August 4, 2018

For Book Draft: Chapter Introduction on Agronomic Failure and the Poison Mandate


Decades of harsh agronomic experience proved the model of agriculture based on pesticides didn’t work and couldn’t be sustained. Rational and honest participants and observers rejected poison-based agriculture in favor of agroecology. We had a “Show Me” attitude toward Missouri-based Monsanto’s proposition that the GMO version of this poison model would be any different. The reality of the field quickly proved it the same failure.
The poison agriculture machine was successful for decades at driving billions of human beings off the land, exterminating wide swaths of ecological community, and concentrating tremendous socioeconomic, cultural, and biological power as well as venal wealth. But its agronomy was always a complete failure. Indeed, the corporate state production system depended on this failure for all its successes.
Herbicides and insecticides became more profitable as pests developed resistance to them. The more the poisons failed against their targets, and the more secondary pests moved in to exploit temporary gaps opened up where the targets temporarily were suppressed, the greater the array grew of different poisons which had to be applied, and the volume of application for each. The pesticides themselves were being “stacked” long before that became a term of art among GMO products. At the same time propaganda converted each failure into an imminent crisis which could be met only by stampeding more poisons into service. In this way the agrobusiness state stampeded minds, stampeded the culture, furthering its own power goals and reinforcing the general goals of instilling religious faith in corporate control and acceptance of the need for deregulation and bureaucratic speed.
Genetic modification technology had far reaching despotic monoculture and eugenic goals from the inception. But the operators soon zeroed in on agriculture as their first battle deployment. Attempts to engineer for agronomic and product quality traits like environmental hardiness, nutritional efficiency, and food quality always have been failures because genetic engineering is basically a stupid, brute force technology incapable of attaining the evolutionary precision and harmonies required to bring out such traits. But the engineers found that crops could be dumb-engineered to become poison plants: Engineering a plant to tolerate an herbicide or to produce its own insecticidal poison generally required only the rote insertion of a single “transgene”.
Therefore GMOs dovetailed perfectly with the existing paradigm of the pesticide treadmill. More herbicides could be sprayed directly on the crop at any time. In principle agriculture now could be subject to a limitless menagerie of herbicides coupled with seeds “stacked” with multiplying herbicide-tolerance traits. Monsanto’s Roundup Ready line opened up a whole frontier for the massive slathering of glyphosate, hitherto a lesser herbicide. As the weeds surged to resist glyphosate, the agrochemical bazaar offered seeds to tolerate glyphosate plus every kind of poison – glufosinate, 2,4-D, dicamba, isoxaflutole, HPPDs, and onward. The multiplication of the GM seed traits and the herbicides also multiplied the profits, the patents, the monopoly power, the cultural power, the biological power.
At the same time and by the same process insects developed resistance to the endemic Bt toxins of the GM poison plants. Here too the system’s solution was to stack more poisons and more of every poison: Each new GM seed was engineered to exude a greater variety of Bt poisons, while each seed also was coated in multiple neonicotinoid insecticides (along with fungicides, mitcides, nematocides, and so on). Farmers who were told that GM seed would eliminate the need to spray insecticides now needed to go back to spraying in addition to buying the ever more expensive stacked GMOs.
For poison-based agriculture, a power-seeking project, failure was success. Failure always was built into the business model and the geopolitical strategy.
Persistence Proves Intent. If governments, the agribusiness corporations, the scientific establishment and the corporate media see this inexorable failure of every poison in the face of simple natural evolution, and see how the paradigm’s one and only answer each and every time is to add more poisons to the stack, each poison guaranteed to fail in its turn, this proves that this failure is part of the effect intended and desired by these organizations. As a rule the major effects of a large-scale action always are the desired effects. If concentrated power desires different effects, if the government and political-intellectual class desire different effects, they always have alternatives which could preserve the “good” effects without the “bad”. There’s really no such thing as “collateral damage”. That’s a propaganda lie which pretends that some effects weren’t sought by the policy-makers and that they deplore these effects. Never mind that all the major effects are consistent, predictable, therefore premeditated. If there really were major effects which the government did not anticipate and found bad, it would change the policy so as no longer to produce those effects in a major way. Persistence proves either that the effect, if truly unanticipated, is nevertheless welcome, or else that it was anticipated and consciously intended all along. Morally and practically this makes no difference. The major effects of an action comprise an organic whole, and anyone who wants one characteristic effect of an action will anticipate and want its other effects and will welcome any major effect he didn’t anticipate.
In reality the agrochemical project has zero beneficial purpose and no redeeming qualities. It claims two purposes: To “feed the world”, yet it has done nothing but sow malnutrition, hunger, and famine; and to control crop pests, which has been nothing but a losing arms race. Meanwhile agroecology grows more calories and nutrition per acre than industrial monoculture, and it grows this as food for people, not commodities for Mammon; and agroecological methods are vastly superior for pest control.
But just as poison-based agriculture never wanted to grow food and did want to sow desperation and famine, so it never wanted to control pests, only to manage them so that pest afflictions become ever more severe. As we’ll see in the next chapter, this management ideology has a direct parallel in the regulator ideology of “managing” poisons in the environment, in part by gauging alleged human and ecological “tolerances” for these poisons. These versions of this false ideology are deployed because the program of poison-based agriculture is to maximize poison production and use as such, toward the goal of increasing system power and monoculture control. This is why industrial agriculture seeks the destruction of agricultural and ecological biodiversity as such: Dynamic diversity is impossible to control. This is why it seeks to maximize monoculture at every level from the most literally physical to the political and cultural: Because monoculture is easier to control. This is why it is waging biological and chemical warfare around the world at the most extreme levels possible: Because it wants to eradicate physical biodiversity and to eradicate political and socioeconomic diversity through total corporate control of political and economic life.