Volatility

February 5, 2016

GMO News Summary, February 5th 2016

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*The ChemChina/Syngenta deal is near complete. “ChemChina, as the closely-held company is known, offered $465 a share in cash, according to a statement on Wednesday. The offer, endorsed by Syngenta’s board, is about 20 percent higher than the stock’s last close.” China has long been planning to build its own GMO/pesticide conglomerate and assert itself globally in competition with the US-based cartel. Syngenta’s chairman has suggested that he thinks Syngenta could become China’s primary supplier of GM technology and primary Western partner for China’s project. Bloomberg complacently comments on how China and Syngenta will nevertheless submit to US review and veto power over the deal, because “even though Syngenta isn’t based in the U.S, it does have North American operations that generated $3.6 billion in sales last year” which the US could threaten to hinder and harm in some way if the company doesn’t stay in line. Although Syngenta is more diversified across the pesticide line (which is economically prior to and more important than GM seeds) than Monsanto and therefore relatively better positioned (but over the long run the fundamentals are bad for all of industrial agriculture), Syngenta evidently is being subject to stick-ups by both China and the US.
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This is part of the intensifying Great Game for total control of agriculture and food. The agrochemical conglomerates are at the peak of their power, but their position has never been more precarious. Having been aced out of a Syngenta deal, if Monsanto doesn’t make a deal with BASF or something similar they might be in deep trouble.
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*One of my four featured yahoos who impersonate scientists is still at it. More detail on Bruce Chassy’s ongoing career as a mercenary fraud. In spite of his claims about his scientific credentials, he actually has zero credentials in agriculture, food science, medicine, biology, or genetics. Yet the FDA and the University of Illinois, and of course the media, have joined in perpetrating the fraud that he does have some kind of expertise in these areas.
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*Here’s another example of the pro-GMO activists’ standard attitude toward truth and morality. Critics of poison agriculture are accusing the Genetic Illiteracy Project of publishing personal information and changing headlines and text when reposting their pieces. More amusingly, those complaining of tampering with headlines and text include such pro-GMO activists as Keith Kloor, Anastasia Bodnar of Biofalsified, Helena Bottemiller, and Julie Kelly. Now they’re all whining about “unethical practices”, which is quite rich coming from the likes of Kloor and company. Of course the GIP’s systematic lying on behalf of cancer-causing poisons and corporate domination of agriculture and food doesn’t bother them one bit, since such Nuremburg lies are their trade as well.
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*The Indian central government is admitting in court what farmers and critics have known for over ten years, that Bt cotton is an extremely failure prone product. The admission comes in a court proceeding where the government is defending its imposition of price controls on the shoddy seeds against a challenge from Mahyco-Monsanto. The corporations especially object to the government’s placement of limits on the tax Monsanto collects on cotton seed sales. The government admits that it allowed Monsanto to attain a near-monopoly on cotton seed. (It also actively encouraged this monopoly.) But between the tax and the generally very poor performance of the crop farmers can no longer afford to plant it. This is driving the suicide epidemic among small cotton farmers in India. This price control policy, along with the latest of the many Karnataka bailouts, is just the latest in the long line of central and state government bailouts, price controls, and bans on shoddy seeds.
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*The political struggle continues over that same Indian central government’s imminent approval of Bt mustard for commercial release. The opposition to this and to GM crops in general has included several elements of the Modi government’s coalition such as farmer unions and “nationalist” types. In defiance of prior court decisions and transparency law the government is keeping secret the biosafety dossier from the field trials and any lab testing which has been done, which is proof that the evidence is very bad regarding the GM product’s agronomic behavior and health and safety implications. As far as GM contamination we don’t really need the secret data, as the crop’s lead developer Deepak Pental has freely admitted that “the crossing of the transgenic gene to other non-GM mustard varieties is expected.” It certainly is expected to happen especially broadly and rapidly with brassicas. Indeed contamination is so universally documented and economic policy is so relentless in seeking to normalize ever increasing levels of “adventitious presence”* that we have to call it a primary purpose of the GMO project. Meanwhile public health campaigner Aruna Rodrigues filed a petition with the supreme court for an injunction against the government’s plans to approve herbicide tolerant mustard, cotton, and corn. In 2013 the court-appointed Technical Expert Committee, in addition to advising strong precautions and transparency where it comes to GMOs in general, found that herbicide tolerant GMOs as such would be economically inappropriate for India.
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(It’s hard to tell exactly what kind of GM mustard is being talked about in various contexts, in particular which is the one supposedly about to be approved for commercial release. Most pieces I’ve seen called it Bt mustard, but the last few days they’ve been talking about a product which would be herbicide tolerant as well.)
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[*According to EuropaBio lobbying, TTIP negotiations, and the Grocery Manufacturers’ Association’s proposed GMO labeling standards, where it comes to GM contamination of the general agriculture, commodity stream, and food supply the regulatory threshold for “non-GMO” is supposed to increase mechanically as the contamination becomes more prevalent, in the exact same way that regulators mechanically increase the “tolerance” levels for pesticide residues in food. This is one of several reasons why it’s utopian to think the FDA could ever apply a strong GMO labeling policy: The FDA would mechanically raise the legally allowed level of contamination which would be called “adventitious” as the chronic contamination increased. Therefore the level of GM material in a product which would require it to be labeled “contains genetically engineered ingredients”, and beneath which it would not have to carry a label, would continually, automatically increase. The FDA would also preempt any state law or voluntary body like the Non-GMO Project from imposing a more rigorous standard.]
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*GMO contamination is a systematic policy goal. The USDA and Monsanto will never stop until they are stopped once and for all. Here we have documentary proof that the most far-ranging and aggressive contamination is a core part of the intended goal.
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*This interview with Marc Edwards, a scientist who helped expose the poisoning of the Flint water supply, is a case study in how normal science really works under corporate rule. He speaks to how rare it is for the scientific method, falsification and all, to actually be applied, and what happens when a scientist actually does work that way. Here’s a quote from the piece:
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Q. I keep coming back to these university researchers in Flint who said: “The state has 50 epidemiologists. They say that the water’s safe. So I’m going to focus my energy on something that’s less settled.” How do you decide when the state should be challenged?

A. That’s a great question. We are not skeptical enough about each other’s results. What’s the upside in that? You’re going to make enemies. People might start questioning your results. And that’s going to start slowing down our publication assembly line. Everyone’s invested in just cranking out more crap papers.

So when you start asking questions about people, and you approach them as a scientist, if you feel like you’re talking to an adult and they give you a rational response and are willing to share data and discuss an issue rationally, I’m out of there. I go home.

But when you reach out to them, as I did with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and they do not return your phone calls, they do not share data, they do not respond to FOIA [open-records requests], y’know. … In each case I just started asking questions and turning over rocks, and I resolved to myself, The second something slimy doesn’t come out, I’m gonna go home. But every single rock you turn over, something slimy comes out.

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Unfortunately Edwards isn’t yet the kind of public health campaigner we the people need since he still thinks and talks in terms of restoring trust in the system even though he just testified to how the system is depraved beyond redemption. That’s not the first time I’ve seen the same notion coming from a partially dissident scientist, that “restoring trust in the system” as such is somehow supposed to be one of the goals. A true dissident, which by now also means anyone who has scientific integrity, must work to demolish the credibility, legitimacy, and authority of an establishment “science” system which has become completely anti-scientific under corporate directives and in furtherance of corporate rule.
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*Corporate Europe Observatory has released a new report on the corporate attempt in Europe to have the newer kinds of GMOs arbitrarily declared outside the bounds of regulation. This parallels the USDA’s campaign to exempt more and more GMOs from its own purview.
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This would include exemption from labeling requirements for all so-called “second generation” GMOs developed via gene editing and so-called “cisgenesis”* The report specifically highlights how GM apples and potatoes are supposed to be exempted from regulation including labeling. Here’s another reason why it’s impossible to get real labeling from the FDA. The agency whose primary religious dogma is that GMOs are “substantially equivalent” to true crops and which abdicated nearly all regulatory oversight will certainly follow the USDA’s lead in declaring the second generation GMOs not to be GMOs at all for purposes of labeling.
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[*A de jure and de facto fraud. Even where the main transgene is from the same species, the cisgenesis gene cassette includes several elements from other species, such as a viral promoter. And the violent, mutation-inducing insertion and tissue culture procedures are the same as for any other GMO. So nothing’s different. “Cisgenesis” is a scientifically meaningless term, a pure propaganda/marketing hoax.]
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Although we must fight these lawless attempts, we the people should fully reciprocate the mindset that GMOs and their activists are outlaws in the full medieval sense of the term, exactly as they say they want to be.
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This and the earlier point about contamination highlight not only the impossibility of any real FDA labeling, but how the idea of labeling is misguided in principle. Here we have two examples of how a very slow, clumsy, often static labeling policy would try to keep track of a fast-moving, crafty GMO target, and would try to do this within the “co-existence” framework which everyone knows is impossible. Labeling sounded good and maybe even sufficient when the idea was first broached all those years ago. By now we’ve learned enough to know that it’s insufficient and not worth being any kind of significant goal. It’s time to move beyond the concept of labeling as anything more than an organizational tool, and to full abolition as the necessary, fully conscious goal, and adapt all organizational principle, strategy, and tactics to that.
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*The people of California’s Sonoma County are working for a county-level ban on GMO cultivation. They look to join the growing list of counties in California, Oregon, and Hawaii which have passed such bans. These county-level bans have had mixed fortunes in the courts, but in the long run the courts can never be the source of the people’s health and freedom. Only our political will can do that, and if we find this will the “law” will follow.

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February 1, 2016

Science is Part of Human History

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System authoritarian types tend to strongly resist historical evidence and the proposition that it’s important to know history. Most blatantly, they want to convince the people to believe corporations tell the truth about the corporations’ own “research” on their products, and evidently want to believe this themselves. But no one who is even minimally informed of the history could believe this for a second or would place any value at all on the self-testimony of corporations like Monsanto and Dow whose entire history is nothing but an unbroken record of lies. I defy anyone to explain to me how it’s possible rationally to believe a word a corporation says. Yet it is regulator, media, and establishment “science” dogma that the fox can be trusted to guard the henhouse.
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The precautionary principle makes sense rationally, and any rational person would automatically want to apply it. But the best evidence in favor of it is the empirical record of history, which proves that every precaution should always be taken, especially where dealing with such proven liars. Of course by now where it comes to GMOs and other agricultural and industrial poisons events have gone far beyond the precautionary principle, and it’s basically moot other than as historical evidence for who was rational, scientific, and cared about the public and environmental health (we who called for precaution), vs. those who were irrational, anti-scientific, and psychopathic (the corporations, governments, and cultists). By now we have the proofs of how toxic and destructive poison-based agriculture is, and we no longer call for precaution but abolition.
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We know that throughout history wherever dissidents were in opposition to political/economic power, the power structure was always lying while the critics were correct or at least much closer to the truth. (In most cases history also judges the dissenters to have been morally in the right, and power in the wrong, though here doublethink usually refuses to recognize the same moral equation where it comes to present power elites.) So why would anyone believe that the same isn’t true of the same opposition today, and that history won’t judge it as such? How do today’s authoritarians who are at all aware of history overcome cognitive dissonance here?
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The only thing I can see, other than the doublethink I mentioned, is that they think today there’s a new thing called “science” which is somehow qualitatively different from and objectively more correct than previous political ideology and religion. Therefore, they think, if concentrated power lines up with alleged “science”, this is some kind of measure of power finally being on the side of truth.
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In reality, science is not qualitatively different from other belief systems, but is part of the same general complex as philosophy, political theory, and religion. Where actually practiced according to the theory of how it’s supposed to be practiced (as most fully elaborated by Karl Popper, explicator of “the scientific method”), science is a well-defined set of actions performed in accord with reason which attain a limited but reasonably reliable result. The rationality which prescribes the actions and the reliability of the result are sound, as long as their limits are realized. Therefore science is much like a kind of philosophy which is more applicable to physical objects and processes than most other kinds.
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(In fact the vast majority of “science” cultists and people who claim to respect science, including the vast majority of highly educated STEM types and other professionals, don’t do or think anything remotely like this, but rather make the idea of science into a conventional ideological/religious totem.)
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As for the scientific result itself, this has no inherent content but is then technologically applied, or not, depending on the more general political/economic/religious environment.
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This general political environment also dictates which problems the well-defined set of actions (scientific research) is applied to in the first place. Of the potentially infinite number of lines of scientific inquiry, humans can choose only a tiny fraction to pursue. This choice is almost never made on rational/scientific grounds in the first place. On the contrary, the choice is made on political and economic grounds and according to political and economic goals. Especially in the modern era of scientific professionalization and specialization, this choice is almost always made by existing political/economic elites. The axiom, “In any era the ruling ideas are the ideas of the ruling class”, is nowhere more true than where it comes to how technology and science are chosen.
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Since power dictates what kind of science is done, it also dictates how truly rational and rigorous the practices are, and how honest and forthcoming the practitioners are about the results. The result is the same age-old practice of power: Establishment “science”, having been chosen to protect and increase the power of elites, is also practiced in order to bring about the elites’ desired result, not the result that rationality in search of truth would attain. The result is then publicized, not in an open, honest, descriptive way, but as a form of political propaganda, with all the usual propaganda methods applied to it, from suppression to secrecy to cherry-picking to distortion to tendentious interpretation to flat-out lies.
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To sum up: Scientific inquiry is set in motion in a particular direction by political ideology. The results of scientific inquiry are applied according to political ideology. The inquiry itself is a form of philosophy, in theory. In practice, even this truly scientific inquiry almost never happens, as science is hijacked completely by power and put completely to power’s uses.
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Therefore, we can see that in principle science is not some new portal to truth. In principle it’s part of the same ancient system of human beliefs as politics and religion, and even those who truly do practice science are still fully ensconced within the normal political and economic history. In practice, most of what’s called “science” is part of the normal, ancient passel of lies.
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Therefore, today’s authoritarians and conformists can’t console themselves that their chosen Leaders have some uniquely new reservoir of truth which distinguishes them from all the malign liars of history, and that today’s critics, skeptics, and dissidents are, for the first time in history, on the wrong side of history. On the contrary, today’s elites are the exact same elites as all prior elites. They tell the exact same lies. Today’s cult followers are the exact same brain-dead bootlicks upon whom history spits in all other times and places. And today’s dissidents are the exact same truth-tellers driven by the exact same soul and conscience.
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And real science, by the way, is also 100% on our side. So it follows that we Food Sovereignty campaigners, we who fight for the environment, food and water security, public health, democracy, human equality and freedom, human fulfillment (these all comprise one indivisible cause), must emphasize the limits of the authority of science as such, as well as how within those limits the science is unequivocally on our side and against the corporations.

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January 27, 2016

Zika, Part of the Corporate Normal

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The media’s found itself another scare story to splay all over the front pages. They’ll do this when they can misdirect attention, analysis, and blame.
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The Zika virus outbreak and the daunting prospect for the disease’s future, like with most others in recent years, is caused by corporate globalization. These diseases are rooted out of the wilderness in the first place by deforestation and the spread of industrial ranching and plantations. Then they’re incubated and given all the opportunity they need to mutate in the shantytowns and/or factory farms which are intentional creations of globalization. Therefore the function of these facilities as disease incubators is also a known and intended result of the corporate onslaught. The nutritional denuding of food and its toxification with agricultural poisons weakens people. Then there’s the growing epidemic of corporate-driven hunger. We can add how globalization sends cargo and people casually jet-setting all over the world, so any pathogen almost instantaneously spreads as far as it easily can (much like the way commercial GMOs are immediately propagated as globally widely as possible, the most extreme of the many ways genetic engineering denies evolution and seeks to leap over its safeguards), and will be given every opportunity to spread gradually even to the places where it has trouble adapting. Climate change, destruction of biodiversity, monoculture in everything from agriculture to suburbia, and the wholesale poisoning of ecosystems by industrial chemicals combine to create the perfect weather and habitat for potential pathogens.
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We can see how the corporate system does all it can to generate epidemics, since it does all it can to provide and intensify the three components generally necessary for an epidemic: The potential pathogen, the favorable terrain, and the weakened target.
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The rising incidence of epidemics in recent decades parallels the rise of chronic disease among Westerners and the rise of crop disease and pest infestation. These are all caused by the same malign combination of climate change, artificial poisons in the environment, habitat and biodiversity destruction, and the ferocious, insane corporate drive to escalate and accelerate all of these as much and fast as possible. (Another analogy from genetic engineering is the way the transgenic promoter is tuned to switch the transgene on at maximum power, 24/7, in direct contrast with the way genes within natural genomes are turned on and off at varying levels of intensity as the physiological or environmental circumstance warrants).
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As is standard for the disaster capitalism which seeks to exploit any problem or crisis generated by the corporations themselves, this outbreak is being used as an occasion for Malthusian racist talk (racism is always seeking “respectable” opportunities to express itself), to shill for the GM mosquito technology which is already a failure, and to call for greater poison use against mosquitoes, including the frequent attempts to rehabilitate DDT and slander Rachel Carson and Silent Spring. But one of the reasons DDT was banned was because it no longer worked against mosquitoes. These had become resistant, as the pests always become resistant to every poison. This too is intentional, the planned obsolescence of the pesticide treadmill. One of the reasons GMOs have been such an attractive product for the agrochemical corporations is because they’re such perfect escalating poison delivery vectors. As the weeds and insects become resistant to poisons like clockwork, genetic engineering lets the corporations stack more and more poisons and poison tolerances into the product, so it will produce and receive more and more poisons. DDT, in addition to causing human cancer and birth defects and its horrific environmental effects, was a shoddy product which had ceased to work. That part especially the Poisoners don’t want us to know when they try to rehabilitate this cancer-causing, bird-killing, worthless poison.
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Meanwhile the 2015 Nobel Prize for medicine was awarded to researchers working on the potential of artemisia as herbal malaria medicine. As always, the real way to deal with disease is a combination of social-ecological rationality, good sanitation, a society based on healthy food, water, and lifestyles, and where necessary the appropriate treatment. Poison is never part of any constructive solution.
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It’s ironic that the Zika virus is feared so much because of its ability to cause birth defects, while the same governments and media suppress information about the vastly greater epidemic of birth defects and other reproductive harms being caused by glyphosate, 2,4-D, malathion, and other agricultural poisons.
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When we ponder a political system which systematically lies about the birth defects caused by pesticides while scare-mongering about the much lower number of birth defects caused by a virus in order to propagandize for using more of the teratogenic pesticides and against all real solutions, we know we’re dealing with a systematically criminal system. That’s the Poisoner ideology and campaign in action.
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I wrote about this and related matters at greater length here.

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January 25, 2016

Chipotle

Filed under: Food and Farms, Mainstream Media, Relocalization — Tags: , — Russ @ 10:41 am

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As Chipotle was blamed for E. coli outbreaks, the corporate media piled on, blaming the chain’s local produce sourcing. The Schadenfreude was palpable, against both the chain and its customers. Chipotle itself was spooked into a partial disavowal of its own proclaimed philosophy even though the evidence never supported the allegation that local sourcing had anything to do with the outbreak. It seems like Chipotle panicked and rushed to appease the mob.
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Some analysts agreed:
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Ultimately, though, Chipotle will need to step back from its ‘food with integrity’ corporate ethos and become a more traditional fast/casual chain. Foods, including all produce (not just tomatoes), spices, and meats, will need to be centrally sourced and prepared to realize the economies of scale that are necessary to profitably integrate costly periodic food testing…

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There was little room for facts or thought amid the media firestorm. While there is at least a correlation between Chipotle and the E. coli outbreaks, by all accounts it was simply a lie to blame the local sourcing model.
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In December the Centers for Disease Control stated, “The epidemiologic evidence available at this time suggests that a common meal item or ingredient served at Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurants in several states is a likely source of this outbreak.” This would rule out the locally sourced produce the corporate media gleefully rushed to finger as the culprit. This witch hunt atmosphere provided the background for the New York Times’s recent slander of farmers’ markets. There’s clearly no end to the junk reasoning and innuendo the pro-poison media will propagate as their cancer-causing system comes under increasing scrutiny. And, I feel safe assuming, no retractions from media or “experts”.
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Therefore the CDC itself vouches for the fact that the source had to be part of the chain’s centralized distribution, unless it was a bioterrorist attack using similar pathogens at several locations at once. (I haven’t heard of any special evidence for this latter thesis, though the record of the pro-GM activists is vile enough that we know they’re capable of it. Given their outpourings of hatred for Chipotle since it announced it was going partially non-GMO, the possibility can’t be rejected out of hand. The only thing we know for sure is that locally sourced ingredients weren’t to blame.)
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If Chipotle has been the source of these outbreaks, the vector was central sourcing, the same centralizing scourge of the whole corporate industrial food system. Therefore, far from these events being a reason for Chipotle to retreat from its identity, this is the time for it to reaffirm and strengthen its commitment. Many commentators and analysts agree.
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Fast food is a toxic and unsustainable model across the board, and no one should romanticize Chipotle. Nevertheless, given our dawning situation where in so many ways so many growers, suppliers, processors, and consumers are trying to find their way toward less poisoned, better quality, more relocalized food, Chipotle’s partial efforts on local sourcing and purging some GMO ingredients are steps in the right direction. It’s best to purge fast food and industrial food completely, and once we do this we can wash our hands completely of these kinds of squabbles among the system. In the meantime it’s best to be aware of the lies and give moral support to those who are on the vector.
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While Chipotle may be suffering from weaknesses inherent to the very model of centralization the analyst quoted above touts, we need to stick up for local food and encourage local sourcing on the part of bigger operations. Like I detailed above, the same media lie we see here also strikes much deeper at our farmers’ markets and our generally growing direct retail community food sector. So I’m writing this post not for Chipotle’s sake, but for the sake of the local sourcing model, which the corporate media rightly sees as an enemy of the centralized poison-based agriculture and food system it worships.

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January 19, 2016

Concentration in the Poison Sector (Dow/DuPont; Syngenta; Monsanto)

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The year 2015 was a year of concentration in the already uncompetitive poison sector. For many years the pesticide and seed markets have become increasingly dominated by a small handful of corporations – Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow, DuPont, and a few others. The GMO phenomenon has greatly accelerated this trend, as the world’s most powerful governments and corporate sectors have boosted biotech worldwide as capitalism’s last great hope to break the bonds of physics and biology. This has profound religious, economic, and paramilitary implications we’ll discuss in depth as we proceed. For today we’ll stick with the proximate phenomenon of sector concentration.
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First came Monsanto’s bid to buy Syngenta, which Syngenta rejected with some disdain. Most onlookers thought it looked like a good fit – Monsanto’s seeds and traits to complement Syngenta’s more diversified pesticide line. But Syngenta evidently was not as interested in Monsanto’s GMO line as conventional wisdom thought it should be. In August Monsanto gave up for the time being after Syngenta had rejected at least three Monsanto bids. As the year wore on Monsanto announced two major rounds of contraction. In October the company announced it would cut 2600 jobs (12% of its work force), buy back stocks (down 30% since February at that time), and undertake a “restructuring” including cutting research and development spending. (Around the same time Syngenta and DuPont announced more modest contractions.) Later that month the company said it would close three R&D centers which focus on genetic engineering and breeding development, cutting another 90 employees. Both GMO and Roundup sales are down compared to the previous year. The new year looks no less bleak as Monsanto announced a third contraction. The company announced deeply depressed Roundup and GM maize sales, larger than expected losses, and will cut another thousand employees. Monsanto’s fundamentals are not looking good.
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In November the Chinese conglomerate ChemChina made its own bid for Syngenta. The company rejected this first bid, but is now said to be in “advanced talks” with ChemChina. Its chairman now says Syngenta is merger-minded, but continues to disparage a potential Monsanto deal. When the music stops Monsanto’s going to be left without a chair! In December Monsanto also announced it would not proceed with projected construction of a seed factory in Iowa. DuPont also cancelled three Iowa projects. The climax was the announcement that Dow and DuPont will merge and then split into three companies including one dedicated to agrochemicals. The proposed agrochemical spinoff would represent $19 billion in combined sales from the two companies. This would make it the largest GMO/pesticide company in the world. The Dow/DuPont deal evidently spurred Syngenta to enter the final round of negotiations with ChemChina, in part because of the increasing unease of Syngenta’s shareholders. The company’s chairman has hinted that he thinks Syngenta could become China’s primary supplier of GM technology and primary Western partner for China’s long-planned attempt to build its own GMO/pesticide conglomerate and assert itself globally in competition with the US-based cartel.
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According to the business papers, the proximate reason for the woes and tensions disturbing the sector has been the prolonged sagging of agricultural commodity prices. The downturn has caused many farmers to cut back on their high-input, highly expensive commodity crop production, and this in turn has been affecting the profits of Monsanto and others for a few years now. This in turn makes them disreputable on Wall Street. It’s great to see agribusiness hurting under the same vicious circle of high input prices, low harvest prices, and the imperative to “Get Big or Get Out” they help force upon farmers. (Roundup Ready crops, for example, were specifically designed to accelerate Get Big or Get Out. They were never seriously claimed to increase yield by the acre. Rather, they were supposed to make it easier to cultivate a greater acreage. The farmer would allegedly “make it up on volume”. Thus they were intended to accelerate farm consolidation.) And this increasing sector consolidation will just squeeze the oligopolists further and render all the economic pathologies worse. The fundamentals look bad.
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As a rule mergers among oligopolists are the sign of a superannuated, calcifying, decadent sector. It means companies are running out of ideas, losing confidence in the sector and in themselves. It’s the most extreme version of buying your ideas, patents, and products rather than being an innovator and entrepreneur who develops these yourself. Dow and DuPont believe they’re reaching dead ends and each needs to buy what the other has. Dow needs Pioneer germplasm*, DuPont needs Dow’s genetic engineering expertise and patents. Everyone recognized how Monsanto was trying to achieve this with its Syngenta bid. But Syngenta seemed not to want any kind of deal at all with them. Evidently Monsanto has nothing it wants, at least not at the price Monsanto offered. Meanwhile a few years ago BASF’s GMO operation was driven out of Europe completely. Those two may end up having to get together.
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[*Dow’s germplasm situation is interesting. If you look at ISAAA data, it looks like prior to the Enlist system Dow’s only solo commercialized GMO line has been some varieties of Widestrike cotton, while their other projects have involved contributing transgenes to joint products with DuPont and Monsanto. If you look at Dow’s seed company holdings, they’re relatively meager compared to those of DuPont and Monsanto. I’ll suppose that for those joint projects Dow had to rely on the other company to contribute not only transgenes of its own but much or all of the genetic framework.**
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Then there’s the curious fact that for several years running Dow’s been surprisingly willing to sit quietly for regulator-imposed delays. First there was the USDA delay while the agency ran a full Environmental Impact Statement. Then came the EPA’s imposition of various restrictions on Enlist commercial plantings in 2015, and most recently EPA’s temporary revocation of Enlist Duo’s registration. It’s almost as if Dow is nervous about its own product for some reason. It’s not displaying much of the aggressiveness we’re used to from the GMO corporations. Do they doubt some fundamental of the product, like perhaps the quality of their own seed genetics? That would be part of the explanation for why Dow was so ardent for this merger.]
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Another force driving the sector toward trying to diversify through consolidation is fear of the political countermovement against agricultural poisons. Monsanto is especially vulnerable, dependent upon Roundup for about 70% of its revenues. Roundup accounts for half its sales, while GMOs dependent upon it make up much of the rest. This is why Syngenta had little interest even in Monsanto’s GMO business. In 2015 the entire world learned for keeps what campaigners, Monsanto, and regulators have long known, that glyphosate causes cancer. With the WHO’s announcement the clock is now ticking, counting down the rest of glyphosate’s legal life. The people will now slowly but surely force the complete banning of glyphosate-based poisons. The bell is tolling for Roundup, Monsanto knows it, and so they must find new products or die. They’re hyping everything in sight, from slapping new ad slogans on old, pointless, narrow-market products to touting the idea of RNA interference GMOs. But if these ever came to market they’s still be the same kind of shoddy insecticidal GMOs which in Bt form are already a failure with a gradually diminishing market.
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The fact is that the structural reason driving the current consolidation is that GMOs are a shoddy product and don’t have much of a market or a future in themselves. On the contrary, there’s a growing consensus inside and outside the sector, including on Wall Street, that the pesticides remain primary, with the GMOs being secondary to these and dependent upon them. Their fundamentals are bad. In other words the finance sector now agrees with what GMO critics have said from the start, that GMOs in the real world are nothing but pesticide plants, poison plants. (As opposed to GMO hype and hoaxes of the pro-GM activists and the corporate media.) Although Wall Street is poor at acknowledging its own pyramid schemes, it knows how to call them out in other sectors. GMOs are a scam.
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None of this is a surprise and confirms what we critics said all along. These are poison companies, their number one activity and goal is to manufacture and sell poison, therefore the primary proximate goal of GMOs must be to sell more poison. It’s actually astonishing that anyone was ever willing to believe such a self-evident absurdity as that the likes of Monsanto or DuPont would ever market a product which would cause them to sell less of their primary products. Yet that’s what the peddlers of the “GMOs lessen pesticide use” lie would have you believe.
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Sure enough: 1. With the deployment of GMOs, pesticide use always increases.
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2. It has to, since these are poison plants and are designed only to sustain poisons being sprayed upon them (in the case of herbicide tolerant GMOs), or to handle only certain “target” pests (Bt products). The rest must still be met with sprays and seed coatings. Bayer and Syngenta didn’t participate in GMO deployment and support the GMO idea in general because they thought they’d sell less neonics.
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3. Both of these GMO genres, the only ones which exist and the only ones in the pipeline, are failures. They can be called “successful” only according to the Failure is Success form of planned obsolescence and the ever-escalating, ever more expensive stacking-and-pesticide treadmill.
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GMOs have a tenuous future. Everyone knows that herbicide tolerant and insecticidal GMOs are running out of room. Once SmartStax, 2,4-D, and dicamba fail, what then? That’s why there’s such a propaganda campaign touting CRISPR, “gene editing”, RNAi. The sector is trying to convince itself, Wall Street, governments, commodifiers, food manufacturers and retailers, and the world at large that there’s a whole new GMO frontier to be opened up. To be sure, elites everywhere want to believe this, since capitalism as such badly needs it. But so far this is all in the realm of fantasy, and there’s no reason to believe it will ever break free of the land of lies, where the “first generation” of GMOs remains to this day.
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The media claims GMOs mean gene editing for agronomic and product quality traits? I’m afraid not. Today’s GMO reality is the collapse of the Roundup Ready system and the sector’s reactionary, luddite answer: To double down on proven failure by regressing to GMOs tolerant of older, even more destructive herbicides. This is the context in which the evolution-denialist system is promulgating the backward, luddite “solution” of corn and soybeans engineered to tolerate the retrograde herbicide 2,4-D, one of the two primary components of the chemical weapon Agent Orange. This is one of the dark age poisons which Monsanto and the US government originally promised would be permanently relegated to the scrap heap by the Roundup Ready system. Dicamba is another such regressive chemical being poised by Monsanto for a comeback.
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There’s the real GMO future as demonstrated by the actions, rather than the media lies, of the corporations and regulators. And this bears out the fact that, contrary to the moronic techno-hype and fundamentalist cultism of GMOs, the real fundamental of corporate agriculture remains the most regressive, stupid, blunt-instrument, flat-earth technology of all, pesticides. The best irony since the IARC finding has been the spectacle of our intrepid futurists, who always tried to hold aloof from the dinosaur pesticide technology while exalting their idolized space-age GMO technology, having to reduce themselves to the level of Roundup shills. This too proves something we always said about them, that for all their high-flown scientism pretensions, they’re really nothing but gutter Monsanto bootlicks. This is the real character of the GMO sector – antiquated, backward, an economic and innovation bottleneck, shoddy, tawdry. This is borne out by one consistent thread which runs through all the sector consolidation events. Monsanto’s contractions, Monsanto’s proposals to Syngenta, the Dow/DuPont merger (see several of the links above) – all involve cutting research and development spending. In other words the sector has reached the point where it thinks more in terms of stock buybacks and scrounging whatever technology and patents it can buy rather than developing anything on its own. To some extent this is inherent to any big corporation and any oligopoly sector. But it’s especially congenital to the agrochemical sector, which was always based on accelerating planned obsolescence toward its inevitable culmination in the complete exhaustion and obsolescence of the entire paradigm.
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The sector faces another problem – GMOs are reaching market saturation. The cartel won’t be able to force a market for them in Africa unless it can either grab the land to turn it into vast industrial plantations to grow CAFO feed for Asia, and/or convince enough smallholder farmers to fall for the same scam Monsanto used on cotton farmers in India. (But Bt cotton has already been tried and rejected in three African countries, and the word is out.) But can the several African governments play the same carnival-barker role the Indian government did? This is the Monsanto/Gates Foundation “New Alliance” plan, with massive corporate welfare to be financed by the taxpayers of the US, UK, and Africa, geared to the complete subjugation of African agriculture to land-grabbing and monoculture production for commodity export.
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Even if the sector can overcome the stiffening political resistance and inherent agronomic resistance (pests and diseases which flourish) to this scheme, how much and how long can the Asian middle class prop up its demand for this forced supply? The agribusiness sector is the most supply-driven of all and is 100% dependent on forcing artificial markets into being, for example convincing people to whom it never occurred before that they want to eat a lot more factory farm meat. Obviously a sector whose entire existence is based, not on real demand, but on puffed up fictive “demand” which can dry up at any time, and which will dry up as the masses lose the capacity for luxury spending, is built on sand. Here again, everyone recognizes the basic bubble, pyramid scheme character of the whole sector. It’s ironic that GMO jargon uses the term “pyramid” for another of its scams.
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China’s stock and real estate bubbles are cruising for a big fall. With any significant Asian recession, the whole Africa plan collapses for lack of even a theoretical market. Or if by then the sector has already forced full-scale commodity monoculture upon Africa and is generating huge amounts of GM maize and soy there, they’ll have to dump it on the rest of the world and further crash those commodity prices.
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Meanwhile, unless the cartel can seize control of the land in India they’ll soon be run out of the country. Anywhere on earth there’s still a large mass of small farmers, corporate agriculture is in a race to grab the land before their products are worn out and cast out. Although the sector’s propaganda continues to flog the long-debunked lie that GMOs can be good for small farmers, in reality only where the land is concentrated into vast commodity plantations can the sector maintain its GM seed sales. Soon this will be true of pesticides as well.
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Meanwhile, as we discussed earlier, the seeds accelerate the obsolescence of the pesticides, which then also renders the GM seed lines obsolete. This has been a campaign of planned obsolescence; the sector wants to force farmers to buy ever higher stacks and deploy an ever more complex multiple-pesticide choreography. But at the same time this accelerates the discrediting of the whole pesticide plant concept at the same time that it renders GMOs and pesticides less and less affordable. Sector oligopolists are in a race against time and resistance, and they’re not getting ahead as fast as they’d hoped. Monsanto originally expected to have attained near-complete monopoly for the sector by sometime in the first decade of the century. Obviously they’re falling well short and very late of that goal. Thus the oligopolists are reaching the point where they have to consolidate among themselves.
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The fact is that both the GMOs and the pesticides are ill-conceived, ultimately self-destructive product types. It’s not just that many of the products, such as most of the GMOs, shoddily constructed. The basic idea underlying all the products – using poison against agricultural weeds and pests, and synthetic inputs including transgenes to meet other agricultural challenges – is bad in principle. The entire agrochemical sector is built on sand. The fundamentals of all these companies and their sector as a whole are bad.
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What’s going on is more profound than the superficial accounts of the business section, focused as it is on stock prices and quarterly “earnings”. The sector is following its destiny in accord with the Poisoner imperative, a structural economic, political, religious, and biological campaign. Although Wall Street and politics are forcing these companies to make certain accommodations with reality, such as recognizing the primacy of pesticides over GMOs on the most reality-based level, nothing has changed for them ideologically. They are committed to the total domination of their program of eugenics via genetic engineering. They’re just in an ever more pressing race against time, as the ecological resistance, expressed biologically, economically, and politically, is becoming stronger by the year.
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Although the companies of the GMO cartel grudgingly recognized their need for high-quality agricultural germplasm such as could be bought through Pioneer, their original disdainful arrogance was no accident, nor has this fundamental ideology changed. Reality may have forced itself upon Monsanto when the company finally bowed to the need to put its transgenes into good crop varieties (and thus it embarked upon its odyssey of buying seed companies – as always, Monsanto never innovates anything, just steals or buys the work others have done), it did so under duress and to this day doesn’t really believe in it. Deep down any techno-cultist, for example a GMO fanboy, thinks the technology he idolizes is the only meaningful reality and has nothing but contempt for everything else. That’s why pro-GMO activists are so ignorant of every branch of science – genetics, biology, ecology, botany, entomology, agronomy, physiology, medical science, you name it – and have such contempt for knowledge as such. They spew the word “Science” but take great pride in knowing nothing about it, its content or how it works. No one becomes a religious zealot of genetic engineering because he has respect for natural or agroecologically bred genetics. He does it because he has fear and loathing for anything which is not under the control of high-technology engineering. To be precise, their idolatry is for the idea of such technological control. The fact that in practice GMOs are such an imprecise, stupidly executed, shoddily performing product doesn’t matter to the cultists, only their shining idea. Which is good for them since by now they have no choice but to be shills, not only for the mythically “hi-tech” products of genetic engineering, but for what until not long ago they themselves sneered at as dinosaur technology, sprayed and slathered pesticides like Roundup.
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The history of genetic engineering displays a level of combined ignorance and arrogance on the part of its practitioners and controllers which is astonishing. Monsanto started out thinking they’d take their Roundup Ready gene and their Bt gene, stick them into any old public domain maize variety, and then just mass produce it for every farmer the world over. Robb Fraley’s notion, which the company tried to follow at first, was that they’d do exactly what Microsoft had done with software, their transgenes being the Windows-type “software”, with the crop and its genetics being the basically stupid, meaningless “hardware”. This is typical of the delusion that on the one hand things like computer software, patents, corporations, money, are real things, while on the other something like agricultural germplasm is mystical “information”. They simply tuned out anyone who tried to tell them agriculture doesn’t work that way. This delusion is endemic to scientism and corporatism and is connected intimately with the monoculture mentality those cults also share, in agriculture as well as every other realm of thought and action.
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But in fact the ecological reality is the only reality, and agroecological ideas are the only ideas that can truly work for agriculture as well as ecology, and for a healthy economy and polity as well. But nothing about Monsanto, Roundup, or GMOs – corporate control, profits, patents, the idea of precision control and manipulation of physical genomes – touches reality at any point, while the poisons can only destroy, never create or sustain. The fundamentals are bad. From the most hermetic, short-run Wall Street preoccupations to the most profound intellectual and ecological arcs, the fundamentals are bad.
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This is the real reason the poison sector’s confrontation with nature, its attempt to subjugate the ecology by force, only drives itself further into no man’s land. Today the GMO cartel feels insecure enough that it must retrench the only way it knows how. Tomorrow it will perish completely.
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**Charles Benbrook’s “Free Pioneer” idea would be good if there was a way to do it. In spite of Breen’s assurances that the new agricultural spinoff won’t cut productive jobs at Pioneer, just “middlemen”, that’s often not the way it works. Pioneer could still be worth something to agriculture, whereas the rest of DuPont, and all of Dow, is worthless and destructive. That in itself usually means the worthwhile, constructive part gets gutted.
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Pioneer is still part of unsustainable commodity agriculture, but it is an important repository of germplasm and breeder expertise, and in theory it could be refurbished for a mission more in line with agroecology, if it could be liberated from the corporate clutch.
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In the meantime, Benbrook is right, the one thing guaranteed is that this merger will further squeeze farmers and reduce their seed choices. Which will be a further opportunity for we who are exhorting GMO farmers to switch to non-GM, and industrial farmers in general to switch to organic.
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Food and Water Watch has a petition to the Justice Department urging them to block the merger.
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Monsanto really is in some serious trouble with its Roundup vulnerability. With glyphosate on the ropes politically, Monsanto could go down quickly if there were a domino effect of bans. If people wanted to get together to focus on getting glyphosate banned everywhere possible, it could become a permanently crippling blow.
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January 17, 2016

There’s Lies, Damned Lies….

Filed under: Food and Farms, Mainstream Media — Tags: — Russ @ 6:32 am

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…Although this pseudo-scholarly garbage about farmers markets in the New York Times isn’t even slippery statistics, but just a scary headline and empty innuendo. That’s our NYT, shilling for corporate food and agriculture as usual.
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The piece is nothing but a scary headline and innuendo. If you read it closely, you see that the hack who wrote it has found literally zero evidence that a single farmers market transaction ever made anyone sick. Rather, he’s talking about nothing but a statistical correlation between “farmers markets per capita” in a state and the incidence of certain food-borne outbreaks. Assuming this correlation really exists at all, by his own testimony he knows nothing about what this means or what was the source of the foods that caused the outbreaks. Maybe the more filthy the supermarkets and fast food outlets are in a region, the more popular farmers markets become. Or maybe the kinds of people who report food-borne illnesses are more likely to support farmers markets. There’s just two of the possible explanations for the correlation which would mean the outbreaks aren’t from farmers market food at all.
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But the author and the editors very much want to convey the opposite impression to the reader. The fact is that the piece has zero substantive content and zero evidence for what it implies in such an inflammatory. It’s pure innuendo, pure rumor-mongering. There’s a few lame disclaimers buried toward the end assuring that most readers won’t see them, and these are immediately contradicted by yet more guilt-by-association innuendo, at this point reaching the level of slander, about how people shouldn’t assume farmers market produce has no unsafe bacteria and that they should wash farmers market produce better. This is true of course, but there’s no reason to think there’s a significant problem. Like I said the fraud who did the “research” has zero evidence that a single tomato from a farmers market gave a single person a single tummyache. This is a piece of pure academic fraud.
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Meanwhile the piece talks only about whether or not farmers market produce is more or less bacterially safe than industrial food and implies that this is the only reason people shop at farmers markets. Not a word about pesticides and the many other ways in which much farmers market food is usually much safer and healthier than industrial products.
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They don’t call it the corporate media for nothing!
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January 15, 2016

GMO News Summary January 15th, 2016

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*Soon, maybe next week, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will hold his secret conference of “stakeholders” to hammer out a plan to prevent Vermont’s GMO labeling law from going into effect in July and destroy the labeling democracy movement (the state-level movement) once and for all. Campbell’s timed its public call for FDA “mandatory” labeling in order to coincide with the Vilsack conference and push this proposal as a major subject at the conference. It’s peculiar how many people purport to stick up for Vermont at the same time they’re saying “Go Campbell’s!”
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Meanwhile Mark Lynas says the Campbell’s plan is a great thing. NOW we know it’s anti-GMO!

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Lynas’ position on labeling has been clear for a long time. He thinks Dark Act Plan A won’t work and is bad politics, but that a weak and fraudulent, but “mandatory”, FDA policy which preempts real labeling at the state level (DARK Act Plan B) would not only destroy the labeling movement but destroy the rising trend of advocacy beyond labeling toward outright bans. He thinks this will help normalize and maximize GMOs in our food. Campbell’s is the first big industry “stakeholder” to agree completely with this position in public. There is a perfect consensus among establishment types – politicians, industry, insider NGOs. Wherever else they may sometimes disagree, they’re all firm that the #1 purpose of any federal standard is to preempt the labeling democracy movement and forestall the abolition movement.
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*Word is there’s worry within the EFSA about how they’re squandering what little credibility they have left faster than a Roundup Ready pigweed grows. Meanwhile EC’s health commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis replied to 96 scientists who sent him an Open Letter demolishing the lies of the BfR and EFSA and calling upon him to support the IARC and uphold the science. Andriukaitis begged off in a shame-faced way, claiming he has no legal authority to reject the EFSA dictate. Meanwhile EFSA chief Bernhard Url continues with his exercises in public buffoonery. He keeps admitting that the IARC assessed glyphosate formulations which are actually used in the real world while the EFSA assessed only fantasyland pure glyphosate which is never used. Yet he’s so stupid he continues to think this is a good point for his EFSA, rather than absolutely shattering for its credibility.
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*At a workshop held at the University of Agricultural Sciences at Raichur in India’s Karnataka state, government and university officials joined farmer representatives in condemning the “Green Revolution” and its technology focus for economically ruining vast numbers of farmers and rendering farming the extremely precarious profession it has become in India. Well over 300,000 farmer suicides can attest to that. Destroying farmers and driving millions off the land was always one of the core goals of the Green Revolution and remains so today.
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*The record of Bt cotton remains perfect. Except where bolstered with massively subsidized inputs (and even then often just for a little while), the crop never performs well and quickly fails. Today Pakistan is hitting rock bottom as the world’s fourth largest cotton producer is suffering a 22% yield collapse and having to resort to importation for basic cotton needs. According to the USDA 95% of Pakistan’s cotton crop is GM. The industry’s own International Cotton Advisory Committee tells the story: “…adverse weather [i.e. climate chaos inducing drought], increased pest pressure from whitefly and pink bollworm [both secondary and target pests enjoying the feast], and the high cost of inputs discouraging farmers from better crop management.”
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Yes, with GM cotton especially the costs of inputs are indeed extremely high. But that’s a peculiar variation on farmer scapegoating – high input cost is what’s causing their “poor management”? But if your technology is too expensive for those to whom you make such a hard-sell marketing pitch, isn’t that the fault of yourselves and your technology, not the buyer who’s financially unable to use it? Indeed I’d call that consumer fraud myself. A massive, Nuremburg-level case of it.
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*Armed with an eviction order procured from a corporate-friendly judge, Monsanto is trying to drive off the Malvinas community camp blockading the company’s attempt to build a chemical seed factory. If built this factory would spew vast clouds of toxic fumes and leave regular spills of the neonics, fungicides, and the many other poisons it would be applying as seed coatings. This would add to the already devastating poison burden the people of the soy zone must endure every day. Citizen groups are rallying to the support of the people of Malvinas.
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As the people of Argentina continue their growing fight to take back their country from the tyranny of agribusiness, the poison industry has a friend in the new president: “President Mauricio Macri has also shown his support for big agribusiness in his first month in office. In a move he promoted as a boost to agricultural production, Macri scrapped export taxes on big agricultural corporations producing corn, wheat, and beef, and lowered taxes on soybeans.”
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This contradicts what has always been the number one argument offered in favor of the Argentine “soy republic” and other branches of agribiz, that these commodity export taxes are the basis of Argentina’s allegedly vibrant economy, playing the same role as oil does for Saudi Arabia. I.e., Argentina is the equivalent of a petro-state. Indeed, since industrial agriculture is 100% dependent on cheap fossil fuels, we can call Argentina a meta-petro-state, essentially reselling oil in a rudimentary value-added form. Now they’re admitting that the alleged economic need for all this was always a lie.
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*Here’s a state of the union for Bt toxins, and things are looking quite nullific. In Brazil Cry1AB (MON810) and Cry1F (1507) are both failing against the target armyworm. A new study is unable to conclude whether the longstanding trend of resistance to Cry1F is now becoming cross-resistance to Cry1AB, or whether the resistance to Cry1AB is evolving on its own. Whatever, the researchers who just proved failure recommend more failure: The poisons should simply be stacked ever higher. The cool-sounding term for this is the “pyramid” strategy. They don’t tell you that the pyramid is constructed upside-down, and is just as structurally stable as you’d expect. Doug Gurian-Sherman explains why stacks are already failing and why cross-resistance is likely to become more prevalent. He also explains why RNAi insecticidal GMOs are likely to fail for the same reasons. Just like herbicide tolerant GMOs, insecticidal GMOs are a failed product genre. Reality has completely refuted them. Only cartel monopoly and government power keep them in existence at all.
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*As if Bt cotton doesn’t have enough problems with its inherent shoddiness and great vulnerability to anything less than maximum irrigation (Australian cotton has been a victim of climate chaos drought in recent years), in Australia it’s also being destroyed by 2,4-D drift. 2,4-D and dicamba are among the most highly volatile and drift-prone herbicides, causing massive damage to wild plants and other crops every year. If Dow and Monsanto are able to go through with their plan to commercialize on a mass scale GMOs tolerant of 2,4-D (Dow) and dicamba (Monsanto), the collateral destruction will surge exponentially. This is one of several reasons we must find a way to stop this deployment before it really gets rolling. Of course the EPA and USDA ardently back this great escalation of the Poison War.
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In the piece linked, note the notion “incorrect spraying”. This is false – 2,4-D drifts unpredictably, often for great distances, even when the user adheres to the label directions with the utmost vigilance. That’s part of why drift and superweeds/bugs are allowed to be acknowledged in the mainstream media. The farmer’s alleged “incorrect use” or “overuse” is always scapegoated. (I also noted above the Pakistan industry group’s absurd attempt to blame the farmers.) The other reason is that the proposed answer is always escalated poison technology. Drift is the problem? Dow’s patented formula is non-drift. Roundup Ready superweeds? The answer is Agent Orange crops. Superbugs? As the researchers I mentioned above recommended, stack more Bt toxins, and then it’ll be gene silencing to the rescue.
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*A judge issued a $53.5 million judgement against GM tree company ArborGen and its corporate parents International Paper, MeadWestvaco (now WestRock) and New Zealand-based Rubicon for defrauding ten “employees”. The plaintiffs, judged to have been defrauded out of their equity position, are evidently the genetic engineers themselves:
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While working for ArborGen, Plaintiffs were productive. It is undisputed that, as one
former ArborGen officer testified at trial, Plaintiffs were “good employees” when they worked for
ArborGen. TT 224:1-7 (Mann). ArborGen’s Chief Technology Officer Maud Hinchee testified by
way of her deposition that the secunded employees, particularly the senior scientists including
Plaintiff Shujun Chang, were instrumental in making ArborGen successful by generating
intellectual property and technology when ArborGen was starting out. SeePX 530 (Hinchee Depo.
25:2-11). Indeed, several Plaintiffs made key contributions to the intellectual property of
ArborGen that helped ArborGen’s value grow over time. See, e.g., PX 487 & 489 (relating to
somatic embryogenesis patents generated for ArborGen by Plaintiffs Nehra, Clark and Stout). Dr.
Nehra testified that the number of patents held by ArborGen that had been originated by its
scientists probably numbered in the hundreds. 1-1 471:17-22 (Nehra). Mr. Clark testified he alone
has 10 patent applications from his tenure at ArborGen. TT 1226:14-18 (Clark).

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I’m not sure who I would’ve preferred to see lose the case. That the corporation defrauded the engineers is certainly poetic justice and an occasion for schadenfreude. In researching my TTIP posts I noted that, according to the BIO’s submitted comments, they’re hoping the TTIP will increase “labor mobility”, i.e. drive down engineer salaries. Couldn’t happen to nicer guys.
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*A USDA study confirms the agency’s own original forecast that GM alfalfa would promiscuously the contaminate non-GM crop. This follows upon years of contamination incidents and China’s rejection of many hay shipments from the US. It contradicts the USDA’s own lies about “co-existence” and confirms that one of the goals of Roundup Ready alfalfa is to render organic meat and dairy production, which is heavily dependent upon non-GM hay, impossible.
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*The USDA continues to refuse to monitor glyphosate residues in food. Therefore, as per rational method where dealing with any such cover-up on the part of a derelict regulator, we must assume: 1. The USDA believes many common foods contain very high levels of glyphosate residue. 2. The USDA believes this causes cancer and many other health detriments. 3. That’s why they don’t want to know. “Plausible deniability.” If they were honest and self-confident, they would test. The same is true at every point of the entire system.
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Instead, they play their usual games of regulatory whack-a-mole (“the EPA says it’s safe, and anyway is currently conducting its own reassessment, so let’s wait for that”) and pleading that testing would be too expensive. Well, of course Monsanto, which should have to pay for the testing but NOT conduct it, would say it’s expensive. But why would a regulator allegedly concerned with the “public interest” be parroting Monsanto’s position? Why indeed.
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*When Monsanto hires a PR firm is that tax-deductible? And is that income tax-exempt for the firm? I’d think not. But when the company launders the same operation through a university, it’s tax-exempt and probably tax-deductible. Yet the money was handed over to Kevin Folta to use at his own discretion as a publicist, dirty trickster, and whatever else he felt like doing. This sure looks like what the IRS would call tax fraud if any small fish got caught doing it.
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*A new study in Nature traces the climate change denial propaganda network. It’s organized in the same way as the pro-GMO propaganda machine and overlaps to a large extent. The same professional liars often hired for both purposes, and in general there’s a very strong correlation of climate change deniers with pro-GMO activists and a strong anti-correlation of climate deniers and GMO critics. The new report (behind a paywall, so I couldn’t see the whole thing yet) undoubtedly traces many denier figures who are also GMO propagandists, and zero who are critics.
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Anthropogenic climate change represents a global threat to human well-being and ecosystem functioning. Yet despite its importance for science and policy, our understanding of the causes of widespread uncertainty and doubt found among the general public remains limited.

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I can help them with that. The general public sees lots of politicians and insider NGO types issuing the most dire warnings about climate change, yet without exception these persons continue to advocate economic Business As Usual, as we just saw in Paris. The vast majority of them also live the most gluttonous personal lifestyles and have huge personal carbon footprints. So it makes perfect sense that members of the public would take an attitude, if not denying the actual physical science, still denying the political contention that this is really a crisis. After all, the actions of the likes of Obama, his negotiators at Paris, the Big Green environmental groups, all directly contradict their rhetoric. Clearly they’re liars when they claim to believe climate change is a growing crisis that must be faced honestly, rationally, morally, and without sham.
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Those who do recognize the full magnitude and peril of the crisis know there’s only one path: Greatly reduce GHG emissions, stop destroying carbon sinks, rebuild carbon sinks. All else is vanity and sham.
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BTW, bona fide climate change deniers are proportionally more common among the more highly formally educated, and especially among STEM types, than among the general public. (Just as Christian fundamentalists and evolution deniers are more common among engineers than among the public.) I just wanted to point that out, apropos of the implied elitism of the abstract quoted above.
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*Public health author Pam Killeen eulogizes Joe Cummins: “He didn’t keep his mouth shut, and that made him the renegade scientist, the renegade professor.” Very high praise in the time of the dominion of corporate science. He died of the cancer he spent his life fighting, in forms from PCBs to GMOs.
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*Alaska senator Lisa Murkowski is threatening to block FDA nominee Robert Califf until he pledges that FDA will require that GM salmon be labeled. The Alaska delegation cares so much about this particular GMO only because they want to protect Alaska’s wild salmon industry, and indeed they should be concerned. But just as we suspected, Murkowski is quick to stipulate that she doesn’t want labeling for any other GMOs, offering a completely unscientific and irrational distinction between genetically engineered crops and a genetically engineered animal. Is there any such distinction? No one knows, and there’s zero reason to think that anything unsafe about GM salmon wouldn’t also be unsafe about GM plants.
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*One thing Campbell’s confirms once and for all, though common sense always knew it and studies proved it – GMO labeling will have zero effect on food prices. The piece is better than many. While “thanking” Campbell’s it makes clear that the company is saying these things only under duress from consumer pressure, the state-level movement, and Vermont. That’s the same state-level movement so many “labeling advocates” have suddenly shown such eagerness to throw overboard, the moment a so-called “mandatory” FDA policy is on the table.
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January 13, 2016

Action Note: Blueprint for an Agitation and Pressure Group

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For example, let’s say a few people looking for a worthwhile campaign decided to commit to the abolition of glyphosate. What might such a group be like for starters?
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1. For any activism to be worthwhile it has to fight for the necessary goal. The uncompromising goal: The total abolition of glyphosate. Strategy and tactics would then follow from this goal. Partial steps could be acceptable, but only on the vector toward total abolition, never counter to it.
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What this group might do.
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2. Completely master all existing knowledge on glyphosate and keep up with it in real time as new knowledge is found. Group members would divide the research and reporting labor. Learn it all inside and out – cancer, birth defects, neurodisease, organ toxicity, gastrointestinal damage, the microbiome, autoimmune disease, allergenic maladies, the environmental devastation, soil, water, bees, monarchs, its agronomic failure (superweeds and other problems), how all glyphosate-tolerant GMOs and the foods which follow from them are suffused with glyphosate and AMPA residue, its malign effect on farming consolidation and farming economics, the way it distorts politics and economies, corporate lies, fraud, and secrecy, regulator dereliction, cover-ups, and lies, everything. This research is done always with an eye to applying all knowledge to the abolition fight.
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If the expertise and means are at hand, create knowledge ourselves. Original study and reporting.
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3. Original writing on all these main glyphosate topics. The writing is abolitionist analysis and a call to action.
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4. Relentless, disciplined publicity, online and where applicable through fliers etc. Assert selves, get the writings published as far and wide as possible, all under a clearly recognizable abolition banner.
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5. Planned group commentary at mainstream media comment threads and at other important sites. Stop letting the organized liars face only disorganized, often less-knowledgeable ad hoc opposition. Counterattack them with the fully erudite, philosophically coherent, organized, disciplined truth. Reply in a strong, organized way to corporate media pro-glyphosate propaganda and hatchet jobs on campaigners, scientists, and scientific bodies like the IARC.
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6. In real life start public discussion groups with monthly meetings, hold public meetings, give lectures and presentations.
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7. In all these publicity endeavors the three goals are: To educate the people about glyphosate; to force the idea of the need for abolition and how easily doable it is into the public consciousness, getting people to be aware of this idea and to remember it, whether they initially agree with it or not; and to convince people to agree with and support the abolition goal.
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8. Pressure campaigns on municipalities which use glyphosate to stop using it, and retailers to stop carrying it. Friends of the Earth and other campaign groups have shown what can be done through their campaigns to get retailers to pledge not to sell GM salmon or not to use GM potatoes and apples, or to stop using neonics on their products. Recently such cities as Barcelona and Edinburgh have responded to campaigns with pledges to phase out glyphosate use. Same for some retailers in France and Germany. Germany banned the surfactant POEA from glyphosate formulations sold within the country. (It’s still included in Roundup everywhere else.) If they can be driven to ban POEA, they can be driven to ban glyphosate as such.
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Abolitionists support these campaign goals in themselves, and a dedicated abolition group would also always use every such campaign as an occasion to publicize the need for total abolition.
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9. In all these endeavors, the group seeks as much as possible to speak directly to the people. When it speaks to establishment media it does so in a way calculated to be channeled as clearly to the general public as possible. While it welcomes the adherence or sympathy of any kind of professional or establishment type, it does so only on an abolitionist basis, never in terms of modifying itself to be more “respectable” or “acceptable” to any element of the establishment. This doesn’t mean chaos, but it means an organized, disciplined adherence to ecological philosophy and science, the abolitionist philosophy, and the abolitionist goal.
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So there’s a brief sketch of the kind of small, grassroots action group which could launch itself with minimal resources except for the time, energy, and commitment of its members. If it did its job well then growth and greater resources would follow, but it must never drift from its grassroots nature rooted in ecology, democracy, positive freedom, and abolitionism.
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This template could be applied for other kinds of abolitionist campaigns. It’s also a sketch toward the broader movement need for a fully ramified GMO and pesticide abolition organization, which I’ll write more about soon.
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January 11, 2016

The EPA and Glyphosate

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In 2015 the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reviewed the entire scientific record on glyphosate and conservatively decided that the herbicide is a probable human carcinogen.
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This finding contradicts decades of public assurances from the US EPA and Monsanto that glyphosate is safe, and in particular that it does not cause cancer. It calls into question the integrity and the competence of the EPA, which as recently as 2013 reaffirmed its position that “glyphosate does not pose a cancer risk to humans” and licentiously raised the tolerance levels for glyphosate residues* in many foods. This is part of the well-worn regulatory path of mechanically raising tolerance levels for pesticide residues in food in accordance with whatever the manufacturer projects will be the result of a new product or use pattern. For example, let’s go back to the original Roundup Ready approvals in the mid-1990s:
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In final conclusion, Monsanto says that ‘the maximum combined glyphosate and AMPA residue level of approximately 40 ppm in soybean forage resulting from these new uses exceeds the currently established tolerance of 15 ppm. Therefore, an increase in the combined glyphosate and AMPA tolerance for residues in soybean forage will be requested.’ They know very well that adoption of herbicide tolerance crop needs higher safety standards. [Edit: “Higher” meaning allowing higher residues; the safety standard is of course lowered.] In effect, the US tolerance standard of combined glyphosate and AMPA in soybean forage was changed to 100 ppm after they approved the genetically engineered soybean.

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(I highly recommend that entire piece for its details on many kinds of corporate and regulatory “scientific” fraud.)
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[*Suffused pesticide such as glyphosate and its breakdown product AMPA in herbicide tolerant GMOs or neonicotinoid insecticide in pretty much any industrial crop these days, is a premeditated food additive which becomes part of the food by the normal procedures of the agriculture and food systems. Therefore the FDA is required by law to assess and regulate it, including requiring its listing in the ingredients. The fact that the FDA refuses to do so is a typical example of how government regulators systematically break the de jure law in addition to their general gross treachery against the public and environmental health they’re allegedly there to safeguard. Capitalist regulators really have a very different mission. This includes lying about the public health, not defending it. Suffused pesticide is also one of the primary refutations of the FDA’s “substantial equivalence” religious dogma.]
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In the same way that the EPA mechanically raises the allowed poison residue levels at the corporations’ command, so it also has a history of changing its assessments of the carcinogenicity of corporate products in response to changing corporate needs. The most notorious example is glyphosate. EPA knew since at least the early 1980s that glyphosate causes cancer. The evidence was so conclusive that, in spite of EPA’s doing all it could to interpret Monsanto’s own test results in the best possible light, it felt compelled to give the poison Classification C – “Suggestive evidence of carcinogenic potential”.
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In terms of market share glyphosate wasn’t yet a major pesticide at the time of this 1985 classification. But by the early 1990s Monsanto was preparing to bring Roundup Ready crops to market. It was time to whitewash glyphosate’s cancer record more thoroughly. EPA happily complied. Without further ado, with zero new evidence, not even a new round of phony tests, EPA in 1991 changed the classification to Group E, “Not likely to be carcinogenic to humans”. In an example of a common rhetorical ploy, EPA publicists issued an even stronger, more politicized and fraudulent phrasing: “Evidence of non-carcinogenicity to humans.”
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The EPA hasn’t yet issued a position on the IARC report. But based on this history we can expect it will continue to run interference and falsify the evidence on behalf of Monsanto and glyphosate. We’ve already seen act one of the spectacle of fraud in Europe. We can expect the EPA to do the same because it has an intrinsic imperative to maximize poison manufacture and use, what I call the Poisoner imperative. It also joins other agencies in having a mandate to bolster GMOs as an important “growth” (i.e. corporate domination) sector. Then there’s the usual mundane corruption and revolving door motives. And as I mentioned above, EPA’s entire credibility and legitimacy is on the line. It must double down on its lies and stand or fall with Monsanto. To break with the corporation and admit that glyphosate causes cancer would be a tremendous loss of face.
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There is one other possibility. If specially dedicated action groups could effectively propagate the facts about glyphosate directly to the people, evading the propaganda screen of government and mainstream media, and organize pressure groups upon government bodies which have oversight and/or procurement powers with regard to glyphosate to the point that these agencies felt real political pressure, it’s possible that we could not only continue the momentum of municipalities and retailers dropping or refusing to carry various poison products, but that we could even force the EPA to lose confidence in its lies. The EPA has shown a few slight signs of weakness lately. These two first two retrenchments were the direct result of lawsuits, but this latest change of position on neonics and honeybees has been forced by many years of untiring political pressure. Public interest lawsuits as well cannot exist in a technocratic vacuum but depend for their food and oxygen on a broad and committed political consciousness. In the end political action and resolve will decide the battle. In a soon-to-come post I’ll sketch out what kind of action groups I have in mind.
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January 10, 2016

The EPA Fights For 2,4-D and Dioxin

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Since the 1970s the EPA has been an ardent booster of maximal poison spraying and the application of poisons to ever new frontiers. One of the expanded corporate welfare programs was government contracts for herbicide spraying in national forests. Private companies also receive subsidies for massive spraying of 2,4,5-T, and 2,4-D, and glyphosate. This is a direct handout to the timber companies and ultimately a laundered handout to the poison manufacturers.
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By the late 1970s EPA was aware of huge spikes in birth defects and miscarriages in the timber regions where this spraying was most intense. Alsea, Oregon was stricken with a local epidemic of miscarriages and birth defects including babies being born with fatal brain defects or being stillborn without brains. EPA investigators found dioxin in local creek sediments and accumulating in the bodies of local people. By the early 1980s EPA was tracking similar outbreaks in Washington, Oregon, Montana, Wisconsin, and Oklahoma. Internal EPA memos make clear that EPA quickly zeroed in on the dioxins contained in 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D as the likely cause of the outbreaks. A 1981 memo called the dioxin TCDD “the most toxic chemical ever known”, cancer-causing and acutely lethal at “exceedingly low doses”.
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By the late 70s 2,4,5-T had such a bad reputation for its toxicity, and was relatively less important to the Poisoners than other herbicides such as 2,4-D and the triazines, that the US government decided it was expendable and banned it. EPA took the opportunity to blame the epidemics of birth defects and miscarriages on 2,4,5-T while letting 2,4-D off the hook. This was in spite of the fact that at least as early as 1983 EPA was aware that 2,4-D also contains dioxin.
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This information is from a piece by Evaggelos Vallianatos, one of many he’s written presenting information from his recent book Poison Spring. This is a whistle-blowing story based on Vallianatos’s 25 years as an EPA science analyst. Poison Spring describes the EPA’s systematic cover-ups and its lies to the people and Congress on behalf of the corporations that distribute poison. It’s a Nuremburg brief.
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Vallianatos says the information on the birth defect and miscarriage epidemics has been purged from EPA files and databases. This is part of the standard pattern of cover-ups, false science, and lies at EPA. There’s nothing new about the recent exposure of EPA’s manipulation of Dow’s own data in order to whitewash the adverse safety evidence on Enlist Duo. At least since the mid-seventies EPA has sought to cover up the systematic laboratory fraud uncovered by its own auditors.
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It’s always been an insult to common sense that regulators allow the corporations to police themselves and accept the corporation’s own product safety submissions as valid evidence. Simple rationality knows a priori that the fox can’t be allowed to guard the henhouse, and if reason’s not enough for you (ironically, it’s precisely those who exalt a cult of “Reason” who are the most contemptuous of rationality in day to day practice), we have the evidence record of history, which proves that the corporation will always lie about its own products. There are no exceptions to this. It’s as certain as that the sun will rise in the morning.
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Therefore, the fact that regulators like the EPA continue to accept corporate lies at face value and then propagate these lies whitewashed with the agencies’ own stamp of approval is an ongoing scandal and crime against humanity. There is no innocence about any of this. It’s impossible to make an honest mistake about the actions and “studies” of the likes of Monsanto and Dow.
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Then the corporate media takes up the laundered lies and gives them its own embellishment along with its own vote of confidence in the integrity of the regulators, and sometimes of the corporations as well. The goal, always, is to try to prop up “public confidence” in the technology, the poison, the corporation, and in the regulators themselves. That’s why the phrase “public confidence” has such an Orwellian ring these days. It’s a confidence game indeed, played by confidence men.
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As Vallianatos points out, even the rare times the media interrogates a regulator like the EPA, as in the recent Chicago Tribune piece exposing the EPA’s methodological fraud regarding Enlist Duo, the questioning is usually done within the framework of how well policy tallies with the establishment scientific literature. Seldom does anyone question the validity of this literature in the first place. But this literature was compiled largely under corporate direction and, as damning as it often is, still represents only what the corporations were willing to make public. It obscures the even more damning data which the corporations keep secret, and the greater range of scientific research which is never performed in the first place because the corporations and government live in terror of what such research would reveal about the health and environmental destruction wrought by their profitable and ideological products. If Dow’s own tendentious studies of Enlist found such organ toxicity and endocrine disruption, and Monsanto’s own studies (manipulated as they were) proved that glyphosate causes cancer, we can be sure that more rigorous tests would reveal even more horrific results.
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The epidemics of birth defects and miscarriages localized to US regions heavily sprayed with herbicides mirrors the vastly greater epidemics in Vietnam where the US waged vicious chemical warfare, devastating vast landscapes and whole communities with Agent Orange. Agent Orange was a 50-50 mix of 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T. Monsanto and Dow were its main manufacturers. Today Dow expects that “Enlist Duo” herbicide, a combination of 2,4-D and glyphosate, will be shipped and sprayed on a mass basis in 2016. “Enlist” corn and soybeans, first planted on a pilot basis in 2015 but slated for general mass plantings in 2016, are engineered to be resistant to this carcinogenic tandem. So Dow and the EPA are counting on a massive escalation of the spraying and drift of this primary Agent Orange ingredient, 2,4-D, and a massive escalation in the dioxin which will suffuse the environment, including our soil and food.
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2,4-D in its own right causes cancer, birth defects, reproductive problems such as miscarriages, Parkinson’s disease and other afflictions. Just as with glyphosate, 2,4-D is genotoxic, an endocrine disruptor, and causes oxidative stress. All three of these are mechanisms which cause cancer. As an endocrine disruptor it’s carcinogenic at very low doses and therefore has no safe level of application. If we want to significantly lower the cancer rate, we have no option other than to ban glyphosate, 2,4-D, neonicotinoids, and all other endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). 2,4-D is extremely drift prone, commonly destroying other crops. Pro-poison activists often claim that the manufacture of 2,4-D doesn’t automatically produce dioxin as a byproduct the way 2,4,5-T does, but that 2,4-D will be laced with dioxin only if the manufacturer cuts corners. But as Poison Spring documents, at least since the early 1980s EPA has had strong evidence that dioxin is a common byproduct of 2,4-D’s regular manufacture.
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Dow swears up and down its Enlist brand is “clean”, and in 2015 the EPA required that the pilot programs for the Enlist maize and soy varieties use only Dow’s brand of the poison. But if the 2,4-D expansion project goes forward, we can be sure that many farmers will use cheaper, more dangerous mixes. Of course we can’t trust Dow and the EPA either where it comes to the dioxin content of Enlist Duo. 2,4-D as such threatens to turn vast swathes of US arable land into the equivalent of Times Beach.
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And to repeat, even “clean” 2,4-D causes cancer, birth defects, and many other afflictions. Dicamba, the herbicide Monsanto is banking upon for its financial future, has the same severe effects. These herbicides, the same that just yesterday Monsanto and the USDA were calling extremely toxic and fraudulently promising would be rendered obsolete by the allegedly less toxic* Roundup Ready system, must be banned. We must dedicate relentless campaigns to strangling these retrograde, luddite poison crop systems before they become entrenched.
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[*Contrary to the standard lie about glyphosate, it’s impossible to know which is “more” toxic out of glyphosate, 2,4-D, or dicamba, and it’s irrelevant. The fact is that all three are far too toxic to be used. All three must be banned completely.]
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We have the EPA to thank most for allowing 2,4-D based herbicides in the first place. The FDA punts even though 1. it’s legally required to consider these endemic herbicide residues to be food additives, 2. to recognize them as carcinogenic (the EPA also connives on this point), 3. to ban foods which contain suffused glyphosate or 2,4-D, which would mean all food ingredients which came from herbicide tolerant GMOs. The FDA in fact violates the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act with this dereliction, as it has violated the law in many other ways in the course of its rubberstamping and cheerleading for GMOs. The EPA also is used to breaking the de jure law wherever the Poisoner imperative makes it necessary.
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But like I said above about the official “scientific literature”, so it is with “the law”. As the official law has been narrowed and denuded in order to legalize most corporate crimes (and in fact the main purpose of the corporate form itself is to bestow personal legal immunity on criminals by allowing their crimes legally to be laundered through “the corporation”), so the scope of the crimes explodes massively beyond the bounds of the de jure law. As I mentioned at the start of this piece, we’re in the kind of criminal territory where only a Nuremburg-style proceeding would be equal to the character and magnitude of the crimes.
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What to do? The EPA and other regulatory bureaucracies are inherently anti-democratic and inherently secretive. That’s why, even leaving aside mundane corruption motives, all bureaucracies automatically have a close affinity and empathy with Monsanto and its projects, including such notions as the corporation policing itself, “secret science”, and the corporate science paradigm in general.
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We who oppose the poisoning of our food, water, soil, and bodies by dioxin, 2,4-D and glyphosate must not only directly counterattack Monsanto and Dow, but analyze and critique regulatory bureaucracies like the EPA and systematically propagate this analysis and criticism in weaponized form toward the goal of demolishing their credibility and legitimacy. Just as we must do against mercenary establishment “science”.
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