July 3, 2018

Earth’s Call

Filed under: Agroecology, Climate Crisis, Dance of Death, Freedom — Tags: , , — Russ @ 10:51 am


*I cry from the wilderness. I’ve warned against the physical poisons and the artificial structures which propagate the physical poisons. I continue to warn against these all, against the corporate “person”-demons, against Mammon.
I cry out in the streets and am invisible and cannot be heard.
*For years I dreamt of a globe transformed to societies based on agroecology and food sovereignty. The evidence says this physically can be done. The evidence says even 10 billion people could grow their own food agroecologically for the price of everyone working a few hours a day at the equivalent of gardening chores. The agroecological society would have nothing in common with the slavery of commodity field work. We’d be healthy and free. The only obstacles are political.
Be clear: Agroecology requires less space, less resources, less impact, less money, to produce food for more people, than industrial agriculture.
There are no physical obstacles to a global transformation of all human society to an infinitely better order. The only obstacles are political.
But such a political transformation would require such a radical rewiring of the inflamed brain as to render the idea of it utopian. I see no way such a political change ever could happen. “Political” types can’t even get it together to enact reforms within their civilization, let alone transform the civilization itself.
The only way is to channel the spirit of Gaia, help the people hear the Earth with their own ears, help them feel the Earth with their own souls.
*Gaia sculpted us to be hunter-gatherers. Evolution worked our clay. With sane use of the inflamed brain we figured out how to pasture animals on appropriate land, how to do horticulture and husbandry on appropriate land.
But agriculture and animal agriculture are the seeds and leaves of the city, corrupt seeds and poison leaves of its prison walls. These are never adaptive, never ecological. They never work for people or the land.
*Gaia gave us the idea of her. We’ve learned from observation and eventually from theories. We learned to understand aspects of the Earth. We learned ecology. We’ve seen with our own eyes the campaign of destruction.
Let’s take just one part of it, deforestation, the mass murder of trees across all zones especially the tropical:
1. Deforestation brings the drought, brings the desert.
2. It’s a major part of the ongoing sixth major extinction event in Earth’s history.
3. It brings erosion, brings the carbon, which brings the heating, which brings the methane, which is bringing the real heating.
The number one driver of global deforestation is the Western consumption maw, especially that of the US.
That puts in perspective the lame, fake “solutions” to climate change offered by “activists” in the US. These solutions – offsets, industrial “renewables”, hybrid cars and other product substitutions – also drive deforestation.
The truth is there is one and only one real solution for averting the worst of the climate crisis: Stop all industrial greenhouse gas emissions, stop destroying sinks (this means ending ALL deforestation), rebuild sinks on a massive scale.
Anything short of that is a lie.
*The injury, often lethal, is practical, directly to our bodies, directly to our ability to eat, to sustain ourselves. The injury is to our feeling of beauty and spirit. The injury is to our humanity.
There are those who say our humanity makes us superior to the other animals and to nature. Even leaving aside all the other reasons this is false, most of all it’s false because modern civilization, by driving the ecological sunder to its utmost and exterminating all that’s left of human spirit and culture, destroys our very humanity most of all.
*Watch the moon travel the sky across thirty sunrises. These are regular phase changes. Then there’s Gaia’s non-linear phase changes triggered by extreme forces. Today the berserk species Homo domesticus, civilized man, is using the billions of years of stored solar energy to murderously assault Gaia. As always Gaia will impose her correction upon this vermin affliction.
We can’t know exactly how Gaia’s kinesis will play out, but still we must begin work on the post-kinetic life, the village, the tent camp, whatever the form becomes. We must base our future not on where we were or what might seem to work right now, but on where the grounding of future human life will be, after the collapse. We must understand the unfolding kinesis and prepare to endure it.
We’re already enduring it, in the form of the depredations of the corporate technocratic civilization itself and all its horrors: Ecological, socioeconomic, cultural. Things are going to get much worse.
*If humanity has more days at all, the return home to Gaia must itself be part of Gaia’s phase change. Our best chance is to build the necessary ideas in our brains.
If we’re to have a future at all, our nation has to be phase changing right now in harmony with Gaia’s change. No longer to be the deranged parasitic squatting vandals of industrial civilization but the renaissance of primal humanity living as one with the ecology.
That’s what Gaia means today for us.
*The mass murder of the trees is one of the most savage feedback loops of ecological destruction.
As the trees are murdered by logging and clearance for corporate agriculture, the carbon stored in their biomass and the soil they maintain is released, and the clouds and rains they generate through their evapotranspiration fade out, bringing in their wake drought. The now unanchored soil dries and erodes.
The drought then helps kill more trees driving warming and drought further, bringing on the desert.
Modern civilization is turning the physical Earth as well as the human soul into a desert. That’s the end goal
Gaia will purge this vermin infestation, and she will continue in a new phase. The only question is whether humanity will continue after having done its best to commit suicide.
Will we?

October 26, 2016

False Election By Demonic Corporate Power, True Election By Grace and Human Power


In whatever manifestation, the movement is the vine.

In whatever manifestation, the movement is the vine.

And yet, are we too not in the position of primal humanity trying to decipher and influence the uncanny wilderness? Facing the malign immensity of totalitarian corporate domination, we face either demonic evil or the most inhuman robotic callousness. Facing the corporate global war, the extreme corporate campaigns of violence, rapine, plunder, and environmental destruction, the corporate eugenic technologies of biological, chemical, and psychological warfare against all of humanity, all of life itself, facing this even secularists seem to regard these corporations with religious awe, as demons, and have absolutely no rational clue about what to do.
That’s why even those who want to oppose these abominations have no ideas at all nor do they seem even to be looking for new ideas. They only sit inert and stare in awe. All they can think to do is regurgitate long-failed ideological formulas which stopped having even the most superficial relation to reality decades ago at the latest. Most of all they continue performing the electoral rite, because this still resonates with some childhood intimation. By now it’s practically the Enlightenment equivalent of race memory. People garble meaningless mantras about voting and government which have slipped all the old moorings and float without rational plan or purpose as dead ships with ghost crews.
Nothing has ever been more clear than that anyone who still has belief in the false election does so with neither a plan nor a clue.
The one and only true election is the election by which the people demonstrate their grace through their faith-in-action. In secular political philosophy this is called positive freedom, in Christianity it’s called being born again to the Holy Spirit and living this Spirit. Either way it’s the election by grace, and the only way forward to an affirmative revolution which has now become an absolute historical, ecological, spiritual Necessity.

April 19, 2015

Pro-GMO Activism and Climate Change Denial


We who are rational skeptics where it comes to agricultural poisons are used to the ideology/religion propagated by pro-GM activists in the mainstream media. Much of this is made up of brazen falsifications, such as regarding the relationship between GMOs and pesticide use (they increase it), or GMOs and productivity (GMOs are less productive than organic or non-GM conventional production).
One of the most blatant lies, and perhaps the most self-condemnatory of the alleged integrity of the media, is the notion that GMO criticism can be linked, conceptually or in practice, to climate change denial. This talking point was only recently invented by the GMO propaganda machine and has quickly been propagated through the corporate media. National Geographic has been a high-profile propagator (although the magazine blares on its cover that GMO skepticism is equivalent to climate change denial, the piece actually only touches on GMOs in passing, as if embarrassed at its own absurdity; clearly it dragged in GMOs in only the most tendentious, false-analogy way), while the Guardian recently handed its pages over to an op-ed written by industry publicists so they could repeat this fraudulent comparison. Industry flacks also parrot the phrase at every likely (or, in the case of the more stupid ones, not-so-likely) opportunity.
We can start with the fact that whether or not climate change deniers are also GMO critics and vice versa is not some kind of speculative hypothetical. Rather, it’s an empirical question of fact or fiction which can easily be checked with a few minutes of online research. And in fact anyone who takes those few minutes finds that professional climate change deniers also support GMOs, and that many GMO supporters are also climate change deniers, while there are no visible GMO critics who are also climate change deniers.
On the contrary, GM critics and food sovereignty advocates are the most assertive and fact-based in condemning industrial agriculture as the #1 driver of climate change and calling for decentralized food production on an agroecological basis as the only real solution, for climate change and for many other problems. Meanwhile the pro-GMO activists want only to double down on all the pathologies of industrial agriculture including its GHG emissions and destruction of carbon sinks.
Never once have I seen a GMO supporter criticize an actual climate change denier. On the contrary, many of the most respected pro-GM figures led by Marc von Montagu and Ingo Potrykus explicitly endorsed one of the most inveterate and scabrous of climate change deniers, Patrick Moore. Click the link to see the long list of establishment scientists and other pro-GM figures formally declaring their solidarity with professional climate change denier Moore. This is symbolic of the essential affinity of pro-GMO activism and climate change denial.
Contrary to the media construction, the rational and practical demarcation line is not “science” vs. “anti-science”, but the willingness to parrot corporate-decreed “science” vs. skepticism toward such a biased framework with such a record of lies. Criticism of such propaganda then concurs with the real science which invariably contradicts the corporate party line. Technicians and publicists paid by ExxonMobil are the same as technicians and publicists paid by Monsanto, just as independent researchers and analysts studying climate change are similar to independent researchers and analysts studying the effects of GMOs. The corporate operatives and flacks of the one are often the same as those of the other, as we see in such cases as the US’s ALEC, Heartland Institute, Competitive Enterprise Institute, or the UK’s Scientific Alliance, just to name a few of the corporatist propaganda outfits where I immediately found both climate change denial and pro-GMO lies. Owen Paterson, Matt Ridley, Bjorn Lomborg, Henry Miller, Dennis Avery, Martin Livermore, are high profile corporate activists who shill for GMOs and deny climate change. The three flacks who penned the Guardian piece were allowed by the paper to fraudulently depict themselves as neutral academics while failing to list their paid positions with the GMO cartel. One of them, Phillip Sharp, is himself employed by the climate-denying Koch Brothers. Climate change deniers and pro-GMO activists are corporate funded, while GMO skeptics and critics face a hard scrabble for support.
In all this we see a typical example of the mainstream media’s bad faith and lack of integrity. Since everything I’ve written here is elementary fact checking which would take a reporter or editor just a few minutes, we can be sure that National Geographic, the Guardian, and the rest of the corporate media know the facts on the connection between climate change denial and support for GMOs but intentionally suppress these facts in favor of depicting the issue as a hypothetical.
In fact, such obfuscation and deception is the only recourse of the GMO cartel and its media enablers, since all the logic and all the facts are against them. It’s conceptually clear and historically proven that on all such issues the corporations will always lie while dissidents and critics always turn out to be right. As for the deniers, we know who they are. At the moment they’re most shrill where we have them pinned to the wall, as they’re increasingly desperate in denying glyphosate causes cancer. These are the same historically who have systematically lied about cigarette smoking, asbestos, PCBs, dioxin, DDT, and who today deny climate change. They’re also the same, and often with the exact same corporations they lied for in the past, who today lie in support of GMOs.
The various lines of propaganda interweaving GMOs and the climate change struggle are among the typical canned lies of the GMO cartel. In the real world, industrial agriculture is the worst driver of climate change. It’s the most profligate emitter of GHGs and by far the worst destroyer of carbon sinks. GMOs comprise the escalation of all the evils of corporate industrial agriculture including those driving climate change. In the real world, agroecology on a food sovereignty basis offers the only solution for climate change, in terms of both mitigation and adaptation.
But for the corporate system, GMOs and corporate agriculture comprise one of the final possible “growth” opportunities amid an otherwise bleak picture of global market saturation and failing profits, since the finance scams currently propping up all corporate “profit” can’t be sustained much longer. In fact the vision of a genetically engineered blank slate cherished by the biotech corporations can’t be sustained either; for many reasons GMOs are both agronomic and economic failures, which is why they’re completely dependent on government subsidies and oligopoly muscle.
That’s why the cartel and the media have been so prolific in the quantity and superficial diversity of their lies on behalf of this corporate project, however low the quality of these lies has always been. The “GMO criticism = climate change denial” lie is one of the most pathetic and self-debunking yet. They’re really scraping the bottom of the barrel.


March 14, 2015

Pro-GMO Activists, the Various Climate Change Lies, and the Mainstream Media


*A few weeks back I mentioned US Right to Know’s Freedom of Information requests to several prominent pro-GMO activists ensconced in academia, in the course of citing these as typical examples of how the pro-GM activists consistently impersonate various kinds of scientists and other professionals even as they hypocritically insist that GM critics have no standing to opine unless they possess the right “credentials”. As I documented there, without exception all pro-GM activists stray far beyond the bounds of their own formal credentials, where they have any in the first place. (Many do not.)
Since then USRTK has been attacked in academia and the corporate media by these same mercenary hacks, who exceed themselves in fraud and hypocrisy. One propaganda disseminator is the Gates Foundation-funded pro-Monsanto media center at Cornell University, which in Orwellian manner proclaimed its goal to “depolarize the GMO debate”. By this they mean they’re trying to restore the status quo ante where corporate ideology completely dominated all politics, economics, and science. The Cornell propagandists want a unipolar world. That’s what they mean by “depolarize”. Depolarize is also a synonym for depoliticize, meaning that democracy and politics as such should cease to exist wherever these interfere with the corporate imperative. This is in line with the movement toward a Corporate Constitution and Bill of Rights, which the TTIP and TPP seek to enshrine.
Toward these goals Cornell, using Gates money, created a bogus position for corporate publicist Mark Lynas and other Monsanto and Gates-affiliated publicists. Similarly, the Guardian published an op-ed from three paid mercenaries while abetting them in suppressing their conflict of interest. The Guardian let them fraudulently depict themselves as being “neutral academics” while failing to list their paid positions with the GMO cartel. Most hilariously of all, they regurgitated the self-evident lie comparing GMO critics to climate change deniers even as at least one of the three, Philip Sharp, is himself a climate change denier employed by the Koch Brothers.
As I developed in an earlier post, the real demarcation is being a corporate mercenary vs. being a critic of corporate-decreed “science”. It’s GMO advocacy and climate change denial which logically line up, and sure enough the ranks of pro-GMO activists include many professional climate change deniers: Patrick Moore, Owen Paterson, Matt Ridley, Bjorn Lomborg, just to name a few. By contrast, there are no climate change deniers among GMO critics. There you see the measure of the mainstream media’s integrity, that it keeps repeating the lie but never takes even five minutes to investigate whether real-life climate change deniers actually support or oppose GMOs.
The fact that the likes of National Geographic, the Guardian, and many others intentionally refrain from this simple fact check is proof that they’re most interested in propagating this lie and want to suppress knowledge of the truth, which they know would be unfavorable to their agenda.
Meanwhile the canned lie that GMO cultivation can help sequester carbon through chemical no-till, also more euphemistically called “conservation tillage”, is being completely debunked as the spread of Roundup-resistant weeds increasingly requires the most aggressive tillage to give farmers any hope of keeping their fields partially clear.
The concept of chemical no-till as carbon sequestration tactic was bogus in principle, since the slathering of Roundup destroys the soil ecosystem which incorporates carbon as humus in the first place. The very term “sequestration” demonstrates the fundamental error of the approach: Nature doesn’t “sequester” anything, but actively incorporates it into a dynamic system. Poison-based agriculture, of which the Roundup Ready system is the ultimate example, automatically destroys the soil ecosystem and leaves sterile dirt which would be incapable of incorporating carbon. That’s why irrigation water has to be fortified with chemical additives to bind it to dirt molecules. That’s the only way to keep the water from running off the site immediately, eroding all the dirt with it. Sure enough, studies found that chemical no-till could at best “sequester” a small amount of carbon in the immediate topsoil where the biomass from the previous crop degrades, but does nothing to build organic matter deeper into the dirt, turning it into real soil. The whole concept of chemical no-till is incorrect. That’s to be expected, as it’s an extension of the absolutely erroneous NPK ideology, which is the source of all the agronomic and ecological pathologies in the first place.
In this clash of lies we see how one lie, chemical no-till and GMOs as “climate friendly”, runs up against the planned obsolescence strategy of the GMO cartel. Although Monsanto would prefer that the Roundup Ready system remain in power indefinitely, this is more of a subjective preference which is counter to the overall dynamic of ever-accelerating obsolescence and turnover. This dynamic is best exemplified in Monsanto’s own publicly admitted plan for obsolescence and escalated stacking of Bt toxins, collecting an extra tax for each proprietary toxin of course. That Roundup Ready is set to be superseded by Dow’s 2,4-D based “Enlist” system and Monsanto’s own dicamba-based system embodies the real logic of the GMO concept and deployment.
In the real world, industrial agriculture is the worst driver of climate change. It is the most profligate emitter of greenhouse gases and by far the worst destroyer of carbon sinks. GMOs comprise the escalation of all the pathologies of industrial agriculture including those affecting climate change.
In the real world, agroecology offers the only solution for climate change, in terms of both mitigation and adaptation.
More broadly – politically, economically, ecologically, and in the most stark terms of our being able to eat in the future – humanity’s great imperative is to abolish industrial agriculture and transform to agroecology on a food sovereignty basis. Nothing short of this will suffice physically, nor is anything short of this worthy of our great human endeavor.
What are the mean little lies of hacks and scribblers compared to that?


October 3, 2013

The GMO/Glyphosate Regime and Crop Disease


The unraveling of GMO-based agriculture continues in the US as a devastating corn disease, Goss’s wilt, lays waste to Roundup Ready (RR) corn.
A bacterium takes advantage of any weakness or physical damage to a plant to infiltrate it and infect its cells. The outward symptoms are lesions on the leaves. The infection badly depresses yield, and often kills the plant outright. The disease used to be regional, mostly occurring in western Nebraska and eastern Colorado. But since 2008 it’s spread explosively across the Midwest and southward. 2011 was particularly bad in Illinois and Indiana. Although thanks to drier conditions the outbreaks haven’t been as bad the last two years, farmers and agronomists are still living in fear of how bad the epidemic will get in the future.
This is the kind of bad news even the corporate media can’t just ignore. So the New York Times is on the job, peddling the Monsanto party line.

No one is certain why Goss’s wilt has become so rampant in recent years. But many plant pathologists suspect that the biggest factor is the hybrids chosen for genetic modification by major seed companies like Monsanto, DuPont, and Syngenta.

“My theory is that there were a couple of hybrids planted that were selected because they had extremely high yield potentials,” said Dr. Robertson, whose research is financed by Monsanto and the Agriculture Department. “They also may have been highly susceptible to Goss’s wilt.”


This explanation does imply the hazards of monoculture agriculture. The less genetically diverse your agriculture is, the more vulnerable it’ll be to disease and other problems. But it’s still trying to be as superficial and ad hoc as possible: The problem is insufficient technology, so it can be fixed with more technology. Sure enough, the piece, which started out describing a broad trend, ends with an anecdote about one farmer who found a temporary respite by switching to a different variety of RR corn.
But why is corn becoming more susceptible to this disease in the first place? The problem of lack of biodiversity wasn’t new in 2008. To answer this we need a structural explanation.
Industrial agriculture is based on a completely false and anti-scientific view of nature. It comprehends nature as a machine with discrete, interchangeable, mass-producible parts. This is rooted in 19th century agricultural dogma which decreed that all plant growth and health is based on three nutrients: Nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K). This led to what organic agriculture pioneer Albert Howard called “the NPK mentality”, which would reduce all natural processes to simple manipulations of a few variables. Once you’ve simplified everything that way, and done so in a way which recognizes only a few readily industrialized factors as meaningful, your path is open to organize everything according to the rhythms of industrialization, mechanization, corporate organization, and power and wealth accumulation.
The NPK mentality was the perfect ideology to complement the rising industrialization of agriculture and its increasing control by big corporations and governments. Who cares that food production and distribution was always naturally locally and regionally based? Since agriculture is nothing but the measured application of three nutrients and some water (with the soil being a passive medium), it’s best to put it under the control of centralized power hierarchies who can deliver these few inputs most prodigiously and efficiently.
Genetic engineering developed its own version of the NPK ideology. Its dogma is: One gene = one trait. This dogma, along with the older one that genetics are the main (or only) factor dictating real life outcomes, enabled technicians to claim that they’d soon be able to precisely analyze, predict, and manipulate the relationship between genetic codes and the way plants, animals, and humans would develop and act in real life. This was their path to funding and influence, and it soon became the path to power for biotech corporations engaging in genetic engineering. One-gene-one-trait became the basis for all the foundation lies of genetic engineering: That it was a precision technology, that its effects could be precisely calibrated, that it would not have unforeseen effects, that food products generated this way would be safe and nutritious. The goal is to achieve total corporate enclosure, control, and domination through GMOs and eugenics.
Based on these lies governments moved aggressively to approve and commercialize GMOs without performing any safety testing. To this day no government has ever performed a scientific safety trial on any GMO. The US set the pace for this policy aggression*, under the banner of “substantial equivalence”, the lie that GMO crops are identical to real crops and therefore, by definition, don’t need to be safety tested.
[*NOT any kind of neglect or abdication, the way the reformists who want “better regulation” would have us believe. The US government, including the USDA, FDA, state department and others, has always been aggressively pro-GMO. Giving more power to the FDA simply means giving more power to Monsanto. Nor has this been any kind of secret, with Obama or any previous president. Obama openly installed Monsanto cadre Michael Taylor as FDA “food czar”, charged with enforcing the new Food Control Act regime on Monsanto’s behalf. The NGOs and others who claim to oppose Monsanto but have supported the Food Control Act and a hopped-up FDA regime have no excuse for their schizophrenic, self-contradictory position. They’re conscious liars or pernicious, willfully ignorant idiots.]
One-gene-one-trait has been completely disproven, most spectacularly by the system’s own Human Genome Project, which expected based on the number of phenotypal traits to find over 100,000 genes in the human genetic code, and instead discovered only c. 20,000. We now know that most genes have multiple effects, and that the range of these effects is very difficult to exhaustively catalog. Similarly, we know that most traits of the phenotype (the way the body physically develops) are the result of several genes collaborating. Here again, it’s very difficult to identify all the genetic contributors.
Meanwhile the nature-over-nurture theory of genetic determinism has long been on science’s trash heap. We’ve known for decades that most genetic effects are dependent upon environmental factors to varying degrees. In effect, a genetic potentiality is often a switch which must still be turned on (or off) by some external factor: The mother’s health during pregnancy, the pregnant mother’s diet, the infant’s diet, infant exposure to things in the water or air, psychological stresses, etc.
So the two basic theories of genetic engineering have been completely disproven. Yet to this day all advocacy of GMOs, and all the alleged “science” supporting GMOs, is based on these same two crackpot falsehoods: That heredity is destiny, and that one gene = one trait. We see how, just as genetic engineering has zero to do with science and is simply technical manipulation, so pro-GMO ideology has zero to do with science, but is rather a fraudulent political ideology based on nothing but Big Lies. For its true believers, it’s a fundamentalist secular religion.
The takeaway: Genetic engineering is not science, and support for GMOs is anti-scientific, based on proclaimed fidelity to crackpot lies.
Coming back to the broader NPK ideology, we find the same crackpot view of nature in its concept of the soil. Here’s where we’ll find the cause of the Goss’s wilt epidemic.
I said earlier that NPK considers the soil to be an inert medium, just there to hold the roots in place. This is completely false. On the contrary, the soil comprises a rich ecosystem of microbes, annelids (like earthworms), and other organisms. These engage in an incredibly complex interaction among themselves and with a vast array of soil nutrients, far beyond the big three of industrial dogma, to create the organic basis of plant growth. Plants depend upon this soil ecology for their nutrition, for water (an organically healthy soil retains moisture far better than the sterile soils of monoculture), for the physical integrity of their roots, stems, leaves, flowers, fruits. Plant health starts from soil health (and of course seed health), and plant resistance to pests and disease depends upon the basic health of the plant and the soil.
Another reductive notion related to the NPK ideology is “germ theory”, which thickly postulates that a germ comes along and “causes” a disease. This too is crackpot science. Organic terrain theory has proven the opposite. In most cases, for there to be a significant incidence of a disease, the pathogen must first find the right habitat (the “terrain”) where it can thrive, and then it must find a weakened target. This is the usual scenario where an epidemic breaks out.
In agriculture, disease outbreaks are usually from a combination of a degraded habitat providing the right terrain for a pathogen to proliferate, and unhealthy crops providing an excellent target for this pathogen. In the case of Goss’s wilt, the herbicide glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, has been a major cause of both soil destruction and crop weakness. I’ll explain how this has caused the epidemic of Goss’s wilt.
Glyphosate is extremely destructive toward the soil ecology. It directly kills many beneficial soil organisms, weakens others, and chelates soil nutrients, binding them and rendering them lost to the ecosystem. But it also leaves others, including several potentially pathogenic ones, unscathed. This includes the bacterium Clavibacter michiganensis spp. nebraskensis, which causes Goss’s wilt. These unaffected microbes are then able to proliferate in the absence of predators and competitors.
[Glyphosate has a similar effect within our bodies. When ingested (most of our meat and dairy products, and almost all processed foods, are full of glyphosate residue; also the drinking water in many places) it wreaks havoc with our gut microbial community, our microbiome. This can have devastating health effects. For now I’ll have to save that subject for future posts.]
At the same time glyphosate weakens the crop itself. The Roundup Ready GE trait which renders a plant “herbicide tolerant” does not let the plant remain unscathed. On the contrary the crop is physically damaged and nutritionally depleted. (In turn, to the extent our diets rely upon RR crops, our diets with be nutritionally deficient.) The RR trait simply lets the plant overcome a portion of the herbicidal effects, just enough to drag itself along in a weakened state and produce a crop. (The physical state of being genetic engineered in itself also tends to weaken a plant. This most commonly manifests as the “yield-drag” effect, but it has many other such effects which are difficult to discern among other causes of crop failure.)
So glyphosate, by degrading the soil ecology, places the Goss’s wilt microbe in an advantaged position. At the same time it renders the target plant in a weakened state. Since 2008 we’ve been seeing the result.
Of course the corporate system and its corporate media cannot acknowledge this, since it contradicts the NPK ideology of soil as inert, and because the only solution would be to bring an end to Roundup-based agriculture and replace it with a healthy agriculture in harmony with the soil, which would build the soil rather than destroy it. Since GMOs are the last great hope for corporatism’s future, nothing which refutes the GMO regime as such will get a hearing or be acted upon.
Instead we’ll see the usual kludge attempts. It’s the same thing with glyphosate resistant superweeds, which have been expanding exponentially with every passing year. Part of the reason for the acceleration of Roundup-caused soil destruction is that more and more Roundup needs to be sprayed every year to have any effect at all on the target weeds. The whole Roundup regime is collapsing. But the system’s one and only idea is to replace it with other, even more poisonous herbicides – 2,4-D, dicamba, and the GMOs which are engineered to be tolerant to them. Everyone knows this won’t work, and that the collapse of these herbicides will come even faster than with glyphosate, as weeds are developing not just glyphosate resistance but general herbicide resistance. 2,4-D resistant waterhemp has already been documented. (We see the same effect with CAFO-generated superbugs resistant to specific antibiotics as well as developing a general resistance to all antibiotics. Glyphosate, BTW, isn’t just specifically an herbicide, but is a broad-spectrum biocide, in fact an antibiotic. So it too is contributing to the evolution of potentially harmful microbes which may be broadly resistant to all treatment with antibiotics.)
The response to the Goss’s wilt has the same kludge character as this general response to superweeds. Acknowledging the obvious failure of the project is unacceptable. At all costs, the GMO regime must stagger along for as long as it can. So if existing GMO corn varieties, in all their narrow lack of genetic diversity, are being ravaged by a disease, then the solution has to be to grudgingly, under duress, widen the genetic pool just enough to get a few seasons of corn free of the plague. Keep doing this for as long as possible.
That’s the one and only idea these builders of a Tower of GMO Babel have.
Industrial agriculture cannot endure. It’s unsustainable for many reasons. Most obviously it depends upon infinite cheap fossil fuel. But the world is at the end of cheap fossil fuels. It also depends upon fossil water extracted from depleting aquifers, and large phosphorus deposits which can be cheaply industrially mined. These too are becoming depleted. Any of these three may become the proximate cause for the collapse of industrial ag.
As I wrote about here, a fourth potential cause is massive crop failure caused by the endemic weakness of monoculture GM crops and the destruction of the soil they depend upon.
There’s a good solution to all this, and only one solution. We must replace industrial agriculture with a restored traditional, organic agriculture, enhanced by the marvelous discoveries of modern agroecological science. The science has already proven that even today, in spite of industrial ag’s massive resource inputs, acre for acre low-external-input polyculture farming outproduces industrial monocropping in terms of both calories and nutrition. This difference will become infinite once the end of cheap fossil fuels renders industrial ag economically and therefore physically impossible.
If humanity wants to avoid the worst famine effects of this collapse, if we want to not only survive but thrive, we must undertake this agricultural revolution. It’s possible, it’s doable, and there’s no other option anyway. All we need is the will to do it.


June 11, 2013

Corporate Hunger and Africa (2 of 3)


As the great battle escalates in Africa, I should review 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 also gave a basic account of the clash of agricultural corporatism against humanity in this post from a year ago on the plan for the recolonization of Africa.
To sum up, agroecology, a synonym for organic agriculture in the original sense of the term (not the degraded US government sense), is the practice of agriculture in imitation of nature. It strives to work within the rhythms of nature rather than against them, with it rather than against it, 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, and doing so in a way which enhances ecosystems, economies, and communities, rather than destroying all these the way industrial ag does.
The term “agroecology” indicates its basis in the combined sciences of agronomy and ecology. It is truly scientific in the best sense of the term, in that its practitioners are constantly experimenting, and based on the results modifying and repeating their experiments, all toward the goal of sustainably producing sufficient calories and nutrition. Combined with the political philosophy of Food Sovereignty, AE then seeks to distribute this food, more than enough to feed everyone, so that everyone actually gets enough to eat.
(By contrast, science condemns the industrial ag experiment as having failed at everything it ever promised it would do, with the exception of using the temporary fossil fuel surplus to produce more gross calories. But it’s been an absolute failure in terms of ending hunger, food’s denuded nutritional value, food toxification, the destruction of the environment (including greenhouse gas emissions; the industrial ag sector is the worst emitter by a considerable margin), and the destruction of economies, polities, and communities. Food corporatism and its “Green Revolution” promised to solve all these problems, all of which industrialization generated or exacerbated in the first place. By any scientific standard it’s a proven failure. To wish to continue the experiment, now extending it to Africa in a more virulent form than hitherto, is proof that the experimenters were lying about their proclaimed goals all along. We know these facts: Corporatism 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.)
Agroecology or organic agriculture is highly skilled work. It requires intimate knowledge of of the ways of the soil (building it with organic matter), weather, climate, plants (crops, other beneficial plants, potentially harmful plants called “weeds”), animals (livestock, other beneficial animals, potentially harmful ones called “pests”). AE’s innovative and highly productive techniques, eschewing monoculture and synthetic fertilizers and other poisons, include natural nutrient-cycling and soil-building, the use of manure, compost, and cover crops (AKA green manures), crop rotation, intercropping, alley cropping with leguminous trees, infusion of free-living nitrogen-fixing bacteria into the soil, biological pest control (often called “integrated pest management”), agroforestry, better water management, rotation of livestock with annual crops, the whole art of integrating grass-fed livestock pasturage with vegetable production. It also requires the most efficient and effective use of energy and other resource inputs. All this knowledge is primarily built by the farmers themselves and distributed among them horizontally. (With some supplement and aggregation help from agronomy schools and NGOs.) All of it’s done with emphasis on the most appropriate specific application of general principles within a particular region/locality. All these factors will require even more precise knowledge as the fossil fuel crutch, required for each and every part of industrial ag, from the inputs and financing to the growing to the processing and distribution and preparation, is removed once and for all.
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 led by Catherine Badgley did a survey of hundreds of organic trials and found that agroecology/organic production, using the same amount of land under cultivation right now, can maintain and improve upon current conventional bulk and 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.

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

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 US, Canada, and Australia, insisted on the sufficiency and necessity of agroecology.
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 them and enhance them in light of modern agroecological knowledge. Where these have been marginalized or obliterated, they need to be rebuilt.
In the past public sector agricultural investment worked well to support farmers, although in emphasizing industrial ag it was building on sand, for farmers and for itself. But in principle there’s no reason there couldn’t be a “New Deal for Agroecology”, which would have to start with land reform. As Rosset explains,

In order to reverse these trends and provide a life with dignity for farming peoples, protect rural environments, and correct the structural causes of the food crisis, we need to revitalize family and peasant farming. That means restoring the public sector rural budgets that were cut under neoliberal policies, restoring minimum price guarantees, credit and other forms of support, and undertaking redistributive agrarian reform. The peasant and family farm sectors in most countries cannot be rebuilt without land reform, which redistributes land from export elites to food-producing peasants and family farmers. This is a central pillar of the alternative proposal for our food and agriculture systems that is put forth by the international farmers’ movement.

This could be the basis for a general program of farmer assistance, public credit, public sector research and education on organic practices and public domain plant varieties, policy favoring local/regional inputs and natural demand-based markets, storage of the harvest and maintenance of grain reserves, doing all of these with full farmer input and participation in decision-making. All this would recognize the fact that the basis of a healthy economy, polity, and society is the ability of the productive class to buy everything it needs for a decent life. So given the premises of modern civilization and the middle-class aspiration, agroecology is the most fruitful and healthful basis of agriculture. As always, where it comes to food issues the answer to any problem is along the same vector regardless of whether one’s a sincere reformist or a revolutionary. Either way one must be an anti-corporatist.
No such revival of public sector investment seems to be in the offing for much of the world. (It’s still working in parts of Latin America.) The system’s disaster capitalist response to the food price crisis of 2007-08 (NOT physical scarcity, which doesn’t exist) and the social unrest it provoked wasn’t to call for new investment, but new “investment”, meaning an escalated corporate agricultural assault, using the global financial crisis the banks themselves triggered as the pretext to accelerate and intensify corporate enclosure and domination. (That’s the definition of neoliberalism in this context: Corporatism’s use of globalization to seek and enforce total domination.*)
As Rosset put it, corporate agriculture has an “export-producing vocation”, what’s also called commodification, while real farmers have a “food-producing vocation”. In the end this is the clear criterion by which to judge the benevolent or evil character of a type of agriculture: Does it seek to produce food, or does it seek to produce commodities, toward the goal of corporate power? This is also the measure by which to judge anyone who claims to care about “feeding the world”. As we already see with biofuels (for which there is no demand and no market; the sector is 100% the planned-economy creation of government subsidies and mandates), corporate agriculture has literally zero concern with producing food for anyone. If the most profitable thing to do would be to burn the crops in the fields instead of harvesting them, it would do so. (This would actually be less destructive than harvesting industrial crops for fuel.)
Corporatism offers nothing to humanity but destruction, and humanity can find no path forward on the same Earth with corporatism. We have what might be called a “clash of civilizations”, or the final conflict of humanity against the depraved corporate “civilization”. Or we can keep the best of the word civilization and call corporatism a post-civilizational Hobbesian barbarism.
However one connotes it, the denotation is that this is a struggle between agroecology, as the basis of a steady-state economy of, by, and for the people, with Food Sovereignty as its companion political philosophy, vs. the totalitarian “growth” economy, and the neoliberal anti-politics which is its appendage. (It’s totalitarian because it recognizes nothing but its own imperative.)
This is a global struggle, and the front line is everywhere. Today the continent of Africa is the site of an escalating battle which promises to be the most critical of all.
[*Just as corporatism cynically regards country, government, and property as tools and weapons to be exalted or disregarded according to convenience, so in the end it will be the same with money and profits themselves. They understand that money is a fiction, and that for those who greedily seek it power is the only thing that’s real. The only thing corporatism wants, like prior forms of totalitarianism, is total power and total control.]


May 7, 2012

The Essence of Food Sovereignty


The essence of Food Sovereignty is that agroecology and democracy are mutually reinforcing.
Positive democracy dispenses with all forms of coercive hierarchy in favor of the cooperative economies and societies which are natural to human beings. This is the culture which would expunge all tyranny and minimize violence. It’s the most favorable environment for all forms of autonomous and cooperative production, including the agroecology which already has the highest yield of all forms of agriculture, and whose yield advantage shall increase exponentially post-fossil fuels. Conversely, conditions of material scarcity and unemployment are conducive to anti-democratic ideas and forms.
The Big Lie that industrial agriculture outproduces organic is based on simple accounting fraud. Corporate propagandists isolate one crop, for example corn, and then compare industrial vs. organic monocultures* of that crop. But monoculture is antithetical to the organic framework. On the contrary, the right comparison is between the industrial monoculture and the integrated, diversified, holistic organic farm. When this correct account is tallied, we find that organic outproduces industrial in terms of calories and macronutrients, and vastly outproduces it in terms of vitamins and minerals. (GMOs, by the way, are especially nutritional dead weight, on account of how their glyphosate-resistant and Bt-expressing cellular traits physically block nutrient uptake from the soil.)
But this mode of organic production – diversified, geared to local conditions, intensively using skilled labor, producing abundance, providing fulfilling work for all – cannot be concentrated into an assembly line. So it’s naturally resistant to hierarchy. It naturally resists power and wealth concentration.
Therefore agroecology is in the spirit of the original principle of the American Revolution, that concentrated power naturally assaults liberty, and that the responsibility of a citizen is to be vigilant toward power, or better yet not allow it to concentrate in the first place. Organic food production, by its very nature, presents a great hurdle to concentration, and therefore lessens the burden of vigilance. It also does this by providing local/regional food security. By training for self-reliance, it also affirmatively trains us to be the active citizens we need to be.
In all these ways, therefore, agroecology helps foster and strengthen democracy, just as democracy provides the most constructive environment for it. Food sovereignty is an essentially democratic philosophy and practice. It’s the most purely human philosophy, and it’s the practice most tending toward our human fulfillment.
[*Even granting this fraudulent monoculture comparison, organic’s production is competitive with industrial, and often outproduces it.]