Volatility

April 29, 2017

Note on the Rising Ecological Science and Practice

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An example of the right idea and correct design.

 
 
In most cases where anyone talks about renewable energy it’s still completely in the service of the wrong idea: Extreme energy consumption toward general productionism and wasteful consumptionism. “Renewable energy” is merely supposed to replace (in reality, supplement) fossil fuels toward the goal of feeding the extreme consumption maw.
 
And then this wrong idea automatically drives bad design. Renewable energy is conceived in terms of concentrated solar panels and industrial wind farms, all of it of course under corporate control. (And all of it dependent on a foundation of continued fossil fuel extraction and burning.) Massive electricity production, massive electricity consumption, all to be used as wastefully and destructively as possible. They even want to continue with the personal car, even though this requires using the propaganda meme of “renewables” in the service of what are really fracking cars, coal cars, nuke cars. Social and engineering design doesn’t get more stupid and pernicious than wanting to use electricity to power such self-indulgent luxury transportation in the first place, and it was inevitable that the whole thing would be nothing but a pure fraud. A Prius is exactly the same product as a Hummer and exactly as ecologically and culturally destructive.
 
 
We know the corporate science paradigm generates only waste and destruction. What kind of science and engineering will be constructive for the human and ecological future? This goes with the question of what constitutes real science and in what way science can be restored to its proper, constructive role as a tool for the benefit of humanity and helpmate of human well-being.
 
Science and engineering must focus on the most constructive result within the framework of low energy consumption, low greenhouse gas emissions, low-maintenance technology, resiliency, robustness, and which does not destroy carbon sinks or in any other way harm the environment. Optimally, it’ll contribute to rebuilding sinks. This is the science which will be constructive and beneficial toward the necessary ecological human future.
 
These criteria are dictated by the finitude of fossil fuels, surging climate chaos, the acidification of the oceans, the mass eradication of biodiversity, the imminent collapse of the soils, and other looming environmental collapses. We must learn to live harmonious with the ecology or die. We’ve also learned that humanity cannot co-exist with corporations and therefore with any technological deployment which is inherently high-maintenance and hierarchical. Science and engineering which would benefit humanity would focus on inherently low-maintenance, decentralized, democratic technologies. As Auden wrote at the beginning of WWII, a war which never ended, “We must love another or die.”
 
Obviously these criteria rule out “hi-tech agriculture”, which is mutually exclusive with all of these, as well as any development or deployment of high-maintenance technology. It rules out anything which assumes globalization, since modern globalization is mutually exclusive with low energy consumption and low emissions, and as the most fully developed form of corporate domination it’s mutually exclusive with human innovation and freedom.
 
Agroecology is the gold standard for a fully developed science and set of practices which superbly fulfills all these necessary specifications.
 
 
I write about the future of agriculture and food as Peak Oil, climate chaos, environmental collapse, and extreme cultural and political volatility impend. Others must take up the corresponding tasks to propagate the necessary ideas for other essential sectors.
 
 
 
Help propagate the necessary ideas.
 
 
 
 
 

February 7, 2017

Food Sovereignty and Agroecology for Africa and the World

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As the great battle escalates in Africa, we must learn what agroecology is and why it’s the necessary and bountiful path forward for Africa and for all of humanity. I’ve written about it before many times, including here, here, and here. I’ve given basic account of the clash of corporate agriculture against humanity in my new pieces on the corporate plan to recolonize Africa.
 
Agroecology is the practice of agriculture in harmony with the overall ecology. It is agriculture as a constructive, contributing part of local and global ecosystems. The practice of agroecology is the only way humans can practice agriculture in a way which gives as much to the Earth as it takes. It’s roughly synonymous with organic agriculture in the original sense of the term. (Not the degraded sense of the US government and the industrial organic sector. Industrial organic is not agroecological, it’s industrial. It mines the Earth in a way similar to regular poison-based industrial. The only difference is it doesn’t use most synthetic poisons.) In philosophy and practice, agroecology works as a part of nature rather at war with it, in harmony with the rhythms of nature rather than against them, using natural features as reinforcements or remedies, keeping actions within the natural cycles of a regional ecosystem. All this makes for an agriculture which is most sustainable in producing the most nutritious food (and the most calories, acre for acre) using no artificial poisons, doing so in a way which enhances ecosystems, economies, and communities, rather than destroying all these the way corporate industrial agriculture does. Agroecology grows food for human beings. The more the practice spreads, the less hunger, food insecurity, and dietary disease there will be. In contrast, corporate agriculture has always increased hunger and always will increase hunger and cause famine, wherever it prevails. Agroecology provides the only way for humanity to live in a way not destructive, not parasitic, not a mere worthless squatting on the surface of the Earth. It’s the only way forward, if humanity is to have a future.
 
The term “agroecology” indicates its basis in the combined sciences of agronomy and ecology. It is scientific in the true sense of the term. Its practitioners are constantly applying theory to locally-based (i.e. real world) practice, and based on the results modifying and repeating theory and practice, all toward the goal of producing sufficient calories and nutrition. Combined with the political philosophy of Food Sovereignty, agroecology then distributes this food directly to human beings, more than enough for everyone, so that everyone actually gets enough to eat.
 
By contrast, science condemns the industrial agriculture experiment as having failed at everything it ever promised it would do. It did nothing but use the temporary fossil fuel surplus to produce more gross calories. But it distributes these calories in a grotesquely wasteful, inefficient, and inequitable way. The result is that even as food production goes up, corporate industrial agriculture invariably increases hunger. Corporate agriculture can never do anything but increase hunger and make famine more common. Hunger and famine are caused exclusively by poverty and inequality. They have none but artificial, socially caused reasons. Corporate agriculture inherently drives poverty and inequality, because it inherently drives concentration of control over the good land and the control of all resources including food, which must always be rendered artificially scarce. Artificial scarcity is the only way capitalist profit is possible. On the first day of Economics 101 students are always told, on the first page of the textbook, that economics is about allocating scarce resources. The course then tells the Big Lie that this scarcity is “natural”. But in truth the scarcity is almost always purely artificial. In the case of food, it is always artificial. The fact that governments, corporations, media, academia, and the parasite intelligentsia in general wish to continue the evil experiment, now extending it to Africa in a more virulent form than hitherto, is proof that the elites and the experimenters were lying about their proclaimed goals all along. Their goal always has been nothing but to enforce hunger, because their goal always has been nothing but to enforce power and control. We know these facts: Corporate rule is purely wasteful and destructive, does nothing for humanity, and accomplishes nothing but to enable a small group of criminals to further concentrate wealth and power and exercise domination. In the end power and domination are their only goals and their only reasons for being.
 
The core lie of capitalist civilization is that there isn’t enough food for everyone to eat well. In reality both industrial agriculture (for the duration of cheap, plentiful fossil fuels) and agroecology produce far more than enough food. This is true globally, it’s true in every region, it’s true in every country. Hunger is driven only by profiteering and aggression. Famine is caused only by economic aggression and war. The great lie of scarcity is told in order to justify these wars, justify the campaigns of economic and political aggression called “globalization”, justify centralized state power, justify corporate power and profit, justify the massive use of poisons, justify the development and deployment of technologies which are extremely expensive, usually destructive, and always wasteful and worthless. It’s told to justify forcing people to buy food with money according to a predatory commodity system. It’s told to justify forcing people into the framework of submitting to coercion and de facto slavery in order to obtain this artificially necessary money. It’s told to justify the fact that a billion people on Earth go hungry for no other reason than that they lack this money, even as there exists far more than enough food for 10 billion people to eat well, and even as astronomical amounts of food go to waste every day.
 
The “Feed the World” lie is told by elites and their parasite hangers-on and supporters. It’s told in order to justify all crimes of all institutions. It’s told to justify, absolve, normalize, exalt as “the good”, and turn organized crime into the normative measure of “civilization”. The whole abomination stands or falls with this malign religious belief which strives to erase the fact that the Earth is a world of abundance, that human labor coaxes a great bounty from the fruitful Earth. The corporate system exists to enclose, hoard, constrain, ration out, where necessary destroy this Earthy abundance, this human greatness. Food Sovereignty shall break all the chains and shatter all the bottlenecks the corporate “order” has forced upon humanity, liberating all of humanity’s creative forces. Agroecology is the great vehicle, the way.
 
Agroecology is highly skilled work. It requires intimate knowledge of the ways of the soil, weather, climate, plants (crops, other beneficial plants, potentially harmful plants called “weeds”), animals (livestock, other beneficial animals, potentially harmful ones called “pests”). Agroecology’s innovative and highly productive practices reject the straitjacket of monoculture, reject synthetic fertilizers and other poisons, include natural nutrient-cycling and soil-building, the use of manure, compost, and cover crops, crop rotation, intercropping, alley cropping with leguminous trees, infusion of free-living nitrogen-fixing bacteria into the soil, biological pest control, agroforestry, better water management, rotation of livestock with annual crops, the whole art of integrating grass-fed livestock pastoralism with vegetable production. It requires the most efficient and effective use of energy and other resources. This knowledge is built primarily by the farmers themselves and shared among them. Agroecologically-inclined agronomists use this body of knowledge to build agroecological theory which the farmers then apply to their practices, with some help from agronomy schools and NGOs. All this is done with emphasis on the most appropriate specific application of general principles within a particular region/locality. This great work of knowledge and practice is fully developed and ready to be deployed globally.
 
This global deployment is necessary because the fossil fuel crutch, required for each and every part of industrial agriculture, from the inputs and financing to the growing to the processing and distribution and preparation, soon shall be removed once and for all. Fossil fuels are non-renewable, there is no substitute for them, nothing can provide even a fraction of this extreme, ahistorical level of energy consumption, and the age of cheap, plentiful fossil fuels therefore nears its predestined end. Corporate industrial agriculture is not sustainable, and proceeding with it is not an option. The two options are to stick with industrialism to the bitter end until it collapses once and for all, leaving in its wake universal famine, universal chaos and confusion, and the desperate struggle to find some new way to procure enough food under the worst practical and intellectual circumstances. Or, to undertake the great affirmative transformation to agroecology and Food Sovereignty, deploying the great body of science and practice we have built. This body of knowledge and practice, as it exists today, already is humanity’s greatest accomplishment. The only greater attainment will be the great transformation, the full global deployment of Food Sovereignty, which will comprise the redemption of humanity and Earth in socioecological concord. Any other path leads inexorably down to disaster.
 
 
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Agroecology is proven to be the most nutritionally productive form of agriculture as well as the most calorically productive, acre for acre. Peter Rosset testifies:
 

In fact, data shows that small farms almost always produce far more agricultural output per unit area than larger farms, do so more efficiently, and produce food rather than export crops and fuels. This holds true whether we are talking about industrial countries or any country in the third world. This is widely recognized by agricultural economists as the “inverse relationship between farm size and output.” When I examined the relationship between farm size and total output for fifteen countries in the third world, in all cases relatively smaller farm sizes were much more productive per unit area—2 to 10 times more productive—than larger ones.

 
A team at the University of Michigan surveyed hundreds of organic and agroecological trials and found that agroecological/organic/low-input production, using the same amount of land globally under cultivation right now, would outproduce industrial agriculture in caloric production for all significant food groups, and can do so while replacing synthetic fertilizers with natural nutrient cycling. They analyzed the data according to two models, one a best-case scenario and the other more conservative, and found that even by the conservative parameters organic agriculture would produce calories, including in grain production, comparable to today’s industrial output, and therefore more than enough to feed everyone on earth. By the best-case model, agroecology could produce over 50% more than the current industrial production.
 
The 2010 report on agroecology from the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food summarized a similar survey performed by a team led by Jules Pretty, with special emphasis on Africa.
 

17. Such resource-conserving, low-external-input techniques have a proven potential to significantly improve yields. In what may be the most systematic study of the potential of such techniques to date, Jules Pretty et al. compared the impacts of 286 recent sustainable agriculture projects in 57 poor countries covering 37 million hectares (3 per cent of the cultivated area in developing countries). They found that such interventions increased productivity on 12.6 millions farms, with an average crop increase of 79 per cent, while improving the supply of critical environmental services. Disaggregated data from this research showed that average food production per household rose by 1.7 tonnes per year (up by 73 per cent) for 4.42 million small farmers growing cereals and roots on 3.6 million hectares, and that increase in food production was 17 tonnes per year (up 150 per cent) for 146,000 farmers on 542,000 hectares cultivating roots (potato, sweet potato, cassava). After UNCTAD and UNEP reanalyzed the database to produce a summary of the impacts in Africa, it was found that the average crop yield increase was even higher for these projects than the global average of 79 per cent at 116 per cent increase for all African projects and 128 per cent increase for projects in East Africa.

 
These numbers prove that the US and British governments, the Gates Foundation, and agrochemical corporations like Monsanto and Syngenta are lying when they claim to want to “help small farmers” and “feed the world”. The fact that they ignore these numbers, and ignore the entire failed history of corporate agriculture and its “Green Revolution”, and instead persist in touting fertilizers, pesticides, GMOs, and the entire industrial monoculture commodity framework, proves that their conscious goal is to destroy all food-based community farming and replace it with export-based commodity industrial plantations. The vast majority of the people are to be driven off their land and into shantytowns to starve. This is the one and only purpose and goal of Green Revolution II, the “second green revolution for Africa.”
 
Subsequent sections of the UN report give more details on what agroecology has proven in demonstration and partial deployment.
 

18. The most recent large-scale study points to the same conclusions. Research commissioned by the Foresight Global Food and Farming Futures project of the UK Government reviewed 40 projects in 20 African countries where sustainable intensification was developed during the 2000s. The projects included crop improvements (particularly improvements through participatory plant breeding on hitherto neglected orphan crops), integrated pest management, soil conservation and agro-forestry. By early 2010, these projects had documented benefits for 10.39 million farmers and their families and improvements on approximately 12.75 million hectares. Crop yields more than doubled on average (increasing 2.13-fold) over a period of 3-10 years, resulting in an increase in aggregate food production of 5.79 million tonnes per year, equivalent to 557 kg per farming household.

19. Sometimes, seemingly minor innovations can provide high returns. In Kenya, researchers and farmers developed the “push-pull” strategy to control parasitic weeds and insects that damage the crops. The strategy consists in “pushing” away pests from corn by inter-planting corn with insect-repellent crops like Desmodium, while “pulling” them towards small plots of Napier grass, a plant that excretes a sticky gum which both attracts and traps pests. The system not only controls pests but has other benefits as well, because Desmodium can be used as fodder for livestock. The push-pull strategy doubles maize yields and milk production while, at the same time, improves the soil. The system has already spread to more than 10,000 households in East Africa by means of town meetings, national radio broadcasts and farmer field schools.

20. Agroecology is also gaining ground in Malawi, a country that has been at the centre of attention in recent years. Malawi successfully launched a fertilizer subsidy programme in 2005-2006, following the dramatic food crisis due to drought in 2004-2005. However, it is now implementing agroforestry systems, using nitrogen-fixing trees, to ensure sustained growth in maize production…By mid-2009, over 120,000 Malawian farmers had received training and tree materials from the programme, and support from Ireland has now enabled extension of the programme to 40 per cent of Malawi’s districts, benefiting 1.3 million of the poorest people. Research shows that this results in increased yields from 1 t/ha to 2–3 t/ha, even if farmers cannot afford commercial nitrogen fertilizers…An optimal solution that could be an exit strategy from fertilizer subsidy schemes would be to link fertilizer subsidies directly to agroforestry investments on the farm in order to provide for long-term sustainability in nutrient supply, and to build up soil health as the basis for sustained yields and improved efficiency of fertilizer response. Malawi is reportedly exploring this “subsidy to sustainability” approach.

21…One key reason why agroecology helps to support incomes in rural areas is because it promotes on-farm fertility generation. Indeed, supplying nutrients to the soil does not necessarily require adding mineral fertilizers. It can be done by applying livestock manure or by growing green manures. Farmers can also
establish a “fertilizer factory in the fields” by planting trees that take nitrogen out of the air and “fix” it in their leaves, which are subsequently incorporated into the soil. That, in essence, is the result of planting Faidherbia albida, a nitrogen-fixing acacia species indigenous to Africa and widespread throughout the continent. Since this tree goes dormant and sheds its foliage during the early rainy season at the time when field crops are being established, it does not compete significantly with them for light, nutrients or water during the growing season; yet it allows a significant increase in yields of the maize with which it is combined, particularly in conditions of low soil fertility. In Zambia, unfertilized maize yields in the vicinity of Faidherbia trees averaged 4.1 t/ha, compared to 1.3 t/ha nearby, but beyond the tree canopy. Similar results were observed in Malawi, where this tree was also widely used. The use of such nitrogen-fixing trees avoids dependence on synthetic fertilizers, the price of which has been increasingly high and volatile over the past few years, exceeding food commodity prices, even when the latter reached a peak in July 2008. In this way, whatever financial assets the household has can be used on other essentials, such as education or medicine.

 
The 2008 report from the World Bank’s own International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science, and Technology for Development, endorsed by all participating countries except the predatory globalists the US, Canada, and Australia, insisted on the sufficiency and necessity of agroecology. A 2013 report from the UN’s Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) reinforced this consensus among all honest commentators.
 
Today we need to build new food systems in light of this knowledge. Where the age-old organic practices persist as in Africa, farmers need to sustain and enhance them in light of modern agroecological knowledge. Where these have been marginalized or obliterated, they need to be rebuilt. The people of Africa have a great opportunity. Instead of going further down the destructive and self-destructive corporate path, they have a golden opportunity to fully embrace agroecology. All of African agriculture has this opportunity to reject the evils of corporate poison-based agriculture and instead undertake the natural and rational transition from their traditional agriculture to scientific agroecology. This is the path to food security, economic stability and prosperity, human and ecological health, and political freedom. The same is true throughout the world. All the world must answer this great call to human and ecological necessity.
 
 
 
 

February 4, 2017

The Agricultural War in Africa

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The IDEA of food is the weapon.

The IDEA of food is the weapon.

 
 
Since the age of exploration sub-Saharan Africa has received almost zero benefit from its contact with Western imperialism, only harm. From the slave trade to the age of direct imperial domination to decolonization carried out amid a resentful Western campaign of vandalism and chaos to the West’s use of the continent as a Cold War proxy, we have an unbroken and unmitigated record of the purely exploitative attitude and action of the West.
 
Globalization has been as evil as the previous assaults. Globalization acts to destroy all local production and distribution. It destroys this outright or seizes control of it in order to force it into the global commodity framework. It seizes control of indigenous land and resources. It dumps subsidized Western goods. It destroys any functional politics and democracy. It imposes the control of multinational corporations over every part of life it can. It does this purely in the power interests of Western elites. Any benefits it lets trickle down to locals are purely calculated payouts to accomplices. Much of the global South has been crushed under the corporate boot this way, and Africa has already been subject to the IMF and World Bank’s debt indenture shock treatment (“structural adjustment”).
 
All this has been accompanied by the systematic ravaging of African ecosystems, culminating in the rising climate chaos driven by the patterns of energy consumption, waste, and ecological destruction practiced and imposed by Western industrialized productionism and consumerism. Climate change is caused by these actions. Since corporate state elites and their supporters have long known this and in spite of lots of lip service have refused to do anything to avert the worst of it, it’s long been true that climate change is an intentional campaign of aggression against the Earth and all vulnerable peoples. Thus climate change takes its place as the most extreme and far-reaching of the corporate campaigns designed to cause disaster, destruction, and chaos. According to this pattern of disaster capitalism the corporations then proceed to use the crises they intentionally generate as further opportunities for aggression and profit. All corporate sectors practice this, and corporate agriculture is the most aggressive and destructive practitioner of all. Today Africa is its primary new target.
 
Corporate control of agriculture and food has always been at the core of the globalization onslaught. In accordance with its food weapon the US government systematically has waged economic, political, chemical, biological, and often literal shooting warfare. Throughout this history of war and sublimated war, corporate agriculture has been a constant weapon and battleground as well as its aggrandizement being a constant goal.
 
Corporate agriculture has been by far the worst destroyer of local and global environments. Most of all, corporate industrial agriculture is the worst driver of the climate crisis which in recent years has been wreaking havoc on African farming and food harvests. Today, after years of widespread drought and collapsed harvests, large parts of sub-Saharan Africa are on the verge of famine. This famine, like all previous modern famines, is completely artificial, completely man-made, caused by corporate agriculture and now by the climate change driven by this agricultural sector.
 
The proof that all these outcomes are intended by the Western corporate system and its supporters is that they persist in the patterns of action which are historically proven to produce these outcomes. This is called Strict Proof of Strict Intent. It’s the moral baseline which sums up the modern age. What distinguishes modern crimes against humanity and the earth from all previous crimes, besides their sheer magnitude, is that with modern science, modern information systems, and modern communications, it’s no longer possible to be innocently unaware of these crimes. Today all ignorance is willful ignorance and therefore culpable. So philosophically we can dispense with the concept of “ignorance”. Climate change, other crimes against ecological and public health, the economic and political destructiveness of globalization, these all are no longer in question, nor is there any question about guilt. The one and only question left is the question of power, and the question of which judgement shall prevail, that of the targets who only now are beginning to fight back, or that of the criminals. Today everywhere only the judgement of the criminals prevails. Tomorrow it shall be different.
 
In spite of how grossly inefficient and destructive of actual food production it is, corporate industrial agriculture has attained domination over most agricultural land. It has been sustained only by temporarily plentiful and heavily subsidized fossil fuels, massive subsidies of other sorts, monopoly muscle, and where necessary direct political and military aggression. Corporate industrial agriculture could never have existed other than as this massive program of central planning and social engineering. The core propaganda campaign on behalf of this onslaught has been called the “Green Revolution”. Green Revolution propaganda has been nothing but lies, as proven by how it has done nothing but increase hunger in the core zones of its conquest, Latin America and India.
 
Unfortunately for this insatiable shark which must keep swimming or die, corporate industrial agriculture is reaching the point of physical, economic, and political saturation across most of its domain. GMOs, to give just the latest pseudo-“hi-tech” example of the same old oil-based, poison-based agriculture, reached market saturation several years ago.
 
Only sub-Saharan Africa largely has been spared full corporate agricultural Gleichschaltung. This was because during the heyday of Green Revolution I Africa was less accessible to global markets, globalization’s whole structure of subsidies and coercion hadn’t yet been fully developed, and the CAFO system as an artificial market for what are otherwise grotesquely overproduced grain commodities hadn’t yet fully been ramified.
 
These problems gradually have been solved, and since the 1990s corporate flacks have issued the call for Green Revolution II, a “second Green Revolution in Africa.” The goal of this second poison crusade is the same as that of the first: Seize control of the land, destroy all food production and replace it with industrial plantations to produce export commodities, and drive all the people off their land and into shantytowns. Globalization pacts will force African governments to construct all necessary export infrastructure and enforce all corporate prerogatives defined by the pacts, all at the expense of the people of Africa. All other subsidies will be provided by American and British taxpayers. The entire corporate profiteering project is being publicly financed, including via tax scams like the Gates Foundation.
 
The propaganda claims the goal is to “feed the world”, but we already know the real goal is to destroy food and increase hunger, as the Green Revolution already done for decades in Latin America and south Asia, as corporate industrial agriculture already has done everywhere it has prevailed. In reality the project does not intend to provide one calorie of food to Africans. The goal, as Monsanto repeatedly has assured its shareholders, is to turn Africa into one big grain plantation to send animal feed to Asian CAFOs producing heavily subsidized meat for the Asian middle class which allegedly soon will be rising. (It won’t, but that’s another story.)
 
The destruction of the African people, their starved immiseration in shantytowns and refugee camps, which the Western corporate system assumes will never have to be paid for by anyone but the targets themselves, is the most outrageous and horrific of these subsidies. But there are many, many others. And, as I’ll be detailing, this piper won’t long be paid only across the South so that the West and its parasite class can enjoy “cheap” albeit poisoned food at the retail checkout. Westerners already pay with their taxes and their own increasingly gutted economies and communities. The corporations see their way to taking far, far more, and thus they will do their all to take all in the end. That’s what totalitarianism is, and in case you didn’t notice, corporations are totalitarian organizations that will never stop and can never stop. Humanity cannot coexist with them.
 
Today Africans are fighting to preserve control of their lives and food, as they realize what’s at stake is their freedom and their very ability to eat. The people are organized into a coalition of hundreds of democracy networks, tribal alliances, and groups representing real farmers and pastoralists. These comprise the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa and include the African Center for Biosafety, the African Biodiversity Network, the National Coordination of Peasant Organizations (a member of the worldwide Via Campesina, the Farmer Way), the NGO Federation of Collectives, the Coalition for African Genetic Heritage (COPAGEN), the Food Sovereignty Campaign, Comparing and Supporting Endogenous Development (COMPAS) Africa, the Participatory Ecological Land Use Management Association (PELUM), the Eastern and Southern African Small Scale Farmers Forum, People’s Dialogue, Rural Women’s Assembly, Food Sovereignty Ghana, GMO Free Malawi, and many others.
 
In direct contrast to the failure, destruction, and organized crime which is the proven pattern and intention of corporate industrial agriculture, the true way forward is already operating and achieving great things in Africa and around the world. This is the path of Food Sovereignty and agroecology. This is the way human beings produce abundant food for themselves and their communities without massive, expensive, destructive inputs of fossil fuels and poisons, in harmony with the greater ecology, toward the greatest freedom, democracy, security, and happiness. The Food Sovereignty movement must be based upon the great class of small community farmers who have always been the food producers for humanity and always will be, and upon agroecology, the fully demonstrated science and set of practices ready for full global deployment any time humanity wishes to embrace them. Agroecology is already accomplishing great things in Africa, and I’ll be going into far more detail about it. This is our first step toward understanding what must be done everywhere, and how we must bring it all home to the West itself.
 
There’s zero problem where it comes to the sheer amount of food produced. Humanity produces far more than enough food for everyone. This is true globally and it’s true in every region of the world. And that’s speaking only of the highly inefficient and wasteful industrial agriculture. Even during the fossil fuel era, decentralized low-input polyculture produces more calories and nutrition per acre than industrial commodity monoculture. Since the latter must fall with the end of the fossil fuel era, its production cannot be sustained regardless. Agroecology, already proven to produce enough food to feed everyone on earth even now, will then be not only the much better alternative but the only choice regardless.
 
Short of the ultimate unsustainability of industrial agriculture, the only problem anywhere is with the corporate distribution system. Anyone who truly wants to feed people has to want people to be able to feed themselves. We have to change the distribution of the food we have, not struggle to produce “more” within a framework which has already proven it won’t distribute that food to humanity. Food production and distribution naturally comprise a local/regionally based system. Only alien, artificial, unsustainable authoritarian systems can ever twist and contort these into a globalized framework. Anyone who truly wants the world to have food must fight to abolish corporate agriculture, abolish the enslavement of food production to the commodity system, rebuild socially and economically natural food systems, build and propagate the rising agroecology paradigm, build Food Sovereignty. This is the movement call to build the new era as the toxic old one is perishing. The call is binding upon us all.
 
The goal of corporate industrial agriculture, and the ultimate goal of all globalization, is to seize control of the land and drive the people out. This has always been the ultimate goal of all imperial conquest: To render all land terra nullius, empty space to be subjugated, exploited to the hilt, wrung out like an old rag, left for dead. Today is humanity’s last and greatest chance to halt this corporate campaign of total destruction of our agriculture, our environment, our society. We have our great chance to halt it and roll it back. This is what is necessary if we hope to have any agriculture and ecology, any human community, to build upon going forward beyond the fossil fuel age. The land is still there for us if we wish. We must save it and cherish it.
 
 
 

November 12, 2016

What is “States’ Rights”?

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And so once again we see lots of rhetoric about “states rights”. What does this term mean? I’ll begin by describing the principle of it, insofar as I can deduce any principle from the rather inchoate rhetoric of its proponents. Of course what it’s really supposed to mean in practice is something different, i.e. the usual collaboration with corporations.
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1. It makes a fetish of lines drawn on a map rather than any value derived from morality or reason.
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2. It does not want to be rational and base political units on watersheds or foodsheds.
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3. It is a form of pure statism which wants arbitrarily to centralize beyond rationally defined boundaries for no purpose other than to concentrate power.
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4. It differs from other pure statists in that it wants arbitrarily to halt the centralization at some point rather than expand this indefinitely. Lacking any other basis for where to call a halt, it chooses the arbitrary borders* of US states as the place to do this.
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[*There’s a few state borderlines which run along the crests of mountain ranges where streams divide, and thus in themselves are rational. But these are never organically part of any larger rational system of borders. Meanwhile far more common is the actively irrational practice of using rivers themselves as legal-political borders. This is worse than purely arbitrary; it aggressively splits reason in half.]
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So there it is. States rights ideology is based on two arbitrary leaps. First, it arbitrarily wants to centralize beyond rational boundaries and without regard for any rational or moral value. It has this in common with other forms of statism. Second, and contrary to conventional statism, it arbitrarily wants to halt the centralizing process somewhere short of however far power can concentrate itself.
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Some may say I’m leaving something out, that states rights does have a value, the value of constitutionalism. Allegedly, in exalting the tenth amendment this is trying to recapture the true spirit of the 1788 constitution.
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The most obvious refutation of this is that states righters, like everyone else who claims the constitution as a value, seem to care little to nothing about other core elements of the constitution such as those which would make the imperial army, the police state ,and the prison-industrial complex impossible, nor do they seem concerned to take back the constitution from corporate abusers. (For this, one must look to the community rights movement.) So in idolizing the constitution the states rights types are really just cherry-picking.
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And indeed, should the 1788 constitution, conceived by elites for the avowed purpose of quashing the American Revolution and building a continental empire (both Hamilton and Madison say so in the Federalist papers), be an object of idolatry in the first place? The fact is that constitution-worship is no value in itself for anyone, but rather is always a stalking horse for other, usually pro-corporate agendas. Of course the constitutional conventioneers accepted the Bill of Rights in the first place only under duress and only because they were confident that the authoritarian centralizing campaign enshrined in the main articles of the document wouldn’t unduly be hindered by what they saw as a pointless sop. And so it has been.
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Nor do I see any reason to think the states rights people have any greater respect than conventional centralizing statists do for the vastly more rational and morally coherent philosophy of community rights. If anything, the states rights types might be even more aggressive in wanting to allow/help corporations to devastate communities.
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Obviously in practice the notion of state rights is just like the constitution, or law, or property, or “free trade”, or “science”, or “the free press” or what have you. It’s propagated by corporate elites and meant to be used and abused, regarded and disregarded, in a purely cynical, tactical way according to whatever maximizes corporate domination.
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By fetishizing a purely arbitrary legally-defined border and caring zero for reason or any moral value, the “state rights” notion is especially useful for this corporate purpose. In this way it goes well with the most vile feral scam of all, “libertarianism”, which wants direct corporate dictatorship and uses the rhetoric of “freedom” to mean “freedom from all mutual responsibility, freedom from all human community, from all moral and rational values, license for total exploitation and theft, for those who are already rich.” Of course corporations are nothing more or less than creations and extensions of government, so to be for corporate power is by definition to be for big government, while to be against big government has to mean wanting to abolish government’s corporate power. That’s why it’s called the corporate state, a monolith. How in principle libertarians can be simultaneously for and against the most vile extremes of big government remains one of the mysteries of the universe. Of course the simple truth is that they’re liars. If they weren’t they’d be anarchists.
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Getting back to the state righters, I suppose many of them have the temperament which, among national groups, tends to manifest as nationalism. But, in spite of lots of idiotic rhetoric from conservatives and liberals alike, there is so far no such thing as an American nation, nor can a new nation ever cohere under the conditions of corporate globalization. Indeed, globalization’s basic thrust is to eradicate all human modes except that of the atomized individual, all alone in body and soul, facing the awesome might of the corporate demon. Never forget, anyone who in any way speaks against movement solidarity and organization as such is doing the work of the corporate Satan. (It should be needless to say that any political philosophy which explicitly or implicitly says voting is the be-all and end-all is part of this corporate assault.) Anyone who dreams of an American nation must commit to the total abolition of corporate rule as a prerequisite.
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It’s possible such an abolitionist movement itself can be a strong point where such a national consciousness can begin to cohere.
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Humanity and the Earth need a new movement based on a complete organic embrace of human values and reason, on the new idea necessary for a new beginning as natural history soon resumes after the berserk digression of the fossil fuel binge. And we need a movement basis which totally rejects and condemns all the lies and stupidities of the corporate global “order”. We must form the adamant core of the affirmation and the inexorable force of the negation. Anything which can be used toward these great goals may be used, but only in the right ways. The wrong ways also are for the flames.
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We have a long, hard road ahead. The necessary work is only beginning. It will continue at its necessary pace without regard for the idiocies of superficial “politics” and false “culture”. There we see nothing but decadent barbarism. The corporate age was always evil, and now it becomes ever more rancid. Sometimes it seems human beings need gas masks. It’s hard to tell what’s worse, the physical poisons or the spiritual ones.
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But the eternal wind, the wind of the spirit which nourishes and cleanses and carries us always between and through the home to which we’re heading and the home we never left, never stopped flowing. Briefly amid the din of Babylon we were unable to hear it and lost knowledge of whence and where it blows. But the strains of the new song are starting to come through.
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February 22, 2016

Indian Agriculture, Crises and Solutions

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India’s Bt cotton debacle continues, as Punjab and Haryana states struggle to find solutions for the disasters afflicting the cotton crop, most recently epidemics of whitefly depredation and leaf curl disease. Whitefly is a so-called “secondary pest” which is not affected by the poisons endemically produced by Bt cotton. How do farmers struggle to deal with whitefly and other secondary pests? Spray, spray, spray everything. In other words, they must do exactly what pro-GMO lies claim is no longer necessary. But then GMOs are designed to increase pesticide use. Only a moron could ever have believed that a pesticide corporation would want to sell a product (GM seed) which renders his primary product (pesticide) obsolete. On the contrary, it was always obvious that the newer product was also meant to increase sales of the older one.
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The two state governments have formed a joint committee to come up with a plan. It sounds like they get the point: “We expect to replace 15-20 per cent of the area under Bt cotton seed with the traditional one this year and in the next few years to take it to 50 per cent. Co-existence of Bt and non-Bt crop would curtail the chance of spread of epidemics like white fly, as the two crops are resistant to different kinds of diseases. Monoculture in agriculture is the cause of widespread diseases in plants. [My emphasis – Russ.] Presently, 95 per cent of the cotton grown in Punjab and Haryana is the Bt variety and this triggered the quick spread of disease.” They’re wrong about co-existence over the long run, but this would be a great step in the right direction. The main hurdle to overcome is availability of high-quality open-pollinated cotton seed. As we’ve seen most recently with sugar beets in America, one goal of corporate agriculture, especially the GM-based paradigm, is to monopolize seed production and drive all other seeds out of the effective marketplace, in part by economically preventing any further work on them and planting of them. Under such a regime of negligence a seed variety may quickly disappear completely.
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But wherever governments are willing to undertake such a paradigm shift in the kind of seed economy they support (don’t hold your breath in the US), they can give a big boost to the traditional seed and its agroecological improvement. Especially where agroecological work on seed is done via participatory plant breeding, this embodies the essence of agroecological food sovereignty practice, the application of science to regional conditions and needs. This is the gold standard for seed, the kind all legitimate farmers dream of. If Haryana and Punjab can boost desi (open-pollinated) seed production to support 50% of the cotton acreage, that’ll be enough for a tipping point which will quickly drive the worthless and expensive Bt seed completely out of the market. We could turn the calculus, “co-existence is impossible”, right side up and make it work for us rather than against us, as it has worked hitherto.

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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 14, 2016

Adapting the Populist Lecture Series for Today’s Food Sovereignty

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Here’s some basic information about 19th century public and farmer education through public lecture programs, as conducted by the Grange and especially the Populist Farmers’ Alliance movement. I’d like to contribute to building a new movement to rebuild community food and agriculture, and abolish corporate agriculture, organized in a way similar to the Populists. We’d have the advantage of trying to build outside the commodity system, rather than being in a race against time to reform it from inside, which is what ultimately undid the Populists.
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For a great book on the history and handbook for true democratic organization, see Lawrence Goodwyn’s The Populist Moment.
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Once upon a time I thought of adapting this idea to what I called the land scandal involving systematic property fraud on the part of the big banks. Did you know that, strictly speaking, most alleged bank-owned residential real estate is arguably not really owned by the banks at all, but rather their claim is an imposture? In 2009-10 many bloggers and commentators thought this fact, if effectively propagated, could become a major political theme. Well, that never happened, and it seems like the whole idea fizzled out. Probably both too “fringey”-seeming, even though legally it’s true, and too abstruse to boot. I ended up moving on from the idea to the more down-to-earth matter of food. Of course there’s plenty of policy mysticism here as well, such as patents, which I’ll soon be discussing in depth. That’s why I’ve long referred to the FIRES sector, adding “Seeds” (i.e. intellectual property in them) to Finance, Insurance, Real Estate. And of course corporate agriculture is more than the physical phenomena of land-grabbing and poison. Under the neoliberal globalization regime it’s also a sham campaign trying to reify fictive numbers – commodity pricing, profit, GDP, trade balance, “growth” in the biotech, agricultural, food, and finance sectors – and induce worship of these, or at least surrender to their domination. One of the greatest evils of corporate rule (the most mystical, bizarre fiction of all is that of the corporate person) is how it has made our literal bread hostage to the insane rule of these pure fictions and superstitions. We intuitively know a few basic principles for the counterattack – all commodification of food and critical natural resources is illegitimate, there can be no patents on life, and a “corporation” cannot own or control land, especially farmland. My background writing about Wall Street will come in handy for all these elements.
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January 8, 2016

GMO News Summary, January 8th 2016

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*Climate change deniers of all stripes like to believe that such extreme effects as lessened precipitation becoming the occasion of drought* will be a big problem for the global South but not so much for the West. The overt deniers and nihilists openly say that climate change would be a winner for Western agriculture. The COP20 types and pro-GMO activists also believe this.
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But a new study published in Nature confirms that weather-affected drought is more destructively plaguing the monoculture agriculture of the US, Australia, and other industrialized countries than it is the agriculture of the unindustrialized world. This is because commodity monocrops, especially GMOs, are very high-maintenance and require optimal growing conditions, while the more diversified food-based agriculture of the global South is more resilient. As has been the case for thousands of years, rational societies today still organize their agriculture to be redundant and resilient, so that if bad weather or a pest or disease outbreak decimates one part of the harvest, other parts are likely to come through. The modern science of agroecology is built upon this and other fundamental facts. But such reason and science are of course anathema to irrational, anti-scientific commodity-based agriculture. Therefore the societies which shackle themselves to monocultures will reap the worst of the climate change whirlwind, while those which either transform to agroecology or, still practicing rational diversified agriculture such as in Africa, resist the corporate onslaught and supplement and build upon their traditions by adapting agroecological science to their conditions and traditions, will survive and thrive. There’s no other way forward, for facing up to the climate crisis and to the companion crises of this climactic era.
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[*As John Widtsoe described, drought is properly defined not as lack of sufficient precipitation, but a predictable lack of precipitation sufficient to sustain the water needs of an unsustainably thirsty economy or economic sector. That is, it’s an artificial condition, not a natural one. Truly unpredictable dearths are rare. There is nothing unpredictable or unpredicted about how industrial agriculture will fare very poorly under the onset of climate change.]
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Providing a good example of the ideas and actions necessary to get this necessary and prosperous transformation going, agroecology practitioners and campaigners in Britain just concluded their annual Oxford Real Farming Conference. The Conference is dedicated to exchanging ideas on the practice and economics of agroecology and the modes of spreading the agroecology idea among the people. The creativity, ferment, and excitement sharply contrasted with the dolor and stagnation in evidence at the establishment’s Oxford Farming Conference, attended by corporate and government hacks along with bootlick contract “farmers”. The stale monoculture of the atmosphere reflected the stale monoculture of their words, which of course were about nothing but dead physical monoculture. As the Guardian writer put it, “The Oxford Real Farming Conference has rapidly outgrown its decades-old establishment counterpart and is calling for radical reforms to the industrialised intensive model they represent.”
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*Even as Africa (whose people have contributed very little to the emissions and destruction of sinks driving climate change) struggles to hang on to its relatively much better adapted agricultural position, the exact same world historical criminals driving climate change to the crisis point are also trying to destroy Africa’s resiliency and force self-destructive monoculture upon it.
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Monsanto, the US and UK governments, and the Gates Foundation continue to push their “New Alliance” plan for the renewed colonial subjugation of Africa under the rule of corporate agriculture. Kenya was supposed to be the most important adherent to the plan, which basically uses US and UK taxpayer money to bribe African governments to allow Western corporations to rampage unrestrained across the land and people. African countries are to make any necessary changes to seed, IP, and land law, dismantle anything that’s left of the old-style public agricultural programs (largely wiped out years ago by the IMF’s “structural adjustment” assaults), steal tribal land and facilitate corporate land-grabbing, help construct any necessary globalization infrastructure, and submit to Western dumping and profit expatriation. The goal is to eradicate African diversified agriculture, economically liquidate millions of farmers and wipe out thousands of communities, turn the entire landscape into one vast corporate plantation export zone, and slam the coffin shut on any hope of an agroecological transformation. In the long run the entire continent is to become an uninhabited desert. This is the conscious goal of Bill Gates, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton (of course any Republican in office would push it as well), David Cameron, as well as useful idiots like Bono, Bob Geldof, and many others.
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Although several countries such as Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, the Ivory Coast, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Ghana have signed up, the prized adherent Kenya has so far disappointed the cabal. This is in large part because of intense grassroots opposition from the Kenyan people. The cartel and its allied governments are now making their strongest push yet to break through. The food sovereignty activists fighting in Kenya, Ghana, and everywhere else in Africa are fighting hard for all the people of Africa and the world, and richly deserve the full support of the world against this great crime.
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*Better news from Africa: What do you know, it actually is possible for a regulator to say No. It’s easy to forget that, given how the USDA, EPA, and FDA consistently claim that they have no choice but to approve everything put before them.
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In this case, South African regulators rejected the Agricultural Research Council’s application to market an insecticidal potato called SpuntaG2. The product concept is much like that of the GM potato variety Arpad Pusztai’s research found to be hazardous to mammal health. The regulator and appeals board cited biosafety, public health, and socioeconomic problems. One of the project’s own hired consultants concluded the GMO was “a solution in search of a problem”, thereby acknowledging that there’s never any need for any GMO. There’s always higher quality, far less expensive, safe, conventionally bred alternatives for whatever a particular GMO was supposed to do.
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So a regulator actually can say No. But according to the USDA, EPA, and FDA that word just doesn’t exist and is impossible to conceive.
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*In Pakistan and India Monsanto’s Bollgard II cotton continues to be decimated by the target pest, pink bollworm. This GMO contains two Bt toxins, the Cry1AC which generated resistance against itself and failed in the original Bollgard, and Cry2AB2, which is now failing as well. The GM cotton is also being ravaged by secondary pests like whitefly. Therefore all Bt cotton still requires massive and escalating insecticide use even during the period when it works against the target pest.
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Meanwhile according to the piece the Pakistan government is saying “Crop wiped out? Don’t worry, just feed it to livestock!” Needless to say that’s an insult to the farmers who have been economically wiped out by their destroyed crop. It also blithely overlooks the many dangers of deploying such livestock “feed”, dangers such as aflatoxin and the death of livestock which has often followed their feeding on Bt crop refuse. Most of all, there’s the ongoing fundamental idiocy of denying the proven fact that the product is a failure.
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*According to a Greenpeace report, Chinese farmers are “illegally” growing GM maize. A large proportion of samples taken from cornfields, markets, and processed food tested positive for GM contamination. The identifiable varieties include products from Monsanto, Syngenta, and DuPont. Of the six varieties identified, three are government-certified as conventional varieties, which if correct means they’ve been contaminated by illicit GM cultivation. The other three which tested positive are not certified. For a long time there have been rumors that seed from GM field trials was illicitly sold to farmers. That may be the source of the contamination. Probably these are all hybrid varieties. If so, commercial farmers would have a hard time saving seeds from them. In that case there’s either a constant influx of new GM seeds, or else the seed crop is becoming contaminated.
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The other day I briefly discussed the tumultuous and often inscrutable GMO situation in China. For more see here, here, here, here, and here. The GM corn phenomenon seems like a chaotic black market situation. Presumably the cartel is displeased with this black market trade.
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*The EPA continues living up to form. According to a press release from the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), EPA has once again flouted its own deadlines to complete new “risk assessments” for glyphosate, atrazine, and imidacloprid. The glyphosate assessment was supposed to have been done last summer. (Meanwhile in Europe the EFSA moved its own already-belated glyphosate deadline from December 2015 to June 2016. This is a constant among these regulators, procrastination. This is because it becomes more and more difficult for them to come up with even pseudo-plausible lies to justify the clean bill of health they criminally bestow upon these deadly poisons.)
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Just last year in June the EPA settled in the CBD’s lawsuit over another dereliction, EPA’s breaking the law in refusing to analyze the effect of these poisons on endangered species. According to the settlement EPA grudgingly agreed to obey the Endangered Species Act. We’ll see – breaking the de jure law as well as committing crimes against humanity is the daily routine at these regulators.
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It’s not just for central governments. Here’s Hawaiian state and county officials engaging in the same procrastination.
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*Since I have an upcoming post on Monsanto’s ongoing financial travails and consolidation among the GMO/agrochemical cartel, I’ll save comment for there. Monsanto really is in some serious trouble, though. If people wanted to get together to focus on getting Roundup banned everywhere possible, it could become a permanently crippling blow. Of course the US government will do all it can for its favorite non-Wall Street corporation.
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*Vermont’s GMO labeling law will go into effect in June 2016. Looking ahead to this and perhaps other state laws to come, Campbell’s is becoming the first manufacturer to break ranks and add “made with genetically engineered ingredients” to its packaging. In other words they expect/hope what some of us think likely, that actual labels may help normalize GMOs, and even “get [Campbell’s] credit for transparency” as one analyst says in the piece. That’s one of several reasons I’m ambivalent about labels.
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I continue to note the proliferation of the Frank Luntz propaganda term “patchwork” (one of his favorite “Words That Work”), originally propagated among Republicans to oppose California’s CAFE standards. Today it’s most often used among opponents of GMO labeling, including the frauds who want sham FDA labeling which would preempt the states. In this NYT piece we see both the quoted CEO as well as the “journalist” using the loaded term.
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*A legal settlement in Jackson County upholds the 2014 law passed by a vote of the people and ends a SLAPP suit filed by two alfalfa contractors backed by the GMO cartel. The deal means Jackson farmers who already have Roundup Ready alfalfa in the ground can continue working it for the remaining years of its productive life, but they nor anyone else can plant more. (Alfalfa is a perennial generally harvested for hay for 4-8 years before replanting.)
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Making the world safe for organic and conventional alfalfa, one county at a time, has been one of the main goals of the local food system initiatives community rights campaigners are promulgating in Oregon such as the Jackson GMO ban. As a wind-pollinated perennial crop GM alfalfa has the highest rate of cross-pollination and contamination of non-GM varieties. Many GM-contaminated hay shipments have been rejected by China, a major buyer of US hay. This is the main reason Canadian farmers have put up enough resistance to forestall the approval of RR alfalfa there so far.
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An ulterior motive for the way Monsanto and the USDA have pushed this worthless product is to render organic meat and dairy untenable by making it impossible to source reliably non-GM hay. GMOs are forbidden under the USDA Organic certification, including the feed given to animals which are to be the source of organic meat or dairy. The corporations and government want either to apply more pressure to ease the organic standards to allow GMOs (this has always been a fond wish at USDA) or else wipe out the sector completely. That’s why Agriculture Secretary Vilsack and the industrial organic sector tried to put over their alfalfa “co-existence” compromise in 2011.
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*Even as the US government continues to lie about how the TTIP, TPP, and CETA would legally empower corporations directly to sue countries based on nothing but the most fairytale unmet profiteering expectations, TransCanada is now suing the US government based precisely on such a fish story. Of course these legal assaults via investor-state-dispute-settlement (ISDS) have been ongoing under NAFTA, CAFTA, and many bilateral globalization deals for over twenty years now. We know for a fact that the TPP and TTIP would vastly escalate these stickups.
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Globalization and the compacts concluded under it have zero to do with legitimate demand-based trade. On the contrary, they drive a supply-based gangster economy where the corporate sectors use government subsidies and government muscle to force projects and products nobody wants upon supine populations.
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December 31, 2015

The 2015 Blogging Year, and An American Revolution Reprise

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Each year WordPress sends me a “Your year in blogging” report, which includes several stats such as which posts got the most hits.
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No surprise that three perennial workhorses were #s 2, 3, and 4. These are my “Nietzsche and Scientism” from 2009 (which I recently reblogged, because its themes are relevant to the things I write about these days), and from 2011 “American Revolutionary Principles” parts One and Three, respectively on representation and sovereignty. (Part Two is on constitutionalism and rights.) These three posts get a steady trickle of hits almost every week, and are always at the top of the yearly list. #1 this year was 2015’s demolition of the fraudulent pro-GM propagandists, “By Their Own Standard Credentialist Pro-GMO Activists Are Ignorant Yahoos”. This got so many hits because it was featured by GMWatch and from there reblogged at several other prominent sites. #5 was another important 2015 anti-poison piece, “There Is No Science of Genetic Engineering.
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The three anti-scientism pieces are part of this site’s ongoing project to bring about the abolition of corporate agriculture, so there’s no special need to summarize them here. Click the links to read the word.
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But since it’s been some years since I delved into the political philosophy of the American Revolution, I thought I’d briefly quote from those two pieces.
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These paragraphs contain the basic argument of the piece on representation.
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“So what does [the American] revolutionary logic say about representative government? Summary: “Virtual representation” has no authority, and nominal representation in Parliament doesn’t necessarily have authority. So there’s no necessary reason any representative form would be authoritative and legitimate. By the American ideology, representative government has no compelling principled logic. It stands or falls according to empirical observation, how well it works in practice…
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“[A]ccording to the American Revolution, not only is virtual representation unacceptable, but nominal voting rights and representation also isn’t sufficient to legitimize government. If there’s anything which renders representative government legitimate, it’s not the act of voting. (BTW, let’s remember that the 1788 Constitution doesn’t guarantee any right to vote at all. It only says that to the extent states grant the privilege of voting, they can’t discriminate on the basis of race, gender, and a few other categories.)
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In fact, the Americans had no principle of representation, but a purely practical view: Does it protect freedom against the encroachments of power or not. They asked practical questions like, Is there an identity of interests between representatives and people?”
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I add at one point, as a thought to be further developed later on: “As a creature, a representative is an artificial, contingent thing just like a corporation. The responsibility (not right), accountability (not independence) of each is the same and must be enforced, or else the artificial program must be discontinued…”
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“Through all this the American Revolution arrived at a new theory of consent. Locke had said consent only needed to be given on election day (Rousseau scoffed at this), and at the supreme crisis moments of rebellion. But the Americans were working toward a more direct, participatory democracy on a permanent basis. The implicit principle is that direct consent is needed at all times, not just special times. This dovetails well with the power/liberty tension, since the necessary citizen vigilance against power can be maintained only through everyday democratic participation.
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“The first phase of the Revolution didn’t follow through on these implications, but settled on a concept of representation somewhat more accountable than the British concept, but still maintaining it as a “substitute for legislation by direct action of the people”. This implicitly admitted that direct democracy is the ideal, and merely claimed that accountable representation could function better in practice. Therefore representative government is legitimate only if it truly and effectively provides such a substitute. If it is unable or unwilling to do this, it dissolves itself, and we must move on to true, direct council democracy.
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“Representation was never anything more than democracy’s regent, meant to nurture ever-expanding democracy until this could fully flourish on its own. Today we the people are ready to take the full democratic responsibility upon ourselves, while the regent has abdicated and degenerated into a usurper. For both these reasons, we have and want no other choice but to walk the path of positive freedom and democracy.”
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The US governmental system, especially from 1788 onward, never lived up to these ideals and goals, on the contrary it has generally sought to subvert and destroy them. That’s led us to the seemingly terminal political and economic bottleneck now crushing us. It will be terminal unless we the people embrace, live and fight for new ideas, including a renaissance of the classical ideas of freedom expressed as the song of the American Revolution, yet so neglected and suppressed in historical practice since those classic days.
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This also means a rediscovery of the idea and practice of we the people’s political, economic, and spiritual sovereignty.
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“The basic idea of sovereignty is that there’s an essential authority in the polity which is above and beyond temporal authority and law and is the source of these, the yardstick by which they are measured. Otherwise these would be purely arbitrary and autocratic…
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“1. Sovereignty is mutable through history. Concrete institutions don’t embody it, but are only representative of it.
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“2. The American Revolution accelerated an ideological evolution of the concept, and the view of where sovereignty reposes, going back to the 16th century in Europe. The final recognition was that sovereignty reposes neither in King or Parliament, or necessarily in any governmental institution, but only in the people.
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“3. So today’s governments are to be tolerated or rejected at the people’s will, as they are nothing but servants of the people’s sovereignty. (Meanwhile, corporations and globalization cadres are non-sovereign in principle, and must be eradicated as they are invariably anti-sovereign in practice.)”
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I think the subject matter here is especially interesting in the way it traces the critical importance of the evolution of ideas and political consciousness in mustering the forces which ignited the American Revolution. If we the people want to break free of corporate rule and the assaults on our prosperity and well-being by the literal poisoners of our food, water, and air, we must similarly do the work of developing the necessary ideas for this pivotal age.
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December 18, 2015

GMO News Summary, December 18th, 2015

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Been off doing other things for awhile, but posting will resume shortly on a regularly scheduled basis.
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*The fact that pro-GMO activists rely 100% on secrecy, obscurantism, and direct lies is proof that their endeavor has zero to do with science. By definition science has to be fully public and transparent, while “secret science” is a contradiction in terms.
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From the initial refusal to ever perform safety tests on any GMO to the regulators’ refusal to render public the alleged evidence they use for their glyphosate reviews to the massive political campaign against labeling genetically modified additives, the corporations, their flunkeys, and their fanboys betray their contempt and fear of scientific scrutiny and assessment, and their complete abdication of any scientific position whatsoever.
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This is also implicit proof that Monsanto and the US government consider these products to be extremely harmful to human health and live in terror of what legitimate scientific study would find.
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The legislative skullduggery of trying to smuggle in the DARK Act as part of a spending bill, in addition to exposing its supporters as holding democracy in contempt, also demonstrates how they hold science in contempt. Most of all it betrays how they know they could never win an honest fight held in the full light of day.
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*The Philippine supreme court, unlike that of the US, still retains some intelligence, responsibility, and morality. Here it has prohibited government-approved field trials of Bt talong (eggplant) because the government failed to meet the requirements of its own National Biosafety Framework.
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But unlike the narrowly-tailored technicality-based decisions we’re used to in America, the court went much further. It issued a temporary moratorium on any new GMO field trials and approvals for cultivation or importation (the piece doesn’t say with regard to existing cultivation) on the grounds of the precautionary principle. The court conducted an extensive review of the scientific literature and found that the GMO cartel has not provided any evidence for the public health or environmental safety of GMOs.
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Taiwan and Venezuela have also enacted new restrictions on GM food and seeds.
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*In March 2015 the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) caught up with the evidence and found that glyphosate is a “probable human carcinogen”. Since then Monsanto’s regulatory lackeys, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR; Germany is the EU’s “rapporteur state” for glyphosate regulation, making official recommendations to the EU and the member states) and the EFSA, have declared glyphosate “not a carcinogen”. In order to do this they’ve had to reject all the scientific evidence and resort to secret “evidence” which, as it’s secret, by definition is not part of science.
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For anyone who’s interested in this Roundup wrangle, here’s the best summary I’ve seen of the evidence, the IARC’s procedure and findings, and the derelictions and lies of the BfR and EFSA. It’s an open letter to the EU health commissioner signed by nearly a hundred scientists and doctors.
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*There’s an important new study debunking the “bad luck” and genetic determinist theories of cancer (i.e. those favored by the governments and corporations which release vast amounts of carcinogenic poisons into the environment). The study finds that intrinsic factors can account for only as much as 10-30% of the incidence of cancer. So as much as 90% of cancers are caused by such extrinsic factors as industrial and agricultural poisons.
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Little by little the environmental causation paradigm favored by the IARC and other such bodies is gaining ground, as the evidence becomes more and more difficult for corporate establishment medicine and “science” to deny.
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*The state of “our” regulatory agencies under corporate rule: “They have come to the conclusion that my particular skill set [being an actual scientist and servant of the public] does not meet the needs of my employer.” See also the USDA’s persecution of Jonathan Lundgren.
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*Here’s an alternative to the currently dominant corporate “science” paradigm.
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In November the PICRI project (Partnership between Institutions and Citizens for Research and Innovation) held an international conference in Paris dedicated to several topics involving corporate agriculture and the way it has promulgated fraudulent pseudo-science. The conference brought credentialed researchers together with citizen participants from around the world to attain a truly comprehensive discussion of real science. The topics included the “substantial equivalence” fraud, the bogus studies corporations conduct to satisfy regulatory review, the way existing regulatory models give a free pass to endocrine disrupting poisons, and the effect of agricultural poisons on soil ecosystems.
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Throughout, the discussions emphasized how to develop truly honest and scientific models for testing the health and environmental effects of these poisons, and how scientists and technicians must work with citizens within a democratic framework in order to render science and technology beneficial to humanity.
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*Like in Oregon and Colorado and other states, the people of New Hampshire are putting forward an amendment to their state constitution that recognizes the right to local, community self government.
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