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August 6, 2015

There Is No Science of Genetic Engineering

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There’s no such thing as a science of GMOs. There’s an ideology of genetic engineering which is based on debunked junk science. This ideology has nothing to do with the actual practice of genetic engineering, which is a scattershot empirical approach. Engineers basically throw gobs of money and laboratory brute force at a technical problem and hope something sticks. When you finally find a needle in a haystack you base your business model upon it. That’s why genetic engineering is so inefficient, wasteful, and expensive compared with conventional breeding. A genetically engineered variety costs over ten times as much to develop as whatever conventional variety it pirates and builds upon. And then the genetically engineered variety will be inferior to its forebear, being nothing but this forebear with a poison transgene inserted into it along with whatever genome scrambling and mutations it picked up along the way during the GE process.
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Genetic engineering developed its own version of the NPK ideology. Its dogma is: One gene = one trait. This dogma, along with the older one that genetics are the main (or only) factor dictating real life outcomes, enabled technicians to claim that they’d soon be able to precisely analyze, predict, and manipulate the relationship between genetic codes and the way plants, animals, and humans would develop and act in real life. This was their path to funding and influence, and it soon became the path to power for biotech corporations engaging in genetic engineering. One-gene-one-trait became the basis for all the foundation lies of genetic engineering: That it was a precision technology, that its effects could be precisely calibrated, that it would not have unforeseen effects, that food products generated this way would be safe and nutritious. The goal is to achieve total corporate enclosure, control, and domination through GMOs and eugenics.
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Based on these lies governments moved aggressively to approve and commercialize GMOs without performing any safety testing. To this day no government has ever performed a scientific safety trial on any GMO. The US set the standard for this anti-scientific, anti-public health policy under the banner of “substantial equivalence”, the lie that GMO crops are identical to real crops and therefore, by definition, don’t need to be safety tested.
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But all these the basic elements of genetic engineering ideology, so-called genetic engineering “science”, have been debunked.
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1. The foundation dogma of genetic engineering can be summed up as: One gene = one trait. This is also called the sequence hypothesis. DNA is composed of a series of bases, this series is transcribed onto RNA, which then uses this sequential code to arrange amino acids to form a protein. Based on this, and on what Francis Crick called the “central dogma” that this transcription process is the only thing happening (cf. #2), it should follow that since there are c. 100,000 human proteins, there must be c. 100,000 genes in the human genome. How could the same initial DNA “sentence” be transcribed in ways that result in different proteins?
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But in reality the sequence hypothesis turned out to be false. One-gene-one-trait has been completely disproven, most spectacularly by the corporate system’s own Human Genome Project. The expected 100,000 genes in the human code turned out to be just over 20,000. We now know that most genes have multiple effects, and that the range of these effects is very difficult to catalog. Similarly, we know that many phenotype traits, to the extent they have a genetic basis, are the result of several genes collaborating. Similarly, it’s very difficult to identify all the genetic contributors.
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2. Along with the sequence hypothesis, Francis Crick promulgated what he called genetic engineering’s Central Dogma, the faith that there is only a one-way transmission of genetic information, from DNA to RNA to protein. As Crick put it, “Once information gets into protein it cannot get out again.” A connoisseur of hubris might suspect that a proposition dubbed by its own founder the “Central Dogma” would be full of holes, and so it has turned out for Crick’s article of faith. Five times as many proteins as genes is rather wide of the expected one-to-one correspondence, and the reason is that special proteins work to rearrange the DNA base code in myriad ways creating an array of messenger RNA molecules so that one original sequence can be used to produce many proteins, and so that multiple original sequences can be combined in various ways to produce proteins. It turns out that proteins are in fact very active in producing new genetic information, and that lots of information is indeed “getting out” of these proteins.
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Even more fundamentally, DNA itself is not immaculately self-replicated, but rather replication is performed by the organic cell. This includes the action of coordination and repair enzymes, without which DNA replication would contain vastly more numerous errors than it does. So not only do proteins work on RNA, they keep the exalted DNA itself honest. Information gets out of proteins and into the DNA itself.
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So we have the far more intrepid role of proteins in genetic coding than was allowed for by genetic engineering “science”, or as it calls itself in this case, dogma. Then there’s the fact that protein folding is as important as protein coding. Mad Cow Disease is caused by a protein in the brain chemically identical to the normal one, but folded differently. The disease-causing alternative folding is transmitted from one protein molecule (called a prion) to another. Scrapie is another disease caused by self-transmission of prions. As usual, Crick had simply assumed that the genetically-determined amino acid sequence of a protein also dictated how it folded itself. Only some kind of genetic screw-up could cause a misfolding. But subsequent science found the opposite. Contrary to the central dogma, the coded protein still needs the proper assistance of other proteins called “chaperones” to be correctly folded. Conversely, prions containing no nucleic acid can on their own “infect” and cause contiguous proteins to refold themselves in conformity to the prion’s shape, and then become infectious themselves. That’s how Mad Cow spreads. There we have two more examples of how proteins transmit genetic information in defiance of GE’s central dogma.
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These facts don’t just demolish the theoretical pretensions of genetic engineering science. They also give a clear picture of how complex and holistic genetic processes are, and therefore how easily the bull-in-a-china-shop genome havoc wreaked by the genetic engineering process can cause every kind of genetic disruption, mutation, and disease-causing structural malfunction.
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3. Beyond any prior philosophical debates about nature vs. nurture, genetic determinism has long been refuted on purely scientific grounds. Phenotype is affected at least as much by epigenetics and environmental factors as it is by the genetic code, which in many ways sets up a range of possibilities rather than dictates an outcome. In effect, a genetic potentiality is often a switch which must still be turned on (or off) by some external factor: Climate, the parent/mother’s health and diet during pregnancy, or the conditions under which an egg or seed develops, an infant’s diet, infant exposure to agents in the water or air, psychological stresses, environmental stresses on a growing crop, etc. This last turned out to cause serious unforeseen, because not calculable according to the paper-mapped genome, problems for Roundup Ready soybeans. Genetic determinism is a debunked fraud which is kept in the field only by its inherent usefulness for GMO propaganda, the Big Pharma model of medicine, and its implications for a revived eugenics program, which remains the great goal for these technicians.
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So the three basic theories of genetic engineering have been completely disproven. Yet to this day all advocacy of GMOs, and all the alleged “science” supporting GMOs, is based on these same three crackpot falsehoods: That heredity is destiny, that genetic information flow is unidirectional and easily described, and therefore precisely manipulable, and that one gene = one trait. We see how, just as genetic engineering has zero to do with science and is simply technical manipulation, so pro-GMO ideology has zero to do with science, but is rather a fraudulent political ideology based on nothing but Big Lies. For its true believers, it’s a fundamentalist secular religion.
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The takeaway: Genetic engineering is not science, and support for GMOs is anti-scientific, based on fidelity to crackpot lies.
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We can go into further detail.
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4. The myth that genetic engineering is the same as conventional breeding is essential to the propaganda of pro-GM activists. But this is pure snake oil.
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Breeding works with whole genomes among related species only (and no mutation-mongering tissue culture). Risks are rare and predictable, and can occur only in a few scenarios. Genetic engineering is qualitatively different in that the possible range of transgenic insertions is indefinitely greater than the genetic transfer possible in breeding, or in nature. With GE the potential for harmful chaotic effects is vastly greater and completely unpredictable. Every genetically engineered genome which has been independently studied has displayed the complete mess left behind by the “event”. Submissions to regulators detailing the alleged genome of the GMO are mystical fictions which have no relationship to the unpredictably messy reality. More on this below.
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As for natural mutations and unforeseen effects of conventional breeding, which the pro-GMO activists claim means genetic engineering is the same as these processes, where these happen they happen locally. They run up against naturally evolved safeguards against mutation, and such changes would need time and effort to run a gamut of naturally imposed challenges, or the challenges of breeder selection, to become established. GE, on the contrary, aggressively seeks to override these safeguards and leap over these challenges. It seeks to deploy the infected genome in the environment over vast regions as fast as it can. This is such a difference of magnitude, speed, and geographical reach as to comprise a qualitative difference.
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Black Swan author Nassim Taleb recently co-authored a paper on this systemic risk aspect of genetic engineering. GE has zero in common with conventional breeding, physically or ecologically. The lies and denials of pro-GMO activists with regard to this fact demonstrate their general ignorance of evolution and flippant disregard for its implications. The most extreme manifestation of pro-GM evolution denial is this incapacity or refusal to recognize the great difference between adaptation in confrontation with a wide range of natural environmental hurdles over evolutionary time, vs. seeking to leap over all the hurdles in an instant, with the entire process from genetic extraction to insertion to breeding to distribution taking place in a totally artificial, hermetic, alien, non-contextual bubble, and from there to deploy a biological technology developed in this anti-environmental way all at once on a global basis in the real world. Under such circumstances a rational person would expect nothing but disaster.
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No rational person even slightly familiar with ecology, biology, genetics, agronomy, or history could take this seriously for a moment. Any natural allele, mutation, horizontal genetic transfer, etc. must run a long gauntlet of safeguards developed by evolution including the genome’s own repair mechanism, then the greater hurdles of the local environment, must adapt and spread over millions of years. Farmer selection and conventional breeding have followed such a pattern for 10,000 years.
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But the genetic engineering technique which has existed for just a few years now claims to supersede these thousands and millions of years. It claims to be able to leap over the evolutionary genetic hurdles using technology. This is impossible. Therefore GE implicitly seeks to maximize the harmful mutations, latent weaknesses, unfit traits, and hazards.
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Similarly, genetic engineering and the ramified GMO dissemination structure claim to be able to leap over the evolutionary environmental hurdles, as well as the geographic hurdles, using economic brute force. This means it wants to spread the infected, harmful genetic and biological material, and the harms which shall follow from it, as globally as possible as fast as possible.
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To sum up, genetic engineering ideology wants to leap over the entire evolutionary time and action during which all matters of fitness, quality, and toxicity are worked out by nature, or by human thought and labor in conjunction with nature. The hubris and contempt for science on display with these persons is staggering. No, genetic engineering has nothing in common with conventional breeding. GE can only be a debilitating parasite free riding on conventional breeding and destroying its work.
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With GMOs we have a phenomenon where politics and economics meld inextricably with ecology. Ecologists are really the only scientists fully qualified to speak about GMOs. Beyond that this technology is fundamentally a political and economic phenomenon. GMOs as deployed in the real world, rather than in the depraved minds of their idolators, have very little to do with science. This renders it all the more ironic when the pro-GM activists go hysterically braying about how even the most modest questions or criticisms are “anti-science! anti-science!”
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5. I’ll be writing more about “substantial equivalence” as an ideological dogma among regulators. It’s also a core element of GE junk science.
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Substantial equivalence is self-evidently an idiotic lie, since every GMO is, unlike its forebear, a poison plant. It is either suffused with herbicide residue and toxic breakdown products, and/or it produces its own endemic Bt toxins in every cell. This is obviously an extremely significant difference, and the fact that genetic engineering “science” can say with a straight face that in this way Radical Difference = Equivalence, demonstrates how far this body of claims has departed from anything recognizable as legitimate science, rationality, or indeed bare sanity.
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Beyond this self-evident radical difference between a GMO and its isogenic forebear (the true crop which was pirated and had the transgene inserted into its genome), independent study has found that every GMO genome analyzed has significant differences from its ancestor, while the GM crops which grow from these scrambled genes are compositionally different from their non-GM counterparts in many ways. (At that link, cf. “The sham of substantial equivalence” and the next two sections.)
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All the bogus “studies” which claim to provide evidence of the safety of GMOs but which do nothing of the sort, and which often provide evidence for the opposite thesis, are in effect nothing but another version of restating the original fundamentalist dogma, “they’re safe because they’re equivalent, so they don’t need to be tested.” To say something new governments and corporations would actually have to perform non-fraudulent studies, which they resolutely refuse to do.
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It’s worth mentioning that according to substantial equivalence, Mad Cow proteins are identical to the regular protein. Therefore beef containing them would pass regulatory muster by this standard.
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On a philosophical level, the substantial equivalence dogma is part of a general philosophy of faith in sterile, hermetic “being” over real-life processes of becoming. Genetic engineers and their fanboys want to envision, and want regulators and society to envision, an inert crop or food which is “substantially equivalent” to some indeterminate natural variety. The “process”, the actual becoming, is to be seen as ineffable and effectively meaningless and irrelevant. Only a Platonic idea of the static product matters. This junk philosophy is the progenitor of the junk science of “the” genome, whether it be the propaganda idea conjured by the Human Genome Project (“the” human genome; but this can never be more than a synthesis from a sample); or the regulatory submissions which claim to describe “the” genome of a GMO even though it doesn’t describe the real genome of any actual commercial crop, since these vary naturally, and the genetically engineered versions vary far more, often chaotically; or the pseudo-scientific fraud so often run in the criminal courts where the authorities test a defendant’s DNA vs. another piece of DNA and declare them “matched” by the measure of some tendentiously defined genomic range (again a fraudulent synthesis said to represent reality).
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This pseudo-scientific trend among engineers and other scienticians is part of their general hostility to genealogy, history, learning about origins. Scientism, technocracy, like the general bourgeois ideology of which they are part, are anti-history. Then journalism and academia join the regulators in dogmatizing history out of existence. That’s the overarching ideological backdrop where we see such specific greed-based corruptions at work as the corporations lobbying the regulators to consider only the final “product” and not the “process”, never mind that the radically different process results in a substantially very different product. Behind it all is the age old authoritarian hatred of change except for change the “authority” premeditates and sets in motion. Beyond this it yearns to fix things in place once and for all, at least in thought.
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6. The same appetite for control is the source of the quasi-religious doctrine of genetic engineering’s “precision”, really an article of fundamentalist faith. In reality, the insertion process is scattershot and very messy. The most common method of insertion is to literally fire the transgenic material from a gun into a mass of target tissue. (This should remind us of another “precision” lie, that of so-called “smart bombing”, which has always been just as scattershot, dumb, and murderous as the regular kind.) The transgene ends up in a random part of the target genome, often with parts of the gene cassette separated and splattered elsewhere, or else inexplicably duplicated in other parts of the target genome. (The cassette itself is precisely assembled only on paper. The real thing is often a cobbled-together mess.) The violence of the process damages the target genome in unpredictable ways. Insertion always generates mutations. The process is so haphazard that the cassette must include an identification marker, usually an antibiotic resistance marker, so that after the insertion the transgenic material which successfully was inserted can be identified. This means dousing the target cells with a strong antibiotic which kills all the cells except those which incorporated the transgene. This joins subtherapeutic antibiotic abuse in factory farms as one of industrial agriculture’s campaigns to eradicate antibiotics as a medically effective treatment, through the willful, systematic generation of antibiotic resistant bacteria.
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The transgenic material must now be grown into seedlings in tissue culture, which causes more mutations. Then plants are grown, assessed, and selected, first in greenhouse laboratories and then in field trials. This selection is based on testing whether the poison plant “works” (does it tolerate the herbicide and/or express the insecticide in its cells), and beyond that simple eyeballing of which specimens look the best. The great bulk of genomic chaos and mutations, including any harmful or maladaptive traits, especially ones latent and ready to be switched on by any number of environmental factors, are invisible to this selection process.
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In practice all the classic GMOs demonstrate the results of this gross imprecision, such as Monsanto’s flagship Roundup Ready soybeans and MON810 maize. Since all the stacked varieties merely combine the original single-trait varieties, they incorporate and multiply the genetic chaos of GMOs.
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Conceptually, the GE ideologues seem to feel no cognitive dissonance where they contradict their own “genetic engineering = conventional breeding” lie. The same who make that claim will then flip 180 degrees and claim that conventional breeding, as well as evolution itself, are sloppy and messy while their genetic engineering is a “precision” improvement on these. Here we go beyond simple evolution denial and into the realm of creationist religion. More on that in future posts. This is evolution denial, and is also a de jure lie in that it claims genetic engineering is something separate from conventional breeding, when in fact GE is nothing but a perversion of pre-existing breeding, upon which it depends 100% to produce functional germplasm wherein it can then be inserted.
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So if conventional breeding were in fact “sloppy”, genetic engineering would only be exacerbating this chaos. But in truth evolution proceeds in a relatively orderly way, just as you’d expect from a process honed over billions of years, while these sniveling little brats who just discovered a toy a minute ago are the ones who do nothing but make a frightful mess.
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To repeat, here we see the most extreme and far-ranging aspect of the evolution denial of genetic engineering “science”.
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But we should also note that scientism cultists including these engineers tend to have a dual-track, mutually contradictory view of evolution. At the most exalted level they view neo-Darwinism as meaning a flawless process of unflaggingly perfect adaptations, with all biological phenomena encompassed within this perfection and explainable within this perfection framework. But at the same time they also deride evolution as a messy, wasteful process which needs to be improved by their technological activism. Here we see an example of the cult fundamentalist mindset I described in a previous post, with its exalted “principles” and nihilistic disdain for day-to-day truth, even where it comes to direct contradiction of the acclaimed principle. The genetic determinism dogma, however, can be applied at either level, the ivory tower Darwinian or the gutter GE-creationist.
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To finish with the junk science and propaganda lies of “precision”, the new “gene editing” techniques are no more precise than those of GE 1.0. (Cf. the section, “Is GM technology becoming more precise?”) It’s funny how we now have two contrary lines of propaganda running simultaneously: The original genetic engineering techniques were magically precise, and yet they really weren’t precise but the new techniques are so precise, honest and for true this time. Yet studies have already documented that the CRISPR technique causes mutations in human cells.
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7. “Junk DNA” = junk science. When scientists first ascertained that less than 2% of human DNA is formed into genes and didn’t know what if anything the rest of it does, they indulged their standard strong aversion to saying “I don’t know”. As much as any other religious type, scientists feel a strong need to make things up where they don’t know, and so in this case without further ado they branded the non-gene DNA “junk DNA”. There was no scientific evidence for this dismissal, just the felt need for a placeholder concept which pretends to “know something”, where a true scientist would admit ignorance.
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Since then the evidence has proven that the junk DNA dogma was wrong. Indeed, today the likes of the NIH are rushing to opposite dogmas about the infinite potentiality of this DNA. Meanwhile dead-enders continue to defend the junk science.
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The state of the science implies that the genome does far more than just code for proteins, but no one knows the extent of this action. One thing which this science does prove, to add to all the other proofs, is that genetic engineers have no idea what they’re doing.
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8. There are many more examples of the crackpot “science” and lies which comprise the defense of genetic engineering. We can list just a few of these. These and the foregoing have all been disproven and repose on the trash heap of junk science. Nevertheless to this day they make up the “scientific” part of pro-GMO ideology.
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*The whole is just the sum of the biggest parts. Smaller parts, and any kind of holistic network, don’t matter. (The “NPK mentality”, as Albert Howard called it.)
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*The Cauliflower Mosaic Virus (CaMV) promoter functions only in plants, not in animals.
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*A synthetically modified organism (SMO) is identical to the corresponding GMO.
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*Glyphosate affects only the shikimate enzyme pathway, and this is found only in plants, not animals. In truth it affects mammalian CYP and retinoic acid pathways as well as having a general mineral chelation effect. Meanwhile the shikimate pathway is found in the bacteria of the human microbiome, which is a symbiotic part of our digestion and plays an important role in other human physiological systems. I included this with “genetic engineering” because these lies and junk science are part of the rationalization of the Roundup Ready GMO system.
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*Bt becomes toxic only amid the alkalinity of an insect’s digestive tract, not that of the mammalian. Bt toxins cannot enter the human bloodstream.
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*GE material is destroyed in processing/cooking/the gut. It never enters the bloodstream.
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*There’s only linear (“dose-dependent”) effects. There’s no such thing as non-linear effects.
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Genetic engineering claims to be able precisely to insert selected transgenic DNA into an alien genome, where this DNA will seamlessly command the indigenous resources to produce the desired RNA which will produce the desired proteins, which will then cause the desired phenotype manifestations. Meanwhile all the host organism’s native genetic functions except the specific ones being modified or overriden by the transgene will continue in the same way as before. All this is supposed to happen in a precisely calibrated way.
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As we’ve seen, all this is bunk. Since the parts which weren’t premeditated lies from the start were debunked long ago, by now they’re all nothing but willful lies. Persistence Proves Intent.
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What really happens in genetic engineering? The insertion is a brutish, sloppy process creating a genetic mess. Where “successful”, the transgenic DNA will attain the desired effect. But it also causes incalculable chaotic effects, from unpredictable levels of protein expression to the production of completely new proteins and other metabolites to alternative folding of proteins.
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The disruption and mutations caused by transgene insertion may also affect the indigenous processes of the host genome in chaotic ways. This includes its DNA repair mechanisms, its RNA transcription and splicing, its protein formation, and the many ways its proteins interact with one another.
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The organic chaos which follows from the brutal, mutagenic GE process is seen in the profligate waste of the subsequent GM crop development process. Even after identification of the crop tissue which successfully incorporated the transgene, it’s very difficult for the engineers to grow suitable crops from the transgenic material, it’s so genetically damaged and weakened. Then there’s the ongoing genetic and phenotype unpredictability as the seeds are commercialized and the crops deployed across a great range of climates, environments, and agricultural practices. I’ve written before about how GMOs are a rich man’s technology and require optimal conditions in order to have any decent chance of functioning as advertised, i.e. in a way similar to how they functioned under perfect lab and optimal field trial conditions. Any deviation from this optimum, and you have a crapshoot at best.
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This brings us back to the radical difference between genetic engineering, which is inherently reductionist and controlling, especially in the extremely narrow range of genetics it seeks to have dominate all of agriculture (since all commercial GMO varieties, no matter how varied the back-crossing, which as a rule doesn’t have much variation, come from the same original “event” and continue to inbreed the event’s weaknesses, hazards, and chaos), vs. conventional breeding, which in principle as well as in participatory and organic practice is inherently expansive, manifold, diverse, and resilient.
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All this proves how GMOs don’t make sense in principle. Just as the inherently messy and chaotic transgenic insertion process guarantees that even the reductive poison plants which actually “work” will work only in haphazard, unpredictable ways, so pleiotropy rules out the long-promised-never-delivered GMOs designed to produce better agronomic and product quality traits. If genetic engineering can barely cope with producing transgenic effects which involve just one inserted transgene, imagine trying to solve for multi-gene effects.
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Rendering crops poisonous is not an improvement, but literal poison plants (those which exude a systemic insecticide, those which systemically absorb herbicide, and usually both at the same time) are the only kinds genetic engineering can create.
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Genetic engineering does not produce the results it claims. I stress that this is not just because genetic engineering is a stupid, shoddy practice, though it is that, but because the underlying “science” of genetic engineering is wrong and fraudulent in theory.
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In truth, support for GMOs has nothing to do with science, but rather is political and financial. Technological development is always part of politics and political economy. It’s clear that the real world struggle of pro-GMO activism vs. humanity has nothing to do with science but is purely a political and economic struggle, part of the ongoing assault of predatory corporations upon humanity. Indeed, another reason GMOs make no sense in principle, in this case except from the point of view of corporate power and control, is that their history proves that GMOs cannot be capitalized, developed, produced, distributed other than through big corporations. Indeed GMOs were developed in the first place to intensify corporate control and domination. But corporate control is antithetical to productive, food-based, sustainable agriculture. By definition corporate agriculture, producing commodities and poison instead of food, with food then supposed to “trickle down” as a side effect, is incoherent, irrational, and an abdication. GMOs represent the extreme manifestation of corporate agriculture.
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It’s funny how confused and stupid pro-GM activists, including the credentialed “scientists”, are about this. It’s a good measure of their general ignorance, stupidity, and hysterical emotionality that, facing any criticism of GMOs from any angle – economic, political, agronomic – they immediately start shrieking, “anti-science! anti-science!” It seems they’re so dumb they really can’t tell the difference between a scientific criticism and a socioeconomic criticism. But then, they know that the only thing which gives their otherwise obvious lies any obscurantist cover at all is a fraudulent appeal to the authority of their bogus “Science”, so their desperate propaganda need abets their idiocy. Of course, the science is also 100% against them.
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Unfortunately, a complete ignorance of agriculture and farming is the standard state of pro-GMO activists, and the STEM-credentialed ones most of all. Being such a complete ignoramus actually helps one believe in genetic engineering “science”, since this fends off potential doubts about germplasm quality and diversity, the genetics of produce quality, how weeds and insects react to poisons, and the position of agriculture amid ecosystems and the sustainability of fossil fuel dependent industrial monoculture as such. (As far as the socioeconomics, the pro-GM activists mostly understand that the purpose of GMOs is to drive hundreds of millions of people off their land, and the activists consider this to be a good thing.)
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.To summarize this most recent series of posts on agriculture and science.
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1. There’s no such thing as genetic engineering science.
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2. The dogmas of scientism cannot be applied to agriculture at all.
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If by science we mean a coherent theory which has truth value and relates to the real world, then where it comes to industrial agriculture there’s no science involved at all. The real world practice is just brute force empiricism based on seeking power goals, not on any kind of scientific concept, no more than how much a whip-wielding slave driver theorizes about how people might best live in peace with one another.
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Those who call this or GMOs predominantly a “science” matter are regurgitating a corporate propaganda lie, or else naively abetting this lie. Too many even among GM critics let them get away with this lie. Many even gratuitously place themselves in the defensive position of arguing that there’s merely holes or abuses in the corporate science. There’s even the lament that “our” scientists deserve a hearing as well, and indeed among the few independent scientists who have followed where the evidence leads, the main yearning seems to be to maintain standing among the scientific establishment and win credibility there. But I propose that this is all wrong.
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The fact is that corporate “science” has nothing to do with science at all. Corporations and their operatives do not seek scientific fact and do not find it and do not act upon it. They seek corporate profit and power, they base their work upon it, present their “findings” in service to it, and act from there. They are corporate activists, and GMO proponents are pro-GMO activists. The scientific establishment has abdicated completely where it comes to all agriculture and food matters. (Other matters as well, but I’ll leave analysis to those who focus on those matters.) The only science which exists here is the agroecological science which has been steadily in the building since the mid-twentieth century. This science is fully demonstrated and ready to be deployed, wherever the political will exists to do so.
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We scholars, scientists, and agronomic practitioners of the ecological philosophy have won complete victory in the science fight, and we know that the corporate “science” paradigm is nothing but a structure of lies and force. Only we have science at all. So whatever political guidance we deduce from the situation, and whatever any of us wants to accomplish with agriculture and food, anything from reforms to the necessary abolition and transformation, let’s communicate in a way that stops respecting enemy lies and which respects only truth.
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Across the board, in general and at every point of detail, science affirms and supports agroecology and Food Sovereignty and condemns the failures, poison, and destruction wrought by corporate agriculture.

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August 1, 2015

The DARK Act and Going Forward, Labeling and Beyond

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A few more thoughts on labeling and the DARK Act.
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1. I oppose the DARK Act because it’s an intensified centralizing preemptionist legal assault on democracy and community rights. Not just state-level labeling but any kind of lower-level bans on pesticides and/or GMOs as well as initiatives supporting food sovereignty and community food would be outlawed. While in theory this could help hasten a motion toward the civil disobedience/extralegal mindset, in practice this isn’t happening much so far.

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2. As for the effect on labeling in itself, this isn’t as important since the labeling-as-panacea mindset is something we need to get beyond anyway. If anything, I think the idea of labeling as something martyred to corporate power is more useful than the thing itself could ever be.

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3. We already know from examples like that of Scott Faber and Just Label It that labeling advocacy is compatible with a basically pro-Monsanto position. Indeed, labeling advocates used to point to how in Europe Monsanto made a virtue of necessity and pretended to embrace labeling. Of course Monsanto didn’t mean it, but the point is that although Monsanto doesn’t want labeling, it can coexist with it if necessary. Now that kind of “coexistence” is further disproof of the notion that labeling can enable a peaceful coexistence between GMOs and any kind of healthful, democratic food and agriculture.

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The fact that labeling advocates have always touted how their proposed policy can coexist with Monsanto also puts in perspective any claim they ever had that Labeling = Anti-GMO.

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4. I’ve already written many times about why labeling is physically and politically insufficient. Also, non-GMO labeling deals with only one kind of agricultural poison, but lets through many others. The rise of a non-GMO testing and certification sector generates yet another group with a vested interest in the continuation of the GMO regime. Here I’ll make one more point about the politics of it. To whatever extent people are supposed to see labeling as sufficient, and therefore the fight for it as sufficient, it can only function to misdirect energy and passion and delay the abolitionist consciousness and movement. We can be sure that wherever labeling is actually enacted, the party line from both the mainstream system and from professionalized labeling advocates will be, “Now we have to give the labeling system time to work. For now go about your business and stop worrying about it.” This is meant to buy time for Monsanto, and we don’t have time, perhaps many years, to waste.

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5. On the other hand, many people fear and loathe GMOs and other agricultural poisons and want to get rid of them, and turn to labeling because that’s the only action they see being touted. They turn to it because they haven’t yet been able to see an alternative.

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6. So where we talk about labeling, and where we support and get involved with labeling campaigns, and where we oppose measures like the DARK Act on behalf of the idea of labeling, our goal has to be to encourage the latter mindset and oppose and discredit the former. The goal is to use the idea of labeling, and the example of its suppression by Monsanto’s system, to move the discussion and consciousness along the vector from “better consumerism” and “coexistence” to abolitionism.

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July 31, 2015

Module: Glyphosate Causes Birth Defects

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A summary of the evidence.
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*Both Roundup and glyphosate by itself caused malformations in chicken and frog embryos at doses far below agricultural applications. This 2010 lab study, performed by Argentine scientist Andres Carrasco and his research team, gave laboratory confirmation of the kinds of birth defects which epidemiological studies (see below) find to be rampant among humans living in the industrial soy zone. The researchers identified glyphosate’s interference with the retinoic acid signaling pathway as the likely mechanism of toxicity. This is one of the many disproofs of the standard lie that glyphosate cannot harm people because it affects only the shikimate pathway which is found only in plants. A subsequent module will focus on glyphosate’s mechanisms of human toxicity.
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*A lab study from 2007 exposed rat mothers to Roundup during pregnancy and lactation. The doses were not found to be toxic to the mothers. Male offspring showed decreased sperm count, lower levels of sperm production, a heightened percentage of abnormal sperm, lower serum testosterone at puberty, and sperm cell degeneration.
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*A 2003 lab study found skeletal malformations in rat fetuses after their mothers had been given maternally non-toxic doses of Roundup.
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*A 2003 lab study found that commercial glyphosate formulation caused death and, at lower doses, malformations in tadpoles.
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*A Russian researcher found that female rats fed Roundup Ready soybean meal produced litters with over 55% of the pups stunted. This was 6-9X the rate found in two groups not given the Roundup-laced feed. The stunted rats died within three weeks, while the non-stunted survivors were sterile.
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*Monsanto’s own studies on glyphosate (they seem never to have tested Roundup) found that maternal exposure to glyphosate in rabbits and rats, at both maternally toxic and at lower, maternally non-toxic doses, caused birth defects in offspring. European regulators tendentiously dismissed the data even though the UK’s Pesticides Safety Directorate (PSD) itself said the industry’s own studies established “a pattern” of birth defects.
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*A 2009 review of Monsanto’s own studies found that Roundup causes necrosis and apoptosis (two kinds of cell death) in human umbilical, placental, and embryonic cells.
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*A 2005 lab study found that glyphosate damages human placental cells and is an aromatase inhibitor. This highlights the fact that glyphosate is an endocrine disruptor and causes developmental harm in many ways because of this. I’ll be devoting a module to glyphosate as endocrine disruptor, where there will also be more birth defect evidence, because these overlap. Glyphosate’s interference with estrogen production also associates it with breast cancer.
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*A 1997 epidemiological study of farming families in Ontario found a that the father’s exposure to glyphosate-based herbicides was significantly correlated with late miscarriages and premature births.
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*An epidemiological study carried out in California with publications in 2004 and 2006 found that Roundup exposure can lead to anencephaly, a birth defect of neural tubes or the brain and spinal structures, in which part of the skull and brain are missing. This finding along with the Argentine epidemiological studies is consistent with the lab studies which find that Roundup and glyphosate consistently impair central nervous system development. Monsanto’s own studies have also found that glyphosate harms skull development.
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Epidemiological studies from the world’s Roundup ground zero, the “Soy Republic” of Argentina, provide copious data on the effects of this poison on exposed residents, especially birth defects, reproductive problems, and cancer.
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*The 2010 Cordoba Conference of the Physicians of Fumigated Towns reported on the many health horrors the doctors documented from the Roundup zone, including an epidemic of birth defects, miscarriages, infertility, and neurological development problems in children, as well as very high cancer rates among children, young adults, and older adults.
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*Also in 2010 a government-commissioned report on the health of the glyphosate-saturated Chaco province found, among other epidemics, that birth defects quadrupled and childhood cancer rates tripled in the ten years of Roundup Ready soy cultivation.
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*Regional birth reports in the Chaco province documented a quadrupling of birth defects among villages in the Roundup zone.This spurred a multi-year study comparing Chaco villages within the Roundup zone to villages outside, which further documented the birth defects and reproductive problems and found much higher cancer rates in the Roundup-saturated area.
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*Most recently, a University of Cordoba study in the town of Monte Maiz, located near the Roundup fields and also used for grain storage, found massive glyphosate residues in the soil and air and documented a rate of spontaneous abortions five times the national average, a tripling of the miscarriage rate, as well as cancer rates five times the national average along with a long list of other severe health effects such as soaring rates of diabetes.
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*Danish farmer Ib Borup Pederson whose pigs were suffering an epidemic of birth defects, reduced live births, diarrhea, bloating, and poor appetite found that these symptoms, which developed after he had started using GM-based animal feed, disappeared when he switched back to non-GM feed. The feed was based primarily on Roundup Ready soy, and Pederson supposes the main problem was the Roundup residue. Based on Pederson’s experience, the Danish government announced a plan to conduct a study on the effects of different soy-based diets on pig health.
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*Retired USDA scientist Don Huber has been a leading figure documenting the severe epidemic of reproductive problems and birth defects among US livestock since Roundup-laced animal feed became the norm. Although there are several possible causes of the epidemic, each is related to Roundup, either as directly caused by it or else associated with it.
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Earth Open Source’s report, “Roundup and birth defects: Is the public being kept in the dark?”, summarizes the proven history of the European system’s conscious knowledge. The US regulatory knowledge has been even more precocious.
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Taken together, the industry studies and regulatory documents on which the current approval of glyphosate rests reveal that:

● Industry (including Monsanto) has known since the 1980s that glyphosate causes malformations in experimental animals at high doses.

● Industry has known since 1993 that these effects could also occur at lower and mid doses.

● The German government has known since at least 1998 that glyphosate causes malformations.

● The EU Commission’s expert scientific review panel knew in 1999 that glyphosate causes malformations.

● The EU Commission has known since 2002 that glyphosate causes malformations. This was the year its DG SANCO division published its final review report, laying out the basis for the current approval of glyphosate.

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As always where dealing with the corporate science paradigm and its corrupt system, we must keep in mind that much of the most damning evidence is being kept secret by Monsanto and the US and German governments. These continue to stonewall and refuse to render public much of the information they have, under the rubric of protecting “trade secrets”. But where it comes to science no secret has any right to exist, and to assert or find such a right is prima facie proof of one’s bad faith and malign intent.
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By definition there can be no such thing as “secret science”. You can have science, whose results are part of the public record, or you can have secrecy. In that case reason and common sense must assume that the evidence is devastating to the secret-keeper. This, along with the absolute, systematic refusal of the government and corporations to perform legitimate safety testing on any GMO or pesticide, comprises negative proof that the corporations know or fear the worst. They live in terror of what would become of them and their criminal products if the truth came to light.
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We can regard this as definitively proven and go on from there.
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For further reading:
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July 30, 2015

The Spirit of Science

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Across the board, in general and at every point of detail, science affirms and supports agroecology and Food Sovereignty and condemns the failures, poison, and destruction wrought by corporate agriculture.
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Rationally speaking, science is a tool whose goal is the practical well-being of humanity. It should work to improve our health, increase our prosperity, and enhance our freedom of action. For some science is also a passion. The spirit of science is the mindset, out of passion or practicality or both, which seeks to use this tool this way, or which admires and respects science where it serves humanity and only where it serves humanity.
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True science is the province of the active people, especially where we engage in our own democratic work, toward our individual and community weal, unalienated by any anti-human artificial system. The most important science was preceded by the empirical work of the active labor field, usually by regular people without any formal, specifically scientific training. Isaac Newton, not known for his humility, affirmed that scientists merely “stand on the shoulders of giants”. The best example of this is the ten thousand years of practical agronomic development by regular farmers, as part of their day-to-day work. In modern times this massive empirical foundation has been supplemented with theoretical scientific work. The result is that the science of agroecology and organic farming now stands as the most fully researched and developed, demonstrated, and ready-for-deployment science of all. Organic agriculture stands ready as science at the pinnacle of potential human benefit. It was built primarily by the people, it’s the province of the people, and it shall be deployed by the people, from the bottom up, in accord with the need and will of the people.
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This can stand as the ultimate example, which sets the pace for all other human endeavor. We were, for thousands of years, successful empiricists, and barring artificial, self-inflicted woes, we can continue to be for the rest of humanity’s tenure. Make no mistake – science is a luxury. As a passion it’s merely the province of a small intellectual elite, similar to the small elite group who can find psychological succor from secular philosophy instead of spirituality/religion. And of course in practice both scientism and philosophy usually contain a high admixture of mysticism.
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Therefore we confirm that science has built upon its prerequisite foundation, and this gives us the general principle for how to use science in the most humanly constructive, beneficial, and just way, and the way most productive of knowledge. The key, as I described in my Food Sovereignty pamphlet, is to apply science to regionally developed and adapted empirical knowledge. No one who lacks this foundation knowledge can be an authority in any practical context. Anyone who lacks a foundation but tries to assert authority is an intellectual drifter at best, more likely a corporate propagandist and thug. The scientist who wishes to contribute to the human condition either provides general propositions which he sets free in the world to be regionally adapted, or she becomes such an adaptive worker herself.
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But the corporate/government system says science only trickles down from formally accredited cadres. Only such credential-holders can participate in scientific analysis, from which all political policy must then flow in the form of technocracy. Anyone outside this bureaucratic process who disagrees with this and rejects it is attacked as being “anti-science”. That’s almost always the only thing the brain-dead “anti-science” epithet means today: Rejecting this manifestation of authoritarianism and might-makes-right.
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The truth is the opposite. True science, practical science, starts with experimentation which leads to empirical success. Thus for ten thousand years farmers have proven themselves by far the most successful proto-scientists of the human project. Meta-knowledge of empirically established truth can then follow. For science the preliminary induction leads the way, with science as a version of deduction then later building upon that. Ironically, the only place where the mythical “scientific method” really applies is to the empirical prehistory of science. Those who deny this, like the “pure” (i.e. pro-corporate) scienticians of today, are merely engaging in a version of being born on third base and claiming they hit a triple.
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I said that true science is the most productive of knowledge. By contrast, corporate “science” is destructive of knowledge and of the very processes of thinking.
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1. Its monoculturism, in ideology and practice, seeks to constrain severely the range of agronomic knowledge in the first place, limiting it to mechanical poison-based algorithms. (I’ll add in passing that it also seeks to restrict severely the genetic range of agriculture. Monsanto’s original cluelessness about germplasm wasn’t just flat-earth arrogance. The attitude was hard-wired into the corporate agricultural ideology, and remains so. I’ll be returning to this subject.)
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2. It actively suppresses much of the knowledge that does exist. It systematically withholds from the public and from science most of the data it gathers. It releases only what it chooses to release, and only in tendentious propaganda forms.
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3. Wherever challenged it resorts, not to open, rational debate, but to a massive money-amplified lie machine.
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From these we can see how corporate “science” is the radical enemy of science and knowledge.
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So science starts with and builds upon what works. At every point it follows the empirical evidence. By contrast, today’s corporate scientism (including the vast majority of credentialed technicians) starts by deducing from corporate ideology and the profit imperative, preemptively asserts dogmatic “conclusions” like “GMOs are equivalent to regular crops and are therefore safe”, and then denies the contrary empirical evidence that follows, however massive its accumulation. Publicity of the evidence is left to non-credentialed citizens and to the few real scientists who are still practicing. From the official point of view, we are disenfranchised and relegated to the official unscience and anti-science category.
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This remains true no matter how much the evidence and therefore science itself reject lies like “GMOs increase yield” or “GMOs reduce pesticide and herbicide use” or best of all “GMOs are needed to feed the world”. As always we must stress the overwhelming implicit proof provided by the corporations and regulators themselves.
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1. Government and corporations systematically refuse to perform legitimate scientific studies of GMOs or any other agricultural poison.
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2. The corporation will always lie, so any test it does perform will be rigged in several ways. There are no exceptions to this. Government regulators knowingly base their own assessments on nothing but this worthless junk science while rejecting any real scientific evidence generated by independent studies.
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3. They suppress, cover up, keep secret the large amounts of adverse evidence even their own rigged tests generate. “Secret science” is a contradiction in terms. By definition science has to be public. Anything kept secret, under whatever fraudulent pretext (“trade secret” is their favorite), is by definition not part of science, and can have no place in scientific discussion other than as implicit proof that the evidence is against whichever party wants to keep it secret.
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Together these three facts prove that corporate “science” is nothing but a top-heavy tower of lies. It proves that governments and corporations themselves live in absolute terror of what would become of them and their poisons if true science were to prevail.
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Thus we have a final conflict between true, human science, and prostituted corporate anti-science. Most of the professionals are on the side opposed to humanity and the earth.
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This struggle between science and corporate anti-science is in turn one of the array of battlefields comprising the final war between humanity and corporate domination. In the next of these orientation pieces I’ll discuss the abdication of establishment science, its complete surrender to corporate domination and its complete embrace of the corporate “science” paradigm.

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July 25, 2015

If the DARK Act Passes, What Then?

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See here and here for more on what the DARK Act is about; it seeks to enshrine the “voluntary” labeling sham, along with ferocious pre-emption as I described here.
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1. What would the preemption of labeling mean in itself? Labeling is certainly not sufficient, and is conceptually flawed if envisioned as a worthwhile goal in itself. It implies the continuation of industrial agriculture and food commodification, and globalization as such. It merely seeks Better Consumerism within that framework.
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If people saw labeling as a temporary measure within the framework of an ongoing movement to abolish industrial agriculture and build Food Sovereignty, that could be good. If people saw the campaign for labeling as primarily a movement-building action, an occasion for public education, for democratic participation in a grassroots action, and to help build a permanent grassroots organization, that would be good. POE as I call it – Participation, Education, Organization.
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But many of the advocates seem to see it as a panacea. They at least claim to expect miracles from it: Labeling = the end of Monsanto. This is highly doubtful. Just because a labeling initiative or law is passed doesn’t mean it will be enforced with any alacrity. It’s still the same old pro-Monsanto government which would be in charge of enforcement. That’s why getting an initiative or law passed would be just the first and easiest step. Then the real work of vigilance, forcing the enforcers to follow through, would begin. That, too, was a reason why the campaign needs to be, even more than just an intrinsic campaign, the building ground of a permanent grassroots organization.
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Then there’s the fact that most if not all of these initiatives and laws are riddled with loopholes, categories of food which don’t need to be labeled. That almost always includes GMO-fed meat and dairy. Actually, labeling would apply mostly to the same corporate-manufactured processed foods we ought to be getting out of our diets and economies regardless.
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When we combine the picayune content of these labeling proposals with the fact that their advocates do often call them a self-sufficient panacea, and with the fact that the efforts have often been designed like one-off electoral campaigns rather than as processes of building permanent grassroots organizations, we can see the some of the inherent political limits of labeling campaigns.
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2. The people consistently indicate that they don’t really want labeling. That is, they don’t want it as a stand-alone consumerist feature, sundered from the context of a complete affirmative (Food Sovereignty) and negative (abolitionist) movement.
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It’s clear that although the people overwhelmingly support the idea of GMO labeling in theory, their commitment to it is skin deep. As soon as the money starts flying and the propaganda noise starts booming, people are easily thrown off balance. They focus pre-existing feelings of dread on the controversy and recoil from such a picayune thing as labeling, which seems to offer only a greater sense of helplessness.
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A survey done in California in September 2012 prior to the vote found that even the mention of an increase in food prices would “slightly diminish support”. This was prior to the big propaganda surge which hammered away with this lie. This musters every kind of inchoate fear. Since these days people are fearful and conservative, they shy from stimulation and don’t want anything to change. They’re easily convinced that any change will only make things worse. At any rate, they’re disinclined to undertake any change themselves. It’s clear that to undertake a one-off political campaign, which is prone to muster such elemental anxieties – about poison in our food and the food we’re feeding to our children, about our ever more beleaguered personal financial position, about corporate power over us – and which becomes the scene of a media firestorm, where people are asked, as consumers, to do nothing but vote a certain way and then implicitly to lapse back into their usual passivity, with the only payoff for having had all these fears aroused is to gain even greater knowledge of what there is to fear, but with no greater sense of what to do about any of it – is it any wonder that so many people choose to believe the lies and vote No?
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People don’t really believe the propaganda, but are numbed into passivity by the volume and omnipresence of it. This is part of the job of the corporate media, to instill a sense of hopelessness in the individual, and a false sense that she’s all alone with whatever objections she has, alone with whatever dissent and activism for change she’d like to undertake. The labeling campaign also instills fear about the safety of the food, but doesn’t offer a productive context and course of action for this fear, but implicitly wants to leave you alone with your Yes vote and your new information.
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This is why many consumers don’t want to exercise their right to know. They’re settled in certain habits, have so many other stresses, they already know their food is poisoned and try to exist in a precarious psychological complacency about that. So they’d rather not hear about GMOs on top of everything. This supposition fits the data, that as the No propaganda surges and the noise level of the whole fight escalates, the weakly committed Yeses and the Undecided move toward No. If you’re going to stay within the bounds of passive consumerism, then does a GMO label really give you much of a new choice? Especially if you suspect, in most cases correctly, that the only result will be to discover that all your available choices have GMO labels, so that you really didn’t get more choice anyway, merely more stress.
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Labeling advocates point out that there is an individual, consumerist course of action available – change your eating habits, shun GMO products, petition manufacturers to purge them, retailers not to carry them. (Here we’re talking about doing these in an individual consumer context, not as part of a movement context.)
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But is this the likely result? What about the opposite possibility – that if labeling is enacted, people will just shrug and not change their buying and eating habits? Indeed, it might even help normalize GMOs.
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Since consumerism is inherently passive and not active, since “choice” is a pseudo-ideal that few people really want (their political and economic actions prove it), and since fear-itself induces conservatism in the choices people make, the campaign to label GMOs is bound to be at a disadvantage as soon as it becomes embroiled in a struggle. People naturally support the idea, but not enough so that they don’t abandon it as a kind of “rocking the boat” the moment they’re given a reason to fix their fears upon it.
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In itself labeling is a meager, insufficient measure. Most importantly, it’s conceptually wrong, as it frames this critical political, socioeconomic, environmental, agronomic, and scientific issue as a matter of consumerist choice. Finally, the labeling idea is ripe to be hijacked by corporate interests or preempted by the central government, as we’re now seeing with this latest attempt in Congress.
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We can’t expect people to rouse themselves and go against the grain of their mass consciousness in any kind of ad hoc way, let alone in a way which they’ll have strong psychological reasons to resist. In order to get organic change, we first need to build an organic movement. We need to take the time and put in the work to build a movement culture where individuals find themselves as citizens, community members, members of a movement. We need to build a movement where people develop the individual self-respect to know that their action which seeks change will bring them a better world, and where they develop the political self-confidence to know that their collective action will work to bring about this bountiful change.
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We need to build a true grassroots movement, this movement has to be affirmative, and it has to seek the stark goal of total abolition. If we can offer people the opportunity to fight to abolish GMOs, or to support this abolition movement with money, a vote, etc., and to do so toward affirmative goals like food freedom, food sovereignty, this offers vastly more on a psychological level than labeling by itself, which is more like yet another annoying consumer “choice”.
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3. Consumerist labeling is really part of the “co-existence” notion. A core part of campaign rhetoric lauds “choice”, thereby echoing a standard pro-GM lie and implying that GMO agriculture can co-exist with any other kind of agricultural practice. But co-existence is impossible, politically as well as physically. Corporate agriculture envisions its own total domination of agriculture and food, and all its actions are dedicated to this goal. GMOs were developed as a classical public-private partnership and are aggressively supported by governments because they’re designed to attain the twin goals of physical (genetic) and economic (commodification and patents) domination. Therefore the only possible outcomes for humanity are complete abolition of GMOs or complete surrender to them. Given this circumstance, the constructive place of a labeling campaign or policy, or just the idea of labeling as such, is as a tactical element of the abolition movement. Anything outside of this movement context is at best a misdirection and waste of effort and time we don’t have to spare.
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4. We know the history of corporate lobbying for an FDA preemption policy, the central government’s complete support for GMO domination, its disdain for and hostility toward any meaningful labeling, the Monsanto Protection Act, and now the yearlong attempt to pass the DARK Act. We have clear proof that the central government will not allow political life and democracy to prevail on this, including at the state level, let alone the regional. Even if the DARK Act is forestalled in the Senate, the US government won’t give up. In the end, the only thing which will work will be defiance of the central government power, by whatever means, at lower government levels and especially through political action of the people from the ground up. This includes organized renunciation and replacement of the corporate industrial food system.
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If this is right, then our time requires a far more comprehensive goal.
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5. Abolitionists must use this crisis to reinforce the Community Food movement and goal. Just “buying organic” won’t suffice. Anyway much of organic is the industrial organic sector which is part of the overall corporate problem, and which has previously indicated its own desire to bring “organic” under Monsanto’s domination. We do have the Right to Know, but we’ll know little and have little until we rebuild the Community Food sector and protect it, toward the great affirmative goal of Food Sovereignty.
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We must lift our vision and expand our goal. We need the will to renew political life from the ground up, where necessary in defiance of the central government and corporate rule. We must use the government’s assaults as a political/moral lever to change the political consciousness from an individual consumerist consciousness (uncontexted labeling) to the abolitionist movement commitment, and the broader consciousness aspiring to freedom and demolishing the corporate-imposed bottlenecks against our prosperity.
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The corporate state’s goal is all-encompassing of the political and economic realms, from globalized corporate rule to strangling the rising Community Food movement in its youth. We can see how the DARK Act is not only anti-labeling but, with measures like preemption of local and state pro-democracy, anti-corporate laws, it’s also designed to provide more government power against the Community Food sector and movement as such. It will seek to do this in tandem with the Orwellianly named “Food Safety Modernization Act”, really a pro-big ag Food Control Act. But with the right kind of education campaign about how the government is trying to make it impossible for the people to know how toxic the industrial food supply is, we might be able to turn these assaults to our advantage. Certainly the one and only way to really KNOW what’s in our food and be citizens of agriculture and food production is to support local/regional retail agriculture, visit and know our farmers and processors, build up that sector. The central government and corporations are doing all they can to prove this.
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6. In the past I’ve sometimes been fatalistic about what the system “will do”, and how possible it is for political action to stop it. I’ve said things like, “the system will extract all the economically viable fossil fuels”, acknowledging various impersonal natural/physical/economic constraints on extraction while discounting political action as potentially such a natural force.
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Where it comes to fossil fuel extraction this is no doubt true for the low-hanging fruit, the reserves easiest and least expensive to extract. But as extraction proceeds along the line of deteriorating cost effectiveness, increasing complexity costs, and mounting physical difficulties, political action against it becomes more potent in proportion to the increasing overextension of its opponent. This can happen in the same way that various technical alternatives to fossil fuels become economically viable as oil prices rise.
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So it follows that as corporate agriculture finds its own position ever more costly and physically difficult to maintain, as costs increase, as natural (pest and weed) resistance mounts, as each new set of GMOs is more dubious, its economic rationale less coherent, its lies less viable, the legitimacy of establishment “science” and mainstream media more eroded, while public fear, skepticism, and opposition continues to rise, our action shall become more effective, and our ability to propagate all-encompassing ideas and desires more potent. There will be an ever greater will on the part of the people to organize against this enemy and to realize our affirmatives.
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In making these criticisms, I’m not disputing the basic truths of the pro-labeling argument. On the contrary, I avow these myself. I’m pointing out why, where labeling is presented as a typical ad hoc consumerist electoral campaign, rather than from within a movement context, the labeling campaigns are ineffective politics.
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At the moment the labeling campaigns comprise the main anti-GMO vehicle, and they can serve as good occasions for participation, organization, education – POE. In principle and in action abolitionists should support and join the campaigns. But we insist that labeling is insufficient, is no panacea, and that the fight for labeling is just one step toward building the consciousness toward building what’s great and necessary, a true abolition movement.
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For the moment, what’s a good proximate strategy?
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1. It’s important to defeat the DARK Act through whatever conventional within-the-system means, if possible. This is the system’s attempt to kneecap our movement through legalistic preemption. If this fails, they’ll try again, or else try for a more subtle “mandatory” scam. Anti-GMO people must reject any subsequent “softer” FDA scam. The same for the TTIP, though here it looks like our only chance is for European Parliament and/or member countries to reject it.
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If the DARK Act is passed, our campaigns must pressure the states and localities to go ahead anyway on democratic moral-political and constitutional grounds, including legal challenges (though we shouldn’t hold our breath in expectation of the court route succeeding). The central government’s ability to enforce its tyrannical policy will be a direct measure of the people’s willingness to crumble and obey, or our determination to stand tall and fight.
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2. Nevertheless, labeling in itself could never suffice. What we must have, what is necessary, is to drive out GMOs completely. Indeed, the worst aspect of the DARK Act is the legal assault it would make on county-level GMO bans.
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3. So in addition to POE, the main purpose of labeling campaigns is to provide an occasion to pressure manufacturers and retailers, and to supplement campaigns directly pressuring them.
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4. In this connection, a primary publicity component is to continue hammering away, not just at Monsanto, and not at the GMA, as for example who is providing the funding for the lawsuit against Vermont. Rather, it is Kellogg’s, Kraft, Nestle, Coca-Cola, Pepsico, General Mills, General Foods, who are most responsible for inflicting these physical and political assaults upon us. The campaigns have often done a good job of this and should escalate. Combine this brand-condemning publicity campaigning and boycott organizing against these manufacturers with targeted pressure on retailers. These kinds of actions have the best track record, among reform campaigns.
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5. As I described in the strategy posts I linked here, both direct pressure and labeling advocacy must be enfolded within a comprehensive abolition movement and serve the abolition goal. Once we have a movement whose members and sympathizers see the world with the eyes of active citizens of a community, rather than with the eyes of atomized passive consumers among an unfathomable mass, then we’ll have the social foundation from which to launch any kind of political campaign. The campaigns will be organic, they’ll be part of an ongoing social and political context, and they’ll be waged and supported by citizens speaking to potential citizens who can see the living reality of the movement before them, rather than just a seemingly disposable campaign and stand-alone ad hoc policy proposal with no context for systemic change or human hope.
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If we want to do what’s necessary and do it right, in the process inspiring people to join a movement or support it (and this is what’s needed, rather than any quick fix electoral solution), we need to build a true movement toward a goal that’s necessary and great. The great goals available to us are the complete abolition of GMOs and breaking the power of corporations over our agriculture and food, in the process putting an end to their onslaught poisoning our food, water, soil, and air. The companion goal is to rebuild our community food economies on the basis of agroecology and food sovereignty, thus combining the best of freedom, health, democracy, and science. There’s no substitute for the patience and hard work required to build this new anti-corporate movement from outside the system. Along the way this movement can absorb whatever existing forces are available, so long as they’re compatible with the stark and non-negotiable goal of the abolition of corporations. But its inception and the main thrust of its action must always be toward building a new human world.
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If the DARK Act passes and the TTIP/TPP globalization compacts are forced upon us, raising our sights and escalating our demands upon fate is one of our options. Giving up is another. But it seems that the status quo will no longer be an option.

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Module: Glyphosate Residues in Our Bodies and Food

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This is the first of a series of modules, each being a short assembly of the evidence to date. I’ll add to each as new evidence rolls in, which it will continue to do. The modules will then be easily linkable for subsequent analytical pieces.
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This module will assemble the findings on glyphosate residues which independent research, in spite of its starvation ration of financial resources, has detected in our bodies, food, and crops. If anyone’s aware of evidence I don’t have here, please add it in comments. A subsequent module will assemble the experimental evidence which found harmful health effects of glyphosate and Roundup exposure, comparing the exposure levels in those studies to the residue levels documented here in our food and bodies. Another piece will compare the levels proven harmful to the levels allowed by regulators in our food and water.
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Many of the levels detected are high even compared to the invariably industry-friendly regulatory levels. But even low residue levels are significant and dangerous, since glyphosate is an endocrine disruptor. This means it can cause cancer and birth defects even at very low doses.
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*In 2013 Moms Across America and Sustainable Pulse jointly gathered ten breast milk samples, as well as 35 urine samples and 21 drinking water samples, and had these sent for testing. The lab tests found “high” levels of glyphosate residue, ranging from 76 ug/l to 166 ug/l, in 3 of the milk samples. These levels “are 760 to 1600 times higher than the European Drinking Water Directive allows for individual pesticides.” Of the 35 urine samples collected from across the US, 13 were “above the minimum detectable level”, as much as 10 times the level found in a 2013 European survey (see below). 13 of the 21 samples of drinking water “contained glyphosate levels of between 0.085 ug/l and 0.33 ug/l. This is below the levels found in both urine and breast milk but is still cause for concern, as the European (EU) maximum allowed level for glyphosate in drinking water is 0.1 ug/l.”
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Corporate science asserts without evidence that glyphosate does not bioaccumulate. This is why no regulator anywhere in the world has set a regulatory limit for the amount of glyphosate in breast milk. It’s a classical tactic: by refusing to acknowledge the phenomenon in theory or in policy, a bureaucratic system tries to disappear it from reality.
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The levels found in the breast milk testing of 76 ug/l to 166 ug/l are 760 to 1600 times higher than the European Drinking Water Directive allows for individual pesticides. They are however less than the 700 ug/l maximum contaminant level (MCL) for glyphosate in the U.S., which was decided upon by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) based on the now seemingly false premise that glyphosate was not bio-accumulative.

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These findings are especially damaging to Monsanto and the EPA because they falsify the corporate-science dogma that glyphosate does not bioaccumulate. We now know it does. This is the main fact which Monsanto is now desperate to obfuscate, as I describe below.
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*In Germany the Green Party had its own similar 2015 test done using 16 breast milk samples. The testing found residues between 0.210 and 0.432 ug/l. This is over 2-4X the EU’s allowed level in drinking water, and provides further proof of bioaccumulation.
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*In 2013 Friends of The Earth Europe commissioned a survey of people in 18 European countries, testing urine samples for glyphosate residues. “The maximum levels of glyphosate found in the tests ranged from 0.16 ug/l in Switzerland to 1.82 ug/l in Latvia.”
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*In 2013 Testbiotech found high levels of glyphosate residue in Argentine soybeans. 7 of 11 samples had levels higher than the allowed level of 20 mg/kg for EU importation. The levels were as high as almost 100 mg/kg.
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*In 2014 independent scientists performed a compositional study of an array of soybean varieties grown under commercial conditions in Iowa. The study found 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.
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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.
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Charles Benbrook, author of magisterial surveys of how GMOs have driven increased pesticide use, has stated that “Most genetically engineered soybeans now moving through trade channels worldwide contain 2 ppm to over 10 ppm of glyphosate plus its major metabolite, AMPA.”.
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*The US Geological Survey published a study which found that 75% of air and rain samples collected in Mississippi in 2007 contained glyphosate residue. The study compared 2007 levels in the air and water of various agricultural poisons with levels from 1995. In 2007 glyphosate, the main ingredient of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, was by far the most common poison. This is entirely on account of the explosive surge in its use since the commercialization of GMOs. In pre-GMO 1995 its usage was so low it wasn’t even measured. For comparison, atrazine, metolachlor, and propanil were detected in 50% or more of the samples in both 2007 and 1995. This is a good demonstration of how the claim made for Roundup Ready GMOs, that they would lower overall poison use, was a lie. Instead, glyphosate use has skyrocketed while the use of other herbicides has remained steady.
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*GMO Free USA, as part of its ongoing investigation of poison levels in popular foods including those marketed to children, has commissioned tests which found glyphosate residues (as well as identifiably GM DNA fragments) in Kellogg’s Froot Loops and Frito-Lay Sunchips.
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*Government testing for glyphosate residues in food is sporadic in Europe and nonexistent in the US. Nevertheless spotty testing in European countries has consistently found glyphosate residues in UK bread and wheat bran and German barley.
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This evidence is damaging enough to Monsanto that it has taken the step of commissioning its own fraudulent counter-study at Washington State University. The Monsanto project is directed and spoken for by a Michelle McGuire, a typical corporate-science cadre who has spent her career as a Monsanto propagandist. Propagandists like these authors (one of them is named “Lackey”, I kid you not) don’t even pretend to be real scientists anymore. Every Monsanto “study” already has two elements which automatically exclude it from the realm of science: The use of secret data and/or methods (by definition scientific information has to be fully public), and that it’s performed by or at the commission of the corporation itself. Both reason itself and the historical evidence record absolutely rule out accepting the corporation’s own “evidence” as having any validity whatsoever. We know the corporation does nothing but lie, and we know the fox cannot guard the henhouse.
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Another element we see here as well as with other pro-GMO “studies” like the recent sweet potato/HGT paper, is blatantly political and
anti-scientific editorializing by the “researchers” and their signal boosters. Based on the existing evidence, no legitimate scientist would say anything like “glyphosate does not bioaccumulate and is not present in human milk” or that “the Moms Across America study flat out got it wrong”. The evidence calls for vastly more modest statements than these, if one is a scientist. Will Ferguson, the corporate publicist who wrote the press release, tells various direct lies, such as that Covance Labs, the “independent verifier” of the original study’s analysis which was conducted by Monsanto itself (!), has no relationship with Monsanto. In fact Covance has a longstanding close professional relationship with Monsanto. Ferguson also claims to be one of those idiots who wouldn’t be able to find the US on a map, since according to his headline he thinks two small Northwest cities comprise “the US”. The Orwellian character of these studies and their publicity methods proves that they’re not scientific nor meant to be, but are meant to be propaganda blasts dressed up in pseudo-science garb.
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McGuire is not a scientist but a fraud and a criminal liar. I propose that fighters for Food Sovereignty become more relentless and assertive in publicizing this fact, in every such case of Science Fraud. This example is also the first of a series.
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April 21, 2015

Glyphosate and Its Advocates Are Cancer

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Since the 1980s we’ve been gathering the evidence that glyphosate, AKA Roundup and other commercial formulations, causes cancer. From the start Monsanto and the US EPA were aware, based on toxic and pre-cancerous kidney effects which manifested in studies commissioned by Monsanto itself, that glyphosate was a likely cancer agent. EPA collaborated with Monsanto in keeping the study data secret, thus inaugurating for glyphosate the currently dominant paradigm of “science” as subject to corporate secrecy and information control.
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Since then laboratory researchers, epidemiologists, and health statisticians have gathered the evidence that glyphosate causes lymphoma and cancers of the brain, breast, prostate, and testicles. Even as the science has developed the links between these cancers and glyphosate, we’ve seen surges in their incidence, just as we’d expect during the period of the great surge of Roundup use as a result of the deployment of Roundup Ready GMOs. We reached a milestone with the official acknowledgement of the UN World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans”.
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Contrary to the Monsanto lies which smeared the IARC as having conducted a cursory review, the IARC has been monitoring the science for many years. In April 2014, nearly a year prior to the 2015 declaration, the IARC published a study reviewing thirty years of scientific evidence linking many agricultural poisons including glyphosate and 2,4-D to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
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Today we have the latest study confirming that glyphosate causes cancer. This comes out of Argentina where the truth about glyphosate has long been manifest. Nowhere on earth has glyphosate wrought such health devastation among a populace of innocent bystanders as in the “soy republic” of Argentina and neighboring countries. Here entire landscapes have become sacrifice zones to industrial soy being grown for biodiesel and CAFO feed (NOT for food for people; see below on the “feed the world” Big Lie). Just part of the health carnage has been the doubling, quadrupling, and quintupling of cancer rates and cancer mortality in regions dominated by glyphosate-based soy agriculture.
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What’s significant about the World Health Organization’s finding that glyphosate is a probable cancer agent isn’t that it tells us anything new, but that it’s a major break in the system’s propaganda front. This is why Monsanto and its flacks have reacted so hysterically.
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(Although the WHO as a whole has been consistently pro-Monsanto, the IARC is out of step with the dominant corporate/reductionist ideological framework, instead emphasizing environmental factors in cancer causation.
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Emphasis is placed on elucidating the role of environmental and lifestyle risk factors and studying their interplay with genetic background in population-based studies and appropriate experimental models. This emphasis reflects the understanding that most cancers are, directly or indirectly, linked to environmental factors and thus are preventable.

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The proposition that cancer is preventable runs directly counter to the dominant “science” ideology which views cancer as arising from genetic determinism and the acceptable response to be massively expensive and interventionist cures supervised by Big Drug and other corporate sectors. This ideology is driven by the need of the poison-peddling corporations to obscure and deny the fact that profitable products like glyphosate are in fact major cancer drivers. The corporate flacks are abetted by scientism’s religious zealots who refuse to hear any evil spoken of their technological rabbits’ feet.)
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Since the WHO has historically been pro-GMO and pro-poison, the Poisoners have been able to react only awkwardly, absurdly calling for the WHO to “take back” what it said, or inventing such anti-science talking points as that the WHO’s finding applies only to extremely high concentrations. This is contradicted by the evidence the IARC cites, and in general isn’t supported by any rational or scientific proposition or evidence.
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Similarly, pro-poison government regulators have scrambled to limit the damage. We can take Health Canada’s quickly-cobbled-together position as a textbook exercise in the regulator scam. Health Canada says it’ll jigger the labels on Roundup and other glyphosate formulations in order to lessen the probability of poison drift beyond the spray zone and the exposure of farm workers. As I’ve previously described it:
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1. The corporate project is normative and must go on regardless of how worthless, expensive, and destructive it is. Under no circumstances shall the government do anything which would significantly hinder, let alone block, the corporate imperative. Nowhere is this more obviously true than in the case of GMOs, a completely failed, worthless, and destructive product which humanity never wanted, for which no natural market ever existed, which could never have endured even a modestly objective regulatory process, and which has always been 100% dependent on government regulator forbearance and support, corporate welfare, and monopoly muscle.
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In today’s case, Health Canada takes it for granted that overall sales of the #1 herbicide must not be hindered even though it’s a human carcinogen.
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2. Given the parameters of (1), the regulator may try to ameliorate the worst “abuses”, or may just pretend to do so, or may not even pretend. For years Western regulators haven’t cared even to pretend there should be any limit to glyphosate’s license to assault our health. But as we see here, the WHO’s breaking ranks has forced Health Canada into the position of running interference and issuing a sham limitation. Health Canada doesn’t want to thwart Monsanto’s domination or profit, but it feels under enough pressure that it’s introducing an anodyne “reform” which it won’t enforce. (This label change will have added bonus of putting another legal barrier between Monsanto and liability, since it’ll be easier to claim farmers violated the directions on the the label. As we’ve seen, the few exceptions to the united front of regulators and media blacking out any acknowledgement of the failures and harms of GMOs is in cases like the rise of superweeds and superbugs where the system can scapegoat the farmers.)
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3. The regulator then puts its imprimatur on the sham policy. It assures the public that the product is safe and that oversight is in the good hands of a vigilant government alert to the public interest, and so the people should go back to sleep, get on with their private lives, not worry our little heads about anything to do with public affairs including the safety of system agriculture and food.
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Here we see the political, or I should say the generally anti-political and elitist, manifestation of corporate ideology. In cases having to do with agriculture and food we see with special clarity how this anti-political ideology dovetails with the dominant “scientific” framework of recent decades, which can be summed up as “science is whatever the corporations decree it to be”. Through conventional corruption and systemic capture of universities, professional organizations, and government bodies, and of course through near-complete control of career paths, the corporations have procured a comprehensive level of discipline and coordination among the STEM fraternity in a short period of time. Today the vast majority of STEM types agree that science is whatever the corporate publicity divisions say it is, and they formulate their scientific and political opinions and proceed about their day-to-day work accordingly.
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That’s why the response among them to the WHO’s indiscipline has been such a combination of confusion, panic, furious rejection, and improvised lies. Monsanto having failed to get the WHO to immediately reverse itself, the Poisoners are starting to settle on the combination lie of “glyphosate is basically safe, and the WHO’s finding applies only to extreme circumstances, if that, but there’s no alternative to GMOs and these poisons since these are needed to feed the world”. Scientific American offers a typical example.
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We see how determined these fanatics are to continue to poison us. As their scrambling to defend Roundup proves, they have not even a shred of human decency and literally no thought process beyond the monomania of poison – the crop genomes, the plant tissues, the soil, the food, the water, the air, the ecology, the bodies of animals and people, all must be poisoned to the maximum extent possible. That’s why they react with such lies and hatred to the evidence and prescriptions of ecological science and the science and practice of agroecology. We have the corporations whose profits and power, whose literal existence, is completely dependent on the poison paradigm; we have the governments who also look to such corporate paradigms as guarantors of their own power and control; and we have the ideological and religious fanatics, the scientism cultists and general authoritarian followers who are psychologically invested in technophilia, the war of man vs. nature, the worship of power, and the ardent desire to construct a malign new religion out of all this filth, to replace the older religion where they can no longer find any kind of validation.
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All this would be contemptible enough if it existed only in these people’s minds. But right now they have the power, and they’re using it to force these poisons upon us and the environment. They’re literally giving us cancer, and will continue to do so until humanity stops them once and for all.
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I’ll be dealing more with the “feed the world” Big Lie. For now it’ll suffice to say that this is in fact a pure lie. The world already produces far more than enough food for everyone who is alive now or ever will be alive according to the highest UN projections of future population. Yet even though the world now produces enough food for 10 billion people, of the 7 billion alive today 1 billion suffer from hunger, while at least another 2 billion suffer from diet-related diseases. All of this is 100% the result of a malevolent distribution system, and nothing can ever change until this system is radically changed. Until then it won’t matter if there’s enough food for fifty billion people: hunger will only continue to spread. GMOs and poison-based agriculture represent the escalation of this malign, hunger-causing and malnutrition-causing system. These are not and cannot represent any alternative to it, as they’re physically based in industrial agriculture and politically and economically based in corporate profit-seeking. I’ll add that they’re also completely based in the corporate scientism ideology/religion, of which they’re not just a product but a religious ritual and icon.
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So in all these ways – agronomic, economic, political, scientific/religious – humanity and the Earth cannot coexist with the regime of poison-based agriculture or with the Poisoner movement which exalts it. These people, their ideas, their practices, are totalitarian and viciously destructive. They are cancer. We must put a stop to them once and for all.

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April 17, 2015

GMO News Report April 17th, 2015

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*Putting the AMA and similar Western professional organizations to shame, the Federation of Health Professionals of Argentina (FESPROSA) representing 30,000 doctors and health care workers has issued a statement demanding a ban on glyphosate in light of the WHO’s acknowledgement that it causes cancer. They add that Argentine researchers and doctors have also proven glyphosate causes reproductive problems, birth defects, and neurological disease. They condemn the Argentine government for its complicity in this massive poisoning of the people.
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Argentina is often called the Soy Republic (though Soy Regime would be more accurate), as the complete domination of the national economy by the Roundup Ready soy system is far more advanced here than for GMOs in any other country. But through the same circumstance Argentina has also seen the most comprehensive gathering of evidence documenting the health devastation wrought by Roundup.
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*A federal court is now extending the same hooded-judge in camera secrecy provisions we’re already enduring in cases where the government fraudulently invokes “national security” to corporate invocations of secrecy and “security”. The judges in Monsanto’s SLAPP suit against the people of Maui have accepted corporate submissions as evidence but are making only heavily redacted versions accessible to the defense. This is of course standard procedure in the corporate tribunals convened under globalization pacts like NAFTA, a jurisdiction of direct corporate dictatorship which will be vastly expanded if the TTIP and/or TPP go into effect.
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But as we see, the US federal courts are avoiding the rush. This secrecy regime, which already encompasses the void left behind where the scientific and academic establishment has abdicated even the pretense of integrity and legitimacy, is now being extended even to the basics of courtroom procedure. The courts shall increasingly be nothing but corporate kangaroo courts. This is the only way Monsanto can sustain its lies.
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These must be our principles: 1. Where it’s kept secret, and where they refuse to test at all, we can assume the worst must be true. The corporations and government would certainly trumpet to the skies any bona fide evidence which was good for their position.
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2. We reject all their secretive “studies” out of hand since these are based on secret alleged data which may not even exist at all, and at any rate does not scientifically exist, since only public data can scientifically exist.
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*Brazilian bioregulator CTNBio went ahead as expected and approved commercial cultivation of GM eucalyptus trees. The Campaign to Stop GE Trees denounces the decision as an illegal violation of the Convention on Biodiversity (to which Brazil is a signatory) and the Precautionary Principle. GM eucalyptus, if it is in fact more profitable for industrial foresters as expected on account of its faster growth, will only accelerate Brazilian rainforest destruction escalate the resultant carbon emissions and destruction of biodiversity. Contrary to the lies of pro-GM activists, all previous “efficiency” gains in industrial forestry only led to greater acreage being destroyed and given over to monoculture plantations. Of course GM trees growing for over five years will also spread their contaminated pollen far more widely than GM annual crops, to related trees and to honey production. And we can still expect a revival of 2013’s attempt to use GM eucalyptus as the camel’s nose in the tent for the Terminator gene, which Monsanto must be ardent to deploy in such crops as Brazil’s Intacta soybean.
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*This month the European Commission is expected to release rules for a new regulatory protocol for EFSA approval of GMOs for importation in food and feed. Friends of the Earth is criticizing a leaked draft promising the new importation approval system will be the same kind of sham as the cultivation approval protocol. In both cases, member states are allegedly to have an improved way to opt out of any GMO approvals. But these opt out provisions will actually be more onerous than the status quo, and will explicitly disallow national bans based on criteria the EFSA assesses, namely health and environmental concerns. This means that the pro-GM EFSA shall be officially enshrined as the only legal arbiter of the science of GMO-related health and environmental issues, which also happen to be the only WTO-allowed criteria for enacting what it would otherwise ban as “barriers to trade”. Meanwhile, the criteria which the new EU opt-out protocol will allow, such as socioeconomic and cultural effects, are precisely those banned by the WTO. So the goal here is to effectively outlaw EU member state bans on GMO cultivation or importation through a bureaucratic Catch-22. The new plan makes some noises about “co-existence” and anti-contamination measures, but will have zero enforcement provisions. Nor does anyone seriously think it will be possible to police the intra-European borders vs. the free flow of imported GM products.
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And what do member states have to give in return for this treacherous form of “opt-out”? Nothing but the surrender of their prior power to block Europe-wide approvals in the European Council, and their acquiescence in a general “streamlining” of the EFSA approval system.
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So the EC’s goal is to open the floodgates to EFSA approvals Europe-wide, inundate the continent with imported GM products (and undermine labeling rules), and make it easy for rogue states who want to allow chaotic GMO cultivation to do so, thereby greatly increasing the rate of general European contamination by GMOs.
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April 11, 2015

Yet Another Study Proves GMOs Are Not “Substantially Equivalent” Even Among Themselves, Let Alone To Non-GM Crops

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A new study compared two varieties of Monsanto’s MON810 insecticidal maize under optimal conditions and under two kinds of environmental stress: Cold and wet conditions, and hot and dry. According to the pro-GM activists, in the case of both varieties: 1. The transgene should be equally active. 2. It should express equal levels of the Bt toxin (Cry1AB, vs. corn borers and other lepidopteran larvae). 3. There should be a clear, constant ratio of transgene activity to Bt expression. 4. Environmental stresses should have no effect on 1-3. 5. If there is any effect, it should be the same in both varieties.
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The results were quite different:
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1. Under optimal conditions, transgenic action (gauged by the RT-PCR test) was similar, but the average Bt content (tested by ELISA) was higher in one variety than the other.
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2. Under cold/wet conditions, the Bt content increased in one variety but not the other.
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3. Hot/dry conditions, transgenic expression was significantly lower in one variety, but this did not affect Bt content.
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The researchers concluded that even though transgene expression was similar under “normal” conditions, Bt content is affected also by the genetics of the original maize variety, and will therefore vary chaotically from variety to variety (a given transgene will be bred into often dozens of varieties). Under stress conditions the Bt content is highly unpredictable. Inconsistent Bt expression will help the target insects develop resistance, another refutation of the scam “refuge” policy.
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Based on these results, the crop science group Testbiotech is calling for all authorizations of Bt GMOs to be suspended while a new safety review protocol is drawn up and put into effect, as this study demonstrates how chaotic the real-world transgenic behavior and Bt production of these GMOs is. Researcher Angelika Hilbeck noted that this study, along with several previous studies which also found chaotic variation in Bt expression, refute the entire paradigm of “safety assessment” as deployed by regulators, as this assumes consistent levels of the poison in the product. It also refutes advertising which promises a given level of “active ingredient” in the product. Buying the seeds of a poison plant is, after all, the same thing as buying a gallon of chemical pesticide.
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As is standard with regulators all over the world including in the US, the EU’s EFSA assessments do almost nothing to assess the real-world performance of GMOs. (Much like how only ivory tower glyphosate is subjected to only meager testing, while real-world Roundup is subjected to none, and the bogus testing of Roundup Ready GMOs doesn’t include spraying them with Roundup!) No one has the slightest idea what the real world effects of changing environmental conditions will be on GMO performance, and the subsequent effects on human and animal health, beneficial insects, and soil ecosystems.

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April 10, 2015

GMO News Report April 10th, 2015

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*Unlike comparable organizations in the West, Brazil’s National Cancer Institute (INCA) is capable of connecting simple dots. Even the WHO now acknowledges that glyphosate causes cancer. INCA reiterates this and the many other health afflictions caused by glyphosate and other poisons, and goes on to state the obvious, that it’s herbicide tolerant GMOs which are by far the main driver of this great surge of glyphosate use, and therefore of the cancer caused by it.
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As if in direct contradiction of the Cancer Institute, Brazil’s “regulator” CTNBio issued cultivation approvals for soybeans and corn engineered to be tolerant to another cancer-causing herbicide, 2,4-D, as well as water-guzzling, deforestation-driving GM eucalyptus, whose prolific pollen spread promises to quickly contaminate all related trees across the environment.
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*Chinese citizens are suing the government trying to force it to disclose the secret information it has on Roundup and the process by which it approved Roundup. We see how the Chinese government is at one with those of the US and EU in wanting to help Monsanto and other corporations keep the actual evidence about the effects of chemicals like Roundup secret from the people. The escalating democracy campaign to force disclosure of how much the corporations and governments really know about how deadly these agricultural poisons really are becomes all the more critical as we learn more and more about the health and environmental devastation being wrought by Roundup, including the gathering avalanche of knowledge about how it causes cancer.
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The fact is that by definition there cannot be secret scientific evidence. By definition evidence has to be publicized, so we can assume that the secrecy is in fact a cover-up. We must assume that whatever evidence does exist condemns glyphosate (and GMOs) as harmful to health and the environment, which is the reason why corporations and governments want to keep this evidence secret. Meanwhile the public assurances are nothing but propaganda and lies. No legitimate model of science or democracy can come to any other conclusion.
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*Food and Water Watch filed a pair of petitions with the FDA calling upon the agency to follow the law and regulate GMO salmon as the food containing a new additive it clearly is, rather than as an “animal drug”, the way the FDA has been preferring to do. The food additive review process is, in theory, more rigorous and more strongly applies the precautionary principle.
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*In a court filing forced out of it, Monsanto now admits it bankrolled the legal defense of the contract GMO “farmer” who trespassed upon and contaminated West Australian organic farmer Steve Marsh’s land, causing him to lose his certification and costing him his livelihood. It’s no surprise that Monsanto would see the outcome of this case as important for its future revenue and power, since one of the basic elements of government assistance it depends upon is the “co-existence” lie in general and in particular the de facto legal doctrine that where it comes to transgenic trespass and vandalism, the law is presumptively on the side of the aggressor, while it’s the legal and financial responsibility of the target to avoid being assaulted, or simply to submit to it and plant the herbicide tolerant GMOs himself. So among other things it’s a protection racket. In this case, the 2014 trial decision admitted that “co-existence” is impossible even as it reaffirmed the pro-polluter, pro-trespasser, pro-vandal, pro-aggressor doctrine. Since then the legal dispute has been over the trial judge’s order that March pay the Monsanto contractor’s legal fees. It was in that context that Marsh’s legal team was able to force Monsanto’s divulgence, since legal costs can be awarded only for a principal’s out of pocket expenses.
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*Most of the attention to the EU’s revamped “subsidiarity” policy for GMO approvals has focused on GMO cultivation. Now the Commission is about to release its new rules for approval of imported GMOs in food and feed. The main loophole in the EU’s GMO labeling policy is that meat and dairy from animals which were fed GMOs doesn’t have to be labeled, although many supermarket chains eschew GM feed for their own meat and dairy brands. Member states opposed to GM importations have generally been unable to prevent imported feed from entering their own supply chains, but have instead focused on blocking import approval in the first place. Although the details are unclear right now, both the Commission and civil society campaigners are expecting that the new rules, generally dedicated to “streamlining” regulation (i.e. making it more pro-corporate), will make it harder for member states to block EFSA import approval at the outset. There will be fig-leaf “opt out” provisions, but as a practical matter for a member state to opt out of allowing an imported processed product, which will easily cross the border in any number of ways, will be more difficult than opting out of allowing cultivation of a GMO.
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*In its desperation to claim some kind, any kind of support for the TPP and TTIP globalization assaults, the Obama administration released a set of quotes from the always reliable corporate environmentalist front groups the WWF and the Nature Conservancy, along with some other bogus NGOs, which expressed these groups’ “environmentalist” support for the pacts. Although the cowards are now trying to backpedal by claiming they have not technically endorsed these corporate anti-constitutions, the pieces and submissions are loaded with the sycophancy, lies, and neoliberal propaganda we’d expect from the the WWF and their treacherous like.

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