Volatility

January 23, 2019

Earthways

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Where I live in northern New Jersey I walk through succession woodlands mostly of beech, birches, several kinds of red and white oak, maples, elms, black cherry and hickory, with scattered groups of conifers – white and pitch pines, red cedars, hemlocks.
 
Currently this is a temperate climate, a place long farmed and later built up, but today with large spaces of resumed woodland. The forest is growing back and restoring old growth ecology given freedom and time.
 
This is life, the natural ecology for this climate and soil, for the natural community and for the human soul. The forest is our home, where we were born and evolved and from whence we once set out on an open road which we chose to make a road to nowhere. In the same way we chose to revile our origin and ancestry, the way so many vagrants do, and to deny the possibility of home by destroying its image everywhere we see it.
 
Against the trees we call the grassland our home and even totemize it with the urban and suburban fetish of lawns. Of course civilization also hates wild grasslands and rampantly destroys these as well but at least gives them fake honors while regarding the trees with horror and contempt.
 
Silvicide, deforestation on every level, from the mass murder of clear-cut logging to mass destruction in order to clear space for agriculture, tree plantations, and pavement, right down to individual suburbanite tree-killing, is a campaign of invasion and total war. It’s every bit as destructive and murderous as the Nazi invasion of Russia but is happening everywhere and nowhere. Therefore it’s not seen the same way by those indoctrinated into official notions of history, which mostly is about human-on-human violence within civilization’s framework. Civilization-on-uncivilized-human violence, and civilization-on-Gaia violence, are regarded as outside history, even as necessary primitive accumulation in order for history to begin.
 
History conceived and written as a sub-discipline of natural history is an educational reform which will have to wait for the great ecological correction and collapse of the production-consumption-technocratic-extreme energy civilization. Then history will see the campaigns of ecocide as they really are, and will place all genocide in this context since the two go together.
 
Today in Brazil the new Bolsonaro government promises to eradicate all remaining indigenous peoples, by forced assimilation if possible, by mass murder if necessary. There are many expressing concern about this in the West. But in spite of the often smug hand-wringing of these Good People of the West, they represent the same campaign of ecocide-genocide Bolsonaro does: The ongoing destruction of the Earth and its peoples for the sake of the Economic Civilization.
 
What’s your position on industrial agriculture? On commodity logging and tree plantations? Your position on these dictates your real positions on everything else, since all else stems from support for or opposition to ecocide and the destruction of habitats, which is nothing less than the destruction of the very basis for life, our own most of all. This includes the ability and space for peoples to live traditionally, to live in peace and freedom and provide their own shelter. This includes food sovereignty and food security, the skills and land and healthy soil, the peace and freedom of a community to grow its own food. This includes the climate, clean air and water, the enhancement or destruction of natural habitat and biodiversity. (Not “conservation”; everything always is in flux of building or tearing down. In the context of total ecocidal war to say one wants to stand still is to concede ecological death, only “more slowly”.)
 
From there this ecological world view, or lack of it, dictates all the mere “politics” of the squatter-vandal civilization. Are yours the politics of squatters on the surface of Earth who want to remain squatters, always taking never giving? Vandals who want to remain vandals? Or are yours the earthways of those who recognize that ecocide and the mass murder-suicide of humanity are inextricably conjoined evils, that this portends total destruction for humanity and the attempted final murder of Gaia, that all the internal human evils of the civilization stem from the basic ecocidal campaign which is the core activity of this civilization.
 
The only way possible is to end all commodity production and consumption (waste and destruction), end all industrial energy generation, and redeem human ways of truly renewable usufruct living amid the truly renewable earthways. Only in this way can humanity physically survive and begin to give back to the Earth which has given literally everything we have. Only in this way can we stop being the destruction (“green” destruction is still destruction) and become part of the ecological renaissance, revolution and restoration. Only in this way can we avert the worst of climate chaos and the sixth mass extinction. Only in this way will we find our long-lost souls again, where after such a prodigal death-marching we once again walk lightly among the forests once again attaining their primeval communities.
 
 
 
 
 

January 1, 2019

Carbon Sinks

Filed under: Agroecology, Climate Crisis, Food and Farms — Tags: , , — Russell Bangs @ 12:18 pm

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Far more carbon is stored, “sunken” in the soil than in the atmosphere and in all living bodies combined. Whenever forest or grassland or wetland is destroyed, and the soil dried out or ripped up, vast amounts of this sunk carbon is released into the atmosphere. (Wetlands destruction is one of the main sources of methane emission; methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than CO2.) In the same way, to destroy a natural community like a forest or grassland or wetland and replace it with any kind of monoculture or suburbia always means a great emission of carbon contained in the natural network of organisms compared to whatever threadbare monoculture is imposed in place of that network. That’s in addition to all the emissions from the industrial infrastructure within which systems like industrial agriculture are ensconced.
 
(For industrial agriculture: Mining, transportation, oil- and gas-based inputs, farming machinery, transportation, commodity machinery, transportation, food manufacturing, transportation, retailing, transportation, preparation in the residence. We can trace a similar oil/gas/coal infrastructure for industrial “renewables” like wind and solar.)
 
So all “carbon-neutral” claims for industrial systems superimposed over the destruction of natural ecologies are lies. In every case huge amounts of carbon which were sunk in the ground and in natural biomass are emitted to the air, and whatever is imposed in place of the natural order sinks or incarnates only a fraction at best of what the natural ecology used to sink and incarnate.
 
The way to reverse this is:
 
1. Stop destroying what little forest, grassland, wetland still exists. This will halt the destruction of sinks.
 
2. Let these resume the habitats where they naturally would prevail. This will begin to rebuild natural sinks.
 
3. We must transform food production from industrial commodity agriculture which destroys sinks and produces only corporate commodities, from which food for people is then supposed to “trickle down”, to agroecological horticulture.* Organized according to food sovereignty and using agroecology we the people grow abundant wholesome food for ourselves and our community and region, not commodities for globalization. We do so in harmony with natural processes and on the ecologically right kind of land. We disturb the environment far less while producing far more food per acre in terms of both calories and nutrition than industrial monocultures. We use the science of building the soil both for improved food growth and to incorporate the greatest amount of soil organic matter. We can grow food in this way which is truly carbon neutral and even help sink more carbon. The industrial agriculture implicitly or explicitly supported by the whole green capitalism crew never could do this. Quite the extreme opposite.
 
 
*The sustainable mix includes agroecology, forage, community-based livestock pastoralism (never commodity-based or industrial, which is never sustainable), community-based hunting and fishing (never commodity-based or industrial, which is never sustainable).
 
 
 
 
 
 

December 15, 2018

The Basic Ecological Flow of Modern Civilization

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Over the long run the ecological measure is the one and only real measure for life on Earth. All the artificial measures of Babylon which currently seem so powerful, which often seem even to have superseded the measure of life itself, are ephemeral. The best example is the most extreme example. The fakeness of money, which through global financialization claims to be the most granite reality of all, is just the most extreme fakeness of a civilization whose adamantine towers are always just one breeze away from toppling. These measures of rock built on sand are measures only for the very short run, however long that seems to the victims, and to we ecological dissidents.
 
And so ecology is the only reality-based measure. What’s the basic ecological cycle and flow of modern civilization?
 
1. Extract fossil fuels (and fossil water, fossil phosphorus, minerals, everything which can be exploited for productionism), mine all “resources” (anything and everything including human beings is nothing but a resource), theoretically renewable or not, such that it renders them non-renewable.
 
2. Put all this into motion as aggressively, chaotically, destructively as possible. (Their ideologues call this “creative destruction”.) Force everything and everyone to participate in frenzied action to no purpose. What is the ecological purpose of any action characteristic of civilization? None whatsoever, other than destruction for the sake of destruction. Damage, ravage, poison, destroy the ecology. From the point of view of ecology, the only reality-based measure, almost all civilized hominid action serves zero purpose but destruction.
 
A simple ratio demonstrates this: Look at any hominid and tally what he takes from the Earth, and what he gives to the Earth.* In the case of almost any civilized hominid it’ll be difficult or impossible to discern in what way he’s anything but a pure parasite. And in almost all cases gratuitously destructive as well, a vandal as well as a parasite.
 
3. As the waste product of the pointless frenzy, fill the atmosphere with greenhouse gases and other wastes, fill the water with pollutants, accumulate plastic and other wastes in the oceans, suffuse the general environment with plastics, industrial and agricultural poisons, and every other kind of waste. For as long as the ecology functions, some of this waste biodegrades, some only very slowly, some, especially plastics, maybe not at all. The more waste accumulates the greater the pressure on the ecology to break down and cease function.
 
 
There’s the ecological essence of modern civilization: Extraction of non-renewable “resources”, pointless orgy, massive and terminal buildup of waste and toxification. The ecological measure is the only real measure, over the long run. For civilization it’s a suicide race. Which will come first: Resource depletion, the orgy going to nuclear war or total pandemic, general ecological collapse? Which mode of death: Starvation, shooting yourself, poisoning yourself.
 
The only real questions are, once the nightmare’s over and what’s left behind is a Learian desolation, how much will be left for Gaia to use to rebuild, and at what stability or chaos of a new phase state.
 
This is the long run history of the future. There’s a popular Keynes quote, “In the long run we’re all dead.”
 
Yes. And “Homo sapiens” is determined to make that long run as short as possible for itself as a species. In its civilized form H. domesticus it wants to make life itself extinct. The suicide race also is a homicide race – how much of Gaia can civilization murder before it kills itself. And what can ecological dissidents do: To defend and conserve until the clock runs out; to fight back; even to speed up the clock.
 
 
*To anticipate trolls or even honest questions, here’s what I give to the Earth: On all the land available to me I grow food according to agroecological principles (aka organically). Beyond directly growing food I’ve been active in the community food movement, dedicated to restoring natural modes of food production and distribution, for almost ten years now. I’m a writer and educator, director of two community gardens, have worked at a farmers market and at our herbal medicine garden. In these ways I act and propagate ideas toward restoring these more ecological modes. All voluntary aspects of my life are on Gaia’s vector.
 
I would like to be a full time farmer if I had my rightful place on the land. Civilization encloses the land for only idle or destructive purposes. I’m foreclosed by the religion of money (Mammon), the religion of property, the police. This is to explain how civilization forces limits on how much any of us who isn’t rich or otherwise lucky can give.
 
I offer Gaia my writing, I propagate the necessary ideas to whatever extent I’m able and anyone’s listening. I do all I can to speak to fellow mammals amid the underbrush, calling upon us to wait out the dinosaurs, destroying their eggs whenever we can. I do the maximum I can do. And I engage in no high-impact, high-GHG actions except under duress. I’m conscripted into driving a car; if I could abolish the car completely I’d do so in a second. If I could press a button and cause all fossil fuels to disappear immediately, I’d do so in a second.
 
I envision the coming ecological restoration of humanity, the coming natural community which includes humanity as fully giving and receiving participant. And until then I do what I can to envision the ideas and organization we need today, in order to endure and carry through the little that’s worthwhile, and take whatever action we can.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

July 29, 2018

Notes on the Industrial Organic Sector

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

March 24, 2018

Fight the Right Target (Animal Activism Case)

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For those who truly want to liberate animals, humanity, and the Earth, THIS is the target, not small farms

 
 
According to the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF), animal rights activists launched an action against Long Shadow Farm in Colorado. I haven’t personally been to Long Shadow, but based on the tactics described in the article, the farm’s website and the imprimatur of the FTCLDF it looks like they’re the kind of small pastoral farm which must be the basis of all healthy, humane and ecological animal farming for the Food Sovereignty movement.
 
Therefore it’s an unfortunate clash where animal activists who ought to make their focus the abolition of CAFOs choose instead to target such a small, benevolent operation. Of course from the point of view of the more extreme form of animal welfare, any kind of husbandry automatically is bad. (Though I’ve never heard a coherent prescription from any of them; in my experience the vast majority of animal activists are grossly ignorant about food, agriculture*, economics, and probably ecology as well – for most it’s a typical boutique “cause”, like Prius-driving, luxury vacation-flying “climate activists”.) But even they, if they have any sane sense of magnitude, must agree that a CAFO is infinitely more cruel than a small pasturage. And they must also agree that CAFOs must be abolished, not only on the moral ground that they’re literally the equivalent of the Nazi death camps, but also on critical ecological, agronomic, socioeconomic, and public health grounds, all crises where small pasturages are, at the very least, doing no harm.
 
Therefore I have to question the sincerity and, probably, the physical courage of activists who would duck away from taking on the big corporate target in order to attack the much easier, shall we say softer small farm target. I also wonder another thing. Most animal welfare types display a great enthusiasm for commodity industrial agriculture. Specifically, they usually tout as their “solution” that corporate industrial grains should be used as “food for people” instead of as CAFO feed. This demonstrates a perfect ignorance of capitalism in general and agribusiness in particular, which depends upon CAFOs as the subsidized “demand” for the overproduced grain. This is innate to capitalism and to productionism as such. Conversely, the kind of system which maximizes industrial grain in the first place would never focus on food for people as its goal, since this goal does not serve to maximize power, profit, and destruction. I’ll also observe that such a prescription highlights the activists’ lack of concern for the plight of agricultural workers and the millions driven off their land by these plantations. But like I said, these mostly are white Western liberals who automatically despise unskilled workers, especially brown ones, and who effectively regard the totally dispossessed as not human at all.
 
Given this, I wonder how much of the special animus animal welfare types hold against small pastoral farms is driven, not just by a general belief that any kind of animal husbandry automatically is exploitative and cruel, but by the standard technocratic statist hatred of any activity outside the corporate system, hatred especially for the Community Food sector. In the same way that mainstream food NGOs have more in common with Monsanto than they do with small farmers (especially Southern brown farmers), indigenous peoples, and grassroots democracy activists, so the average Western liberal is likely to hold more in common with big corporate structures as such, including even the CAFO system, than with decentralized, uncorporatized economic systems. Again, it’s no accident that the same who deplore CAFOs tend to move smoothly to exalting the grain and vegetable equivalent of CAFOs, even though the corporate agriculture and food system is an integrated whole, every one of whose parts drives the all the pathologies of the whole. Of course an industrial soy field is an ecological disaster different only in degree from a pig CAFO. The underlying psychological and moral premise is the same.
 
As for the special animus I mentioned, I’ve seen lots of squabbles between small animal farmers and vegan types, including some on both sides of my personal acquaintance. And while grass farmers sometimes do bait animal welfare people, in my experience it’s far more common for animal people to single out small husbandry for special abuse, as if this kind of activity were especially loathesome to them. In that connection, I’ll add that the FTCLDF’s article on this incident was more fair in describing the motivations of anti-cruelty activists, and in giving them credit for their excellent exposures of CAFO horrors, than the depictions of small pastoral operations that I’ve seen in the animal welfare literature.
 
To close where I began, the abolition of CAFOs is a critical human and ecological need for the many reasons I briefly listed above. The community food movement, animal and vegetable farmers, all agree on this. Presumably most animal activists would agree also. That’s why the focus of their action ought to be on the main target and not on a key part of the rising Community Food sector, whose expansion and flourishing is the equal affirmative need corresponding with the great abolition need. Therefore it’s unfortunate where two such important groups conflict.
 
But it’s also unfortunate that many who oppose some notion of animal cruelty seem not to agree on the overall destructiveness and unsustainability of the corporate food system as such. Perhaps many of them usually support that system against any attempt to operate outside it. (We saw how all the food NGOs supported Big Ag’s “Food Safety Modernization Act”.) It seems these are the reasons that the conflict is so largely driven, not by the small farms but by the animal activists. Of course they’d reply that they regard these farms as cruel as well, and probably most of them believe that. But as I described here, only bad faith or a grotesque lapse of proportion could cause them to lose sight of the main goal, the abolition of CAFOs. Certainly if I were an animal activist I’d eat, drink, and sleep nothing but this goal.
 
In the end CAFOs, like the rest of industrial agriculture, are unsustainable and will cease to exist. We who fight to build Food Sovereignty will win in the end, with or without the assistance of the animal welfare movement. It’s up to them to decide whether they’re really part of opposing corporate power and industrial ravage, and whether they really want to help build a human, ecological future, or whether like the climate crocodiles they’re just another stupid self-indulgence amid Babylon.
 
*I used to think agroecology wasn’t sustainable without the supplement of animal manures. Invariably, any alternative I’ve seen touted by animal activists turned out to be based on more or less hidden fossil fuel supplements. The few times I discussed this with vegans or animal activists I told them I was willing to be convinced otherwise, and that researching this question would be a useful thing for them to do. None ever took me up on it.
 
Ironically, the more I’ve researched cover cropping the more convinced I’ve become that with maximal cover cropping and composting, a truly vegan agroecological horticulture probably could work. But I got no help from the vegans themselves in reaching this conclusion.
 
 
 
 
 

December 26, 2017

Genesis and Anti-Genesis

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The dominant religions of today have their version of the book of life and the lake of fire. They give themselves the false moniker “life sciences”, though theirs is more verily a necrology. We know that the corporate power system and the scientism cult seek to wipe out all natural and humanly crafted ecology and replace these with their centrally engineered technological pseudo-ecology. They do this for profit reasons, reasons of power and control, and out of religious zealotry.
 
Let’s look to their own mythology and self-image. Star Trek II and its sequel featured a technology called the Genesis Device. According to government propaganda it was to be used to seed barren planets and moons with proliferant life. But what if instead of deploying it on a barren planet they fired it into a planet which already had indigenous life? It would be a weapon of planetary genocide and ecocide. Power could have no other plan for it. Even if we grant the mythical “good intentions” at the outset, once all the so-called empty space is filled, action demands that the already-occupied space be re-occupied. This is the fundamental logic of power. History proves that once power is concentrated it can never stop concentrating. Power becomes and remains inherently aggressive the moment it’s allowed to begin the concentration process.
 
This is true at the secular level of the corporate technocracy and at the religious level of Mammon and scientism. Whether conceived religiously or at a more mundane level, the corporation represents the ultimate form of this totalitarian process. It elegantly concentrates all the energies of greed, aggression, powerlust, egotism, sadism, hatred, and places them all at the service of profiteering and power-seeking. In turn, the profit motive is the most purely concentrated sociopathic assault on every value, institution, and physical creature, except insofar as any of these can serve the ends of profit. Profit is the one and only end, money relations the one and only relation. All means, and literally all of existence, are to be judged instrumentally, relative to this end. Corporations, purely sociopathic in principle, obligated in principle to the profit motive and nothing but the profit motive, are the organizational form of this totalizing process. This is the essence of Mammon, and the essence of technocracy.
 
Corporate technocracy has no choice but to completely encompass the globe. By its very nature it can tolerate no limit upon its expansion. Up against any limit whatsoever, profiteering immediately stagnates and soon collapses. It must fully reach the extreme limits of the earth itself, and then dream of going beyond. As Cecil Rhodes put it, “I would annex the stars if I could.” Thus he found the words to express the cancer of the mind which drives all cadres of these cults. Anyone who fantasizes about “getting off the rock” is an enemy of humanity and the Earth.
 
The religious fantasies of interstellar colonization and asteroid mining are pipe dreams. If there were ever enough fossil fuels to seed such a project which would send the likes of Bill Gates, Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump to the stars (anyone who’s not an idiot knows such colonization would be only for the 1% and its flunkeys while humanity dies on its destroyed rock), the system long since has squandered them on more terrestrial luxuries. Alas, these fanatics are stuck with the planet we have, and they must kill and violently die upon it. Expansion, colonization, financialization, the corporate welfare state, these are all attempts at meta-profiteering, the capture of all society and economy within the fictive bonds of Mammon’s tokens, the corporate mark, the hypnosis of propaganda.
 
Mammon is trying to use its globalized economy of phony cash and debt to gather all real assets and resources in its hands. But this too has a strict limit. In the end the earth is finite, and its most important resources, those of food and water, are renewable. These are the essence of the globe’s indigenous cycle of life. Humanity is anchored in this cycle, and when the vicious parasite finally is purged, humanity amid nature shall remain intact.
 
But what if Mammon and technocracy could find a way to destroy indigenous nature and replace it with a proprietary, enclosed pseudo-nature sufficient to sustain some version of hominid life? This would, at one stroke, wipe the slate clean and replace a full planet with an empty one, ready to be recolonized and re-enclosed. At the same time it would prevent the redemption of the Earth and wipe out the final land base for any form of independent human existence. Once we’re forced into dependence upon the corporate Satan for our literal food – first politically, through tyrannical police enforcement of patent prerogatives, and eventually physically, as the seeds will be engineered to render their replanting physically impossible – it will be the end of any human hope whatsoever.
 
That’s the goal of GMO imperialism: To drive out nature itself and replace it with the corporate-marked pseudo-flora and fauna. They intend this to be the death blow to the resistance of humanity and Earth and plan to open up a literal new world for Mammon’s accumulation and domination. In principle this process will be infinitely repeatable, as each genetically engineered “order” is superseded by a new one, much like how Louis XIV would sell titles of nobility, then declare them void and resell them. Repeat as necessary. Each time the globe shall be wiped clean to present Mammon and Science with a blank slate. This will be the final, fullest development of disaster capitalism, which by now is synonymous with capitalism itself. This will be the ultimate harmony of total destructive chaos and total order. This harmonized contradiction is the holy grail of totalitarianism. It is the anti-religion vs. all religion, the anti-science vs. all science, the anti-reason vs. all reason. It will use its pesticides to exterminate all seed of the Garden of Eden once and for all and prevent by force the descent of the New City. It will prevent forever the building of civilization. This is the nightmare and the goal
 
They shall fail and this evil shall be destroyed. Gaia shall destroy them, humanity shall help. The fraudulent anti-miracles of corporate technology such as the pesticide/GMO complex cannot in fact sustain life. They’ve done nothing but fail in every way while subverting all physical health and fertility. This system can lead to nothing but total biological collapse. It would be a race to see what happens first – a catastrophic crop failure and subsequent famine pandemic, or a non-linear health cataclysm suddenly crippling people after years of ingesting these poisons.
 
But this is irrelevant to Mammon and irrelevant to the corporate imperative, which cares about nothing but carrying out its power mission for as long as the corporate-technocratic system exists. Think of the Terminator and its single-minded murderous focus. That’s the character of totalitarian psychopathy in individuals, groups, and organizational forms. Indeed, this appetite for collapse is a feature, not a bug. The system considers the hyper-vulnerability of monoculture in general and GMO monoculture in particular to be desirable. That’s why the system is unconcerned with the strength of Bt- and herbicide-resistant superbugs and superweeds. This always was a desired outcome, since it now escalates biological warfare, requiring the purchase of ever greater amounts and varieties of herbicide and ever more expensive proprietary seeds. Each new GMO generation is more expensive than the failed one it must replace. GMOs were the epitome of disaster capitalism from their inception. We’ve long known that corporate agriculture, via the Big Lie of the “green revolution”, seeks scarcity and disaster, not plenty. Only continuous disaster makes capitalism and corporate domination possible at all. Thus we have the preparation of the GMO Genesis Device, whose goal is to wipe out a flourishing living planet and fill the artificial dead zone with its synthesized “life” whose one and only goal will be to continue the hideous death march of profit.
 
Earth shall destroy them, and humanity shall help. This abuse of ecology and humanity contains its own destruction as it triggers the counteractions of revolution. Politically and ecologically it is unsustainable.
 
The situation is untenable and intolerable. We must, with all organized speed, decentralize, relocalize, and democratize food production and distribution on the basis of agroecology and food sovereignty.
 
 
Propagate the necessary new ideas. Destroy the dinosaurs’ eggs every chance you get.
 
 
 

December 19, 2017

The Dicamba Crisis (Part 1)

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Decades of experience prove the model of agriculture based on pesticides doesn’t work and is unsustainable. A rational, honest person would long ago have rejected poison-based agriculture in favor of agroecology. They would have had a “Show Me” attitude toward Missouri-based Monsanto’s proposition that the GMO version of this poison model would be any different, and they quickly would have realized it’s the same failure.
 
That’s how we know support for GMOs, and continued support for pesticides, has zero to do with reason and science. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the case of the resurrection of such herbicides as 2,4-D and dicamba which the GMO paradigm previously declared obsolete. Nowhere is the big lie more obvious than in the case of how dicamba’s new GMO-based escalation immediately precipitated the most acute American agricultural crisis since the Southern corn leaf blight epidemic of 1970.
 
In the 1990s Monsanto rolled out its glyphosate-tolerant Roundup Ready product line of GM crops. One of the big selling points was that glyphosate allegedly was less harmful to human health, the environment, and other crops than dicamba and 2,4-D. Monsanto and the USDA promised Roundup Ready would permanently supersede these bad old poisons. Monsanto and the USDA also promised weeds never would become resistant to glyphosate.
 
As anyone could have predicted and many did, these were both lies. Within a few years Roundup-resistant weeds began to proliferate. Soon the same old arms race was on between ever more commonplace and resistant weeds and escalating glyphosate applications. A few more years and Roundup Ready was in ruins, glyphosate near worthless, glyphosate-resistant weeds on a triumphal march across America’s farmland.
 
Monsanto was lying when it claimed Roundup Ready was the final word on weed control. On the contrary, as per the standard corporate program of planned obsolescence the company developed a new type of herbicide tolerant GMO in anticipation of the obsolescence of Roundup Ready. Monsanto’s new flagship product, designed to rescue the company from its Roundup dependency and lift it to new heights of dominion and profitability, is the Xtend system of dicamba herbicide and dicamba-tolerant GM cotton and soybeans. In 2015 Monsanto put Xtend cotton seed on the market, in 2016 Xtend soybeans. The EPA was uncharacteristically slow and didn’t approve the new Monsanto and BASF dicamba formulations until autumn of 2016. In 2017, in tandem with the new and allegedly improved brand-name dicamba, Monsanto was able significantly to escalate the acreage of Xtend soybean sales.
 
Knowledgeable commentators long forsaw problems. Pesticide drift has always been a problem, and this problem is especially acute with dicamba. Prior to the advent of the Xtend system dicamba was used only early in the season before crops had sprouted and under weather conditions which didn’t maximize its drift potential. As early as 2011 farmers, scientists, and industry figures warned that any large-scale spraying of dicamba under the warm, humid conditions of late spring onward was likely to maximize drift and the damage to other crops and plants this drift would cause. Dicamba kills all broad-leaf plants. Soybeans are especially sensitive to it, but it easily damages and kills most crops, ornamentals, and trees.
 
Right on schedule, as dicamba began to be sprayed during the growing season the drift damage to innocent bystander crops began to be reported. There was significant damage in 2015 and far more in 2016 as the acreage sprayed greatly increased. But this was only the prelude to the full blown disaster of 2017. By May a flood of damage reports was coursing in to the agricultural departments and university extensions of the major soy producing states, especially Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, and Tennessee. Soybeans everywhere not engineered to be tolerant of dicamba were sustaining often lethal damage, along with peanuts and vegetable crops such as tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, and leafy greens. Arkansas’ largest peach orchard was decimated for the second straight year. Symbolically, the University of Arkansas test plot where researchers were studying the drift potential of name-brand dicamba succumbed to drift and was wiped out.
 
By July Arkansas and Missouri issued emergency bans on further spraying of dicamba, but Missouri quickly backpedaled under Monsanto pressure. The damage reports continued to pile up across more than twenty states. By season’s end weed scientist Kevin Bradley of the University of Missouri tallied 3.6 million acres of non-Xtend soybeans damaged or killed by drifting dicamba.
 
Throughout the destructive year Monsanto ran its standard campaign of denial, lies, and scapegoating. Forced to take some kind of action the EPA announced a voluntary agreement with Monsanto and BASF to impose new certification requirements for dicamba applicators. More substantially, the Arkansas Plant Board unanimously recommended that its existing emergency ban be made policy for 2018, banning dicamba use from April 16th through October 31st. (This proposal is currently in limbo as Monsanto-subservient state legislators are trying to gut the ban. Monsanto also has sued to prevent its enforcement.)
 
 
Dicamba can move off site in several ways. One typical way for pesticides to drift is when applicators are careless about spraying under windy conditions and the poison immediately is wafted away on the wind. This is what is properly called “drift”. But dicamba has a far more insidious and destructive mode of drifting. Under common conditions of warmth and humidity liquid dicamba resting on plants and soil is prone to volatilize, turn into a gas, lift off the surfaces, and float on the air often many miles from the site of spraying before weather conditions change and cause it to resettle on whatever plants are in the vicinity. The more dicamba is sprayed in a region, the more all-pervasive the suffusion becomes. This is called atmospheric loading.
 
Dicamba’s volatility effect is well known. Monsanto and BASF promised that their new dicamba formulations, XtendiMax and Engenia, had solved the problem and would not be volatile. But Monsanto immediately signaled it was lying when it forbade university researchers pre-market access to XtendiMax in order to test it for volatility. They were allowed to test only its herbicidal capability.
 
Sure enough, in 2017 when researchers were able to purchase XtendiMax and Engenia at the store and test it themselves they found that these brand name formulations are nearly as volatile as the earlier cheap formulas. The fact is that all dicamba is volatile. It’s impossible to use it under warm humid conditions, i.e. the way it’s intended to be used under the Xtend system, and not have it promiscuously volatilize, move off site, and kill any broad leaf crops and plants it resettles upon.
 
Many farmers already have filed suit against Monsanto and BASF, as individuals and in class actions, seeking to hold these poison-peddlers accountable and make them pay for the damage they willfully have caused.
 
 
The Xtend/dicamba GMO series is the most extreme manifestation yet of what is typical of all commercial GMOs. They’re pesticide plants designed to escalate poison use and escalate the futile arms race between pesticides and the resistant pests and weeds. This absurd and destructive treadmill clearly is, in itself, the purpose of poison-based agriculture and especially its GMO-based incarnation. The pesticide treadmill ensures incessant product obsolescence, constant escalation of the potency and amount and cost of the pesticides which must be deployed, maximal dependency of farmers on the most artificial, vulnerable mode of agriculture which requires the maximum of the costly inputs supplied by agribusiness.
 
In this way agribusiness consolidates maximum control over farming and the food supply and launches a general assault on the ecology, all toward the goal of maximizing human and ecological monoculture. This is the scorched-earth terrain which provides the best habitat for pest, weed, and disease infestation, and therefore the maximum ideological and political habitat for the power claims of agribusiness, the scientism cult, and all who hate humanity and nature and who seek total domination. Poisonism therefore generates the maximal habitat for the propaganda campaign of lies, fear-mongering, and fraudulent promises that the solution is right around the corner if farmers and society only stay the poison course. This is proven every day in a hundred new articles and press statements from corporations, governments, Wall Street, academia, and the mainstream media, all speaking as one proclaiming that the only solution to the escalating crisis is to escalate the poison.
 
 
This doesn’t cause those of the true faith to falter, because beyond mundane profiteering poisonism is an ideological cult. Monsanto of course has responded with a campaign of lies. They openly deny that brand name dicambas are volatile and instead blame farmers for improper application which leads to regular wind drift, and for using older dicamba blends which are volatile.
 
The response of pro-dicamba activists across the board has been to promulgate new certification requirements and restrictions on how and when dicamba can be sprayed, in accord with the right wind conditions, temperature, time of day, and the right equipment. The EPA’s voluntary agreement with Monsanto and BASF enshrines these kinds of restrictions which allegedly will solve the problem.
 
But the whole notion of new regulations is based on the false premise that volatility isn’t the main cause of the off-target damage. This already has been proven false. The 2017 research demonstrated that no amount of care in the application can prevent dicamba from volatilizing and moving off site. Therefore the entire campaign for new restrictions is conjoined with Monsanto’s primary lie. In other words the entire campaign is bogus, nothing but a sham. As usual, EPA is the lead government propagandist backing up the corporate lies.
 
The most direct proof that these restrictions don’t work comes from Missouri. I mentioned earlier how in July Missouri instituted a temporary spraying ban but quickly lifted it. At the same time it rescinded the dicamba ban Missouri imposed the now standard set of new restrictions on its use. But this accomplished nothing: Within weeks the damage reports surged anew. This is the most proximate proof that the extra regulations don’t work.
 
But then we didn’t need that extra proof. Contrary to Monsanto’s lies, most farmers who spray dicamba do their conscientious best to spray so that it doesn’t spread beyond their farms and damage their neighbors. (Besides, if you’re going to pay to spray a pesticide, of course you’re going to do your best to keep the maximum amount on your site in order to get the full extent of what you think is the benefit.) In spite of this dicamba has drifted promiscuously, in many cases miles away from where it was sprayed. This is in spite of every care taken, and it certainly will continue in spite of any added care short of a ban on spraying past mid-April.
 
This proves that all dicamba is highly volatile and nothing can prevent it from moving off site and killing other crops and plants. Co-existence with the Xtend system is impossible. If dicamba continues to be deployed the way it was in 2017 (and Monsanto is projecting a doubling of the Xtend soybean acreage in 2018, from 20 million acres to 40 million), all soy farmers will have no choice but to buy Xtend GM seeds, while much vegetable farming and gardening as well as the existence of many other plants and trees will become impossible in the soybean zones. This proves that Monsanto’s goal remains the same as it’s always been, the goal it enshrined in what it calls its “Expanded Trait Penetration” program. Monsanto’s goal always is to force farmers to buy as many stacked GM traits as possible. Xtend is the most extreme version yet of this program. Monsanto’s goal is to extort all soybean farmers, under threat of the drift destruction of their crop, into buying the Xtend seeds and the XtendiMax herbicide (along with Roundup; Xtend is tolerant of both dicamba and glyphosate).
 
 
We see their wickedness. The dicamba crisis is the epitome of all that’s bad about GMOs as such and herbicide tolerant GMOs in particular. Agronomically this system shackles farmers to a destroyed soil and weak, denuded crops which constantly must be goosed with fertilizer, irrigated water, and an ever greater slathering of pesticides. It drives the monoculture of crop varieties as Monsanto seeks its goal of forcing seed growers to increase and farmers to buy only the few varieties into which the Xtend trait has been crossed, as only these will be viable in an atmospheric zone suffused with dicamba vapors. Weeds are guaranteed to evolve to resist dicamba, indeed already are doing so. This will require an even more complex, expensive, toxic brew to be deployed. Sure enough, in 2017 the corporations already were touting the poison plants slated to replace Xtend in a few years.
 
Socioeconomically the herbicide tolerance GMO model is designed to destroy hand-weeding jobs and force farm consolidation by driving out smaller farmers and rendering giant plantations more easy to manage. In this way agribusiness works to attain domination over farming. The fewer and bigger the farms, the easier they are to control.
 
Ecologically this poison-based monoculture wipes out habitat for monarch butterflies and many other animals and plants, kills honeybees, and directly poisons the soil, water, and air, causing havoc among these ecosystems. During spraying season humans and animals continually breathe the atmospheric load of vaporized dicamba. This aggravates dicamba’s known irritant effects on the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs. Dicamba causes cancer and birth defects. We can expect to see a spike in birth defects in the dicamba zone in 2018. Along with glyphosate and 2,4-D dicamba, as a grossly abused antibiotic, drives antibiotic resistance among many strains of harmful bacteria, thus contributing to the general campaign of corporate industrial agriculture to wipe out antibiotics as a medically effective treatment.
 
These crises are endemic to massive herbicide use in general. Dicamba, by spreading beyond where it’s sprayed to a far greater extent than other herbicides, represents a great escalation of all the crises of agronomy, farm economy, ecology, and public health.
 
 
The system offers no solution, whether it be to the acute dicamba crisis or the general chronic crisis of corporate industrial agriculture. Even the weed scientists who have been doing the volatility research, tallying the destruction, and sounding the alarm offer nothing but the meek suggestion that poison use, while “necessary”, should be reformed and limited. In a mass manifestation of Stockholm syndrome damaged farmers still say the same. But the scientists’ own research demonstrates that the standard reforms can accomplish nothing, while the corporations will never accept such limits. Even as Monsanto pretended to endorse the EPA-brokered voluntary agreement it continued defiantly to assert there should be no restrictions beyond its own label.
 
Nothing within the system can meet the challenge of a crisis inherent to the core premises of the system itself. Poisonism has no future. The only way forward for weed and pest control is soil-building combined with organic pest management. The health of the soil, so ravaged by industrial agricultural practice, is the foundation of all sustainable agriculture and agriculture’s entire future. Everything else is a footnote.
 
Only a new movement built completely from outside the corporate agriculture system can meet the challenge of the day. This movement must be based on the rising ecological, agronomic, cultural, spiritual paradigm centered on the necessary transformation to agroecology and food sovereignty and the necessary abolition of poison-based agriculture.
 
 
We started by pointing out that anyone motivated by reason and the scientific mindset would long ago have concluded that poison-based agriculture doesn’t work, does far more harm than good, and should be rejected in favor of agroecology. They would have been skeptical of GMOs based on escalating this already disproven agricultural model. They would’ve found quickly that the GMO version of this model is no different and simply intensifies the same failure while rendering it even more destructive.
 
The continued denial and defense of the dicamba outbreak on the part of the pro-poison activists proves that for today’s cultists reason is the last thing any of them care about, and actual scientific evidence a close second to last. It proves that support for GMOs has zero to do with reason and science and everything to do with religious/ideological wingnuttery, where it’s not just a gutter profiteering motive. They have proven this true with every step of the genetic engineering deployment. Nowhere is this better demonstrated than the way they’ve seized upon the collapse of Roundup Ready, by any rational measure a catastrophic discrediting of the entire GMO and pesticide paradigm, as an opportunity to exalt an even more destructive poison product, one which they themselves started out promising Roundup Ready would render obsolete, and whose doom at the stems and vines of the same resistance-evolving weeds is already on the horizon.
 
The already disastrous advent of the dicamba GMOs, and the fanatic will of the GMO cultists to push forward such an insane, disproven, short-sighted, destructive project, is the best proof that the scientism/technocracy cult, just as much as the poison corporations, is the enemy of humanity and the Earth. Humanity must organize against this cult as surely as against the corporations themselves, as a key part of the corporate totalitarian cabal against humanity and the Earth. The ecocidal and genocidal monoculture aspiration of this cabal is self-evident, as is clear from the dicamba onslaught.
 
 
 
 

December 16, 2017

Community Food Movement: Maine’s Food Sovereignty Act

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“Certified organic” increasingly becomes a farce as it comes to equal industrial “organic”. The latest degradation: Hydroponics now can be certified “organic”. On its face that’s absurd and Orwellian. What could possibly be called organic about growing vegetables in fortified water? You might as well allow synthetic fertilizer of every sort. The industrial organic sector is industrial first, organic second.
 
The organic certification was never more than a second-best stopgap. The only real solution is the Community Food movement, the relocalization of food production and distribution. As much as possible, buy local from farmers you know. But just buying local as a consumer isn’t enough. Community food is a rising alternative economic sector. We need to continue building and defending this rising economic and agronomic movement.
 
Toward this goal, campaigners in Maine worked for years and finally attained a legislative victory as the state passed its Food Sovereignty Act in 2017. This Act makes Maine the first state in the country to have such an ordinance. The Act frees municipalities to regulate their own local food systems if they choose to pass an ordinance taking on such responsibility. The Act applies only to food produced and sold directly to consumers within the town. Anything produced for wholesale or retail distribution remains subject to state regulation (so Big Ag can’t use this as a loophole to find a corrupt town and set up shop there).
 
Since production and sale must take place within the town, the geographical scope is more narrow than the average farmers’ market. (Although many Maine towns are quite large geographically.) Nevertheless this is an example of the kind of act the Community Food movement must fight to enact in every state, as a way to boost local food production, processing, and distribution.
 
No surprise, the thugs at the USDA insisted that if the state relinquishes authority over meat and poultry to towns, that only means the feds will have direct authority over it. This forced Maine to enact an emergency amendment to the Act stipulating that meat and poultry remain under state regulatory authority. This power play gives a perfect example of what we’re up against.
 
 
It also demonstrates the limits of legislative action.* Campaigning for food sovereignty laws, just like campaigning for GMO labeling and/or GMO/pesticide bans, is at best a supplement to the work of building the affirmative movement. In the case of community food, this includes building the economic and physical infrastructure of relocalized food production and distribution.
 
There’s lots of people already doing good work toward that eventual goal. We need to scale that up, in tandem with escalating the campaign of ideas. As for our personal lives, the Earth’s call to anyone is to commit your life to the cause. That’s a very hard sell in this Mammon theocracy where even among the people who superficially have the right ideas and good intent, most still objectively adhere to Mammon in the way they view the world. Even fellow travelers of the necessary ideas fundamentally don’t understand the concept of subordinating one’s “private” existence and existing fundamentally as a political animal, a public citizen. All we can do for starters is to systematically propagate ideas which are fundamentally against the whole grain of this theocracy and try to find fellow atheists versus the superstitions of Mammon, technocracy, scientism, productionism, who want to work on that propagation project. This is one of the basic building blocks necessary to build a true cultural, spiritual, existential movement dedicated affirmatively to the necessary agroecology/food sovereignty transformation, negatively to the total abolition of poison-based agriculture. This campaign of ideas is the necessary counterpart to the intertwined actions of building agroecological science and food sovereignty practice.
 
That’s the ultimate need. What individuals and small groups can do right now:
 
1. Take on as much of the propagation work as you can.
 
2. Become active building up the community food sector as much as you can. Growing some of your own food in a garden is a good first step, and the actions quickly scale up from there. In my case, in addition to my intermittent market gardening I’ve worked at a farmers’ market, herbal medicine garden, and am director of two community gardens.
 
3. In your personal lifestyle get as independent of the system, as “off-grid” (using that term both literally and metaphorically) as possible.
 
4. To the extent you have to remain enmeshed in the system for the time being, at least be clear in thought and word that this is under duress. I still have to drive a car, but I never think or say anything other than that the car as such has to go. This is contrary to the climate crocodiles who wring their hands and then tout hybrids and electric cars (i.e. fracking cars, nuke cars, coal cars) as some kind of answer. No, that’s just a more pernicious form of climate denialism.
 
5. In general: Do the most good you can and never do evil. I have never once heard of an example of an evil action that was necessary in any way. That’s always a lie.
 
Much of this focuses on ideas and propagating ideas. I’m forced to be a writer since for now I lack any greater scope for action. In Eric Hoffer’s terminology, I’m an activist by nature who’s been forced into the role of the “man of words”. For now there really is no greater scope for action in America, since the necessary movement doesn’t yet exist in any tangible, coherent form. Or, any rudiments which may be cohering are not yet visible to the general culture of dissent.
 
So it follows that the first, prerequisite step toward building this movement is to propagate the necessary ideas for this movement. Not even at first to convince people, but to force the existence of truly alternative and practicable ideas into the public consciousness so that, when the cultural tipping point suddenly comes (history demonstrates that we have no idea when it will come or what proximate cause will trigger it) and lots of people are suddenly looking for a new idea, this set of ideas will be one of the sets laying around ready to be taken up.
 
Toward that great goal, the second necessary preliminary step is to form the skeleton of a future mass movement in the form of coherent organizations, of whatever size attainable, which will undertake whatever wedge actions are possible for the time being but whose primary action will be to propagate the ideas as far and wide as possible.
 
All this must take place in tandem with building up the community food sector. We especially need more local retail producers, and processing infrastructure, and political organization against the state’s repressive campaigns. The community food movement already exists as a vibrant movement with great scope for all the action one could desire. We need for the whole thing, from organic horticulture to market gardening to abolition of pesticides/GMOs to a global agroecology transformation, to evolve into one coherent cultural force.
 
 
Propagate the new and necessary ideas.
 
 
*As a general rule within-the-system action is worthless, especially at the higher levels of government and especially where people seek positive policy, as opposed to resisting bad policy. But there are some wedge issues which cut across the system’s calcified political lines, where especially at lower levels of government dedicated pressure groups can get action. I argue that food is one of these potential wedges, and that organizations dedicated to the right kind and mode of food action can get good results, both directly and in terms of driving a broader cultural wedge. That’s the wager I make with my writing.
 
 
 
 
 

December 15, 2017

Fool’s Gold

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Golden rice is only about one kind of gold

 
 
No form of “golden rice” has ever gotten past the test stage. The pro-GMO activists lie when they tout this hoax product. All lies: That the product exists, that it’s ready to go, that it’s only being held up by the likes of Greenpeace. The truth is that golden rice has never worked in reality and has never been anything but a media hoax. The lies are part of the hoax.
 
In its test form the original “golden rice 1” contained only a meager amount of vitamin A. To use it as a vitamin supplement would’ve required eating unthinkable amounts of it every day.
 
These days they’re working on “golden rice 2” which allegedly produces greater amounts of vitamin A so that people could eat it without turning into a big grain of yellow rice. But they’re having all sorts of technical problems back-crossing it from the japonica variety they first engineered to any kind of indica variety which is readily commercial. It’s not only a media hoax but a very expensive technical boondoggle.
 
And let’s say this hypothetical product ever did become ready for release.
 
1. By design it would be the first direct-to-eat Frankenfood which is meant to be consumed on a mass basis. Compare it to other direct-food GMOs: Virus resistant zucchini or papaya, Bt sweet corn, GM salmon, the “non-browning” apple, GM potatoes. As dangerous as these may be, none of them is designed to be a daily dietary staple. But the designers of golden rice want for the first time for a direct-food GMO to be a daily staple.
 
There’s only one place where significant numbers of people have eaten GMOs directly on a large scale, and that’s among the farm workers and rural population of South Africa who eat large amounts of the Bt corn from the farms where they labor. No funding being available, the effects haven’t yet been subjected to a scientific study, but many severe neurological and organ damage effects have been documented on an anecdotal basis.
 
Michael Hansen of Consumers Union has theorized that there could be a severe problem with retinoic acid oversignaling if a product like golden rice were to be eaten in large amounts, which is how the engineers intend for it to be eaten. This would be a pathway to cancer and birth defects. This is just one of the potential dangers of making a GMO the very basis of one’s diet.
 
2. Any deployed golden rice would also be engineered to be herbicide tolerant and/or to express Bt toxins. So this direct food will also be laden with endotoxins and herbicide residue. Not only is the idea of golden rice meant to distract from the fact that the only real-world GMOs are pesticide plants; any real world version of golden rice would itself be such a poison plant.
 
3. Syngenta’s promise to donate its patented golden rice transgene applies only to pilot “humanitarian” programs. It would not apply to any general commercial deployment. That’s why the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), the organization in charge of actual development, has reserved the right to take out patents of its own. Beyond that, Syngenta wouldn’t give away the herbicide tolerance and Bt traits free of charge. So the alleged “humanitarian donation” aspect of the thing is also a scam. (We also don’t know how ChemChina’s imminent purchase of Syngenta will affect the disposition of the patent.)
 
 
The idea of golden rice is part of monoculture ideology. Vitamin A deficiency disease is the deliberate result of how corporate industrial agriculture has driven millions off their land and stripped them of their ability to grow nutritious food for themselves. Therefore both in principle and in practice the deployment of golden rice or any other “biofortified” GMO would be the disaster capitalist treatment of a symptom caused by the same system which deploys the “cure”.
 
This puts in perspective the 2013 direct action of Philippine farmers against the IRRI’s golden rice field trials. The people took action in self-defense against the corporate program to economically liquidate them, drive them off their land, and doom them to the same misery and illness which the “golden rice” slogan mocks with its fake solicitude.
 
So, ultimately, must we the people, everywhere on Earth, take all necessary action to abolish corporate agriculture and undertake the necessary transformation and renaissance of agroecology and food sovereignty. This and only this will solve vitamin A deficiency, and every other problem and crisis afflicting us.
 
 
Propagate the necessary new ideas.
 
 
 
 

October 21, 2017

The Primal Mammalian Movement

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From the smallest beginnings, and the power of a seed.

 
 
One of the mainstream media’s primary tasks is to convince each individual media consumer that he’s all alone with any critical or dissenting thought he might have, so it’s best to suppress those thoughts. It’s part of the “softer” neoliberal alternative to fascism: Rather than de jure censorship and violent repression of dissent, get the mass of atomized individuals each to censor himself, use crimestop, never listen to thoughtcrime or entertain any cognitive dissonance.
 
Hierarchical, professionalized science, including its hyperspecialization, is inherently authoritarian and pro-status quo. This is especially true of the technocracy paradigm under which science is assumed by almost all practitioners and fans to be equivalent to the development of technology. Under this paradigm, science = engineering. Most of all it’s true under the corporate science paradigm where this tech development mission automatically is assumed to be in the service of profit-seeking corporations. Putting that together, we have the modern scientific paradigm where what Kuhn called “normal science” quite simply is what otherwise would be called “corruption”.
 
I propose to overthrow this scientific paradigm and replace it with a paradigm of science rededicated to seeking knowledge for its own sake and for the well-being of humanity and the Earth. In the same way that every branch of politics must be socialist if it’s to have any legitimacy at all, so all branches of science must become the ecological versions of their respective disciplines. Therefore the ecological sciences, inflected by chaos theory, must become paramount. In the same way, technological design must adhere to the ecology rather than strive for domination and control. In particular, only agroecology offers a way for humanity to restore the soil, avert the worst of climate chaos and all other environmental crises, eat sufficiently and well, and organize society in a way combining the best of reason, humaneness, and ecological holism. This is the vision of food sovereignty.
 
There’s lots of people already doing good work toward that eventual goal. We need to scale that up, first as a campaign of ideas. As for our personal lives, the Earth’s call to anyone is to commit your life to the cause. That’s a very hard sell in this Mammon theocracy where even among the people who superficially have the right ideas and good intent, most still are objectively Randroids in the way they view the world. Even fellow travelers of the necessary ideas fundamentally don’t understand the concept of having no private existence, existing fundamentally as a political animal, a public citizen. All we can do for starters is to keep propagating ideas which are fundamentally against the whole grain of this theocracy, and try to find fellow atheists versus the superstitions of Mammon, technocracy, scientism, productionism who want to work on that atheism-propagation project. This is one of the basic building blocks necessary to build a true cultural, spiritual, existential movement dedicated affirmatively to the necessary agroecology/food sovereignty transformation, negatively to the total abolition of poison-based agriculture.
 
That’s the ultimate need. What individuals and small groups can do right now:
 
1. Take on as much of the propagation work as one can.
 
2. Become active building up the community food sector as much as one can. Growing some of one’s own food in a garden is a good first step, and the actions quickly scale up from there.
 
3. In one’s personal lifestyle get as independent of the system, as “off-grid” (using that term both literally and metaphorically) as possible.
 
4. To the extent one has to remain enmeshed in the system for the time being, at least be clear in thought and word that this is under duress. I still have to drive a car, but I never think or say anything other than that the car as such has to go. This is contrary to the climate crocodiles who wring their hands and then tout hybrids and electric cars (i.e. fracking cars, nuke cars, coal cars) as some kind of answer. No, that’s just a more pernicious form of climate denialism.
 
5. In general: Do the most good you can and never do evil. I have never once heard of an example of an evil action that was necessary in any way. That’s always a lie.
 
Much of this focuses on ideas and propagating ideas. I’m forced to be a writer since for now I lack any greater scope for action. In Eric Hoffer’s terminology, I’m an activist by nature who’s been forced into the role of the “man of words”. For now there really is no greater scope for action in America, since the necessary movement doesn’t yet exist in any tangible, coherent form. Or, any rudiments which may be cohering are not yet visible to the general culture of dissent.
 
So it follows that the first, prerequisite step toward building this movement is to propagate the necessary ideas for this movement. Not even at first to convince people, but to force the existence of truly alternative and practicable ideas into the public consciousness so that, when the cultural tipping point suddenly comes (history demonstrates that we have no idea when it will come or what proximate cause will trigger it) and lots of people are suddenly looking for a new idea, this set of ideas will be one of the sets laying around ready to be taken up.
 
Toward that great goal, the second necessary preliminary step is to form at least the nucleus of a future mass movement in the form of coherent organizations, of whatever size attainable, which will undertake whatever wedge actions are possible for the time being but whose primary action will be to propagate the ideas as far and wide as possible.
 
 
And then all this must take place in tandem with building up the community food sector. We especially need more local retail producers, and processing infrastructure, and political organization against the state’s repressive campaigns. The community food movement already exists as a vibrant movement with great scope for all the action one could desire (in addition to my so far intermittent market gardening, I’ve worked at a farmers’ market, herbal medicine garden, and am director of two community gardens). We need for the whole thing, from organic horticulture to market gardening to abolition of pesticides/GMOs to a global agroecology transformation, to evolve into one coherent cultural force.
 
 
Propagate the new and necessary ideas.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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