Volatility

December 1, 2018

Morally, Ecologically, COPFOs Are the Same as CAFOs

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Exploited, tortured, malnourished, poisoned, regimented.

 
 
1. Factory farms are among the worst evils of modern civilization. The civilized smugly invoke Auschwitz as a near-mythical symbol of pure evil. Meanwhile Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), identical concentration and death camps by any measure other than that of domesticated hominid supremacism, continue to multiply across America and the globe.
 
The sadistic cruelty which is the daily routine is beyond sane imagination. The living animals are packed together like dead sardines. They are driven insane with physical pain and crowding and unfathomable psychological stress. Babies are wrenched from their mothers to render the mothers “productive” again as fast as possible. The inmates are fed a gruesome poisoned grain diet which makes them sick. It’s just enough to drag their zombie forms along till they reach slaughter weight. (Producing this weight is the one and only thing GMOs ever have been tested for by the system. Never once has the system performed a legitimate safety test. Governments, corporations, academia, and the corporate and science media systematically lie about this, the ultimate fake news.)
 
Egg layers have it the worst. Broilers can’t be pushed too far into madness lest they rub their breasts raw against the wire till the flesh is stripped to the bone, much as maddened concentration camp inmates would commit suicide by trying to climb the wire. That would ruin the product. But for the layers anything goes as long as eggs can be forced from them.
 
Imprisoned in boxes, living with nothing but foul air and artificial light, never seeing or feeling the sun, or the grass beneath, or the flowing breeze, they live dead lives of misery and torment, all to satisfy the depravities of the sadistic and gluttonous civilized.
 
CAFOs are a clear and present danger to public health. They automatically incubate every kind of animal and animal-to-human disease. This, along with the hideous living conditions and toxic diet, renders the inmates chronically sick. They’re maintained on a constant regimen of antibiotics. CAFO feed also is contaminated with antibiotic resistant GM bacteria which are left over from the factory synthesis of riboflavin and other feed additives. The main effect of these practices is radically to accelerate the evolution of antibiotic resistant pathogens and the failure of drug after drug. By any rational or moral measure we must conclude that the goal of corporate industrial agriculture and government policy is the complete eradication of antibiotics as a medically effective treatment. CAFOs guarantee pandemics from this vector.
 
CAFOs also guarantee epidemics of human and non-human animal illness and environmental destruction from their massive output of air and water pollution. CAFOs spew vast amounts of particulate matter (much of it carrying pathogens), ozone smog, hydrogen sulfide, sulfur dioxide and other pollutants. The Biblical flood of sewage which surges forth from CAFOs, unassimilable by farmland or the natural environment, is a constant volcano of methane, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, sulfur dioxide, and other potent greenhouse gases. CAFOs are among the reasons industrial agriculture is by far the number one driver of the climate crisis.
 
Agronomically CAFOs reinforce the overproduction of worthless commodity grain. This condemns to effective sterility vast spans of arable land which could be used to grow food for human communities on an agroecological basis. Instead the output of most of the land, and the ecological devastation which goes with poison-based agriculture, all goes down the CAFO rathole in order to produce cheap (at the retail checkout), grotesquely expensive (by any reality-based accounting) meat for the Western and Westernized middle classes.
 
This productionism of worthless grain, and the deployment of subsidies and propaganda in order artificially to generate such “markets” for this grain as the CAFO system, is a long-standing, perverse policy of the US government, fully supported by the entire political, intellectual, and media class.
 
Most important from the point of view of the corporate-technocratic state, the CAFO system reinforces the GMO deployment. This deployment of a worthless, extremely expensive and destructive product genre, depends completely on such artificial dumping grounds for worthless over-produced commodity grains.
 
Socioeconomically the CAFO system is a key driver of farm consolidation and the domination of farming by agribusiness. The system directly destroys small animal farms, indirectly destroys small grain farmers by reinforcing the mass commodity system.
 
CAFOs destroy the communities where they’re sited (always among lower income people of course). They foul the land, water, and air for many miles around rendering the landscape unlivable.
 
Working conditions are very dangerous, with high risks of direct injury, acute illness which is sometimes lethal (workers as well as animals often are killed outright by surges of hydrogen sulfide from manure lagoons), physical and mental disease from the fumes, chronic illness from the general disease incubation, and drowning in the manure lagoons. The working conditions and pay are atrocious. The legal “owners” of the CAFO are themselves indentured servants, forced by the corporation to take on all the work, risk, and debt while the corporation dictates all procedures and reaps all the profit.
 
In every way CAFOs add up to nothing but evil, destruction, death. A sane humanity would abolish them immediately on moral and self-preservation grounds. The fact that the masses not only tolerate but support this system is one of the direct proofs that modern civilized hominids are clinically insane, and incapable of Darwinian adaptation. This has nothing to do with lack of mediated information; mentally sound animals directly sense what will destroy them and fight or flee. Only civilized hominids have lost this core evolutionary trait. That goes for all self-destructive human “politics”.
 
 
2. Plant monocultures, which I will henceforth call COPFOs (COncentrated Plant Feeding Operations), are little better. Everything we just condemned about CAFOs – working conditions, destruction of communities, farm and agribusiness consolidation, agronomic perversity, ecological destruction, public health hazards including the epidemics of cancer and reproductive problems from poisons in the fields and food, including antibiotic resistance driven by herbicides (all herbicides are broad-spectrum biocides, i.e. antibiotics; glyphosate was patented as an antibiotic before it became part of herbicide formulations) and the promiscuous use of antibiotic resistance markers in genetic engineering – all are just as severe and destructive with COPFOs. I’ve written about this in hundreds of pieces over many years and don’t need further detail here.
 
Industrial monoculture denudes and destroys the soil, which becomes a disintegrated, inert medium in which the plants are physically propped up, jolted with synthetic fertilizer, slathered in poison which suffuses all their cells. The plants, malnourished except for a few artificially supplied (usually grossly oversupplied) macronutrients, physically weakened by being constantly drenched in poison, genetically weakened by breeding programs focused myopically on perverse traits like gross yield (meaningful only from a capitalist commodity point of view, not from any ecological perspective or the perspective of growing food for people), genetically tortured by unnecessary surgery and Nazi-style experimentation called “genetic engineering” (the scientists also torture the animals this way), too damaged and weakened to deploy their natural processes which signal one another, summon beneficial insects, and repel pests, become easy targets for pests. So they require even more poison, which then weakens the plants and soil that much further. (The eventual food quality of such crops is of course very low.) This vicious circle is deliberate and goes together with the equally deliberate pesticide-pest, pesticide-resistance arms race, the pesticide treadmill which is as old as the large-scale deployment of pesticides themselves.
 
Both CAFOs and COPFOs are radically toxic, radically polluting, radically destructive of the ecology, radically destructive of human health and well-being, radically destructive of the human community.
 
 
3. Empathy for non-human animals and the moral feeling and philosophy which encompasses them as fully as the human animal is grounded in the fact that non-human animals are as sentient as humans. They have feeling, they have emotion, they have ideas, they have language, they have culture. Only the flat-earth speciesism typical of civilized hominids would deny something so self-evident to healthy perception and so overwhelmingly confirmed by science.
 
But perception and science say we must go further than just moving the boundary of speciesism from human-vs.-animal to animal-vs.-plant. Plants too are sentient. They communicate about weather, pests, drought, they signal to beneficial insects. They can sense nearby plants being eaten and react. They make decisions. They forecast future climate conditions, water availability, and sunlight access and extend their branch and root growth ahead of time in accord with their forecasts. One species, the stilt palm, even “walks” toward a better location it has anticipated by extending new rooting stilts in that direction and detaching from the opposite stilts. Plants remember the effects of stimuli and will modify their reactions accordingly. Integrated with mycelial mats they join to form intelligent collective organisms. Botanists studying plant communication via chemicals released into the air and soil have compiled plant vocabularies of over three thousand “words”.
 
There is no more call to doubt plant sentience than to doubt animal sentience. If we find it difficult to empathize with the mind of a plant, this is no less true of the mind of a whale or dolphin, yet no one but a domestic-hominid supremacist denies the sentience of whales and dolphins.
 
(Of course, relative to potential, so-called Homo sapiens, in the form of H. domesticus, is by far the least sentient, least sapient, most stupid and “vegetative” species on Earth.)
 
 
4. In truth all of us, all plants and animals (and fungi and protozoans and bacteria), are part of the same food web. We all are “predators” and we all shall become “prey”. It’s impossible to refute this, only to deny it and lie about it. This civilization and its apostles, including almost all who claim to care about animals and/or the environment, do little or nothing but deny and lie. (It’s telling that an “or” is even conceptually possible there, yet few things are more common than reductive cherry-picking among things that in reality are inextricable and irreducible.) Thus we have corporate “environmentalists” who support CAFOs, and vegan/animal welfare types who support COPFOs. Indeed both tout such evils as part of their fake “solutions”.
 
In ecological reality, the only reality, the only possible way of life is to take responsibility for ourselves – as individuals, families, communities – as integral parts of the ecology. We must have reverence for Gaia. We must take only what we will use and give back at least as much as we take. Otherwise we’re not even predators but parasites. The modern civilized can never be anything but wasteful and destructive parasites.
 
Whether one believes in eating meat or not, either way industrial monoculture, CAFOs and COPFOs, is beyond the moral and ecological pale. Short of a complete reversion to hunting-gathering (which is not necessary, though the apostles of industrial agriculture seem intent on forcing us to that extreme once their system inevitably collapses; they intend a global Somalia of post-agricultural failure) the only sustainable future is decentralized, low-input agroecology, with or without animal pasturage. This is the great goal our movement must work toward. Meanwhile anyone smugly content to cherry-pick within the industrial commodity system and otherwise be content with that system is offering no solution at all, only a scam which is irrational, anti-scientific, anti-ecological, and morally evil.
 
 
Destroy the dinosaurs’ eggs every chance you get.
 
 
 
 
 

October 12, 2018

A Note on Animals and Greenhouse Gases

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These are part of the ecology, not against it

 
 
The ecological crisis is complex, but here’s one basic rule of thumb: If the land can assimilate the animals and/or crops, if waste doesn’t accumulate, then you’re ecologically sound as far as that goes. But as soon as waste begins to accumulate your practice has become unsound and destructive. This applies to crops just as much as to animals.
 
Depending on the circumstance and how well organized people are, the scope of the land can be one farm, or several co-operating farms, or a tight-knit community.
 
Never can it be a civilization, which automatically generates massive accumulations of waste. This is because by definition civilization is based on parasitic cities which mine the vast lands around them.
 
 
With that, let’s get to the alleged effects of animals and methane. Nomadic humans herded livestock for thousands of years causing no ecological problems. Wild grazers such as bison and wildebeest used to be far more abundant than today with no problems. Civilizations have destroyed vast swaths of land through sedentary agriculture, not pastoralism. Pastoralism becomes ecologically harmful only when grazing is driven off appropriate intact grasslands by agriculture and other extraction industries and onto inappropriate marginal land. Same as how, in addition to the direct assaults on forests by industrial agriculture and logging, civilization’s industries drive traditional farmers off their appropriate arable lands and into slash-and-burn.
 
Today there are dire ecological harms including massive greenhouse gas emissions caused by factory farms, CAFOs. These generate tremendous waste accumulations, literal lakes of liquid manure (called “lagoons”), which spew vast plumes of methane along with many directly toxic air pollutants. The system makes only feeble attempts to find farmland where it can spread this manure, and much of the carbon already has vaporized into the atmosphere. Meanwhile CAFOs vomit huge amounts of nitrogen into the air as the highly potent greenhouse gas nitrous oxide and into waterways causing massive pollution culminating in the vast Dead Zones of the Gulf of Mexico, the Chesapeake, and many other places around the world.
 
If we’re focused on the climate crisis, on methane, carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide, there’s our legitimate target in animal agriculture. If on the other hand you object to all animal husbandry, including grass farming, on animal welfare grounds, then be honest enough to own up to that. Don’t lie and say pasture farming is a significant contributor to climate change, because it’s not.
 
We must go further. A sincere climate focus must indict industrial agriculture as a whole, all of which is massively destructive to the ecology in many ways, including the fact that the sector is the leading emitter of greenhouse gases.
 
We must go further. We must condemn capitalism as such, productionism as such, the economic civilization as such, since forced climate change and every other ecological assault are inherent to these; they depend upon ecological destruction for their existence to the point that any legitimate definition of them must include destroying the Earth.
 
Here’s the fact: There is one and only one solution to avert the worst of climate chaos:
 
Stop emitting; stop destroying sinks; rebuild sinks.
 
All else is a lie. Most of all, the Big Lie is that anything constructive can be done within the congenitally destructive framework of the economic civilization.
 
So let’s dispense with the ticky-tack nonsense of attacking small animal farms, many of which are leaders in building the community food movement, as alleged climate destroyers. Only fake activists, members of the de facto climate denier crew, would engage in such a fraud.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

March 24, 2018

Fight the Right Target (Animal Activism Case)

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For those who truly want to liberate animals, humanity, and the Earth, THIS is the target, not small farms

 
 
According to the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF), animal rights activists launched an action against Long Shadow Farm in Colorado. I haven’t personally been to Long Shadow, but based on the tactics described in the article, the farm’s website and the imprimatur of the FTCLDF it looks like they’re the kind of small pastoral farm which must be the basis of all healthy, humane and ecological animal farming for the Food Sovereignty movement.
 
Therefore it’s an unfortunate clash where animal activists who ought to make their focus the abolition of CAFOs choose instead to target such a small, benevolent operation. Of course from the point of view of the more extreme form of animal welfare, any kind of husbandry automatically is bad. (Though I’ve never heard a coherent prescription from any of them; in my experience the vast majority of animal activists are grossly ignorant about food, agriculture*, economics, and probably ecology as well – for most it’s a typical boutique “cause”, like Prius-driving, luxury vacation-flying “climate activists”.) But even they, if they have any sane sense of magnitude, must agree that a CAFO is infinitely more cruel than a small pasturage. And they must also agree that CAFOs must be abolished, not only on the moral ground that they’re literally the equivalent of the Nazi death camps, but also on critical ecological, agronomic, socioeconomic, and public health grounds, all crises where small pasturages are, at the very least, doing no harm.
 
Therefore I have to question the sincerity and, probably, the physical courage of activists who would duck away from taking on the big corporate target in order to attack the much easier, shall we say softer small farm target. I also wonder another thing. Most animal welfare types display a great enthusiasm for commodity industrial agriculture. Specifically, they usually tout as their “solution” that corporate industrial grains should be used as “food for people” instead of as CAFO feed. This demonstrates a perfect ignorance of capitalism in general and agribusiness in particular, which depends upon CAFOs as the subsidized “demand” for the overproduced grain. This is innate to capitalism and to productionism as such. Conversely, the kind of system which maximizes industrial grain in the first place would never focus on food for people as its goal, since this goal does not serve to maximize power, profit, and destruction. I’ll also observe that such a prescription highlights the activists’ lack of concern for the plight of agricultural workers and the millions driven off their land by these plantations. But like I said, these mostly are white Western liberals who automatically despise unskilled workers, especially brown ones, and who effectively regard the totally dispossessed as not human at all.
 
Given this, I wonder how much of the special animus animal welfare types hold against small pastoral farms is driven, not just by a general belief that any kind of animal husbandry automatically is exploitative and cruel, but by the standard technocratic statist hatred of any activity outside the corporate system, hatred especially for the Community Food sector. In the same way that mainstream food NGOs have more in common with Monsanto than they do with small farmers (especially Southern brown farmers), indigenous peoples, and grassroots democracy activists, so the average Western liberal is likely to hold more in common with big corporate structures as such, including even the CAFO system, than with decentralized, uncorporatized economic systems. Again, it’s no accident that the same who deplore CAFOs tend to move smoothly to exalting the grain and vegetable equivalent of CAFOs, even though the corporate agriculture and food system is an integrated whole, every one of whose parts drives the all the pathologies of the whole. Of course an industrial soy field is an ecological disaster different only in degree from a pig CAFO. The underlying psychological and moral premise is the same.
 
As for the special animus I mentioned, I’ve seen lots of squabbles between small animal farmers and vegan types, including some on both sides of my personal acquaintance. And while grass farmers sometimes do bait animal welfare people, in my experience it’s far more common for animal people to single out small husbandry for special abuse, as if this kind of activity were especially loathesome to them. In that connection, I’ll add that the FTCLDF’s article on this incident was more fair in describing the motivations of anti-cruelty activists, and in giving them credit for their excellent exposures of CAFO horrors, than the depictions of small pastoral operations that I’ve seen in the animal welfare literature.
 
To close where I began, the abolition of CAFOs is a critical human and ecological need for the many reasons I briefly listed above. The community food movement, animal and vegetable farmers, all agree on this. Presumably most animal activists would agree also. That’s why the focus of their action ought to be on the main target and not on a key part of the rising Community Food sector, whose expansion and flourishing is the equal affirmative need corresponding with the great abolition need. Therefore it’s unfortunate where two such important groups conflict.
 
But it’s also unfortunate that many who oppose some notion of animal cruelty seem not to agree on the overall destructiveness and unsustainability of the corporate food system as such. Perhaps many of them usually support that system against any attempt to operate outside it. (We saw how all the food NGOs supported Big Ag’s “Food Safety Modernization Act”.) It seems these are the reasons that the conflict is so largely driven, not by the small farms but by the animal activists. Of course they’d reply that they regard these farms as cruel as well, and probably most of them believe that. But as I described here, only bad faith or a grotesque lapse of proportion could cause them to lose sight of the main goal, the abolition of CAFOs. Certainly if I were an animal activist I’d eat, drink, and sleep nothing but this goal.
 
In the end CAFOs, like the rest of industrial agriculture, are unsustainable and will cease to exist. We who fight to build Food Sovereignty will win in the end, with or without the assistance of the animal welfare movement. It’s up to them to decide whether they’re really part of opposing corporate power and industrial ravage, and whether they really want to help build a human, ecological future, or whether like the climate crocodiles they’re just another stupid self-indulgence amid Babylon.
 
*I used to think agroecology wasn’t sustainable without the supplement of animal manures. Invariably, any alternative I’ve seen touted by animal activists turned out to be based on more or less hidden fossil fuel supplements. The few times I discussed this with vegans or animal activists I told them I was willing to be convinced otherwise, and that researching this question would be a useful thing for them to do. None ever took me up on it.
 
Ironically, the more I’ve researched cover cropping the more convinced I’ve become that with maximal cover cropping and composting, a truly vegan agroecological horticulture probably could work. But I got no help from the vegans themselves in reaching this conclusion.