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March 5, 2014

The TTIP and the Corporate Coordination Master Plan 2 of 3 (GMOs)

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In part one I described the basic bureaucratic coordination plan the corporations propose to be enshrined in the TTIP and TPP. Here I’ll outline the basic demands of the GMO cartel. The three main sources I cite here are the “comments submitted” on the TTIP by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (which I’ll cite as BIO) to the US Trade Representative; the “response to consultation” on GMOs sent jointly by the BIO and its European counterpart EuropaBio (hereafter EB/BIO) to the EU-US High Level Working Group; and Testbiotech’s recent report on “Free Trade for High-Risk Biotech” (which I’ll call TBT).
 
The BIO commentary starts out with general principles for the biotech sector as a whole (including pharmaceuticals). There’s a constant drumbeat of begging for more corporate welfare (BIO 1,7), on account of how costly it is for the sector to develop its alleged innovations. There’s lots about how government procurement must always be at the highest proprietary price. There’s encomiums to how well central planning has been going so far (2, 13-14), a call for escalated coordination, and a wish list for the future (3,4,7) including the preemption of all laws, regulations, rulings, court decisions, which could in any way hinder the cartel. The USTR is to make the sector a priority (2,3) and establish a sectoral working group (5).
 
Anti-transparency and intellectual property “require priority attention” (5,6,7-8,9ff). Regulators are to keep all information secret except where corporations want something published. Conversely, biotech corporations are to have complete license to say whatever they want about their products without regulatory restraint. US and EU regulators are to be aggressive in supporting intellectual property prerogatives and policing violations.
 
(Note well that there’s no difference between government secrecy based on “national security” and corporate secrecy based on “intellectual property rights”. (Or media secrecy based on either.) These are fraudulent justifications with no real world importance, in both cases fig leaves for bureaucratic secrecy for the sake of power, since the monopoly of information is a part of concentrating power.
 
The same goes for surveillance. Neither the NSA nor Facebook has any legitimate reason to collect data on the people. In both cases it’s a bureaucracy collecting information to seek and defend power.)
 
The basic goals specific to GMOs are to normalize GMO contamination; speed up, weaken, and eventually gut Europe’s regulatory approval process; and coordinate all relevant regulatory activity on behalf of the cartel and GMOs.
 
The EB/BIO consultation is especially forthcoming on how GMO contamination is inevitable: “100% purity is impossible in the production of food, feed, seed. Agricultural commodities inevitably become intermixed to a small extent…It has become increasingly difficult over the last years [for the EU] to import commodity grains from countries that widely use GM varieties.” (EB/BIO p. 4; the idea is expanded on 5, 7) The anodyne qualifiers “100% purity” and “to a small extent” are supposed to imply that the contamination remains at a very low, innocuous level. But in truth the contamination is systematic, cumulative, ever rising. The key concession here is the term “increasingly difficult”. The comments rightly admit that non-GM agriculture and regulation which has a zero-tolerance contamination policy are incompatible with GMOs (EB/BIO 5, 7; BIO 16ff). When we couple these demands with the “evergreen” ideology of permanent regulator proactivity, we find that the goal is: 1. to do away with “zero tolerance” for small, so-called “adventitious” contamination, 2. to then keep moving the toleration bar as contamination becomes more entrenched, as it systematically proceeds. This goes to the core of why “coexistence” is impossible and complete abolition is necessary. This demonstrates the truth of that both physically and politically.
 
(The “100% purity” line also offers a broader lesson about the alleged “left” apologists for corporate criminality who like to berate thinkers and activists for being “purists”. Whenever you see someone accuse others of being purists or having a purity test, remember that just as in this case they’re not really talking about an adventitious, stable piece of impurity which can be mopped up later. They’re almost always defending a moving mass of corruption which is systematically getting bigger. Their accusations about “purity” will therefore always defend the current level of evil as being low, normal, accidental. But that level is in fact always moving higher, and is doing so in a systematic way. Such apologists are simply another kind of criminal publicist.)
 
The BIO doesn’t want there to be a specific bioregulator or biosafety agency (BIO 13). They want to continue with the status quo of pre-GMO agencies having their theoretical areas of authority over GMOs split irrationally between them. Thus in the US the USDA has authority over GMOs insofar as they could become “plant pests”, the EPA has authority over pesticides including Bt crops insofar as they are pesticide plants, the FDA has authority over “food” but not crops, and never mind that the GM aspects of the crops become aspects of our food, and so on. No one has authority over the combined GMO/herbicide system, and no one has a mandate to assess the seed-to-food life cycle of the GMO product or any authority over it.
 
But the corporations do want such combined assessments and power to be deployed on their own behalf. The BIO’s Gleichschaltung plan (17) calls for the US and EU to set up a special Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Committee. This Committee should set up “working groups across the various areas of agriculture”, all focusing on regulatory coordination under GMO cartel oversight. “Trade and agricultural ministers from the US and EU should commit to annual bilateral meetings focused on SPS issues”.
 
Thus the cartel wants an especially privileged position within the general coordination framework I described in part one. In addition to the general Regulatory Coordination Committee, it wants a special SPS coordination committee which will perform the same role, but specifically on behalf of Monsanto and the other cartel members. This coordination effort is to compel the regular personal attention of the highest relevant US and EU officials.
 
Now to the specific goals. 1. The #1 goal is to progressively weaken EU regulation. As I described in detail in part one, in principle this means to gut Europe’s precautionary principle and replace it with the US “ex post assessment” concept (BIO 14, TBT 31). Judging by the silence of the EB and BIO as far as an explicit attack on the precautionary principle, an attempt to formally gut it may not be included in the TTIP itself, but will be left for the administrative coordination process which will follow. But another pro-cartel organization, the European Academy Scientific Advisory Panel (EASAC) isn’t so shy (TBT 30ff). It’s explicit about how the US and EU must “unify and harmonize the regulatory and innovation-enabling roles” to eradicate the precautionary principle and replace it with a corporatist “innovation principle”. This is rendering explicit this particular goal of the bureaucratic coordination. The BIO (13,14,16) and EB/BIO (6) also give implicit statements of this goal.
 
(The EASAC report is an example of how under neoliberalism many corporate propaganda duties are farmed out to nominally independent, non-profit institutions, in this case an establishment “science” academy. But the report was written by the cartel’s academic mercenaries led by Joachim Schiemann and Jorg Romeis (TBT 30), and is substantively identical to the submissions from de jure industry groups like BIO and EuropaBio.)
 
The cartel wants the assessment of individual GMOs weakened and sped up (BIO 14ff, EB/BIO 3,6). It wants the EU renewal process to be first weakened, and then to be done away with completely (BIO 15-16). In this case the BIO and EB want to supersede the coordination framework and impose “binding requirements” (EB/BIO 3,6) for this acceleration and weakening of the process.
 
2. Expanding their goal, they want the EU to follow the USDA in declaring certain types of GMOs to be unregulatable in principle and therefore not to be regulated at all (TBT 30). They want new classes of GMOs to automatically be placed in this non-regulation category (TBT 32). Ultimately, they want to abolish regulation for “GMOs” as any particular kind of product at all (TBT 31), so that the default would be zero regulation.
 
3. I discussed above the basic ideology they want to promulgate on GM contamination. More specifically, they want to relax contamination tolerance threshholds and anti-contamination procedures. They want to take the EU’s existing “technical solution” doctrine which tolerates a .1% contamination level in imported animal feed and extend it to food and seed (BIO 16ff, EB/BIO 4,7). They want to expand existing “low level presence”  (LLP) doctrine to a greater range of contamination types, and also extend this from imported feed to food and seeds (BIO 16ff, EB/BIO 4,7). They want testing to be done by the exporter and then just rubber-stamped by EU customs. But they’re explicit that all this is just an inadequate temporary reform, while the real and necessary goal is to abolish the existing “zero tolerance” policy as such. This is because, as I said above, they recognize that coexistence is impossible and contamination is inevitable (and indeed desirable, from their point of view).
 
So they want to progressively increase the level of allowed contamination until the very concept is jettisoned, and at the same time they want to accelerate the contamination process by eliminating what meager safeguards do exist. 
 
The cartel’s basic position is that GMO contamination is not a physical problem which has to be physically solved through the abolition of GMOs. Rather, it’s a political problem to be “solved” by approving the hitherto unapproved contaminants. Just like with allowed pesticide threshholds in food, water, air, soil, the allowed level of GM contamination is to be an ever-rising formal validation of the physical level forced into being by the corporate action, the level required for them to sustain their profits and increase their power and control. The regulators already see this as their job, and this regulator ideology is supposed to be further formalized and radicalized by the coordination process the TTIP and TPP will enshrine.
 
So here’s the basic goal regarding contamination:
 
A. Extend the “technical solution” of allowing some low-level contamination to all food and seed products.
 
B. Under “LLP” let in everything which has been approved in the US (or anywhere else), and to which the EFSA has given a positive opinion (this too is a rubberstamp). This would comprise a de facto overthrow of the EU approval system.
 
C. The exporter’s own sampling is to be sufficient. EU customs sampling is to be abolished.
 
The BIO comments to the USTR aren’t as overt on as the EB/BIO consultation on the inevitability of contamination and the impossibility of coexistence. I wonder if that’s because “coexistence” isn’t taken seriously in Europe, while the cartel thinks it can be a successful Big Lie in the US. Therefore the BIO doesn’t want to concede anything in its US-geared comment.
 
4. Stacked products should be rubber-stamped as the sum of their parts, though this is scientifically indefensible (BIO 15, EB/BIO 3). It’s a well-established fact of drug prescription that the synergistic effects of multiple drugs together needs to be considered and where necessary guarded against. This is true of complex systems in general. But with multiple-transgene GMOs the doctrine is supposed to be the opposite: a complex system is nothing but the sum of its parts. Complex systems don’t have complex effects. This is a specific application of the overarching NPK ideology of industrial agriculture in general.
 
So the cartel says that if each of its constituent parts has been approved anywhere, a stacked product should be approved everywhere. Conversely, if a stacked product is approved anywhere, then all its constituent parts should automatically be approved everywhere they aren’t already approved.
 
5. GMO corporations should be able to play a switch game with their applications, sending one application to the EFSA to be rubber-stamped there, then sending a different one (but still with EFSA’s imprimatur) to the more “political” part of the EU approval process (EB/BIO 6).
 
This may be in part because the genomes of all the most common GMO varieties, and probably of all GMOs, keep spontaneously mutating and changing in significant ways. Therefore “the” genome which is described in the EU application is significantly different from that of any physical specimen of the crop. Not that the current system worries about this, but legally it’s obligated to do so. There’s been controversy over this injected into the current struggle over DuPont’s application for EU cultivation of its stacked 1507 maize variety. This variety has been found to have a real-world Bt expression levels significantly different from that described in the application. This is a significant variation in itself, and could reflect underlying genomic instability.
 
6. The US and EU should have “mutual recognition” of approvals with third countries from the point of view of the TTIP and TPP. So if some miniscule country with a corrupt government adhered to the TPP and then immediately approved every GMO application in existence, these approvals should automatically be accepted as valid by the EU and all other parties (EB/BIO 7).
 
7. The EU should declare the EFSA to be the only authority where it comes to GMOs (EB/BIO 6, BIO 15). The EFSA is well known to be not only ideologically committed to GMO corporatism, but corrupt in the conventional sense of the term.
 
This EFSA monopoly is of course to provide a ceiling only, while any relevant agency is supposed to be proactive in racing to the bottom.
 
A specific complaint of the BIO (15) regards the recently revised requirement for 90-day rat-feeding tests, which it brands as “political interference in the EFSA risk assessment process”. This requirement (inadequate – the life cycle of the rat is 2 years; a 90-day test is designed to not measure chronic effects; thus the technical term for it, “subchronic”) was indeed adopted by the EFSA under duress on account of the great political pressure upon it following the findings of the 2 year Seralini study. This study exposed the fraudulence of EFSA procedure before the world. It became so untenable for EFSA to continue insisting that no testing whatsoever was necessary, that it agreed to the sham 90-day requirement, in hopes of forestalling anything more rigorous. But as we see, this is in turn too much from the cartel point of view.
 
8. In the longer run, gut EU country-level cultivation bans as well, and any authority member countries have to restrict GMOs. The US and the cartel have long objected to this example of decentralization, which the EC instituted as an ad hoc pro-GM measure. The idea was to make the overall cultivation approval process politically easier by allowing member countries to “opt out” with individual country-level bans. Thus MON810 maize, the only variety currently approved for EU cultivation, has been banned in Germany, France, Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary, Luxemburg, Italy, Poland, and Greece. It’s currently being widely grown only in Spain and Portugal.
 
But the US wants to gut all EC-level regulations, and then force total GMO license on all of Europe.
 
9. Since the US says the antibiotic resistance markers (ARMs) used in most GMOs are safe, the EU has to agree to this as well (EB/BIO 7). Although the EU doesn’t enforce them, in theory it has regulations which would have required it to reject importation approval for GMOs which are engineered to be resistant to kanamycin. This includes most of the common varieties. Contrary to industry lies, kanamycin is still widely used in medicine, and the intentional and systematic propagation of genetic resistance to it is a significant part of the overall antibiotic resistance crisis being intentionally caused and escalated by industrial agriculture.
 
Wanting to phase out ARMs has been a periodically expressed “reform” position among some GMO supporters. EB/BIOs comment here is hoping to forestall this position from making any progress.
 
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Those are the main points. BIO includes a few others (17-18) such as better labor mobility (it wants to extend the wage race to the bottom to the genetic engineers themselves; that one I support wholeheartedly), better coordination of customs enforcement with regulators; “investor dispute settlement” (ISDS); some pesky tariffs still persisting for chemical raw materials; and a final repetition of the call for more lucrative government procurement, just for good measure.
 
The two big things left out of the BIO and EB/BIO comments are:
 
1. The explicit call to gut the precautionary principle.
 
2. Any mention* of the EU’s GMO labeling policy for food products.
 
In part one I described how part of the goal of regulatory coordination is to set up mechanisms to attack and destroy hated regulations through administrative means. In many cases the corporations will prefer to leave some particularly politically inflammatory issues out of the formal text of the TTIP, but instead leave those to be dealt with by coordinated bureaucratic assault beyond the reach of democratic procedure or accountability, once the TTIP has been safely ratified by the parliament. It looks like the cartel views labeling and the precautionary principle as being examples of this kind of politically hot issue in Europe.
 
So it follows that one tactic for Europeans who want to prevent ratification should be to get the public to view the TTIP as if it were a formal eradication of labeling and precaution, and encourage the people to pressure their parliamentary representatives accordingly.
 
(*Other trade groups such as the National Confectioners’ Association have explicitly called for the TTIP to wipe out GMO labeling. As usual, the cartel is forcing this kind of politically risky advocacy on the manufacturers and retailers.)
 
In part three I’ll describe how ardently the European Commission has responded to these corporate demands.

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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 28, 2014

GMO News Summary February 28, 2014

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*GMO plantings are peaking in the industrialized countries, according to one of the cartel’s own leading propaganda purveyors. US plantings continue to decelerate, increasing less than 1%. For the first time there was a slight decline overall. The ISAAA’s report attributes the decline to decreased GM canola plantings in Canada and decreased GM cotton plantings in Australia. GM cotton plantings are also down in the US. In both cases the cause is drought, and the fact that non-GM varieties perform much better under any condition of less-than-optimal water supply, as India’s GM cotton farmers have learned to their great despair.
 
This bodes ill for the GMO juggernaut, which as the core project of global corporatism must continue growing and expanding or the whole thing collapses. The ISAAA and many corporate media outlets (but far from all; the GMWatch link is to a Bloomberg piece) put an upbeat spin on things, stressing an alleged big increase in plantings in the “developing” world. Overall global plantings are said to have increased 3%, driven mostly by Brazil’s GM soy plantings. Brazil was a later adopter of GMOs, which is a big part of the reason its plantings are still increasing.
 
We can see why Monsanto is so fixated on Africa as the last great colonial frontier. The GMO power scheme, really just a big plundering expedition meant to be permanent in all the regions GMOs can conquer, is as dependent as Wall Street on corporate welfare, a permanent US government bailout, inflated stock prices, and the general perception of omnipotence. This is because its product is as fictive as any finance scam, as worthless from any reality-based point of view, and even more completely larcenous and destructive.
 
*More good news from Oregon about people who are trying to take back their communities from corporate occupation. Josephine County joins Benton County and two others in placing ordinances on the ballot banning GMO cultivation and rejecting corporate and preemptive central government interference with local/regional democratic rule where it comes to GMOs. This kind of activism is part of the ultimate solution.
 
*Scientists and public health professionals in Bangladesh are objecting to the way the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) has rushed to commercialize four varieties of Bt brinjal (eggplant) in 2014 without having performed or required safety testing. The equivalent of India’s requirement for a 90 day sub-acute toxicity test would be meager and insufficient enough, yet even this is too stringent for Bangladesh “regulators” acting as de facto Monsanto cadres. Instead they accepted as compliance a set of industry tests done by Mahyco, which is Monsanto’s Indian subsidiary, upon a different Bt brinjal variety than the four now being commercialized in Bangladesh. As in every other country where GMOs have been commericialized (Bangladesh is now #29), the government does not perform or require any real independent safety testing, only at most some industry tests which don’t measure toxic effects.
 
Meanwhile India and the Philippines continue their moratoria on Bt brinjal, on account of fears that it will contaminate the world’s center of eggplant genetic diversity. Bangladesh has over 4000 native varieties, which in itself proves no GMO variety is necessary. This is purely about profit and power, including the intentional plan to destroy the existing eggplant germplasm diversity and replace it with a proprietary monoculture. The evil intent here can be seen in the disconnect between government propaganda, which has assured farmers they’ll have full ownership of the crops and seeds, and the language of the licensing agreement, which stipulates that Mahyco retains its full intellectual property prerogatives.
 
*Some strange goings-on in China. First there was a notice posted at the cafeteria of the education ministry building, warning of the dangers of GMOs and lauding the cafeteria’s non-GM policy. This could have been just an ad hoc initiative from a low-level officer. But the same can’t be true of a communique issued shortly afterward by the finance ministry, similarly warning about “serious threats to the health of the people” and announcing that their cafeteria will also be going GM-free.
 
These announcements come in the midst of an ongoing economic skirmish with the US, as Chinese customs has repeatedly rejected corn shipments contaminated with Syngenta’s MIR162 variety. The reason officials have given for these rejections is that MIR162 hasn’t been approved for import in food and feed. That’s true, but it’s also true of several other varieties widely cultivated in the US. Why is it only MIR162 which seems to be contaminating the shipments? Are the Chinese picking on a particular variety as some kind of signal to the US? Are these ministry announcements, making for flashy PR but not having much substantive significance, part of a propaganda war? Monsanto’s concerned enough about the situation that its CEO made a trip to China in December. All this follows upon a June 2013 deal China made to allow the import of Monsanto’s Intacta soybeans from Brazil. This deal came as a surprise after China had stressed its desire to import non-GM soybeans, to the point that Brazil’s soy industry trade group had publicly claimed it could fill that order. China’s seeming about-face came as a big disappointment to campaigners in the UK who have been trying to pressure British supermarkets to continue their commitment to poultry products from farmers who use only non-GM feed.
 
Instead of repeating the whole story I’ll link to my post from the time. The affair raises the issue of how viable Brazil’s non-GM soy exports really are. It must also be placed in context with Monsanto’s seemingly dire legal peril, as Brazil’s courts continue to threaten to shatter its entire business model in this, the one country pretty much single-handedly driving the global increase of GMO plantings, as I described above.
 
Brazil…China. And Russia, as I mentioned last week. I haven’t yet had the time to delve into the geopolitics and power politics of all this, so I don’t yet have much of a theory of what’s going on, other than that various power centers are trying to figure out how to assert their own power in the face of the US/Monsanto power bloc. None of these governments, we can assume, want to become Monsanto’s poodles the way the governments of, for example, Britain and India, and of course the US itself, have. (But it’s a safe bet neither of the governments or Russia or China, whatever they sometimes say, could ever be actually anti-GMO either. Most likely they want to shield themselves from the worst of the US/Monsanto onslaught while they try to figure out how to build their own rival cartel. If that’s true, the abolitionist position remains clear.) 
 
More on this to come.
 
*The US Geological Survey has published a study which found that 75% of air and rain samples collected in Mississippi in 2007 contained glyphosate residue. The study compared 2007 levels in the air and water of various agricultural poisons with levels from 1995. In 2007 glyphosate, the main ingredient of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, was by far the most common poison. This is entirely on account of the explosive surge in its use since the commercialization of GMOs. In pre-GMO 1995 its usage was so low it wasn’t even measured. For comparison, atrazine, metolachlor, and propanil were detected in 50% or more of the samples in both 2007 and 1995. This is a good demonstration of how the claim made for Roundup Ready GMOs, that they would lower overall poison use, was a lie. Instead, glyphosate use has skyrocketed while the use of other herbicides has remained steady.
 
*The annual report of the USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) was boosterish as usual in its tone, though amid the hype it admits that GMOs don’t actually work. Specifically, they don’t increase yield, they’re not economically beneficial for farmers, and they increase rather than reduce pesticide use.
 
*California state senator Noreen Evans, with support from a coalition of farmer, consumer, and citizen groups, is sponsoring a bill to label GMOs. This will supposedly be a more sleek and clear version of the one voters narrowly voted down in 2012.
 
*GMO labeling campaigners have not been rewarded for trying to be “moderate” where it comes to the labels they demand. Their attempts to establish labeling for raw and processed foods but not for meat and dairy products were not according to inherent logic, nor did it make sense from the point of view of trying to claim transparency and the right to know as a principle. The moderation was supposed to be political and economic, on the grounds that labeling policies around the world are crafted in the same incomplete, inconsistent way. But not only has this not worked politically, but the so-called “loopholes” were attacked, perhaps with some effect, by cartel propaganda. (Campaigners in California didn’t help their cause when they produced awful publicity material embracing the enemy framing and saying things like “Loopholes are good!”)
 
Therefore it’s good to see that proponents of labeling in the US, and of better labeling in the UK (which already has labeling of raw and processed foods, but not of meat and dairy), are increasingly insisting that GMO labeling needs to encompass these products as well.
 
That’s what makes sense from the point of view of health aspects, as well as according to any principle of transparency, democracy, or just consumer choice.

 
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February 26, 2014

Comment Against the US Government’s Sham “Coexistence” Policy

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“Coexistence” is a fraudulent propaganda term. Coexistence is physically impossible, as contamination of non-GM crops and wild relatives by GMO maize, cotton, canola and other types is already rampant, as is the feral spread of GMO canola in various forms.
 
The USDA wants to promulgate “coexistence” as the official ideology and practical recommendation of the US government. There’s currently a comment period open on this, which expires March 4. Here’s one of the several pre-written comment and submission forms available, if that’s easier.
 
The contamination problem will only get worse, the longer GMOs exist. Meanwhile the poisons associated with GMOs, so far primarily glyphosate, inevitably drift and contaminate soils, water, air, other plants, and accumulate in our bodies. This problem will significantly escalate as “second generation” GMOs resistant to the far more volatile and drift-prone 2,4-D are commercialized. There’s still time to comment on this as well, as the comment period has been extended to March 11.
 
All this is in addition to the malign socioeconomic and political effects of poison-based corporate agriculture. I’ve written on this many times; here’s just a few examples. Here too it’s impossible for human beings to coexist with GMOs. It’s untenable to have our very food dominated by corporations whose one and only imperative is to force us to apply the maximum poison in and on our food. Humanity’s only path forward is the complete abolition of GMOs.

 
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February 24, 2014

Corporatism and Globalization: The Context of the TTIP and TPP

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Perhaps the best way to prove the tyrannical intentions of the globalizers is to start with their own words. If we look at the manifestoes and comments issued by the various business consortiums, industry groups, and individual corporations, we find the unvarying demand that all government action be subordinated to the corporate profit prerogative, and that no other value be allowed to interfere with this.
 
This is why I call corporations and their intent totalitarian. My definition of this term: A powerful person or entity is relentless in pursuit of an imperative, at every moment wants to enforce the domination of that imperative to the fullest extent possible, and refuses to recognize the right of any other value to exist at all. A totalitarian may or may not be willing to “tolerate” the existence of something purely extraneous. But where there’s any conflict between the corporate domination imperative and any other value, it’s taken for granted there can be no compromise. The non-corporate value must submit, if necessary to the point of its own extinction. As the historical record makes clear, this is true of all human values – health, happiness, prosperity, culture, tradition, religion, morality, simple human decency and fairness. None of these can coexist with corporations. In the long run these must all go extinct, if corporatism continues to exist.
 
One of the reasons I became a GMO abolitionist is that this fact of the impossibility of coexistence is most clearly demonstrated in the case of agricultural poisons, where the unrelenting, uncompromising assault contaminates not just every economic and political aspect it touches, but goes the farthest in extending its indelible physical corruption to every physical medium – the soil, the water, the air, the wild plants and animals, the cultivated crops and livestock, our own bodies.
 
But the same phenomenon is general across all corporate sectors, which is why every kind of thinker, writer, and activist, however much one may want to resist this choice, will in the end have to choose between humanity, and therefore corporate abolition, or a total corporate domination which will destroy whatever it is one values. Many, certainly most established NGO types, seem already to be making their choices, though in a sense it’s an early day as yet. We must not succumb to one of the standard pathologies of progressives, that of demanding instant gratification.
 
In particular, there’s the pathology that any idea which can’t be boiled down to running candidates in the next election (and not just monkey-wrenching, gridlocking anti-corporate candidates, but affirmatively “good”, policy-intending ones, no less) is bad, “impractical”, objectionable, offensive, certainly to be rejected. We need to be aware that we’re in this for what from the point of view of a human life is the long haul. We’re not likely to see the abolition of corporations, perhaps not even of GMOs, in our lifetimes. (Well, at over 40 I’m not likely. Perhaps someone half my age may live to see it.) I’m clear that I was put here to be a writer, to express these ideas as well as I can, to broadcast them as far as I can, and leave it to people to use these expressions (not the ideas themselves, which can only coincide or not with the drive of the people; no one can ever convince anyone of anything they don’t already feel) in whatever way people find good.
 
And so back to the analysis of globalization as an economic and anti-political offensive being carried out by corporatism toward the goal of total domination. By economic and anti-political I mean that the goal is total domination through total economic domination, while all real manifestations of politics are to be suppressed completely. (The neoliberal phony semblance of “politics” – sham elections, nominal constitutional rights and so on – may continue for some time.) Power will be exercised at the command of corporate oligopoly sectors, by executive government bureaucracies and extranational globalization tribunals, and increasingly, directly by the corporations themselves.
 
The policies business wants encoded in the TTIP and TPP and enforced by governments and World Bank tribunals provide a clear picture of what these persons are. They’re nominally “businessmen” seeking “profit”. They’re really political and economic totalitarians seeking total power and control. They seek this under the rubric of business ideology, and using the corporation as their basic mode of organization. But any large corporation is not really trying  to provide a good/service and make a profit, but is rather a power-seeking organization using its particular economic sector as its base of operations. It seeks to attain total power within that sector and use that economic base to assert political domination as extensively as possible.
 
I was about to say, “just because it’s not overtly political, the way a de jure political party or political pressure group is, doesn’t make it any less the same kind of organization.” But in fact anyone who pays attention to corporate actions knows they’re every bit as openly political as any non-profit, de jure political group. Corporations and their trade groups describe and disseminate political principles, devise political strategies and carry them out, lobby nominal politicians and regulators. There’s really no such thing as a lobbyist-politician dichotomy, but only two political activists talking to one another. In every way corporations are organizations which seek political power. The only difference is that under representative democracy a de jure “party” is the kind of organization which runs someone called a “candidate” for a particular type of political office, while corporations are bureaucracies, identical in a de facto way to nominal government bureaucracies like the USDA or FDA.
 
Under the conditions of complex globalized economies real power naturally tends to accumulate with the bureaucracies, and whether these are nominally “public”, like the USDA, or nominally “private”, like Monsanto, makes no difference. Even an executive office-holder like a US president, let alone a legislator, would need to powerfully exert himself to alter this bureaucracy’s inertia in any significant way. Indeed, only revolutionary regimes have been able to do so. But then that could be a definition of a revolutionary government under modern conditions: A government whose leaders want to alter significantly the inertial trajectory of the bureaucracy. This is hard to do for a nominal government bureaucracy. For a private one like a corporation, it may be impossible unless the corporation wants to alter itself. Since under no circumstances would a corporation want to do this at the behest of a bottom-up people’s movement, it follows that while a people’s movement in theory may think of seizing the reins of government and altering the trajectory of government bureaucracy, such a movement can logically think only of abolishing corporations.
 
Still, if one wants to continue with complex commodification and globalization, one must accept the domination of bureaucracy in one form or another. The whole question becomes simpler if we understand that commodification and globalization as such are unnecessary for prosperity and undesirable from any human point of view. If we then seek not just to abolish corporations but to abolish all supply-based planned economy and restore purely demand-based economies, we can think of dispensing completely with bureaucratic rule. We can even think of having a choice among various forms of direct or assembly-based democracy.
 
Those are questions for another time. Under today’s conditions centralized representative government is not and cannot be anything but a sham. Neoliberalism has been, among other things, the art of perfecting the aesthetics, emotional manipulation, and intellectual astroturfing potential of this sham. It hasn’t just enlisted the mass media, the entertainment industry, the arts, the law, academia, the scientism ideology and scientific establishment, and the twin bourgeois ideologies of conservatism and liberalism, all of which would have happened anyway. It has convinced these adherents and practitioners to accept corporate rule as veritably a law of nature, something never to be questioned or even noticed, even in thought, and brought all these realms to the most potent level of marketing appeal to the atomized mass. All this is just the facade of power and culture.
 
Real power is inertially in the hands of the bureaucracies, “public” and “private”. But of course bureaucracies don’t just passively receive and use the power which economic structures deliver to them. On the contrary, globalization is a planned economy. It’s been planned by those same bureaucrats toward the goal of permanently increasing and expanding their power. Going back to the rise of imperialist ideology and corporate lobbying in the 19th century, corporatism has relentlessly and with ever greater self-consciousness and intentional focus sought to build this command economy. (I won’t here get into the history of where corporatism came from in the first place, but I wrote extensively about it here and here.)
 
This reached a new level of aggressiveness in the post-war time, and especially since the end of the Cold War. NAFTA and the “trade” pacts based upon it have comprised the state of the art in post-Cold War globalization offensives. Today the TTIP and the TPP propose to expand the NAFTA model from North America across both oceans to encompass Europe and the Pacific Rim under a single corporate umbrella, turn the Atlantic and Pacific into ponds upon one big corporate park, use this power position to overawe Latin America and ruthlessly subjugate Africa, and to crush what’s left of the substance of democracy and economic self-determination in every country encompassed, including America and the EU.
 
The twin bureaucratic structures, corporate and regulatory, understand this mission well. They see total power within their grasp. Today they’re gearing up to reach for it. The coupled mechanisms of the globalization compacts through which they intend to attain the totalitarian goal are “investor-to-state dispute settlement” (ISDS) and “regulatory coherence”. The former is a direct assault on democracy, civil society, and politics as such, as well as being a massive corporate welfare conveyor. The latter is a formula for total bureaucratic Gleichschaltung (coordination). More specifically, it’s a plan to fully and formally institutionalize the subservience of government bureaucracy to corporate bureaucracy, and to fully rationalize the processes of this subservience.
 
In subsequent posts on this I’ll relate the corporate plan for regulatory coherence in the corporations’ own words, relate the echo as it has come back from the governments and regulators, and do the same for ISDS. That’ll bring us to the EC’s upcoming, much-hyped “consultation” on ISDS with the people of Europe. Throughout, my examples will focus on GMOs and the GMO cartel. But this sector is not only extremely aggressive, but in principle is typical of them all. So the same description and the same kind of examples will apply in all other powerful sectors. Because the GMO cartel’s obsession with kicking down Europe’s door is at the core of the US government’s goals for the TTIP/TAFTA, I’ll naturally be focusing on the Atlantic side. But the TPP has the same provisions and the same goals.
 
Next up – the “regulatory coherence” wish lists and strategic plans of the US Chamber of Commerce, BusinessEurope, and the GMO cartel.

 
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February 21, 2014

GMO News Summary 2/21/14

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*In Russia the proposed bill to tighten GMO labeling standards on imported products and ban GMO cultivation within the country (there’s currently a bureaucratic moratorium) continues to wend its way through the legislative process while a new poll found that 80% of Russians distrust GMOs. The media is also touting organic exports as a potential Russian trade advantage which ought to be exploited. This reinforces part of the impression I have, that unlike the EU, Russia views this as a competitive issue rather than one of self-sacrifice to corporate domination.
 
I’ve been thinking the same thing about European agriculture in general. It looks to me like the proposed TTIP/TAFTA is an old-fashioned power move by the US government against European power, at the behest of the truly international corporate system (e.g., of the GMO cartel’s Big Five, three are nominally from the US, two from Europe, and their combined interest transcends both). Corporatism is veritably an attempt at One World Government, in the only form such a thing can exist, a totalitarian supply-based command economy. This is why corporatism’s lackey, wants to shift power from national governments: (1) as much as possible directly to the corporations, (2) where another layer of “government” is deemed necessary, to supranational globalization cadres like the IMF, WTO, and the corporate tribunals the TTIP and TPP would establish. The European Commission, itself a supranational bureaucracy, identifies with this global corporate system rather than with the countries, let alone the people, of Europe.
 
*A new study further confirms the link between glyphosate and celiac disease and gluten intolerance, two of the many digestive system-related diseases whose incidence has surged in correlation with the rise of GMOs and their concomitant agricultural poisons, like glyphosate, in our diets.
 
*I’ve previously written about the Sarpo Mira corporate welfare GM potato. Now there’s more information coming out about this government product. As we suspected, it’s a typical hoax which, even if it performs as claimed, is inferior to the conventional breeds which were pirated to produce it. Yet 3 million British pounds and counting in taxpayer funds have been thrown down this hole, while the real potato breeders are starved of research funds.
 
(The publicly-funded research institute, the John Innes Center, is the same I’ve previously mentioned for performing brassica research on behalf of Monsanto and running a completely pointless GM wheat field trial at its Rothamsted plot. We can see how the JIC is nothing but a taxpayer-funded corporate welfare conveyor and propaganda disseminator. These trials, where they aren’t conceived as actual profitable research on behalf of the cartel, are mostly examples of propaganda by action, as I described in my post on British field trials.) 
 
This is one example, small in itself but typical, of how the GMO research agenda is coordinated by governments to attain the related goals of conveying corporate welfare to the GM cartel, and smothering agroecological and sustainability research through denying it funding.
 
The corporate media runs a similar program, loudly touting even the most absurd claims on behalf of GMOs while imposing a blackout on the real progress made by conventional breeding and agroecology. Two classic examples are those of “drought-resistant GM maize” and the “cancer-fighting GM purple tomato”. In both cases the product is a fraud, while information about the conventionally bred varieties which really do the great things claimed is systematically suppressed. 
 
*Transcripts from the Steve Marsh lawsuit against trespassing and vandalism will be published online. The defendant, GM canola contractor Michael Baxter, claims his plantings met regulatory standards. If true, this is simply more proof that regulations are drawn up to meet whatever specifications the cartel demands, and not to achieve any actual public interest requirement. The alleged “public interest” character of regulatory bureaucracies is a propaganda sham, while their actions always obey corporate demands. And if Baxter’s plantings were fully legal, that’s further proof that coexistence with GMOs is impossible, and that humanity must abolish them completely.
 
*Speaking of “coexistence”, the USDA is extending till March 4 the comment period on its fraudulent and ideological coexistence policy. “Coexistence” is physically and politically impossible, as GMOs and the corporations which purvey them are totalitarian in both ways. The USDA wants to promulgate this policy as a propaganda offensive, and as a way to extend to agriculture the general trend of stripping the people of such rights as the right to go to court as a group, and instead to substitute coerced corporate “arbitration” in place of the judicial branch. This is a typical part of the general plan to shift all power from nominally “public” government to nominally “private” corporations. To put it in terms of US constitutionalism, corporatism involves the wholesale shift of power and control from the first three constitutional branches of “government” to the extraconstitutional Fourth Branch called “corporations”.
 
In reality, where it comes to power there is no government/corporation dichotomy, and no public/private dichotomy. There is only concentrated power, which is inherently tyrannical and inefficient from any reality-based point of view. Nominal governments and corporations together comprise the corporate state. Globalization compacts like the TTIP and TPP and cadres like the WTO are attempts to further consolidate this corporate state monolith, coordinate its actions, and intensify its power and control.
 
The GMO regime is a core part of the whole project. So that’s another reminder of how GMOs are economically and politically totalitarian, and how humanity cannot coexist with them but must abolish them completely. Here’s three reminders on how coexistence is physically impossible.
 

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February 15, 2014

Monsanto Admits: 1. We Don’t Need Genetic Engineering, 2. We Don’t Need Monsanto

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Recently Wired magazine ran a Monsanto infomercial touting its alleged change of strategic course on vegetables. Monsanto, through its subsidiaries Seminis and others, is selling a line of high-end conventional vegetables dolled up as some kind of high-tech breakthrough. Contrary to the tone of the piece, these products, and the thinking behind them, aren’t new. The vegetables have been on sale for years. The only thing new is the expanded media blitz in Wired and other corporate media outlets.
 
The most interesting thing about this marketing campaign is the way it admits that genetic engineering doesn’t work and conventional breeding does.
 

Furthermore, genetically modifying consumer crops proved to be inefficient and expensive. Stark estimates that adding a new gene takes roughly 10 years and $100 million to go from a product concept to regulatory approval. And inserting genes one at a time doesn’t necessarily produce the kinds of traits that rely on the inter­actions of several genes. Well before their veggie business went kaput, Monsanto knew it couldn’t just genetically modify its way to better produce; it had to breed great vegetables to begin with. As Stark phrases a company mantra: “The best gene in the world doesn’t fix dogshit germplasm.”

 
That’s Monsanto itself speaking through its media mouthpiece. This is key, an admission of what GM critics have been saying for many years: It doesn’t work to try to engineer complex factors like nutritional content, perishability, drought resistance, salt tolerance, nitrogen efficiency, and the many other traits which have so long been touted in the media, in the form of hoaxes like “Golden Rice”. Such traits can be developed only through conventional breeding, as Monsanto now admits. The only things that ever worked in genetic engineering were simple, stupid, and brutal – plants that produce their own poison, and plants resistant to being sprayed with poison.
 
The reason for hoaxes like Golden Rice and frivolous misdirection like these boutique vegetables is to rehabilitate the Monsanto brand name and whitewash the GMO brand in general.
 
Monsanto and the corporate media are now reduced to a more narrow lie, that Monsanto can do conventional breeding better than others. This is based on fraudulent touting marker-assisted selection (MAS), which was developed over many decades by publicly funded research, as “the new Monsanto way” (as Wired’s lie would have it). MAS can be a useful supplement to conventional breeding, but is only as good as the uses to which it’s put. In recent years it’s been subjected to the same process as other aspects of agricultural breeding – public funding and university research are hijacked on behalf of the goals of the GMO cartel. Huge amounts of funding which could have gone to public interest MAS, or to the much less expensive but sophisticated techniques of conventional breeding, instead go to narrowly conceived corporate goals.
 
Thus, while MAS is a more intelligent and precise technology than genetic engineering, Monsanto puts it to a stupid and clumsy use, in the process sucking up critical research resources, impoverishing the range of germplasm which is researched at all, and trying to enclose this range. So Monsanto’s conventional breeding, in the same way as its genetic engineering, is neither innovative nor beneficial. 
 
But let’s go through the main examples and ask whether we need these products, do they work, are they safe, and whether or not we need Monsanto for anything.
 
*Biofortified broccoli. Dubbed the “Beneforte” broccoli, the main attraction is that it’s bred to be rich in glucoraphanin, metabolic precursor to the antioxidant sulforaphane. (Ironically, the #1 GMO hoax, Golden Rice, could be a potent retinoic acid over-stimulator, which may cause cancer. It’s also ironic that a glucoraphanin-rich vegetable has such an affinity with the same over-the-counter supplements the FDA has often scapegoated, including for a lethal disaster caused by genetic engineering, and which “professional skeptic” scammers like to beat up on even as they genuflect before GMO junk science.)
 
Glucoraphanin is denatured by cooking, and may require digestive support from a healthy microbiome (gut bacteria), which glyphosate and GMOs help destroy. So the touted high-glucoraphanin broccoli may be similar to the Golden Rice hoax also in that its nutritional enrichment may not be effective within the cuisine it’ll likely be part of. Want any special benefit from this broccoli? Get ready to eat a lot of it raw.
 
Excessive doses of glucoraphanin may also be harmful to the thyroid, cause goiter, and may actually boost free radicals instead of detoxifying them. Its touted anti-cancer properties may also damage healthy cells.
 
As always, there’s no substitute for eating a healthy diet mostly of unprocessed, unpoisoned, and as much as possible locally produced food. Only in that context could we get any supplementary benefit from this broccoli. But in that context we wouldn’t need it. Less expensive regular broccoli is at least as good and perhaps better since it doesn’t have any potential health downsides.
 
That Monsanto makes such a big deal out of how this variety is a cross between “commercial broccoli” (which kind is evidently a trade secret; they don’t want you to see how they pirated a public domain variety) and a wild relative from Italy is an acknowledgement of the importance of maintaining the natural germplasm biodiversity. While the “Beneforte” variety is not important to humanity, others which may be bred from this wild germplasm may be important. But wild brassicas, under threat from contamination by GM canola (cf. pp. 28-29), are just one of the many genetically beleaguered wellsprings of critical biodiversity.
 
The corporate publicity page touts how it was researchers from the publicly-funded John Innes Center who found and analyzed this wild brassica. So who created the Beneforte broccoli? In descending order of importance, each standing atop the foundation of the previous levels:
 
1. Nature.
 
2. Farmers working on broccoli breeding for thousands of years.
 
3. Public sector broccoli breeders in the 20th century.
 
4. Publicly-funded research in marker-assisted breeding.
 
5. Publicly-funded researchers at outfits like the John Innes Center.
 
6. Breeders at seed companies like Seminis, which the pesticide company Monsanto simply bought.
 
7. I can’t quite figure out which part Monsanto contributes at the end, in spite of the hyper-ventilating of Wired.
 
There’s even less to say for the “innovation” involved in the two other featured products.
 
*”Frescada” lettuce. It purports to be biofortified as well, so it’s a glorified vitamin supplement. But its real alleged feature is that under globalization conditions (mechanized poison-based growing, warehousing, transport, supermarket and big box retailing) it’ll maintain its texture and taste better than other industrial varieties.
 
The lettuce is sold “cored, trimmed, and ready to use”. Therefore much of its price premium is really for standard post-harvest value-adding, “convenience”.
 
So this is really a glorifed convenience product which will allegedly taste better and maintain its texture and nutrition better than other industrial lettuces under globalization conditions.
 
Again, it’s no substitute, either in taste or nutrition, for lettuce grown and distributed in a sustainable way. But it is far more expensive.
 
*”BellaFina” peppers. This is just silly. These have no feature other than smallness. My seed catalogs include several such varieties, such as Cupid in Johnny’s, and Shishito in High Mowing. There’s nothing new here but the branding hype.
 
For both of these varieties as well, Seminis did nothing but use the existing heritage of bred germplasm and technology in a corporate-directed way, to produce a pointless industrial product, and Monsanto does nothing but orchestrate the propaganda and collect the profits.
 
Meanwhile Monsanto isn’t guaranteeing that these products actually do any of the things claimed for them. On the contrary, in what’s standard procedure for Monsanto, all the risk and liability is shifted to the contract farmers. According to the piece: “Harvests [must] meet the standards of firmness, sweetness, or scent.” In other words there’s no reason to believe any of this even consistently works in reality the way they claim it does in the lab and in their test marketing. If anything goes wrong, the farmers will get the blame, as they have in the case of the epidemic of superweeds Monsanto generated with its Roundup regime. 
 
So that’s what’s up with Monsanto’s “going organic in the quest for a perfect veggie”, as Wired fatuously blathers? It’s an admission that genetic engineering doesn’t work and isn’t necessary, dressed up in the best virtue-of-necessity PR finery.
 
That doesn’t mean we should believe that Monsanto has given up on its prior avowed goal of enclosing all vegetables within the GMO enclosure. The fact that GM vegetables don’t work doesn’t differentiate them from herbicide-tolerant and insecticide-producing crops, which also don’t work. The fact that these are failed technologies hasn’t slowed down Monsanto and its government lackeys.
 
Even if for the sake of argument we were to believe Monsanto has given up on GE vegetables, the master plan remains the same: Pirate the germplasm, get Certificates of Protection (COPs), use market muscle to drive the non-Seminis etc. varieties out of the commercial trade, force growers to become indentured contractors. As usual the expensive new products are unnecessary at best, and likely to be hoaxes (e.g. glucoraphanin-rich broccoli). They’re boutique products with a fraudulent “hi-tech” aura meant to appeal to the Whole Foods contingent. (“Enhanced premium veggies for an elite buyer.”) Therefore they’re part of the propaganda of the industrial organic sector, which is meant to normalize GMOs (even though these aren’t GMOs).
 
Therefore, this “news” changes nothing from the point of view of abolitionism. It’s confirmation that genetic engineering is a shoddy, hyper-expensive technology which doesn’t work and was never necessary anyway. It’s confirmation of everything critics have always said, that conventional breeding is sufficient and superior to GE. Most of all it’s confirmation that corporations like Monsanto, with all the evils they perpetrate, are unnecessary, that they do nothing but steal (in this case, the public domain germplasm), enclose (the goal is to drive non-“protected” varieties out of the market), and destroy (the agricultural and wild germplasm; and as always everything which is destroyed by poison-based agriculture – the soil, the air, the water, forests, the environment, human and livestock health), toward their own power goals.
 
But the purpose of propaganda like this media campaign is to try to make failure look like success, theft look like innovation, and the prison walls of our agricultural economy look reasonable and normal.

 
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February 14, 2014

GMO News Report 2/14/14

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*A victory for democracy in Benton County, Oregon. The Benton County Community Rights Coalition, a local group affiliated with the nationwide Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), has won a court ruling enabling it to get its food sovereignty and local rule measure on the ballot for 2014. This bill would ban GMO cultivation in the county and affirms the sovereign right of communities to rule themselves on food issues. It declares itself against the tyrannical prerogative of corporations and alien central governments to force their power upon democratic communities.
 
It therefore directly contradicts the corporate tyranny preemption law the state passed in 2013 in direct response to similar ordinances passed in other counties.
 
In the end none of this will be settled in courtrooms or legislatures, but on the ground in our communities, in our neighborhoods, at our homes, and through our will to unite with all others who are fighting it out on their ground. Courtrooms and legislatures will either eventually ratify what the people enforce, or shall continue to ratify what corporate power can enforce, if the people don’t rise to defend their own lives, freedom, and future.
 
*A similar win for local rule in New Zealand. The country’s Environmental Court has ruled that local councils have a right to place restrictions on GMO cultivation. 
 
A central bureaucrat has already promised to try to suppress the court ruling by autocratic fiat. Again, court rulings like these are great, but in the end we the people will never enjoy any freedom, liberty, or prosperity which we don’t seize and enforce on the ground.
 
*New film “Ten Years of Failure: Farmers Deceived By GM Corn” details the agricultural and socioeconomic disaster of widespread adoption of GM corn in the Philippines. As elsewhere, the crops yield poorly, the herbicides and insecticides fail to work as weeds and pests deliver resistance. Meanwhile seed and poison prices skyrocket. Farmers are driven off the land and into shantytowns. The farmers still on the land are unable to escape from the GMO treadmill because of debt and the unavailability of non-GM seed, which Monsanto systematically drives out of the market.
 
*The European Council has voted against approving the DuPont/Dow stacked maize variety 1507. But the vote didn’t achieve enough of a supermajority to be binding, so in the end the European Commission will dictatorially make the decision. It’s under strong bottom-up pressure to adhere to the Council vote and the earlier, much more lopsided Parliamentary vote.
 
The wild card is Germany’s abstention. If Germany had joined France in voting No, it would’ve been difficult for the Commission would override the Council. But with Germany abstaining, that makes such an autocratic override conceivable.
 
Several pro-GM governments, such as Portugal, Belgium, and the Netherlands, also abstained, though Britain and Spain (by far the largest cultivator of MON810 in Europe) voted Yes.
 
We can see a clear hierarchy of lessening democracy and intensifying corporate rule: The people oppose GMOs; the Parliament strongly votes against 1507’s cultivation; the Council votes against it by a lesser margin (with several pro-GM governments abstaining; because of political pressure from below?); the Commission and its EFSA certainly want to approve it.
 
If the TTIP is ratified this will impose an even more purely corporatist layer on top of the Commission.
 
There’s the hierarchy of corporate totalitarianism. 1507’s “approval” process is a good case study.
 
*French legislators are proposing a new law to ban all GMO cultivation, in response to the an attempt by the country’s high administrative court to overturn the country’s democratic ban on cultivation of MON810.
 
*The Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) has announced it is releasing four types of GMO brinjal (eggplant) seedlings. These are engineered to produce Bt insecticidal toxin. This will make Bangladesh the 29th country to approve GMOs for cultivation.
 
*The latest “biofortified” GM hoax: Flax allegedly engineered to produce higher levels of Omega 3 fatty acids. It’s the standard drill with these hoaxes (the most famous is “golden rice”). They don’t work, and are unnecessary anyway. In this case, Omega 3 is easily found in a healthy diet. Not to mention all the supplements already on sale.
 
In this case, unlike with golden rice, the flacks can’t even make the false claim that this is meant to help the poor of the Global South. In principle it’s basically just another one of those nutritional supplements I just mentioned, and will be used overwhelmingly for CAFO feed.
 
As usual with these hoaxes (see last week’s “purple tomato” for another example), the goal isn’t necessarily even to commercialize this product. Rather, the idea of it does propaganda work. Again, golden rice is the best-known example. The purpose of these GMO media hoaxes is to distract attention from the fact that in reality GMOs do only two things, both involving poison: They’re engineered to allow one or more herbicides to be sprayed directly on them, and/or they endemically produce one or more endotoxins, usually Bt toxins. In both cases they become literal poison plants, all their cells suffused with endotoxin and or herbicide residue, which then becomes endemic in our food. GMOs literally poison our food.
 
That’s in addition to the health hazards of genetic engineering as such.
 
*A new analysis by Testbiotech finds that DuPont’s 1507 stacked maize, which currently has an application for cultivation within the EU before the European Commission (the Parliament and the Council already voted it down), has widely varying levels of Bt toxic expression in individual plants. This is contrary to its application, which claims a stable level of expression of the Cry1F endotoxin.
 
This is not, however, contrary to the record of other GMOs. Indeed, every GMO which has had the genomes of field-grown crops comparatively assessed has turned out to have wildly varying genomic characteristics. Such unstable GMOs are illegal under European law, but have been allowed for cultivation and/or in imported food and feed anyway. These common GMOs include MON810 maize, MON863 maize, GA21 maize, Bt 176 maize, Bt 11 maize, Liberty Link maize, Roundup Ready 40-3-2 soybeans, and GTSB77 sugar beets. Nowhere but in their regulatory applications do “the” genomic versions of these crops exist. This everyday extreme variation is proof of the instability of transgenic genomes, their propensity for ongoing mutation, and their changeability in response to environmental factors.
 
In every way, we see how the promises that genetic engineering was a precision technology whose effects could be predicted were all lies. The only thing predictable about GMOs is how chaotic their existence and effects are.
 
*Mexican honey contaminated with GM material from GMO soybeans grown nearby. The latest of thousands of examples proving that “co-existence” with GMOs is impossible, and that those who support them are totalitarians who claim a total right to trespass on the land of others and damage and destroy their crops and agricultural products. Speaking of whom…
 
*More on the lawsuit of Australian former organic farmer Steve Marsh against a GMO farmer whose false canola contaminated Marsh’s land where he grew oats and wheat, costing him his organic certification and the revenue from his crop.
 
Marsh chose not to challenge Monsanto’s non-liability contract which it forces farmers who buy its seed to sign. I guess this is because he felt he couldn’t afford the suit and might lose in a corporatist court, even though such a contract is clearly invalid.
 
Instead he sued the individual farmer, which is something which ought to be done more often in contamination cases. This is trespass and destruction of property, plain and simple. But with GMO contamination it’s interesting to see the way pro-corporate types, who often fetishize “property” rights in other contexts, are forced to openly proclaim that a GMO grower has the right to trespass on the property of other farmers and damage or destroy those farmers’ property.
 
The moral fact of this issue is clear, and if we had any such thing as the “rule of law” then the law would be clear as well: Anyone who manufactures, sells, or grows any type of GMO has strict liability for all contamination resulting from that type. This strict liability is necessary because it’s seldom possible to trace the exact source of the contamination, yet everyone knows that contamination is inevitable. Therefore everyone who sells or grows GMOs contributes to the ongoing contamination onslaught.
 
Meanwhile this case is putting Australia’s strong organic standards in a quandary. If Marsh loses his case, there will be strong pressure for the standard to be watered down, in the name of “co-existence”. Which is exactly the line Monsanto, the USDA, and industrial organic have been pushing for several years in the US.
 
As I wrote here:
 
GE alfalfa was fiercely resisted by farmers, eaters, scientists, environmentalists, and civil society groups. For years the USDA was thwarted by lawsuits in its attempts to fully unleash the product. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack (the Biotechnology Industry Organization’s 2001 “Governor of the Year”, and frequent traveler on Monsanto’s corporate jets) got together with the luminaries of industrial organic – Whole Foods Market, Stonyfield, Organic Valley, and others – to formulate an attempted compromise with Monsanto. The notion was that industrial organic and Monsanto would agree on “partial deregulation” of RR alfalfa (toward total deregulation somewhere down the road, of course), and the USDA would make a sham promise to really truly honestly enforce the partial regulations, including compensation for alfalfa farmers whose crops were destroyed by the inevitable contamination. This would be accompanied by a propaganda campaign which would lie about the contamination potential. They called this “co-existence”.
 
Why did industrial organic want to make this “compromise”, and why did the USDA want to broker it? Both the USDA and the industrial organic sector have always wanted to bring GMOs under the umbrella of organic certification. Only massive consumer resistance forced the Clinton administration to back down on this when GMOs were first commercialized in the mid 90s. Today, they want to accomplish this through a combination of contamination and propaganda. They hope GE alfalfa deregulation will lead to a broad pollution of the general alfalfa crop, which will render the current meat/dairy certified-organic sector (which must use non-GMO feed) untenable. In this way the USDA and the Whole Foods contingent dream of making ”certified organic” safe for GMOs. The intended goal is to be able to call GMOs “USDA organic” and still extract the premium from the “organic” brand. It’ll be difficult for them to do this, but we mustn’t underestimate the power of inertia and apathy. If the message seems overwhelming – “GMOs are safe, are perfectly compatible with the Organic concept, Organic is still good if it’s GMO, and everything is GMO anyway so There Is No Alternative, unless you want to go all the way to really knowing your local farmer or growing your own food, and we’ll do our best to stamp that out.” – many who vaguely oppose GMOs can be expected to surrender.
 
Meanwhile in Canada the GM alfalfa struggle continues.
 
*To close with some good news, Monsanto’s proposed pesticide seed factory in Malvinas, Argentina has run into further legal barriers as the provincial government has found the company’s environmental review to be inadequate. Monsanto will now start over again. A new review may take two months. (An absurdly short time.)
 
This factory is slated to produce maize seeds infused with multiple insecticides and fungicides and is likely to produce a constant emission of toxic waste in the air and water. It would be a further affliction upon a region already physically devastated by Roundup spraying on the omnipresent soybean plantations, and economically devastated by this same commodified agriculture system. The factory, intended to further concentrate economic power, would be a further self-cannibalization for the country.
 
The only reason it hasn’t already been built is that the citizens of the region have physically blocked the construction, persisting and enduring in the face of police and thug violence. Only this community of resistance and freedom has forced the government to take any semi-real regulatory action at all.
 
This reinforces the lesson of the community rights struggles I led off with. As all the news in between demonstrates, we’re up against a totalitarian assault upon all human values and our right to exist as a people at all. Governments and regulators are part of the assault.
 
In the end, we the people directly shall organize and act to defend and assert our freedom, liberty, and prosperity, or we’ll let ourselves be enslaved and destroyed.

 
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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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February 10, 2014

The TTIP, Corporatism, and GMOs

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Negotiation of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP, aka TAFTA) has been slowed over the EU’s felt need to take time for a “consultation” with the people of Europe over its “investor rights” provisions. That means it needs more time for propaganda. Meanwhile any cosmetic revisions of this draconian provision won’t affect the harshness of the proposed compact’s other provisions.
 
As with previous compacts, the corporate drivers of this plan hope to enshrine a race to the bottom, where all regulation and public interest policy, as well as all aggressive corporatist policy, has to be “equalized” at the most pro-corporate, anti-human level among the adherents to the pact. For example, since GMO labeling is required in Europe but not in the US, Europe would be expected to relinquish its labeling policies, which would equalize regulation between the entities where it came to this issue. The same will be true of European agricultural and food safety policies in general. Similarly, US law and constitutional jurisprudence would have to conform to Europe’s less strict regulation of the finance sector, and perhaps to its more strict regulation of seeds.
 
In general, US regulation is more lawless and corporate-aggrandizing than that of the EU. As its proximate goal, the proposed compact is intended primarily to dismantle European protections and open up Europe to an escalated US corporate assault.
 
Given how one-sided the compact will be, how generally pro-US (including in the term “US”, US-based corporations, which are best seen as extensions of the US government and of US power), the eagerness of European Commission (EC) bureaucrats to conclude this deal looks like economic malpractice and treason to the European people. Where it comes to real economic fundamentals Europe is doing very well. In particular, Europe’s agricultural sector outperforms that of the US in every qualitative way and in all the meaningful quantitative ways. Looking toward the post-fossil fuel future, Europe, while far from having a truly resilient agriculture and food system, is in a far better position to transform these systems to post-oil needs.
 
Destroying Europe’s agricultural advantages and opening up Europe to the full onslaught of US agricultural products and systems is the main goal of the US in pushing for this compact in the first place.
 
Why does the EC want to do this? What does this say about the nature of the EU bureaucracy? And why would European governments want to go along with this? The answers must go to the core of why Europeans feel they need this economic union, even as they still feel extreme ambivalence about the political coordination it implies, and which the EC is trying to enforce.
 
All the types of regulation and public interest policy the TTIP would gut are among the irritating political residue which corporatism seeks to abolish.
 
1. Corporatism is the process by which the 1% seeks to shift decision-making power and control from nominally “public” government to nominally “private” corporations. In US constitutional parlance, the system is transferring this power asset from the three branches of government enshrined in the written constitution to the extra-constitutional Fourth Branch, the corporations. In this way, power and control are shifted from nominally accountable “representative democracy” to power structures which are totally unaccountable even in principle. The nominal government remains as corporate welfare bagman and police thug, and to maintain the fraudulent facade of elections and whatnot. This process is also called neoliberalism, since it seeks to maintain the semblance of classical liberalism and pseudo-democracy even as it institutes most of the substance of fascism.
 
2. The EC, like any bureaucracy, despises democracy and accountability, and politics as such, and seeks to maximize its own power as such without any necessary reference to what its nominal job is supposed to be.
 
3. To its ongoing frustration, the EC hasn’t been able to persuade Europeans to relinquish political power, nor has economic Gleichschaltung (coordination) gone as far as they want (which is always the maximum conceivable).
 
GMOs are an excellent case study: Politically and culturally they’re rejected by Europe. From any rational point of view they’re clearly against the European economic interest. Yet the EC wants to force Europe to subject itself to the full GMO takeover of commodity agriculture, as has been happening in the US. This is the most clear-cut example of how globalization and corporatism have nothing to do with trade or economic rationalism, and everything to do with power.
 
4. The TTIP is meant to override European democracy and European politics in general. I’ve previously written about how globalization is inherently anti-political. Corporatism sees politics as such to be an atavism. Globalization is meant to impose bureaucratic, anti-political solution to this atavism.
 
(I still consider the NYT piece I wrote about here to be a classic of corporate media “journalism”. Every sentence embodies the assumption that the corporate project must go forward. The inconvenient fact that the people of Europe don’t want the GMO element of this project to go forward is depicted as a technical hurdle to be overcome. From the point of view of corporatism and technocracy, human needs and wants are indeed nothing but technical problems to be “solved”.)
 
The name “Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership”, although meant as an anodyne euphemism to replace the politically inflammatory “TAFTA”, expresses what the globalization process sees as the only real sovereign group and political constituency – corporate “investors”. Meanwhile the term “trade” is purely Orwellian, since globalization is not about legitimate demand-based trade, but the extreme opposite: Forcing supply upon markets which don’t demand it at all, or don’t demand it in the form corporatism wants to supply it. Whether one looks at GMOs as a discrete genre of product, or as a form of agricultural production, either way there’s zero demand for them. All “demand” is forced into being by planned economy measures. Pro-GMO TTIP policy is an escalation of this command economy.
 
(This is yet another reason to eschew the propaganda term “free trade”. We should never let this term pass unnoticed in our thoughts and words. Globalization has nothing to do with legitimate trade. It is all about maximizing the imperatives and prerogatives of supply-driven corporate “markets”, toward the corporate concentration of all economic and political power.)
 
This leads us to the specific case of GMOs and their structural importance. Obviously the US government and the GMO cartel see Europe as a massive, relatively untapped market. But beyond this, they have a structural imperative to force all economies to come under GMO domination. They also loathe the current state of European agriculture as a real world alternative which has proven superior in every way to GMO domination. Europe proves every day that even given the parameters of industrial agriculture, GMOs are unnecessary and inferior. Europe proves every day that conventional agriculture performs better and less expensively without them. This is an ongoing embarrassment and affront to US corporatism. The US corporate system tries to deny this in the same way that during the Cold War the US and USSR would deny the very existence of ways in which they were outperformed by the other.
 
They would have destroyed these embarrassing facts if they could. Today the US government is trying to use the TTIP to wipe out the embarrassing fact of Europe’s superior agriculture and its far healthier food system. The EC bureaucracy is coordinated with this goal, since by its nature it sees things in terms of corporate one-world government rather than as a power struggle with the US-corporatist bloc.
 
The people of Europe have a more clear view of the real nature of the power struggle, although they too have been indoctrinated into the commodification/”growth” ideology to the point that they accept most of its premises even as they demonstrate great ambivalence in practice. This ideological indoctrination is why they tolerate the “European Union” in the first place. European national governments are ambivalent, feeling caught in the middle. Then there’s the EU’s position of institutionalized ambivalence, the European Council. This is the level of the system where governments function though bureaucratic fiat, but can still feel political pressure from the people. Meanwhile the European Parliament is the EU version of a “representative” assembly, primarily a powerless facade.
 
We have a good current case study with the application for cultivation of DuPont’s 1507 stacked maize variety. The people of Europe overwhelmingly reject it. The European Parliament voted it down. The Council just voted it down, albeit with many abstentions by both pro-GM and ostensibly anti-GM governments. These abstentions at the level of representatives of national governments, meant to shield those governments from political backlash while helping to give the EC bureaucracy cover if it unilaterally decides to approve the application, exemplify the ambivalence over the whole EC economic coordination project.
 
No one outside the bureaucrats and the corporations really likes the EU concept, and proposed compacts like the TTIP drive this ambivalence to extremes. That’s why the EC feels the need to take time out to “consult” the people on the “investor rights” provision, and why the compact is slated to include a “regulatory coherence” provision meant to postpone the most inflammatory detailed policy-making till after the “agreement” is concluded. I’ll be writing more about these shortly.
 
So there’s some notes on what’s going on with TTIP/TAFTA, globalization, and the GMO regime.

 
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