Volatility

April 28, 2015

Anti-Politics and Anti-Science Go Hand in Hand

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From “Colombia Ministry of Health recommends immediate ban on Roundup spraying of coca crops
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“The recommendation was made just hours after the US Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, William Brownfield, defended the use of glyphosate and gave assurances in an interview with the local radio station Caracol Radio that the herbicide does not cause cancer as indicated by the WHO.”
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I remember well the Bush years, and the earnest lamentations of liberal/Democrat types deploring the callousness of administration hacks who cared nothing for human and environmental health or for science.
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Funny how completely dead that line has gone since Obama came in.
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Of course we see examples like this every day, everywhere we look, since the corporate state is the corporate state, no matter which of the two tribes comprising the Corporate One-Party is nominally in power.
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We must always keep in mind this intersection of the twin nihilisms, “scientific” and “political”, among those who support corporate rule. In both cases we have an abdication (of any kind of science community; of participatory citizenship) and an aggressive propaganda and coercion campaign, against science, and against political participation, and on behalf of corporatized “science” and “representative” politics.
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Therefore the necessary minimums for a human freedom and vitality movement are, negatively, the abolition of corporate power, and affirmatively, the redemption of science and politics, restoring these to the people who can be their only true and legitimate grounding.

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March 24, 2015

Rounding Up Roundup

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The notion that glyphosate is “safer” than other herbicides is a mainstay even among lukewarm critics of GMOs, and of course the US government has long propagated this slogan, although in order for it to do so the EPA had to change its 1985 finding of “possibly carcincogenic to humans” to “evidence of non-carcinogenicity in humans” in 1991. As with all EPA findings since the beginning of the GMO era, this change had zero to do with scientific evidence, but was a purely political decision to accommodate Monsanto. Now lying like this will be a bit more difficult, as the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has upgraded its assessment: Glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans”.
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Actually they’ve known glyphosate is carcinogenic since the 1980s, and as I said even the Reagan EPA felt constrained to call it a “possible human carcinogen”. The EPA then downgraded that to “not a carcinogen”, straight up because Monsanto demanded it. Today we see Monsanto’s hysterical reaction to the previously reliable WHO breaking ranks like this. We’ll see if the WHO sticks by its guns or moves to marginalize its own scientific finding. Of course Monsanto’s already succeeding in getting the corporate media to “report” on “the controversy” rather than on the fact. But at least the fact that the WHO is now admitting this brings Roundup’s cancer-causing nature into the media’s realm of controversy, whereas the cartel, the US government, and the NYT have long collaborated in making glyphosate’s toxicity an un-fact. (Maybe the American Cancer Society will now have to acknowledge the very existence of this cancer agent.) Even many GMO critics have parroted the Monsanto line that glyphosate is “less toxic” than other herbicides. Hopefully this will at least put an end to that self-defeating stupidity.
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Let’s get this point straight: Glyphosate as well as 2,4-D and dicamba are highly toxic. The Big Lie is that glyphosate is not highly toxic, period. That’s what the liars always mean when they call it “less toxic”. So it’s idiotic to even ask “which is worse.” The point is that they’re both well beyond the level of “too toxic to be used at all.”
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As always we must stress that glyphosate is never used in pure form, but is always deployed in commercial forms like Roundup which contain several other toxic ingredients. These real world commercial formulations are far more toxic than ivory tower glyphosate. That’s why it’s a standard scam among regulators to assess only the non-commercial “pure” glyphosate, because they know it’s less toxic. Yet, as the IARC has finally acknowledged, even pure glyphosate is severely toxic and causes cancer.
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Here’s more on Roundup. The latest in the line of studies out of Argentina exposing the health and environmental destruction wrought by Roundup finds a much higher level (44% higher) of genetic damage among children consistently exposed to Roundup and other herbicides. This group also had a high incidence of chronic respiratory, skin, and eye symptoms, while no children from the unexposed group reported any such persistent symptoms.
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I’ve often pointed out how antibiotic abuse on factory farms and in genetic engineering (the widespread use of antibiotic resistance markers in GMO development) is effectively a campaign to eradicate antibiotics as a medically effective treatment, and how this corporate campaign is setting up humanity for lethal pandemics as well as driving the ongoing chronic rise in deaths from illness caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. (I’ve also pointed out the fraudulence and stupidity of those who attack small groups of dissidents for allegedly endangering public health even as the ydo nothing to abolish subtherapeutic antibiotic use.) Now we can add a third industrial driver of antibiotic resistance. New science documents that bacteria exposed to such commercial herbicides as glyphosate, 2,4-D, and dicamba are prone to then have changed responses to application of antibiotics, usually showing resistance. So the wholesale slathering of the agricultural landscape and surrounding environs with Roundup, and starting this year GMOs engineered to be tolerant of 2,4-D or dicamba, is perhaps accelerating the evolution of antibiotic resistant strains and subsequent end game for antibiotics as a whole.
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More fun with glyphosate and Roundup: A new study gives further proof that Roundup, as well as glyphosate even in its pure form is acutely toxic to human cells and is an endocrine disruptor through causing the death of cells which produce progesterone. The study tested in vitro exposure to human cells at concentration levels allowed in Australian drinking water. It found that Roundup is more deadly to human cells than pure glyphosate (thus again proving that the real world formulation is more toxic than the “pure” chemical which is the sole purview of regulators), but that both kill cells and cause endocrine disruption through cell death. The study didn’t probe whether these poisons are endocrine disruptors in other ways, but there’s strong evidence for this as well.
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Among the less heralded US government handouts to Monsanto is the longstanding Roundup fumigation program in Colombia, whose proximate goal is to wipe out coca cultivation. This gives a good insight into the real character of the Drug War and any pretensions it has to being about “public health”. On the contrary, it has nothing to do with human health and everything to do with power and corporate welfare. In a case like this the farcical character of the “health” aspect is especially on display, as the spraying program, a veritable chemical warfare campaign (compare the Agent Orange chemical weapons campaign during the Vietnam War), is well documented as causing severe health effects. The Colombian government has supported US paramilitary campaigns within its country because the US pays it off and because they have a shared enemy in legitimate popular movements among the peasantry. But with this WHO report, even some within the Colombian government are starting to wonder if this wholesale program of poisoning the people’s bodies and destroying their crops isn’t, just maybe, politically and ultimately militarily doing more harm than good.
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The fact is there’s no such thing as a demarcation between purely “civilian” poison spraying and chemical warfare. It’s all on a militaristic spectrum, thus the popularity of violent names for agricultural poisons. Monsanto seems to prefer the Wild West theme. Similarly, the agrochemical corporations and the US government effectively see themselves as waging war upon humanity in general and in particular upon small farmers, subsistence farmers, organic farmers, farmers producing food for communities, all farmers and communities not sufficiently coordinated according to the corporate imperative. The goal is to clear the land for mechanized industrial plantations under corporate control. The goal is to force the people off the land and into slums. The campaign is the same as the post-medieval, pre-modern enclosure campaigns of Europe. The only difference is that in the earlier campaign part of the goal was to forcibly generate an urban proletariat, while today the shantytowns are meant to serve as terminal concentration camps for the permanently liquidated and immiserated. I defy anyone to tell me poison-based agriculture isn’t chemical warfare, against people on a more profound level than against bugs and weeds. Roundup has long been the number one weapon of globalization war. It generated the most perfect agro-state yet, Argentina’s “Soy Republic”.
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That Roundup and glyphosate, along with 2,4-D and dicamba, are also severely toxic and destructive to human and ecosystem health renders the chemical warfare concept physically as well as economically true. There are many things preventing us from living in peace and prosperity. Among the most vicious assaults upon us are agricultural poisons like Roundup and GMOs. We must abolish them completely if humanity is to have a future, physically or in any other meaningful sense.
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Today even the usually pro-GMO World Health Organization itself is saying: Roundup is cancer. This is a physical fact, and it’s a political and spiritual fact. We must do what’s necessary.

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September 18, 2013

Colombia’s Seed War: Winning A Battle

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For our physical survival and flourishing, everything starts with seeds. And for our political and economic sovereignty, everything starts with control of our seeds. That’s why a core goal of corporatism and globalization is to seize total control of the global seed supply and crush our right to save and plant our own seeds. That’s why a primary goal of the US government is to force GMOs on the world. GMOs are a crap product which have zero practical purpose and are poisonous to our bodies and the environment. Their sole purpose is to escalate and enforce corporate profit, enclosure, control, domination.
 
This is why globalization compacts try to force a repressive proprietary regime over seeds, and require subject governments to suppress seed sovereignty among farmers, gardeners, and the citizenry as a whole. This is a key part of the planned recolonization of Africa under the propaganda auspices of a “second Green Revolution”, as if the effects of the first weren’t disastrous enough. Governments adhering to the scheme are required to stop dispensing non-GMO seeds and take measures to prevent farmers from distributing seeds among themselves. The European Union is also plotting a repressive seed “certification” policy. This is just one of the EU’s endless schemes to let in GMOs, which have hit a brick wall of democratic rejection and opposition among the people of Europe, by the back door.
 
Bilateral “agreements”, like the one between the governments of the US and Colombia (such globalization pacts are always opposed by the vast majority of the people of all countries involved, and are always radically anti-democratic), are among the most repressive. In Colombia, the anti-seed provision is called Law 970. Over the last two years the government has aggressively sought to destroy the people’s seeds, most notoriously in a 2011 assault at the town of Campo Alegre, where government thugs destroyed 70 tons of rice seeds the farmers had grown, gathered, and were distributing. This crime inspired Victoria Solano’s film, “970” (in Spanish).
 
This occurs among the general process of small farmers being economically destroyed, forced off their land by the thousands, and driven into squalid shantytowns which spread at an accelerating rate around the fringes of cities all over the global South. This is the planned outcome of all neoliberal corporatist agricultural policy, and those who support such policy support this mass dispossession, ghettoization, immiseration, the worst crime against humanity history has seen. That’s the moral fact of support for GMOs and industrial agriculture.
 
But the world’s people are increasingly fighting back. Today we can celebrate, provisionally, a sign of victory in Colombia. The government’s assault on seeds was one of the prime causes of a farmer-led strike and protest movement which rose up in August. The farmers were quickly joined by miners, bus and truck drivers, students, teachers, civil society protesters, and many others. Workers went on strike, protesters blocked roads and fought the police. Over a dozen were killed, and hundreds arrested. In the face of this mass action, the government wavered from day to day, now calling for repression, now offering sham concessions, now denying that anything was going on at all.
 
Finally, at least for the moment, the government has had enough and is offering real concessions. It promises to suspend Law 970, release those arrested, and to enact a new mining law more favorable to miners. It promises to negotiate on the protesters’ other demands, including a partial dismantling of the country’s globalized agriculture policy, and compensation for the way this has economically harmed the country’s farmers. Of course, the proof will be in the execution, and we can’t count our seedlings till they’re sprouted. None of the promises have yet been written into law, and the promised suspension of Law 970 has several caveats. But the protesters vow to hold the government to its promises, and democracy activists and advocates everywhere can look with cheer to this uplifting demonstration of what democracy in action can accomplish, where the people are willing to stand up for themselves.

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