March 9, 2017
Greenpeace is accusing the European Chemical Agency (ECHA), whose opinion on the cancerousness of glyphosate is supposed to be imminent, of “conflict of interest” because its panel members also operate as “risk assessment consultants” for the industry.
As a system NGO, when Greenpeace says “conflict of interest” they’re referring to conventional corruption of “public servants” who are paid also by the industry they’re supposed to be regulating in accordance with scientific method.
Our abolitionist analysis is much deeper and more comprehensive than this, of course. While this kind of corruption is common, it’s epiphenomenal compared to the overall ideological and methodological framework of technocracy and the corporate science paradigm. Cadres of an agency like the ECHA, or the US EPA, FDA, and USDA, operate according to the corporate/technocratic template. Its three components are:
1. The corporate power/profit project is normative. It is the primary purpose of civilization. Under no circumstance can any other value or alternative project be allowed significantly to hinder the corporate project.
This has profound implications for actions like a pesticide cancer review. For technocratic regulators to acknowledge the fact that all synthetic pesticides cause widespread cancer would significantly hinder the corporate project. Therefore even the prospect of such acknowledgement is ruled out a priori. By definition it cannot be part of the review. Only the most grossly excessive and obvious carcinogenicity on the part of a particular chemical could be acknowledged even in principle. When outfits like the US EPA or the EU’s EFSA claim to believe that glyphosate is not cancerous, this is not according to any rational or scientific canon of evidence, and reformers who interpret it this way make a mistake about the fundamental character of these organizations.
Rather, technocratic regulators apply the canon of the corporate paradigm. According to this canon “causes cancer” is defined as: “So grossly carcinogenic that it’s politically impossible to deny it, to the point that lack of action would in itself be significantly bad for business.”
This is the template’s second component.
2. Given the strictures of (1), the regulator may if absolutely necessary impose limits on the most excessive harms and worst abuses. More often, it only pretends to do even this. Which leads to the template’s third component.
3. The regulator then puts its imprimatur on the corporate project as having been sufficiently regulated for safety. According to the ideology of technocracy and bureaucracy, the people are supposed to believe implicitly in the competence, rigor, and honesty of the regulator. They’re supposed to believe this for all measures of safety, public and environmental health, political and socioeconomic benefit and lack of harm.
All this is based on a Big Lie, since as we described above the regulator actually functions only according to the normative values of corporate power. But it fraudulently claims, always implicitly and very often explicitly, that it has acted on behalf of human values and to protect and serve the people. Therefore the people should repose implicit trust in the regulator, not assert themselves democratically in any kind of grassroots way, and most of all not start to think in any political terms which would be based on fundamentally different values and goals, values and goals opposed to those of corporate rule and technocracy.
Thus we see how technocracy is an ideology, method, and form of government which is fundamentally anti-democratic and anti-political as such since it is dedicated to the proposition that the people should relinquish all political activity and passively receive and believe the judgements of technocratic regulators. This system is based fundamentally on the Big Lie that it actually is a form of democracy and a form of society which encourages the political participation of the people. But in fact it conjures only sham versions of these and seeks aggressively to discourage and suppress any true politics.*
We see how the corporate state and technocracy, along with their allied economic ideology of neoliberalism, exist as species within the same genus as classical fascism. This is the genus of pseudo-democratic forms bled of all real political content which then stand as cultural facades behind which exists only state tyranny. Today’s corporate state is the most fully evolved form of this tyranny.
This site’s ultimate project is to oppose this tyranny. One prerequisite for such opposition is to understand what modern regulatory agencies truly are, and to renounce all faith in and support for them. As abolitionists one of our goals is completely to demolish all claims to legitimacy and authority of such agencies as the ECHA or US EPA. The destruction of such misguided faith is necessary for the people to conceive and commit to the necessary new ideas.
Toward that necessity, we need to substitute the more comprehensive analysis for the superficial and shallow “conflict of interest” and “corruption” notion. Corporate regulators, by their inherent nature, do not have conflicts of interest because their one and only interest is the corporate client. Everything else they claim about themselves is a lie.
The same Big Lie encompasses their ideology and propaganda of “science”. To take today’s example, the Greenpeace indictment specifically focuses on the ECHA panelists doubling as industry “risk assessment” consultants. We can leave aside the more vulgar modes of corruption though these too are common. Far more important, the entire concept, ideology, and methodology of “risk assessment” is based on the corporate profit endeavor as normative and therefore thinks, at most, in terms only of worst-case scenarios, never the omnipresent, chronic, daily harms and crimes of the corporate project. The official ideology of the US EPA is based on managing the human cancer and other tortures it and its corporate client inflict, via the concept of pesticide and cancer “tolerances”. This word should be taken literally: It means how much cancer can the corporate system cause before the magnitude becomes politically dangerous enough that the regulator needs to take evasive action, starting with sham reviews and lies meant to put the people back to sleep.
The European and US government establishment, along with the corporate media, reached this crisis point with glyphosate in 2015 because of the rogue action (from the corporate system’s point of view) of the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). The IARC, like some individual scientists, acted according to canons of the scientific method instead of the corporate science paradigm. This caused them to issue the scientific judgement that glyphosate causes cancer. The EFSA and EPA since then have carried out their propaganda function. They’ve lied about the evidence and lied about their canons of evidence.
(Although the WHO as a whole has been consistently pro-corporate, the IARC is out of step with the dominant corporate/reductionist ideological framework, instead emphasizing environmental factors in cancer causation: “Emphasis is placed on elucidating the role of environmental and lifestyle risk factors and studying their interplay with genetic background in population-based studies and appropriate experimental models. This emphasis reflects the understanding that most cancers are, directly or indirectly, linked to environmental factors and thus are preventable.”
The proposition that cancer is preventable runs directly counter to the dominant “science” ideology which views cancer as arising from genetic determinism and which conceives the acceptable response to be massively expensive and interventionist cures supervised by Big Drug and other corporate sectors. This ideology is driven by the need of the poison-peddling corporations to obscure and deny the fact that profitable products like glyphosate are in fact major cancer drivers. The corporate flacks are abetted by scientism’s religious zealots who refuse to hear any evil spoken of their technological objects of cult worship.)
The IARC also is a pro-science renegade in that it assesses only the scientific public record, which according to Popperian canons is by definition the only scientific record. But the EFSA, EPA, and (we can expect) the ECHA adhere to an exactly upside-down, anti-scientific canon of “secret science”. Secret science of course is a contradiction in terms. By definition, if it’s not part of the public record and open to public perusal, analysis, and debate, it’s not part of science.
Today’s corporations, governments, universities, the mainstream media, and the scientific establishment all exalt the perverse notion of “secret science”. This means that we can reject their entire paradigm as, by definition, anti-science and not part of science. This underlies any specific evils of the lies being protected by the secrecy.
We abolitionists, in response, assume that anti-scientific secrecy automatically indicates the corporation and/or regulator has zero scientific evidence which supports them, and that what evidence they do have must prove the extreme harmfulness of the corporate product. In this case, the evidence for glyphosate’s cancerousness which Monsanto and the EPA actually possess is likely far worse even than the conclusive amount which has leaked out.
We see how technocratic regulators, in general and where it comes to specifics such as “risk assessment”, the cadre as a whole as well as specific agents, whether or not particular agents have conflicts of interest and/or are conventionally corrupt, all are part of the corporate science paradigm and therefore are anti-science and anti-democracy, according to Popperian canons of scientific method and the open society.
*This same corporate-technocatic template can be applied to the STEM establishment, the mainstream media, much “alternative” media, system NGOs, system political parties, and electoralism as such. The details may vary, never the broad function: To conserve the indoctrination that corporate rule is normative, as much as possible to render this water in which we swim implicit and imperceptible, where necessary to reinforce the indoctrination with propaganda, where necessary to offer sham “reforms” and sham pseudo-political “options”, all toward the goal of rendering truly political thought and action extremely difficult, preferably unthinkable.
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March 6, 2017
The National Academy of Science consciously, willfully, deliberately lied about what, from the point of view of the mythology of “scientific method”, is the conflicts of interest of panelists in the body’s 2016 review of the record of GMOs. That’s in addition to the many substantive lies it told about this fraudulent, failed technology.
But this, and the open corporate funding for the group’s propaganda campaign touting the report, demonstrates the real state of science under the corporate science paradigm. Today’s scientific establishment believes, in the most literal sense of these words, that corporate profiteering interests are in fact part of science. The scientific establishment truly believes that scientific method rightly includes taking into account how a line of research can be monetized by corporations, and how the results of research can affect corporate profits. This is the ideology of the NAS, it’s the ideology of all regulatory agencies, it’s the ideology of most or all university science departments, and it’s the ideology of science writers in the mainstream media.
This doesn’t change the fact that the NAS consciously, willfully lied about what it knows is considered by almost all non-STEM people to be conflicts of interest, even though the NAS itself considers such a corporate-science combined organism to be normative.
March 3, 2017
GMO field trials are part of a power struggle among Kenyan officials. The National Biosafety Authority (NBA) gave the Kenyan Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) and the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) the go-ahead for open-air field trials of GM maize. These are publicly funded organizations which perform corporate research on the taxpayer dollar, with the product then privatized at the juncture most profitable for the corporations. The AATF is funded by the Gates Foundation, Cornell University, and USAID. The first two of these specialize in transforming public money into corporate welfare. USAID is a de jure government body explicitly dedicated to capitalist goals.
Health and environmental officials have blocked the approval on the grounds that Kenya’s existing ban on GM imports applies to field trials within the country as well. Evidently they have enough clout to force a deadlock. I’m not well enough versed in internal Kenyan politics to know the underlying issues of the power struggle, but our default always is to assume no government official has any principled objection to any GMO deployment. Our attitude toward any such delay must be to do what we can to encourage and support it but never to regress to any faith-based view of government.
The US government will be displeased. The US has been pressing Kenya to commit to the GMO campaign for many years, since the inception of its “New Alliance” plan for a “second Green Revolution in Africa”. This is a typical US-fomented “color” revolution indeed. (The “green” revolution was so-named in the 1960s in contradistinction to “red” rhetoric. It’s a Cold War propaganda term.)
(I stress, the US government, which remains the same no matter which criminal heads it up. Many people seem especially confused about that these days. But in 2009 the Obama/Clinton state department, in one of its first memos to department personnel defining the new administration’s priorities, included using US muscle to force “Government acceptance of genetically modified food and propagation of genetically modified crops” at the top of its list of the attacks it planned in Africa.)
The article says Kenya has been importing maize from Mexico and Ukraine “because of drought.” Maize yields in Kenya have been halved “because of drought.”
This is standard deceptive framing. “Drought” almost always is an artificial problem. Drought happens when a society deploys modes of cultivation and grows crop varieties which aren’t well-suited to the rainfall conditions of the region. Historically, drought was seldom a problem for traditional agriculture, and today it’s seldom a problem for agroecology, for these are designed to be diverse and resilient in the event of dry seasons. It’s only industrial commodity monoculture which is designed to be highly vulnerable to drought.
What’s more, today’s increasingly volatile rainfall patterns and periods of low rainfall are features of the climate chaos being driven most of all by that same industrial agriculture. This sector is the worst greenhouse gas emitter and by far the worst destroyer of carbon sinks.
In both these ways “drought” is a man-made, intentional crisis. And as we see here, in classic exploitation manner the drought which is driven intentionally by corporate agriculture then is used as a propaganda pretext on behalf of GMOs. These would only escalate the crisis since GMOs do nothing but escalate every pathology of corporate industrial agriculture. GMOs require even more water and synthetic fertilizer (the primary source of nitrous oxide emissions, a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide) than non-GM crops.
The solution to all these artificially and intentionally generated problems – food insecurity, drought, climate chaos, hunger – is one and the same solution, and it is the only solution. Humanity must abolish corporate agriculture and transform its food production to agroecology. Even amid such a hostile political environment agroecology is accomplishing great things already in Africa. Agroecology is a fully demonstrated science and set of practices and is ready today for full global deployment, wherever humanity has the wisdom and will to do it.
Meanwhile everyone knows the quote: Insanity/stupidity/evil is doing the same thing over and over while expecting/claiming to expect a different result. Nowhere is this more true than with GMOs.
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March 2, 2017
Humanity’s struggle against corporate agriculture, especially in the form of GMOs, becomes increasingly fierce around the world. One of the most critical and infamous battlegrounds is India. Here, Bt cotton is the locus of the struggle over commodification, the agronomic performance and socioeconomic character of GMOs, and this false crop’s role in history’s greatest suicide epidemic. It failed immediately for the small farmers of India and Africa. More recently it failed for the better-equipped farmers of the South. It soon will fail completely for all cotton farmers everywhere. India’s ongoing sea change against Bt cotton and against commodity cotton in general is only the tip of the iceberg. The consensus is changing. This most typical of GMOs is nearing the end of its time as a marketable product and useful propaganda item.
Bt cotton is one of the most notorious examples of how GMOs and the propaganda campaigns that tout them comprise a massive hoax and fraud on farmers and society. India’s Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture found in its 2012 report that “After the euphoria of a few initial years, Bt cotton cultivation has only added to the miseries of small and marginal farmers”. In 2014 this committee followed up with the finding that government claims of rising cotton farm income are false. Only debt and risks have risen, giving “ample proof to show that the miseries of farmers have compounded since the time they started cultivating Bt cotton”.
GMOs are a rich man’s technology. This is true of the corporations which control and distribute them, tightening their control of agriculture and food. It’s true for the farmers themselves. The only way GMOs may work temporarily as advertised is in the context of high-input industrial agriculture. GMOs require lavish external inputs and best case scenarios. They need to be supplemented heavily with irrigation, synthetic fertilizer, pesticides, and mechanization. GMO seed sellers are also sellers of agricultural poisons such as herbicides and insecticides. The corporate goal always is to maximize both seed revenue and poison sales. That’s what GMOs are designed to do. They’re very costly to grow and require either huge cash reserves or that farmers go into debt. Only rich growers who can afford these expensive inputs can have any hope of getting GM crops to perform in the field as advertised so they can turn a profit on these very expensive crops. That’s why GMOs are an abject failure everywhere they’re not propped up with massive government subsidies.
In spite of these facts, corporations and governments consistently have targeted small farmers for GMO marketing. These farmers, who comprise the great majority of food producers worldwide, lack the resources to get the crop to grow as advertised or to render it economically viable. Across the global South the pattern has always been the same. Corporations and government launch a propaganda blitz targeting small farmers, promising high returns and threatening with economic extinction those who are slow to adopt the technology. The marketing campaigns promise lower pesticide costs, more effective pesticide coverage, and higher yields and revenues. Governments promise subsidies and generous credit. Lacking independent sources of information, often following local leaders in the pay of the cartel, small farmers buy the GM seeds. The GMO corporations use every tactic, from buying seed companies to imposing contracts on seed growers and sellers to having governments offer temporary subsidies to having “unapproved” seeds outlawed, in order to drive non-GM alternatives out of the market.
The farmer pays far more for this seed with its added “technology tax”. He quickly finds he must increase fertilizer application. Pesticide savings never materialize. He must go into debt to procure the expensive inputs he now needs. His farming dependent on rainfall, he learns too late that the Bt crop needs artificial irrigation to get enough water. Pests and diseases ravage the GMO crop in a way they hadn’t with conventional crops. The harvest is poor. Meanwhile the same corporate system is dumping globalized commodity crops on the market. The harvest price plummets. The farmer is wiped out. He’s driven off his land and into a shantytown. In India, he may kill himself by drinking his own pesticide. This individual tragedy is multiplied over hundreds of thousands, millions of small farmers. These millions are economically destroyed, forcibly subject to a mass expulsion from the land, one-way tickets to the terminal slums thrust into their worn hands. These slums have sprawled out from the fringes of the Southern cities in proportion to the intensifying death grip of corporate agriculture, their inmates the cast-off human destruction of this corporate assault.
This pattern has been unbroken wherever corporate agriculture has gone. Wherever commodity cropping has prevailed its primary effect has been to destroy community farmers and drive the people off their land. GMOs reinforce and intensify every pathology of corporate industrial agriculture and especially are evil in how they aggravate this social carnage. Today the goal of corporations and governments in pushing GMOs upon small farmers is to squeeze them for every cent possible, then drive them out. For small farmers and for society as a whole, GMOs are history’s most monumental socioeconomic fraud. That’s why the 2009 International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science, and Technology for Development (IAASTD) rejected GMOs as unable to play any constructive role in the future of farming and food.
Bt cotton is the best-documented example of this pattern of fraud, failure, and human destruction. In India a human drama unequaled in history has been playing out, with millions of small farmers under economic assault by globalized agriculture. They’ve been viciously duped by Monsanto and the Indian government. They’ve been subject to a “ruthless drive to use India as a testing ground for genetically modified crops”. The story begins in the mid 1990s. Under economic pressure and in thrall to commodification propaganda, small cotton farmers began switching from their traditional diversified polycultural practices, which included intercropping with food and other crops for personal use and local sale, to monoculture based on hybrid varieties and destined for global markets. This first put them on the treadmill of rising input costs, pesticide use, and debt. According to government data, 75% of rural debt in India is from the need to purchase farming inputs. The seed dealers themselves double as moneylenders at usurious rates, thus repeating the 19th century American tragedy of impoverished sharecroppers and “the man”. The suicide epidemic is caused by this vicious circle. In Maharashtra state, ground zero of the epidemic, 2.8 million of 3.6 million farmers were in debt in 2006.
Hybrid varieties are highly vulnerable to insect pests. Each year farmers had to invest more borrowed money, time, sweat, and anguish into applying an ever more prodigious and complex mix of poisons. As if their situation wasn’t parlous enough, in 2001 the US radically stepped up the dumping of its own heavily subsidized cotton on the Indian market, causing the price to collapse. For all its cotton production, third in the world, India became a cotton importer on account of the low global price. India’s small cotton farmers were desperate.
This was the context for the commercialization of Bt cotton. It was first grown illegally in the Gujarat province starting in the late 1990s, then launched legally across the whole cotton belt in 2002. The first legal varieties were a joint project of Monsanto and its Indian subsidiary Mahyco. Farmers, trapped on the treadmill paying ever more for pesticides that worked ever more poorly, were desperate for a solution. It’s no surprise that they ardently listened when the massive Mahyco advertising blitz, bolstered with bullish government and media testimonials, promised them a Bt panacea. Bt cotton came from “magic seeds” which would solve all their problems and give them a prolific, profitable crop. It would rout pests once and for all, cost less to grow, yield better, and gross more at harvest time. Bollywood stars toured the countryside exhorting farmers to get on board. The government promised support and lenient credit.
Small farmers faced this marketing offensive with few independent sources of information. “There are no independent expert agencies in this country”, according to a 2014 panel report to the Ministry of Environment and Forests. There’s practically no one but industry and its government flunkeys to advise farmers. Because of this, the adoption of Bt cotton has had little to do with knowledge and experimentation but was mostly a social response. In a time of agricultural deskilling and economic uncertainty, farmers fell back on following a leader or following their neighbors. This environment was rich to be manipulated by Monsanto/Mahyco’s propaganda blitz.
Most Indian cotton farmers heard about Bt cotton through word of mouth, from neighbors who had been tapped by Mahyco to serve as proselytizers, or from advertising coordinated by seed dealers. In Maharashtra 79% of farmers said they’d heard of it from seed dealers. These Mahyco-licensed dealers are often also peddlers of the expensive inputs needed as accessories to Bt crops and loansharks offering the credit needed to buy this expensive apparatus.
This information problem is aggravated by the fact that Bt seeds have been highly unreliable in germination, Bt expression, and yield. This again is a function of how lavishly expensive external inputs are applied, but is also inherent to the shoddy GMO seed itself. If small farmers who are unable financially to deploy the whole input apparatus follow the lead of a local bigshot who can afford it, or believe the lies of government and industry, this is a recipe for economic self-destruction.
Throughout its history the private seed business has been about nothing but marketing, trivial “product differentiation” which even the National Academy of Sciences derided as “pseudo-varieties” representing no kind of actual improvement, destroying farmer choice through enforcing monopoly, and fiercely resisting attempts to enforce transparency and quality control. Jack Kloppenburg’s First the Seed gives an excellent historical account. Just from this historical record it was easily predictable that GMO seeds would comprise a shoddy, fraudulent product. This prediction has been borne out. Bt cotton may be the best case study of how high maintenance GM crops are, how they require a vast, exorbitantly expensive apparatus of inputs and optimal conditions in order to work as advertised, and therefore how inappropriate they are for small farmers. GMO agriculture and smallholder agriculture are antithetical and cannot “co-exist”, to use the GM cartel’s favored propaganda term. Any assertion or advertisement to the contrary is perpetrating a hoax and a fraud. It’s a Nuremburg level crime. As is Monsanto’s aggressive campaign to impose a near-monopoly on cotton seed in India.
The lies were aggressive and virulent from the start and remain so to this day. “Bollgard protects you! Less spraying, more profit! Bollgard cotton seed: the power to conquer insects!”, blared an early poster. “Our products provide constant and significant benefits to both large- and small-holder growers. In many cases farmers are able to grow higher quality and better-yielding crops.” That’s from Monsanto’s “Pledge Report” for 2006, which was the exact time it was rolling out Bollgard II with two Bt toxins. This was in response to the collapse of the original Bollgard on account of bollworm resistance to its single toxin. Clearly the only “constants” are the ever-escalating pesticide treadmill, the ever-rising Tower of Babel as GMOs have to incorporate more and more stacked poisons, and Monsanto’s revenue from this business model of captive markets and planned obsolescence. The other constants are the vicious circles of farmer struggles, debt, misery, exodus from the land and into slums, and suicide. And the lies march on, as the Advertising Standards Council found when it recently flagged Monsanto-Mahyco’s campaign for falsely claiming “Bollgard boosts Indian cotton farmers’ income by over Rs.31,500 crores” (over 315 billion rupees, which is around $4.725 billion as I’m writing this but was much more at the time).
Taking advantage of Indian cotton farmers’ parlous economic circumstance and their lack of information, the propaganda campaigns worked. In spite of the unprecedented high price of the seeds, farmers began planting Bt cotton. By the time they realized the debt and monopoly trap they were in, it was too late. The result has been a disaster.
We’ll survey in detail the real world performance of Bt cotton in India. This is in contrast to the “studies” of Monsanto flacks like Matin Qaim, much touted in the corporate media. Qaim, who barely set foot outside the Mahyco greenhouses and field test sites during his few visits to India (he’s based in Germany), simply propagates corporate-asserted numbers based on secret data from the corporate trials. There’s no reason to trust these numbers in the first place, and even if they were true they’d be valid only for the ivory tower conditions of the trial sites. Either way these figures have zero validity for real world agriculture of any sort, let alone that practiced by small farmers. Yet this person is the main “scientific” source for the corporate media and pro-GMO activists everywhere. Since we can assume Monsanto provides the best flackery it can, in dismissing Qaim we can dismiss the entire pro-Bt “side of the story” as fraudulent and invalid. Now let’s move on to what reality testifies.
*In reality Bt cotton never improved yields. Data compiled by government and trade groups tells a stark story: The great bulk of the yield increase (measured by nationwide average kilograms per hectare) of the commodity cotton era in India occurred from the 2000-01 to the 2004-05 seasons, at which point only 5.6% of cotton acreage was planted to Bt varieties. During the Bt acreage surge from 2005-06 (18% of cotton acreage) to 2008-09 (84%) yield increased only a slight amount, then stagnated and declined. In the ensuing years as Bt acreage crept up above 90%, yields have declined. Overall, yield increased 70% from 2000-01 to 2004-05 when Bt acreage was negligible, and increased only 2% from 2005-06 to 2011-12, with a decline since the 2007-08 peak.
This proves that the entire increase was from other causes and had nothing to do with the GMO. The real cotton yield surge came from the switch from traditional polyculture-based cotton farming to hybrid monoculture deploying massive, expensive inputs – irrigation, fertilizer, pesticides. This is only monocultural yield, not food for people or farmer income. “Yield” by itself is a crackpot measure with no inherent meaning. It can have meaning only within some socioeconomic, political, or environmental context.
In fact almost the entire yield increase came from improvements in conventional hybrids and expanded irrigation. As for pesticides, Keshav Kranthi of the Central Institute of Cotton Research (CICR) scoffs at the notion that Bt crops can hold their own. On the contrary, he attributes the viability of any kind of hybrid cotton, Bt or conventional, versus a wide range of what from the Bt point of view are secondary pests (Bt cotton’s target pest is the bollworm; secondary pests include whiteflies, jassids/leafhoppers, mealy bugs, mirid bugs, thrips, stink bugs, and many others), to the standard seed treatment with the neonicotinoid imidacloprid. This too is a deadly poison we need to abolish, and jassids increasingly are resistant to it. Therefore, to the extent poisons contribute to yield at all, this non-GM poison is far more important than genetically engineered Bt. The great increase in the years of low Bt acreage and stagnation of the years of Bt domination prove that this GMO offers no yield benefit whatsoever and is actually inferior to conventional cotton hybrids.
These numbers, damning as they are, actually exaggerate GMO performance since they’re skewed by the relatively better results from Gujarat state. Gujarat is an outlier in that its agriculture is dominated by fewer, bigger, richer farmers than is typical in other states. Gujarat is far better served by irrigation projects and fertilizer subsidies. Its more capital-rich farmers can better afford the expensive inputs Bt cotton requires. The better Bt cotton production in this state therefore confirms the thesis that GMOs work only for rich growers who can afford lavish outlays for irrigation, fertilizer, and pesticides. Take Gujarat out of the equation and Bt’s performance for small farmers across the cotton belt has been dismal and worsening.
Besides its overall poor yield, Bt cotton (and Bt crops in general, everywhere on earth) has performed in an extremely variable way. There have been several regional crop failures, most recently in Karnataka in 2014. In general the national and state averages obscure extreme local variability. As a rule, how the GM crop will perform is a crapshoot and will vary from farmer to farmer. Seed quality is often poor and Bt expression in the crop is highly variable. Is this caused by the chaotically modified genetics, by agronomic factors like watering levels or soil quality, by environmental factors like temperature? Who knows? No government or corporation has ever studied this in Bt cotton. Not Monsanto, not the US government, not the Indian government, no one. An independent study of Bt expression in GM maize, however, found great variation depending on climatic conditions. We see how climate chaos driven by the corporate system is intended to maximize the chaos of all aspects of agriculture, right down to the performance of the corporate flagship product.
At the farm level, Bt cotton intrinsically yields less than conventional hybrids. Given high inputs it may have better operational yield for the first few years until the bollworms develop resistance. Given the low inputs which comprise the limit for indebted small farmers, Bt always yields much less, along with many acute failures. Yields have always been far less, often by more than half, than what Monsanto’s advertising promised. Poor yields continue to this day. The meager overall numbers conceal a vast number of individual tragedies.
For the individual farmer, growing Bt cotton is like “playing Russian roulette in order to get out of poverty”, as Nassim Taleb put it regarding civilization and GMOs as a whole.
*Here’s a good place to add a critical point. While the individual small farmer crushed by commodity agriculture is often impoverished, the opposite is true of agriculture as a whole. Here we’re talking about cotton, which isn’t directly a food although the seeds are pressed into oil which is used in processed foods. Nevertheless in any discussion of GMO yields we must always stress the fact that industrial agriculture produces far more than enough food for everyone on earth today, and more than enough even for the highest future population projections. The fact is that there’s zero problem with the quantity of food produced, today or at any time in the future for as long as industrial agriculture persists. (It won’t for much longer. Humanity must transform to agroecology and food sovereignty if we want to continue eating.) Therefore there’s zero need to increase yields in order to “feed the world”. Feed the World is a classical Big Lie. The world currently produces enough food for 10 billion people, yet of the 7 billion here, one billion go hungry (and another 2 billion suffer from dietary diseases such as malnutrition or obesity, often both at the same time). This is caused purely by pathological economic and political systems for maldistributing the cornucopia we have. For example, India has vast food stocks, indeed it allows vast amounts of stockpiled food to rot, yet 250 million go hungry. The problem, today and tomorrow, is 100% from corporate maldistribution, 0% from insufficient production. It’ll be a great leap forward for civilization when we can completely purge the “Feed the World” notion from rational and moral discussion as the criminal Big Lie it is.
*Perhaps the core lie Monsanto-Mahyco and the Indian government told cotton farmers is that Bt cotton is suitable for rainfed cultivation. In reality Bt cotton is dependent upon artificial irrigation. In fact Bt cotton requires as much as twice the water needed by conventional hybrids and cannot be effectively grown without expensive artificial irrigation. The vast majority (70%) of India’s farmers depend completely upon rainfall. In Karnataka state where yields collapsed in 2014, most cotton cultivation is rainfed. Gujarat is the exception again, reversing the proportions of irrigated (65%) and rainfed (35%) farms. Here the irrigated area has accounted for 84% of the state’s cotton production, 689 lint kg/ha, while the rainfed area produces only 247 kg/ha. That’s a typical yield difference between Bt cotton grown with irrigation vs. rainfall.
To try to sell Bt cotton, or any GMO, to a rain-dependent farmer is criminal fraud. Investigative journalist PJ Sainath went further – “promoting [Bt cotton] in a dry and unirrigated area like Vidarbha [ground zero for the cotton farmer suicide epidemic] was murderous. It was stupid. It was killing.”
*Another core lie is that the Bt technology can be a permanent panacea against insect pests. On the contrary, Monsanto knew from the start that pests would develop resistance to any Bt toxin just as they do with any other pesticide. This is elementary knowledge of how evolution works. Monsanto built the planned obsolescence of each GMO variety and its being superceded by ever more complex and expensive “stacked” varieties into its business strategy. They called this marketing plan “expanded trait penetration”. But in the early 2000s Monsanto was promising the opposite, that single trait Bt cotton would maintain its potency versus the bollworm indefinitely.
Farmers who believed the lies were quickly disabused. Overall there was never a real decline in pesticide use in Indian cotton farming. Indeed, nationally pesticide use went up 10% during the peak years of Bt expansion. This was despite the increased use of lower-volume, higher-toxicity poisons during these years. In some regions Bt may have used less pesticide than conventional hybrids for the first few years, with a difference range from minuscule to significant. It’s a function of how much water and fertilizer the crop gets. (As always, every possible agronomic benefit of a GMO is dependent upon lavish and expensive artificial inputs. To spend less on pesticides you need to spend more on water and fertilizer.) Any temporary relief also depends upon high-quality trait expression. But many varieties are inconsistent, shoddy, or just fraudulent. There’s never a lasting decline. After four years at most the pesticide use and cost equals out. A few more years and Bt cotton needs more applied pesticides than non-GM conventional cotton. In terms of aggregate poison use and environmental and health hazards all the numbers comprise a false accounting because they don’t account for the Bt endotoxins themselves. But these too are pesticides and must be counted as such.
Meanwhile all commodity cotton, even Bt cotton, always needs sprayed and seed-treated pesticide since cotton is attacked by the widest array of insect types. In the case of anti-bollworm Bt cotton, secondary pests quickly move in to fill any temporary void left where the Bt toxin has temporarily killed the target pest. As I mentioned above, according to the CICR’s Kranthi without neonic seed treatments Bt cotton would be routed by whiteflies, jassids, mirids, aphids, thrips, and many others. As Monsanto’s own propaganda often emphasized, Bt adoption has to be put in the context of the failure of earlier pesticides. Since the same companies propagate both kinds of poisons, applied and GMO endemic, it’s obvious that the poison treadmill culminating in stacked Bt poisons is planned obsolescence, a form of disaster capitalism.
In some cases the Bt cotton never worked against the target bollworms at all. In every case bollworms developed resistance within a few years. In 2006 Monsanto introduced Bollgard II containing two Bt toxins, the original Cry1AC plus Cry2AB, thus admitting that the original Bollgard no longer worked. Bollworms have since developed resistance to Cry2AB. This is standard for the GMO pesticide treadmill.
The result of all this has been that farmers found any reduced-pesticide dividend to be minimal and temporary at best. While pesticide use and cost may have declined by a small amount at first, within a few years these were back to pre-Bt levels. Today Bt cotton farmers have to spend more on pesticides than farmers growing non-GM conventional hybrids. And to correct the false accounting again, the great expense of Bt seeds has to be entered as a pesticide cost, since farmers are purchasing the Bt endotoxins the crops allegedly will produce.
This ongoing pesticide disaster of insurgent secondary pests, resistant target pests, and soaring pesticide use and costs has reached new levels of infamy since 2015, as Bollgard II is collapsing in the face of resistant bollworms even as secondary whiteflies decimate the crop in many states. There’s a rising consensus among Indian farmers, agronomists, and even officials that the Bt cotton experiment has been a disaster India needs to purge.
*As Monsanto flooded the market with its seeds it pressured seed growers and sellers to stop producing and offering non-GM seeds. Monsanto calls this tactic “seed replacement”. Once enough farmers had adopted Bt cotton and GM seeds had attained a dominant market position Monsanto jacked up the price to astronomical levels. Here too there has been great variation over time and across regions, but distilling from many sources tells us that seed prices soared to 2-10 times as much as the price of non-GM hybrids. Prices have run from 700-2000 rupees per packet. For contrast, the original Desi varieties cost 5-10 rupees a packet. The bulk of this price explosion is Monsanto’s technology tax. By one estimate, by spring 2014 Monsanto had extracted 5000 crore in taxes (50 billion rupees; c. $810 million in contemporary dollars) from Indian cotton farmers. Imagine what this wealth could have accomplished if Indian society had invested in agroecological food production instead of throwing it down a corporate commodification rathole.
This extremely high priced seed input and accompanying tax is unique to the GMO varieties and therefore piles a new burden on the backs of already beleaguered farmers.
Various Indian state governments and some central government officials have made half-hearted attempts to relieve the crisis. In 2005 the government of Andhra Pradesh banned three Monsanto-Mahyco varieties for poor performance and sought in vain to force Mahyco to compensate farmers. In 2006 the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission (MRTPC) issued an anti-monopoly pricing order against Monsanto-Mahyco, which Mahyco has done all it can to flout. The central government in 2008 as well as the state governments of Maharashtra in 2008, Maharashtra again in 2011 and 2012, and Karnataka in 2014 undertook regional farmer bailouts in response to atrocious Bt performance and crop failures. At various times Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka have banned Mahyco seeds for bad performance and fraudulent sales practices. But these ad hoc, piecemeal measures have been utterly insufficient. In 2016, even as Karnataka geared up for its second farmer bailout, the Indian central government ordered price caps on cotton seed and the tax Monsanto imposes on the seeds. The government also threatened to revoke the Monsanto’s Bollgard II patent on the grounds that the product is a failure and a fraud.
The result of these escalating input costs has been that Bt cotton is considerably more expensive to grow than non-GM hybrids. At the same time cotton prices forcibly have been depressed and kept low by US dumping of heavily subsidized cotton. The result is that even for the best-equipped farms, Bt cotton’s profit margin is razor-thin, worse than for non-GM conventional. For small farmers, it’s a wipeout. It’s near impossible for them to do anything but lose even more and sink deeper into debt each year.
As all this has been going on India’s conventional agricultural credit structure, based on nationalized banks and lenient payment terms (obviously the right way for society to handle its food producers if it’s to force them to incur debt at all, which of course it should not), has been gutted by the same globalization process which has driven first monoculture hybrid commodification and then Bt commercialization. As a result farmers have been forced to turn to usurious “microlenders” and the seed and poison dealers themselves who often double as loansharks. This sinks them even deeper in the quicksand.
Around the world this pattern has held everywhere, from the richest countries like the US and Australia (both suffered yield declines and subsequent reduced Bt plantings during the drought of 2013) to Asia to Latin America. In Argentina the same pattern of partial but fleeting success for wealthy growers, failure and bankruptcy for small farmers, prevailed. The Colombian government fined Monsanto for the awful performance of its Bt cotton seeds. It was the same story: for small farmers Bt cotton didn’t perform well against pests, didn’t reduce pesticide use or costs, yielded poorly.
Returning to Asia, Chinese production, long afflicted by the secondary mirid bug, is suffering from surging bollworm resistance. Chinese problems with Bt cotton aren’t new. A 2006 Chinese/Cornell study already documented the standard pattern: Seven years of Chinese Bt cotton cultivation had seen a temporary decline in pesticide use and rise in income, then the surge of secondary pests drove farmers back to spraying as much as 20 times a year. Soon they were paying more for pesticides and making less money than non-GM conventional farmers. In Pakistan pesticide use and costs are rising steeply on account of the rampant fraud and the generally dismal performance of the seeds against pests. In Africa’s Burkino Faso farmer success or failure with Bt cotton has been a function of farmer access to credit on rational terms and the ability of farmers to pay for expensive inputs.
African cotton farmers, like the small farmers of India, are especially devastated by US dumping of its heavily subsidized cotton. The same US government which touts GMOs around the world as a great bet for small farmers is ruthlessly dumping its corporate welfare crops on the heads of those same farmers like hot coals. China and the EU also subsidize cotton.
Second to the Indian debacle, the most infamous Bt cotton rollout was the abortive deployment in the Makhathini Flats region of South Africa from the latter 1990s to 2005. In Makhathini, the neoliberal government deployed the same kind of propaganda campaign, promised loans and subsidies, told the same high-flying lies. This propaganda was directed at the international community and world media at least as much as at Makhathini’s farmers. (The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization bit. Its 2004 State of Food and Agriculture (SOFA) report swallowed the lies whole and has been a favorite citation of corporate and media flacks to this day.) The seed cartel enlisted local leaders to attest to the alleged benefits of Bt cotton. Economically beleaguered small farmers responded by adopting the Bt technology with the same result as in India – increased costs, crop failure, the poison treadmill, the debt trap, ending in their being driven off the land. Some were able to stick around as laborers on land they’d once stewarded. Most survivors abandoned cotton completely. By the late 1990s over 90% of Makhathini cotton farmers had adopted Bt varieties. By 2004 drought (lack of irrigation), pesticide costs (secondary pests and then target resistance), depressed cotton prices (US dumping), and impossible debt had caused most farmers to abandon cotton completely.
The worldwide evidence record of the agronomic and environmental performance of Bt cotton has been the same everywhere. It has always led to failure and disaster for small farmers. The fact that Monsanto, governments, academia, and the media continue to hype Bt cotton as appropriate for small farmers constitutes one of history’s ultimate frauds. It “works” for no one but the destructive, parasitic elites who profit off it and use it to exert ever greater control over agriculture. By Nuremburg standards it’s a crime against humanity.
From this history we see how Bt cotton has aggravated the poison/debt agronomic treadmill and economic trap which enclose small farmers in hopelessness and misery, to the point that in the end their only avenues of escape are suicide or to flee the land for the terminal shantytown slums. Bt cotton has turned an agricultural crisis into a catastrophe.
This result was no accident, nor was it unforeseen. On the contrary, it’s simply an escalation of standard “green revolution” phenomena: The replacement of food-based (or in this case textile-based) agriculture with a poison and commodity basis; the enclosure and concentration of agricultural power and profitability on an elitist basis; the forced mass expulsion of the people from the land. The fact that government, corporate, academic, and media elites touted Bt cotton to small farmers knowing it could lead only to their destruction comprises a great crime against humanity. The same is true of all GMO deployment.
It’s clear that Bt cotton is a product which, where it works at all, works only for a brief period and only where supplemented by an expensive, cumbersome apparatus of artificial inputs. Like all other GMOs, it’s an extremely high maintenance hothouse flower. Industrial agriculture as such is highly destructive, wasteful, and unsustainable. GMOs represent an escalation of all the worst aspects of corporate industrial agriculture while conferring no benefits. As a whole GMOs are the extreme manifestation of a backward, economically cramping, agronomically destructive, retrograde technology and mindset. Collectively GMOs are a hoax and a fraud, and most of all where touted for small farmers. The goal of marketing GMOs to small farmers is to destroy them economically and drive them off the land so that large-scale corporate industrial plantations can more “efficiently” enclose and monopolize agriculture. In First the Seed Jack Kloppenburg discusses how the corporations faced barriers to the full commodification of farming itself (as opposed to the system of agricultural inputs and processing). Here we see the answer: One of the basic purposes of GMOs is to drive up the costs of farming to the point that it becomes economically impossible for small independent farmers to exist. Bt cotton provides one of the best case studies.
In fact, the failure of Bt cotton and the great fraud it incarnates are typical of the insecticidal and herbicide tolerant GMOs in general. These essentially are the only two types of GMOs. Both are literally poison plants. They’re engineered to produce their own endemic Bt insecticide and/or to tolerate copious slatherings of herbicide, usually Monsanto’s Roundup. The herbicide is taken into the crop itself and suffuses all its cells. Therefore GMOs add two completely new, massive, indelible presences of extreme poison in our food.
In both cases the poison treadmill and the business strategy of planned obsolescence are fully operational. Except for a few trivial exceptions like the small and declining acreage of MON810 cultivation in Spain, no single-trait Bt maize variety has been effective for years. They’ve been replaced by stacked varieties which produce as many as six Bt toxins. Varieties which produce even more are in the pipeline, as pest resistance escalates and accelerates. Meanwhile the Roundup Ready GMO regime no longer works, as over a dozen glyphosate resistant superweeds rampage across North America, Brazil, and elsewhere. The only solution the system offers is to stack herbicide tolerances. Monsanto originally touted Roundup Ready GMOs as rendering even more toxic poisons like 2,4-D and dicamba obsolete while glyphosate (the main ingredient of Roundup though not the only actively toxic ingredient) would never suffer weed resistance.
Today Roundup Ready is in ruins, and the cartel and governments are pushing GMOs tolerant of the exact same ultra-toxic 2,4-D and dicamba which those same corporations and governments promised us would be a thing of the past if we just believed them about Roundup Ready. The results with each of these shall be exactly the same total failure, but with even worse socioeconomic, agronomic, environmental, and health destruction wrought along the way. This is why the Technical Expert Committee appointed by India’s supreme court to advise it on GMOs recommended, among several other important restrictions, that herbicide tolerant GMOs never be commercialized because of how badly they would aggravate the ongoing socioeconomic carnage by wiping out vast numbers of agricultural laborers. Economically, herbicide tolerant crops are meant to be standard “labor-saving”, job-destroying devices. They’re also designed to save time so the farmer can expand his acreage, thus feeding the classical vicious circle of agricultural overproduction and trying to “make it up on volume”. This of course also adds to the Get Big or Get Out pressure.
We can see how both the insecticidal and herbicide tolerance genres as a whole are massive frauds of the exact same character as Bt cotton. Bt cotton just provides the most clear example of how GMOs as such comprise a monumental fraud and crime.
GMOs are worthless, wasteful, counterproductive, and destructive. They impose a severe constraint and bottleneck on all attempts to innovate and advance in agriculture, farming, and food. They are designed and intended to drive out all small and independent producers and, through attaining total corporate control of agriculture and food, impose such a strangulation grip on the throat of humanity that we’ll never break free.
GMOs must be completely abolished.
If you agree with the ideas in these posts, propagate them.
March 1, 2017
The scientific establishment searches for its keys only under the corporate streetlamp which illuminates the zone which the corporations think will be profitable. This is the zone of research and development toward profitable products, or which maintains the profitability of existing products, or which censors facts about non-corporate products. By definition, the only keys which could “work” are those which can be found within this zone. This is how power dictates the science and technology which are chosen for research and development in the first place.
This mode of search automatically excludes anyone who searches outside the zone of corporate “light”, since any keys which could be found out there in “the dark” by definition cannot work, or may work to open doors which from the corporate point of view are wrong and malign. This is the zone of research which may develop alternatives to profit-based products, may rehabilitate traditional products whose benefits have been suppressed by corporate science, and which often indicts corporate products as harmful.
And so today’s drunken science establishment searches for its keys only under the corporate streetlamp. It not only refuses to expand the search beyond this zone, it demonizes those who search beyond and does all it can to force them back into its version of light.
Meanwhile the sun of the real enlightenment is rising which shall cast its blazing light over the entire terrain. And in its forecast of dawn we see already how the corporate streetlamp is actually inside a cave. Extinguish its artificial light, and in the true day all its alleged “knowledge” will turn out to be phantasms dreamt in the dark.
February 26, 2017
It’s proven beyond any rational doubt that there’s no way forward within the framework of existing politics. Corporate rule dictates corporate politics, and that’s all that exists within the established political framework. This includes the Corporate One-Party system. The only way forward is to put in the hard work of building new social and cultural movements. I’ve dedicated my life to sowing the ideas for a movement dedicated to the abolition of corporate agriculture and the global transformation to agroecology and Food Sovereignty. Until these movements rise and become strong enough to nurture their own political parties dedicated to affirmative ideas, no new ideas can become real as a matter of political policy, because all existing institutions including both factions of the Corporate One-Party are committed to strangling all new ideas in the crib. In the meantime the only work dissidents could possibly do within the existing system is the obstruction work of monkey-wrenching and gridlocking, to prevent some of the evils attempted by existing corporate politics and help generate space for the extra-system movement.
So the great work of today and tomorrow, and perhaps the day after as well, is to build the new movement completely from outside the system. But for today there’s also potential for disciplined, targeted abolition work against pesticides and GMOs. Today I’ve written up a possible program for a political action group. The point here is to sum up and consolidate once and for all our own knowledge and philosophy, as well as offer some standards for public communication. In a previous piece I offered a strategic and tactical plan for such a group.
1. We know that every pesticide is genotoxic and an endocrine disruptor and therefore is carcinogenic and causes birth defects and reproductive problems. We know that every pesticide is broadly toxic to all animal groups including humans. We know all are harmful to bacteria and therefore to soil ecology and our microbiome. This list can be expanded. We know that each pesticide is highly toxic to us, to the soil, to the environment.
2. We know that one of the system’s scams is to say that even if it could be proven that “some” pesticide “possibly” had caused some kind of harm, one could never prove for sure which poison it was, or from exactly which source. Wherever the general lie that a pesticide isn’t toxic in the first place ceases to work, they move on to the next lie that you can’t pinpoint the cause – of a particular cancer, of exactly where that 2,4-D drift came from, etc. We’re seeing Monsanto use both tactics in its cancer lawsuits.
3. Therefore, to be willing to play along with the system game of trying to pinpoint each particular causality and each particular point source is both practically impossible and philosophically mistaken, since all the poisons from all the sources are contributing to the general epidemic of destruction.
(This is similar to the timidity of those who still hesitate to attribute extreme weather events to climate chaos. While it’s technically true that you can’t “prove” a particular hurricane or El Nino was driven by artificial climate change, we do know that the corporate system, including its political system, intentionally are driving the climate crisis as hard as they can, and we know that an increase in the frequency and severity of extreme weather events is one of the effects of climate change. Therefore it follows that the corporate system consents to and embraces each such event as an artificially caused manifestation of climate chaos. The system does this through its hellbent-for-leather actions to maximize greenhouse gas emissions, destroy all carbon sinks, and its exploitation of every weather-related disaster in order to increase its own profits and power. Corporate industrial agriculture is the worst driver of the climate crisis, which is why its abolition is a requirement if humanity is to avert the worst effects of climate chaos.)
4. So if I were founding an Anti-Poison Party, for the party platform I’d enshrine strict liability for the entire poison stream, from development to production to sales to use, for all effects of any poison. It’s the same principle as for any other criminal conspiracy: The guy driving the getaway car is just as guilty of murder as the robber inside the bank who pulls the trigger, even though he never left the car. As per (1), everyone knows how toxic all these chemicals are, and the corporations and regulators most of all, so no one can claim innocent ignorance. This would be a core Party principle and the Party promises to put this into effect wherever it gets the power.
5. This simplifies political education and campaigning, since there would no longer have to be squabbles over what’s most responsible for particular health harms, such as cancer, autism, celiac disease, and others which often seem overdetermined, to the point that people squabble over what’s “the” cause. Since Party members would agree in principle that any poison has a full share of the blame for each harm, political tactics would then be free to focus on what’s most strategically critical and politically effective. For example, a primary focus on glyphosate.
The basic principle underlying all of this is that the entire poison paradigm is a campaign of homicidal insanity which doesn’t work, serves no human purpose, has absolutely no legitimate reason to exist at all, does nothing but cause horrific harm to humanity and the Earth, and according to all reason and morality needs to be abolished completely. The strategic, tactical, and philosophical precepts I just listed follow from this rational and moral reality.
If you want to help spread these ideas, propagate these pieces.
February 24, 2017
GM ethanol-ready corn is perhaps the perfect GMO, at least within the realm of what readily can be sold given conventional subsidies. The only thing better would be a GMO which spontaneously combusts in the field prior to harvest. Indeed, this would be less costly to society, which is why it wouldn’t be as attractive to the GMO cult which is dedicated to being as destructive as possible.
Ethanol-ready GMOs represent an advance in the anti-food paradigm of corporate industrial agriculture. Corporate agriculture’s primary goal is to eradicate direct, efficient food production and replace it with highly costly, highly wasteful, highly inefficient commodity production designed to channel all proto-food production through CAFOs and processing in order to generate one calorie of eventual food product out of as much as a hundred calories’ worth of energy. This is the most effective way to destroy as much fuel and food as possible for the least return to human beings. The real product is concentrated power for governments and corporations. The process is made economically possible through massive subsidies and forcing all the costs onto society and the environment. The entire human and earthly economy must bear the burden of this massively bloated parasite. There’s the true cost of corporate industrial agriculture, which through smoke and mirrors is made to seem so cheap to the Western consumer at the retail checkout aisle.
This mirror effect is part of the funhouse designed to reinforce the religious mindset which believes that food comes not from the earth but from the supermarket, and ultimately from corporations.
Ethanol and biodiesel production comprises a refinement in this Food is Dead paradigm. With cropping bound for ethanol, the commodity crop no longer will be turned into even the most vestigial food. Instead the entire process is a pure loss: The land, the soil, the seed, the water, the air, the work, the socioeconomic destruction, the massive poisoning of the environment, all a total write-off for humanity. This is why ethanol subsidies persist even though this is one of the few corporate projects which actually has provoked resistance from other corporate sectors. In spite of the self-evident insanity and impracticality of the agrofuel concept, it remains sacred to the core of the anti-food technocratic priesthood. To put that more precisely, agrofuels are attractive to technocracy exactly because of their insanity and impracticality. Which is also why GMOs in general are such an object of cult worship for this fundamentalist religion. The cultists believe because it’s insane.
The “anti-GMO” movement will never get anywhere until it understands this fact.
Ethanol-ready GMOs offer another benefit from the technocratic point of view. Commodity agriculture in general eradicates food production. For a typical example, NAFTA was designed forcibly to convert Mexican production from regionally-based food corn for tortillas to globalized commodity corn for CAFOs, while food corn now would have to be imported and at the mercy of Wall Street speculators. The intended result was a great price surge in tortillas and radically escalating hunger in Mexico. Today ethanol-ready corn is taking this assault on tortillas one step further.
Corn is wind-pollinated and therefore is one of the most readily cross-pollinated crops. For that reason it’s among the most difficult to protect from contamination by toxic pollen such as from GM corn.
Today we’re seeing an epidemic of documented contamination incidents in Nebraska, and of poor-quality masa flour used to make tortillas. The preparation falls apart during cooking, just the effect one would expect from contamination of corn bred to be more starchy by corn engineered to be more sugary. There have also been many reports of food poisoning caused by the contaminated corn. All this is what we’d expect if the tortilla flour was contaminated by the ethanol-ready corn. This latest contamination and food poisoning outbreak is parallel in every way to the StarLink crisis of 2000-2001 where another special type of GM corn, this one designed especially as CAFO feed, contaminated the food supply causing an epidemic of allergic reactions, many of them life-threatening.
All this is what we’d expect from a system committed to wiping out food production for human beings as well as human participation in commodity crop production in general. It’s a system dedicated to driving humans off the land in the most literal sense and denying them food in the most literal sense, all the while preaching such religious mantras as “Corporate Profit is Food” and “Hunger is Food”, that these are the modes of “Feeding the World”.
The truth is that from the technocratic point of view, corporate persons literally are the world, and are the only “people” who need to be fed. Meanwhile, except for a handful of elites and their cult supporters, actual human beings are supposed to disappear. Corporate agriculture is designed to make human beings disappear, first from the land into shantytowns, and then, via famine, from the earth completely.
The assault of GM corn upon corn bred to be food for human beings is an epitome of this corporate/technocratic paradigm.
If you like these seeds, propagate them.
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February 17, 2017
The program to breed a commercially deployable version of “golden rice” continues its perfect record of failure. In the latest screw-up, an attempt to back-cross a GM rice variety with a conventional Indian variety resulted in a crop with reduced yield, stunted growth, and growth abnormalities.
The authors of the new study documenting this result blame the effects on transgenic interference with the plant’s growth hormones. Worse, the transgene is fully active not just in the rice grains as “intended”, but in the leaves as well. This resulted in reduced photosynthetic ability.
These visible effects had not manifested in the GM variety. Therefore the engineers assumed the transgenic effect was “stable”, and that this stability of transgenic effect could be taken for granted throughout the process of back-crossing the transgene into the Swarma variety, perfecting this Indian version of golden rice, increasing the seed, and commercially deploying it.
This is typical of how GMOs are developed. The entire process, from tissue culture to seed increase, focuses only on whether the crop visibly seems to meet commercial standards. That’s the full extent of the quality control and safety testing. It’s the same as how all alleged safety tests in the lab really have been tests of nothing but whether CAFO inmates can reach their slaughter weight being fed grain from the crop. This and similar industrial parameters comprise the sum total of the “safety tests” performed by corporations, accepted by regulators, and touted by regulators and media. The same paradigm applies to agronomic testing. Therefore it’s no surprise that under new conditions, conditions not as controlled as the laboratory greenhouse, GMOs often break out with completely unexpected deficiencies, sicknesses, and crop failures. This is especially true under real world agronomic conditions.
Michael Antoniou commented that this latest GMO failure is probably yet another example of the pathology of the GM insertion process. “The GM transformation process as used in the development of GMO crops selects for the insertion of the GM gene into active regions of the genome (areas where plant host genes are switched on and functioning). This bias in the GM gene insertion into active regions therefore maximises the possibility of disrupting the function of one or more host genes, with potentially adverse effects such as poor crop performance or even toxicity.” In order for the GM process to work the transgene must be inserted into the most active part of the recipient genome, and the gene cassette usually includes an epigenetic component called a “promoter” which keeps the transgene turned on to maximum expression mode at all times. Therefore the entire development and deployment process selects for maximum effects of the transgene, both the advertised effects as well as the unheralded ones.
Evolution crafted our genomes in an exquisitely nuanced way, including a complex orchestration of notes, volumes, and rests for all genetic elements. Genetic engineering, being a very stupid, imprecise, blunt-force tool, is incapable of any kind of nuance whatsoever, and engineers have always had a fundamental contempt for complex systems which reflects the limitations of their own minds. Their only tool isn’t even a hammer but a caveman’s club. That’s why they loathe evolution and its works and yearn so fervently to subjugate evolution to the brute force simplifications of their concepts and engineering processes. That’s why they’re congenitally incapable of comprehending the fact that nature works, genetic engineering does not. And that’s why they carry their evolution denial to the extreme of wanting to leap over all the evolutionary tests and safeguards of competition, space, and time, to deploy their shoddy, half-baked, failure prone product as completely across the entire planet as possible, and completely to eradicate as much of non-GM agricultural biodiversity and wild biodiversity as possible. It’s a fundamentalist hatred of evolution, of nature, of life itself.
The effects of this have always been well known to all. Contrary to the standard lie, genetic engineering has zero in common with conventional breeding and disavows all principles of sound breeding. Unlike conventional breeding, unlike conventional sexual reproduction, this technological evasion of sex generates an artificially hyper-active section of the genome which can generate severe unpredicted effects at any time. (CRISPR “gene editing” is designed to render this genetic chaos far more severe.)
The crisis points especially occur wherever there’s a discrete change in circumstances, as in the case of this golden rice back-crossing project. Such crisis points occur often in the real world, amid the general environment, wherever GMOs are commercially deployed. These real world crisis points will become far more common as the climate chaos driven by corporate industrial agriculture becomes more intense. As Antoniou points out, this breeding blunder goes to show that any golden rice variety, if released so that it can cross with non-GM varieties, may cause general rice crop failures and endanger harvests over vast regions. (Rice has moderate cross-pollination, and GM contamination has been rife in China where Bt rice was widely if illicitly released.) And yet certain smug, racist Westerners, even among “GMO critics”, have seen fit to lecture Philipino farmers about how uncivil it was for them to tear up a golden rice field trial in 2013.
We must stress that there is nothing at all “unintended” about these effects. The effects of genetic engineering are grossly unpredictable, but this unpredictability is known and embraced ahead of time. “Unpredictable” has nothing conceptually in common with “unintended.” We can compare the typical operations of poison-based agriculture to spinning a roulette wheel where the various colors and numbers indicate various chaotic effects, many of them to be a surprise. Which number will come up is unpredictable, but one spins the wheel with full malice aforethought, full intent to trigger the chaos.
Genetic engineers and breeders involved in developing GM crops for commercial release have full knowledge of their inability to predict anything, therefore they intend chaotic results, just as they do with their broader mandate to drive climate change and pump as much synthetic poison into ecosystems as possible. The pro-GMO activists simply lie about all this when they make any claim to “precision” or predictability. No one who wanted stable, predictable results would still be working with genetic engineering. Where it comes to our food, agriculture, and environment, we’re not just spinning the roulette wheel. We’re playing Russian roulette, as Black Swan author Nassim Taleb put it.
Therefore I recommend to anyone interested in conceptual and terminological discipline that we discard the whole false notion of “unintended” effects of GMOs, pesticides, climate change, etc. This is factually wrong and morally far too lenient. Chaos is the predictable effect of genetic engineering, therefore the pro-GM activists intend chaos. That’s one of the purposes of this massive uncontrolled human feeding experiment, to log the unpredictable effects of the globally promiscuous deployment of GMOs in the environment and diet. They premeditate the chaos so they can hope someday to understand it, toward vastly more far-reaching eugenic goals. As a US mayor once said following a police riot, in a profound slip, “The policeman is there to preserve disorder.”
And what if golden rice ever were to overcome the incompetence of its designers and actually “worked” to the point it could be deployed commercially? Like every other technological dodge, and like every other element of corporate agriculture, it would only increase hunger and aggravate the very malnutrition diseases it’s allegedly being designed to treat.
This is because golden rice, like all other forms of “improved seed”, is designed for industrial monoculture commodity agriculture in a globalization framework. Therefore in addition to the special contamination problems golden rice presents, it would make the standard contribution to corporate agriculture’s general destruction of soil, environment, farmers and communities, and the standard contribution to increasing hunger and malnutrition.
What’s the real market for a commercialized golden rice, beyond some token food aid shipments paid for by taxpayers? I suppose it could become an ingredient in “biofortified” processed foods, similar to enriched and fortified breakfast cereals. But how could it ever actually do the thing it’s allegedly supposed to do, provide vitamin A to impoverished people suffering from deficiency disease? How are the people who need it supposed to pay for it? The reason they suffer the night blindness symptom is that they can’t afford real foods containing vitamin A like green, yellow, and orange vegetables. The reason they have no money to pay for these is the same reason they can’t grow real food themselves: They were driven off their land by the same corporate agriculture now offering this techno-solution in exchange for the same money these people don’t have.
It’s clear that “golden rice” has always been a media hoax. After nearly twenty years of hype the thing doesn’t exist in deployable form and there’s no evidence it ever will be worked into such a form. Nor is there any evidence that there’s any system intent truly to deploy it, since it’s very hard to see what the commercial market is. Unless the plan is for Western taxpayers to pay for the whole production and distribution shebang, 100% corporate welfare for Syngenta and the rice commodifiers. It’s true that each individual corporation contemplates the taxpayers as an infinitely deep trough. But how much longer can they all maximize their gorging?
Far worse, golden rice is a core part of the overall “Feed the World” hoax. Corporate agriculture causes hunger, drives hunger, maximizes hunger. It can never do otherwise, nor can any element of it do otherwise. Just like every other product of corporate industrial agriculture, golden rice is designed to cause malnutrition, it’s designed to cause hunger. It’s designed to force ever more people into the trap where they have no money, can get no money, and yet need money to get food.
Night blindness resulting from vitamin A deficiency has one and only one cause: Corporate agriculture destroys food production, drives people off their land, requires them to use money it denies them the ability to get, and leaves them to sicken and starve. Golden rice, like every other technological solution, every other alleged “silver bullet”, represents no alternative to this hunger-mongering paradigm. On the contrary golden rice, and GMOs as such, represent nothing but the escalation of this destructive system. GMOs stand for nothing but disease, hunger, starvation, famine. They’re designed to make all of these worse. This design is intentional. And in this case the effect is 100% predictable.
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February 16, 2017
Today we’ll take a brief look at a few examples of how shallow and childish STEM notions and modes of thought often are. Some examples, then a few general points. As the project expands we’ll develop the documentation and analysis of scientism as a fundamentalist cult, toward demolishing the malign pretensions of this false mode of thought. What I want to emphasize today is the naivete, philosophical incompetence, and ignorance of even the most elementary intellectual history, or lack of self-awareness with regard to it, demonstrated by these ways of thinking. Your average philosopher or theologian, representatives of more adult modes of thought, would’ve laughed these epigones off the stage thousands of years ago.
*The fallacy of SETI is the exact same fallacy as that of theistic conceptions of God. Theists envision God as a super-powerful person. God is omnipotent, but otherwise is just like a person, thinks the same way, can be spoken to the same way, angered the same way for the same reasons, similarly bribed or appeased.
The SETI cultists envision extraterrestrial intelligences in the same way. These intelligences are conceived as being technologically more advanced but otherwise just like humans. Therefore, the cult belief runs, an alien civilization thinks the same way, has the same goals including communication with other intelligences, communicates the same way, can be detected and reached the same way. Obviously there’s no rational basis for believing any of this, any more than there is to believe in the theist God. On the contrary, SETI enthusiasm is theist religious enthusiasm.
*The cult of Artificial Intelligence is an extreme regression to primitive animism. The cultist convinces himself there are sentient entities within some of his machines and gadgets. This much today’s STEM cadre has in common with primal hominids who thought rocks and winds were inhabited by spirits. The twist on this primitive mode among modern scientists and engineers is that they envision this animism at some point, by a divine miracle, metamorphosing into a “Singularity”. This religious notion is confused so far, and the cultists aren’t clear whether they envision their animism metamorphosing into a polytheism or a monotheism.
*Genetic engineering, and the eugenics ideology it serves, combine theologically with the AI cult to revive ancient polytheism with its sexual meldings of gods, animals, and humans as well as those versions of Christianity which envision Jesus as a regular human who was then “adopted” by God and infused with godhood. Transhumanism, aka technological eugenics via genetic engineering, envisions humans being technologically transformed to become divine or semi-divine beings.
These technological aspirations to transcend the human body also ape the more traditional religious expressions of hatred for the body. Scientism cultists are puritans in exactly the same way the Salem witch hunters were. It’s the same human type in every way.
*The desperate yearning to “Get Off the Rock” is self-evidently a plagiarism of the Rapture doctrine of some versions of Christianity, transposed to scientism. It’s also a modern recasting of the myth of the Tower of Babel, except in this retelling the builders really will reach heaven. This is a regression to medieval and ancient notions of heaven being physically “above”, up above the clouds, while our home the abundant Earth is reviled as corrupt, the realm of Satan. (Feyerabend suspected most scientists secretly still believe in an absolute “up and down” in the universe.)
Thus science joins hands with the Christian dispensationalists. They concur on the Rapture; they differ only on its mechanism and who shall be the lucky few elected by grace. They agree on the infinite ingratitude of their hatred for our parent and home the Earth. They agree the Earth is not worthy of being cherished, stewarded, loved, but instead deserves to be reviled, despoiled, exploited, trashed, destroyed.
The space cult is most bizarre in the fundamental passivity of it. Although for almost all the cultists any of these objects of worship is far beyond their own ability to participate, the priesthood and the rite being vastly less egalitarian and accessible than the Catholic mass, Get Off the Rock takes this passive idiocy, this imbecile fanboyism, to the furthest extreme. Here most of all we see a pure physical self-loathing, based in some deep personal physical inadequacy, expressed through a vicarious extreme hatred of body and Earth.
To repeat, this extreme hatred is identical to the hatred held by many versions of Christianity and other theisms.
Like the Second Coming of Christ, science promises over and over that its discoveries and technological inventions will bring a utopia of peace, health, and prosperity within a few years if everyone today just keeps sacrificing and obeying. The fact that none of the grand promises of the 1950s or since ever came true, that instead this same scientific establishment always has helped this same handful of capitalist gangsters to steal almost the entire dividend, where this dividend existed in the first place, is to be blocked out, forgotten. The essence of religious belief is to “believe because its absurd.”
In the same way, we’re exhorted to maintain theological belief in the Popperian “scientific method” which the scientists themselves almost never live up to, in the same way it’s rare for a Christian to live up to the Sermon on the Mount.
Most fundamental of all, science has unscientific faith in itself.
We see how, for all their pseudo-atheist braying, these unreconstructed theists seek to transform their mourning for the death of God into the determination to resurrect God by technologically building Him, their own real-life Golem. Thus they plan to re-enact the Resurrection. But this time, instead of death being swallowed up in victory, the haters of humanity and Earth intend to swallow up victory in death.
February 14, 2017
They hate food. (They hate the fact that we have to eat.) They hate the Earth. They hate the literal soil, the “dirt”. They hate the human body.
If for the time being they have no choice but to inhabit bodies which need food, they want to render it all as abstract, fictive, clinical, bureaucratic, technological as possible. For the same reason they want as much as possible to remove all direct human participation from food production and remove all contact with nature. They want to render the soil as inert and sterile and dead as possible and then jolt it with synthetic fertilizer. They want to sunder its contact with the rain and wind by rendering it dependent on irrigation water supplied by high-energy systems. They dream of covering all crop fields with black tarps and using only artificial light for photosynthesis. They want to use poisons to kill, not just “pests” but all life other than the crop itself. The fact that industrial agriculture is extremely wasteful in its use of fertilizers and pesticides, and the fact that GMOs are designed to maximize the use and waste of pesticides, is wasteful only from a rational point of view. From the point of view of technocracy and the scientism religion, maximal deployment of synthetic poison, through external application and by engineering crops to ooze poison from every cell, is an ideological value in itself. They do it on principle.
Besides maximizing pesticide use, from the cult’s perspective the main purpose of GMOs, and of corporate control of seed in general, is the religious principle of enclosing the seed and the genes, and therefore the physical crop, within the ritual of patenting. However artificial and fictive this is from a rational point of view, if the technocracy cult can convince enough people religiously to believe in intellectual property, and especially the patenting of life, and if this cult can convince the thug arm of the state to use force and the threat of force on behalf of this fiction, it becomes real. The crop now verily is something “new”. In some way it has been abstracted from the hated ecology.
Throughout the history of industrial agriculture and its Green Revolution, culminating in herbicide tolerant GM crops, the system has striven to be “labor saving”, aka job destroying, has been designed to purge as much human participation from the system as possible. Human beings are to be wiped out as farmers, wiped out as laborers, wiped out as communities, wiped out as people living on the land. This campaign has been most overt across the Global South, but it intends to encompass all of humanity. Human beings are to be wiped out as producers and eaters of food, since each of these human activities are odious to the technocrats and scientism cultists. Only as agents conveying money, as moneyed consumers, are human beings to be granted the right to exist at all.
In all the goal is to render food as abstract, technocratic, mechanized, chemical, biotechnological as possible. Monsanto’s goal always has been to remove all nature from the seed. Robert Fraley envisioned Monsanto becoming the “Microsoft of seeds”. By this he meant not just the mundane goals of greed and monopoly power. More profoundly he thought Monsanto’s transgenes would comprise the fundamental software of all agriculture, with the physical seeds and crops being just the stupid, fungible, cheap factory-produced hardware. Lots of people tried to tell them agriculture doesn’t work that way, that on the contrary the transgene is a stupid, messy gewgaw dependent upon the quality of germplasm in which it resides. For a long time the company wouldn’t listen.
After some years of stubbornness Monsanto had to concede to reality. But the company fixed its ignorance of agronomy only under duress. Their attitude has not changed. To this day they resent having to temporize, they resent having had to buy all those seed companies. They’re still trying to figure out how to impose maximum monopoly control with minimum real-world apparatus or indeed contact with physical reality at all.
This is the grail of all corporations, themselves such fictions rendered real only by the violence of the state and the inertia of the people. The sector comprising corporate agriculture and food, along with its lead enablers from the state, like USAID and the USDA, and from the world of private philanthropy, led by the Gates and Rockefeller Foundations, thinks exclusively in terms of Mammon’s fictive numbers. The measure of agriculture is never food for human beings but sanctified fake numbers like GDP, trade balances, sovereign debt, commodity and stock prices, corporate profits, money as such. These pure fictions are rendered real only by the corporate state’s violence and the tolerance of the people. Thus the corporate/government/NGO structure is able globally to impose and enforce the agricultural model which conforms to these measures and eradicates, as much as possible, all actual food production for human beings.
In all these ways the goal is to render it as literally true as possible that food is produced by money, that food comes from the supermarket.
The entire corporate system is dedicated to enforcing the religion of Mammon to its ultimate extreme, where the only relationships which shall exist shall be between sterile objects, preferably legal fictions like corporations, patents, titles and money, while all ecological relationships, all relationships between human and human, human and Earth, shall be eradicated. These relationships are to cease to have any right to exist, and then cease to exist in the most literal sense. This is the logical end of all theory and practice of the profit-seeking corporation. As we see every day, the corporations at all times are working aggressively toward this end.
So we have the situation:
Corporations regard human beings as superfluous, potentially dangerous, and would prefer they simply disappear from the earth.
Technocrats regard human beings as superfluous, potentially dangerous, and would prefer they simply disappear from the earth.
Corporations regard the Earth as literally nothing but a resource mine and waste dump.
Technocrats regard the Earth as literally nothing but a resource mine and waste dump.
Here we have perfect accord on an ideology, an economic system, and a technology set dedicated to rendering the vast majority of human beings superfluous and worthless in the most literal sense of the term. In the same way there’s perfect agreement on the complete destruction of the global ecology.
What do you think follows from that? Especially as the people stop being so patient, so tolerant, so inertial.