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April 10, 2015

GMO News Report April 10th, 2015

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*Unlike comparable organizations in the West, Brazil’s National Cancer Institute (INCA) is capable of connecting simple dots. Even the WHO now acknowledges that glyphosate causes cancer. INCA reiterates this and the many other health afflictions caused by glyphosate and other poisons, and goes on to state the obvious, that it’s herbicide tolerant GMOs which are by far the main driver of this great surge of glyphosate use, and therefore of the cancer caused by it.
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As if in direct contradiction of the Cancer Institute, Brazil’s “regulator” CTNBio issued cultivation approvals for soybeans and corn engineered to be tolerant to another cancer-causing herbicide, 2,4-D, as well as water-guzzling, deforestation-driving GM eucalyptus, whose prolific pollen spread promises to quickly contaminate all related trees across the environment.
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*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 effects of chemicals like Roundup secret from the people. The escalating democracy campaign to force disclosure of how much the corporations and governments really know about how deadly these agricultural poisons really are becomes all the more critical as we learn more and more about the health and environmental devastation being wrought by Roundup, including the gathering avalanche of knowledge about how it causes cancer.
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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 are nothing but propaganda and lies. No legitimate model of science or democracy can come to any other conclusion.
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*Food and Water Watch filed a pair of petitions with the FDA calling upon the agency to follow the law and regulate GMO salmon as the food containing a new additive it clearly is, rather than as an “animal drug”, the way the FDA has been preferring to do. The food additive review process is, in theory, more rigorous and more strongly applies the precautionary principle.
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*In a court filing forced out of it, Monsanto now admits it bankrolled the legal defense of the contract GMO “farmer” who trespassed upon and contaminated West Australian organic farmer Steve Marsh’s land, causing him to lose his certification and costing him his livelihood. It’s no surprise that Monsanto would see the outcome of this case as important for its future revenue and power, since one of the basic elements of government assistance it depends upon is the “co-existence” lie in general and in particular the de facto legal doctrine that where it comes to transgenic trespass and vandalism, the law is presumptively on the side of the aggressor, while it’s the legal and financial responsibility of the target to avoid being assaulted, or simply to submit to it and plant the herbicide tolerant GMOs himself. So among other things it’s a protection racket. In this case, the 2014 trial decision admitted that “co-existence” is impossible even as it reaffirmed the pro-polluter, pro-trespasser, pro-vandal, pro-aggressor doctrine. Since then the legal dispute has been over the trial judge’s order that March pay the Monsanto contractor’s legal fees. It was in that context that Marsh’s legal team was able to force Monsanto’s divulgence, since legal costs can be awarded only for a principal’s out of pocket expenses.
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*Most of the attention to the EU’s revamped “subsidiarity” policy for GMO approvals has focused on GMO cultivation. Now the Commission is about to release its new rules for approval of imported GMOs in food and feed. The main loophole in the EU’s GMO labeling policy is that meat and dairy from animals which were fed GMOs doesn’t have to be labeled, although many supermarket chains eschew GM feed for their own meat and dairy brands. Member states opposed to GM importations have generally been unable to prevent imported feed from entering their own supply chains, but have instead focused on blocking import approval in the first place. Although the details are unclear right now, both the Commission and civil society campaigners are expecting that the new rules, generally dedicated to “streamlining” regulation (i.e. making it more pro-corporate), will make it harder for member states to block EFSA import approval at the outset. There will be fig-leaf “opt out” provisions, but as a practical matter for a member state to opt out of allowing an imported processed product, which will easily cross the border in any number of ways, will be more difficult than opting out of allowing cultivation of a GMO.
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*In its desperation to claim some kind, any kind of support for the TPP and TTIP globalization assaults, the Obama administration released a set of quotes from the always reliable corporate environmentalist front groups the WWF and the Nature Conservancy, along with some other bogus NGOs, which expressed these groups’ “environmentalist” support for the pacts. Although the cowards are now trying to backpedal by claiming they have not technically endorsed these corporate anti-constitutions, the pieces and submissions are loaded with the sycophancy, lies, and neoliberal propaganda we’d expect from the the WWF and their treacherous like.

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March 21, 2015

The FDA “Review” Process As Part of the Poisoner Campaign

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I’ve often written about how the FDA has no review process for GMOs. All the FDA has is a voluntary letter dance: If it chooses, the developer sends the FDA a letter saying it performed this or that bogus test on its own product and is satisfied that the product is safe. The FDA then replies, to paraphrase, “We understand that you consider this product to be safe.” And that’s it. That’s the whole alleged review. That’s the quicksand upon which all the liars, including in government and media, build their lie that GMOs are ever tested or reviewed for safety at all.
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The historical and ideological fact is that in the 1980s, under cartel tutelage, the FDA adopted the “substantial equivalence” of GMOs and true crops as its doctrine. This was in spite of the fact that there was never any evidence for substantial equivalence, that GMOs which express Bt toxins and/or are suffused with herbicide residues are self-evidently VERY different from their non-GM counterparts*, and that a large amount of evidence has subsequently accumulated that GMOs are substantially different from non-GM crops in many other compositional ways (here’s just one example). Reason rejected “substantial equivalence” from the start, and since then science has completely trounced it. But none of that matters to the FDA, for whom substantial equivalence is nothing more or less than fundamentalist religious dogma.
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To see the latest example of your government regulators in action, check out the FDA’s press release concluding its “review” of the botox apple and the “Innate” potato. At the bottom of the release are links to the two FDA letters to the respective developers, where it says “we understand…” Note that neither letter contains a shred of information, but is pure bureaucrat-speak which adds up to trust in the fox guarding the henhouse.
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No sane person thinks the profit-seeking developers of GMOs or other agricultural poisons can be trusted to judge the safety of their own products. Reason and common sense would reject such an absurd notion out of hand, and then we have the evidence record of the entire industrial era which proves that profit-seekers will ALWAYS lie about their own products.
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There’s no doubt and no debate: The corporate state is dedicated to the aggrandizement of the corporate rackets. In this case, the government system is set up intentionally to help the poison corporations lie about the health harms of their products. The FDA, EPA, and USDA are conscious, willful, systematic liars on behalf of the wholesale poisoning of people, livestock, and the environment. (This is in addition to the government’s role as corporate welfare purveyor and creator of supply-driven markets for these products, which usually have no natural market.) As always, I challenge anyone to try to refute this, or to defend the system on any level. It would be very amusing to hear someone explain how the fox can be trusted with the henhouse, and therefore the FDA’s process makes any sense at all.
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And so again, for the thousandth time, we have refutation of the lie that GMOs are tested for safety. Never have been, never will be, by this government or any other. And so we also have, again for the thousandth time, refutation of the delusion that we the people can look to government regulators for defense of our well-being. On the contrary, nothing could be more clear than that these regulators systematically lie to we the people on behalf of those who are poisoning us. At the New Nuremburg we’ll be putting the FDA and EPA cadres in the dock right alongside their partners from Monsanto and Dow.
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*I propose this demonstration, in thought or with physical props, to make clear what the FDA and the bodies which have adopted its doctrine are claiming when they say “substantial equivalence”. I’m holding two ears of corn. I say “All the kernels on this ear are loaded with Bt toxins. This other ear is free of Bt. But they’re physically the same thing.” Does that make sense? Similarly, I hold two handfuls of soybeans. I say “These soybeans are full of Roundup. These other soybeans have no Roundup residues. But they’re physically the same thing.” Agree? And to say again, GMOs are often found to be compositionally different in other significant, completely unpredictable, ways.
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The bad faith and intellectual idiocy of the whole endeavor are on display with the fact that “substantial equivalence” has always really meant, “equivalent except for the major poison inherent in the GMO.” But, needless to say, that’s not how the FDA or its corporate media flunkeys portray the concept when propagating it for the public’s edification.
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Substantial Equivalence, upon which the US government’s entire pro-GMO propaganda edifice is built, is a classic Big Lie.

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May 2, 2014

GMO News Summary May 2nd, 2014

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*Congratulations to Vermont for becoming the first state in the country to pass a law requiring labeling of GMOs in our food, without any political stipulations about when it goes into effect. While Connecticut and Maine have also passed labeling laws, these won’t go into effect until several other states also enact such policies. Maine’s specifically requires that New Hampshire adopt the same policy, which its legislature recently refused to do. (Maine’s government has also expressed hostility to its own law.)
 
This is the latest example of Vermont’s pioneer spirit, where it comes to policy which makes sense morally and practically. Vermont was the first state in the union to abolish slavery, and more recently it was the first to ban fracking.
 
*The FDA is weakening its already threadbare process for regulation of genetically engineered animals by disbanding its Veterinary Medicine Advisory Committee, a group of outside academics supposed to provide peer review of FDA regulatory procedures, and which has provided adverse commentary on the looming approval of GM salmon, which the FDA badly wants to approve. So far it’s been scared of the potential political repercussions, in part because its advisory committee has been so unsupportive.
 
Obviously the FDA is disbanding the committee because this committee has not shown sufficient coordination on behalf of the corporate imperative.
 
Pressed for an answer by public interest groups and a member of Congress, the FDA has lied, claiming that maintaining the group is too costly. But records obtained by Food and Water Watch through FOI requests confirm that the FDA spent $0 on the group in 2013, so it’s certainly not breaking the budget.
 
But of course we already knew that the claim about cost was a lie, since government invariably lies whenever it claims it can’t afford a program which might actually help people. The proof of this is that it always believes it has infinite money for corporate welfare, corporate bailouts, weapons and war, the police state, prisons, and the rest of the worthless, predatory, obscenely expensive corporate state. In the FDA’s case there’s no budgetary problem for paramilitary-style assaults on small farmers and co-ops and for the plan to “regulate” produce on behalf of Big Ag’s imperatives. This is the goal and purpose of the Food Control Act, aka the “Food Safety Modernization Act”, as Orwell named it. (I should note here that FWW, along with almost all the NGOs who are intermittently good on GMOs and some other aspects of corporate agriculture, supports the Food Control Act and the increase of FDA power which will be used to attempt to suppress the Community Food sector. That’s an example of the typical schizophrenia among system NGOs, and why we can benefit from their reportage but must never trust their political prescriptions. Perhaps someone can explain to me how the same FDA which is gutting this committee and which has always been so gung ho for GMOs is a good bet for having control over who’s allowed to produce and distribute vegetables. Policy like the FSMA is obviously a weapon for economic warfare and repression, not public interest regulation as described by those who hold delusions of “good government”.) Nor will there be a budgetary issue with enforcement of the preemptive GMO anti-labeling policy being pushed in Congress by the cartel’s Grocery Manufacturers Association, if this bill is ever passed.
 
It’s always true that government can always spend as much as it wants on the public interest. It simply does not want to spend on this, but only for the corporate interest, and only against the public. So it is with the FDA.
 
*I’ve often written about the perfidy of the industrial organic sector and the ongoing plan of the USDA to erode organic standards. Members of the Organic Consumers Association and other citizen groups have been protesting a significant erosion of the National Organic Standards pushed through in secret and behind closed doors last autumn. Previously, dubious ingredients allowed on the “organic” list would automatically be retired after five years unless a 2/3 majority of the organic standards board voted to maintain them on the list. The new policy reverses this; they’ll automatically be kept on the list unless voted off.
 
Since the NOS board is stacked with corporate cadres, any such vote is unlikely. So not only will such toxic ingredients as carrageenan, factory farm sausage casings, synthetic vitamins, and DHA still be allowed to be included under the “certified organic” rubric, but it’ll become easier to add such things to the list and keep them there. This is the general plan of the industrial organic sector’s Organic Trade Association, which is a corporatist outfit just like any other Big Ag trade group. I’ve written before about how industrial organic shares with the USDA the nightmare of eventually allowing GMOs under the “organic” certification.
 
Once again we have confirmation that the organic certification is a stopgap at best, and is no kind of sufficient substitute for restoring our naturally local/regional agricultural and food economies on the basis of agroecology and food sovereignty.
 
*An Italian court has upheld the country’s ban on cultivation of MON810. The decision upholds the precautionary principle as a key element of rational, science-based public interest policy. Italy is one of ten European countries which have banned this, the only GMO approved for cultivation in the EU. The product is widely grown only in Spain.
 
*The Scottish government is claiming to be surprised and upset that British Environment Minster Owen Paterson failed to represent Scotland properly at a recent EC meeting on the future of GMO policy in Europe. Scotland is GM free and its government claims to want to continue this policy. The UK government, by contrast, acts as the poodle of the US on this even though no British corporations are GMO leaders. The Big 6 of the cartel are from the US and continental Europe.
 
I find it hard to believe anyone in Scotland could be so foolish as to be surprised by this. Paterson has made it crystal clear that he’s a liar with zero scruples or integrity, and that under any circumstance he’ll act as a flunkey of the US government and the GMO cartel. So why is the Scottish minister pretending to be surprised? It has to be what he expected. Who lets someone represent them at a meeting when they know for a fact they can’t trust that person?
 
People of Scotland beware. Your government’s hardly looking like a vigorous, enthusiastic representative of your interests on this.
 
*Recently the problem of Roundup’s harmful health effects on livestock has been getting significant mainstream attention in Denmark.
 
*The Benton County Community Rights Coalition announces that it has been cleared to begin collecting signatures toward putting a Local Food Sovereignty initiative on the November 2014 ballot.
 
The bill is designed to protect community rights and autonomy by forestalling corporate assaults on those rights. It would ban GMO cultivation and the enforcement of seed patents, toward the goal of rejuvenating the county’s local food production and distribution. In this way it will help rebuild the local/regional economy of food and the broader economy, while politically it will help repulse invasive corporate tyranny and restore community self-determination.

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April 18, 2014

GMO News Summary April 18th, 2014

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*Vermont’s Senate voted 26-2 to pass a state GMO labeling policy which will go into effect in July 2016. The bill will have to be voted again in the House (where it’s already passed). The governor has said he’ll sign it.
 
*The Grocery Manufacturers Association’s preemption bill against GMO labeling has been introduced in Congress. I wrote a full analysis here. This federal preemption policy would enlist the FDA to ban the states from enacting any kind of truth-in-labeling laws. Instead the FDA would be given new propaganda tools to continue its fraudulent pretense that it undertakes any “regulation” of GMOs whatsoever.
 
That the FDA does anything at all to assess the safety of GMOs and other agricultural poisons is one of the core lies of the GMO hacks. In truth the FDA has never once performed or required a single test. But it has always implicitly endorsed the lie that it does do such testing. The GMA bill is designed to intensify this campaign of lies.
 
*Testbiotech has released a thorough assessment of how all alleged “study” considered by the EFSA on the GM maize variety 1507 has been controlled by the cartel, either directly or through revolving door personnel posing fraudulently as “independent” researchers. 1507 may be approved in May in spite of the lack of any safety testing at all, as well as its rejection in votes by the European Parliament and European Council.
 
*As I’ve predicted several times before, the EC is moving to constrain and render impracticeable its “subsidiarity” policy (cf. especially p. 6 and 10-11 of the PDF) under which EU member states can institute state-level bans on the cultivation of a GM crop approved at the EU level by the Commission. Currently only the MON810 maize variety is approved for cultivation in the EU. It has been banned by ten countries, and is widely grown only in Spain.
 
But under the proposed policy change, each country would be required to make a special bureaucratic request of the applying corporation for each individual application, a priori, asking that its own territory be excluded from the scope of the application. Only if the applicant refuses will the member state then be allowed to enact its own ban. The technical criteria for such a ban to be valid in the bureaucratic courts would also be tightened. The policy proposal would further erode the Precautionary Principle and further exalt the preemptive power of EFSA assessments. The revolving door EFSA is little more than a Monsanto division.
 
Obviously this is meant to be cumbersome to the point of impossibility. Instead of taking cultivation approvals on a case by case basis, a national government is supposed to track down every pending application, assess its approval in a hypothetical way, make a future-oriented decision, and formulate a request. And who is supposed to do this – a bureaucracy which is naturally more likely to support the corporate project than a legislature which is more likely to be responsive to the public good. And then there’s the fact that the government of a day is to be able to tie the hands of its successors in perpetuity. Once again we see the fundamental hostility of the EC to democracy and to politics as such.
 
*GeneWatch UK is filing Freedom of Information requests, and now a complaint with the Information Commissioner, demanding access to withheld and redacted parts of communications between the government’s Department of the Environment, Farms, and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the GMO cartel’s lobby group the Agricultural Biotechnology Council (ABC). The information already released details coordinated media strategies and how the government keeps the lobby informed about upcoming minister speeches and policy proposals. It’s clear that little will be needed from TTIP “regulatory coherence” to increase the intensity of government/corporate bureaucratic Gleichschaltung in the UK. 
 
*A detailed account of the politics of how over 200 GM field trials were okayed in India earlier this year.
 
*I’m sure we’re all very sorry about the news that parasite commodity traders have “lost” as much $427 million in reduced US maize exports to China, because the US commodification system is incompetent to provide the uncontaminated products the buyer requests. This is a severe indictment of the entrepreneurial abilities of US commodifiers. Now the traders are squabbling with the GMO cartel about why it’s not possible to segregate the particular variety China has been rejecting, Syngenta’s MIR162 line.
 
The answer, of course, is that the commodification system is unsuited to provide versatility and diversity because it’s designed to supply the opposite, an undifferentiated monoculture commodity flow. Even more importantly, this proves contamination by unwelcome GMOs at every point of the growth and supply chain is inevitable. Over the long run segregation is impossible, just as “coexistence” in general is impossible. In some cases like this one, it’s evidently impossible even in the immediate run.

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March 7, 2014

GMO News Summary March 7 2014

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*Fresh off its success in pressuring General Mills to return to its non-GMO formulation for Cheerios, GMOInside is launching a new campaign to pressure Starbucks to use only non-GMO organic milk. Other chains have already demonstrated this can be economically successful, as has Starbucks itself since it committed to using only milk without bovine growth hormone (BGH).
 
From the abolitionist point of view, the main points of campaigns like these are:
 
1. To help build a customer base for non-GM production, which will grow and become more economical as this customer base grows.
 
2. To counteract the propaganda which depicts GMOs as an unstoppable juggernaut with our own growing publicity campaign which ever more frequently shows people how GMOs are not only harmful but are easily stoppable, that there are alternatives to them.
 
For more on retailer pressure campaigns, see here and here.
 
(Along similar lines, the Smart Balance line of spreads has claimed it’s going GM-free over the next 90 days.)
 
*Legal controversy continues in New Zealand over the authority of regional councils to regulate GMOs under the precautionary principle. The latest ruling by an Environment Court judge affirms that the Bay of Plenty Regional Council can explicitly consider GMOs in its management directives under the Resource Management Act (which itself does not explicitly mention them), and therefore rejected the government’s attempt to preemptively suppress such analysis from the Council’s regional policy statement.
 
This kind of struggle, over the very concept of GMOs as a special kind of product which needs special policy consideration, is becoming more prominent as the cartel seeks to remove GMOs completely from even the meager regulatory oversight they currently have. In particular, the cartel hopes that the impending TTIP globalization accord will provide the mechanism for the total deregulation of GMOs, and the eradication of “GMO” as any kind of category at all. 
 
While American power hierarchy currently has little in common with that of New Zealand, we can still look to this as an example of an alternative arrangement to our own status quo. The movement to achieve and enforce county-level GMO bans is one attempt to bring an alternative into being.
 
*BRIC disunity? While Russia and China are definitely planning to prevent their agriculture from coming under US/Monsanto domination, and Brazil seems also to be taking measures to preserve its agricultural independence, India’s central government is a determined US flunkey. (And not just on GMOs.)
 
The latest move is the new Environment Minister’s approval of hundreds of new GMO field trials. As Vandana Shiva explains in this piece, field trials have little practical purpose, but are primarily political exercises. I’ve made the same point myself several times.
 
*But Brazil’s also still pondering breaking the global moratorium on Terminator seeds. A legislative attempt was allowed to die on the vine in 2013, but the new Judicial Commission and Congress may try again to push through a bill which would supposedly allow for a “limited” use of such seeds. In a typical example of regulator corporatism, Brazil’s agricultural research agency Embrapa has pushed the propaganda line that the Terminator’s purpose isn’t to enforce monopoly, but merely to prevent genetic contamination. Allegedly the approval would be limited to just a few kinds of trees (their plantations accelerating deforestation). But clearly this would be just the prelude to their general commercialization across all GM crop types, the camel’s nose in the tent.
 
*A new study provides evidence that the global epidemic of Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown Origin (CKDu) among agricultural workers is caused by a combination of glyphosate and heavy water. This is an example of the combined effects of poisons and other environmental factors.
 
The disease, manifesting the same symptoms, occurs in separate agricultural regions around the world – Sri Lanka, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and elsewhere. This rules out any kind of local cause.
 
This is just one example of a highly toxic combined effect of an agricultural poison and a second factor. Such combinations are never considered or tested for in the regulatory process, and are ideologically denied by cartel and regulators alike.
 
That in turn is just one of the several ways in which we have proof that the regulatory process is inimical to the health of the people and environment. The impending TTIP/TPP intend to coordinate these regulators for far more aggressive action against us.
 
They’re systematically and intentionally poisoning humanity and the earth. Will we do anything about it?
 
*The protest of scientists against the politically motivated censorship by Food and Chemical Toxicology of the only fully comprehensive safety study of a GMO, the 2012 Seralini study, continues to build.
 
*A Seattle law firm is seeking wheat farmers to participate in a class action lawsuit against Monsanto for economic losses to Oregon wheat farmers in 2013 caused by the discovery of genetically contaminated wheat in Oregon. According to the announcement today (March 7) is the deadline for farmers to apply to join the class.
 
*Although establishment NGOs often do excellent journalistic work, and although abolitionists and fighters for freedom and democracy may often make tactical alliances with them, we must always be aware that in the end they’re part of the same corporatist system complex as Monsanto and the FDA, and identify with these far more than they do with the people or with the rising Community Food movement which constitutes the alternative to corporate agriculture. It’s our movement which is targeted for destruction by the FDA under the Food Control Act.
 
Where it comes specifically to GMOs, we can assume that NGOs will never fight for anything more severe than labeling, that they all want the FDA to be in charge, and that even the few who have expressed concern over FDA preemption will acquiesce in this as well.
 
But labeling, taken as any kind of sufficient end goal, is still part of “coexistence”. But we know coexistence cannot work, and that the abolition of GMOs is necessary.

 
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March 3, 2014

The TTIP and Globalization’s Corporate “Coordination” Master Plan (1 of 3)

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In October 2012 the US Chamber of Commerce and BusinessEurope issued a joint manifesto on “Regulatory Cooperation in the EU-US Economic Agreement”. This was designed to provide the basic ideological framework for the upcoming TTIP/TAFTA negotiations, as well as the specific plan for what is variously being called regulatory cooperation or regulatory coherence. To best put it in historical context, I call it “coordination”, following the German term for this kind of ideological and organizational/strategic/tactical doctrine, Gleichschaltung. The basic idea is to fully formalize and rationalize the subservience of government regulatory bureaucracies to corporate bureaucracies, and to render the service of regulators on behalf of corporations systematically aggressive and proactive.
 
To start with some definitions, as the terms are used in this and a few other documents I’ll be discussing. This is also what these terms mean for globalization and corporatism in general, and what they mean when used in the corporate media.
 
*”Trade”, “investment”, “investor”: Corporate imperative, corporate prerogative (including the right to any conceivable profit, to be enforced and/or directly paid by the government itself, as we’ll see in the case of “investor dispute settlement”), corporate power, a command economy based on maximizing these.
 
*”Stakeholder”: Corporate oligopoly sectors. The corporate persons who populate these sectors are the only recognized citizens of the globalization commonwealth, and therefore the only ones who are considered to have a legitimate stake in anything government does. Government’s proper job is to serve these corporate citizens and only these corporate citizens. This is the totalitarian principle of corporatism and the globalization command economy.
 
*”Equivalence”: The race to the bottom, for all regulation which would impose any restriction whatsoever on corporate actions. Also in some cases a race to the top for corporate welfare conveyances and regulator aggression against economic rivals of corporate oligopolies.
 
*”Cooperation”, “coherence”: Coordination (Gleichschaltung) of government bureaucracy under the control of corporate bureaucracy. The plan for corporate bureaucratic rule, still mediated mostly through the nominal control of government bureaucracy and the nominal rule of neoliberal pseudo-democracy. But it’s a significant step forward in formalizing and rationalizing actual corporate control.
 
*”Regulation”, “legislation”, “non-legislative acts”: Weapons on behalf of the corporate imperative, where possible. But can also mean atavistic (i.e. political) manifestations of democracy, which are to be fought and suppressed. These documents lay out a battle plan for the coordination of the offensive weaponry and defensive suppression measures. Under corporate leadership, government regulators are to systematically organize and act upon their inherent hostility to democracy and politics as such.
 
This is why we must reject in thoughts and words any concession to the Big Lie that globalization has anything to do with legitimate trade. Real trade is demand-based and develops naturally and organically from human economies. Globalization, so-called “free trade”, is a top-down planned economy based on intentional overproduction and the subsequent forced creation of “markets” for this overproduction. To be anti-globalization is therefore to be pro-trade in the real economic sense, and vice versa.
 
This corporate document is a perfect example of the economic planning involved in globalization. It may be taken as a general statement of what all the corporate sectors want. Following this I’ll do a similar discussion for the plans written by the GMO sector. That’ll be part two. In these corporate plans everything is always to be understood in terms of supply-based corporate imperatives (profit and control). Throughout, it’s taken for granted that the goal of the TTIP and of all globalization policy (and government policy as such) is “market liberalization”, i.e. a command economy based on overproduction, corporate welfare, dumping, coerced markets, and the total gutting of all public interest regulation. Note well that only public interest regulation and demand-side policy like local buying requirements are targeted for “equivalence” and “coordination”. Corporate welfare, such as Big Ag crop insurance, is not considered a “regulation” which needs to be “equalized” among the parties to the compact.
 
The US CoC and BE start out proclaiming that the a US/EU globalization compact has both domestic and international coordination goals. Domestically, the goal is to “enhance regulators’ efficiency and thus effectiveness in fulfilling their domestic regulatory mandates” (p.1). In other words the coordination provisions encoded here are also to control domestic regulatory policy. Globally, the goal is to “establish a clear goal” of “equivalent regulatory outcomes” for all US and EU regulators, and to “provide new tools and a governing process to guide regulatory cooperation on both a cross-cutting and sector-specific basis”.
 
There’s the race to the bottom and the plan for total coordination. “Cross-cutting” refers to the permanent and constantly expanding generic plan for regulatory coordination. “Sector-specific” refers to whatever pro-corporate floors and ceilings the TTIP specifically sets for a given sector. But since some of the corporate demands, such as completely eradicating EU GMO regulations and labeling, are so politically inflammatory that their de jure enshrinement in the compact could endanger its ratification by the parliament, the coordination plan leaves lots of things vague and intended to be settled bureaucratically at some unspecified future time, once the democratic part of the process is safely over.
 
In general, the coordination plan is meant to shift all real power and control in space and time to future bureaucratic consultations, and away from anything even pretending to be accountable or democratic.
 
This goes along with the more specific “strong and binding technical barriers to trade (TBT) and sanitary/phyto-sanitary provisions”.
 
“Obviously, a determination that specific regulatory approaches are compatible can come only after intensive study and establishment of full trust and confidence between counterpart regulators.” Regulation is to be subjected to a coordination assessment between collaborating government bureaucrats (US and EU, under the supervision of corporate bureaucrats). The paragraph goes on to describe how this assessment is to be permanent, ongoing (“evergreen”), flexible, and involve the exchange of information and the setting up of one-size-fits-all sham procedures for regulatory applications for approval, safety assessment, testing.
 
The manifesto is then divided into six sections. The Preamble (p.2) lays out the propaganda goals. These are cast primarily as meant to indoctrinate regulators themselves with a “unified vision”, in the US and EU as well as in “third countries”. It’s also meant to “give US and European citizens greater confidence in traded products and services even as it helps regulators ensure optimal allocation of their scarce resources”. This euphemism for lying while robbing means that the people are to be subject to an intensified campaign of promises and intimidation. But the term “scarce resources” indicates that more and more the propaganda is meant to instill fear and resignation rather than hope. The propaganda is also to include a heavy element of sham solicitude for “small and medium sized businesses”. In practice this means corporate contractors who are nominally independent but really indentured entities. Actual, entrepreneurial small businesses will be excluded from all these benefits, at best. And they’ll often be the targets of aggressive regulator coordination.
 
The second part describes the “Regulatory Principles” (p.2). These are said to have already been well-enshrined in earlier US-EU joint statements. The new emphasis is “to make the regulatory component of the overall agreement comprehensive”, to set a new standard for “regulatory best practices” in all subsequent globalization compacts, and most of all to enshrine the principle that governments and regulators are always to “go beyond” wherever they are at the moment, toward more intensely realizing the “market liberalization” goal, i.e. the goal of total corporate domination. The manifesto stresses that the whole coordination process is to be “evergreen”, meaning that everything in it is to be always in motion. No matter how total corporate control and domination is at any given time, regulators are to consider the project to be just beginning and to look for ways to keep it moving. This is the essence of the totalitarian mindset and mode of action.
 
The “Regulatory Outcomes” section (p.3) lays out a basic strategy for permanent action. The paper emphasizes that while full regulatory equivalence is always the ultimate goal, the immediate goal to attain at least full information sharing and a coordination framework among all government bureaucrats under corporate discipline. In other words even if the bureaucracy as a whole can’t immediately achieve total victory over politics and democracy, it’s at least building the ideology and practicing the coordination work for a world of total corporate domination. Even if full equivalence is ever attained, the concept of equivalence in itself is never to be stable, but always in motion, since in principle there is no floor which is low enough for corporate freedom, and no ceiling high enough for the burdens to be imposed on alternative, rival sectors, as well as upon political and legal concepts of democracy, citizenship, legal standing, etc., wherever these could work in favor of human beings.
 
“This process should be oriented to allow stakeholders as well as regulators to identify entire sectors and regulations within sectors which are ripe for an equivalence evaluation. Such a regulatory cooperation component will add a proactive requirement directing and empowering regulators to seek mutual recognition, as well as a process by which regulators would be required to respond to stakeholder-identified opportunities to examine equivalence – neither of which currently exist in the EU or the US.” 
 
Bureaucrats are also to see their job as to undermine existing legislative policy wherever this is counter to the corporate prerogative. The compact is to override “any statutory barriers to cooperation”. They’re to craft and enforce regulations according to corporate specifications. Lower-level bureaucrats as well as higher officials are to have an open-door policy for corporate lobbyists. They’re to be “required to respond” to corporate demands. They’re to conduct pro-corporate assessments and keep the corporations informed of everything they know and do. This is all to apply not just in “trade” contexts but in purely domestic affairs as well. It’s a blueprint for the total corporatization of nominally public bureaucracies under an ideological and disciplinary regime more comprehensive and systematic than hitherto.
 
Corporations are to be closely involved in all regulatory assessments and consultations, adding input as they see fit. But regulators are to have a “proactive requirement” to always be looking for action opportunities on their own. This is a key part of the “evergreen” concept, how everything must constantly be in motion. In the same way a Stalinist was always looking for opportunities to inform and cause arrests, while insufficient activity on this score would become a cause for oneself to be arrested, so the mark of a good regulator is always to be on the lookout for ways to render regulation ever more pro-corporate. He’s to be proactive in evading, gutting, or being aggressive, always creatively interpreting and doing, in service to the corporate imperative. 
 
The most specific attack is on the EU’s precautionary principle. The goal is to replace this in the EU with US-style “ex-post assessments”, meaning that corporations are to be allowed to do whatever they want with no restraints, and then regulators will pretend to assess the effects afterward. As we’ve seen with GMOs, this is state-of-the-art corporatist regulatory doctrine, the radical opposite of the precautionary principle.
 
1. The presumption is to let corporations do whatever they want. This is the way GMOs are “regulated” in the US. The USDA does only a superficial technical assessment, the EPA punts, and the FDA fabricates the ideological lie of “substantial equivalence” to justify its own complete lack of action and the general sham character of US regulation.
 
2. Pretend that the government will assess the result. If there are bad effects, government will impose necessary regulation later. With GMOs this would require labeling (so everyone could easily trace GMOs in the food supply) and epidemiological studies.
 
3. In practice, this assessment will never take place. In practice the US government requires neither labeling nor epidemiological studies. Yet it happily tells the lie that GMOs have been assessed in practice and found to be safe. Since no such assessment is possible without studies, and since the government never performed or required the studies, it’s impossible to know if GMOs aren’t already causing chronic health detriments. This is one of the core Big Lies of cartel and government hacks, that GMOs have been proven safe in practice. In truth there’s zero evidence for this, while the independent studies which have been done have found significant evidence against it. To repeat, government has NEVER tested at all, “ex post” or otherwise. This example, which is typical, proves that the whole notion of replacing the precautionary principle with ex post assessments is a lie. In practice it means gutting the precautionary principle and replacing it with nothing.
 
4. In practice no bad result, if independently discovered, will ever be recognized. Thus the FDA and EFSA have always seen part of their job as to run interference for GMOs against all the independent evidence of their dangers which has been compiled.
 
5. It boils down to getting the corporate action in place. Then as an accomplished fact it can never be dislodged. This is in accord with standard bureaucratic practice – once something exists, it can never be dismantled. The ideology of the “accomplished fact” is also explicit. For example a corollary lie to the canned lie about a fraudulent “scientific consensus” in favor of GMO safety (these days often rebranded, “scientific majority”) is the explicit assertion that there should be a much higher burden of proof on evidence which challenges the dominant ideology. This is fraudulently called “scientific”, but it’s self-evidently nothing but an assertion of Might Makes Right. Actual science, on the contrary, weighs all evidence in the exact same unbiased way, whether it supports or contradicts a popular theory.
 
6. That sums up the basic lie of the whole concept, whose only meaning is to remove ALL regulatory barriers. To put it another way, the goal is to completely dissolve government as such*, other than as the facilitator of the corporate prerogative and political fig leaf for corporate rule.
 
[*In which case we’d be better off without centralized government. Especially under the corporatist framework, statism is stupid from any point of view other than that of the 1%.]
 
All this is more proof that it’s in vain to look to central government regulators for public interest action. For example, the FDA never actually could meaningfully regulate GMOs, including labeling them, since this is not its function in the first place. On the contrary, its function is intrinsically pro-corporate, and this corporatist function is slated to be escalated under these globalization compacts.
 
I dwelt on this goal of gutting the EU’s precautionary principle because:
 
1. This is the #1 specific goal of the US for the TTIP.
 
2. It’s the best example of how the general goal of globalization compacts is to gut even the most threadbare public interest regulation (in practice the EC and EFSA do all they can to evade and subvert the precautionary principle; only strong pressure from the European people forces them to adhere to it to any extent; but EU regulation of GMOs, which much stronger than that of the US, is still badly inadequate) and replace it with sham principles and total freedom of action for these criminal organizations.
 
Section 4 is on “Transatlantic Regulatory Tools” (p.4). This is primarily about enshrining the formal mechanisms of Gleichschaltung. It lists some “possible factors that might trigger the formal consultative role”, including any proposed new regulation or legislation which could affect an existing sector or in an “emerging policy area or developing sector”. So regulators are supposed to call meetings to formulate pro-corporate strategy to deal with any political threat or economic opportunity, as these come up.
 
But the core provision is the ongoing “Regulatory Compatibility Analysis” (RCA) and the permanent overall coordination committee (often called a “Regulatory Council”). This is a formal mechanism to systematize the way US and EU regulators come together to coordinate all their actions, all the while receiving “meaningful input” from the corporations. The goal of it all is to “put stakeholders at the table with regulators to essentially co-write regulation”. The manifesto lists seven questions as a “starting point” for the evergreen “consultation with regulators and stakeholders” (p. 5). These all involve assessing any and all government action from the point of view of costs and savings to the corporations, how much something will “increase transatlantic trade”, whether full equivalence is or isn’t desirable in a particular case, whether or not it’s better to promulgate a regulation within the one-world bureaucracy rather than domestically, and whether or not whole realms of regulation can be dispensed with completely.
 
All of these are to be approached with tactical flexibility. The only constant principle is that every action is to be toward increasing corporate power. Everything else is always in flux, though things like seeking equivalence or completely getting rid of regulation are general principles.
 
There’s a tentative paragraph about how to square coordinated information sharing with “business sensitive” information. The only thing they’re sure about is “harsh penalties for the release of confidential business information outside of a regulator-to-regulator context”. So the compact is to standardize the persecution of whistleblowers and real journalists at a harsh extreme. (This part also gives the lie to the notion that “small and medium businesses” can be part of all this. Are they also to have access to this information sharing? Their own information will be given to the big corporations, of course.)
 
Section 5 lists the “Institutional Provisions” for the overall coordination committee or regulatory council (p. 6). This council is to coordinate communications and timetables, measure progress, propose action of its own, harmonize the actions of coordinated regulators vis “mismatched authorities” like EU member states, US states, attack “failures of regulatory compliance”, and of course “work with stakeholders” throughout.
 
So the regulators and their coordination committee, taxpayer-funded bureaucracies nominally functioning in the public interest, are really supposed to perform cost/savings analysis for the corporations, craft and enforce regulation in the public interest, and then fraudulently tell we the people how they’re really serving us. In this manifesto we have the corporations themselves telling us how what I call regulatory triangulation really works. All this means further collusion, the further binding of corporation and state into the corporate state.
 
There’s a final fig leaf on “Preserving regulator decision-making authority”, which is just a sop to the neoliberal facade. In principle regulators retain a “veto” right to declare particular products outside the scope of the coordination. Of course at this point the “investor dispute settlement” provision would kick in. As we’ll see, regulators are also supposed to give consultations and assessments of regulatory action which help ensure victory at these tribunals.
 
To sum up, the plan is to be vague and flexible wherever necessary during the negotiation of the formal provisions of the globalization compacts (the TPP has its own version of everything here), postponing the most politically inflammatory assaults for the coordination process to follow on a permanent “evergreen” basis.
 
The manifesto I analyzed here was issued by the US Chamber of Commerce and BusinessEurope. Its provisions are typical of the consensus among all corporate “trade” groups and the various sector and industry groups.
 

The proposal is clearly not just any proposal.  On both sides, many other cross-sector business groups explicitly support the proposal or suggest a similar approach in their contributions to the official consultations on TTIP, including BDI (German Industry Association), Confederation of British Industry, Coalitions of Services Industries, British American Business, National Foreign Trade Council, Roundtable on Trade and Competition, Transatlantic Business Council, National Association of Manufacturers, Eurometaux and the United States Council for International Business. Some, notably the Competitive Enterprise Institute, take a step further and demand that businesses are able to choose freely which set of standards and regulations they will apply.

On top of this, 30 business associations, including most of the aforementioned, have written a common letter to the US Trade Representative and to Commissioner de Gucht’s department to stress the importance of a system of “regulatory cooperation”. They include sectoral lobby groups from the chemicals industry, car industry, the financial sector, biotechnology, pharmaceutical industry and many more. They point to the existing structures on regulatory dialogue, the High Level Regulatory Cooperation Forum, and assert that they “can be made much more effective and should include enhanced opportunities for dialogue with stakeholders”.

 
This is explicit confirmation from the corporations themselves that their goal is total economic control and domination, to be leveraged into total political control and domination. This confirms everything I’ve written about corporate totalitarianism and that humanity’s great need is to completely abolish the de jure corporate mode of organization. We have to abolish the corporations completely.
 
In part two I’ll give a similar analysis of the specific demands of the GMO cartel, then in part three the EC’s ardent response to all this.

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February 12, 2014

It’s Official: Monsanto Wants FDA Preemption on GMO Labeling

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The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), Monsanto’s main front group which coordinates propaganda among corporate manufacturers and retailers (who are all under the thumb of the GMO cartel), has put together a coalition of corporate groups calling for FDA preemption of state-level GMO labeling policy.
 
The press release hits all the points, calling upon the FDA to label, to perform “safety reviews”, to define the term “natural” in food labeling, to impose its own regulation on voluntary non-GMO labeling, and to preempt stronger state-level policy. This is the development I’ve been discussing since my November post on preemption. It tells us three things: It further demonstrates the totalitarian, anti-democracy goal of the GMO cartel and of food corporatism in general. It tells us that the state-level fight, in spite of setbacks, is working; it is striking fear in the corporations. And it tells us that Monsanto is confident that the FDA shall do its pro-GMO duty.
 
This also puts in perspective the propaganda of Just Label It and other ostensibly anti-GMO groups who also call for an FDA solution. Aren’t the GMA and JLI talking about the same FDA? Does JLI repose its hopes in the same place Monsanto does? Or do these labeling groups and commenters think there’s two different FDAs?
 
The fact is that there’s only one FDA, and it is pro-corporate by its nature as well as by the conscious intent of its cadres. As I explained in my preemption post (also in this post), a bourgeois bureaucracy is designed in the first place to seek pro-corporate outcomes. So the FDA will be like a fish in water if legislatively mandated along the lines Monsanto and the GMA want.
 
By contrast, if by some miracle Congress told the FDA to really label and regulate GMOs, the FDA would be hostile, obstructionist, and just plain befuddled. The result would be poor at best.
 
As I’ll be writing about at greater length, the impending “regulatory coherence” Gleichschaltung provisions in the TPP and TTIP, if these globalization compacts are ratified and go into force, will further intensify this corporation/regulator affinity.

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November 21, 2013

GMO Labeling and Movement Strategy 4 of 6: The Organizations We Need

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Parts one, two, three.
 
I’ve been saying we need to form permanent grassroots anti-GMO organizations, wherever we are or (for starters) to run parallel to GMO labeling campaigns. Here’s a basic rundown on why we need these.
 
In the context of the labeling effort, we must always keep in mind two facts which are proven by history.
 
1. Concentrated power always inertially encroaches on liberty and democracy, and often aggressively seeks to destroy them. This was one of the basic elements of the political philosophy of the American Revolution. The only solution, short of not allowing power to concentrate in the first place, is vigilance on the part of an active, responsible citizenry.
 
2. Wherever corporatism runs up against regulatory limits (the few that still exist), it will relentlessly, at every moment, seek to destroy them. The war of attrition is a constant wherever corporations exist, and wherever they find any limit whatsoever to the infinitude of their aggressive prerogatives. Corporatism is totalitarian.
 
Assuming that a labeling initiative is voted up, or a labeling bill passed, it will next need to be instituted and enforced by a government which is probably hostile to the policy. Whatever this government tries to do will face the constant hostility and counteraction of the corporations with which the government naturally identifies and sides.
 
(Here I’m talking about state governments. The FDA, of course, is aggressively pro-GMO in principle, and will never try to undertake any policy other than with the approval of the GM cartel. Any FDA labeling policy would focus primarily on preempting lower-level, stronger measures. For these reasons, it’s stupid and malign to want the FDA to take any part in this. No, anyone who truly wants GMO labeling seeks it only at the state and local levels, and completely rejects the notion of putting the FDA in charge.)
 
We can never trust any government on its own to do the right thing by the people. Similarly, we can’t trust system NGOs. These have a long history of collaborating with corporations, seeking top-down central government intervention, selling out democracy, wanting only to look to their own funding and insider influence. Sure enough, many of the outfits involved in the labeling movement openly say they want the FDA to take over from us. Others advertise their goal of finding a “solution” acceptable to the big corporations. Almost all of the “food safety” and “consumer advocate” groups have already worshipped at the feet of Monsanto and the FDA, as they supported the Food Control Act, supported increasing the FDA’s power to assault the community food sector and small farms on behalf of its Big Ag clients, and even pressured the FDA to move faster in imposing its “rules” when it was procrastinating.
 
We know what we can expect from NGO types once an initiative passes. They’ll say, “We won! Now we professionals will hold a conclave with the other stakeholders, government and corporate, and work out the details and look after the deployment. You peasants can go back to sleep. You’ve completed your role. We’ll keep you informed on behalf of the system.” Their agenda is clearly not to help we the people Take Back Our Food. We’re supposed to remain basically passive “consumers”. We’re just supposed to be a little better educated about it.
 
The first purpose of forming permanent grassroots organizations is to ensure that we the people don’t go back to sleep, and that we don’t leave oversight and reporting to “professionals”, but that we continue the job we started. Anything short of this degrades the labeling movement to a temporary interruption of the usual passive consumerist pattern instead of the beginning of active participatory democracy it needs to be.
 
A democratic movement needs its own democratic organizations. If in the course of the labeling movement we build these, we’ll come out stronger even if we lose at the ballot box. The real work toward the real goals of the future will have begun.
 
Forming a permanent organization means permanent action beyond the initial electoral or legislative campaign. In the first place, if the initiative or bill passes we must continue the campaign by turning it into a vigilance campaign. The people’s organization must monitor the rule-making, deployment, and enforcement. It must pressure the government where the government is dragging its feet or being derelict. It must keep its constituency informed and organize the direct pressure of the people on the system to ensure that our right to know is honored and we get our rightful information from the system.
 
But the nature of these organizations as vigilance/pressure groups is only their proximate action. The real goal is the abolition of GMOs. These organizations must explain the need for abolition and propagate the abolitionist idea in reformist contexts. The three basics: Reforms are not sufficient, co-existence is impossible, total abolition is the necessary end goal. In this way the grassroots organizations will serve as a bridge from reformism to fully developed abolitionism.
 
For starters, these organizations can be formed in parallel with various reform campaigns, campaigns led by system NGOs, etc. We can collaborate, join these reform groups and their campaigns, help win the reforms, all the while maintaining the integrity of our own groups, propagating the abolition idea, encouraging reformers to become abolitionists. 
 
(Many such groups won’t fully exemplify all these ideas from the outset. But as events develop, and as we see how the cartel counterattacks, how flimsy system institutions of “democracy” are, how impossible it is to co-exist (politically or physically) with GMOs or the corporations which force them upon us, how there’s no alternative to total abolition, the real fighters for freedom and democracy will become abolitionists, and the real groups will evolve to this position.)
 
What will these abolition organizations do? They’ll need to sustain themselves, and recruit writers/analysts, organizers, speakers, activists. The first task is to publicize the abolition idea relentlessly, in a focused, disciplined way, as broadly as possible so that this idea becomes part of the public consciousness.
 
1. So that GMOs are known for all their evils. In particular, that they’re recognized as a tremendous economic bottleneck, and as poisons.
 
2. Their abolition is linked with every kind of health, economic, political, social goal. They’re at the core of the general anti-poison and anti-corporatist movement.
 
3. The cartel’s position is weak, it can be toppled, GMOs can be abolished.
 
At first, this doesn’t have to mean convincing the public. The first task is to make the abolition idea something people think of on a regular basis, an idea that’s available, doable, worthwhile for all sorts of reasons.
 
Why wait for the corporate state to label the corporate product? We can label the whole system ourselves. We can label the brands, we can label the retailers, we can label the manufacturers, we can label the government bureaucracies (FDA and USDA) which serve as pro-GMO propagandists and thugs, we can label the NGOs who run interference for Monsanto, we can label GMOs in general, we can label corporate and industrial ag as a whole.
 
We can label these as unwanted, worthless, pointless, inefficient, anti-innovation, uneconomic, bad for our health, bad for our crops, bad for our food, bad for our water, bad for our soil, bad for our environment, bad for our politics, bad for our economies, bad for our societies, impossible to sustain in their fossil fuel use, impossible to sustain in their water use, impossible to sustain in their destruction of the soil, guaranteed to lead to famine and debt indenture for us all.
 
So the organization will provide day-to-day reportage, synthetic reports, analysis, philosophy. It will encourage consumers to shun GMO products, individuals to purge them from their diets, and for citizens to then spread the word about how they did this, that it wasn’t so difficult, and all the benefits that ensued. We’ll spread the word about GMOs on a personal level, foster public discussions, and undertake public presentations about them. The organizations will provide guidance on doing this and on how to get community discussion groups going.
 
Beyond this we’ll undertake whatever actions are promising, for their own sakes and to further the goals of recruitment and publicity. I’ll write more about these in Part Five. For now I’ll just say that although I’ve been writing about these permanent grassroots organizations as forming amid the context of the labeling movement, as the main form of anti-GMO activism right now, and to some extent in response to the need for vigilance/pressure groups which this movement generates, labeling is in fact just one of an array of anti-GMO actions and campaigns. It should be undertaken, not exclusively, but as one part of a broad strategy.
 
We must place all this in the context of a general critique of corporate industrial agriculture as agronomically and environmentally destructive, politically and economically inefficient, anti-innovation, stifling, and malign, unsustainable on a practical level, unable to cope with any of humanity’s needs, from providing food to providing prosperity, self-fulfillment, and happiness.
 
The war of ideas must contrast this malign system with the great affirmative solution, decentralized organic farming and agroecology as the basic agricultural solution, Food Sovereignty as the basic political and socioeconomic form of society.
 
These ideas, too, must be developed and systematically, relentlessly publicized through writing, public speaking, and interpersonal discussion.
 
Meanwhile the ground is ready for a true Community Food movement to cohere, and this political/social movement is already being built, parallel to its spontaneous rise as a new and distinct economic sector. The GMO abolitionist movement, as a vector of anti-corporate, pro-democracy ideas, is separate from but complements this Community Food movement.
 
All this is in the best participatory spirit and practice. The point is to be our own activists and have our own organization. As Lawrence Goodwyn analyzed in his great book on the 19th century Populist movement, its triumphs and the reasons for its eventual failure, this kind of movement building is the way to build the necessary individual self-respect and political self-confidence which make organization so potent. We must build the will to organize, to act cooperatively, have the fortitude and patience to build a true movement, which is the only possible foundation of all democratic politics and economic practice.
 
(As I’ll write about in Part Six, one of the problems with labeling campaigns as they’ve existed so far is that they’re typical examples of putting the political cart before the movement horse. That’s part of why so far the initiatives have been failing.)

 
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November 17, 2013

The GMO Soy Project Faltering? It’s the FDA To the Rescue!

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It’s a typical dynamic of corporatism. Corporate aggression and government nanny-statism work hand in glove.
 
In this case it’s the FDA’s proposed ban on trans fats. Trans fats are an artificially generated problem of corporate food and of the industrial soybean project in particular.
 
Soybeans, like corn, are the subjects of a US government planned economy based on maximizing production without regard to any actual demand, and then forcing the overproduction into the marketplace by any means possible. Thus processed food was reinvented to buy up as much soy as possible.
 
But soybean oil doesn’t work very well for industrial food. It quickly turns rancid. In order to give it a tenable shelf life, it has to be hydrogenated. And this fills it with trans fats. The answer is to use other oils, not to hydrogenate this one. But that would hinder the corporate soy project. So the Tower of Babel must be built higher.
 
(Meanwhile there are health risks from the industrial soy diet in general. In Asian cuisine soy is eaten in a particular way – limited amounts, mostly as a condiment, with nutritionally complementary foods. But the way unfermented soy is crammed down the Western maw generates hormonal problems, thyroid problems, and may contribute to some cancers. The answer is to eat less soy period, and to eat it the way Asians do.)
 
On account of the trans fat problem, restaurants and manufacturers have switched on a large scale to other oils. This has indeed hindered the corporate soy project. In particular, shiny new Monsanto and DuPont GMO varieties, allegedly engineered to produce a lower-rancidity fat, all USDA-approved and dressed up for the ball, are languishing with few customers and few plantings. Poor little dears. What shall become of them?
 
THIS is a job for the FDA! And for the NYT, never backward in shilling for Monsanto. According to the piece, Monsanto and DuPont have high hopes that an effective ban on partially hydrogenated oils (which the FDA proposal would achieve) would open up a big market opportunity to reclaim lost soybean oil share.
 
The goal: Build the Tower of Babel yet higher!
 
No legitimate profit opportunity? Get the government to construct a planned economy of soy productionism! No market for it? Get the food industry to massively use soy oil! Soy oil doesn’t work, because it turns rancid? Hydrogenate it! Hydrogenation makes the food so unhealthy that even the FDA has to acknowledge it? Replace the regular (Roundup Ready GMO) soy with specially gene-silenced RR soy!
 
And what to do about the even worse problems this will lead to? Never fear – when psychopathy combines with power, no problem can’t be transcended by making it even worse. 
 
The piece is laden with standard corporate media lies: That this product would benefit consumers (replacing just one of the many poisons in a product with an even worse one is not a benefit); that existing GMOs benefit farmers (as the NYT hack knows, existing GMOs cost farmers more in input costs, and further indenture them economically); that GMOs were meant to help control weeds and insects (they were meant to escalate corporate profit, enclosure, control, power, domination; meanwhile the cartel knew that weed and insect control would quickly be subject to an ever-accelerating process of planned obsolescence as the RR and Bt-expressing crops dialectically generated superweeds and superbugs against themselves; this was part of Monsanto’s business plan); that the two new varieties were safety reviewed by the FDA (a “voluntary” review, no less!). As the NYT hack knows, the FDA doesn’t require any safety tests for ANY GMO. The voluntary process goes like this: Monsanto sends a letter to the FDA saying “this product is safe”. The FDA writes back saying “we understand that you say this product is safe”. That’s it. That’s the whole thing. Monsanto goes ahead and says the FDA signed off on the product’s safety, the FDA endorses this lie, and the corporate media starting with the NYT propagates the lie.
 
(There’s also an appearance by Michael Jacobson of the CSPI, which is rapidly becoming one of the most prominent of Monsanto front groups, and Jacobson himself one of the most vile shills.)
 
Meanwhile, the double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) genetic engineering process used in these soybeans presents special health hazards in addition to all the usual ones for which the federal government never requires safety testing. Not did it require testing in this case, in spite of the fact that this technology presents such health risks that even researchers within the USDA itself called for testing.
 
As the piece ruefully admits, this may be too little too late. Most restaurants and manufacturers have moved on to other oils. (Not that these are much better – GMO canola and palm oil, just as environmentally and socioeconomically ravaging as any GMO. The point is that corporate industrial agriculture and its food system as such is a poisonous, destructive, unhealthy system that produces toxic, expensive, poor-quality food.) Soybean oil has lost significant market share since 2005. An anonymous cadre from “one of the country’s largest food companies” said his company had already largely completed the switch to canola, “so I’m not sure why we would need to switch to these other products.”
 
But the soy-industrial complex is expressing optimism, and who knows what kind of government subsidies and other corporate welfare may be deployed to drive down the wholesale price of soybeans and soy oil so that it can regain that lost market share? The only thing we can be sure of is that the farmers themselves won’t see a cent of the “benefit” the corporate media trumpets.
 
Meanwhile, as usual there’s a perfectly good alternative within the soy complex itself. “Monsanto and Dow [sic; probably a typo for DuPont] could also face competition from a high-oleic soybean developed through conventional breeding, not genetic engineering, by researchers at the University of Missouri and the Agriculture Department.”
 
This kind of caveat can almost always be added to any media puff piece touting the latest greatest GMO. Indeed, the GM varieties have almost always merely pirated such conventionally bred varieties, merely injecting them with glyphosate tolerance so more poison can be sprayed upon them, rendering them toxic and nutritionally worthless.
 
So there you have it. This product merely builds upon an already tottering structure of failure and unhealthiness, and if you insist on continuing to build, lower cost and safer material exists.
 
But the US government is never interested in pushing the conventional alternative, since this isn’t profitable for its master Monsanto, it doesn’t contribute to the totalitarian enclosure of agriculture and food the way a proprietary GMO does, and it doesn’t contribute to the overarching corporatist role of GMOs in propping up corporatism as a whole.
 
Meanwhile the true alternative, for productive agriculture and healthy, delicious food, is decentralized agroecology. 
 

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November 14, 2013

FDA Against Direct Retail Farms, Rules Under Food Control Act Being Finalized

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Even as millions of Americans are learning about the critical need to rebuild our local food infrastructure, and as the community food sector continues its exponential growth, Big Ag and its adjunct FDA are trying to smother this movement by imposing inappropriate and strangling requirements on small direct retail farms.
 
This is being attempted through what I’ve long called the Food Control Act, although its official Orwellian name is the “Food Safety Modernization Act”. This name conveys the fraudulent “war on terror” character of this top-down propaganda and policy blitz, and how its goal is to further consolidate corporate control over agriculture and the food system. Although an amendment to this law was supposed to exempt small farms and force the FDA to put its focus where it belongs, on the big corporate producers who generate all significant food safety problems, the FDA is trying to evade this exemption.
 
Under Monsanto executive and FDA “food czar” Michael Taylor, the new rules about to be imposed by the FDA would impose crushing burdens on small farmers. These rules have nothing to do with rational food safety measures, but have only the goal of smashing an economic competitor to Big Ag, i.e. the truly unsafe food system. 
 
The deadline to comment on this is Friday, November 15th. Here’s links to information pages and comment forms which have been set up by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) and the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA). Anyone who cares about the future of sustainable farming, healthy food, and democracy itself had better care about this.

 
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