Volatility

July 29, 2018

Notes on the Industrial Organic Sector

 
 
1. A few years back there were some false rumors, which may have started as satire, that Monsanto was buying Whole Foods Market. This stemmed from the fact that Whole Foods Market, Stonyfield and others joined with Obama’s secretary of agriculture Tom Vilsack to try to make a “co-existence” deal with Monsanto over Roundup Ready alfalfa. This was a backdoor way to try to water down organic standards. The USDA always has wanted to include GMOs within the organic standards, and the industrial organic sector, reliant as it is on the “natural” label scam, has no objections. Lots of rhetoric followed which eventually led to the false rumors. The prosaic truth is that industrial organic is industrial first and organic a distant second. The sector is not committed to anything beyond what it sees as effective marketing and profiteering. WFM’s CEO at the time Jeff Mackey openly said that WFM touts “organic” and “natural” purely as a marketing gimmick, and he explicitly repudiated any ecological or public health philosophy beyond that. This mirrors the USDA’s appraisal of its own organic certification program: According to the agency organic food is no better or healthier than poison-based food, but is merely a kind of lifestyle ornament.
 
What’s not a rumor is the fact that BASF and Cargill are members of the Organic Trade Association. Nor is this a surprise, as the OTA represents the industrial sector and shares the USDA/WFM view of organic agriculture and food as merely a branding device. That’s why the OTA consistently has worked to water down NOSB standards, and that’s why it supported the 2016 DARK Act which put a stake in the heart of the GMO labeling movement by co-opting it in a sham fashion, as I predicted for years would happen.
 
2. Many system NGOs are dedicated to performing a pro-corporate, pro-globalization triangulator role. Some oppose pesticides and GMOs but want FDA control of produce, or of GMO labeling. Some oppose pesticides and GMOs but support expanded use of synthetic fertilizers, themselves a major pollutant, driver of climate change, and basis of pesticide monoculture. In reality it’s not possible to support synthetic fertilizers and not effectively support the entire apparatus of agribusiness and poison-based agriculture. Even the USDA organic certification acknowledges this.
 
In the guise of debunking some pro-GMO lies they reinforce others and in general reinforce the lies of corporate industrial agriculture, commodity farming, and globalization. In the course of it they implicitly attack Food First and other organizations truly dedicated to fighting hunger, and who document and publish the truths of food production and economics. Just like how industrial organic’s lobbying arm Just Label It stressed labeling but supported GMOs on other points, as well as supporting corporate agriculture and food as such, with the eventual result I predicted for years: In 2016 the labeling strategy reached its logical end with the passage of what I called DARK Act Plan B.
 
This reflects the industrial organic agenda. This globalized commodity sector: 1. Opposes food-based agriculture, just as much as the GM cartel and any other commodity sector does. 2. Joins hands with Monsanto in trying to suppress the facts and propagate lies about food production, the environment, and hunger. 3. It diverges from the GM/pesticide cartel on some specifics regarding GMOs. (But not on fertilizer.) These seem to be chosen cynically, with an eye toward continuing to receive some corporate funding. Thus EWG refutes the “feed the world” lie where it comes specifically to GMOs but supports this big lie in general, while Just Label It supported the lie that GMOs have been tested and found to be safe.
 
All this is intended to serve a gate-keeping function, since any real abolition movement would be a threat to: 1. Industrial organic’s leadership of the food movement, 2. The sector’s very existence, which after all is just as dependent on corporate welfare, the parasite paradigm, the whole globalization system.
 
As far as the official certification, organic is nothing more or less than what the USDA says it is, by definition. When the USDA issued its original proposal for an organic certification in the 1990s, this proposed rule would have allowed GMOs to be certified “organic”. Only massive pressure from farmers and consumers forced them to back down and rewrite the standard to exclude GMOs. But the agency has not changed its mind about thinking they should be allowed, just as it has never changed its official opinion that organic agricultural practices and food are no safer or healthier but just add up to a set of “lifestyle” products. The USDA’s basic position on GMOs is that they’re not only safe but normative, and that the environment and food system should maximally be contaminated and transformed. (They would say “improved” or something similar; they call GM seeds “improved seeds”.) They’ve not only approved every GMO application without exception but are doing all they can to declare whole classes of GMOs to be outside their jurisdiction and unregulatable. It’s not every day you see a bureaucracy voluntarily giving up vast swathes of its power. Only extreme ideology could drive such a thing.
 
So much for the USDA. As for industrial organic, the likes of Jeff Mackey openly say that they subscribe to no organic philosophy but view the whole thing as a marketing ploy. Gary Hirshberg never misses a chance to try to euthanize activism, like with his endorsement of the QR code as an allegedly acceptable labeling compromise*. And although the Fabers were unable to reach a deal with Vilsack and the GMA in January 2016, they rushed out to justify the basic paradigm of secret elite conclaves toward some “compromise” which then can be handed down to the people. So there’s the basic attitude of the economic and cultural elites of the movement. As for standard practice, just look at the “natural” scam which is near-universal among them. If they’re willing to surreptitiously sell you GMOs and Roundup in your food (at a premium, no less!) while calling it “natural”, they’d certainly love to do the same by calling it “organic”. They’ve already slipped such poisons as gut-busting carrageenan into the certification standards.
 
Their most clear-cut political ploy was the attempted “co-existence” deal over GM alfalfa which Vilsack tried to broker between the industrial organic sector and Monsanto. The USDA itself in its Environmental Impact Review admitted that over the long run GM alfalfa cannot co-exist with non-GM. This means that legalizing the GM product is tantamount to rendering much of certified organic meat and dairy untenable – unless the standard is changed to allow some level of GM presence in the hay. Obviously Vilsack, WFM, Stonyfield, etc. knew this when they tried to make the deal. So unless one thinks they want certified organic meat and dairy to cease to exist, the only alternative is that they want to see the organic certification standard changed to allow GMOs.
 
Why would industrial organic do such things? In their perfect world, they could sell the same industrial junk but slap the “organic” brand on it and charge a premium. They already do exactly that with the term “natural” (which is why they’re hostile toward any labeling policy like Vermont’s which would end this terminological scam). They cherish the same desire as that of the USDA, to allow GMOs under the “organic” name. That’s why they always felt dissonance and ambivalence toward the idea of GMO labeling. They got involved only as a PR campaign. But as we saw with the history of JLI, AGree, etc., what they really wanted was to control and manage the labeling campaign, in the same way EPA “manages” Roundup and dioxins, and mainstream environmental groups help the corporations manage ecological destruction. They want to control it in such a way that they get the PR benefit while forestalling any reality of a strong, honest labeling policy. JLI, Hirshberg and the GMA are Roundup-burnt peas in a pod.
 
We’ve seen how in response to the Steve Marsh lawsuit there was a major propaganda campaign to the effect that Australia’s organic standards are too strict and need to be relaxed to allow some level of “adventitious presence”. The OTA and the industrial organic sector are leading same campaign in the US. Anywhere this relaxation is enacted, the level of contamination allowed under the standard then will begin a mechanical upward creep, in exactly the same way that pesticide “tolerances” are mechanically raised by regulators as more pesticides are used.
 
That exact same mechanical raising of the allowed level of GM presence also will occur with any labeling policy which is ever enacted, which is one of the reasons why labeling was the wrong idea in the first place. In Europe the 0.9% standard is under strong pressure from the industry to be raised.
 
*The whole attitude that “compromise” is possible and desirable is the same as to say that “co-existence” with Monsanto and GMOs is desirable, and that it’s physically possible at all.
 
3. Some people are more interested in premium niche marketing than in the food sovereignty and abolition imperatives. In many cases it’s obvious, as in the long and ongoing history of small organic companies selling out to big conglomerates. No doubt they’d often claim they were under financial duress and had no choice, and maybe once in awhile that’s true. The system is heavily stacked against healthy, ecological farming and food.
 
But far more often it’s simply taken for granted on an ideological level that a successful entrepreneur sells out at some point to a big corporation. Most entrepreneurs seem to regard this as a “natural” part of some kind of business life cycle, in the same way we physically go from childhood to adolescence to adulthood. But this conventional capitalist mindset cannot coexist with the ecological philosophy and imperative, any more than non-GM crops can coexist with GM for long in the most physical sense.
 
4. Is the USDA organic certification a decadence?** People with money are willing to pay more for what’s good (or at least better) while tolerating the general deterioration, rather than resolving to put an end to what’s bad so we can all have what’s good? I’m fighting to abolish poison-based agriculture and build food sovereignty. I regard the place of organics only from a strategic and tactical point of view. But I’m certain that the goal itself isn’t to expand organics alongside the poison system. That’s impossible anyway. Coexistence is impossible, and if the poison system continues, the organic sector must eventually cease to exist in all but name, if that.
 
Foodies and corporate executives and shareholders alike (often the same people) think humanity (at least moneyed humans) can co-exist with GMOs, pesticides, climate change, etc. For them organic food, electric cars, etc. add up to an island. Monsanto’s CEO thinks he and his people eat separate food, drink separate water, breathe separate air, inhabit a separate ecology. But Certified Organic is not an island, it cannot co-exist (physically or politically) with poison-based agriculture and a poisoned environment, steadily it will be eroded, degraded, corrupted, and soon will cease to exist except in name only, if things keep going the way they are.
 
**There are several attempts underway to promulgate non-governmental organic standards which improve upon the USDA certification. These include the Real Organic Project (designed to overcome many of the abusive features of the USDA standards) and Certified Naturally Grown (designed to be more affordable for small direct retail organic farmers; the USDA system is geared to the big industrial operators). Whether any of these is a big improvement depends on the good faith of all the participants, from farmer to certifier to customer.
 
5. I write mostly about a general mindset and strategy. Most of what I write is geared to organizational and philosophical matters, not as much directly to consumer matter. But for the kind of buying follows from that, I practice and recommend doing the best one can within that framework. Buy the best you can afford, the rules being that local is better than commodified, smaller better than bigger, committed to real values rather than mercenary (especially insofar as you can perceive the mentality and goals of a producer and/or seller – is it a way of life or do they have a mini-Monsanto mentality?), organic/agroecological better than not.
 
It’s true that big corporate buyers can help all producers of non-GM crops, for food and feed, scale up to the necessary level where the products are broadly affordable for the community food sector. In other words, the more non-GM corn is bought for a big retailer’s store brand processed stuff and for their CAFO sourcing, the more affordable it will also become for small direct retail farmers to use as feed. So if producers of non-GM grain etc. saw themselves as just using the corporate sourcing toward the real goal of community sector rebuilding and stuck with that goal without becoming corrupted, the corporate sourcing would be a helpful springboard. On the other hand the more everyone, including “organic” types, see themselves as part of the same commingled commodity economic paradigm as the corporate system, the more they’ll obey the dictates of the big buyers, and the more they’ll have the time-serving house-flipping mindset that they’re only doing this for a period before they get to sell out. In that case the corporate ideology and commodity practice will completely dominate, the community food sector’s development will be hindered rather than boosted, and in the end the quality of the organic consumer product will be degraded completely like I described above.
 
6. If there arose a real movement to rebuild healthy, democratic agriculture and food, the Community Food movement and economic sector as I call it, this sector could use corporate sourcing to help scale itself up to the necessary level where wholesome food became affordable for everyone, and non-GM feed was readily affordable to direct retail farmers. The sector could build out the input and processing infrastructure it mostly lacks and badly needs. I stress, the necessary level of scaling up and building out and no bigger, based on sustainability and distribution within its own watershed and foodshed. That’s a core measure of whether such a movement exists: Is the goal to produce affordable real food for human beings, while seeking revenue only in order to support this goal and support oneself? Or is it the same old capitalism, with profit and “growth” for their own sakes (and eventually cashing in, selling out to a big buyer) the real goal, while participants just pretend to do the best they can as far as the product?
 
Obviously the big corporate buyers don’t care about these goals and want to prevent all this from being built. Which leads to the corollary that if the movement I described above doesn’t exist, if people don’t have that mindset, then not only will corporate control of the organic sector (and of much of the organic movement’s politics as well) continue to escalate, but the depressing pattern of small organic producers offering themselves to be bought up will continue. In that case the big corporate controllers eventually will erode and then gut the organic standards themselves, and that will be the end of the whole thing. They’ll do that as soon as they’re able. We already know, for example, that industrial organic is industrial first and organic second, and that they share the USDA’s goal of allowing GMOs to qualify under the “organic” standards.
 
7. Therefore I’m also not sure about even the industrial organic brands. To the extent the mindset of Food Sovereignty and building the Community Food sector actually exists, and to the extent that the growth of the organic sector helps expand and render economically more viable non-GMO sourcing for animal feed and similar staples which can then be used to build the Community Food sector – its inputs, products, and processing infrastructure – to the extent these are true, industrial organic can be a stepping stone for us.
 
But this boils down to the first question, to what extent does the Food Sovereignty mindset, as part of the public citizen mindset, actually exist, as opposed to the same old private-individual-is-an-island mindset which, even where it comes to organic and localized agriculture and food, thinks primarily in terms of “growth” and eventually selling out to a buyer.
 
And since that’s the primary question, it follows that the first necessary priority of a Food Sovereignty movement is to build this mindset, propagate knowledge of it, encourage it, recruit to it, organize on the basis of it.
 
 
 
 
 

February 24, 2016

What if They Pass the DARK Act?

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1. What would the preemption of labeling mean in itself? Labeling is not sufficient, and is conceptually flawed if envisioned as a worthwhile goal in itself. It implies the continuation of industrial agriculture and food commodification, and globalization as such. It merely seeks Better Consumerism within that framework.
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If people saw labeling as a temporary measure within the framework of an ongoing movement to abolish industrial agriculture and build Food Sovereignty, that would be good. If people saw the campaign for labeling as primarily a movement-building action, an occasion for public education, for democratic participation in a grassroots action, and to help build a permanent grassroots organization, that would be good. POE as I call it – Participation, Education, Organization.
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But labeling never could be a panacea. Especially the claim that we can expect miracles from it: Labeling = the end of Monsanto. This is highly doubtful. GMO labeling only indirectly tells us some things about the pesticide content, which is a far worse crisis. I think the most meaningful labeling campaign would have to fight for pesticide residues to be labeled/listed among the ingredients, since by any objective measure they’re intentionally inserted food additives.
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Also, just because a labeling initiative or law is passed doesn’t mean it will be enforced with any alacrity. It’s still the same old pro-Monsanto government which would be in charge of enforcement. That’s why getting an initiative or law passed would be just the first and easiest step. Then the real work of vigilance, forcing the enforcers to follow through, would begin. That, too, was a reason why the campaign needs to be, even more than just an intrinsic campaign, the building ground of a permanent grassroots organization.
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Then there’s the fact that most if not all of these initiatives and laws are riddled with loopholes, categories of food which don’t need to be labeled. That almost always includes GMO-fed meat and dairy. Actually, labeling would apply mostly to the same corporate-manufactured processed foods we ought to be getting out of our diets and economies regardless.
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When we combine the insufficient content of these labeling proposals with the fact that they are often called a self-sufficient panacea, and with the fact that the efforts have often been designed like one-off electoral campaigns rather than as processes of building permanent grassroots organizations, we can see the some of the inherent political limits of labeling campaigns.
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[See here and here for more on what the DARK Act is about; it seeks to enshrine the “voluntary” labeling sham, along with ferocious pre-emption as I described here.]
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2. The people consistently indicate that they don’t really want labeling. That is, they don’t want it as a stand-alone consumerist feature, sundered from the context of a complete affirmative (Food Sovereignty) and negative (abolitionist) movement.
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It’s clear that although the people overwhelmingly support the idea of GMO labeling in theory, their commitment to it is skin deep. As soon as the money starts flying and the propaganda noise starts booming, people are easily thrown off balance. They focus pre-existing feelings of dread on the controversy and recoil from such a meager thing as labeling, which seems to offer only a greater sense of helplessness.
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A survey done in California in September 2012 prior to the vote found that even the mention of an increase in food prices would “slightly diminish support”. This was prior to the big propaganda surge which hammered away with this lie. This musters every kind of inchoate fear. Since these days people are fearful and conservative, they shy from stimulation and don’t want anything to change. They’re easily convinced that any change will only make things worse. At any rate, they’re disinclined to undertake any change themselves. Here we have a one-off political campaign which is prone to muster elemental anxieties about poison in our food and the food we’re feeding to our children, about our ever more beleaguered personal financial position, about corporate power over us. This campaign becomes the scene of a media firestorm where people are asked, as consumers, to do nothing but vote a certain way and then implicitly to lapse back into their usual passivity. Their only payoff for having had all these fears aroused is that they gain even greater knowledge of what there is to fear, but get no new sense of what to do about any of it. Under these circumstances, is it any wonder that so many people choose to believe the lies and vote No?
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People don’t really believe the propaganda but are numbed into passivity by the volume and omnipresence of it. This is part of the job of the corporate media, to instill a sense of hopelessness in the individual, a false sense that she’s all alone with whatever objections she has, alone with whatever dissent and activism for change she’d like to undertake. The labeling campaign also instills fear about the safety of the food but doesn’t offer a productive context and course of action for this fear. It implicitly wants to leave you alone with your Yes vote and your new information.
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This is why many consumers don’t want to exercise their right to know. They’re settled in certain habits, have so many other stresses, they already know their food is poisoned and try to exist in a precarious psychological complacency about that. So they’d rather not hear about GMOs on top of everything. This supposition fits the data, that as the No propaganda surges and the noise level of the whole fight escalates, the weakly committed Yeses and the Undecided move toward No. If you’re going to stay within the bounds of passive consumerism, then does a GMO label really give you much of a new choice? Especially if you suspect, in most cases correctly, that the only result will be to discover that all your available choices have GMO labels, so that you really didn’t get more choice anyway, merely more stress.
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Labeling advocates point out that there is an individual, consumerist course of action available – change your eating habits, shun GMO products, petition manufacturers to purge them, retailers not to carry them. (Here we’re talking about doing these in an individual consumer context, not as part of a movement context.)
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But is this the likely result? What about the opposite possibility – that if labeling is enacted, people will just shrug and not change their buying and eating habits? Indeed, it might even help normalize GMOs.
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Since consumerism is inherently passive and not active, since “choice” is a pseudo-ideal that few people really want (their political and economic actions prove it), and since fear-itself induces conservatism in the choices people make, the campaign to label GMOs is bound to be at a disadvantage as soon as it becomes embroiled in a struggle. People naturally support the idea, but not enough so that they don’t abandon it as a kind of “rocking the boat” the moment they’re given a reason to fix their fears upon it.
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In itself labeling is a meager, insufficient measure. Most importantly, it’s conceptually insufficient, as it frames this critical political, socioeconomic, environmental, agronomic, and scientific issue as a matter of consumerist choice. Finally, the labeling idea is ripe to be hijacked by corporate interests or preempted by the central government, as we’re now seeing with this latest attempt in Congress.
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We can’t expect people to rouse themselves and go against the grain of their mass consciousness in any kind of ad hoc way, let alone in a way which they’ll have strong psychological reasons to resist. In order to get organic change, we first need to build an organic movement. We need to take the time and put in the work to build a movement culture where individuals find themselves as citizens, community members, members of a movement. We need to build a movement where people develop the individual self-respect to know that their action which seeks change will bring them a better world, and where they develop the political self-confidence to know that their collective action will work to bring about this bountiful change.
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We need to build a true grassroots movement, this movement has to be affirmative, and it has to seek the stark goal of total abolition of pesticides and GMOs. If we can offer people the opportunity to fight to abolish pesticides and GMOs, or to support this abolition movement with money, a vote, etc., and to do so toward affirmative goals like food freedom, food sovereignty, this offers vastly more on a psychological level than labeling by itself, which is more like yet another annoying consumer “choice”.
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(If anyone’s doubting the implicit criticism here of consumerism as such, keep in mind that poisoned food as a paradigm product class could never have arisen in the first place other than within a context of corporate/state-driven consumerism.)
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3. Consumerist labeling is really part of the “co-existence” notion. A core part of campaign rhetoric lauds “choice”, thereby echoing a standard pro-GM lie and implying that GMO agriculture can co-exist with any other kind of agricultural practice. But co-existence is impossible, politically as well as physically. Corporate agriculture envisions its own total domination of agriculture and food, and all its actions are dedicated to this goal. GMOs were developed as a classical public-private partnership and are aggressively supported by governments because they’re designed to attain the twin goals of physical (genetic) and economic (commodification and patents) domination. Therefore the only possible outcomes for humanity are complete abolition of GMOs or complete surrender to them. Given this circumstance, the constructive place of a labeling campaign or policy, or just the idea of labeling as such, is as a tactical element of the abolition movement. Anything outside of this movement context is at best a misdirection and waste of effort and time we don’t have to spare.
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4. We know the history of corporate lobbying for an FDA preemption policy, the central government’s complete support for GMO domination, its disdain for and hostility toward any meaningful labeling, the Monsanto Protection Act, and now the yearlong attempt to pass the DARK Act. We have clear proof that the central government will not allow political life and democracy to prevail on this, including at the state level, let alone the regional. Even if the DARK Act is forestalled in the Senate, the US government won’t give up. In the end, the only thing which will work will be defiance of the central government power, by whatever means, at lower government levels and especially through political action of the people from the ground up. This includes organized renunciation and replacement of the corporate industrial food system.
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If this is right, then our time requires a far more comprehensive goal.
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5. Abolitionists must use this crisis to reinforce the Community Food movement and goal. Just “buying organic” won’t suffice. Anyway much of organic is the industrial organic sector which is part of the overall corporate problem, and which has previously indicated its own desire to bring “organic” under Monsanto’s domination. We do have the Right to Know, but we’ll know little and have little until we rebuild the Community Food sector and protect it, toward the great affirmative goal of Food Sovereignty.
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We must lift our vision and expand our goal. We need the will to renew political life from the ground up, where necessary in defiance of the central government and corporate rule. We must use the government’s assaults as a political/moral lever to change the political consciousness from an individual consumerist consciousness (uncontexted labeling) to the abolitionist movement commitment, and the broader consciousness aspiring to freedom and demolishing the corporate-imposed bottlenecks against our prosperity.
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The corporate state’s goal is all-encompassing of the political and economic realms, from globalized corporate rule to strangling the rising Community Food movement in its youth. We can see how the DARK Act is not only anti-labeling but, with measures like preemption of local and state pro-democracy, anti-corporate laws, it’s also designed to provide more government power against the Community Food sector and movement as such. It will seek to do this in tandem with the Orwellianly named “Food Safety Modernization Act”, really a pro-big ag Food Control Act. But with the right kind of education campaign about how the government is trying to make it impossible for the people to know how toxic the industrial food supply is, we might be able to turn these assaults to our advantage. Certainly the one and only way to really KNOW what’s in our food and be citizens of agriculture and food production is to support local/regional retail agriculture, visit and know our farmers and processors, build up that sector. The central government and corporations are doing all they can to prove this.
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6. In the past I’ve sometimes been fatalistic about what the system “will do”, and how possible it is for political action to stop it. I’ve said things like, “the system will extract all the economically viable fossil fuels”, acknowledging various impersonal natural/physical/economic constraints on extraction while discounting political action as potentially such a natural force.
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Where it comes to fossil fuel extraction this is no doubt true for the low-hanging fruit, the reserves easiest and least expensive to extract. But as extraction proceeds along the line of deteriorating cost effectiveness, increasing complexity costs, and mounting physical difficulties, political action against it becomes more potent in proportion to the increasing overextension of its opponent. This can happen in the same way that various technical alternatives to fossil fuels become economically viable as oil prices rise.
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So it follows that corporate agriculture is finding its own position ever more costly and physically difficult to maintain, as costs increase, as natural (pest and weed) resistance mounts, as each new set of GMOs is more dubious, its economic rationale less coherent, its lies less viable, the legitimacy of establishment “science” and mainstream media more eroded, while public fear, skepticism, and opposition continue to rise. As this process evolves our action shall become more effective, and our ability to propagate all-encompassing ideas and desires more potent. There will be an ever greater will on the part of the people to organize against this enemy and to realize our affirmatives.
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In making these criticisms, I’m not disputing the basic truths of the pro-labeling argument. On the contrary, I avow these myself. I’m pointing out why, where labeling is presented as a typical ad hoc consumerist electoral campaign, rather than from within a movement context, the labeling campaigns are ineffective politics.
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At the moment the labeling campaigns comprise the main anti-GMO vehicle, and they can serve as good occasions for participation, organization, education – POE. In principle and in action abolitionists should support and join the campaigns. But we insist that labeling is insufficient, is no panacea, and that the fight for labeling is just one step toward building the consciousness toward building what’s great and necessary, a true abolition movement.
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For the moment, what’s a good proximate strategy?
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1. It’s important to defeat the DARK Act through whatever conventional within-the-system means, if possible. This is the system’s attempt to kneecap our movement through legalistic preemption. If this fails, they’ll try again, or else try for a more subtle “mandatory” scam. Anti-GMO people must reject any subsequent “softer” FDA scam, any form of DARK Act Plan B. The same goes for the TPP and TTIP, which are intended to do things like outlaw any labeling whatsoever, right down to the warnings on cigarette packages.
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If the DARK Act is passed, our campaigns must pressure the states and localities to go ahead anyway on democratic moral-political and constitutional grounds, including legal challenges (though we shouldn’t hold our breath in expectation of the court route succeeding). The central government’s ability to enforce its tyrannical policy will be a direct measure of the people’s willingness to crumble and obey, or our determination to stand tall and fight. Again, this applies most of all to globalization assaults like NAFTA, the TPP and the TTIP.
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2. Nevertheless, labeling in itself could never suffice. What we must have, what is necessary, is to drive out pesticides and GMOs completely. Indeed, the worst aspect of the DARK Act is the legal assault it would make on county-level pesticide and GMO bans.
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3. So in addition to POE, the main purpose of labeling campaigns is to provide an occasion to pressure manufacturers and retailers, and to supplement campaigns directly pressuring them.
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4. In this connection, a primary publicity component is to continue hammering away, not just at Monsanto, and not at the GMA, as for example who is providing the funding for the lawsuit against Vermont. Rather, it is Kellogg’s, Kraft, Nestle, Coca-Cola, Pepsico, General Mills, General Foods, who are most responsible for inflicting these physical and political assaults upon us. The campaigns have often done a good job of this and should escalate. Combine this brand-condemning publicity campaigning and boycott organizing against these manufacturers with targeted pressure on retailers. These kinds of actions have the best track record, among reform campaigns.
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5. As I described in the strategy posts I linked here, both direct pressure and labeling advocacy must be enfolded within a comprehensive abolition movement and serve the abolition goal. Once we have a movement whose members and sympathizers see the world with the eyes of active citizens of a community, rather than with the eyes of atomized passive consumers among an unfathomable mass, then we’ll have the social foundation from which to launch any kind of political campaign. The campaigns will be organic, they’ll be part of an ongoing social and political context, and they’ll be waged and supported by citizens speaking to potential citizens who can see the living reality of the movement before them, rather than just a seemingly disposable campaign and stand-alone ad hoc policy proposal with no context for systemic change or human hope.
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If we want to do what’s necessary and do it right, in the process inspiring people to join a movement or support it (and this is what’s needed, rather than any quick fix electoral solution), we need to build a true movement toward a goal that’s necessary and great. The great goals available to us are the complete abolition of GMOs and breaking the power of corporations over our agriculture and food, in the process putting an end to their onslaught poisoning our food, water, soil, and air. The companion goal is to rebuild our community food economies on the basis of agroecology and food sovereignty, thus combining the best of freedom, health, democracy, and science. There’s no substitute for the patience and hard work required to build this new, affirmatively ecological and democratic, anti-corporate movement from outside the system. Along the way this movement can absorb whatever existing forces are available, so long as they’re compatible with the stark and non-negotiable goal of the abolition of poison-based agriculture. But its inception and the main thrust of its action must always be toward building a new human world.
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If the DARK Act is passed and the TTIP/TPP globalization compacts are forced upon us, raising our sights and escalating our demands upon fate is one of our options. Giving up is another. But it seems that the status quo will no longer be an option.

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