Volatility

May 1, 2018

Gates Foundation Assault on Africa, Cracking from Within

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The Gates Foundation/Monsanto’s plan for the land: Stay OUT of the land, stay IN the shantytowns, unto death: First in Africa, then everywhere

 
 
Since its inception in 2012 I’ve written many times in condemnation of the Gates Foundation-coordinated “New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition”. The New Alliance is the campaign of the Gates Foundation, USAID, several Western governments, such multinational agribusiness corporations as Monsanto, DuPont, Cargill, and Unilever, with the assistance of corrupt African governments, to dominate and control Africa’s land and agriculture and drive its millions of community farmers and villagers off their land. The campaign attempts a far more vicious and total reprise of the 19th century wave of African colonization. It’s the escalation and extension to Africa of the modern agricultural imperialism campaign dubbed the “green revolution”. (So-called because it’s superficially about money, though really about total power and domination.)
 
In 2018 the Alliance has suffered two major blows.* The World Bank itself was forced to admit that its accounting procedure for analyzing the effects of pro-corporate policies enacted by target governments is corrupt and manipulated in order to obtain the desired propaganda result. Shortly after, the French government announced that it was ending its financial and propaganda support for the Gates/USAID/Monsanto program. That leaves just the US and its poodle UK still directly funneling taxpayer money to the corporate assault. (Of course literally all money funding industrial agriculture as such is direct or indirect corporate welfare. Just to give one prominent example, every cent funneled through the Gates Foundation is paid for by the taxpayer.)
 
 
Like the rest of humanity, Africa does not need the “help” of corporate technocracy, its poisons, or its dominion of Mammon. Like the rest of humanity, and as already proven by the mass destruction of much of the global South by this same system, Africa will be much better off going into the future beyond the extreme energy civilization if it fights off this Western attempt to destroy its food production. So although the New Alliance campaign is showing signs of cracking up from within, this only confirms the need to step up the fight against it to smash it from without. Africa can ensure the best future possible, the only good future possible, if instead it works to preserve its community food heritage and supplement this with the science of agroecology. Just like the rest of humanity will be forced to do, one way or another.
 
 
*The piece goes into wonkish detail and adopts wholesale the enemy’s propaganda term “reforms” for these pro-corporate policy assaults. Now, we anti-globalization campaigners are familiar with this Orwellian use of “reform”, and to the extent we’re radicals the term “reform” is generally a bad word anyway. But unless writers want to preach only to the most narrowly selected choir, they would be aware that to most people a “reform” is a vaguely good-sounding thing. That, of course, is why the globalizers developed this Orwellian use of it in the first place. So sincere anti-globalizers would never use the enemy’s own term this way. The worst examples of what seems like a symptom of Stockholm syndrome are the wholesale adoption of the enemy propaganda terms “free trade” and “free market” on the part of those who claim to oppose what these terms really stand for.
 
Unfortunately I no longer think this standard affinity for the enemy’s own terms is an accident or the result of sloppiness. Rather, I think it’s typical of the fact that just as with industrial communism before, so today’s allegedly more eco-conscious “radicals” really still offer no alternative to the Earth-murdering, humanity-enslaving productionist-technocratic civilization. They still want productionism, consumptionism, technocracy, but just as with the communists before so they make the same false promise to “do better”. But it’s the civilization itself which is inherently genocidal-ecocidal, inherently destructive of all life and all human feeling and value. To claim one can run the productionist-technocratic civilization in a more eco-friendly, human-friendly** way is the same as claiming one could have run Auschwitz in a more humane way. This analogy is direct and precise in every way.
 
So our socialists and anti-globalizers and most of all our environmentalists continue to talk like corporate propagandists because they share the deepest substantive affinity with them. The dispute between them and the corporations is nothing but a squabble over tactical means, emphases, tempos. They agree on the end goal of total destruction. Exactly as industrial capitalism and industrial communism had almost everything in common and were merely disputing which kind of power body, nominal “public” government or government-created corporations, should control the wealth and power which were the by-product of destroying the Earth and humanity. This total destruction has always been the shared primary goal.
 
 
**I often feel the need to double what’s really a single term, since humanity is inextricably part of the ecology. Thus “eco-friendly, human-friendly” is redundant. On the contrary, the notion that humanity is or ever could be (or should be) separate from nature, let alone at war with it, is by far the worst idea ever, by far the worst psychosis humanity ever invented. Yet even I feel the language has so internalized this notion of a distinction that I use the redundancy. And also to emphasize that even on humanist terms, civilization has been a disaster, while the vast majority of human beings always, at all times including the modern era, would have been much better off without it.
 
 
 
 
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January 9, 2018

Japan is Buying at the Peak of the Bubble

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In spite of the US having temporarily pulled out of the TPP negotiations, Canada, Japan, Australia, and several Asian countries are going ahead (obviously expecting the US to adhere later on).
 
For the sake of tilting at this windmill Japan is scrapping what’s left of its classical public agricultural infrastructure, the same way the US and other Western countries did over the course of the 20th century. In the 1980s globalization’s debt terrorism was used to force most third world countries to scrap their public agriculture systems, as part of the IMF’s “structural adjustments”. India dismantled its system in the 1990s, immediately triggering a suicide epidemic among small commodity farmers which rages to this day. (The US stanched the beginnings of a similar epidemic among American farmers at the same time by greatly increasing Big Ag subsidies, many of which are laundered through the farmers in the form of crop insurance and direct payments. Without this massive planned-economy program of corporate welfare, commodity farming in the US would be economically impossible for the farmers.) Today the corporate “New Alliance” project, spearheaded by the Gates Foundation and USAID for the benefit of Monsanto, DuPont, Cargill, Yara, Unilever and others, is targeting African countries trying to force them to scrap what’s left of their public agricultural systems.
 
 
This a particularly stupid and short-sighted move for Japan at this late date. As the extreme energy civilization enters the era of Peak Oil and energy descent, as climate chaos drives sea-level rise and hyper-destructive Pacific cyclones, and as ecological collapse avalanches, it becomes all the more imperative for every society to wean itself from globalization, especially from commodity industrial agriculture, and to restore its food security on an agroecological basis. This is sanity, while any other course of action is insane.
 
This is especially true for Japan, a country whose classical problem has been to make the most of a small amount of land. The US always has had tremendous leeway to be stupid and wasteful because it was blessed with such a vast abundance of land and resources. Japan has no such cushion. It needs to be smart or perish. So it doesn’t bode well for Japan’s future well-being that it’s choosing now of all times to dismantle its public seed programs and other agricultural programs for the sake of propping up its exports of consumer junk. On the contrary, of all industrialized countries Japan ought to be one of the first to detach its food production from the globalized system and restore it to its natural, rational condition. Food production and distribution naturally and logically is regionally-based, as a rule concurrent with a watershed. Historically only a few luxury imperishables were traded extensively over long distances.
 
The modern era of extreme energy consumption which made it physically possible to globalize food systems has been an ahistorical blip based on the one-time draw-down of the unique, non-renewable fossil fuel hoard. At the same time this era’s obscene insult to the ecology is reaching its breaking point, and wholesale ecological collapse will make all human activities increasingly difficult or impossible.
 
For both these reasons, resource limits and ecological limits, Babylon’s ahistorical binge is coming to an end and soon humanity shall be forced to return to historical patterns whether it wants to or not. That means the relocalization of food production and distribution. At this site I’ve long called for the necessary abolition of industrial agriculture and the transformation to agroecology. This transformation is physically and scientifically possible, right up to the global scale, and lacks only the cultural and political will to do it. Humanity still can choose the agroecological transformation.
 
But there’s no choice as to the ultimate destination. If humanity refuses the route of chosen abolition and transformation, which would be the least hard way, then nature will impose both by force. And this will be the very, very hard way. It looks like Japan is choosing the hardest of all ways, and given its weaker position to begin with, nature’s correction is likely to be hard indeed.
 
 
Propagate the necessary new ideas.
 
 
 
 
 

December 9, 2017

Lessons of the Burkina Faso Bt Cotton Debacle

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Cotton as part of a bizarre sculpture. It’s still better crafted than Monsanto’s Bt cotton.

 
 
I’ve written so much on GM cotton I’m sick of it, but I’ll point out two salient points brought out in this piece on Burkina Faso’s brief, disastrous experience with Monsanto’s Bt cotton.
 
1. As I emphasized previously regarding Bt cotton, it’s a rich man’s technology which assumes optimum conditions and highly expensive inputs of fertilizer, irrigated water, and pesticides in order to work.
 
Today one of the government stooges who touted Monsanto to the country’s cotton farmers is falling on his sword, loyal to the last:
 

Roger Zangre, a Burkinabe agricultural scientist who helped bring Monsanto to Burkina Faso, said Burkina’s technical shortcomings were partly to blame for the problems with the GM crops. “Before the introduction, our capacities should have been reinforced. But all of that fell by the wayside, and that’s on us … We can’t blame Monsanto alone,” said Zangre, who was employed by the state and said he had never been paid by Monsanto.

 
But this makes no sense. If you sell a technology to people who don’t possess the technical infrastructure to use it, like selling cars to people who have no roads, then you’re committing a fraud. Monsanto, and government shills like this one, of course waved off all such concerns in the beginning. Just as to this day Monsanto’s shills still claim that Bt cotton is good for small farmers, and still look for marks among small cotton farmers anywhere on earth it can find them.
 
Sure enough, “in Ghana, Uganda and Nigeria, growers have also been testing Bollgard II, but they say Burkina Faso’s experience has made them more cautious. “We are being very sceptical now,” said James Wiyor, executive secretary of Ghana’s Cotton Development Authority.” This proves that Monsanto will tout this shoddy, high-maintenance, extremely expensive product to anyone it can gull, and is telling them the same lies it told the Burkinabes, and the South Africans of Makathini Flats, and the Indians.
 

Wilfried Yameogo, the director of Sofitex, Burkina Faso’s biggest cotton company, said the decision to go ahead was based on a pledge from Monsanto that it would fix the quality problems ahead of the commercial launch.

“Monsanto made promises, and we continued to produce it. They said, ‘No, no, no. It will be okay.’” Yameogo said.

 
 
2. Also as I’ve discussed previously, Monsanto always has disdained every aspect of agriculture and plant breeding except for its transgenic traits (and of course its pesticides). In particular it had a grandiose notion that its traits would be the smart “software” which would be the key monopoly input for the stupid “hardware” of the natural and conventionally bred plant genome. Their idea was that they’d become analogous to Microsoft and Windows. (Cf. Dan Charles’s Lords of the Harvest for more on this.)
 
Under pressure of reality Monsanto was forced to accept that the transgene is worthless if it’s inserted into what one of its Australian affiliates called “dogshit germplasm”. One type of dogshit germplasm was the low-quality no-frills varieties Monsanto originally wanted to sell to farmers everywhere on a global one-size-fits-all basis. We see here a typical example of the scientific reasoning and general intelligence level of pro-GM activists.
 
A second type is where, even after Monsanto bowed to reality and bred its transgene into higher-quality varieties, it then brings one of these varieties to a place to which it is unsuited. In the case of Burkina Faso, Monsanto sent varieties bred for American cultivation to the African country, where country-based breeders under intense time pressure did a shoddy rush job of crossbreeding the American variety with Burkinabean varieties.
 

The Burkinabes knew from the start that American cotton varieties containing Monsanto’s gene could not deliver the quality of their home-grown crop, cotton company officials and researchers told Reuters. But they pressed on because Monsanto agreed to breed its pest-resistant genes into their native plants, which they hoped would protect the cotton and keep its premium value. That, they say, was a failure…

[Geneticist Jane] Dever, who has developed cotton varieties for companies including Bayer, estimated that carrying out three more backcrosses would have pushed back the release date of Bt cotton by at least a year.

Zangre said that if the Burkinabes had possessed the proper tools and technical knowledge to introduce the Bt genes themselves, they could have avoided the mistake.

Yves Carrière, an entomology professor at the University of Arizona who studies Bt crops, arrived in Burkina Faso in 2009 planning to set up a programme to monitor the introduction. He was worried, he said: The Burkina authorities had plans to head off potential problems, but the universities and state agencies that in the developed world would typically support such a biotechnology launch appeared weak.

“It was rushed. That’s for sure … It was rushed and far from optimal,” he said. “It shows the shortcomings of the largest corporations, which do not have the structure and the means to do everything that needs to be done in developing countries.”

For its part, Monsanto never based technical staff in the country, a former Monsanto employee who was involved in the process told Reuters. Instead, he said Monsanto developed the new Bt varieties in the United States, paid around $350,000 annually to fund research institute INERA’s work on the GM cotton, and flew in its own scientists when required…

For Monsanto, whose $13.5 billion in revenues in 2016 were more than Burkina Faso’s GDP, it proved uneconomical to tailor the product closely to a market niche.

 
The result was a steep decline in the quality and salability of Burkinabean cotton. (Note also how this is yet another example of foisting the technology on a customer lacking the infrastructure to use it effectively.)
 
 
“Geneticists like Dever say the problem was the process, not the Bt gene.” By “the process” they mean the technical backcrossing process, while by “the Bt gene” they mean the transgene, but also the entire paradigm of GM crops. But on the contrary the Burkina Faso fiasco is a microcosm of how GMOs don’t work, solve problems which don’t exist and make existing problems worse, and are deployed with zero concern for any context or value other than profit, power, and the religious commitment to the idea of genetic engineering as such. The problem is indeed the entire process, and the entire paradigm of genetic engineering.
 
Meanwhile: “Mali, Africa’s number two producer and Burkina Faso’s main local rival, says it stuck with conventional, high-quality strains; it says this decision gave it an edge over its GM rivals.”
 
 
 
 
 

March 3, 2017

The “Drought” Lie, Amid Power Struggles in Kenya

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Set up to die of thirst

Set up to die of thirst

 
 
GMO field trials are part of a power struggle among Kenyan officials. The National Biosafety Authority (NBA) gave the Kenyan Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) and the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) the go-ahead for open-air field trials of GM maize. These are publicly funded organizations which perform corporate research on the taxpayer dollar, with the product then privatized at the juncture most profitable for the corporations. The AATF is funded by the Gates Foundation, Cornell University, and USAID. The first two of these specialize in transforming public money into corporate welfare. USAID is a de jure government body explicitly dedicated to capitalist goals.
 
Health and environmental officials have blocked the approval on the grounds that Kenya’s existing ban on GM imports applies to field trials within the country as well. Evidently they have enough clout to force a deadlock. I’m not well enough versed in internal Kenyan politics to know the underlying issues of the power struggle, but our default always is to assume no government official has any principled objection to any GMO deployment. Our attitude toward any such delay must be to do what we can to encourage and support it but never to regress to any faith-based view of government.
 
The US government will be displeased. The US has been pressing Kenya to commit to the GMO campaign for many years, since the inception of its “New Alliance” plan for a “second Green Revolution in Africa”. This is a typical US-fomented “color” revolution indeed. (The “green” revolution was so-named in the 1960s in contradistinction to “red” rhetoric. It’s a Cold War propaganda term.)
 
(I stress, the US government, which remains the same no matter which criminal heads it up. Many people seem especially confused about that these days. But in 2009 the Obama/Clinton state department, in one of its first memos to department personnel defining the new administration’s priorities, included using US muscle to force “Government acceptance of genetically modified food and propagation of genetically modified crops” at the top of its list of the attacks it planned in Africa.)
 
 
The article says Kenya has been importing maize from Mexico and Ukraine “because of drought.” Maize yields in Kenya have been halved “because of drought.”
 
This is standard deceptive framing. “Drought” almost always is an artificial problem. Drought happens when a society deploys modes of cultivation and grows crop varieties which aren’t well-suited to the rainfall conditions of the region. Historically, drought was seldom a problem for traditional agriculture, and today it’s seldom a problem for agroecology, for these are designed to be diverse and resilient in the event of dry seasons. It’s only industrial commodity monoculture which is designed to be highly vulnerable to drought.
 
What’s more, today’s increasingly volatile rainfall patterns and periods of low rainfall are features of the climate chaos being driven most of all by that same industrial agriculture. This sector is the worst greenhouse gas emitter and by far the worst destroyer of carbon sinks.
 
In both these ways “drought” is a man-made, intentional crisis. And as we see here, in classic exploitation manner the drought which is driven intentionally by corporate agriculture then is used as a propaganda pretext on behalf of GMOs. These would only escalate the crisis since GMOs do nothing but escalate every pathology of corporate industrial agriculture. GMOs require even more water and synthetic fertilizer (the primary source of nitrous oxide emissions, a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide) than non-GM crops.
 
The solution to all these artificially and intentionally generated problems – food insecurity, drought, climate chaos, hunger – is one and the same solution, and it is the only solution. Humanity must abolish corporate agriculture and transform its food production to agroecology. Even amid such a hostile political environment agroecology is accomplishing great things already in Africa. Agroecology is a fully demonstrated science and set of practices and is ready today for full global deployment, wherever humanity has the wisdom and will to do it.
 
 
Meanwhile everyone knows the quote: Insanity/stupidity/evil is doing the same thing over and over while expecting/claiming to expect a different result. Nowhere is this more true than with GMOs.
 
 
 
 
 
Please propagate these pieces.
 

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.
 
 
 

February 1, 2017

The Green Revolution and Corporate Agriculture Drive Hunger and Famine

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Philanthropy, corporate style.

Philanthropy, corporate style.

 
 
 
History is repeating itself as Africa, so many times in the past the target of colonial depredation, is today the target of a new dual campaign of aggression. The first prong of this campaign is the new colonialism based on land-grabbing and export commodity agriculture. The goal is to 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. The second prong is the already turbulent climate chaos which has been driven most by the same industrial agriculture, and 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 of which this agricultural sector is the main driver.
 
This latest food crisis follows upon the purely financial food crisis of 2008-2009 which was triggered by rising commodity prices. This was part of the finance sector’s war of speculation and its intentional crashing of the global economy in 2008. In all these ways – financial crisis, land crisis, climate crisis – we have corporate campaigns designed to cause disaster, destruction, and chaos. The corporations then proceed to use the crises they intentionally generate as further opportunities for aggression and profit. This is called disaster capitalism. All corporate sectors practice it, and corporate agriculture is the most aggressive and destructive practitioner of all.
 
In the classic disaster capitalist manner today’s corporate imperialists are using the crisis and the famine they have systematically caused as the pretext to call for the escalation of their campaigns of finance speculation, land-grabbing, and food destruction. They call their plan a “second green revolution for Africa.” Toward this goal they have set up a propaganda and organizational apparatus funded by American and British taxpayers and administered by a coalition led by USAID and the Gates Foundation. They call the plan the “New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition” (NAFSN), and the Gates cadre which serves as overall coordinator is called the “Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa” (AGRA). The goal of this campaign is to induce and force upon African countries the whole standard globalization package which has already ravaged Latin America and Asia – privatization of tribal land, publicly-funded export and import infrastructure, eradication of all “trade barriers” which are defenses against Western subsidized dumping, corporate-dictated intellectual property policy, tax abatements and removal of all environmental and labor protections, removal of all currency expatriation restrictions, and in general the complete submission of African countries to the domination of Western-based corporations. The NAFSN seeks to impose all this on behalf of Western agribusiness corporations which have signed up with the plan. They pledge pennies to the public dollar of both Western and African taxpayers; they get to extract 100% of the profit and take it back home. The beneficiaries include pesticide and seed sellers Monsanto, Syngenta, and DuPont, traders Cargill and ADM, synthetic fertilizer manufacturer Yara, food manufacturers Unilever and Diageo. These and more will get special deals via the usual “public-private partnerships” which place all the cost and risk on the public and hand all the profit and control to the corporation.
 
The physical goals of the plan, which are always the real goals, are to seize control of all good farmland, wipe out all food production, drive out the people, divide the land into big corporate industrial plantations growing export crops, and use as much GM seed, synthetic fertilizer, and pesticide as possible. The goal is to be as destructive as possible of the soil’s capacity ever to grow food again, of African ecosystems, and of African communities and economies. Beyond a small collaborator faction which can be maintained as an urban middle class, the goal is to wipe out the African people completely. According to the US/Gates/corporate vision, these people have no purpose existing. There’s not even a plan to exploit them, just to drive them out. They call this the Second Green Revolution.
 
Does this description sound exaggerated? Not to anyone familiar with the record of failure, destruction, and corporate crime wrought by the original Green Revolution.
 
The best introduction to the facts about the Green Revolution and world hunger, and Africa’s alleged need for a second revolution, is the fact that contrary to media depictions, by the 1990s most of the hungry people of the world were not in Africa, which had been represented in Western media for much of the 1980s as the ultimate hunger disaster zone, but in the prime land of the Green Revolution, southern Asia. (Unless otherwise indicated, these numbers are compiled from government and UN sources by Food First in its magisterial World Hunger.)
 
In truth all the numbers which have been touted incessantly for the Green Revolution have been false accounting and lies. The figures claiming that hunger declined during the twenty year period from 1970 to 1990, the heyday of the Green Revolution, are based on the inclusion of figures from China, not a Green Revolution recipient. If China is left out of global figures, then during this period the number of hungry people in the world increased 11%, from 536 million to 597 million, even as food production significantly increased.
 
We can be more specific and focus especially on the two regions most intensely subjected to the Green Revolution. In Latin America during this period per capita food supplies went up 8% while the proportion of the hungry increased 19%. This is an 8% increase in per capita food even as the number of those going hungry leapt significantly. This means that population increase had zero to do with rising hunger, contrary to the claims of the corporate media and Malthusian commentators.
 
In the same way, in South Asia food available per person increased 9% while the hungry increased by 9%. This proves that hunger has nothing to do with the gross amount of food produced and everything to do with its distribution. It proves that any production increase attained by Green Revolution methods is irrelevant since the corporate distribution system which is indelibly conjoined with these production methods acts ruthlessly to make all food less available to people. This proves that corporate agriculture and its Green Revolution automatically and inexorably increase hunger and render increasing numbers vulnerable to famine.
 
And so it has gone. Under the corporate agricultural paradigm, by the latter 1990s there were over 800 million hungry in the world. By 2009 the number exceeded one billion, and continues to rise. This is never under any circumstance because there’s physically not enough food. Without exception hunger is caused by the artificial withholding of food from people to whom it would otherwise be available. Only on account of the artificial constraints, inefficiencies, and rituals of capitalism can food which physically exists, effectively cease to exist, because of the purely arbitrary reason that people lack the money to buy it. The historically proven fact is that as a rule hunger is caused only by inequality and poverty.
 
These are the same people who used to be able to produce more than sufficient food for themselves and their communities when they lived holistically on the land. Their way of life was socioecologically integrated with the Earth. They worked, the Earth produced, the people had food. And this productive balance must be restored if any significant number of people intend to eat in the post-fossil fuel age, since industrial agriculture is 100% dependent upon cheap, plentiful fossil fuels. But the cheapness and plenty are nearing their end, and the industrial paradigm inevitably must collapse.
 
But for now the onslaught continues. With some non-perishable and luxury exceptions, food production and distribution is naturally a local/regional physical and economic system. Corporate agriculture seeks to destroy all food production by forcing all production and distribution into a globalized commodity system. The only way to do this is to force economic structures upon the sector which economically destroy the viability of community food production and, through the enclosure of land, render it physically impossible. This then encloses all food production within the monetized framework and renders that food destroyed and nonexistent from the point of view of people. The “food” now exists only as a globalized commodity which is transported to wherever money is already concentrated. The rich get richer and literally fatter, while an ever rising mass of human beings gets poorer and more hungry. This is the indelible mathematical calculus of corporate agriculture and the Green Revolution, as well as the evil intent of its architects and cadres. It will never and can never have any result but to increase poverty, misery, and hunger.
 
The historical record has long been conclusive that increasing food production cannot reduce hunger because it doesn’t improve access to good land or the money to buy food, and therefore it does not increase access to food. On the contrary, it inexorably makes all these worse, and therefore makes hunger worse. In the same way, the introduction of any agricultural technology into an unjust, unequal system, without a prior social revolution to render that system just and egalitarian, inevitably increases the inequality and poverty and from there the hunger. (Indeed, this is a law of technology as such.)
 
And so we have the incontrovertible record of the Green Revolution and corporate control of food and agriculture. It was based on wheat, rice, and maize seeds specially adapted to high-input monoculture production. The goal was to maximize use of fossil fuels in order to industrialize agriculture and bring it under full capitalist control for maximum profit and power. The campaign did drive up “official” production, measured in commodities, while destroying much community food production and driving much of the rest off the official tally. (This is in order to suppress knowledge of how capable the people are of feeding themselves if they’re left alone and unassaulted.)
 
By official measures food available per capita went up everywhere, and hunger went up everywhere. Corporate agriculture and its Green Revolution act systematically to destroy all production of food which would be available for human beings while applying massive resources to drive up production of agricultural commodities to be exported for luxury use, especially for cheap meat and processed goods for Westerners. This, self-evidently, does not exist as food for the people of these places. On the contrary it represents nothing more or less than the destruction of their ability to produce food and their ability to eat.
 
By 1990 at the latest it was clear that the Green Revolution had no goal of decreasing hunger and helping farmers, but on the contrary was dedicated to economically destroying the farmers and driving them and their people off the land and into the terminal poverty of the shantytowns. Corporate agriculture is dedicated to increasing hunger and bringing famine. This is its systematically attained result, therefore this is its strictly proven intent and goal.
 
Today Africa, so many times ravaged by Western predation, is again under the gun. This time nothing less than the control of its very ability to farm and eat, today and for the future, is at stake. The “Second Green Revolution” already underway in parts of Africa is the greatest crime of our age.
 
The people of Africa are opposing this plan to destroy them. 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 (ABN), the National Coordination of Peasant Organizations (CNOP, a member of the worldwide Via Campesina, the Farmer Way), the NGO Federation of Collectives (FECONG), 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 (ESAFF), 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.
 
There’s zero problem where it comes to the sheer amount of food produced. We produce far more than enough food for everyone. This is true globally and it’s true in every region of the world. 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. 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 (food production and distribution is naturally and logically done on a local/regional basis, and only authoritarian systems can ever twist and contort these into a globalized framework), and build the Food Sovereignty movement. This 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, a 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.
 
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 chance to halt this corporate campaign of total destruction of our agriculture and our environment. 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 left going forward beyond the fossil fuel age. The land is still there for us if we wish. We must save it and cherish it.
 
 
 
 
 
 

January 24, 2017

Seeds of Doom vs. Seeds of Rebirth

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“These people think that Africa is a country of animals, that we do not think, that we know nothing, but they are wrong. We are human beings, we know what we want and we will fight on to victory.”
 
– Zimbabwean participant at the 2011 International Conference of Peasants and Farmers vs. Land-Grabbing
 
Tanzania’s new seed control law is the latest victory for Western agribusiness seeking dominion over Africa’s land, seed heritage, and commodity export potential. Conversely, it’s the latest blow to Africa’s fight for self-determination and food security.
 
To gain Western “developmental assistance”, which means Western “investment” toward the goal of transforming a country into a corporate export plantation, the Tanzanian government has enacted “reform” meant to ease corporate control of the land and now will try forcibly to destroy Tanzania’s ancient and socially and ecologically stable system of seed saving and distribution among the small farmers who grow food for their people. All this is to be wiped out and replaced by corporate-controlled export agriculture while all food production disappears from the country and is replaced by mass hunger and misery.
 
This is the most recent development in an ongoing globalization campaign to enforce corporate control of all seeds and all of global agriculture and food. In Africa this campaign has been elaborated into a vast formal project, the so-called New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition (NAFSN). The New Alliance is the corporate strategy for the recolonization of Africa led by Western agribusiness. Its goal is to drive millions of Africans off their land and gain full control of all arable land in order to convert it to export commodity production. African farmers, tribes, consumers, environmental and civil society groups are opposing this, with support from anti-corporate and democracy activists from all over the world.
 
The record of over fifty years of aggressive globalized corporate agriculture based on production for commodity export proves that corporate agriculture equals human hunger. Corporate agriculture generates mass hunger and seeks to perpetuate and maximize hunger. Its goal always is to destroy food production, seize the land for commodity production, and drive the people OUT.
 
The NAFSN is driven by the US and UK governments, paid for by US and UK taxpayers, and functions according to operational goals dictated by corporations such as Monsanto, Syngenta, Cargill, Unilever, and others who have signed up for the program as part of various “public-private partnership” scams. The NAFSN operates officially under the auspices of the G8. The program is directly administered by USAID in its usual role as alleged “humanitarian” front group, public sector version, with the Gates Foundation and others serving as the “private”, so-called philanthropic counterpart. The Gates Foundation has set up its “Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa” as a key activist and propaganda weapon of the campaign. The corporate beneficiaries have signed “letters of intent” to join this so-called “investment” program. This means they put up pennies to the taxpayer dollar while being slated to extract 100% of the profits. An African fig leaf is provided in the form of the African Union’s Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Program (CAADP). This is the Stockholm Syndrome blueprint African governments developed in the wake of the West’s “structural adjustment” assaults. The NAFSN is a typical vehicle wherein African governments beg for “investment” on the corporations’ terms. The New Alliance is a prime fruition of this radical corporate control of Western investment. Ten African governments have sold out: Ethiopia, Ghana, Burkina Faso, the Ivory Coast, Mozambique, and Tanzania, Benin, Malawi, Nigeria, and Senegal. (The US remains frustrated by the ambivalence of Kenya, which was supposed to be the crown jewel member by now.)
 
The people of Africa are opposing this plan to destroy them. 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 (ABN), the National Coordination of Peasant Organizations (CNOP, a member of the worldwide Via Campesina, the Farmer Way), the NGO Federation of Collectives (FECONG), 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 (ESAFF), People’s Dialogue, Rural Women’s Assembly, Food Sovereignty Ghana, GMO Free Malawi, and many others.
 
Here we have a clear black and white division between humanity and a criminal elite. We have the aggressive elite power of the US and other Western governments, corporations, the mainstream media and technocratic establishment, and other elitists including racist liberals and NGOs. The whole project has had zero input or representation from the people of Africa or the West. Even as they mouth platitudes about helping the small farmers of Africa, the roster of participants in the cabal’s conferences reads each time like a technocratic dream guest list – Western politicians, corporate agents, NGO operatives, motley “experts” and engineers. It includes every illegitimate elite which is alien to the Earth and excludes every representative of actual human beings. Those opposing this assault comprise a truly representative lineup of African farmers, pastoralists, fisherfolk, indigenous peoples, and the citizenry in general.
 
Even if one didn’t know the issues and facts, just from the order of battle it would be clear who’s right and who’s wrong, who represents human prosperity, security, democracy, and freedom, and who represents the destruction of all of these.
 
The goal of the New Alliance is the corporate Gleichschaltung (coordination) of African agriculture and trade practices and policies for maximum plunder and domination. Its main goals are to drive the people of Africa off their land and into shantytowns, seizing all the arable land for corporate commodity production for export. The goal, as with all agribusiness endeavor, is to wipe out all food production and replace it with commodity production. This is the same program of globalization and commodification which has already devastated much of humanity. African governments are to collaborate in dominating and exploiting the people and the land. 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.
 
Here’s the main elements of the plan:
 
*The privatization of land. In Africa vast numbers of people still farm and graze the commons. This makes it difficult for the corporate state to impose dependency upon money and loans of indenture, to set up corporate infrastructure and distribution facilities for pesticides, proprietary GM seeds, synthetic fertilizer, industrial machinery, to impose commodity cash cropping, and to arrange the export of the entire production of the land, leaving the people with nothing. As a prerequisite, corporations which would dominate and exploit these people and their land first need government to enclose and parcel out the land. This has been a priority of the World Bank going back to the 1980s. Obama’s USAID chief Rajiv Shad emphasized that the goal is to accelerate land grabbing. As Via Campesina put it, “These policies aim to allocate title deeds to land in order to facilitate the purchase and sale of landed property. In the end, poor peasants and other rural people lose out to the benefit of those who have the means to purchase land.” Tribesmen and pastoralists who have farmed the land for generations suddenly are told that the land of their ancestors is “legally owned” by a Western speculator or the land-grabbing agent of a foreign government. The NAFSN is designed to escalate this colonial process of stealing the land. The only difference from the old-style conquistadors is that the direct gun and sword have been replaced by the fountain pen, backed by guns, drones, and cruise missiles.
 
*The formation of economic hierarchies to centralize and integrate production, processing, storage, and distribution. All this is to be done according to corporate specifications, toward the goal of forcing most farmers off the land and reducing the rest to indentured servitude and wage slavery within a cash-based commodity export regime. Today the farmers of Africa are smallholders and commons managers producing food for their families and communities. This is ideologically odious to Western technocracy and an obstacle to total corporate domination and exploitation. The goal of the New Alliance is to eradicate this human order and replace it with the corporate-controlled globalized commodity export system.
 
*Use propaganda to induce the beleaguered farmers to adopt commodity cropping themselves, then impose expensive industrial infrastructure on them. The NAFSN reprises the decades-old ploy of offering credit in order to indenture farmers and trap them on the cash-crop debt treadmill. The procedure is always the same everywhere, with only minor modifications. 1. Propaganda – you have no choice but to get on board with commodification, and you better do it fast or you’ll be left behind. 2. Enforce this with Western commodity dumping and general coercion into a cash economy. 3. Offer the necessary product (“improved”, i.e. corporate-controlled seeds, synthetic fertilizer, industrial herbicide and pesticide, machinery, oil) and the debt-mongering loan in order to buy it. 4. In this way destroy most independent farmers completely, turn the rest into indentured sharecroppers or wage slaves.
 
*A severe and rigorously enforced “intellectual property” regime for the benefit of the seed cartel and its patents. The Tanzanian law is the latest example. All intellectual property in seeds has been the result of biopiracy. All crops and landraces were developed by farmers selecting seeds over thousands of years in cooperation with nature, and all existing varieties have been developed by farmers in tandem with modern public sector breeding projects. The private sector has never contributed anything constructive at all. This is just as true in Africa as anywhere else. IP seed regimes are designed to expropriate a vast property interest of the people as a whole, in exactly the same way as land-grabbing.
 
*Selectively open borders for corporate dumping and looting. “Free trade” is the standard Orwellian term for this; a truthful term would be something like corporate command trade, forced markets, forced commodification. This so-called “liberalization” applies where it comes to the government-approved and licensed “formal sector”. Meanwhile traditional markets and actual free trading among the people would be criminalized and repressed, as we see in the case of corporate seed regimes like that being imposed upon Tanzanians.
 
*”Free trade” zones, tax-free zones, laws licensing the total repatriation of profits by Western “investors”. These ravages of Latin America and Asia are set to be reproduced in Africa.
 
We already know the end result of this because we’ve seen it play out over sixty years in Asia, Latin America, and in South Africa which already has a near-fully corporate controlled regime. Seeds and the land are largely enclosed, farmers have been reduced to servitude, profits are ruthlessly extracted and removed from the country.
 
The program of the New Alliance is being called a “Second Green Revolution”, a “Green Revolution in Africa”. We already know the evils of the first Green Revolution. It drove the people off the good agricultural land, forcing them to struggle to grow food for themselves on worse, environmentally more fragile land. Meanwhile all prime agricultural land was enclosed for export production. The land is stolen and locked away. From the people’s point of view it’s as if all the best land literally was destroyed, while all the food they used to produce ceases to exist. This is the driver of all Southern hunger, just as forcing the people who used to support themselves across the land to become crowded into small desolate regions is the cause of so-called “overpopulation”. Thus the Green Revolution drives ever more people off the land and into urban slums and shantytowns. Shantytowns have always been the direct, intended result of this agricultural policy. The goal always is to further separate humanity from the land, assault human food economies, replace these with the global corporate commodity economy from which food is supposed to “trickle down” to those who have money to buy it, forcibly turn community farmers into “job”-seekers, generate population pressures and all the political divide-and-conquer gambits this enables, drive up the proportion of the population which is food insecure, drive down wages. In all these ways the Green Revolution increases desperation and infighting among the destitute masses and aggravates and accelerates the processes of colonialism and corporate rule in general. Today’s onslaught of corporate agriculture is an escalated version of all this.
 
Pro-technocracy, pro-corporate types still believe and propagate the lies of the Green Revolution. But it takes only a look at the historical record and current events to see that corporate agriculture has nothing to do with feeding people and everything to do with starving them for the sake of its profit and domination imperatives. How does it feed an African community to force it to stop feeding itself and start growing cash crops to be turned into cheap meat for Westerners and ethanol for Western cars? How does it feed people to drive them off the land they farm and into shantytowns? How does it feed people to impose artificial scarcity on the abundance their work coaxes from nature?
 
Let’s cut through all the lies. If you want human beings to eat, you want people to provide their own food for themselves, their families, their communities. If you want corporations and governments to crush this normal, natural food system and replace it with the corporate system of scarcity, coercion, domination, extraction, you want only those with money to feed. (As for the Western middle class among whom this attitude is common, the bell is tolling for them as well. If any among them ever wonders what the corporate and technocratic elite has in store for them, they need only look to the farmers of Africa now. In the end they’re slated to be liquidated the same way, even if it takes a little more time. But there’s already no lack of tent cities in America.)
 
The entire modern record of corporate agriculture and food proves that the corporate system does not want to feed the world and cannot do so, by its very nature. It takes a unusual form of stupidity to think that the way to end hunger is to take naturally abundant food and render it artificially scarce, as capitalism must do according to its nature. Just as it takes a special kind of arithmetic to think the way you end hunger is through a system whose primary action is to use ten calories’ worth of grain to produce one calorie of meat. This fact lays bare the entire truth about the corporate system, its goals, and the evil of anyone who supports it while even a single child goes hungry.
 
Corporate neoliberal ideology is a proven lie in every sector. There is no sector, especially food and agriculture, where corporate practice hasn’t brought oligopoly, inequality, deteriorating agronomic results, ever more frequent socioeconomic and environmental disaster, and mass hunger. All the while our prosperity, freedom, democracy, and happiness are destroyed. We know that agroecological production and distribution bring better practical results than the corporate system, we know that only it can sustain the environment, we know that all true innovation in agriculture throughout history has been the result of cooperative action in the public domain, and we know that corporate enclosure like the intellectual property regime has functioned only to smother true innovation. We know that the industrial food system is unsustainable in terms of energy consumption, we know it’s the worst driver of the climate crisis and other environmental crises, we know that even in the West it’s no longer keeping prices down, and we know that at every point it diminishes our freedom, autonomy, and community.
 
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, and destructive inputs of fossil fuels and poisons, in harmony with the greater ecology, toward the greatest freedom, democracy, security, and happiness.
 
There’s zero problem with the sheer amount of food produced. We produce far more than enough food for everyone on earth and then some to fill their stomachs. This is true globally and it’s true in every region of the world. 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. 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 (food production and distribution is naturally and logically done on a local/regional basis, and only authoritarian systems can ever force the contortion of these into a globalized framework), and build the Food Sovereignty movement. This 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, a fully demonstrated science and set of practices ready for full global deployment any time humanity wishes to embrace them. Look at what agroecology is already accomplishing in Africa against such economic pressure and corporate and government hostility.
 
Meanwhile anyone like the elites and elitists of corporate domination and technocracy, who claims to want to “feed the world” but wants to do so by doubling down on the proven failure of a “Green Revolution” and corporate industrial agriculture is really a liar and a criminal.
 
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 chance to halt this corporate campaign of total destruction of our agriculture and our environment. 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 left going forward beyond the fossil fuel age. The land is still there for us if we wish. We must save it and cherish it.

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April 22, 2016

Earth Day: Poisoner News Summary April 22nd, 2016

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*Earth Day. If a god created this world, this ecology, the beauty of it all, the intricacy and logic of it all, it’s inconceivable this god would have wanted humans to trash it, to defile it, to desecrate it. This, I believe, is the incontrovertible a priori for any meaningful theology or philosophy, whatever one’s personal state of faith. The much abused translation “dominion” in Genesis can mean only stewardship, if it has any meaning at all.
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This perception is reinforced by the fail-safe mechanism God created, the way nature imposes a correction wherever, on account of whatever temporary environmental circumstance, a species runs out of control. From any point of view including that of secular biology, Homo sapiens is certainly out of control. The circumstance enabling this has been the temporary availability of cheaply extractable fossil fuels. When we factor in humanity’s moral character, we must also recognize the rogues of the species, those who seek to poison us all, as evil.
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The stewardship model has been proven unanimously, on every level from the religious to the most nuts-and-bolts secular, to create the best life and greatest happiness for all even as it preserves and enhances the ecology at every level from the local to the global.
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This is the only true religion, the only true philosophy, the only true science. This is the one and only Truth. Do we still dream of the Garden of Eden? But this Earth is the one and only Garden of Eden, because it is humanity’s one and only home. Time’s up, and we must choose.
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*Climate scientists admit they’re “censoring their own research”, because the evidence indicates a current status and prognosis far worse than what they’ve generally been willing to report. Even as it is, what’s already been publicized proves that none of the popular “reforms” can have any effect and simply comprise a form of denialism, the form of putting off real action. If scientists told the truth about how bad things really are, even those willing to pay lip service to caring about the climate crisis would tune out the science completely and become de jure deniers.
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This is because even among those who wring their hands over climate change there’s a near-complete unwillingness to face up to the fact that there is one way and only one way to do anything about this crisis: Emit far less GHGs, stop destroying carbon sinks, rebuild carbon sinks.
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That makes the hand-wringers and crocodile-criers climate deniers as well.
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*The Chinese government is about to launch the campaign we’ve been predicting for years, its attempt to propagate its own GMO cartel to compete with that of the West. This will complement its longstanding campaign of land-grabbing in Africa and elsewhere. The goals are to ensure China’s own CAFO feed chain and to open a new front in its challenge to US power. ChemChina’s deal with Syngenta intends to co-opt some top-of-the-line Western technical expertise and start splitting the EU’s interest in this intensifying geopolitical struggle.
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China would be better off bolstering its own agricultural resiliency and that of the allies it’s trying to cultivate by fully deploying agroecology for food production. This would make for far greater food security in times of climate chaos, ecological collapse, and geopolitical conflict. Europe still has the chance to do this if it chooses, but EU elites are dead set on collective suicide, judging by their ardent embrace of the TTIP and CETA and their increasingly aggressive attempts to force GMOs on Europe. Similarly, China’s elites are basically the same as Western elites. They too are incapable of thinking in terms other than globalization and commodity agriculture. Deng Xiaoping said, “Black cat, white cat, as long as it catches mice it’s a good cat.” But any cat operating in the oil-dependent industrial monoculture commodity fields won’t be catching mice much longer, as his nine lives are just about used up. Indeed, even by the conventional economic outlook China looks to be trying to get into the GMO market at its peak, as the product has reached market saturation and stalled out around the world. The Western agrochemical/GMO sector is cannibalizing itself, which is what drove Syngenta into the Chinese orbit in the first place, after the Swiss company at first hoped it could maintain a “neutral” independence. It’s not clear what incentives the Chinese will offer the farmers of the world, and what new lies they’ll tell, in order to continue with the GMO paradigm but get the world to switch from the West to the Orient. One thing we can be sure of, the Chinese product won’t work any better than the Western, nor will it force the use of any less poison.
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*One critical battlefront where Monsanto, and the GMO ideal itself, is facing rejection is among Africans who are rejecting Bt cotton. Africans have seen the havoc wrought in India as well as closer to home in South Africa. They know the product is disastrous for farmers. Burkina Faso’s attempt to flout this fact led quickly to one of the typical outcomes: Even when the GM cotton crop isn’t decimated by pests and yields well on paper, the lint is of subpar length and therefore makes for an inferior product which can be sold only at inferior prices. All this is after paying a premium price for the seed. Therefore the government is now planning to phase out the fraudulent GM seeds and replace them completely with non-GM conventional seeds by 2018. This parallels and goes beyond India’s so far more modest program to encourage the use of native, non-GM cotton seeds.
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*Pakistan has had nothing but travails of its own with Bt cotton, and now must cope with the corrupt politics of GM maize. Here too there’s a scandal driven by the climate change minister’s surreptitious and illegal approval of commercial release of Monsanto’s GM maize without prior field trials. This violates the national biosafety law. Under pressure from farmers and scientists the government is halting the sale of the seeds. Leaving aside its usual, long-debunked lies about GMOs being good for farmers, Monsanto openly says the purpose of GMO commercialization is for commodity globalization, and even more for the propaganda of the commodification idea: “Monsanto official Aamir Mirza said…that the promotion of biotechnology will…send strong signals that the country is welcoming investments in research into cutting-edge technologies. ‘This will improve the agriculture sector’s international competitiveness over the long term,’ he remarked.”
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ALL problems of hunger and malnutrition among the poor have been known at least since the 1970s to be directly caused or greatly aggravated by agricultural commodification. Monsanto and its flunkeys like to tell lies about “feeding the world”, but their conscious, intentional goal and action sums up to GMOs Starve the World
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*Monsanto faces mounting problems collecting its tax in Latin America. Brazil and Argentina don’t have the same draconian intellectual property laws as those of the US. Therefore Monsanto has to rely on the farmer’s contractual agreement to pay the Monsanto Tax. This is readily enough collected at the point of sale when farmers formally purchase Roundup Ready or Intacta soybean seed. But how to force farmers who save and replant GM seed (or are just accused of doing so) to pay the tax, in a place where you can’t so easily sue them? Monsanto’s idea has been to make each farmer produce his tax document when he brings in his soybean harvest to the trader. If the farmer can’t produce proof he paid the tax, Monsanto demands that the trader to collect the tax on Monsanto’s behalf, or else refuse to accept the shipment if the farmer refuses to pay. The shipment is assumed to be GM unless the farmer can prove he used only non-GM seeds, but Monsanto sets the bar for this proof so high as to be near impossible to meet. The tax is then remitted to Monsanto. The trader gets nothing for acting as Monsanto’s collection agency.
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It’s not surprising that most traders have objected to this arrangement (that’s our Monsanto, making friends everywhere it goes), and now the Argentine government, which has already disappointed Monsanto many times in failing to meet the company’s demand to tighten seed patent law, is intervening. The government says it will exercise oversight and must approve of any arrangement where Monsanto or its dragooned agents demand a tax from farmers.
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This unfavorable environment for Monsanto’s patent privilege is a major motivation for the company to commercialize the Terminator gene as quickly as is politically possible.
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*Case study in the corporate science paradigm. Where scientists aren’t sufficiently self-policing, authoritarian regimes will deploy varying levels of coercion to enforce the party line in “science”. We see it with US regulators like the USDA and EPA, and we see it now even more aggressively official with the British government.
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These are all manifestations of the total assault on democracy by the corporations, which are totalitarian organizations recognizing zero right for any value to exist other than their own profit prerogatives. In the case of science, part of the whole mythology as elaborated by Karl Popper is that science is an integral part of the “open society”. This means that science, in order to be socially constructive and true to itself, can be undertaken only under conditions of complete transparency and intellectual freedom. Thus true science and democracy go hand in hand, while any kind of secrecy or censorship of science is automatically an assault on democracy as well. (That’s part of mythology because establishment science has never in fact functioned that way, nor have most of its practitioners ever agreed with democratic values.)
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*Lawsuits are part of a general delaying action. Since as a rule those who file lawsuits would be unwilling to engage in more radical forms of action, it’s good that they at least do this. Lawsuits have the primary effect of delaying the Poisoner progress, as the USDA recently complained about the EPA. They can also be excellent occasions for public education and agitation by abolitionists, and we must use these opportunities far more effectively. But like any other reform action condoned by the establishment, they’re insufficient and are no substitute for the necessary work of building and enacting the abolition movement and the food sovereignty way of life.
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*Perhaps the most astonishing thing about the whole Poisoner campaign is how right out in plain sight governments and corporations are intentionally, systematically destroying antibiotics as an effective medical treatment, and no one cares.
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*Tom Philpott softens under the Bill Nye treatment. No surprise there.
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Monsanto’s record is absolutely perfect throughout its history: It sells as much poison as it can and tells every lie imaginable about it. Philpott knows this perfectly well and yet pretends to find these lies believable. He goes so far as to imply that Monsanto can be an honest broker. Once again the rule is proven, that every system propagandist, including the “reformer” types, has his price for becoming a de jure liar. In the case of Nye, Philpott, and the labeling “leaders” who were willing to endorse the secret Vilsack/GMA conclave, the price may be rhetorical, the “quality” of the lie. But make no mistake, all such persons are, in the final analysis, on the Monsanto side.
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*A new study has found that quinone outside inhibitors, a class of fungicide whose use on vegetables and grains in the US has surged exponentially in recent years, affect mouse neural cells in vitro in ways similar to the neural cell effects found in humans suffering from autism, advanced age, and Alzheimer’s disease.
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Now, it’s important to note, Zylka told me in an interview, that in vitro research like the kind his team conducted for this study is only the first step in determining whether a chemical poses risk to people. The project identified chemicals that can cause harm to brain cells in a lab setting, but it did not establish that they harm human brains as they’re currently used. Nailing that down will involve careful epidemiological studies, Zylka said: Scientists will have to track populations that have been exposed to the chemicals—say, farm workers—to see if they show a heightened propensity for brain disorders, and they’ll have to test people who eat foods with residues of suspect chemicals to see if those chemicals show up in their bodies at significant levels.

That work remains to be done, Zylka said. “What’s most disturbing to me is that we’ve allowed these chemicals to be widely used, widely found on food and in the environment, without knowing more about their potential effects,” he said.

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Contrary to this nonsense, we know for a fact that all agricultural poisons are severely harmful to humans and other animals. In the hundred year history of poison-based agriculture there has never been an exception among the poisons for which evidence has been compiled at all. So by now, for any rational person, the first step is to regard the case as closed and to abolish all agricultural poisons forthwith. The endless whack-a-mole of testing which is mechanically called for by every lukewarm critic of these poisons is nothing but procrastination, at best. That is, where it’s not a willful delaying tactic.
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Our supposition that the call for “more testing” is a scam is reinforced when we consider the fact, known perfectly well by Philpott and Zylka, that the kind of epidemiological studies they call for here are seldom sought or funded, and when they are carried out their results are dismissed out of hand by regulators like the EPA, FDA, and the German BfR and EU’s EFSA as we saw most recently in the case of their whitewash of glyphosate’s proven carcinogenicity. So epidemiological study is, for official regulatory purposes, unscience. Meanwhile testing people who have ingested residues is never done, and the many preliminary studies which would have to be performed, in order to ascertain the presence of pesticide residues in the food supply in the first place, are also evaded by regulators and can be carried out by independent researchers only in the most sporadic, ad hoc way. (Meanwhile the FDA illegally refuses to regulate pesticides as the food additives they self-evidently are.) So this prescription for “more and better testing” describes a scenario which no one within the establishment will ever enact, and no one outside the establishment would ever have the resources to enact.
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Nor should dissidents want to use our scarce resources this way, since as I said we already know that all these poisons cause cancer, birth defects, and neurodisease, along with a host of other harms. We have vastly more than enough evidence already, compiled over the course of a century. We need better use of the sufficient evidence we have, not the insufficient course of procrastination, filling the wasted time with vain calls for “more and better testing”.
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The political dance between “reformers” and the poison manufacturers is made complete with the corporate retort.
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In an emailed statement, a BASF spokeswoman wrote that cell tissue studies like Zylka’s “have not demonstrated relevance compared with results from studies conducted on [live] animals.” She added, “While the study adds to the debate of some scientific questions, it provides no evidence that the chemicals contribute to the development of some diseases of the central nervous system. This publication has no impact on the established safety of pyraclostrobin when used according to label instructions in agricultural settings.” A Bayer spokesman told me that the company’s scientists are looking into the Zylka study and “don’t have any initial feedback to offer right now.” He added that “our products are rigorously tested and their safety and efficacy is our focus.”

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In fact all establishment scientists and commentators on science flip-flop constantly on whether entire classes of research are valid or not. Thus when BASF contemplates this case, they suddenly discover that in vitro research as such is invalid. Yet like the Stalinists who officially rejected quantum mechanics even as they applied it for the Soviet nuclear program, so BASF constantly uses in vitro research itself, especially in the genetic engineering process. Similarly, in vivo lab studies are generally considered the gold standard in science (a notion which has problems of its own, which I’ll leave aside for now), except where these must suddenly be thrown out because they don’t adequately reflect real world conditions or allegedly have faulty methodology even though the methodology is the same as that of prior studies the corporation itself carried out. This suddenly becomes the corporate position when in vivo studies provide evidence adverse to corporate interests. The most infamous example is the scientific establishment’s defamation of the 2012 Seralini study, which was a perfect example of the classic falsificationist scientific method in action. To this day pro-GMO activists will say with a straight face that the Seralini study, nearly identical to prior Monsanto studies in every way except in its longer duration and the parameters it measured, was a bad study while the near-identical Monsanto studies were good.
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Finally, epidemiological studies which actually do measure things under real world conditions are rejected as a class on the opposite grounds, that they’re not well enough controlled, the moment they provide evidence adverse to a corporate campaign. Like we said, this is invariably the case where it comes to agricultural poisons. This is why regulators, on principle, refuse to recognize the existence of epidemiological science.
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As we can see, contrary to its lies about itself “science” has no stable canons of practice or evidence, but is the same game of doing whatever you have to do to get the “evidence” you want and suppress the evidence which is against you as is standard in every other branch of politics. To continue playing the corporate science game is to condemn oneself to a literally endless round of whack-a-mole. The actual science is unequivocal and overwhelming, and confirms what reason and common sense always knew: Poison is poisonous to us, and the campaign of putting it on our food is insane and evil and must be put to an end with all due speed. But as we also see, the lukewarm have a different agenda which is more in line with that of the corporations. Whether it’s that they lack confidence in reason and real science, or whether they actively support corporate capitalism and are willing to tolerate a certain level of intentionally caused cancer (thus the regulatory concept of “tolerances”), or most likely a combination of this cowardice and this evil, they end up in agreement with the corporate poisoners that no level of evidence will ever be enough to convict poisons of being poisons.
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Self-evidently, this is not the way forward.
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January 29, 2016

GMO News Summary, January 29th, 2016

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*The court decision refusing the EPA’s request that it temporarily rescind Enlist Duo’s registration is going to get its own post. For the moment I’ll point out that even if you don’t think the courts are corrupted beyond redemption, here we have proof that the law itself certainly is. If it’s true that the law is so calcified and maladaptive that it can’t react when a toxicity situation arises which is so dire that even the EPA wants to slow down and take another look, then that’s proof of a terminally busted system of law. We have to get it straight, in addition to all its de jure evils, this system does not work.
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*The fighters of Argentina continue to stand tall blocking Monsanto’s poison factory.
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*Here’s more on the attempt to partially repeal Oregon’s preemption law which was passed to crush the groundswell of county-level democracy action. One good paragraph concisely describes why it’s impossible for the state government of Oregon to make assertive agricultural policy which would be just, rational, or practical.
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So currently, although there are seven distinct geographical agricultural sectors in Oregon, each with different agricultural emphases, (for example, apples in Hood River, alfalfa in the Klamath Basin, brassica seed in the Willamette Valley), none of these sectors now have the right, either democratically or through a court of law, to address their own particular agricultural concerns, even regarding weed seeds. Can you see which way the wind is blowing?

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Imagine how much less possible it is for the federal government to be legitimate or rational in asserting itself over hundreds of distinct foodsheds and watersheds? When we ponder those who claim to care about food and agriculture but who still believe in federal power over these, only “better”, it sure looks like their level of knowledge and policy position is similar to Monsanto’s, only from a superficially different angle. What does this mean where it comes to NGOs and GM labeling advocates who want things like a preemptive FDA labeling standard or the “Food Safety Modernization Act”? (How’s that for an Orwellian name?) They’re just as ignorant as Monsanto and often as arrogant, only from a superficially different point of view. That’s one reason I don’t trust them to ever really draw a line in the sand and say “no further.” (For example the party line seems to be, “support preemption only if the FDA policy is at least as strong as Vermont’s”. I don’t believe they’ll hold to that, and since such an FDA policy is impossible anyway, because that’s not what the FDA does or wants to do, what’s the point of saying such a thing, other than to buy time for further triangulation?) Their underlying logic is basically the same as that of the corporations. Also in the clear fact that democracy in itself is no principle for them and has no value to them at all.
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A federal labeling law is the worst possible “solution”, since it’s guaranteed to be a preemptive sham, meant to lead in the wrong direction and waste time and resources we don’t have to waste. As the history proves, preemption never works the way so many people seem to want to hope and believe. The only point of it is to force the lowest standards. Otherwise why would any “stakeholder” want it? Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
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*Dueling Monsanto lawsuits, one as plaintiff, two new ones (two more of many) as defendant. Monsanto is suing California trying to prevent the state’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) from listing glyphosate on the list of carcinogens. This would impose some labeling requirements and restrictions on its use. Monsanto’s complaint is just a bunch of whining with no substance whatsoever. I’ll be writing more about this lawsuit separately.
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Meanwhile the city of Seattle has filed the latest lawsuit trying to force Monsanto to pay for a cleanup of the PCBs still ubiquitous in sediments of the city’s drainage system and the Duwamish River. Monsanto lied for decades about PCBs although it knew of their toxicity at least since 1937. A major reason for the corporate reshuffling Monsanto undertook in order to dump its industrial chemical division Solutia in 2002 was to try to unload its PCB liability. This hasn’t worked so far, though the penalties aren’t even in the same galaxy with what the company, its executives, its technicians and its salesmen deserve. And the Nuremburg-actionable lies continue still to this day. Just as the CEO of Solutia continued to lie for years, so Monsanto lies today:
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“PCBs sold at the time were a lawful and useful product that was then incorporated by third parties into other useful products. If improper disposal or other improper uses allowed for necessary clean up costs, then these other third parties would bear responsibility for these costs.”

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This is a direct Nuremburg lie. Monsanto has known since the 1930s that PCBs as such are extremely toxic. They cause cancer, birth defects, and horrible skin and organ symptoms. Over the 1950s-60s Monsanto accumulated very detailed knowledge and sought systematically to cover it up. See Marie-Monique Robin’s The World According to Monsanto for a detailed history of this and many of Monsanto’s other crimes against humanity. Monsanto adhered to this stonewalling strategy for decades. So it was Monsanto which lied to its customers and encouraged these third parties to incorporate the PCB product without warning them of what it knew about the danger.
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Finally, in California Brenda and James Huerta are suing Monsanto for giving them cancer through chronic long-term exposures to Roundup spraying while they lived on a commercial sod farm in the state’s Riverside County. Here the law is geared to protect the seller and the sprayer. Even if the US and California state governments recognized glyphosate as carcinogenic (as we just mentioned Monsanto is currently suing to prevent the state from recognizing it as such, while the US EPA denies it), it would generally be considered impossible to ascribe a particular case of cancer to the product. And if all else failed, Monsanto would try to claim the sprayer didn’t adhere to the label requirements for application. Farmer scapegoating is standard wherever straight lies and denial don’t work.
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These are reasons why the abolitionist position must be to impose strict liability on all manufacturers, sellers, and users of a poisonous product for all harms which come from it. In a legal sense they’re all part of one big conspiracy to promote cancer, and since it is usually not feasible to identify the “particular” culprit in a given case, all must be held equally responsible. I propose the same standard for pesticide drift effects, for any campaign against 2,4-D and dicamba GMOs. Strict liability first as a philosophical and polemical plank, wherever possible as a demand for legal reform, and always as the Nuremburg standard which must be imposed once we the people take back the power.
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So we have dueling lawsuits. Monsanto sues California for saying glyphosate causes cancer, citizens are suing Monsanto for giving them cancer, Seattle files the latest of many lawsuits because Monsanto systematically sickened and murdered people with PCBs and to this day systematically lies about it. The EPA, FDA, and USDA say Monsanto is a good, honest citizen. Who do you trust about Roundup?
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*More data on glyphosate residues in urine, as monitored over 15 years by Germany’s federal environmental agency. The levels are lower than EFSA “tolerance” limits, which means little. Regulators mechanically raise these legal levels in accord with how much poison the manufacturer expects to sell. In itself this is a strong indicator of the regulators’ poison-maximizing ideology. The procedure has zero scientific content and exists at all only as a political farce, to make it look like the regulator is “protecting” us. Scientifically, like all pesticides glyphosate is an endocrine disruptor which means it causes cancer and birth defects at ultra-low doses, and there is no safe level. The German agency also warned that formulations are far more toxic than glyphosate by itself. In other words, bad as this is, it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
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*Here’s one thing that won’t wait for labeling to be gotten right over however many years that would take. If we don’t want to see the monarch butterfly go extinct within our lifetimes, we have to abolish glyphosate NOW. Anything else is just empty talk.
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There’s a new petition to the world’s most pro-Monsanto, pro-Roundup government, calling for better action for the monarch. Seems far-fetched, but it’s possible if there were enough of a groundswell on everything from monarchs to cancer, the system might be forced to sacrifice Roundup as long as it thought it could preserve the rest of the poison regime. But this will require a full-scale social movement toward this goal. (The goal of abolishing glyphosate must be part of the broader goal of abolishing poison-based agriculture, but we can also choose particular campaigns for special focus.) Things like petitions not rooted in a movement grounding will be blown off like the air they are. The prognosis is clear. Unless glyphosate is completely banned, it’ll be the end of the monarch. Americans are going to have to choose once and for all. What’ll it be, the monarch or Monsanto? You can’t have both.
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*Gilles-Eric Seralini has performed another of his thorough and damning analyses of GMO trial data. This time he analyzed the trial data and the subsequent veterinary records from the 1997-2002 dairy cow feeding trial in Germany with silage from Syngenta’s Bt176 maize. This was one of the ominous incidents in GMO history. The animals became badly ill, many died, the records were analyzed by Syngenta and the German government, and farmer Gottfried Glöckner sued the company. Although Syngenta has always denied the GMO had anything to do with the epidemic, it paid off Glöckner and pulled Bt176 from the market. Now Seralini, assisted by Glöckner, has analyzed all the records and concluded that Bt176 “provoked long-term toxic effects on mammals”. There are many anecdotal reports of similar epidemics stemming from diets with a heavy Bt crop proportion, among farm workers in South Africa and livestock in India.
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The action needed is not, however, “more testing” as Seralini calls for. He’s a scientist so of course that’s his first thought. But in fact this new evidence adds to what’s already conclusive proof – Bt-expressing GMOs don’t work and are dangerous to human, animal, and environmental health. They must be abolished, not tested over and over again forever. Every time I see the “more testing” call I wonder how much evidence would finally satisfy people. There’s far more than enough to satisfy anyone without a strong investment in the poison system itself, if that evidence is propagated competently and relentlessly and in the context of the affirmative Food Sovereignty idea. On the other hand, without this work even a hundred times as much evidence would be of little use.
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*Meanwhile the state government of Idaho is acknowledging a pesticide crisis. Here they let potato farmers apply methyl bromide, which of course suffused the soil. The poison then became part of the tissue of a subsequent alfalfa crop whose poisoned hay caused “deformities and sickness” in cattle which fed upon it. “Additionally, test samples of wheat, barley, potatoes, alfalfa, tomato, corn and straw grown on other treated fields also showed some level of bromide.” The state agriculture department told the legislature that the soil needs an emergency cleanup, of course asking for taxpayer money to be provided for the necessary research and work. To the great injury of the poisoning of our food and soil they now add the insult of expecting the people, not the criminals, to pay to clean it up.
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If GMOs tolerant of 2,4-D and dicamba are deployed on a large scale, the result will be this same quarantine of the soil and destruction of vast swaths of crops from the toxic drift. The whole thing, everywhere, sums to one vast moral insult. This insult shall never be made whole until we the people apply all moral force necessary to abolish these poisons.
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.*The Indian state of Karnataka is yet again having to prepare a farmer bailout after yet another Bt cotton disaster. This time the target pest, the pink bollowrm, simply feasted as if the two Bt toxins and neonics weren’t even there. Karnataka will yet again have to decide whether and how to demand the seed companies pay farmer compensation. Karnataka is one of the states most severely devastated by the suicide epidemic among Indian small cotton farmers. The state really ought to launch a transformation program away from commodity production and toward organic production, as fellow state Sikkim is proving can be done on a large scale.
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Another Bt cotton blunder may soon be history, as Burkina Faso’s farmers and seed dealers are abandoning the product. The country’s experience with Bt cotton has paralleled that of other countries, including the crop’s poor performance under anything but optimal conditions. Burkina Faso also experienced low-quality lint production even when the overall boll yield was good. This problem, which has also been seen in India, seems to be related to pleiotropic effects from Monsanto’s breeding its Bt cultivar into the pirated regional Burknabe variety. Here’s the latest proof of how imprecise and unpredictable genetic engineering is. It’s always a crapshoot. Monsanto is implicitly admitting this as it’s now frantically “backcrossing its Bt varieties into a new local cultivar.” But farmers seem to be fed up with the whole Bt cotton concept, as have been all non-rich farmers who ever tried to work with it. It’s a shoddy product, in addition to its health dangers.
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Food sovereignty and civil society campaigners are confident that Burkina Faso’s rejection of Bt cotton will help steel African resolve to resist this and other GMOs. The struggle continues in Kenya as farmer and civil society groups oppose proposals to lift the government’s moratorium on cultivation and importation of GMO products. In recent weeks the government has indicated it will soon approve cultivation of Bt maize, but missed a scheduled press conference. For more on the truth of the corporate-driven food insecurity in Africa which GMOs promise to make much worse, see here.
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*Canadian environmental groups Ecology Action Centre and Living Oceans Society are suing the government to overturn a 2013 ruling which threatens to allow the grow-out of GM salmon under conditions exceeding those allowed by Canadian environmental law.
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*Much ado about the temporary retraction of a paper by Italian researchers documenting transgenic DNA fragments persisting in the tissues of animals fed GM feed. The retraction is on grounds of what the retracting journal calls an “honest error” involving the reuse of some images which had appeared in an earlier paper by the same researchers. The study’s basic findings remain intact. In a sign of how desperate the pro-GMO activists are, they whooped it up as if this technicality constituted some kind of evidence in their favor. The GMWatch piece does a good job detailing the hypocrisy and double standards of the GMO lobby and corporate media. In fact even if this particular study’s substantive finding were in doubt, it would be just be one drop retracted from a lake of evidence. GMWatch adds:
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Several years ago we at GMWatch were reprimanded by a government scientist (who was emphatically not anti-GMO) for our naive belief that we still had to ‘prove’ that GM DNA was detectable in the tissues of animals that ate GM feed. This fact, the scientist pointed out, was “not controversial and we have known it for a long time”. The only controversial aspect was whether such GM DNA had any biological effect on animals that was different from the effects of non-GM DNA.

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I think it’s time for the whole movement to be more confident about what’s been proven beyond any doubt and go from there, rather than imply we’re willing to keep running in place forever needing “more study”, as if we ourselves weren’t 100% confident in the existing evidence. Endless calls for “more data” are a classic sign of the Peter Principle in action.

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