technological solution, every other alleged “silver bullet”, represents no alternative to this hunger-mongering paradigm. On the contrary golden rice, and GMOs as such, represent nothing but the escalation of this destructive system. GMOs stand for nothing but disease, hunger, starvation, famine. They’re designed to make all of these worse. This design is intentional. And in this case the effect is 100% predictable.
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December 19, 2016
Here’s the latest in the long line of proofs that the FDA’s “substantial equivalence” dogma has never been anything but a pure lie, from the very first day it was conceived (in the 1980s by a joint agrochemical cartel/FDA think tank). This is a core part of the proof that there is no such thing as a “science” of genetic engineering, but rather nothing but brute force hit-or-miss empiricism coupled with ideological lies masquerading as scientific theory.
This isn’t the first time Roundup Ready maize (aka NK603, the GMO which was the subject of the 2012 Seralini study) has been found to have major genomic and chemical differences from the non-GM isogenic equivalent. In fact ALL GMOs which have been subject to such comparative studies, including many of the most widely deployed – RR soy, Bt11, RR canola, MON810, MON863, etc. – have been proven to have such genotype and phenotype differences, many of these involving potential toxins. (See the “No GE Science” link above for links to these studies.)
And yet these kinds of differences, which are discovered by genomic, proteomic, and/or metabolite comparisons, significant as they are, are secondary compared to the self-evident, massive difference between a crop variety which expresses its own insecticide in every cell vs. one which does not, and a variety which has every cell suffused with herbicide vs. one which does not. Therefore it was self-evident from day one that “substantial equivalence” was an absurd lie. The fact that the US and EU governments and international bodies like the WHO and FAO went blithely ahead in propagating this absurdity is stark testament to how literally insane the institutions of modern civilization have become. It’s impossible to look for simple sanity, let alone any kind of real transformation, within such a madhouse.
To this day, in all seasons, rain or shine, Democrat or Republican administration (GMOs and pesticides comprise a bipartisan assault), the FDA continues as world leader proselytizing for what it has always known is a criminal lie.
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November 15, 2016
(Perhaps some poetic exaggeration in that headline. But if we are to have a rigorous definition of a scientist, this must include the fraternity’s own criterion of speaking “as a scientist” only within the bounds of one’s formal discipline, and clearly stipulating where one speaks purely as an opinionated layman. That, of course, is always the case with STEM-credentialed pro-GMO activists, as I demonstrated in this classic piece.)
Besides the other things wrong with the pro-GMO activists – the fact that they’re liars in everything they say, that they’re corrupt to the core, that they’re factually wrong on every single point – it can’t be stressed enough that every time “scientists” publicly comment on pesticides and GMOs (and many other things), they’re proving they’re not scientists at all, but just typically stupid and ignorant blowhards. Just to cite the example of the ringleader of the “Nobel laureates” (as it pleases GMWatch still to call them) who signed a Syngenta manifesto on behalf of the golden rice hoax, Richard Roberts is not a scientist or an expert in any way relevant to almost any discussion of golden rice or GMOs as such. He’s a pure ignoramus and idiot who has zero credentials or knowledge of agriculture, ecology, economics, history, or political theory, yet who specializes in pontificating about these while the media fraudulently depicts him as some kind of expert on these subjects. See here for another typical example of alleged “scientists” (the AAAS), an NGO (Pew), and the media collaborating to propagate a massive intellectual fraud by fraudulently representing ignorant and corrupt laymen as “scientists”. Roberts, of course, is not a scientist but a profiteering biotech subsidy-miner, and is simply talking his book.
If there’s to be such a thing as a real anti-GMO movement, this movement needs systematically to discredit and de-legitimize the so-called scientific establishment, which we know is nothing but a propaganda front. We must systematically apply the standard that anyone who claims to uphold the credentialist principle is automatically being anti-science the moment he claims to speak with authority on any subject which is not part of his formal credential. We must publicly assert this standard at every opportunity.
(Meanwhile, ironically, for anyone who actually does care about science, Roberts is one of those who in his actual scientific work has debunked the entire theoretical basis of genetic engineering and beanbag genetics as such by contributing to the demonstration of how chaotic the genetic functioning really is. The fact that as a lying hack ideologue he misrepresents his own scientific work says it all about his absolute lack of integrity.)
“If Only the Czar Knew!” To toss in a related point, I’ve noticed people trying to exonerate pollsters for their rather poor performance in projecting the outcome of the plebiscite. They blame the media for dumbing down the intricacy of the statistical forecasts, the public for not reading the fine print, etc.
Now let’s get this straight. No one propagates the cult of any group of “experts” more relentlessly than the experts themselves. The mainstream media just follows the experts’ lead. As it must, since the media receives all its propaganda themes from the experts themselves. The most inveterate and reckless popularizers are always the experts themselves. The worst scientism wingnuts are the scientists themselves. The most demented theologians of engineering are the engineers themselves. The most arrogant pomposities of the economist priesthood are spewed by the economists themselves. And no one touts the infallibility of the polls more disingenuously than the pollsters themselves. The whole business of blaming things on the media, on popularizers, and of course on the people themselves, is just another version of “if only the czar knew.” But anyone who knows history knows that the most radical, aggressive, insane part of the autocracy is always the autocrat himself. And so it is with the many cults of the “experts” currently afflicting humanity like a plague. Here most of all we need the vaccine and the purgative.
October 29, 2016
Dannon says it will expand its purchase of dairy products from suppliers who use non-GM feed. One of the most crucial campaigns of the Food Sovereignty movement for the near future is to expand the economic space for non-GM animal feed. Therefore such programs on the part of food manufacturers are helpful, and this is obviously a promising line of action for campaigners, to pressure and encourage manufacturers to help themselves by breaking free of Monsanto’s stranglehold. Along with retailers, manufacturers are more directly affected by citizen and consumer pressure than the agribusiness sector. Everyone, including the food manufacturers, knows that GMOs benefit literally no one but Monsanto and the biotech sector. They do nothing but impose a massive tax and vast harms on everyone else and society as a whole.
Monsanto is orchestrating a campaign of pressure and propaganda. Its captive industrial “farm” groups led by the so-called “US Farmers and Ranchers Alliance”, and including industrial lobby groups for non-food commodity corn, soy, and sugar beets, sent a letter to Dannon trying to intimidate it into reversing its policy. None of these groups has anything to do with farming, rather they are front groups orchestrating propaganda, lobbying, and pressure on farmers to comply with corporate directives. Ironically the letter lays out clearly what these lackeys fear and the rest of the world wants, that such manufacturer programs will lead to a “tipping point” away from GM cultivation and toward non-GM conventional and organic. The usual bottom-feeders in the corporate media, such as the article included in the link above, are boosting the letter. As always, the hacks have literally nothing but the most tawdry, shallow, thousand-times-disproven lies.
This incident gives insight into three things.
1. It shows in action the Poisonism-dominated propaganda structure including how the USDA imposes a tax on all producers and consumers of meat and dairy products, the revenue from which is then placed at the disposal of the biggest agribusiness corporations to run propaganda campaigns of their own design. This mandatory “checkoff” program is proof that the USDA is nothing but the thug and lackey of Monsanto, Cargill, ADM and other giant commodity sellers.
2. It once against demonstrates Monsanto’s basic Mafia attitude and its preference for gangster tactics. A buyer is having doubts about your product and exploring competing options? The answer of course isn’t to improve your own product, but to try to strong-arm him into continuing to buy from you. This gangsterism has always been Monsanto’s preferred course of action, although to be fair we must admit that since GMOs have zero redeeming qualities and are nothing but a far more expensive, much lower quality product, the only way it’s been possible for the corporate state to force into being an artificial market for them is through massive corporate welfare, media campaigns based on lies, and thuggery. As we see with the checkoff program and all its other Big Ag subsidies, the USDA understands this perfectly well.
3. As Monsanto’s industry flunkeys show their hostility toward a capitalist corporation exploring the possibilities of the market, we see a typical example and proof of what a lie it is that capitalism is “rational” and is about nothing but dispassionately responding to market signals. If Dannon’s move is bad business, the customers won’t respond, by definition. But if the customers respond, then by definition it’s good business. Either way, what conceivable capitalist objection could any of these whiners have?
No, it’s obvious that they object because of their irrational ideological/religious commitment to the Monsanto GMO campaign as such. Of course Monsanto pays the industry front groups, but the fact that media and pundits who are not being paid directly* join the campaign is proof that here we are not discussing a market phenomenon, but a cult of religious zealots who are trying to influence the business decisions of market actors. We saw the same thing with Chipotle.
It should be needless to say that big corporations like Dannon and Chipotle don’t do the things they do out of any kind of altruism (though it’s true that many of the “anti-GMO” people also seem confused about this, as put most starkly on display in their euphoria over the Campbell’s/Lynas/Cornell marketing ploy). Yet the Monsanto priesthood, as usual having no rational arguments or evidence available, has had to settle for ridiculing such alleged idealism. In reality the truth is the exact opposite. Dannon etc. are typical capitalist actors seeking profit in the textbook way, while the pro-GMO activists comprise a deranged fundamentalist cult which likes capitalism only in its pro-poison form but would become full-blown communists if this was necessary in order to preserve and enforce the worthless and destructive technologies which are the focus of their cult idolatry. The USDA/Monsanto propaganda tax is a perfect example of this kind of neo-communist policy. Obviously anyone who really believes in capitalism, if any such people exist, would join with all the other opponents of this program in order to abolish it. Same for GMOs as such, and any similar pure artifice of the corporate state for which no natural market exists.
*Of course some alleged “journalists” like Tamar Haspel, Amy Harmon, and Keith Kloor are actually paid liars only posing as journalists. The editors of the New York Times, Washington Post, Slate, Discover, Nature, and other leading corporate media outlets willfully collaborate in this fraud upon the American people. These are all on exactly the same moral and legal level as Julius Streicher, condemned at Nuremburg for collaborating in crimes against humanity through his propaganda activities.
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