Volatility

May 13, 2017

The Corporations are Driving Forced Migrations and Genetic Contamination

Filed under: GMO Contamination — Tags: , , — Russ @ 8:13 am

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Long ago the US government and Western corporations launched their attack on the human innovation, freedom, and ecology of Latin America. NAFTA was a significant escalation of this war of aggression. Mexico’s courts remain a rare support for resistance to this assault, though we abolitionists must never count on any court.
 
Independence is not the opposite of community, but a precondition of it, where it means the lack of dependency upon distant, unaccountable, alien entities. People who are dependent on centralized hierarchies whose interests and knowledge are alien to the community can never be free or secure within that community, but every day face centrifugal pressures driving them away from one another and into conflict with one another. These forces often physically destroy the community and drive the people literally off their land.
 
There’s another kind of relationship, interdependence, where we work with the land and its fruits which sustain us. The stability of this relationship is a precondition for broader political and economic independence. Only where we control the land and the food it produces can we enjoy political and economic independence. At the opposite extreme, no dependency could be more productive of absolute helplessness than to lose our ability to control and rely upon the land, instead being forced into thralldom to a centralized agricultural and food system which has no knowledge of agriculture or food and cares nothing about them, which cares for nothing but its own power and profit. To be dependent upon such a system is slavery.
 
Mexico is reeling from the blows of corporate assaults in many sectors. US agribusiness has been the most aggressive in its drive to commodify Mexican agriculture, seize control of the land, and drive the millions of small farmers who depend upon this land off of their land and into a vastly more profound dependency upon the pure whims and chance of a cruel, vicious globalization system.
 
One of their core tactics is the forced colonization of GMOs around the world. Land-grabbing and commodification is the primary operational assault of technocracy. GMOs are designed to render land-grabbing and commodification quickly profitable within the government subsidy framework. As the most exalted and idolized technology of governments today GMOs are the recipients of complete subsidy and policy protection. This complete subsidization by the taxpayers is the only thing which renders this otherwise unprofitable and worthless product viable at all.
 
Mexico, ravaged by NAFTA, has been relatively resistant to GMO proliferation. In spite of the support of several government agencies, citizen campaigns have won public support and court victories which have so far staved off the commercialization of GM maize.
 
Maize is a storied crop in Mexico, prominent in mythology and folklore and central to the Mexican national vision. A popular saying goes, “Sin Maiz, No Hay Maiz”: “Without Corn, There is No Country”. Maize is the core food and retail crop for millions of small farmers and their families who depend upon it for their food, livelihood, freedom, and community.
 
Because maize is a wind-pollinated crop, it is one of the crops most easily cross-pollinated by other varieties. To maintain the genetic integrity of a landrace or variety requires strict precautions on the part of the farmer and a relative lack of cross-pollinating influences. Even though GM maize has not yet been legally approved in Mexico, transgenic contamination of indigenous varieties began quickly following NAFTA, from GM seed which was mixed into the maize shipments the US immediately began dumping in Mexico. This infiltrated seed was planted and its pollen then spread with the wind, contaminating ears of other varieties, whose seed was then planted, and so on in a gradually expanding process of contamination.
 
This demonstrates two truths. One, within a commodification framework it’s impossible to keep supply chains segregated. The commercial debacle with Syngenta’s Viptera maize contaminating US maize shipments to China, resulting in the loss to US traders and farmers of billions in sales, legally is an ongoing case. Two, once GM varieties of a crop like maize are released into the environment, it’s impossible to prevent their contaminating non-GM varieties. These are two proofs that “co-existence” is physically impossible. It’s also politically impossible, which is demonstrated here by the relentless struggle on the part of the cartel to force this product upon a society which does not want it.
 
Ignacio Chapela and David Quist first documented this contamination in 2001. The Mexican government confirmed the contamination shortly afterward. In spite of this documentation, the corporate flacks and their fanboys have never stopped slandering Chapela and telling the direct lie that there’s no GM contamination of maize in Mexico. This is an excellent example of how all pro-GM activism is based on nothing but bald-faced lies, and more profoundly on an absolute contempt for the very idea of truth or falsehood, fact or fiction. This contempt for fact is rampant among engineers and even among scientists ever since the corporate science paradigm, which can be summed up as “science, and truth itself, are nothing but what the corporate marketing department says they are”, has become dominant over organized science and technology development.
 
Subsequent studies have traced the spread of transgenic contamination across large swaths of the country (see p. 17 of the link). This gradual genetic corruption and depletion has been ongoing while no GM maize is being legally grown. This is thanks to the citizen campaign organized by Accion Colectiva (Collective Action), an alliance of farmers, scientists, doctors, lawyers, consumers, and civil society advocates, all acting cooperatively as public citizens. Their suit argues that the government allowed field trials and is rushing to approve commercialization without having conducted the safety and contamination tests and environmental reviews required by Mexican law and the constitution, Article 27 of which requires protection of genetic biodiversity as a common good.
 
 
Mexico is one of the world centers of maize origin and diversity. The future of the crop depends to a great extent on the genetic integrity of the maize landraces of Mexico and other parts of Latin America, as well as the integrity of teosinte, the wild relative from which maize evolved. The maize independence of humanity is dependent upon this genetic spring, while the corporate stanching of this spring would kill all food independence.
 
Transgenic contamination is a major problem and is getting worse. But we must place it in the context of the bigger, longer arc of the genetic depletion of agriculture. The genetic diversity of maize has been steadily suffering constriction and depletion over the last century.
 
The more narrow and depleted a crop’s genetic range becomes, the more vulnerable the crop is to pests, weed pressure, disease, drought, flooding, adverse soil conditions, weather, and climate. An early disaster was the 1970 Southern Leaf Corn Blight which wiped out as much as 50-100% of the crop in regions of the US. A subsequent National Research Council investigation pegged the precarity of the maize gene pool as the cause of the wide vulnerability of the crop. Specifically, a gene for male sterility (the T cytoplasm gene) bred extensively into most varieties of the crop (as a “labor-saving”, i.e. job-destroying, feature for the harvest of seed corn) had the collateral effect of rendering plants which carried the gene more vulnerable to the blight. In spite of this early warning shot over the bow, the genetic uniformity and depletion has only gotten worse since then.
 
The 1970 episode also provides a stark demonstration of what can happen if a particular crop gene is bred into the bulk of the crop varieties and deployed very quickly over a vast geographic range without any precautionary assessment of possible harmful collateral effects. In fact by the late 1960s many agronomists were becoming uneasy about the ubiquity of the T cytoplasm gene, and some were predicting a pandemic like the one that hit in 1970. Here the gene was conventionally bred. But the same principles apply even more ominously in the case of GMOs, since the transgenic insertion process is far more likely than conventional breeding to generate harmful mutations. GMOs, combining the worst of both worlds – pivotal conditions of genetic uniformity along with uniquely chaotic genetic unpredictability – are recklessly being deployed as fast as possible over unprecedented geographic ranges.
 
Like with most other evils of GMOs, transgenic contamination is an escalation of an existing malign trend in corporate agriculture, the depletion of agricultural germplasm. Corporate control of agriculture was endangering the future of humanity in this way prior to GMOs and would be doing so in their absence. GMOs are just making it worse.
 
All this is just one refutation of the standard lies that GMOs are supposed to comprise a solution to pests, drought, and other crop afflictions. On the contrary, by accelerating the process of genetic narrowing and depletion GMOs render agriculture ever more vulnerable to every kind of affliction.
 
The GMO biological assault on maize is part of a wider economic assault on small farmers and their communities. GMOs accelerate the corporate agricultural process of driving great masses of people off the land. The goal is corporate enclosure and control of the land in order to eradicate regionally based production of food for human beings and replace it with globalized commodity production for profit. GMOs are intended to aggravate and accelerate this great evil of corporate agriculture.
 
In Mexico, the process of land-grabbing, dumping, and enclosure of the land in favor of vast commodity plantations is forcing the migration northward of effectively stateless economic refugees. This process too has been ongoing for decades and was escalated by NAFTA. The commercialization of GM maize would escalate it further. I’ve written extensively about how GMOs are an impossible technology for small farmers, which for them can never be anything but an assault and an often deadly trap.
 
Whenever you see someone in America complaining about the northward migration of Mexicans, remind them that this is a forced migration driven by US globalization policy. The big corporations profit in two ways: The agribusiness corporations seize control of the land in Mexico, while by forcing this migration all corporate sectors benefit from how it further drives down wages in the US. As always and everywhere, the corporation is the enemy of humanity.
 
I briefly traced here a few of the long arcs of the corporate threat to humanity’s future. The biological and genetic threats posed by GMOs and the broader genetic engineering project are among the most dire. Those fighting in Mexico are fighting for the independence, freedom, and health of us all. Such grassroots groups, organizing people from every walk of life as public citizens to fight corporate power and thwart the attempt to impose corporate domination, are the only groups fighting today for freedom and community. The bell tolling for the assassination attempt on Mexican community independence, via assault on the genetic basis of our food, is tolling for all of us, everywhere, as we face the same assault wherever we are, whatever we eat. We must abolish corporate agriculture.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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September 16, 2015

Maize in the Labyrinth

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Today is Mexican Independence Day. On this day in 1810 Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla issued the famous Grito de Dolores (“Cry of Dolores”, named for the small town where the freedom fighters had assembled), setting off the rebellion which led to Mexico winning its independence from Spain eleven years later.
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Today Mexico faces a more formidable threat to its independence in the form of Western corporate domination. This war of aggression has been fought for decades and was significantly escalated with the US imposition of NAFTA in 1994.
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Independence is not the opposite of community, but a precondition of it, where it means the lack of dependency upon distant, unaccountable, alien entities. People who are dependent on centralized hierarchies whose interests and knowledge are alien to the community can never be free or secure within that community, but every day face centrifugal pressures driving them away from one another and into conflict with one another. These forces often physically destroy the community and drive the people literally off their land.
.
But there’s another kind of depending, where we depend upon the land and its fruits which sustain us. The stability of this depending relationship is a precondition for the broader independence. Only where we control the land and the food it produces can we enjoy political and economic independence. At the opposite extreme, no dependency could be more productive of absolute helplessness than to lose our ability to control and rely upon the land, instead being forced into thralldom to a centralized agricultural and food system which has no knowledge of agriculture or food and cares nothing about them, which cares for nothing but its own power and profit. To be dependent upon such a system is verily a form of slavery.
.
Mexico is reeling from the blows of corporate assaults in many sectors. US agribusiness has not been a laggard in its drive to commodify Mexican agriculture, seize control of the land, and drive the millions of small farmers who depend upon this land off of their land and into a vastly more profound dependency upon the pure whims and chance of a cruel, vicious globalization system.
.
The core assault tactic is the forced colonization of GMOs around the world. These are meant to render land-grabbing and commodification quickly profitable. As the most exalted and idolized technology of governments today GMOs are the recipients of complete subsidy and policy protection. This complete subsidization by the taxpayers is the only thing which renders this otherwise unprofitable and worthless product viable at all.
.
Mexico, ravaged by NAFTA, has been relatively resistant to GMO proliferation. In spite of the support of several government agencies, citizen campaigns have won public support and court victories which have so far staved off the commercialization of GM maize.
.
Maize is a storied crop in Mexico, prominent in mythology and folklore and central to the Mexican national vision. A popular saying goes, “Sin Maiz, No Hay Maiz”: “Without Corn, There is No Country”. Maize is the core food and retail crop for millions of small farmers and their families who depend upon it for their food, livelihood, freedom, and community.
.
Because maize is a wind-pollinated crop, it is one of the crops most easily cross-pollinated by other varieties. To maintain the genetic integrity of a landrace or variety requires strict precautions on the part of the farmer and a relative lack of cross-pollinating influences. Even though GM maize has not yet been legally approved in Mexico, transgenic contamination of indigenous varieties began quickly following NAFTA, probably from GM seed which became mixed among the maize shipments the US immediately began dumping in Mexico. This infiltrated seed was probably planted and its pollen then spread with the wind, contaminating ears of other varieties, whose seed was then planted, and so on in a gradually expanding process of contamination.
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If it happened this way (there’s no special evidence I’ve heard of that Monsanto intentionally infiltrated the seed into Mexico the way it did on a vast basis in Brazil; but of course we can’t put it past them), this demonstrates two truths. One, within a commodification framework it’s impossible to keep supply chains segregated. The recent debacle with Syngenta’s Viptera maize contaminating US maize shipments to China, resulting in the loss to US traders and farmers of billions in sales, is a more recent case. Two, once GM varieties of a crop like maize are released into the environment, it’s impossible to prevent their contaminating non-GM varieties. These are two proofs that “co-existence” is physically impossible. It’s also politically impossible, which is demonstrated here by the relentless struggle on the part of the cartel to force this product upon a society which does not want it.
.
Ignacio Chapela and David Quist first documented this contamination in 2001. The Mexican government confirmed the contamination shortly afterward. In spite of this documentation, the corporate flacks and their fanboys have never stopped slandering Chapela and telling the direct lie that there’s no GM contamination of maize in Mexico. This is an excellent example of how all pro-GM activism is based on nothing but bald-faced lies, and more profoundly on an absolute contempt for the very idea of truth or falsehood, fact or fiction. This contempt for fact is rampant among engineers and even among scientists ever since the corporate science paradigm, which can be summed up as “science, and truth itself, are nothing but what the corporate marketing department says they are”, has become dominant over organized science and technology development.
.
Subsequent studies have traced the spread of transgenic contamination across large swaths of the country (see p. 17 of the link). This gradual genetic corruption and depletion has been ongoing while no GM maize is being legally grown. This is thanks to the citizen campaign organized by Accion Colectiva (Collective Action), an alliance of farmers, scientists, doctors, lawyers, consumers, and civil society advocates, all acting cooperatively as public citizens. Their suit argues that the government allowed field trials and is rushing to approve commercialization without having conducted the safety and contamination tests and environmental reviews required by Mexican law and the constitution, Article 27 of which requires protection of genetic biodiversity as a common good.
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After the people won at trial and then won a series of government and corporate appeals, Monsanto finally found a judge corrupt enough to rule in its favor. As Accion Colectiva has commented, the ruling completely ignores the evidence, the law, and the constitution. The group has filed an appeal.
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Mexico is one of the world centers of maize origin and diversity. The future of the crop depends to a great extent on the genetic integrity of the maize landraces of Mexico and other parts of Latin America, as well as the integrity of teosinte, the wild relative from which maize evolved. The maize independence of humanity is dependent upon this genetic spring, while the corporate stanching of this spring would kill all food independence.
.
Transgenic contamination is a major problem and is getting worse. But we must place it in the context of the bigger, longer arc of the genetic depletion of agriculture. The genetic diversity of maize has been steadily suffering constriction and depletion over the last century.
.
The more narrow and depleted a crop’s genetic range becomes, the more vulnerable the crop is to pests, weed pressure, disease, drought, flooding, adverse soil conditions, weather, and climate. An early disaster was the 1970 Southern Leaf Corn Blight which wiped out as much as 50-100% of the crop in regions of the US. A subsequent National Research Council investigation pegged the precarity of the maize gene pool as the cause of the wide vulnerability of the crop. Specifically, a gene for male sterility (the T cytoplasm gene) bred extensively into most varieties of the crop (as a “labor-saving”, i.e. job-destroying, feature for the harvest of seed corn) had the collateral effect of rendering plants which carried the gene more vulnerable to the blight. In spite of this early warning shot over the bow, the genetic uniformity and depletion has only gotten worse since then.
.
The 1970 episode also provides a stark demonstration of what can happen if a particular crop gene is bred into the bulk of the crop varieties and deployed very quickly over a vast geographic range without any precautionary assessment of possible harmful collateral effects. In fact by the late 1960s many agronomists were becoming uneasy about the ubiquity of the T cytoplasm gene, and some were predicting a pandemic like the one that hit in 1970. Here the gene was conventionally bred. But the same principles apply even more ominously in the case of GMOs, since the transgenic insertion process is far more likely than conventional breeding to generate harmful mutations. GMOs, combining the worst of both worlds – pivotal conditions of genetic uniformity along with uniquely chaotic genetic unpredictability – are recklessly being deployed as fast as possible over unprecedented geographic ranges.
.
Like with most other evils of GMOs, transgenic contamination is an escalation of an existing malign trend in corporate agriculture, the depletion of agricultural germplasm. Corporate control of agriculture was endangering the future of humanity in this way prior to GMOs and would be doing so in their absence. GMOs are just making it worse.
.
All this is just one refutation of the standard lies that GMOs are supposed to comprise a solution to pests, drought, and other crop afflictions. On the contrary, by accelerating the process of genetic narrowing and depletion GMOs render agriculture ever more vulnerable to every kind of affliction.
.
The GMO biological assault on maize is part of a wider economic assault on small farmers and their communities. GMOs accelerate the corporate agricultural process of driving great masses of people off the land. The goal is corporate enclosure and control of the land in order to eradicate regionally based production of food for human beings and replace it with globalized commodity production for profit. GMOs are intended to aggravate and accelerate this great evil of corporate agriculture.
.
In Mexico, the process of land-grabbing, dumping, and enclosure of the land in favor of vast commodity plantations is forcing the migration northward of effectively stateless economic refugees. This process too has been ongoing for decades and was escalated by NAFTA. The commercialization of GM maize would escalate it further. I’ve written extensively about how GMOs are an impossible technology for small farmers, which for them can never be anything but an assault and an often deadly trap.
.
Whenever you see someone in America complaining about the northward migration of Mexicans, remind them that this is a forced migration driven by US globalization policy. The big corporations profit in two ways: The agribusiness corporations seize control of the land in Mexico, while by forcing this migration all corporate sectors benefit from how it further drives down wages in the US. As always and everywhere, the corporation is the enemy of humanity.
.
I briefly traced here a few of the long arcs of the corporate threat to humanity’s future. The biological and genetic threats posed by GMOs and the broader genetic engineering project are among the most dire. Those fighting in Mexico, in the spirit of Mexican Independence Day, are fighting for the independence, freedom, and health of us all. Such grassroots groups, organizing people from every walk of life as public citizens to fight corporate power and thwart the attempt to impose corporate domination, are the only groups fighting today for freedom and community. On Mexican Independence Day, the bell tolling for the assassination attempt on Mexican community independence, via assault on the genetic basis of our food, is tolling for all of us, everywhere, as we face the same assault wherever we are, whatever we eat. We must abolish corporate agriculture.
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March 27, 2015

GMO News Report March 27th, 2015

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*Polish farmers continue their protests and vigils, now centered on the “Green City”, a small Occupation-style camp they have set up across the street from the prime minister’s palace. Here, groups of farmers camp in shifts, their presence an ongoing Bonus Army-style protest against the agricultural globalization which is systematically liquidating farmers everywhere, from the US and Europe to Africa and India.
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*Farmers are similarly protesting in India. Thousands convened a Kisan Maha Panchayat (farmer meeting) sit-in where they demanded pro-farmer reforms and the rolling back of pernicious globalization pacts. Meanwhile conflicts over GMOs continue within the Modi government’s political coalition in India. The nationalist Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) has again objected to the new wave of field trials in Maharashtra state, and the central government’s political support for these. The Modi government is ideologically neoliberal and wants to drag India into further servitude to the US government and its corporations, while its coalition allies the SJM and RSS seem to be more like our paleoconservatives here in the US. Although some of them (the Indians, not the US version so far as I’ve seen) have pointed out the evidence against GMO safety, their main concern is globalization’s anti-nationalist economic and political effects.
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*Food sovereignty campaigners protested at the corporate conference convened in London by USAID and the Gates Foundation. They condemned the Western plan to recolonize Africa along corporate industrial agriculture lines. The corporate assault seeks to destroy the existing system of millions of community farmers producing food for their families and communities and replace it with industrial plantations growing industrial GMOs for Asian factory farms and Western ethanol. This is meant to force into being a vast new market for Western proprietary seeds as well as synthetic fertilizers and pesticides produced by Western corporations. It’s also meant to force the African people as a whole to stop producing their own food and instead buy imported food controlled by, yes, Western corporations. These millions of people currently living in farming-based communities are to be driven off their land and into shantytowns. In the end they’re supposed to become ill and eventually die off from disease and starvation. That’s the Monsanto/Gates/US administration plan. More about the London conference here.
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*First reports are that for the second time in two tries, the Bangladesh experiment with Bt brinjal (eggplant) is an agronomic failure and economic disaster for many of the participating farmers. The initial reports are that many plants died prematurely, others that had seemed to be growing well suddenly died of disease or of unknown causes, while plants which produced fruit often yielded poorly. Just as in 2014, there are some reports of plants which failed to resist the target pest, the fruit-and-shoot borer. The director of the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) shrugged off most of the disaster, quipping “we never said the plants wouldn’t be vulnerable to disease”. BARI has been running the breeding program and the limited commercial experiments. The initial technical development was done by Monsanto-Mahyco, and most funding came from the US public via USAID. So this worthless project, which gravely threatens the genetic basis of the world’s center for brinjal biodiversity, and which can benefit no one but Monsanto, is being paid for by American taxpayers.
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*Some good news for Australian organic farmer Steve Marsh in his legal battles with a neighboring contract farmer, Michael Baxter, whose GMO canola contaminated Marsh’s farm and cost him his organic certification. Marsh is currently appealing the pro-Monsanto trial decision, where the judge essentially ruled that GMO contamination is inevitable and normative, and that if organic farming can’t move its face from where Monsanto wants to swing its fist, then it deserves to be hit. The decision included an order that Marsh pay the polluter’s legal bills. But the appeals court has ruled that Baxter must disclose to the court how much legal assistance he got from trade groups and from any corporation such as Monsanto itself. This is significant since Australian law says that awards of legal expenses can cover only what a litigant spent out of his own pocket. Australian industry groups adopted Baxter as a poster child from the beginning of the original lawsuit, but never publicly disclosed how much money they or Monsanto were paying for his legal defense.
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*The Mexican people continue to rack up victories in court as Acción Colectiva del Maíz announces four court victories in February rejecting Monsanto’s appeals of court decisions upholding Mexico’s moratorium on commercial release of GM maize and the injunction against the government’s abrogating this moratorium. The moratorium is based on defending Mexico’s place as a center of origin and diversity of maize and teosinte germplasm, a critically important place which is under assault from contamination by genetically monocultural GMO maize.
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*Monsanto has announced another farcical settlement of claims by seven groups of Midwestern and Southern US wheat farmers arising from the 2013 Oregon incident where a farmer discovered feral Roundup Ready wheat in his field, sparking a collapse in wheat exports as Asian markets rejected potentially contaminated shipments. According to the company, the settlement is in the form of $350,000 in donations to various agricultural schools. In other words, Monsanto gets to have its standard financial controls over university agriculture departments double as lawsuit settlements. Pretty sweet. This is even better than last November’s settlement with Oregon wheat farmers. There, although most of the money went to pro-GM wheat trade groups, a modest amount went to the farmers themselves. Here it sounds like no farmer is getting a penny. All the money basically goes back to Monsanto itself, in the form of value from lobbying and corruption. This kind of thing is becoming more common with corporate “settlements”.
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*More buffoonery from Patrick Moore. This time he was claiming in a taped interview that glyphosate was safe enough to drink and that “I’d be happy to” drink some if it were offered. When the interviewer, a documentary filmmaker exposing the health and socioeconomic ravages of the industrial soy system in Argentina, produced a glass, Moore flip-flopped, refused to drink it, and stomped out. We must stress that in spite of his generally stupid and undignified demeanor, Moore is one of the most prominent professional climate change deniers and is celebrated by the most respectable figures of the pro-GMO establishment. In particular, “World Food Prize” winner Marc von Montagu and “golden rice” lead developer Ingo Potrykus recently led an effort to endorse Moore’s “contributions to science” on behalf of the GMO establishment, thus rendering official the ideological unity of pro-GMO activism and climate change denial. No GMO supporter objected to the Moore anointment.
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*In 2013 the Maine legislature passed a GMO labeling law which, like Connecticut’s, requires that several other states pass similar laws before it becomes effective. This is called a “trigger”. This immediately proved a problem since Maine’s trigger specified that adjoining New Hampshire would have to be one of the states enacting a similar policy, but a legislative attempt there soon afterward failed. Now a new proposed bill in Maine would upgrade the 2013 law by removing the trigger. If this bill passes Maine would join Vermont as the second state to pass a true labeling law without the self-negating trigger. Obviously a law with a trigger is, at best, a study in ambivalence. Most likely it indicates a government which wants to pretend to be doing something without actually having to do it.

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March 13, 2015

GMO News Report March 13th 2015

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*The next conclave of the corporate groups plotting to recolonize Africa along GMO lines is being held in London on March 23rd. As ther African Center for Biosafety puts it, “white men meet in London to plot ways of profiting off Africa’s seed system”. The racial balance of power and intended control here is indeed astoundingly lopsided, and the overall racism of the project is quite brazen. No farmers or other democratic participants will be allowed at the meeting, only corporate and government elites. The meeting will discuss a study commissioned by the Gates Foundation. The goal of the study was to develop a strategy for enclosure and control of the African seed system, including identifying where governments should provide corporate welfare and where they should give Western (white) corporations total power and license. African governments are to be rubberstamp flunkeys, and in general Africans will be allowed to participate only as lowly thugs and contractors. As the ACB puts it, “A potential role for farmers in the production or distribution of seed is not even considered. Indeed farmers are viewed only as passive consumers of seed produced elsewhere.” The same is true of the people of Africa as a whole. I’m reminded of what Rudolf Binding wrote about WWI – “In this war both armies lie on the ground, and only the war has its way.” That shall be the predicament of all peoples of the Earth for as long as we allow the corporate war upon us to have its way.
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*A rare case of a GMO corporate welfare program being discontinued: Malaysia’s health ministry has announced it will discontinue its program of using Oxitec’s GM mosquitoes to try to fight dengue fever on the grounds that trial releases in 2010 and 2011 produced meager results greatly disproportionate to the public expense of the program. Brazil’s program has been shelved for the same reason. The idea is to release genetically modified males of the species Aedes aegypti whose offspring from wild females will die prior to reaching maturity. This is supposed to suppress the overall population. But it hasn’t worked in field trials, and Helen Wallace of UK GeneWatch recently publicized a computer model which finds that you’d have to release 2.8 million of the GM males a week to suppress a population of 20,000 mosquitoes. Even the corporate welfare planned economy of GMOs may blanch at such a prospect, though the US government is desperately trying to bail out Oxitec (a British company) by proposing a completely gratuitous field release in the Florida Keys.
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All this information involves the GMO product failing absolutely. Then there’s the likelihood that even if the program temporarily worked to suppress A. aegypti, the only result would be that another species of dengue-carrying mosquito would enter the vacated ecological niche. That effect has followed like clockwork most places Bt crops have been deployed. So the GM mosquito is dubious in ivory tower theory, refuted by computer modeling, and is proven not to work in practice. Any government which would spend one cent on it is engaging in pure embezzlement on behalf of a favored corporation.
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*Good analysis of another scam GMO product, Simplot’s “Innate” potato. As always with these boutique GMOs, its alleged benefits are frivolous, unsubstantiated, or a scam. In this case the potato allegedly reduces the production of a carcinogenic by-product of cooking, acrylamide; but this same carcinogen is vastly more prevalent in all herbicide tolerant GMOs, because it’s a common herbicide additive, and in all crops subjected to industrial irrigation, because it’s added to the water to help keep the dead soil bound together so it won’t blow away. And as always with literally every such GMO alleged to produce any kind of agronomic or product quality trait, there already exist non-GM varieties which embody the trait better, more safely, and far less expensively than the GMO does. As always, the GMO is absolutely worthless, wasteful, and destructive for humanity and benefits no one but a handful of corporations.
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*Climate change denier and top Monsanto shill Patrick Moore has been touring Southeast Asia lobbying and propagandizing for the “golden rice” hoax. In the Philippines he’s met rejection from the people, and slunk out of the country refusing an invitation from the farmer group Masipag to publicly debate them. Even by the extremely low standards of pro-GM activists Moore is one of the more stupid and scabrous of them, and would likely fare very poorly in a debate. Meanwhile Masipag has been publicly describing the kind of productive, nutritious horticulture which is high in vitamin A, has historically provided this nutrient in abundance, and which has been largely destroyed by the industrial agriculture model Moore and golden rice stand for. It’s the likes of Patrick Moore who artificially created the VAD epidemic and are intentionally trying to make it worse with their misdirectional propaganda campaigns. Moore and the others have all this blood on their hands and must be held accountable.
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*The EPA is so spooked by corn rootworm’s surging resistance to the Bt toxins which have been deployed against it that it’s proposing to limit the farmer practice of planting corn year after year with no crop rotation. (It’s actually bureaucratic rigmarole which wouldn’t change anything. It’s the monoculture, stupid.) The ability to plant corn-on-corn was of course the main selling point with which the cartel and the USDA touted Bt corn in the first place, even though everyone knew it would lead only to the target pests developing resistance, along with a host of other problems. Indeed, Monsanto counted on the pests developing resistance as a key part of its planned obsolescence and “expanded trait penetration” marketing strategy. EPA has always chosen to hide its head in the sand, take the path of least resistance, and tout its “refuge” scam as a legitimate anti-resistance strategy. The rootworms have begged to differ.
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Of the three anti-rootworm toxins deployed so far, researchers have confirmed the avalanche of observed evidence that the rootworms are overcoming Monsanto’s Cry3Bb1 toxin and Syngenta’s Cry3A, and in 2014 there were anecdotal reports of resistance developing to Dow’s Cry34/35AB1. Formal research will soon confirm this.
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*Testbiotech has filed a complaint with the EU Ombudsman over the corrupt, publicly-funded GRACE project. GRACE is intended to set new (lax, pro-cartel) standards for GMO safety review and is also a propaganda campaign nominally under EU auspices, but staffed by biotech cadres. The complaint is specifically about how participants propagated a fraudulent account of a feeding trial, and their covering up their conflicts of interest. (There’s really no conflict, of course. They and the EC are 100% pro-GMO.) Filing a complaint with the ombudsman is fine, but far more important is publicizing the facts about GRACE to the people
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*Mexico is ground zero for the Earth’s maize diversity. Everywhere on Earth corporate agriculture is seeking to destroy the agricultural germplasm diversity humanity’s future depends upon, through the imposition of dangerously narrow monocultural genetics to match the monoculture practices of commodity agriculture. Although since NAFTA GMO contamination has been gradually spreading through Mexican maize landraces, a coalition of farmers, civil society activists, scientists has fought hard and so far prevented the official commercial approval of GM maize, which would greatly accelerate the contamination of maize landraces and eventually maize’s wild ancestor teosinte. Today these fighters for this critical cause are calling for donations to help them continue this fight for all of humanity’s future ability to eat.
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*Want to see this maize contamination in action? Following hard upon the European study we discussed last week confirming how readily GM maize contaminates non-GM, a new study out of South Africa documents GM maize contamination among smallholder farmers who mostly save and exchange seeds among themselves. Sampling found fragments of the CaMV promoter in a maize leaf and transgenes from NK603 (Roundup Ready corn) and the MON810 Bt-expressing variety in 5 of 20 seeds tested.
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This also follows upon the recent study which confirmed that locally adapted non-GM maize varieties outperform MON810. This is universally confirmed in every case except for the richest farmers applying the most lavish and expensive inputs under the most optimal conditions: Both organic and non-GM conventional cultivation agronomically outperform GMOs. This is in addition to the genetic scorched earth GMOs are attempting to enforce, which promises to cause the collapse of all major crop varieties which have been taken over by the GMO cartel.
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*Costco joins McDonald’s in issuing a vague announcement that it will phase out meats produced through antibiotic abuse, which means all factory farm meat. They say they’ll start with rotisserie chicken and move on to other meats. It’s really more of an elleged aspiration than a firm policy commitment, with no detailed time frame given. Subtherapeutic antibiotic use in factory farms, along with the use of antibiotic resistance markers in genetic engineering, is by far the most comprehensive, systematic policy seeking to devastate public health by eradicating the effectiveness of this whole genre of medical treatment, antibiotics. Anyone who sincerely cares about public health must seek the abolition of subtherapeutic antibiotic use as Priority Number One. Anyone who claims to be concerned about public health but who doesn’t focus on this, and there are many such people out there these days, is a liar.
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*A Friends of the Earth campaign to get Burger King, Wendy’s, Subway, Dunkin’ Donuts and others to join McDonald’s and Gerber in pledging to shun the “non-browning” GM Botox Apple. This is the kind of pressure campaign that has often gotten real results. It routed Monsanto’s New Leaf potatoes from the marketplace 15 years ago, and has since racked up other victories.
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*Anti-democracy whack-a-mole. In 2013 and 2014 respectively voters in Hawaii and Maui counties passed GMO cultivation bans (grandfathering in existing GM papaya cultivation) while in 2013 the Kauai county council passed modest restrictions and notification requirements for spraying of poisons on the island’s experimental plantations. The cartel sued and the same corrupt federal judge overturned all three ordinances on grounds that only the state has the power to enact such legislation. The cases are being appealed to the federal circuit court. Meanwhile the state legislature has bills in process to restore such power to the counties and/or to ban GMOs cultivation. Neither bill is likely to pass anytime soon, but if they did you can bet the same federal courts would change their tune and find that such powers aren’t state powers after all but reside with the central government. The cartel is already arguing that in its suit against Vermont’s labeling law.
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All this federalist rigmarole proves that in the end we the people will never win justice in the courts or at any legislative level above the local, but that we’ll need to fight for and win our rights as a fact on the ground, politically and in whatever other way necessary. Only from a victorious grassroots reclamation of our political and economic sovereignty can we then dictate our human futures. That’s the truly necessary Reclamation movement.

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March 28, 2014

GMO News Summary 3/28/14

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*On March 20th over a hundred citizen activists occupied the headquarters of the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) in Parma, Italy, to protest this bureaucracy’s aggressively pro-GMO policy, its unscientific and fraudulent review procedures, its brazen revolving door with the GMO cartel, and its ongoing campaign to slander independent science and subvert, weaken, and flout public interest GMO and agricultural policy.
 
*In spite of the standard lie and FDA policy dogma that GMO false crops are “substantially equivalent” to true crops, there has never been a real comparative analysis of the levels of endemic herbicide residue in crops engineered to be herbicide-tolerant, compared to non-GM conventional and organic crops.
 
Now for the first time an independent study has performed such an analysis on an array of soybean varieties grown under commercial conditions, and the results are damning.
 
The study finds that soybeans engineered to be Roundup Ready and subsequently sprayed during the growing season contain extremely high levels of glyphosate and its breakdown product AMPA, an average of 9.0 mg/kg. This is a level much higher than the 5.6 mg/kg which Monsanto itself called “extreme” in a 1999 publication.
 
The poison and its breakdown residues are incorporated into the tissues of the crop, which is engineered merely to assimilate them, sustaining significant weaknesses and nutritional deficiencies along the way but not dying. The poison is then an intrinsic part of the food people and livestock eat. It can’t be washed off, any more than endemic Bt insecticidal poisons, or the many other agricultural poisons which are designed to be suffused through all the tissues of the crop. When we eat any of these false crops, we are eating what are literally poison plants.
 
Neither organic nor non-GM conventional soybeans contained these residues. The study also found several other significant differences in nutritional composition, with organic soybeans displaying the healthiest profile.
 
The knowledge gap this study has begun to fill is one of the many which the corporate/government system has been doing its best to leave gaping. Always keep in mind that no corporation or government has ever performed a toxicology or any other safety test on ANY GMO, nor have any of these entities ever performed or required a single epidemiological study on the effects of GMOs and their companion poisons in the human diet. Such a willful, systematic lack of desire to know, and such an attempt at the suppression of such knowledge through choking off research funds to independent science, proves two things:
 
1. Governments and corporations are afraid of what the results of such tests would be.
 
2. Governments and corporations strongly suspect such testing would further prove GMOs and their associated poisons to be hazardous to human and animal health.
 
After all, if they really believed what they say, why wouldn’t they be eager to spend the pennies it would cost them to prove it?
 
*Such studies provide strong evidence backing the efforts of a Brazilian federal ombudsman to force the health ministry to review agriculture ministry’s approval of glyphosate and several other herbicides, impose a moratorium while these reviews are conducted, and cancel the commercialization of Agent Orange GMOs engineered to resist 2,4-D application.
 
*More on glyphosate. Another new study has found that dairy cows and rabbits fed with GMO-based feed (which means most non-organic grain feed) have higher levels of glyphosate residues in their organs and urine than animals who ate non-GM feed. Chronically ill humans are also found to be more likely to have higher levels in their urine than healthy people.  
 
*Rootworm is now widely resistant to two of the three Bt toxins which GMOs are engineered to produce against it.
 
*Citizens of Lane County Oregon will move forward with gathering signatures to place a local food systems ordinance on the 2014 ballot in spite of a recent judicial decision overturning the county’s determination that the proposed ordinance met the requirements to be placed on the ballot. They will work to reformulate the initiative, which is similar to one which has already received judicial approval in neighboring Benton County. These two community food initiatives join initiatives to ban GMO cultivation and seed patents in Jackson and Josephine Counties, and also a Josephine ordinance imposing restrictions on corporate use of agricultural poisons.
 
The very fact that only such pro-community ordinances, but not pro-corporate, usurping ones, must jump through such hoops in only one piece of proof for why such laws are needed, and why just passing such laws can never be sufficient.
 
*Mora County, New Mexico, is the first county in the US to pass a law attempting to defend itself against corporate assaults by banning oil and gas drilling. Several corporations promptly sued in federal court, where we can expect the courts to affirm that corporate prerogatives trump all human rights and sovereignty, and that the central government is the rightful thug enforcing these prerogatives.
 
Every such case, just as every such corporate invasion, is further proof to anyone with eyes to see that humanity is in a zero-sum total war with these corporations, and that either they must perish from the earth, or else we must inevitably become starving slaves struggling to survive on a trashed poisoned, earth.
 
There’s no debate over this. No rational person can dispute the totalitarian character and goals of corporatism. It follows that humanity’s clear goal must be to abolish corporations as such. Corporations are the dominant organizational form of tyrannical forces today. All such forces have been mustered within this form. Abolishing the form will, for awhile at least, completely disperse the evils of our time. It will give humanity and the earth breathing space to recover, and to try again to fulfill the responsibility of citizenship and civilization, which is never to allow power to concentrate to the point that it transcends human communities and natural, rational economies.
 
As for those who claim to share human values but oppose the abolition imperative, we need only ask what alternative they offer. It’s immediately apparent that they offer no alternative whatsoever, just the same proven failures and lies. It becomes apparent that they’re really lying when they claim to support humanity in the first place.
 
One thing is proven beyond any reasonable doubt: The established molds of ideology and politics, “left-right”, “liberal-conservative”, electoralism, system reformism in general, let alone the “two” corporatist parties which really form a single ideological and policy monolith, are completely obsolete, and no one any longer espouses them in any but a purely reactionary way whose only goal is to prop up the existing tyranny and help perpetuate it. By definition any idea with any chance of offering a new beginning and a way forward will cut across and transcend all these obsolete categories, divisions, dichotomies, scams.

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October 14, 2013

For Mexico, “Without Corn, There Is No Country”

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A Mexican federal judge has ruled that the government may not authorize field trials or commerical planting of genetically modified (GM) maize so long as lawsuits filed by citizens, farmers, and civil society groups are continuing in the courts.
 
The judge granted the injunction in a case filed by Accion Colectiva (Collective Action), an alliance of farmers and democracy advocates. The case argues that the government has allowed field trials* and is rushing to approve commercialization without having conducted the safety and contamination tests and environmental reviews required by Mexican law and the Mexican constitution, Article 27 of which requires protection of genetic biodiversity as a common good.
 
[*Corporate field trials and “safety tests” never involve food safety or environmental contamination, but are the bare minimum to confirm that animals gain weight and/or that a plant grows and produces a crop. The extent of the safety confirmed is merely that the animal or plant doesn’t immediately drop dead.]
 
Accion Colectiva lauded the ruling as a critical step in their campaign to protect Mexico as “the birthplace of corn”. The lawsuit is part of the broad political campaign, Sin Maiz, No Hay Maiz : “Without Corn, There is No Country”. One of the leaders of the movement, Father Miguel Concha, said that the ruling helps the campaign toward its goal of preserving “the human right to save and use the agrobiodiversity of native landraces from the threats posed by GMO maize.”
 
This action, like others which seek the necessary abolition of GMOs, focuses on the socioeconomic injustice and impracticality of patents in seeds which are part of the public heritage and property, and the agricultural and environmental destruction wrought by the inevitable contamination of crops and ecosystems wrought by GMOs.
 
The contamination threat is especially dire in a case like this, which is why the judge issued this injunction. Mexico is a world heritage center for biodiversity. It’s one of the cradles of maize, and a continuing wellspring of the genetic diversity upon which farmers and breeders depend for the continued health of a crop. Mexico is the home of thousands of maize landraces, called criollo. It’s also the home of many varieties of teosinte, the closest wild relative. Breeders frequently go back to the well to seek new traits and replenish the crop’s genetic robustness. Spontaneous cross-pollination between cultivated maize and wild teosinte is also common. This diversity is critical to the future of agriculture and of humanity’s ability to feed itself, since agriculture depends upon a vast array of locally and regionally adapted varieties. The industrially imposed paradigm of a handful of varieties suited to cheap oil, monoculture, and globalized distribution, is not only socioeconomically and politically destructive, but also renders agriculture and the food supply hyper-vulnerable to pests, diseases, and other factors that could cause the harvest to fail.
 
GMOs assault this ecological and agricultural balance in several ways. Governments and the seed cartel force a handful of proprietary varieties upon the market, driving out natural and economic biodiversity and seeking to render it extinct. (Monsanto has often publicly proclaimed its goal of enclosing all seeds within its patents.) Governments often criminalize the saving and use of public domain seed if it hasn’t been properly “certified” according to corporate and industrial standards. The effect of this planned economy imposed from the top down is often to render diverse and regionally-adapted varieties unavailable. Since a variety must be continually planted in order to continue to exist, a variety whose seeds are not distributed will quickly go extinct.
 
The era of corporate agriculture has indeed seen a mass extinction event of seeds. Around the world, in country after country, crop type after type, the story has been the same. The staff of available seeds has withered from many thousands to a mere handful. This is a part of the general mass extinction event being caused by industrialization which is not commented upon as much by the general public, but which is perhaps the most critical of all for human survival.
 
Once out in the field, GMOs also inevitably contaminate their surroundings. They contaminate other crops, and they contaminate any wild relatives in the vicinity. This is why, for example, organic canola is impossible in Canada. It’s also one of the drivers of the rise of superweeds, as wild relatives of canola and sugar beets quickly became contaminated with the herbicide-tolerant GM trait.
 
In Mexico, widespread GM contamination of maize was quickly discovered, long before GM maize had any legal status at all. By 2002 the government, after trying to quash the story, admitted the contamination. Although GM maize could not be legally planted, since NAFTA the US had dumped a vast amount of GM maize upon Mexico, including kernels which could be used for seed. This is in addition to whatever intentional illegal planting program the cartel and government had undertaken. It’s a common ploy, seen in India, Brazil, and here in Mexico: The cartel encourages widespread illegal planting and contamination. The government, now safely in the briar patch, argues that this accomplished fact should be legalized and “regulated”, instead of the invasion being fought and the criminals brought to justice. For good measure, the regulator will even argue that the extralegal cultivation has already proven the “safety” of the product, as part of its justification for never requiring any safety or environmental testing prior to approval.
 
Since then, the Mexican government has been working toward full legal approval and commercialization of GM maize. It has authorized widespread field trials and passed restrictive seed laws. Mexican farmers, citizens, medical professionals, scientists, and civil society groups have fought back, and have won some victories. This injunction is the latest round.
 
Biodiversity is critically important for its own sake and because GM contamination not only degrades the genetics of non-GM varieties of the crop, but that of the crop’s wild progenitors. By polluting the genome of the wild forerunners of maize, GM maize could forestall future breeding of maize as such. This is one of the reasons why contamination makes it imperative that we totally abolish GMOs with all possible speed.
 
The same battle is being fought around the world. Southeast Asia is the center of eggplant diversity, and in India (where it’s called brinjal), in Bangladesh, in the Philippines (where it’s called talong), eggplant is under assault by the cartel and governments who want to force a handful of Bt brinjal varieties, overriding and destroying the world heritage of what are currently thousands of native varieties. The recent report of India’s Technical Expert Committee (TEC) to the supreme court, among its other anti-GMO recommendations, called for continuing the 2010 moratorium on field trials of Bt brinjal issued by the environmental ministry, primarily on account of the threat to biodiversity. (This vast native diversity is also one of the many pieces of proof that there’s no need whatsoever for GM products. They serve zero human or agricultural purpose, but serve only the goals of corporate profit, enclosure, control, and domination. Always keep that in mind – these are the ONLY purposes of GMOs, and the only reasons corporations and governments are trying to force them upon humanity.)
 
The contamination issue renders the globalization of GMOs as such illegal under the Cartegna Protocol on Biosafety, which explicitly enshrines the precautionary principle and gives countries the right to ban or restrict GMOs based on the self-evident lack of scientific consensus on health and environmental safety. By now we can add the empirical proof of the lack of any such safety, and of the many health and ecological hazards of GMOs. Few of the signatories who have gone on to allow imports, field trials, and/or commercial cultivation have done so for the sake of any nationally-based industry. On the contrary, they’ve done so under pressure from the US, and because corrupt elements within these governments have profited from selling out the people of those countries. Nowhere have the people benefited from GMOs. On the contrary, without exception they have comprised a new form of colonization. International agreements like the Convention on Biodiversity can be seen only as laws which are brazenly broken by the powers driving globalization, or as scams. Either way we can dispense with the notion that the “rule of law” can ever be a reality anywhere corporatism exists.
 
(The Protocol was signed by all but a handful of rogue nations like the US, Canada, and Argentina. The Protocol, and therefore this refusal, has nothing to do with what a country may do within its own borders. On the contrary, the refusal to adhere to the agreement has everything to do with these governments’ goal of forcing their export of GMOs on other countries. It demonstrates an aggressive intent.)
 
All this is further confirmation that there can be no science or health-based public policy without the precautionary principle. We can never rationally, scientifically, or morally run the risks involved with genetic contamination unless the proponents first prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
 
1. GMOs are necessary for any rational purpose.
 
2. GMOs are safe for human health.
 
3. GMOs can be prevented from contaminating other crops and the environment.
 
Governments and corporations never even tried to prove any of these. For good reason: The evidence record has since proven that GMOs serve no purpose whatsoever, they present serious health risks, and that preventing contamination is impossible.
 
Looking beyond the proximate health dangers of GMO products and affiliated pesticides, we see that genetic contamination from GMOs is a danger to the survival of the human race, since it directly threatens our food security. (So, far from GMOs being able to “feed the world”, on the contrary they threaten to inflict starvation upon us.)
 
Again, this proves that no kind of “co-existence” with GMOs, even if it were sincerely attempted by all parties, could ever work. Nothing will suffice but the total abolition of all GMOs.
 
Environmentalists often make the argument that we need to preserve endangered species and biodiverse habitats because of all the potential undiscovered medicinal benefits which can be found among them. In this case there’s no question: Humanity has a categorical imperative to preserve the genetic diversity of food crops and their wild progenitors. This is a matter of life and death, and we must treat it as such.
 

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