Volatility

May 2, 2017

Non-GM Supply Chain Reforms, Their Potential and Their Limits

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Cargill is among the most powerful of the commodifiers who receive grain shipments from farmers, variously process the grains, and sell the grain products to food manufacturers. Commodifiers and input suppliers (sellers of seed, fertilizer, and pesticides, such as Monsanto) together maintain control of agriculture and have great power over the food supply. Therefore Cargill’s increasing participation in building a non-GMO supply chain is an important expansion of the restoration of the non-GM conventional sector. Food manufacturers and retailers increasingly have wanted to provide non-GMO products, but theirs is a relatively weak position. It’s very difficult for them to enforce changes in the supply chain from the buyer side. But when key elements of the supply side itself, commodifiers like Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland, are doing structural work toward building the alternative supply chain, it’ll become much easier for more manufacturers to choose this in deference to the demands of consumers.
 
 
This is an example of capitalism trying to save itself by reforming itself. Most of the corporate food chain, at least from manufacturer to end consumer, regards GMOs as a worthless, gratuitous, costly, politically inflammatory imposition upon them. From their point of view Monsanto is nothing but parasitic and predatory.
 
The response of Monsanto and its cultist fanboys proves once again that they are nothing more or less than religious fanatics and gangsters. They’re capitalists who in their shrill and feverish rhetoric turn against capitalism itself the moment other capitalists, who don’t share their religious commitment to this worthless technology, try to make a profit without it. Cargill’s CEO is quoted: “There’s a growing group of people who don’t want GMO ingredients. So let’s develop a supply chain for that, rather than say, ‘You’re wrong if you don’t want GMOs.’ Our mind-set is we’re going to empathize and understand the consumer on what they want in their food.”
 
As we’ve long known, “capitalism”, “property”, “contracts”, “satisfying the customer” are not values for the corporations and mean nothing to them. The ideology of these is only a set of lies they use and abuse as convenient toward their real goals of religion and power. We see this with Monsanto in its attacks on Chipotle, Dannon, and others who act in a truly rational capitalist way toward GMOs, treating these merely from the point of view of their profitability. Meanwhile the attitude of the pro-GMO capitalists is one of the best examples of how, contrary to its propaganda, capitalism usually is non-rational and irrational. Of course Cargill is doing this now only from this profit-seeking perspective, and only extreme naivete would see them as “good guys” or something, the way so many did with the Campbell’s PR scam.
 
(As for the “farmers” whose tweets are quoted in Ken Roseboro’s piece on Cargill, they’re likely paid trolls who may not even be farmers at all. Nor should humanity have any tolerance for the kind of farmer who willingly injects poison into our food, water, and environment. As for the content of their whining, how are they “suppliers” or anything else which implies agency? They’re slaves, 100% of their own volition. They’re willing slaves to Monsanto as well as to commodifiers like Cargill. So if they’re ever discomfited by a difference of opinion among their masters, they have no one to blame but themselves. Meanwhile anyone with a true farmer ethic supports anything which helps break the stranglehold on our food – first abolishing GMOs, then poisons as a whole, and then corporations as a whole. Any true farmer realizes the overriding importance of conserving and rebuilding the non-GM grain supply sector and improving its economy of scale. This is critical for non-GM farming, the organic sector, and most of all the rising community food sector.)
 
Roseboro’s piece finishes well: “The simple reason is that more and more people don’t want foods containing GMOs. If GMO technology is so great proponents should proudly feature it on food labels instead of trying to hide it and attacking companies and people that don’t want to use or eat the technology’s dubious fruits.” This is self-evident and indisputable. The pro-GMO activists claim to be so proud of their product in theory, yet in practice they’re obviously deeply embarrassed by it and ashamed of it to the point that they don’t want people to know when it’s there. Imagine if what you considered your great affirmative endeavor were so slimy that you had to skulk around in disguise like a pervert in a raincoat slinking into a porn theater.
 
 
Strategically, it seems superficially that the labelists are making progress toward their goal of reforming corporate industrial agriculture to purge it of GMOs. By the same token, corporations from Cargill to Dannon to McDonald’s evidently believe that the consumer movement against GMOs really is nothing more than a narrow-minded consumerist campaign, and that the labelists and “anti-GMO” people really don’t care about Food Sovereignty or the community food sector, at best care about the industrial organic sector, and really don’t care about pesticides either, but are just targeting this one product genre and can be appeased by giving them “non-GM” alternatives.
 
Indeed, a Bloomberg headline goes against common sense when it calls the Non-GMO Project an “anti-GMO group”. Since the Project, along with the rest of the testing sector, depends for its own rationale and funding upon the existence of GMOs and widespread contamination by them, by what logic could they be considered “anti-GMO”? The whole testing sector, and the whole complex of NGOs dedicated to seeking GMO labeling, depends upon co-existence, to use the cartel’s own term. This is simple capitalism and bureaucratic self-perpetuation as well, along with an ingrained ideological tendency inherent to reformism as such. (And of course even this bare minimum of reform has to assume: That it’s possible even now to sustain a non-GM supply chain, given how rampant contamination already is; how with many crops it’s impossible to prevent contamination; and how the very term and concept “non-GMO” keeps being diluted as the allowed level of “adventitious presence” mechanically and inexorably is increased. This is a fraud built into the whole notion of the co-existence of GMOs with non-GM products.)
 
 
We who work to abolish corporate industrial agriculture and build Food Sovereignty understand that no reformism within the corporate system or within industrial agriculture is possible or desirable. Therefore while we stand ready to use every opportunity to build community food and to condemn the evils and lies of the corporations and the technocratic cult, we must never be lulled into thinking reform is working well toward the necessary goals, or that it can become a goal in itself.
 
It’s not possible for corporate industrial agriculture to save itself. Industrial agriculture is doomed physically to collapse. At the same time, in spite of whatever short run calculations are shared by Cargill, the Non-GMO Project, and the labelist faction, in the long run GMOs as a primary mode of control over agriculture, food, and from there all of civilization, are too important for the corporate system to let them go without a war. So while the delays and obstructions forced by the reform campaigns are good, in the long run these won’t suffice. The system will, for as long as it has the power, force GMOs into our food supply and into agricultural and ecosystem genetics.
 
GMOs are physically totalitarian and politically totalitarian. For both these reasons humanity cannot co-exist with them, and therefore they must be abolished completely. And because industrial agriculture also is physically unsustainable and is guaranteed to collapse completely, even if GMOs could be abolished via the reform route while leaving conventional industrial agriculture in place, this would solve nothing toward the great looming food crisis and the great affirmative need for the global transformation to agroecology.
 
It’s true that the eventual physical collapse will bring an end to further GMO deployment once and for all and “abolish” them in that way. But until then they will wreak physical and cultural havoc, with incalculable reverberation effects long after Monsanto is dead and buried. Their existential presence will be much like the long run reverberation effects of extreme greenhouse gas concentrations, long after humanity’s artificial emissions have stopped. That’s why it’s insufficient for humanity to wait for the system to collapse. By then the contamination chaos will be wreaking dire, extreme harm, just as with climate chaos. These are among the practical reasons humanity must take its fate in its hands and build the transformation movement of its own free will and abolish corporate agriculture of its own agency, rather than waiting passively for the collapse. That’s in addition to the spiritual need freely and affirmatively to undertake the transformation work.
 
Unless we want the worst for ourselves and our progeny, we must affirmatively transform. This movement action must go hand in hand with the abolition action. Only this synergy will galvanize our spirit and provide the political basis for the affirmative work to go on in the face of the enemy’s obstruction and repression attempts. The squabbling in the media over “non-GMO” consumerist projects are just that, squabbles within consumerism over petty consumer “choices”. This is a tiny ripple amid the rising flood. Much bigger forces drive and comprise the flood tide, and much bigger forces must be deployed in order for us to swim amid it.
 
 
 
 

January 25, 2016

Chipotle

Filed under: Food and Farms, Mainstream Media, Relocalization — Tags: , — Russ @ 10:41 am

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As Chipotle was blamed for E. coli outbreaks, the corporate media piled on, blaming the chain’s local produce sourcing. The Schadenfreude was palpable, against both the chain and its customers. Chipotle itself was spooked into a partial disavowal of its own proclaimed philosophy even though the evidence never supported the allegation that local sourcing had anything to do with the outbreak. It seems like Chipotle panicked and rushed to appease the mob.
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Some analysts agreed:
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Ultimately, though, Chipotle will need to step back from its ‘food with integrity’ corporate ethos and become a more traditional fast/casual chain. Foods, including all produce (not just tomatoes), spices, and meats, will need to be centrally sourced and prepared to realize the economies of scale that are necessary to profitably integrate costly periodic food testing…

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There was little room for facts or thought amid the media firestorm. While there is at least a correlation between Chipotle and the E. coli outbreaks, by all accounts it was simply a lie to blame the local sourcing model.
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In December the Centers for Disease Control stated, “The epidemiologic evidence available at this time suggests that a common meal item or ingredient served at Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurants in several states is a likely source of this outbreak.” This would rule out the locally sourced produce the corporate media gleefully rushed to finger as the culprit. This witch hunt atmosphere provided the background for the New York Times’s recent slander of farmers’ markets. There’s clearly no end to the junk reasoning and innuendo the pro-poison media will propagate as their cancer-causing system comes under increasing scrutiny. And, I feel safe assuming, no retractions from media or “experts”.
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Therefore the CDC itself vouches for the fact that the source had to be part of the chain’s centralized distribution, unless it was a bioterrorist attack using similar pathogens at several locations at once. (I haven’t heard of any special evidence for this latter thesis, though the record of the pro-GM activists is vile enough that we know they’re capable of it. Given their outpourings of hatred for Chipotle since it announced it was going partially non-GMO, the possibility can’t be rejected out of hand. The only thing we know for sure is that locally sourced ingredients weren’t to blame.)
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If Chipotle has been the source of these outbreaks, the vector was central sourcing, the same centralizing scourge of the whole corporate industrial food system. Therefore, far from these events being a reason for Chipotle to retreat from its identity, this is the time for it to reaffirm and strengthen its commitment. Many commentators and analysts agree.
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Fast food is a toxic and unsustainable model across the board, and no one should romanticize Chipotle. Nevertheless, given our dawning situation where in so many ways so many growers, suppliers, processors, and consumers are trying to find their way toward less poisoned, better quality, more relocalized food, Chipotle’s partial efforts on local sourcing and purging some GMO ingredients are steps in the right direction. It’s best to purge fast food and industrial food completely, and once we do this we can wash our hands completely of these kinds of squabbles among the system. In the meantime it’s best to be aware of the lies and give moral support to those who are on the vector.
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While Chipotle may be suffering from weaknesses inherent to the very model of centralization the analyst quoted above touts, we need to stick up for local food and encourage local sourcing on the part of bigger operations. Like I detailed above, the same media lie we see here also strikes much deeper at our farmers’ markets and our generally growing direct retail community food sector. So I’m writing this post not for Chipotle’s sake, but for the sake of the local sourcing model, which the corporate media rightly sees as an enemy of the centralized poison-based agriculture and food system it worships.

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