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April 4, 2017

“Pesticides’ Lives Matter”, Says the European Government

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“Pesticides are products that matter—to farmers, consumers, and the environment. We need effective competition in this sector so companies are pushed to develop products that are ever safer for people and better for the environment,” says Margrethe Vestager, the EC commissioner in charge of competition policy.

 
That’s the industry’s American Chemical Society quoting the European central government’s competition czar. The European Commission has given its approval to the pending Dow-DuPont merger, contingent on DuPont divesting several holdings including its pesticides R&D division. The reason they give is that they think combining the Dow and DuPont R&D divisions would result in lower quantity and quality of research and development.
 
Pesticides invariably become ever more harmful to people and the environment, but the EC reads from Orwell’s playbook.
 
As we see, the Poisoner ideology and the pesticide mandate of regulators is so normative that antitrust regulators publicly avow that they are motivated by a mandate to ensure maximal research and development of poisons toward maximal usage. Here the regulator is engaging in pro-corporate propaganda, promising the public that agrochemical sector consolidation will result in better, less toxic poisons. This is a premeditated lie, since the inertia of corporate industrial agriculture is exclusively toward ever more toxic poisons in ever greater amounts.
 
This is an example of the corporate-technocratic regulator template in action. As per (1) the corporate project is normative. As per (2) the antitrust regulator makes a show of ordering sham concessions from the corporation. As per (3) the regulator then turns corporate propagandist and assures the public that the government has acted in the public interest, that the corporate project now will proceed in a benevolent way, and that the people therefore should tend to their private concerns and go to sleep.
 
Of course the public rationale here is idiotic. The whole point of consolidation such as the Dow-DuPont combination is that research and development has run out of road and the oligopoly needs to self-cannibalize. As a rule mergers among oligopolists are the sign of a superannuated, calcifying, decadent sector. It means companies are running out of ideas, losing confidence in the sector and in themselves. It’s the most extreme version of buying your ideas, patents, and products rather than being an innovator and entrepreneur who develops these yourself. Dow and DuPont believe they’re reaching dead ends and each needs to buy what the other has. Dow needs Pioneer seed germplasm, DuPont needs Dow’s pesticide lines and genetic engineering expertise and patents. When the antitrust regulator orders DuPont to divest its pesticide R&D and some pesticide lines, this merely is throwing the company into the briar patch.
 
The real character of the pesticide/GMO sector is that it is antiquated, backward, an economic and innovation bottleneck, shoddy, tawdry. This is borne out by one consistent thread which runs through all the sector consolidation events. Monsanto’s contractions, Monsanto’s proposals to Syngenta, the Dow/DuPont merger: All involve cutting research and development spending. In other words the sector has reached the point where it thinks more in terms of stock buybacks and scrounging whatever technology and patents it can buy rather than developing anything on its own. To some extent this is inherent to any big corporation and any oligopoly sector. But it’s especially congenital to the agrochemical sector, which was always based on accelerating planned obsolescence toward its inevitable culmination in the complete exhaustion and obsolescence of the entire paradigm.
 
Therefore research and development always is a target for down-sizing in a case like this. If continued R&D opportunities existed, that would be an incentive against merging in the first place.
 
Of course the industry’s flack who authored the piece has to tout such a merger as a pro-innovative step. But in truth the only innovation in this case is toward preservation of corporate power. For the agrochemical cartel, wracked by such bad fundamentals, where the sector’s inertia is becoming less powerful, more diffuse and centrifugal, preserving power now means consolidation.
 
 
Meanwhile India’s Competition Commission is making a different public sound. It “is of prima facie opinion” that the merger will hurt competition and announces it will seek public comment and demand more public transparency from Dow and DuPont about their plans.
 
India’s regulators in recent years have shown more willingness to hinder Western corporate projects, especially where it comes to seed prices and corporate taxation on seeds. The “nationalist” Modi government looks somewhat less like the US poodle of previous Indian central governments and more like China and Russia in being leery of Western corporate domination of agriculture and food. I remain skeptical that any of these governments are in any way anti-GMO, the way some elements of the Modi coalition claim to be, but at any rate they seem determined to reduce the global dominion of Western corporations like Monsanto.
 
At least in the case of China, this certainly is because they plan to build their own competing GM/pesticide cartel. Indeed the most pivotal of the ongoing mergers may be that of the state’s ChemChina with Syngenta.
 
But as I say in those pieces, China looks to be getting into the GMO/pesticide market at its peak, and would do much better to convert to agroecology. But of course power-driven insanity is no monopoly of the West, and most of the non-Western world also will insist on doing everything the hardest, most destructive, most self-destructive way possible.
 
 
 

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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February 5, 2016

GMO News Summary, February 5th 2016

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*The ChemChina/Syngenta deal is near complete. “ChemChina, as the closely-held company is known, offered $465 a share in cash, according to a statement on Wednesday. The offer, endorsed by Syngenta’s board, is about 20 percent higher than the stock’s last close.” China has long been planning to build its own GMO/pesticide conglomerate and assert itself globally in competition with the US-based cartel. Syngenta’s chairman has suggested that he thinks Syngenta could become China’s primary supplier of GM technology and primary Western partner for China’s project. Bloomberg complacently comments on how China and Syngenta will nevertheless submit to US review and veto power over the deal, because “even though Syngenta isn’t based in the U.S, it does have North American operations that generated $3.6 billion in sales last year” which the US could threaten to hinder and harm in some way if the company doesn’t stay in line. Although Syngenta is more diversified across the pesticide line (which is economically prior to and more important than GM seeds) than Monsanto and therefore relatively better positioned (but over the long run the fundamentals are bad for all of industrial agriculture), Syngenta evidently is being subject to stick-ups by both China and the US.
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This is part of the intensifying Great Game for total control of agriculture and food. The agrochemical conglomerates are at the peak of their power, but their position has never been more precarious. Having been aced out of a Syngenta deal, if Monsanto doesn’t make a deal with BASF or something similar they might be in deep trouble.
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*One of my four featured yahoos who impersonate scientists is still at it. More detail on Bruce Chassy’s ongoing career as a mercenary fraud. In spite of his claims about his scientific credentials, he actually has zero credentials in agriculture, food science, medicine, biology, or genetics. Yet the FDA and the University of Illinois, and of course the media, have joined in perpetrating the fraud that he does have some kind of expertise in these areas.
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*Here’s another example of the pro-GMO activists’ standard attitude toward truth and morality. Critics of poison agriculture are accusing the Genetic Illiteracy Project of publishing personal information and changing headlines and text when reposting their pieces. More amusingly, those complaining of tampering with headlines and text include such pro-GMO activists as Keith Kloor, Anastasia Bodnar of Biofalsified, Helena Bottemiller, and Julie Kelly. Now they’re all whining about “unethical practices”, which is quite rich coming from the likes of Kloor and company. Of course the GIP’s systematic lying on behalf of cancer-causing poisons and corporate domination of agriculture and food doesn’t bother them one bit, since such Nuremburg lies are their trade as well.
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*The Indian central government is admitting in court what farmers and critics have known for over ten years, that Bt cotton is an extremely failure prone product. The admission comes in a court proceeding where the government is defending its imposition of price controls on the shoddy seeds against a challenge from Mahyco-Monsanto. The corporations especially object to the government’s placement of limits on the tax Monsanto collects on cotton seed sales. The government admits that it allowed Monsanto to attain a near-monopoly on cotton seed. (It also actively encouraged this monopoly.) But between the tax and the generally very poor performance of the crop farmers can no longer afford to plant it. This is driving the suicide epidemic among small cotton farmers in India. This price control policy, along with the latest of the many Karnataka bailouts, is just the latest in the long line of central and state government bailouts, price controls, and bans on shoddy seeds.
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*The political struggle continues over that same Indian central government’s imminent approval of Bt mustard for commercial release. The opposition to this and to GM crops in general has included several elements of the Modi government’s coalition such as farmer unions and “nationalist” types. In defiance of prior court decisions and transparency law the government is keeping secret the biosafety dossier from the field trials and any lab testing which has been done, which is proof that the evidence is very bad regarding the GM product’s agronomic behavior and health and safety implications. As far as GM contamination we don’t really need the secret data, as the crop’s lead developer Deepak Pental has freely admitted that “the crossing of the transgenic gene to other non-GM mustard varieties is expected.” It certainly is expected to happen especially broadly and rapidly with brassicas. Indeed contamination is so universally documented and economic policy is so relentless in seeking to normalize ever increasing levels of “adventitious presence”* that we have to call it a primary purpose of the GMO project. Meanwhile public health campaigner Aruna Rodrigues filed a petition with the supreme court for an injunction against the government’s plans to approve herbicide tolerant mustard, cotton, and corn. In 2013 the court-appointed Technical Expert Committee, in addition to advising strong precautions and transparency where it comes to GMOs in general, found that herbicide tolerant GMOs as such would be economically inappropriate for India.
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(It’s hard to tell exactly what kind of GM mustard is being talked about in various contexts, in particular which is the one supposedly about to be approved for commercial release. Most pieces I’ve seen called it Bt mustard, but the last few days they’ve been talking about a product which would be herbicide tolerant as well.)
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[*According to EuropaBio lobbying, TTIP negotiations, and the Grocery Manufacturers’ Association’s proposed GMO labeling standards, where it comes to GM contamination of the general agriculture, commodity stream, and food supply the regulatory threshold for “non-GMO” is supposed to increase mechanically as the contamination becomes more prevalent, in the exact same way that regulators mechanically increase the “tolerance” levels for pesticide residues in food. This is one of several reasons why it’s utopian to think the FDA could ever apply a strong GMO labeling policy: The FDA would mechanically raise the legally allowed level of contamination which would be called “adventitious” as the chronic contamination increased. Therefore the level of GM material in a product which would require it to be labeled “contains genetically engineered ingredients”, and beneath which it would not have to carry a label, would continually, automatically increase. The FDA would also preempt any state law or voluntary body like the Non-GMO Project from imposing a more rigorous standard.]
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*GMO contamination is a systematic policy goal. The USDA and Monsanto will never stop until they are stopped once and for all. Here we have documentary proof that the most far-ranging and aggressive contamination is a core part of the intended goal.
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*This interview with Marc Edwards, a scientist who helped expose the poisoning of the Flint water supply, is a case study in how normal science really works under corporate rule. He speaks to how rare it is for the scientific method, falsification and all, to actually be applied, and what happens when a scientist actually does work that way. Here’s a quote from the piece:
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Q. I keep coming back to these university researchers in Flint who said: “The state has 50 epidemiologists. They say that the water’s safe. So I’m going to focus my energy on something that’s less settled.” How do you decide when the state should be challenged?

A. That’s a great question. We are not skeptical enough about each other’s results. What’s the upside in that? You’re going to make enemies. People might start questioning your results. And that’s going to start slowing down our publication assembly line. Everyone’s invested in just cranking out more crap papers.

So when you start asking questions about people, and you approach them as a scientist, if you feel like you’re talking to an adult and they give you a rational response and are willing to share data and discuss an issue rationally, I’m out of there. I go home.

But when you reach out to them, as I did with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and they do not return your phone calls, they do not share data, they do not respond to FOIA [open-records requests], y’know. … In each case I just started asking questions and turning over rocks, and I resolved to myself, The second something slimy doesn’t come out, I’m gonna go home. But every single rock you turn over, something slimy comes out.

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Unfortunately Edwards isn’t yet the kind of public health campaigner we the people need since he still thinks and talks in terms of restoring trust in the system even though he just testified to how the system is depraved beyond redemption. That’s not the first time I’ve seen the same notion coming from a partially dissident scientist, that “restoring trust in the system” as such is somehow supposed to be one of the goals. A true dissident, which by now also means anyone who has scientific integrity, must work to demolish the credibility, legitimacy, and authority of an establishment “science” system which has become completely anti-scientific under corporate directives and in furtherance of corporate rule.
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*Corporate Europe Observatory has released a new report on the corporate attempt in Europe to have the newer kinds of GMOs arbitrarily declared outside the bounds of regulation. This parallels the USDA’s campaign to exempt more and more GMOs from its own purview.
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This would include exemption from labeling requirements for all so-called “second generation” GMOs developed via gene editing and so-called “cisgenesis”* The report specifically highlights how GM apples and potatoes are supposed to be exempted from regulation including labeling. Here’s another reason why it’s impossible to get real labeling from the FDA. The agency whose primary religious dogma is that GMOs are “substantially equivalent” to true crops and which abdicated nearly all regulatory oversight will certainly follow the USDA’s lead in declaring the second generation GMOs not to be GMOs at all for purposes of labeling.
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[*A de jure and de facto fraud. Even where the main transgene is from the same species, the cisgenesis gene cassette includes several elements from other species, such as a viral promoter. And the violent, mutation-inducing insertion and tissue culture procedures are the same as for any other GMO. So nothing’s different. “Cisgenesis” is a scientifically meaningless term, a pure propaganda/marketing hoax.]
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Although we must fight these lawless attempts, we the people should fully reciprocate the mindset that GMOs and their activists are outlaws in the full medieval sense of the term, exactly as they say they want to be.
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This and the earlier point about contamination highlight not only the impossibility of any real FDA labeling, but how the idea of labeling is misguided in principle. Here we have two examples of how a very slow, clumsy, often static labeling policy would try to keep track of a fast-moving, crafty GMO target, and would try to do this within the “co-existence” framework which everyone knows is impossible. Labeling sounded good and maybe even sufficient when the idea was first broached all those years ago. By now we’ve learned enough to know that it’s insufficient and not worth being any kind of significant goal. It’s time to move beyond the concept of labeling as anything more than an organizational tool, and to full abolition as the necessary, fully conscious goal, and adapt all organizational principle, strategy, and tactics to that.
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*The people of California’s Sonoma County are working for a county-level ban on GMO cultivation. They look to join the growing list of counties in California, Oregon, and Hawaii which have passed such bans. These county-level bans have had mixed fortunes in the courts, but in the long run the courts can never be the source of the people’s health and freedom. Only our political will can do that, and if we find this will the “law” will follow.

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January 22, 2016

GMO News Summary, January 22nd, 2016

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*Now here’s fighters, resolute in Argentina against massive strength and great pressure. They’re not only brave, but patient. They’re in it for the long haul. We need to find that spirit in the West.
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These are regular citizens driven to direct action by the poison assault upon themselves and their children and the complicity of “the authorities”. They accept what’s necessary, and then they take whatever action they can to try to accomplish it. And look what’s possible once regular people decide to do that – they’ve held up Monsanto’s poison factory for over two years now.
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The people of the Argentine soy poison zone also have the support of networks of public health-oriented doctors and scientists.
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*Yet another good piece on the “new” kinds of GMOs which emphasizes how, if industry and pro-GM regulators like the EFSA, USDA, and FDA have their way, these GMOs won’t be considered GMOs at all for regulatory purposes. That will include their being exempted from labeling requirements, “mandatory” or otherwise. This is one of several main points ignored by the short-sighted celebrations of the Campbell’s announcement. A big part of the reason Mark Lynas and Campbell’s feel the time is right for a “mandatory” labeling policy is that GMOs are a moving target which, they hope, will already have moved beyond all labeling purview by the time such a policy was enacted. That’s a basic part of the scam being prepared for DARK Act Plan B.
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Here’s another piece making the same point.
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*Great to see some people still care about the state-level movement and want to improve it. Namely, real labeling advocates in Maine want to get rid of the “trigger” provision which renders the laws of Maine and Connecticut to be just for show. As they exist, these labeling laws won’t go into effect until several other states enact similar laws. In Maine’s case, the law specifically requires that New Hampshire also pass such a law. But a few years ago the “live free” types decided they’d rather die.
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But there’s resistance, including from impostors within the movement: “Still others on both sides have said the state should wait to see what federal lawmakers do with the issue, since industry-supported legislation that is pending U.S. Senate approval would pre-empt any state labeling requirements.”
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So-called “both sides”. How could one meaningfully be for labeling but counsel delay until federal preemption supervenes? No, that’s a liar who’s against real labeling. Just like the two kinds of climate change deniers, those who directly deny and those who pay lip service but who at every point are against meaningful action.
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*Yet another study finds that glyphosate causes prenatal brain damage. This is the latest evidence adding to what’s already proven beyond any reasonable doubt, that glyphosate causes birth defects.
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We have vastly more than enough evidence. By now continuing to call for “more testing” is nothing but procrastination and broadcasts a lack of self-confidence. Glyphosate must be banned completely. It must be abolished once and for all. Abolitionists must use the overwhelming evidence more effectively and aggressively. I recommend focusing on cancer and birth defects as the general message, reserving the many other kinds of glyphosate-inflicted violence to health for particular contexts.
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*Just when it looked like Kenya was cracking, the National Biosafety Authority abruptly called off its press conference where it was expected to announce its approval for the Bt maize product MON810. This is an already failed product which would only aggravate Kenya’s food insecurity while opening the door to corporate control of Kenyan agriculture on a commodity export basis. Every step of the way for the global South, GMOs = colonization. The cancellation came amid rumors of internal government disputes.
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*Syngenta continues to obstruct and delay in the big wave of lawsuits over losses to US corn growers and traders when China rejected several corn shipments because they were contaminated with the unapproved GM variety Viptera, aka MIR162. Now it’s challenging the selection of “bellwether” suits for inaugural litigation.
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In a statement about the lawsuits Syngenta claims it “obtained import approval from major corn importing companies” prior to marketing Viptera, which is self-evidently a lie. China is a major corn importer, and the company didn’t procure Viptera approval there until December 2014. (Not 2013 like the piece says.)
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The piece feels the need to throw in a standard lie that Bt toxins are “harmless to humans.” How do these lawyers know that? What evidence convinced them of it? The fact is that, like every other interest group, they know literally zero about the health effects and are simply brain-dead authoritarians regurgitating what government and industry-paid publicists told them. That’s what this society has come to.
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*The EU health commissioner admits in a letter to Testbiotech and UK GeneWatch that by law the EFSA is required to assess the combined effects of multiple pesticides used on agricultural products and has been breaking the law in not doing so. This guy specializes in lame excuses. In this case, “yes, EFSA is required by law to do this, but they don’t know how!” Of course anyone could write down an experimental design in five minutes. Cost should not be an object since the corporate applicant(s) should pay for testing but have no control over it. The corporate state just doesn’t want to do it, which is strict proof in itself that they know the results would be bad for their product. In this case, the products involved are soybeans engineered to be tolerant of glyphosate plus dicamba (Monsanto) or isoxaflutole (Bayer).
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Not that I’m calling for this testing. We already know each herbicide in itself causes cancer, birth defects, and many other health harms, which is more than enough to ban it. The combined effects could only be worse. We have all the evidence we need and more, now it’s time to use it effectively in a disciplined, relentless way in order to propagate the abolition idea and build momentum toward the abolition reality.
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*Chief Minister Nitish Kumar of Bihar state in India objected to attempts by Delhi University to illegally propagate Bt mustard seed within the state. The university has used public money to develop and field test this product on behalf of the industry. Now, even though the GM product has not been approved and its application is under challenge (and even its continued funding is in question), the university is trying to go ahead with the project of increasing the seeds. As Kumar points out, “It appears that when the interested parties have failed to win the confidence of the farmers of the country, they are pushing the technology through public institutions.” As always, GMOs are 100% dependent on government subsidies and monopoly muscle. Bihar is one of the states which have refused to allow field trials, citing the likelihood of bad ecological, economic, and human health effects.
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This is not the kind of mustard seed which, starting out “less than all the seeds that be in the earth”, grows up and becomes great. On the contrary, starting with infinite hubris and arrogance matched only by ignorance, it shall fail to fruit but instead wither and die.
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*Peculiar piece of news from Europe. Monsanto has withdrawn all its EU import registrations containing its “event” MON863. This is the original anti-rootworm type producing the Bt toxin Cry3Bb1, to which rootworms started becoming resistant years ago. (To this day Monsanto still offers only the failing Cry3Bb1 from its own roster, and relies on Dow’s Cry34/35AB1, also facing increasing resistance, for whatever effect SmartStax still has on rootworms. This is probably part of why the TriplePro product, which offers only Cry3Bb1 vs. rootworm, isn’t very popular judging by the relatively meager offerings in the seed catalogs.) MON863 was part of four GMOs which were authorized for import in food and feed. Monsanto says the MON863 seed has not been produced or sold since 2011. But it still turns up contaminating seed and feed, as recently as 2014 and 2015. Most likely this is because of transgenic contamination, though it could be that some unused seed is still floating around. It’s unlikely that anyone’s illicitly saving and replanting it since all such varieties are hybrids unreliable for seed saving.
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It’s unclear why they’re given up on the MON863 “event” as being obsolete. They may not want to bother with any further registration fees and paperwork maintenance. MON863 may soon be up for becoming an “orphan” GMO no one cares to maintain legally any longer, at least not under the current regulatory framework. The first such case was the original Roundup Ready soybeans.
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*Under pressure from No Patents on Seeds and Navdanya, the European Patent Office (EPO) revoked a patent it awarded Monsanto for a virus-resistant melon which the company did not in fact breed, but simply stole from India. Throughout its GMO and seed-selling history Monsanto has done almost no work and made no discoveries, but simply stole or bought everything it has. I’ll soon dedicate a post to this history.
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*A new study further documents the already rampant spread of feral Roundup Ready canola. The Australian study tries to downplay the significance of the trend by claiming that the contamination, while common, doesn’t become severe. Indeed, the record so far seems to be that it easily becomes a tenacious nuisance but doesn’t proliferate explosively. But as usual, they have zero idea what that’ll mean over the long run, and GM canola is the GMO already proven to have contaminated wild relatives in the US, Canada, and elsewhere. This contamination of other canola and wild relatives may bring along whatever mutations are contained in the Roundup Ready genomes. As always the point is they have absolutely no idea what the effects may be. And even if feral GM canola turns out to be a relatively lesser problem (not saying much, given the magnitude of all these poison-driven crises), that means nothing for what effect other kinds of contamination may have. But a piece like this is meant to allay concerns about contamination as such, not just about canola.
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Feral GM canola is most directly a threat to organic canola, which has been rendered largely impossible in Canada. The article on the Australian study omits this matter by design. The there’s the likelihood of contamination of other brassica crops. GM contamination has jumped from Brassica napus (canola) to wild B. rapa, which is the same species as turnips, bok choy, other Asian greens. That means it could contaminate those as well, and probably other brassica species.
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*The GMOs of Iran. Piece from July says rice is grown commercially for direct food, and that the agricultural ministry approves imports of GM maize, soybeans, and canola, in spite of having no clear authority to do so. The report says the government is divided on the subject while the public is largely unaware.
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*Hype about using genetic engineering techniques to help conserve endangered species is typical greenwashing. It’s of the same junk science genre as the fraudulent ideological application of “island biogeography” where it can’t legitimately be applied. That’s a favorite scam of corporate “environmental” front groups like the WWF and TNC. The trouble with the concept is that an island is an island, but a piece of rainforest surrounded by soybean plantations where the rest of the forest used to be is not an island, but a mangled fragment. A chopped off hand does not then act like a starfish. Once again we see reductive, mechanistic junk science in action. The only real environmentalism and conservation is to abolish the entire war-on-nature mentality and practice and replace it with ecological civilization.
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This is also a scam in that they have no intention of really saving endangered species this way. They’re just floating the idea of it, for propaganda and to reap some funding. Longer-term, this is practice for eventual commercial use. It’s toward animal eugenics for the factory farm system and for designer pets for the rich. Just like human genetic experimentation is toward “designer babies” and eventually a more comprehensive eugenics program. More on this to come.
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*Mercola exposes typical corruption. WebMD is doing the infomercial-which-looks-like-article thing. Of course these days corporate media leaders like the New York Times and Washington Post often don’t even bother with that subterfuge, but present the infomercial as a de jure article or news broadcast.
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There’s a legislative move in Oregon to repeal parts of the corporate-dictated “Bill 863” which was passed in 2013 in an anti-democratic “emergency session”, similar to the “fast-track” Obama’s demanding for the TPP and TTIP globalization pacts. Such tyrannical stampedes are necessary for the kinds of legislative proposals which could never survive if subject to democracy’s review. That’s why the enemies of the people tried to use chicanery to pass the DARK Act late in 2015. We can expect something similar for subsequent attempts.
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Bill 863 was pushed by a panicked corporate-controlled state legislature in response to the wave of county-level initiatives banning GMOs and/or some pesticide uses and promoting regional food sovereignty. The bill seeks to crush the democratic anti-poison movement in Oregon through preemption, one of the most vile kinds of anti-democracy legislative procedures. We can expect to see more such vileness as the push for FDA preemption of the true labeling democracy movement gathers support. The new proposal would restore democracy and rationally located food and agriculture policy.
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Preemption is always Monsanto’s game.
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January 8, 2016

GMO News Summary, January 8th 2016

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*Climate change deniers of all stripes like to believe that such extreme effects as lessened precipitation becoming the occasion of drought* will be a big problem for the global South but not so much for the West. The overt deniers and nihilists openly say that climate change would be a winner for Western agriculture. The COP20 types and pro-GMO activists also believe this.
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But a new study published in Nature confirms that weather-affected drought is more destructively plaguing the monoculture agriculture of the US, Australia, and other industrialized countries than it is the agriculture of the unindustrialized world. This is because commodity monocrops, especially GMOs, are very high-maintenance and require optimal growing conditions, while the more diversified food-based agriculture of the global South is more resilient. As has been the case for thousands of years, rational societies today still organize their agriculture to be redundant and resilient, so that if bad weather or a pest or disease outbreak decimates one part of the harvest, other parts are likely to come through. The modern science of agroecology is built upon this and other fundamental facts. But such reason and science are of course anathema to irrational, anti-scientific commodity-based agriculture. Therefore the societies which shackle themselves to monocultures will reap the worst of the climate change whirlwind, while those which either transform to agroecology or, still practicing rational diversified agriculture such as in Africa, resist the corporate onslaught and supplement and build upon their traditions by adapting agroecological science to their conditions and traditions, will survive and thrive. There’s no other way forward, for facing up to the climate crisis and to the companion crises of this climactic era.
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[*As John Widtsoe described, drought is properly defined not as lack of sufficient precipitation, but a predictable lack of precipitation sufficient to sustain the water needs of an unsustainably thirsty economy or economic sector. That is, it’s an artificial condition, not a natural one. Truly unpredictable dearths are rare. There is nothing unpredictable or unpredicted about how industrial agriculture will fare very poorly under the onset of climate change.]
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Providing a good example of the ideas and actions necessary to get this necessary and prosperous transformation going, agroecology practitioners and campaigners in Britain just concluded their annual Oxford Real Farming Conference. The Conference is dedicated to exchanging ideas on the practice and economics of agroecology and the modes of spreading the agroecology idea among the people. The creativity, ferment, and excitement sharply contrasted with the dolor and stagnation in evidence at the establishment’s Oxford Farming Conference, attended by corporate and government hacks along with bootlick contract “farmers”. The stale monoculture of the atmosphere reflected the stale monoculture of their words, which of course were about nothing but dead physical monoculture. As the Guardian writer put it, “The Oxford Real Farming Conference has rapidly outgrown its decades-old establishment counterpart and is calling for radical reforms to the industrialised intensive model they represent.”
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*Even as Africa (whose people have contributed very little to the emissions and destruction of sinks driving climate change) struggles to hang on to its relatively much better adapted agricultural position, the exact same world historical criminals driving climate change to the crisis point are also trying to destroy Africa’s resiliency and force self-destructive monoculture upon it.
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Monsanto, the US and UK governments, and the Gates Foundation continue to push their “New Alliance” plan for the renewed colonial subjugation of Africa under the rule of corporate agriculture. Kenya was supposed to be the most important adherent to the plan, which basically uses US and UK taxpayer money to bribe African governments to allow Western corporations to rampage unrestrained across the land and people. African countries are to make any necessary changes to seed, IP, and land law, dismantle anything that’s left of the old-style public agricultural programs (largely wiped out years ago by the IMF’s “structural adjustment” assaults), steal tribal land and facilitate corporate land-grabbing, help construct any necessary globalization infrastructure, and submit to Western dumping and profit expatriation. The goal is to eradicate African diversified agriculture, economically liquidate millions of farmers and wipe out thousands of communities, turn the entire landscape into one vast corporate plantation export zone, and slam the coffin shut on any hope of an agroecological transformation. In the long run the entire continent is to become an uninhabited desert. This is the conscious goal of Bill Gates, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton (of course any Republican in office would push it as well), David Cameron, as well as useful idiots like Bono, Bob Geldof, and many others.
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Although several countries such as Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, the Ivory Coast, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Ghana have signed up, the prized adherent Kenya has so far disappointed the cabal. This is in large part because of intense grassroots opposition from the Kenyan people. The cartel and its allied governments are now making their strongest push yet to break through. The food sovereignty activists fighting in Kenya, Ghana, and everywhere else in Africa are fighting hard for all the people of Africa and the world, and richly deserve the full support of the world against this great crime.
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*Better news from Africa: What do you know, it actually is possible for a regulator to say No. It’s easy to forget that, given how the USDA, EPA, and FDA consistently claim that they have no choice but to approve everything put before them.
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In this case, South African regulators rejected the Agricultural Research Council’s application to market an insecticidal potato called SpuntaG2. The product concept is much like that of the GM potato variety Arpad Pusztai’s research found to be hazardous to mammal health. The regulator and appeals board cited biosafety, public health, and socioeconomic problems. One of the project’s own hired consultants concluded the GMO was “a solution in search of a problem”, thereby acknowledging that there’s never any need for any GMO. There’s always higher quality, far less expensive, safe, conventionally bred alternatives for whatever a particular GMO was supposed to do.
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So a regulator actually can say No. But according to the USDA, EPA, and FDA that word just doesn’t exist and is impossible to conceive.
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*In Pakistan and India Monsanto’s Bollgard II cotton continues to be decimated by the target pest, pink bollworm. This GMO contains two Bt toxins, the Cry1AC which generated resistance against itself and failed in the original Bollgard, and Cry2AB2, which is now failing as well. The GM cotton is also being ravaged by secondary pests like whitefly. Therefore all Bt cotton still requires massive and escalating insecticide use even during the period when it works against the target pest.
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Meanwhile according to the piece the Pakistan government is saying “Crop wiped out? Don’t worry, just feed it to livestock!” Needless to say that’s an insult to the farmers who have been economically wiped out by their destroyed crop. It also blithely overlooks the many dangers of deploying such livestock “feed”, dangers such as aflatoxin and the death of livestock which has often followed their feeding on Bt crop refuse. Most of all, there’s the ongoing fundamental idiocy of denying the proven fact that the product is a failure.
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*According to a Greenpeace report, Chinese farmers are “illegally” growing GM maize. A large proportion of samples taken from cornfields, markets, and processed food tested positive for GM contamination. The identifiable varieties include products from Monsanto, Syngenta, and DuPont. Of the six varieties identified, three are government-certified as conventional varieties, which if correct means they’ve been contaminated by illicit GM cultivation. The other three which tested positive are not certified. For a long time there have been rumors that seed from GM field trials was illicitly sold to farmers. That may be the source of the contamination. Probably these are all hybrid varieties. If so, commercial farmers would have a hard time saving seeds from them. In that case there’s either a constant influx of new GM seeds, or else the seed crop is becoming contaminated.
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The other day I briefly discussed the tumultuous and often inscrutable GMO situation in China. For more see here, here, here, here, and here. The GM corn phenomenon seems like a chaotic black market situation. Presumably the cartel is displeased with this black market trade.
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*The EPA continues living up to form. According to a press release from the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), EPA has once again flouted its own deadlines to complete new “risk assessments” for glyphosate, atrazine, and imidacloprid. The glyphosate assessment was supposed to have been done last summer. (Meanwhile in Europe the EFSA moved its own already-belated glyphosate deadline from December 2015 to June 2016. This is a constant among these regulators, procrastination. This is because it becomes more and more difficult for them to come up with even pseudo-plausible lies to justify the clean bill of health they criminally bestow upon these deadly poisons.)
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Just last year in June the EPA settled in the CBD’s lawsuit over another dereliction, EPA’s breaking the law in refusing to analyze the effect of these poisons on endangered species. According to the settlement EPA grudgingly agreed to obey the Endangered Species Act. We’ll see – breaking the de jure law as well as committing crimes against humanity is the daily routine at these regulators.
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It’s not just for central governments. Here’s Hawaiian state and county officials engaging in the same procrastination.
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*Since I have an upcoming post on Monsanto’s ongoing financial travails and consolidation among the GMO/agrochemical cartel, I’ll save comment for there. Monsanto really is in some serious trouble, though. If people wanted to get together to focus on getting Roundup banned everywhere possible, it could become a permanently crippling blow. Of course the US government will do all it can for its favorite non-Wall Street corporation.
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*Vermont’s GMO labeling law will go into effect in June 2016. Looking ahead to this and perhaps other state laws to come, Campbell’s is becoming the first manufacturer to break ranks and add “made with genetically engineered ingredients” to its packaging. In other words they expect/hope what some of us think likely, that actual labels may help normalize GMOs, and even “get [Campbell’s] credit for transparency” as one analyst says in the piece. That’s one of several reasons I’m ambivalent about labels.
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I continue to note the proliferation of the Frank Luntz propaganda term “patchwork” (one of his favorite “Words That Work”), originally propagated among Republicans to oppose California’s CAFE standards. Today it’s most often used among opponents of GMO labeling, including the frauds who want sham FDA labeling which would preempt the states. In this NYT piece we see both the quoted CEO as well as the “journalist” using the loaded term.
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*A legal settlement in Jackson County upholds the 2014 law passed by a vote of the people and ends a SLAPP suit filed by two alfalfa contractors backed by the GMO cartel. The deal means Jackson farmers who already have Roundup Ready alfalfa in the ground can continue working it for the remaining years of its productive life, but they nor anyone else can plant more. (Alfalfa is a perennial generally harvested for hay for 4-8 years before replanting.)
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Making the world safe for organic and conventional alfalfa, one county at a time, has been one of the main goals of the local food system initiatives community rights campaigners are promulgating in Oregon such as the Jackson GMO ban. As a wind-pollinated perennial crop GM alfalfa has the highest rate of cross-pollination and contamination of non-GM varieties. Many GM-contaminated hay shipments have been rejected by China, a major buyer of US hay. This is the main reason Canadian farmers have put up enough resistance to forestall the approval of RR alfalfa there so far.
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An ulterior motive for the way Monsanto and the USDA have pushed this worthless product is to render organic meat and dairy untenable by making it impossible to source reliably non-GM hay. GMOs are forbidden under the USDA Organic certification, including the feed given to animals which are to be the source of organic meat or dairy. The corporations and government want either to apply more pressure to ease the organic standards to allow GMOs (this has always been a fond wish at USDA) or else wipe out the sector completely. That’s why Agriculture Secretary Vilsack and the industrial organic sector tried to put over their alfalfa “co-existence” compromise in 2011.
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*Even as the US government continues to lie about how the TTIP, TPP, and CETA would legally empower corporations directly to sue countries based on nothing but the most fairytale unmet profiteering expectations, TransCanada is now suing the US government based precisely on such a fish story. Of course these legal assaults via investor-state-dispute-settlement (ISDS) have been ongoing under NAFTA, CAFTA, and many bilateral globalization deals for over twenty years now. We know for a fact that the TPP and TTIP would vastly escalate these stickups.
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Globalization and the compacts concluded under it have zero to do with legitimate demand-based trade. On the contrary, they drive a supply-based gangster economy where the corporate sectors use government subsidies and government muscle to force projects and products nobody wants upon supine populations.
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January 5, 2016

How Does Monsanto Plan to Deploy the Terminator on a Mass Scale?

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According to lore, Monsanto halted its drive to commercialize GMOs containing the Terminator gene when Gordon Conway of the Rockefeller Foundation warned the company that its extreme aggressiveness was becoming so politically reckless and counterproductive as to put the entire GMO project at risk.
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Whatever the motivation, it’s true that Monsanto announced in 1999 it was not pursuing commercialization of the Terminator. This was followed in 2000 by an international moratorium on development and commercial approval of this technology, voted under the UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The moratorium was reaffirmed in 2006 at the CBD meeting held in Brazil.
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[The Terminator, AKA a “GURT” (Genetic Use Restriction Technology), is a transgene which would cause the plants containing it to produce sterile seeds. This would render patent enforcement moot, since it would become physically impossible to save and replant seed from such a GMO. Some versions can be rendered fertile, i.e. the Terminator gene can be counteracted if the seed is coated with an antibiotic or some other chemical. So we see how, in addition to simplifying seed monopoly, the Terminator allows those deploying it to dream of inserting it into all commercial crop seed and then forcing all seed growers to buy the antidote from them.
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Could the Terminator spread chaotically to other crops and wild plants, rendering them sterile? As usual with genetic engineering, no one has the slightest idea. Anyone who claims to know this wouldn’t happen is a liar.
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The Terminator was developed jointly by Delta & Pine Land seed company and the USDA. These jointly hold the patent. In the late 1990s Monsanto’s attempt to buy DPL fell through, in part because of political outcry over the prospect of Monsanto’s gaining control of the Terminator technology. But in 2006 Monsanto was able to buy the company with little opposition.]
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We can take it for granted that Monsanto’s own Terminator moratorium has been purely a temporary expedient, and that their plan remains the same as always, to deploy the Terminator on a mass scale. The GURT must look especially attractive as GMOs expand beyond the range of the secure Western intellectual property regime. Brazil is troublesome for IP control in seeds, with many farmers allegedly saving and replanting GM soybeans without paying Monsanto’s tax. This has led to politically draining court battles and the very difficult process of Monsanto’s attempt to force traders to collect the tax on its behalf. Monsanto faces similar headaches collecting its taxes in Argentina. China of course is a problematic market from the point of view of patent enforcement. Africa’s an unknown quantity even if the US/UK/Monsanto colonization plan is able to conquer significant territory. Monsanto’s dream of conquering Iraqi agriculture, impeccable on paper as decreed by the US occupation regime, fizzled out for the inability to enforce it in physical reality.
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It’s clear that Monsanto needs to deploy the Terminator if it’s to have any hope of gaining the total control and power it seeks. So what’s one way this might happen? Here’s a way which seems plausible to me. Let’s list some facts.
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1. Monsanto’s Intacta soybean, developed specially for cultivation in Brazil and commercially introduced in 2013, is the first Monsanto product developed for a non-US market. (Intacta is a stacked product which is Roundup Ready and contains the Cry1AC Bt toxin vs. lepidopteran pests. But in Brazil glyphosate is failing against resistant superweeds and may render the soybean crop more susceptible to fungal infections. Across the world Cry1AC has widely failed in cotton, generating resistant superbugs. Just as Cry1F, deployed in maize GMOs, has widely collapsed in Brazil against the target armyworm, so we can anticipate Intacta’s vulnerability. According to Monsanto itself, feeding upon it may even strengthen some of the intended target pests. A 2015 study also found that Intacta yields less than non-GM conventional soybeans. So Intacta is triply a plagued, failing product just two years after it was put on the market.)
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2. In 2013 Brazilian officials negotiated a deal to export Intacta soybeans to China. In spite of some early indications that China would insist on a non-GM supply, it eventually agreed to accept Brazil’s general soybean commodity stream.
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3. For years China has been trying to develop its own GMO industry. Chinese state enterprises have worked on this themselves (many entries in the Developer list to the right), and perhaps in collaboration with DuPont (the story here is sketchy). In 2015 ChemChina made a bid to buy Syngenta.
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4. China is notorious for being an intellectual property scofflaw. Western patents and copyrights are frequently disrespected there.
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5. Soybeans are the most easily pirated crops, since they’re not hybrids like commodity maize, but open-pollinated.
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6. Obviously Monsanto’s Intacta patents are at some risk here.
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7. In late 2013 pro-Monsanto forces in Brazil launched a new attempt to gut the country’s 2005 Biosafety Law and have the country break the 10+ year moratorium on the Terminator. (These legislative attempts have been ongoing since 2005.) This is ironic since the moratorium was last reaffirmed in Brazil. Proponents claim to want to put the Terminator only in GM eucalyptus and other vegetatively propagated crops, but the proposal has enough loopholes and vagueness as to be indefinitely stretchable. So far this attempt has been beaten back, largely as the result of massive international grassroots pressure organized by the ETC Group. But the pro-GMO activists in the legislature continue to reintroduce the bill.
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8. Brazilian regulators approved GM eucalyptus in 2015.
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There’s the facts. What can we deduce from there? Obviously if the Terminator were to be incorporated in one product, it would quickly be deployed in others. In this case GM eucalyptus would be the camel’s nose in the tent. All of Monsanto’s interests say that Brazil and China are two places it would find the Terminator most useful. Therefore the indications point to Intacta as being the first major GMO into which Monsanto would want to engineer the Terminator gene. Grown in Brazil, exported mostly to China and other non-Western countries – perhaps it might not immediately generate a political firestorm in the West. (Some Intacta is exported to the EU for use in food and feed. European campaigners, recently seconded by a Norwegian government scientific assessment, have opposed it on food safety grounds. But no doubt the EFSA would deem a Terminator version of Intacta not to require a new review.)
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And then, once the Terminator was deployed in one major commercial GMO, it would be expanded to many or all of the others.
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So there’s one plausible scenario for the Terminator’s future.
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Campaigners around the world need to join with ETC and Brazilian campaigners to hinder the GM eucalyptus project and thwart the plan to have Brazil break the Terminator moratorium.
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April 9, 2015

Scientism and the Secret “Science” on Roundup

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Three Chinese citizens are suing the government trying to force it to disclose the secret information it has on Roundup and the process by which it approved Roundup. We see how the Chinese government is at one with those of the US and EU in wanting to help Monsanto and other corporations keep the actual evidence about the severely toxic and cancer-causing effects of chemicals like Roundup secret from the people. What’s more, these corporations and governments evidently hold to an entirely new concept and paradigm of “science” under which the alleged scientific evidence is to be kept secret from the people, and research materials themselves made available to researchers only under corporate supervision. Instead, government and media elites are to publicly release whatever information the corporations see fit to publicize, this is to be christened as “science”, and the people are supposed to believe it on faith. This is a significant departure from previous scientific practice and in direct contradiction of the self-image and propaganda of today’s capital-S “Science” (i.e. scientism). Yet evidently the mainstream of the STEM and academic establishment supports this new concept and practice of secret alleged science. Therefore, today’s scientific establishment is nothing more or less than an authoritarian cult.
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The fact is that by definition there cannot be secret scientific evidence. By definition evidence has to be publicized, so we can assume that the secrecy is in fact a cover-up. We must assume that whatever evidence does exist condemns glyphosate (and GMOs) as harmful to health and the environment, which is the reason why corporations and governments want to keep this evidence secret. Meanwhile the public assurances that agricultural poisons are safe, indeed that the system ever tested them for safety at all, are nothing but propaganda and lies, and “our” regulators and media are part of this conscious, willful campaign of deceit. No rational model of science or democracy can come to any other conclusion.

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February 13, 2015

GMO News Summary February 13, 2015

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*In India, the new state government of Maharashtra will allow field trials of GM cotton, maize, rice, brinjal (eggplant), and chickpea. Maharashtra issued a No Objection Certificate (NOC), allowing the central government to approve the trials. In India the states have the right to refuse to allow field trials within their territory. Most states have refused to issue these NOCs, and so field trials are officially disallowed. Delhi University also received approval to trial GM mustard. The rationales given for these field trials are typical scams – that they’re testing “drought resistant” and “nitrogen efficiency” GMOs. Neither of these exists. This comes even as crashing commodity prices at harvest time this year cost Indian cotton and maize farmers vast revenue (Rs 12000 crore), while state farmer supports continue to be eroded. A recent study found that from 1996 to 2013 the government’s Minimum Support Price for a range of industrial crops including maize, cotton, and soybeans has only covered 45-72% of farmer costs. Farming in India becomes increasingly unviable for any but the richest farmers.
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*Undeterred by the poor agronomic and economic (for the farmers) results of its first season of a demonstration commercial release of four Bt brinjal varieties, the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) plans to release five more varieties this year. This project, developed by Mahyco and funded by BARI and USAID (corporate welfare, all profits to go to Monsanto-Mahyco) is going forward in spite of the fact that it has zero rationale, was an economic disaster for many of the farmers who participated in the first season, that the crops performed poorly, thast Mahyco’s own tests found toxic effects, that BARI has gone ahead with these releases without performing the slightest environmental or health assessments, that there exist over 4000 regionally adapted brinjal varieties in Southeast Asia, that Southeast Asia is the world center of brinjal origin and diversity, and that a corporate monoculture program like this threatens this agricultural biodiversity, as all GMOs do.
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*Polish farmers are using tractors to block roads and picket government offices as they make four demands which they regard as critical to alleviate economic crises in Polish agriculture. The four demands are: Reject foreign land-grabbing of Polish farmland (slated to be legalized in 2016); decriminalize direct retail farm sales (this is one of the surest ways for farmers to get off the commodification treadmill and regain economic self-determination; Poland has draconian rules effectively outlawing it); allow inheritance of lease rights to farmland; ban GMOs.
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*Farmers and companies have filed more than 360 lawsuits against Syngenta for marketing its Viptera maize before getting import approval from China. As a result, starting in November 2013 China began rejecting US maize shipments which tested positive for Viptera. This cost US growers and commodifiers lost $1-3 billion in revenue through the 2014 season. China rejected a total of over 131 million bushels. The suits have been filed in twenty states, and hundreds more may be coming. A federal judge is currently mulling whether to combine them into a class action. China finally approved Viptera in December.
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*GMO labeling bills have been introduced in the legislatures of Indiana and Minnesota. The Indiana bill would also ban the use of the term “natural” on products containing GMOs.
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*A federal judge granted the motion of the Center for Food Safety, Our Family Farms Coalition, and several local farmers to intervene as co-defendants in the industry lawsuit against Jackson County, Oregon. In May 2014 the county voted by a wide margin (66%) to ban GMO cultivation as an economic and contamination assault on the true farmers of the county. They’re now being sued by contract “farmers” who are really cartel proxies.
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This spring Benton County will vote on a combined community rights, food sovereignty, GMO ban initiative.

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July 4, 2014

GMO News Summary July 4th 2014

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*In honor of Independence Day we celebrate the recent successes and ongoing action of the Community Rights movement. This movement to abolish alien corporate power over communities and regions looks to become a key part of the rising anti-corporate movement. This movement shall be at the core of the second stage of the American Revolution. We’re currently undergoing the oppressions and humiliations of the New Stamp Acts and Intolerable Acts being perpetrated by the corporate state. Here’s a salute to one of the promising new movements seeking to break corporate power.
 
*In the latest victory, the New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, ruled that municipalities have the right to use zoning and land use policy to ban oil and gas drilling. This was only a partial victory within an adverse framework, as the court found that the community has rights which were delegated to it by the state, but reaffirmed the state’s alleged dominion over communities. Therefore it’s not a community rights ruling, and movement work is needed in New York to build the consciousness and resolve among communities to reject the state itself where this becomes necessary. As things are, the court has invited the state legislature to pass a new law overriding fracking bans on any grounds whatsoever. The court’s decision is therefore what I’d call a passive corporatist decision.
 
But nevertheless the ruling does find that even within corporatism there are grounds for communities to limit and reject the corporate prerogative. It’s a step toward the necessary goal of community rejection of all corporate state prerogatives and “authority” and reassertion of the community’s rightful sovereignty.
 
*A new report from the EU’s council of environmental ministers surveys some of the environmental effects of the herbicide tolerant GMO genre. It confirms the fact that HT GMOs do not increase yield over non-GM conventional. It confirms the universal pattern, that the introduction of HT crops may (but doesn’t always) cause a brief initial decline in overall herbicide use, but that this quickly reverses. HT GMOs soon come to require greater herbicide use than non-GM conventional agriculture, and this difference increases over time. The report also further confirms the consensus that GMOs yield more poorly than non-GM conventional and organic crops.
 
The report also finds that HT GMO system is a threat to biodiversity and explores the ways that herbicide tolerance spreads through feral growth of GMOs like Roundup Ready canola and contamination of related wild plants. It discusses the bioweapons arms race as the GMO system causes weeds to evolve greater resistance to an ever-widening spectrum of herbicides. It discusses how herbicide residue weakens the crops themselves.
 
It makes one mistake, frequently citing the alleged benefits of the “chemical no-till” system without mentioning that as superweeds overwhelm HT GMO systems, farmers return not only to supposedly obsolete herbicides but to tillage as well.
 
The report finds that for policy purposes the HT GMO system should be compared with low external input agroecology, whose practices and results are superior in every way. The report concludes that from an environmental perspective “Herbicide tolerant crops are not part of the solution, but are part of the problem”.
 
*The German government (Germany is the EU’s “rapporteur state” for glyphosate) and the EFSA continue to refuse to release to the public the secret toxicity tests which allegedly find glyphosate safe enough that the Allowed Daily Intake should be nearly doubled, as the German government is recommending. This refusal is now flouting a 2013 order from the European Court of Justice that studies relevant to environmental pollutants must be release to the public. The government bureaucracies refuse to give we the people our information on the grounds of “commercial confidentiality”. In other words the corporate bureaucracy doesn’t want the government bureaucracy to publicize how poisonous to human and animal health glyphosate really is. 
 
What does this prove?
 
1. Glyphosate is extremely toxic to humans and animals. If the data didn’t prove this, Monsanto and its flunkey governments would be thrilled to publicize the fact.
 
2. As I’ve always said, government regulators do not serve the people nor are they designed to. They consciously see themselves as serving the corporate “client”, and were designed for this purpose in the first place. What else would common sense expect of a regulator within a pro-corporate government which is aggressively promoting a corporatist economic and political system? It’s quite insane to expect an inherently corporatist regulator to behave in the public interest.
 
3. Since transparency is a bedrock principle and practice of science, it follows that it’s impossible to support GMOs and other agricultural poisons from a scientific point of view. On the contrary, such support, which must include support for the secrecy policy, is radically opposed to science. 
 
*The US and other governments will oppose a UN working group dedicated to enforcing a new treaty which would require transnational corporations to abide by human rights and not commit crimes against humanity. It’s easy to see why the US government, dedicated to supporting corporate crime of aggression everywhere on earth, opposes this.
 
*You can register for a webinar on how the TTIP is being planned as a major weapon in the GMO assault on Europe, and will also be used against rational regulation of GMOs and other poisons in the US.
 
*China’s food quarantine agency is reported to have suspended import licenses for distillers’ grain solubles (a corn product used in CAFO feed) from the US after a series of rejected US shipments due to contamination by an unapproved GM variety.
 
*Boycott Coca-Cola and all its brands for its incorrigible and hypocritical funding of anti-labeling campaigns in California and Washington. In Washington in 2013 Coca-Cola and other food manufacturers were too cowardly to openly espouse their anti-democracy position, but instead illegally and cravenly spent the money secretly, through the Grocery Manufacturers Association, Monsanto’s group which coordinates the actions of the manufacturers on its behalf.

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June 13, 2014

GMO News Summary June 13th, 2014

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*The Organic Consumers Association is renewing its call for a boycott of all the brands, including certified organic brands, of the members of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA). The GMA is Monsanto’s main conduit for mainstream propaganda and its main attack dog vs. the people’s labeling campaigns. The GMA is also the impresario of the pre-emptive DARK Act now being bruited in Congress.
 
*An open letter from 815 scientists worldwide and counting deplores the reckless release of GMOs with zero scientific study in accordance with the Precautionary Principle, along with the known socioeconomic and environmental evils of poison-based agriculture. It calls for abolishing GMOs and patents on seeds and the worldwide embrace of agroecology. Like similar previous letters, it also self-evidently refutes the canned lie that there’s a scientific “consensus” in favor of GMOs.
 
The letter is posted at the website of the Children of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance and Agent Orange Dioxin Survivors Uniting Internationally, as part of humanity’s campaign to halt the spread of Agent Orange GMOs.
 
*A new Canadian study confirms the growing consensus that GMO-based agriculture is decimating the monarch butterfly population. The omnipresent spaying of glyphosate has wiped out milkweed, the monarch’s only egg-laying and larval diet plant, across wide swaths of the monarch’s breeding grounds in the US midwest.
 
*DuPont shareholders have filed a $1 billion lawsuit against the CEO and several directors for forcing an incompetent strategy and research program upon the company. This involves DuPont’s failed attempt to develop its own glyphosate-tolerant GMO technology. In the aftermath of this failure DuPont lost a $1 billion lawsuit to Monsanto over a dispute involving DuPont’s licensing of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready trait.
 
*First death squads, now Monsanto seeds and herbicides. The US government just keeps on “aiding” El Salvador.
 
*From Western Australia, a typical example of the rigorous anti-contamination measures at GMO field trial sites. The “Jill” quoted in the piece seems to be some kind of pro-GM whistleblower, since her revelations are interspersed with typical canned lies.
 
*China continues with its campaign to control the spread of GMO cultivation and use in food. China’s government is certainly not anti-GMO, but wants to maintain control of China’s food destiny, unlike the countries which have come completely under the US/Monsanto thumb. China, perhaps in consortium with Russia, intends to build its own rival GMO cartel.
 
Abolitionists must always embrace anything which hinders the advance of the GMO cartel while not supporting “alternatives” which are not alternatives. We don’t want a GMO version of the Cold War, but the self-assertion of global farmers and eaters against all who would control our agriculture and food.
 
*Maui’s SHAKA movement has gotten on the ballot with its ordinance requiring a moratorium on GMO cultivation.

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