Volatility

March 3, 2017

The “Drought” Lie, Amid Power Struggles in Kenya

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Set up to die of thirst

Set up to die of thirst

 
 
GMO field trials are part of a power struggle among Kenyan officials. The National Biosafety Authority (NBA) gave the Kenyan Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) and the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) the go-ahead for open-air field trials of GM maize. These are publicly funded organizations which perform corporate research on the taxpayer dollar, with the product then privatized at the juncture most profitable for the corporations. The AATF is funded by the Gates Foundation, Cornell University, and USAID. The first two of these specialize in transforming public money into corporate welfare. USAID is a de jure government body explicitly dedicated to capitalist goals.
 
Health and environmental officials have blocked the approval on the grounds that Kenya’s existing ban on GM imports applies to field trials within the country as well. Evidently they have enough clout to force a deadlock. I’m not well enough versed in internal Kenyan politics to know the underlying issues of the power struggle, but our default always is to assume no government official has any principled objection to any GMO deployment. Our attitude toward any such delay must be to do what we can to encourage and support it but never to regress to any faith-based view of government.
 
The US government will be displeased. The US has been pressing Kenya to commit to the GMO campaign for many years, since the inception of its “New Alliance” plan for a “second Green Revolution in Africa”. This is a typical US-fomented “color” revolution indeed. (The “green” revolution was so-named in the 1960s in contradistinction to “red” rhetoric. It’s a Cold War propaganda term.)
 
(I stress, the US government, which remains the same no matter which criminal heads it up. Many people seem especially confused about that these days. But in 2009 the Obama/Clinton state department, in one of its first memos to department personnel defining the new administration’s priorities, included using US muscle to force “Government acceptance of genetically modified food and propagation of genetically modified crops” at the top of its list of the attacks it planned in Africa.)
 
 
The article says Kenya has been importing maize from Mexico and Ukraine “because of drought.” Maize yields in Kenya have been halved “because of drought.”
 
This is standard deceptive framing. “Drought” almost always is an artificial problem. Drought happens when a society deploys modes of cultivation and grows crop varieties which aren’t well-suited to the rainfall conditions of the region. Historically, drought was seldom a problem for traditional agriculture, and today it’s seldom a problem for agroecology, for these are designed to be diverse and resilient in the event of dry seasons. It’s only industrial commodity monoculture which is designed to be highly vulnerable to drought.
 
What’s more, today’s increasingly volatile rainfall patterns and periods of low rainfall are features of the climate chaos being driven most of all by that same industrial agriculture. This sector is the worst greenhouse gas emitter and by far the worst destroyer of carbon sinks.
 
In both these ways “drought” is a man-made, intentional crisis. And as we see here, in classic exploitation manner the drought which is driven intentionally by corporate agriculture then is used as a propaganda pretext on behalf of GMOs. These would only escalate the crisis since GMOs do nothing but escalate every pathology of corporate industrial agriculture. GMOs require even more water and synthetic fertilizer (the primary source of nitrous oxide emissions, a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide) than non-GM crops.
 
The solution to all these artificially and intentionally generated problems – food insecurity, drought, climate chaos, hunger – is one and the same solution, and it is the only solution. Humanity must abolish corporate agriculture and transform its food production to agroecology. Even amid such a hostile political environment agroecology is accomplishing great things already in Africa. Agroecology is a fully demonstrated science and set of practices and is ready today for full global deployment, wherever humanity has the wisdom and will to do it.
 
 
Meanwhile everyone knows the quote: Insanity/stupidity/evil is doing the same thing over and over while expecting/claiming to expect a different result. Nowhere is this more true than with GMOs.
 
 
 
 
 
Please propagate these pieces.
 

February 4, 2017

The Agricultural War in Africa

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The IDEA of food is the weapon.

The IDEA of food is the weapon.

 
 
Since the age of exploration sub-Saharan Africa has received almost zero benefit from its contact with Western imperialism, only harm. From the slave trade to the age of direct imperial domination to decolonization carried out amid a resentful Western campaign of vandalism and chaos to the West’s use of the continent as a Cold War proxy, we have an unbroken and unmitigated record of the purely exploitative attitude and action of the West.
 
Globalization has been as evil as the previous assaults. Globalization acts to destroy all local production and distribution. It destroys this outright or seizes control of it in order to force it into the global commodity framework. It seizes control of indigenous land and resources. It dumps subsidized Western goods. It destroys any functional politics and democracy. It imposes the control of multinational corporations over every part of life it can. It does this purely in the power interests of Western elites. Any benefits it lets trickle down to locals are purely calculated payouts to accomplices. Much of the global South has been crushed under the corporate boot this way, and Africa has already been subject to the IMF and World Bank’s debt indenture shock treatment (“structural adjustment”).
 
All this has been accompanied by the systematic ravaging of African ecosystems, culminating in the rising climate chaos driven by the patterns of energy consumption, waste, and ecological destruction practiced and imposed by Western industrialized productionism and consumerism. Climate change is caused by these actions. Since corporate state elites and their supporters have long known this and in spite of lots of lip service have refused to do anything to avert the worst of it, it’s long been true that climate change is an intentional campaign of aggression against the Earth and all vulnerable peoples. Thus climate change takes its place as the most extreme and far-reaching of the corporate campaigns designed to cause disaster, destruction, and chaos. According to this pattern of disaster capitalism the corporations then proceed to use the crises they intentionally generate as further opportunities for aggression and profit. All corporate sectors practice this, and corporate agriculture is the most aggressive and destructive practitioner of all. Today Africa is its primary new target.
 
Corporate control of agriculture and food has always been at the core of the globalization onslaught. In accordance with its food weapon the US government systematically has waged economic, political, chemical, biological, and often literal shooting warfare. Throughout this history of war and sublimated war, corporate agriculture has been a constant weapon and battleground as well as its aggrandizement being a constant goal.
 
Corporate agriculture has been by far the worst destroyer of local and global environments. Most of all, corporate industrial agriculture is the worst driver of the climate crisis which in recent years has been wreaking havoc on African farming and food harvests. Today, after years of widespread drought and collapsed harvests, large parts of sub-Saharan Africa are on the verge of famine. This famine, like all previous modern famines, is completely artificial, completely man-made, caused by corporate agriculture and now by the climate change driven by this agricultural sector.
 
The proof that all these outcomes are intended by the Western corporate system and its supporters is that they persist in the patterns of action which are historically proven to produce these outcomes. This is called Strict Proof of Strict Intent. It’s the moral baseline which sums up the modern age. What distinguishes modern crimes against humanity and the earth from all previous crimes, besides their sheer magnitude, is that with modern science, modern information systems, and modern communications, it’s no longer possible to be innocently unaware of these crimes. Today all ignorance is willful ignorance and therefore culpable. So philosophically we can dispense with the concept of “ignorance”. Climate change, other crimes against ecological and public health, the economic and political destructiveness of globalization, these all are no longer in question, nor is there any question about guilt. The one and only question left is the question of power, and the question of which judgement shall prevail, that of the targets who only now are beginning to fight back, or that of the criminals. Today everywhere only the judgement of the criminals prevails. Tomorrow it shall be different.
 
In spite of how grossly inefficient and destructive of actual food production it is, corporate industrial agriculture has attained domination over most agricultural land. It has been sustained only by temporarily plentiful and heavily subsidized fossil fuels, massive subsidies of other sorts, monopoly muscle, and where necessary direct political and military aggression. Corporate industrial agriculture could never have existed other than as this massive program of central planning and social engineering. The core propaganda campaign on behalf of this onslaught has been called the “Green Revolution”. Green Revolution propaganda has been nothing but lies, as proven by how it has done nothing but increase hunger in the core zones of its conquest, Latin America and India.
 
Unfortunately for this insatiable shark which must keep swimming or die, corporate industrial agriculture is reaching the point of physical, economic, and political saturation across most of its domain. GMOs, to give just the latest pseudo-“hi-tech” example of the same old oil-based, poison-based agriculture, reached market saturation several years ago.
 
Only sub-Saharan Africa largely has been spared full corporate agricultural Gleichschaltung. This was because during the heyday of Green Revolution I Africa was less accessible to global markets, globalization’s whole structure of subsidies and coercion hadn’t yet been fully developed, and the CAFO system as an artificial market for what are otherwise grotesquely overproduced grain commodities hadn’t yet fully been ramified.
 
These problems gradually have been solved, and since the 1990s corporate flacks have issued the call for Green Revolution II, a “second Green Revolution in Africa.” The goal of this second poison crusade is the same as that of the first: Seize control of the land, destroy all food production and replace it with industrial plantations to produce export commodities, and drive all the people off their land and into shantytowns. Globalization pacts will force African governments to construct all necessary export infrastructure and enforce all corporate prerogatives defined by the pacts, all at the expense of the people of Africa. All other subsidies will be provided by American and British taxpayers. The entire corporate profiteering project is being publicly financed, including via tax scams like the Gates Foundation.
 
The propaganda claims the goal is to “feed the world”, but we already know the real goal is to destroy food and increase hunger, as the Green Revolution already done for decades in Latin America and south Asia, as corporate industrial agriculture already has done everywhere it has prevailed. In reality the project does not intend to provide one calorie of food to Africans. The goal, as Monsanto repeatedly has assured its shareholders, is to turn Africa into one big grain plantation to send animal feed to Asian CAFOs producing heavily subsidized meat for the Asian middle class which allegedly soon will be rising. (It won’t, but that’s another story.)
 
The destruction of the African people, their starved immiseration in shantytowns and refugee camps, which the Western corporate system assumes will never have to be paid for by anyone but the targets themselves, is the most outrageous and horrific of these subsidies. But there are many, many others. And, as I’ll be detailing, this piper won’t long be paid only across the South so that the West and its parasite class can enjoy “cheap” albeit poisoned food at the retail checkout. Westerners already pay with their taxes and their own increasingly gutted economies and communities. The corporations see their way to taking far, far more, and thus they will do their all to take all in the end. That’s what totalitarianism is, and in case you didn’t notice, corporations are totalitarian organizations that will never stop and can never stop. Humanity cannot coexist with them.
 
Today Africans are fighting to preserve control of their lives and food, as they realize what’s at stake is their freedom and their very ability to eat. The people are organized into a coalition of hundreds of democracy networks, tribal alliances, and groups representing real farmers and pastoralists. These comprise the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa and include the African Center for Biosafety, the African Biodiversity Network, the National Coordination of Peasant Organizations (a member of the worldwide Via Campesina, the Farmer Way), the NGO Federation of Collectives, the Coalition for African Genetic Heritage (COPAGEN), the Food Sovereignty Campaign, Comparing and Supporting Endogenous Development (COMPAS) Africa, the Participatory Ecological Land Use Management Association (PELUM), the Eastern and Southern African Small Scale Farmers Forum, People’s Dialogue, Rural Women’s Assembly, Food Sovereignty Ghana, GMO Free Malawi, and many others.
 
In direct contrast to the failure, destruction, and organized crime which is the proven pattern and intention of corporate industrial agriculture, the true way forward is already operating and achieving great things in Africa and around the world. This is the path of Food Sovereignty and agroecology. This is the way human beings produce abundant food for themselves and their communities without massive, expensive, destructive inputs of fossil fuels and poisons, in harmony with the greater ecology, toward the greatest freedom, democracy, security, and happiness. The Food Sovereignty movement must be based upon the great class of small community farmers who have always been the food producers for humanity and always will be, and upon agroecology, the fully demonstrated science and set of practices ready for full global deployment any time humanity wishes to embrace them. Agroecology is already accomplishing great things in Africa, and I’ll be going into far more detail about it. This is our first step toward understanding what must be done everywhere, and how we must bring it all home to the West itself.
 
There’s zero problem where it comes to the sheer amount of food produced. Humanity produces far more than enough food for everyone. This is true globally and it’s true in every region of the world. And that’s speaking only of the highly inefficient and wasteful industrial agriculture. Even during the fossil fuel era, decentralized low-input polyculture produces more calories and nutrition per acre than industrial commodity monoculture. Since the latter must fall with the end of the fossil fuel era, its production cannot be sustained regardless. Agroecology, already proven to produce enough food to feed everyone on earth even now, will then be not only the much better alternative but the only choice regardless.
 
Short of the ultimate unsustainability of industrial agriculture, the only problem anywhere is with the corporate distribution system. Anyone who truly wants to feed people has to want people to be able to feed themselves. We have to change the distribution of the food we have, not struggle to produce “more” within a framework which has already proven it won’t distribute that food to humanity. Food production and distribution naturally comprise a local/regionally based system. Only alien, artificial, unsustainable authoritarian systems can ever twist and contort these into a globalized framework. Anyone who truly wants the world to have food must fight to abolish corporate agriculture, abolish the enslavement of food production to the commodity system, rebuild socially and economically natural food systems, build and propagate the rising agroecology paradigm, build Food Sovereignty. This is the movement call to build the new era as the toxic old one is perishing. The call is binding upon us all.
 
The goal of corporate industrial agriculture, and the ultimate goal of all globalization, is to seize control of the land and drive the people out. This has always been the ultimate goal of all imperial conquest: To render all land terra nullius, empty space to be subjugated, exploited to the hilt, wrung out like an old rag, left for dead. Today is humanity’s last and greatest chance to halt this corporate campaign of total destruction of our agriculture, our environment, our society. We have our great chance to halt it and roll it back. This is what is necessary if we hope to have any agriculture and ecology, any human community, to build upon going forward beyond the fossil fuel age. The land is still there for us if we wish. We must save it and cherish it.
 
 
 

February 1, 2017

The Green Revolution and Corporate Agriculture Drive Hunger and Famine

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Philanthropy, corporate style.

Philanthropy, corporate style.

 
 
 
History is repeating itself as Africa, so many times in the past the target of colonial depredation, is today the target of a new dual campaign of aggression. The first prong of this campaign is the new colonialism based on land-grabbing and export commodity agriculture. The goal is to seize control of the land, destroy all food production and replace it with industrial plantations to produce export commodities, and drive all the people off their land and into shantytowns. The second prong is the already turbulent climate chaos which has been driven most by the same industrial agriculture, and which in recent years has been wreaking havoc on African farming and food harvests. Today, after years of widespread drought and collapsed harvests, large parts of sub-Saharan Africa are on the verge of famine. This famine, like all previous modern famines, is completely artificial, completely man-made, caused by corporate agriculture and now by the climate change of which this agricultural sector is the main driver.
 
This latest food crisis follows upon the purely financial food crisis of 2008-2009 which was triggered by rising commodity prices. This was part of the finance sector’s war of speculation and its intentional crashing of the global economy in 2008. In all these ways – financial crisis, land crisis, climate crisis – we have corporate campaigns designed to cause disaster, destruction, and chaos. The corporations then proceed to use the crises they intentionally generate as further opportunities for aggression and profit. This is called disaster capitalism. All corporate sectors practice it, and corporate agriculture is the most aggressive and destructive practitioner of all.
 
In the classic disaster capitalist manner today’s corporate imperialists are using the crisis and the famine they have systematically caused as the pretext to call for the escalation of their campaigns of finance speculation, land-grabbing, and food destruction. They call their plan a “second green revolution for Africa.” Toward this goal they have set up a propaganda and organizational apparatus funded by American and British taxpayers and administered by a coalition led by USAID and the Gates Foundation. They call the plan the “New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition” (NAFSN), and the Gates cadre which serves as overall coordinator is called the “Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa” (AGRA). The goal of this campaign is to induce and force upon African countries the whole standard globalization package which has already ravaged Latin America and Asia – privatization of tribal land, publicly-funded export and import infrastructure, eradication of all “trade barriers” which are defenses against Western subsidized dumping, corporate-dictated intellectual property policy, tax abatements and removal of all environmental and labor protections, removal of all currency expatriation restrictions, and in general the complete submission of African countries to the domination of Western-based corporations. The NAFSN seeks to impose all this on behalf of Western agribusiness corporations which have signed up with the plan. They pledge pennies to the public dollar of both Western and African taxpayers; they get to extract 100% of the profit and take it back home. The beneficiaries include pesticide and seed sellers Monsanto, Syngenta, and DuPont, traders Cargill and ADM, synthetic fertilizer manufacturer Yara, food manufacturers Unilever and Diageo. These and more will get special deals via the usual “public-private partnerships” which place all the cost and risk on the public and hand all the profit and control to the corporation.
 
The physical goals of the plan, which are always the real goals, are to seize control of all good farmland, wipe out all food production, drive out the people, divide the land into big corporate industrial plantations growing export crops, and use as much GM seed, synthetic fertilizer, and pesticide as possible. The goal is to be as destructive as possible of the soil’s capacity ever to grow food again, of African ecosystems, and of African communities and economies. Beyond a small collaborator faction which can be maintained as an urban middle class, the goal is to wipe out the African people completely. According to the US/Gates/corporate vision, these people have no purpose existing. There’s not even a plan to exploit them, just to drive them out. They call this the Second Green Revolution.
 
Does this description sound exaggerated? Not to anyone familiar with the record of failure, destruction, and corporate crime wrought by the original Green Revolution.
 
The best introduction to the facts about the Green Revolution and world hunger, and Africa’s alleged need for a second revolution, is the fact that contrary to media depictions, by the 1990s most of the hungry people of the world were not in Africa, which had been represented in Western media for much of the 1980s as the ultimate hunger disaster zone, but in the prime land of the Green Revolution, southern Asia. (Unless otherwise indicated, these numbers are compiled from government and UN sources by Food First in its magisterial World Hunger.)
 
In truth all the numbers which have been touted incessantly for the Green Revolution have been false accounting and lies. The figures claiming that hunger declined during the twenty year period from 1970 to 1990, the heyday of the Green Revolution, are based on the inclusion of figures from China, not a Green Revolution recipient. If China is left out of global figures, then during this period the number of hungry people in the world increased 11%, from 536 million to 597 million, even as food production significantly increased.
 
We can be more specific and focus especially on the two regions most intensely subjected to the Green Revolution. In Latin America during this period per capita food supplies went up 8% while the proportion of the hungry increased 19%. This is an 8% increase in per capita food even as the number of those going hungry leapt significantly. This means that population increase had zero to do with rising hunger, contrary to the claims of the corporate media and Malthusian commentators.
 
In the same way, in South Asia food available per person increased 9% while the hungry increased by 9%. This proves that hunger has nothing to do with the gross amount of food produced and everything to do with its distribution. It proves that any production increase attained by Green Revolution methods is irrelevant since the corporate distribution system which is indelibly conjoined with these production methods acts ruthlessly to make all food less available to people. This proves that corporate agriculture and its Green Revolution automatically and inexorably increase hunger and render increasing numbers vulnerable to famine.
 
And so it has gone. Under the corporate agricultural paradigm, by the latter 1990s there were over 800 million hungry in the world. By 2009 the number exceeded one billion, and continues to rise. This is never under any circumstance because there’s physically not enough food. Without exception hunger is caused by the artificial withholding of food from people to whom it would otherwise be available. Only on account of the artificial constraints, inefficiencies, and rituals of capitalism can food which physically exists, effectively cease to exist, because of the purely arbitrary reason that people lack the money to buy it. The historically proven fact is that as a rule hunger is caused only by inequality and poverty.
 
These are the same people who used to be able to produce more than sufficient food for themselves and their communities when they lived holistically on the land. Their way of life was socioecologically integrated with the Earth. They worked, the Earth produced, the people had food. And this productive balance must be restored if any significant number of people intend to eat in the post-fossil fuel age, since industrial agriculture is 100% dependent upon cheap, plentiful fossil fuels. But the cheapness and plenty are nearing their end, and the industrial paradigm inevitably must collapse.
 
But for now the onslaught continues. With some non-perishable and luxury exceptions, food production and distribution is naturally a local/regional physical and economic system. Corporate agriculture seeks to destroy all food production by forcing all production and distribution into a globalized commodity system. The only way to do this is to force economic structures upon the sector which economically destroy the viability of community food production and, through the enclosure of land, render it physically impossible. This then encloses all food production within the monetized framework and renders that food destroyed and nonexistent from the point of view of people. The “food” now exists only as a globalized commodity which is transported to wherever money is already concentrated. The rich get richer and literally fatter, while an ever rising mass of human beings gets poorer and more hungry. This is the indelible mathematical calculus of corporate agriculture and the Green Revolution, as well as the evil intent of its architects and cadres. It will never and can never have any result but to increase poverty, misery, and hunger.
 
The historical record has long been conclusive that increasing food production cannot reduce hunger because it doesn’t improve access to good land or the money to buy food, and therefore it does not increase access to food. On the contrary, it inexorably makes all these worse, and therefore makes hunger worse. In the same way, the introduction of any agricultural technology into an unjust, unequal system, without a prior social revolution to render that system just and egalitarian, inevitably increases the inequality and poverty and from there the hunger. (Indeed, this is a law of technology as such.)
 
And so we have the incontrovertible record of the Green Revolution and corporate control of food and agriculture. It was based on wheat, rice, and maize seeds specially adapted to high-input monoculture production. The goal was to maximize use of fossil fuels in order to industrialize agriculture and bring it under full capitalist control for maximum profit and power. The campaign did drive up “official” production, measured in commodities, while destroying much community food production and driving much of the rest off the official tally. (This is in order to suppress knowledge of how capable the people are of feeding themselves if they’re left alone and unassaulted.)
 
By official measures food available per capita went up everywhere, and hunger went up everywhere. Corporate agriculture and its Green Revolution act systematically to destroy all production of food which would be available for human beings while applying massive resources to drive up production of agricultural commodities to be exported for luxury use, especially for cheap meat and processed goods for Westerners. This, self-evidently, does not exist as food for the people of these places. On the contrary it represents nothing more or less than the destruction of their ability to produce food and their ability to eat.
 
By 1990 at the latest it was clear that the Green Revolution had no goal of decreasing hunger and helping farmers, but on the contrary was dedicated to economically destroying the farmers and driving them and their people off the land and into the terminal poverty of the shantytowns. Corporate agriculture is dedicated to increasing hunger and bringing famine. This is its systematically attained result, therefore this is its strictly proven intent and goal.
 
Today Africa, so many times ravaged by Western predation, is again under the gun. This time nothing less than the control of its very ability to farm and eat, today and for the future, is at stake. The “Second Green Revolution” already underway in parts of Africa is the greatest crime of our age.
 
The people of Africa are opposing this plan to destroy them. The people are organized into a coalition of hundreds of democracy networks, tribal alliances, and groups representing real farmers and pastoralists. These comprise the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa and include the African Center for Biosafety, the African Biodiversity Network (ABN), the National Coordination of Peasant Organizations (CNOP, a member of the worldwide Via Campesina, the Farmer Way), the NGO Federation of Collectives (FECONG), the Coalition for African Genetic Heritage (COPAGEN), the Food Sovereignty Campaign, Comparing and Supporting Endogenous Development (COMPAS) Africa, the Participatory Ecological Land Use Management Association (PELUM), the Eastern and Southern African Small Scale Farmers Forum (ESAFF), People’s Dialogue, Rural Women’s Assembly, Food Sovereignty Ghana, GMO Free Malawi, and many others.
 
In direct contrast to the failure, destruction, and organized crime which is the proven pattern and intention of corporate industrial agriculture, the true way forward is already operating and achieving great things in Africa and around the world. This is the path of Food Sovereignty and agroecology. This is the way human beings produce abundant food for themselves and their communities without massive, expensive, destructive inputs of fossil fuels and poisons, in harmony with the greater ecology, toward the greatest freedom, democracy, security, and happiness.
 
There’s zero problem where it comes to the sheer amount of food produced. We produce far more than enough food for everyone. This is true globally and it’s true in every region of the world. The only problem anywhere is with the corporate distribution system. Anyone who truly wants to feed people has to want people to be able to feed themselves. We have to change the distribution of the food we have, not struggle to produce “more” within a framework which has already proven it won’t distribute that food to humanity. Anyone who truly wants the world to have food must fight to abolish corporate agriculture, abolish the enslavement of food production to the commodity system, rebuild socially and economically natural food systems (food production and distribution is naturally and logically done on a local/regional basis, and only authoritarian systems can ever twist and contort these into a globalized framework), and build the Food Sovereignty movement. This movement must be based upon the great class of small community farmers who have always been the food producers for humanity and always will be, and upon agroecology, a fully demonstrated science and set of practices ready for full global deployment any time humanity wishes to embrace them. Agroecology is already accomplishing great things in Africa.
 
The goal of corporate industrial agriculture, and the ultimate goal of all globalization, is to seize control of the land and drive the people out. This has always been the ultimate goal of all imperial conquest: To render all land terra nullius, empty space to be subjugated, exploited to the hilt, wrung out like an old rag, left for dead. Today is humanity’s last chance to halt this corporate campaign of total destruction of our agriculture and our environment. We have our great chance to halt it and roll it back. This is what is necessary if we hope to have any agriculture and ecology left going forward beyond the fossil fuel age. The land is still there for us if we wish. We must save it and cherish it.
 
 
 
 
 
 

January 24, 2017

Seeds of Doom vs. Seeds of Rebirth

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“These people think that Africa is a country of animals, that we do not think, that we know nothing, but they are wrong. We are human beings, we know what we want and we will fight on to victory.”
 
– Zimbabwean participant at the 2011 International Conference of Peasants and Farmers vs. Land-Grabbing
 
Tanzania’s new seed control law is the latest victory for Western agribusiness seeking dominion over Africa’s land, seed heritage, and commodity export potential. Conversely, it’s the latest blow to Africa’s fight for self-determination and food security.
 
To gain Western “developmental assistance”, which means Western “investment” toward the goal of transforming a country into a corporate export plantation, the Tanzanian government has enacted “reform” meant to ease corporate control of the land and now will try forcibly to destroy Tanzania’s ancient and socially and ecologically stable system of seed saving and distribution among the small farmers who grow food for their people. All this is to be wiped out and replaced by corporate-controlled export agriculture while all food production disappears from the country and is replaced by mass hunger and misery.
 
This is the most recent development in an ongoing globalization campaign to enforce corporate control of all seeds and all of global agriculture and food. In Africa this campaign has been elaborated into a vast formal project, the so-called New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition (NAFSN). The New Alliance is the corporate strategy for the recolonization of Africa led by Western agribusiness. Its goal is to drive millions of Africans off their land and gain full control of all arable land in order to convert it to export commodity production. African farmers, tribes, consumers, environmental and civil society groups are opposing this, with support from anti-corporate and democracy activists from all over the world.
 
The record of over fifty years of aggressive globalized corporate agriculture based on production for commodity export proves that corporate agriculture equals human hunger. Corporate agriculture generates mass hunger and seeks to perpetuate and maximize hunger. Its goal always is to destroy food production, seize the land for commodity production, and drive the people OUT.
 
The NAFSN is driven by the US and UK governments, paid for by US and UK taxpayers, and functions according to operational goals dictated by corporations such as Monsanto, Syngenta, Cargill, Unilever, and others who have signed up for the program as part of various “public-private partnership” scams. The NAFSN operates officially under the auspices of the G8. The program is directly administered by USAID in its usual role as alleged “humanitarian” front group, public sector version, with the Gates Foundation and others serving as the “private”, so-called philanthropic counterpart. The Gates Foundation has set up its “Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa” as a key activist and propaganda weapon of the campaign. The corporate beneficiaries have signed “letters of intent” to join this so-called “investment” program. This means they put up pennies to the taxpayer dollar while being slated to extract 100% of the profits. An African fig leaf is provided in the form of the African Union’s Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Program (CAADP). This is the Stockholm Syndrome blueprint African governments developed in the wake of the West’s “structural adjustment” assaults. The NAFSN is a typical vehicle wherein African governments beg for “investment” on the corporations’ terms. The New Alliance is a prime fruition of this radical corporate control of Western investment. Ten African governments have sold out: Ethiopia, Ghana, Burkina Faso, the Ivory Coast, Mozambique, and Tanzania, Benin, Malawi, Nigeria, and Senegal. (The US remains frustrated by the ambivalence of Kenya, which was supposed to be the crown jewel member by now.)
 
The people of Africa are opposing this plan to destroy them. The people are organized into a coalition of hundreds of democracy networks, tribal alliances, and groups representing real farmers and pastoralists. These comprise the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa and include the African Center for Biosafety, the African Biodiversity Network (ABN), the National Coordination of Peasant Organizations (CNOP, a member of the worldwide Via Campesina, the Farmer Way), the NGO Federation of Collectives (FECONG), the Coalition for African Genetic Heritage (COPAGEN), the Food Sovereignty Campaign, Comparing and Supporting Endogenous Development (COMPAS) Africa, the Participatory Ecological Land Use Management Association (PELUM), the Eastern and Southern African Small Scale Farmers Forum (ESAFF), People’s Dialogue, Rural Women’s Assembly, Food Sovereignty Ghana, GMO Free Malawi, and many others.
 
Here we have a clear black and white division between humanity and a criminal elite. We have the aggressive elite power of the US and other Western governments, corporations, the mainstream media and technocratic establishment, and other elitists including racist liberals and NGOs. The whole project has had zero input or representation from the people of Africa or the West. Even as they mouth platitudes about helping the small farmers of Africa, the roster of participants in the cabal’s conferences reads each time like a technocratic dream guest list – Western politicians, corporate agents, NGO operatives, motley “experts” and engineers. It includes every illegitimate elite which is alien to the Earth and excludes every representative of actual human beings. Those opposing this assault comprise a truly representative lineup of African farmers, pastoralists, fisherfolk, indigenous peoples, and the citizenry in general.
 
Even if one didn’t know the issues and facts, just from the order of battle it would be clear who’s right and who’s wrong, who represents human prosperity, security, democracy, and freedom, and who represents the destruction of all of these.
 
The goal of the New Alliance is the corporate Gleichschaltung (coordination) of African agriculture and trade practices and policies for maximum plunder and domination. Its main goals are to drive the people of Africa off their land and into shantytowns, seizing all the arable land for corporate commodity production for export. The goal, as with all agribusiness endeavor, is to wipe out all food production and replace it with commodity production. This is the same program of globalization and commodification which has already devastated much of humanity. African governments are to collaborate in dominating and exploiting the people and the land. The goal of corporate industrial agriculture, and the ultimate goal of all globalization, is to seize control of the land and drive the people out.
 
Here’s the main elements of the plan:
 
*The privatization of land. In Africa vast numbers of people still farm and graze the commons. This makes it difficult for the corporate state to impose dependency upon money and loans of indenture, to set up corporate infrastructure and distribution facilities for pesticides, proprietary GM seeds, synthetic fertilizer, industrial machinery, to impose commodity cash cropping, and to arrange the export of the entire production of the land, leaving the people with nothing. As a prerequisite, corporations which would dominate and exploit these people and their land first need government to enclose and parcel out the land. This has been a priority of the World Bank going back to the 1980s. Obama’s USAID chief Rajiv Shad emphasized that the goal is to accelerate land grabbing. As Via Campesina put it, “These policies aim to allocate title deeds to land in order to facilitate the purchase and sale of landed property. In the end, poor peasants and other rural people lose out to the benefit of those who have the means to purchase land.” Tribesmen and pastoralists who have farmed the land for generations suddenly are told that the land of their ancestors is “legally owned” by a Western speculator or the land-grabbing agent of a foreign government. The NAFSN is designed to escalate this colonial process of stealing the land. The only difference from the old-style conquistadors is that the direct gun and sword have been replaced by the fountain pen, backed by guns, drones, and cruise missiles.
 
*The formation of economic hierarchies to centralize and integrate production, processing, storage, and distribution. All this is to be done according to corporate specifications, toward the goal of forcing most farmers off the land and reducing the rest to indentured servitude and wage slavery within a cash-based commodity export regime. Today the farmers of Africa are smallholders and commons managers producing food for their families and communities. This is ideologically odious to Western technocracy and an obstacle to total corporate domination and exploitation. The goal of the New Alliance is to eradicate this human order and replace it with the corporate-controlled globalized commodity export system.
 
*Use propaganda to induce the beleaguered farmers to adopt commodity cropping themselves, then impose expensive industrial infrastructure on them. The NAFSN reprises the decades-old ploy of offering credit in order to indenture farmers and trap them on the cash-crop debt treadmill. The procedure is always the same everywhere, with only minor modifications. 1. Propaganda – you have no choice but to get on board with commodification, and you better do it fast or you’ll be left behind. 2. Enforce this with Western commodity dumping and general coercion into a cash economy. 3. Offer the necessary product (“improved”, i.e. corporate-controlled seeds, synthetic fertilizer, industrial herbicide and pesticide, machinery, oil) and the debt-mongering loan in order to buy it. 4. In this way destroy most independent farmers completely, turn the rest into indentured sharecroppers or wage slaves.
 
*A severe and rigorously enforced “intellectual property” regime for the benefit of the seed cartel and its patents. The Tanzanian law is the latest example. All intellectual property in seeds has been the result of biopiracy. All crops and landraces were developed by farmers selecting seeds over thousands of years in cooperation with nature, and all existing varieties have been developed by farmers in tandem with modern public sector breeding projects. The private sector has never contributed anything constructive at all. This is just as true in Africa as anywhere else. IP seed regimes are designed to expropriate a vast property interest of the people as a whole, in exactly the same way as land-grabbing.
 
*Selectively open borders for corporate dumping and looting. “Free trade” is the standard Orwellian term for this; a truthful term would be something like corporate command trade, forced markets, forced commodification. This so-called “liberalization” applies where it comes to the government-approved and licensed “formal sector”. Meanwhile traditional markets and actual free trading among the people would be criminalized and repressed, as we see in the case of corporate seed regimes like that being imposed upon Tanzanians.
 
*”Free trade” zones, tax-free zones, laws licensing the total repatriation of profits by Western “investors”. These ravages of Latin America and Asia are set to be reproduced in Africa.
 
We already know the end result of this because we’ve seen it play out over sixty years in Asia, Latin America, and in South Africa which already has a near-fully corporate controlled regime. Seeds and the land are largely enclosed, farmers have been reduced to servitude, profits are ruthlessly extracted and removed from the country.
 
The program of the New Alliance is being called a “Second Green Revolution”, a “Green Revolution in Africa”. We already know the evils of the first Green Revolution. It drove the people off the good agricultural land, forcing them to struggle to grow food for themselves on worse, environmentally more fragile land. Meanwhile all prime agricultural land was enclosed for export production. The land is stolen and locked away. From the people’s point of view it’s as if all the best land literally was destroyed, while all the food they used to produce ceases to exist. This is the driver of all Southern hunger, just as forcing the people who used to support themselves across the land to become crowded into small desolate regions is the cause of so-called “overpopulation”. Thus the Green Revolution drives ever more people off the land and into urban slums and shantytowns. Shantytowns have always been the direct, intended result of this agricultural policy. The goal always is to further separate humanity from the land, assault human food economies, replace these with the global corporate commodity economy from which food is supposed to “trickle down” to those who have money to buy it, forcibly turn community farmers into “job”-seekers, generate population pressures and all the political divide-and-conquer gambits this enables, drive up the proportion of the population which is food insecure, drive down wages. In all these ways the Green Revolution increases desperation and infighting among the destitute masses and aggravates and accelerates the processes of colonialism and corporate rule in general. Today’s onslaught of corporate agriculture is an escalated version of all this.
 
Pro-technocracy, pro-corporate types still believe and propagate the lies of the Green Revolution. But it takes only a look at the historical record and current events to see that corporate agriculture has nothing to do with feeding people and everything to do with starving them for the sake of its profit and domination imperatives. How does it feed an African community to force it to stop feeding itself and start growing cash crops to be turned into cheap meat for Westerners and ethanol for Western cars? How does it feed people to drive them off the land they farm and into shantytowns? How does it feed people to impose artificial scarcity on the abundance their work coaxes from nature?
 
Let’s cut through all the lies. If you want human beings to eat, you want people to provide their own food for themselves, their families, their communities. If you want corporations and governments to crush this normal, natural food system and replace it with the corporate system of scarcity, coercion, domination, extraction, you want only those with money to feed. (As for the Western middle class among whom this attitude is common, the bell is tolling for them as well. If any among them ever wonders what the corporate and technocratic elite has in store for them, they need only look to the farmers of Africa now. In the end they’re slated to be liquidated the same way, even if it takes a little more time. But there’s already no lack of tent cities in America.)
 
The entire modern record of corporate agriculture and food proves that the corporate system does not want to feed the world and cannot do so, by its very nature. It takes a unusual form of stupidity to think that the way to end hunger is to take naturally abundant food and render it artificially scarce, as capitalism must do according to its nature. Just as it takes a special kind of arithmetic to think the way you end hunger is through a system whose primary action is to use ten calories’ worth of grain to produce one calorie of meat. This fact lays bare the entire truth about the corporate system, its goals, and the evil of anyone who supports it while even a single child goes hungry.
 
Corporate neoliberal ideology is a proven lie in every sector. There is no sector, especially food and agriculture, where corporate practice hasn’t brought oligopoly, inequality, deteriorating agronomic results, ever more frequent socioeconomic and environmental disaster, and mass hunger. All the while our prosperity, freedom, democracy, and happiness are destroyed. We know that agroecological production and distribution bring better practical results than the corporate system, we know that only it can sustain the environment, we know that all true innovation in agriculture throughout history has been the result of cooperative action in the public domain, and we know that corporate enclosure like the intellectual property regime has functioned only to smother true innovation. We know that the industrial food system is unsustainable in terms of energy consumption, we know it’s the worst driver of the climate crisis and other environmental crises, we know that even in the West it’s no longer keeping prices down, and we know that at every point it diminishes our freedom, autonomy, and community.
 
In direct contrast to the failure, destruction, and organized crime which is the proven pattern and intention of corporate industrial agriculture, the true way forward is already operating and achieving great things in Africa and around the world. This is the path of Food Sovereignty and agroecology. This is the way human beings produce abundant food for themselves and their communities without massive, expensive, and destructive inputs of fossil fuels and poisons, in harmony with the greater ecology, toward the greatest freedom, democracy, security, and happiness.
 
There’s zero problem with the sheer amount of food produced. We produce far more than enough food for everyone on earth and then some to fill their stomachs. This is true globally and it’s true in every region of the world. The only problem anywhere is with the corporate distribution system. Anyone who truly wants to feed people has to want people to be able to feed themselves. We have to change the distribution of the food we have, not struggle to produce “more” within a framework which has already proven it won’t distribute that food to humanity. Anyone who truly wants the world to have food must fight to abolish corporate agriculture, abolish the enslavement of food production to the commodity system, rebuild socially and economically natural food systems (food production and distribution is naturally and logically done on a local/regional basis, and only authoritarian systems can ever force the contortion of these into a globalized framework), and build the Food Sovereignty movement. This movement must be based upon the great class of small community farmers who have always been the food producers for humanity and always will be, and upon agroecology, a fully demonstrated science and set of practices ready for full global deployment any time humanity wishes to embrace them. Look at what agroecology is already accomplishing in Africa against such economic pressure and corporate and government hostility.
 
Meanwhile anyone like the elites and elitists of corporate domination and technocracy, who claims to want to “feed the world” but wants to do so by doubling down on the proven failure of a “Green Revolution” and corporate industrial agriculture is really a liar and a criminal.
 
The goal of corporate industrial agriculture, and the ultimate goal of all globalization, is to seize control of the land and drive the people out. This has always been the ultimate goal of all imperial conquest: To render all land terra nullius, empty space, to be subjugated, exploited to the hilt, wrung out like an old rag, left for dead. Today is humanity’s last chance to halt this corporate campaign of total destruction of our agriculture and our environment. We have our great chance to halt it and roll it back. This is what is necessary if we hope to have any agriculture and ecology left going forward beyond the fossil fuel age. The land is still there for us if we wish. We must save it and cherish it.

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