Volatility

February 6, 2016

GMOs Increase Pesticide Use and Have Made Cancer-Causing Glyphosate the World’s #1 Pesticide

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*Charles Benbrook has published a new study quantifying the skyrocketing use of glyphosate since the introduction of GM crops engineered to resist it. Use skyrockets because of the spread of Roundup Ready GMOs and the equally prodigious spread of Roundup Resistant weeds, requiring more frequent and heavier applications of glyphosate to have any effect at all. This of course only accelerates the development of resistance. From the Abstract: “Globally, glyphosate use has risen almost 15-fold since so-called “Roundup Ready,” genetically engineered glyphosate-tolerant crops were introduced in 1996.” The report finds that GMOs account for 56% of global glyphosate use.
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This was the result fully intended by Monsanto and the US government. A weed control regime based on Roundup was supposed to eradicate crop rotation, cover cropping and other elements of a sane, agronomically sound weed control system, and instead commit the entire system to ever-increasing, ever more brainless and stupid slathering of poison. This is because corporations and corporate governments have a pro-poison ideological bias and impose upon themselves a policy mandate to maximize the production and use of poison. They do this because they see it as increasing their control and power, including in the form of profit. GMOs were designed to greatly increase pesticide use. It was always self-evidently absurd from any point of view to believe the Big Lie that GMOs were ever designed to reduce this, or that they could do so even if anyone had ever wanted them to. It was never possible to be in doubt that weeds and pests would consistently develop resistance, and at an accelerating rate, since the phenomenon of the pesticide treadmill goes back many decades prior to the advent of GMOs. In the same way, all sane people know that the exact same result will overtake GMOs based on 2,4-D, dicamba, or any other herbicide, and the same for all Bt and RNAi insecticidal GMOs. There’s zero doubt about any of this. This was built into the plan from the start as standard planned obsolescence, both for conventional profiteering reasons and to continually aggrandize the poison-driven corporate system thereby increasing its agronomic control, and from there its control over the economy and politics in general. Again, it was always self-evident that corporations which sell poison would develop only products which would help them sell more poison. How hard is this? This may be the best of the many examples of how fundamentally stupid pro-GMO activists and sympathizers are.
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“Glyphosate will likely remain the most widely applied pesticide worldwide for years to come, and interest will grow in quantifying ecological and human health impacts.” These impacts are already known to be devastating. As Monsanto and the EPA have known since the late 1970s and the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer confirmed in 2015, glyphosate causes cancer. It also causes severe birth defects and reproductive problems. This is in addition to its many other health assaults and its destructive effect on bees, soil, and the environment in general. If it’s not banned soon it will cause the extinction of the monarch butterfly.
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Glyphosate must be abolished with all due speed.

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February 5, 2016

GMO News Summary, February 5th 2016

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*The ChemChina/Syngenta deal is near complete. “ChemChina, as the closely-held company is known, offered $465 a share in cash, according to a statement on Wednesday. The offer, endorsed by Syngenta’s board, is about 20 percent higher than the stock’s last close.” China has long been planning to build its own GMO/pesticide conglomerate and assert itself globally in competition with the US-based cartel. Syngenta’s chairman has suggested that he thinks Syngenta could become China’s primary supplier of GM technology and primary Western partner for China’s project. Bloomberg complacently comments on how China and Syngenta will nevertheless submit to US review and veto power over the deal, because “even though Syngenta isn’t based in the U.S, it does have North American operations that generated $3.6 billion in sales last year” which the US could threaten to hinder and harm in some way if the company doesn’t stay in line. Although Syngenta is more diversified across the pesticide line (which is economically prior to and more important than GM seeds) than Monsanto and therefore relatively better positioned (but over the long run the fundamentals are bad for all of industrial agriculture), Syngenta evidently is being subject to stick-ups by both China and the US.
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This is part of the intensifying Great Game for total control of agriculture and food. The agrochemical conglomerates are at the peak of their power, but their position has never been more precarious. Having been aced out of a Syngenta deal, if Monsanto doesn’t make a deal with BASF or something similar they might be in deep trouble.
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*One of my four featured yahoos who impersonate scientists is still at it. More detail on Bruce Chassy’s ongoing career as a mercenary fraud. In spite of his claims about his scientific credentials, he actually has zero credentials in agriculture, food science, medicine, biology, or genetics. Yet the FDA and the University of Illinois, and of course the media, have joined in perpetrating the fraud that he does have some kind of expertise in these areas.
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*Here’s another example of the pro-GMO activists’ standard attitude toward truth and morality. Critics of poison agriculture are accusing the Genetic Illiteracy Project of publishing personal information and changing headlines and text when reposting their pieces. More amusingly, those complaining of tampering with headlines and text include such pro-GMO activists as Keith Kloor, Anastasia Bodnar of Biofalsified, Helena Bottemiller, and Julie Kelly. Now they’re all whining about “unethical practices”, which is quite rich coming from the likes of Kloor and company. Of course the GIP’s systematic lying on behalf of cancer-causing poisons and corporate domination of agriculture and food doesn’t bother them one bit, since such Nuremburg lies are their trade as well.
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*The Indian central government is admitting in court what farmers and critics have known for over ten years, that Bt cotton is an extremely failure prone product. The admission comes in a court proceeding where the government is defending its imposition of price controls on the shoddy seeds against a challenge from Mahyco-Monsanto. The corporations especially object to the government’s placement of limits on the tax Monsanto collects on cotton seed sales. The government admits that it allowed Monsanto to attain a near-monopoly on cotton seed. (It also actively encouraged this monopoly.) But between the tax and the generally very poor performance of the crop farmers can no longer afford to plant it. This is driving the suicide epidemic among small cotton farmers in India. This price control policy, along with the latest of the many Karnataka bailouts, is just the latest in the long line of central and state government bailouts, price controls, and bans on shoddy seeds.
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*The political struggle continues over that same Indian central government’s imminent approval of Bt mustard for commercial release. The opposition to this and to GM crops in general has included several elements of the Modi government’s coalition such as farmer unions and “nationalist” types. In defiance of prior court decisions and transparency law the government is keeping secret the biosafety dossier from the field trials and any lab testing which has been done, which is proof that the evidence is very bad regarding the GM product’s agronomic behavior and health and safety implications. As far as GM contamination we don’t really need the secret data, as the crop’s lead developer Deepak Pental has freely admitted that “the crossing of the transgenic gene to other non-GM mustard varieties is expected.” It certainly is expected to happen especially broadly and rapidly with brassicas. Indeed contamination is so universally documented and economic policy is so relentless in seeking to normalize ever increasing levels of “adventitious presence”* that we have to call it a primary purpose of the GMO project. Meanwhile public health campaigner Aruna Rodrigues filed a petition with the supreme court for an injunction against the government’s plans to approve herbicide tolerant mustard, cotton, and corn. In 2013 the court-appointed Technical Expert Committee, in addition to advising strong precautions and transparency where it comes to GMOs in general, found that herbicide tolerant GMOs as such would be economically inappropriate for India.
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(It’s hard to tell exactly what kind of GM mustard is being talked about in various contexts, in particular which is the one supposedly about to be approved for commercial release. Most pieces I’ve seen called it Bt mustard, but the last few days they’ve been talking about a product which would be herbicide tolerant as well.)
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[*According to EuropaBio lobbying, TTIP negotiations, and the Grocery Manufacturers’ Association’s proposed GMO labeling standards, where it comes to GM contamination of the general agriculture, commodity stream, and food supply the regulatory threshold for “non-GMO” is supposed to increase mechanically as the contamination becomes more prevalent, in the exact same way that regulators mechanically increase the “tolerance” levels for pesticide residues in food. This is one of several reasons why it’s utopian to think the FDA could ever apply a strong GMO labeling policy: The FDA would mechanically raise the legally allowed level of contamination which would be called “adventitious” as the chronic contamination increased. Therefore the level of GM material in a product which would require it to be labeled “contains genetically engineered ingredients”, and beneath which it would not have to carry a label, would continually, automatically increase. The FDA would also preempt any state law or voluntary body like the Non-GMO Project from imposing a more rigorous standard.]
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*GMO contamination is a systematic policy goal. The USDA and Monsanto will never stop until they are stopped once and for all. Here we have documentary proof that the most far-ranging and aggressive contamination is a core part of the intended goal.
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*This interview with Marc Edwards, a scientist who helped expose the poisoning of the Flint water supply, is a case study in how normal science really works under corporate rule. He speaks to how rare it is for the scientific method, falsification and all, to actually be applied, and what happens when a scientist actually does work that way. Here’s a quote from the piece:
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Q. I keep coming back to these university researchers in Flint who said: “The state has 50 epidemiologists. They say that the water’s safe. So I’m going to focus my energy on something that’s less settled.” How do you decide when the state should be challenged?

A. That’s a great question. We are not skeptical enough about each other’s results. What’s the upside in that? You’re going to make enemies. People might start questioning your results. And that’s going to start slowing down our publication assembly line. Everyone’s invested in just cranking out more crap papers.

So when you start asking questions about people, and you approach them as a scientist, if you feel like you’re talking to an adult and they give you a rational response and are willing to share data and discuss an issue rationally, I’m out of there. I go home.

But when you reach out to them, as I did with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and they do not return your phone calls, they do not share data, they do not respond to FOIA [open-records requests], y’know. … In each case I just started asking questions and turning over rocks, and I resolved to myself, The second something slimy doesn’t come out, I’m gonna go home. But every single rock you turn over, something slimy comes out.

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Unfortunately Edwards isn’t yet the kind of public health campaigner we the people need since he still thinks and talks in terms of restoring trust in the system even though he just testified to how the system is depraved beyond redemption. That’s not the first time I’ve seen the same notion coming from a partially dissident scientist, that “restoring trust in the system” as such is somehow supposed to be one of the goals. A true dissident, which by now also means anyone who has scientific integrity, must work to demolish the credibility, legitimacy, and authority of an establishment “science” system which has become completely anti-scientific under corporate directives and in furtherance of corporate rule.
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*Corporate Europe Observatory has released a new report on the corporate attempt in Europe to have the newer kinds of GMOs arbitrarily declared outside the bounds of regulation. This parallels the USDA’s campaign to exempt more and more GMOs from its own purview.
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This would include exemption from labeling requirements for all so-called “second generation” GMOs developed via gene editing and so-called “cisgenesis”* The report specifically highlights how GM apples and potatoes are supposed to be exempted from regulation including labeling. Here’s another reason why it’s impossible to get real labeling from the FDA. The agency whose primary religious dogma is that GMOs are “substantially equivalent” to true crops and which abdicated nearly all regulatory oversight will certainly follow the USDA’s lead in declaring the second generation GMOs not to be GMOs at all for purposes of labeling.
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[*A de jure and de facto fraud. Even where the main transgene is from the same species, the cisgenesis gene cassette includes several elements from other species, such as a viral promoter. And the violent, mutation-inducing insertion and tissue culture procedures are the same as for any other GMO. So nothing’s different. “Cisgenesis” is a scientifically meaningless term, a pure propaganda/marketing hoax.]
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Although we must fight these lawless attempts, we the people should fully reciprocate the mindset that GMOs and their activists are outlaws in the full medieval sense of the term, exactly as they say they want to be.
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This and the earlier point about contamination highlight not only the impossibility of any real FDA labeling, but how the idea of labeling is misguided in principle. Here we have two examples of how a very slow, clumsy, often static labeling policy would try to keep track of a fast-moving, crafty GMO target, and would try to do this within the “co-existence” framework which everyone knows is impossible. Labeling sounded good and maybe even sufficient when the idea was first broached all those years ago. By now we’ve learned enough to know that it’s insufficient and not worth being any kind of significant goal. It’s time to move beyond the concept of labeling as anything more than an organizational tool, and to full abolition as the necessary, fully conscious goal, and adapt all organizational principle, strategy, and tactics to that.
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*The people of California’s Sonoma County are working for a county-level ban on GMO cultivation. They look to join the growing list of counties in California, Oregon, and Hawaii which have passed such bans. These county-level bans have had mixed fortunes in the courts, but in the long run the courts can never be the source of the people’s health and freedom. Only our political will can do that, and if we find this will the “law” will follow.

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January 29, 2016

GMO News Summary, January 29th, 2016

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*The court decision refusing the EPA’s request that it temporarily rescind Enlist Duo’s registration is going to get its own post. For the moment I’ll point out that even if you don’t think the courts are corrupted beyond redemption, here we have proof that the law itself certainly is. If it’s true that the law is so calcified and maladaptive that it can’t react when a toxicity situation arises which is so dire that even the EPA wants to slow down and take another look, then that’s proof of a terminally busted system of law. We have to get it straight, in addition to all its de jure evils, this system does not work.
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*The fighters of Argentina continue to stand tall blocking Monsanto’s poison factory.
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*Here’s more on the attempt to partially repeal Oregon’s preemption law which was passed to crush the groundswell of county-level democracy action. One good paragraph concisely describes why it’s impossible for the state government of Oregon to make assertive agricultural policy which would be just, rational, or practical.
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So currently, although there are seven distinct geographical agricultural sectors in Oregon, each with different agricultural emphases, (for example, apples in Hood River, alfalfa in the Klamath Basin, brassica seed in the Willamette Valley), none of these sectors now have the right, either democratically or through a court of law, to address their own particular agricultural concerns, even regarding weed seeds. Can you see which way the wind is blowing?

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Imagine how much less possible it is for the federal government to be legitimate or rational in asserting itself over hundreds of distinct foodsheds and watersheds? When we ponder those who claim to care about food and agriculture but who still believe in federal power over these, only “better”, it sure looks like their level of knowledge and policy position is similar to Monsanto’s, only from a superficially different angle. What does this mean where it comes to NGOs and GM labeling advocates who want things like a preemptive FDA labeling standard or the “Food Safety Modernization Act”? (How’s that for an Orwellian name?) They’re just as ignorant as Monsanto and often as arrogant, only from a superficially different point of view. That’s one reason I don’t trust them to ever really draw a line in the sand and say “no further.” (For example the party line seems to be, “support preemption only if the FDA policy is at least as strong as Vermont’s”. I don’t believe they’ll hold to that, and since such an FDA policy is impossible anyway, because that’s not what the FDA does or wants to do, what’s the point of saying such a thing, other than to buy time for further triangulation?) Their underlying logic is basically the same as that of the corporations. Also in the clear fact that democracy in itself is no principle for them and has no value to them at all.
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A federal labeling law is the worst possible “solution”, since it’s guaranteed to be a preemptive sham, meant to lead in the wrong direction and waste time and resources we don’t have to waste. As the history proves, preemption never works the way so many people seem to want to hope and believe. The only point of it is to force the lowest standards. Otherwise why would any “stakeholder” want it? Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
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*Dueling Monsanto lawsuits, one as plaintiff, two new ones (two more of many) as defendant. Monsanto is suing California trying to prevent the state’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) from listing glyphosate on the list of carcinogens. This would impose some labeling requirements and restrictions on its use. Monsanto’s complaint is just a bunch of whining with no substance whatsoever. I’ll be writing more about this lawsuit separately.
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Meanwhile the city of Seattle has filed the latest lawsuit trying to force Monsanto to pay for a cleanup of the PCBs still ubiquitous in sediments of the city’s drainage system and the Duwamish River. Monsanto lied for decades about PCBs although it knew of their toxicity at least since 1937. A major reason for the corporate reshuffling Monsanto undertook in order to dump its industrial chemical division Solutia in 2002 was to try to unload its PCB liability. This hasn’t worked so far, though the penalties aren’t even in the same galaxy with what the company, its executives, its technicians and its salesmen deserve. And the Nuremburg-actionable lies continue still to this day. Just as the CEO of Solutia continued to lie for years, so Monsanto lies today:
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“PCBs sold at the time were a lawful and useful product that was then incorporated by third parties into other useful products. If improper disposal or other improper uses allowed for necessary clean up costs, then these other third parties would bear responsibility for these costs.”

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This is a direct Nuremburg lie. Monsanto has known since the 1930s that PCBs as such are extremely toxic. They cause cancer, birth defects, and horrible skin and organ symptoms. Over the 1950s-60s Monsanto accumulated very detailed knowledge and sought systematically to cover it up. See Marie-Monique Robin’s The World According to Monsanto for a detailed history of this and many of Monsanto’s other crimes against humanity. Monsanto adhered to this stonewalling strategy for decades. So it was Monsanto which lied to its customers and encouraged these third parties to incorporate the PCB product without warning them of what it knew about the danger.
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Finally, in California Brenda and James Huerta are suing Monsanto for giving them cancer through chronic long-term exposures to Roundup spraying while they lived on a commercial sod farm in the state’s Riverside County. Here the law is geared to protect the seller and the sprayer. Even if the US and California state governments recognized glyphosate as carcinogenic (as we just mentioned Monsanto is currently suing to prevent the state from recognizing it as such, while the US EPA denies it), it would generally be considered impossible to ascribe a particular case of cancer to the product. And if all else failed, Monsanto would try to claim the sprayer didn’t adhere to the label requirements for application. Farmer scapegoating is standard wherever straight lies and denial don’t work.
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These are reasons why the abolitionist position must be to impose strict liability on all manufacturers, sellers, and users of a poisonous product for all harms which come from it. In a legal sense they’re all part of one big conspiracy to promote cancer, and since it is usually not feasible to identify the “particular” culprit in a given case, all must be held equally responsible. I propose the same standard for pesticide drift effects, for any campaign against 2,4-D and dicamba GMOs. Strict liability first as a philosophical and polemical plank, wherever possible as a demand for legal reform, and always as the Nuremburg standard which must be imposed once we the people take back the power.
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So we have dueling lawsuits. Monsanto sues California for saying glyphosate causes cancer, citizens are suing Monsanto for giving them cancer, Seattle files the latest of many lawsuits because Monsanto systematically sickened and murdered people with PCBs and to this day systematically lies about it. The EPA, FDA, and USDA say Monsanto is a good, honest citizen. Who do you trust about Roundup?
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*More data on glyphosate residues in urine, as monitored over 15 years by Germany’s federal environmental agency. The levels are lower than EFSA “tolerance” limits, which means little. Regulators mechanically raise these legal levels in accord with how much poison the manufacturer expects to sell. In itself this is a strong indicator of the regulators’ poison-maximizing ideology. The procedure has zero scientific content and exists at all only as a political farce, to make it look like the regulator is “protecting” us. Scientifically, like all pesticides glyphosate is an endocrine disruptor which means it causes cancer and birth defects at ultra-low doses, and there is no safe level. The German agency also warned that formulations are far more toxic than glyphosate by itself. In other words, bad as this is, it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
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*Here’s one thing that won’t wait for labeling to be gotten right over however many years that would take. If we don’t want to see the monarch butterfly go extinct within our lifetimes, we have to abolish glyphosate NOW. Anything else is just empty talk.
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There’s a new petition to the world’s most pro-Monsanto, pro-Roundup government, calling for better action for the monarch. Seems far-fetched, but it’s possible if there were enough of a groundswell on everything from monarchs to cancer, the system might be forced to sacrifice Roundup as long as it thought it could preserve the rest of the poison regime. But this will require a full-scale social movement toward this goal. (The goal of abolishing glyphosate must be part of the broader goal of abolishing poison-based agriculture, but we can also choose particular campaigns for special focus.) Things like petitions not rooted in a movement grounding will be blown off like the air they are. The prognosis is clear. Unless glyphosate is completely banned, it’ll be the end of the monarch. Americans are going to have to choose once and for all. What’ll it be, the monarch or Monsanto? You can’t have both.
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*Gilles-Eric Seralini has performed another of his thorough and damning analyses of GMO trial data. This time he analyzed the trial data and the subsequent veterinary records from the 1997-2002 dairy cow feeding trial in Germany with silage from Syngenta’s Bt176 maize. This was one of the ominous incidents in GMO history. The animals became badly ill, many died, the records were analyzed by Syngenta and the German government, and farmer Gottfried Glöckner sued the company. Although Syngenta has always denied the GMO had anything to do with the epidemic, it paid off Glöckner and pulled Bt176 from the market. Now Seralini, assisted by Glöckner, has analyzed all the records and concluded that Bt176 “provoked long-term toxic effects on mammals”. There are many anecdotal reports of similar epidemics stemming from diets with a heavy Bt crop proportion, among farm workers in South Africa and livestock in India.
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The action needed is not, however, “more testing” as Seralini calls for. He’s a scientist so of course that’s his first thought. But in fact this new evidence adds to what’s already conclusive proof – Bt-expressing GMOs don’t work and are dangerous to human, animal, and environmental health. They must be abolished, not tested over and over again forever. Every time I see the “more testing” call I wonder how much evidence would finally satisfy people. There’s far more than enough to satisfy anyone without a strong investment in the poison system itself, if that evidence is propagated competently and relentlessly and in the context of the affirmative Food Sovereignty idea. On the other hand, without this work even a hundred times as much evidence would be of little use.
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*Meanwhile the state government of Idaho is acknowledging a pesticide crisis. Here they let potato farmers apply methyl bromide, which of course suffused the soil. The poison then became part of the tissue of a subsequent alfalfa crop whose poisoned hay caused “deformities and sickness” in cattle which fed upon it. “Additionally, test samples of wheat, barley, potatoes, alfalfa, tomato, corn and straw grown on other treated fields also showed some level of bromide.” The state agriculture department told the legislature that the soil needs an emergency cleanup, of course asking for taxpayer money to be provided for the necessary research and work. To the great injury of the poisoning of our food and soil they now add the insult of expecting the people, not the criminals, to pay to clean it up.
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If GMOs tolerant of 2,4-D and dicamba are deployed on a large scale, the result will be this same quarantine of the soil and destruction of vast swaths of crops from the toxic drift. The whole thing, everywhere, sums to one vast moral insult. This insult shall never be made whole until we the people apply all moral force necessary to abolish these poisons.
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.*The Indian state of Karnataka is yet again having to prepare a farmer bailout after yet another Bt cotton disaster. This time the target pest, the pink bollowrm, simply feasted as if the two Bt toxins and neonics weren’t even there. Karnataka will yet again have to decide whether and how to demand the seed companies pay farmer compensation. Karnataka is one of the states most severely devastated by the suicide epidemic among Indian small cotton farmers. The state really ought to launch a transformation program away from commodity production and toward organic production, as fellow state Sikkim is proving can be done on a large scale.
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Another Bt cotton blunder may soon be history, as Burkina Faso’s farmers and seed dealers are abandoning the product. The country’s experience with Bt cotton has paralleled that of other countries, including the crop’s poor performance under anything but optimal conditions. Burkina Faso also experienced low-quality lint production even when the overall boll yield was good. This problem, which has also been seen in India, seems to be related to pleiotropic effects from Monsanto’s breeding its Bt cultivar into the pirated regional Burknabe variety. Here’s the latest proof of how imprecise and unpredictable genetic engineering is. It’s always a crapshoot. Monsanto is implicitly admitting this as it’s now frantically “backcrossing its Bt varieties into a new local cultivar.” But farmers seem to be fed up with the whole Bt cotton concept, as have been all non-rich farmers who ever tried to work with it. It’s a shoddy product, in addition to its health dangers.
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Food sovereignty and civil society campaigners are confident that Burkina Faso’s rejection of Bt cotton will help steel African resolve to resist this and other GMOs. The struggle continues in Kenya as farmer and civil society groups oppose proposals to lift the government’s moratorium on cultivation and importation of GMO products. In recent weeks the government has indicated it will soon approve cultivation of Bt maize, but missed a scheduled press conference. For more on the truth of the corporate-driven food insecurity in Africa which GMOs promise to make much worse, see here.
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*Canadian environmental groups Ecology Action Centre and Living Oceans Society are suing the government to overturn a 2013 ruling which threatens to allow the grow-out of GM salmon under conditions exceeding those allowed by Canadian environmental law.
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*Much ado about the temporary retraction of a paper by Italian researchers documenting transgenic DNA fragments persisting in the tissues of animals fed GM feed. The retraction is on grounds of what the retracting journal calls an “honest error” involving the reuse of some images which had appeared in an earlier paper by the same researchers. The study’s basic findings remain intact. In a sign of how desperate the pro-GMO activists are, they whooped it up as if this technicality constituted some kind of evidence in their favor. The GMWatch piece does a good job detailing the hypocrisy and double standards of the GMO lobby and corporate media. In fact even if this particular study’s substantive finding were in doubt, it would be just be one drop retracted from a lake of evidence. GMWatch adds:
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Several years ago we at GMWatch were reprimanded by a government scientist (who was emphatically not anti-GMO) for our naive belief that we still had to ‘prove’ that GM DNA was detectable in the tissues of animals that ate GM feed. This fact, the scientist pointed out, was “not controversial and we have known it for a long time”. The only controversial aspect was whether such GM DNA had any biological effect on animals that was different from the effects of non-GM DNA.

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I think it’s time for the whole movement to be more confident about what’s been proven beyond any doubt and go from there, rather than imply we’re willing to keep running in place forever needing “more study”, as if we ourselves weren’t 100% confident in the existing evidence. Endless calls for “more data” are a classic sign of the Peter Principle in action.

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January 26, 2016

The USDA/Monsanto Deliberate Campaign to Contaminate All Alfalfa

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If successful, this campaign would lead to a Monsanto monopoly on alfalfa seed and render organic meat and dairy impossible under the current USDA standards. The USDA has always wanted GMOs to qualify under the organic standard, and has long seen GM alfalfa as a mode of attack to bring on this result.
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Persistence Proves Intent. If the US government and Monsanto see that this surging contamination is an inevitable direct effect of their action in deploying GM alfalfa and they continue with the deployment, that proves that this contamination is part of the intended effect. The major effects of a large-scale action are always an organic whole. It’s never true that a necessary government policy has ambivalent results. On the contrary, the major effects are always the desired effects, because if the government desired different effects, there’s always an alternative which could preserve the “good” effects without the allegedly “bad”. There’s really no such thing as “collateral damage”. That’s just a propaganda distinction to help with the lie that some effects weren’t sought by the policy-maker and are deplored by it. But if there really were major effects which the government did not anticipate and found bad, it would change the policy so as no longer to produce those effects in a major way. Persistence proves either that the effect, if truly unanticipated, is nevertheless welcome, or else that it was anticipated and consciously intended all along. Morally and practically it makes no difference. The major effects of an action comprise an organic whole, so anyone who wants one characteristic effect of an action will anticipate and want its other effects and will welcome any major effect he didn’t anticipate.
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In the case of GM alfalfa there’s no question that USDA and Monsanto had full prior knowledge of its extremely high rate of contamination. It’s a perennial pollinated by wide-ranging bees. So as soon as GM alfalfa is planted it’s off on an imperialistic campaign for the next 4-8 years. Indeed, the USDA was aware of contamination of alfalfa seed stocks just from GM field trials at least as early as 2005. There’s zero doubt that the rapid contamination was consciously anticipated.
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As for the contamination effect being desired, if the US government didn’t want to contaminate the entire alfalfa crop it would not have allowed and encouraged Monsanto to deploy the product. Some alternatives within the capitalist framework include the ante-biotech status quo, encouraging integrated weed management, government subsidies for hand-weeding labor instead of herbicide, encouraging greater organic production. Of course there’s a vastly better alternative to globalized corporate agriculture as such, but here I’m just sticking with options available to the USDA given its capitalist premises. The fact is that the government would not have set up the system the way it has in such a way as to maximize contamination, if it did not want to maximize this contamination.
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Monsanto’s own interest in total contamination is of course obvious and I assume uncontroversial. If Monsanto’s Roundup Ready gene can contaminate the rest of the alfalfa crop such as to render unattainable any of the benefits organic or non-GM conventional growers hope to gain – an organic premium, overseas markets for non-GM hay – then the company could expect farmers to take on the “if you can’t beat’em, join’em” mindset and just adopt the Roundup Ready system. There’s already ample precedent for this surrenderist attitude among farmers and academics. Monsanto often has explicitly stated its totalitarian goals.
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What about the USDA? In general, a corporate regulator is designed to second the goals and actions of the most powerful corporations. Monsanto, stupid and clumsy as it’s been in many other ways (public relations, farmer relations, attitude toward agronomy), has been particularly adept and aggressive at imposing its will on government and making regulators want to serve it. (This makes it particularly bizarre and counterproductive when people still look to regulatory agencies to put limits on corporate action and uphold any value other than corporate power. A coherent, disciplined, aggressive, ecological populist movement can sometimes pressure government agencies from outside, against their will, to do what it wants. But this is only because as a coherent cultural and political movement it possesses power, never because the regulator wants to do it or inherently feels like it should do it. On the other hand a mass of consumerist atoms, no matter how many of them come together for a superficial comment period or petition or gripefest, or for a one-off superficial political campaign, can never exert such pressure because they don’t constitute coherent, directed power. That’s part of why there’s zero chance of an FDA GMO labeling policy being anything other than a preemptive sham, and why it’s madness or treason for those who claim to oppose GMOs and pesticides to want such a thing.)
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More fundamentally for our kind of example, the ideology of regulators of agricultural poisons is based on the Poison Principle. This means that no matter what the problem, the only conceivable solution is poison, more poison is always better than less, poison doesn’t just solve problems but is actively good, all comparative study is to compare only poison with poison and never poison with an alternative to poison, and that the regulator’s job at all times is to maximize poison production, sales, and application. In Poison Spring E. Vallianatos describes working in the “Benefits and Use” division at the EPA, where these terms were religiously understood to mean “benefit” for the corporations and the biggest industrial farmers, and “use” of poisons (starting from production and marketing) always to be allowed, encouraged, and maximized. Vallianatos’s whole book is devoted to detailing the strategic and tactical execution of this ideology on the part of the EPA and the horrific real world results. He remarks that at its founding the EPA was staffed largely by former USDA cadres who imported the USDA’s poisoner ideology. Jack Kloppenburg’s First the Seed is one of several excellent books describing the USDA’s extreme culture of poison-based and crackpot high-technology “solutions”.
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But for the supply-based corporate capitalism which is the fundamental paradigm of the globalization system, and therefore for the regulators, the problem is never anything more or less than the maximized production of the corporate product, and the solution is “finding” a market for this supply-driven production, through some combination of propaganda, incentives, public subsidies, threats, extortion, legal coercion, and violence. For example, the USDA offers special financial incentives to alfalfa growers who maximize their Roundup use, provides them with legal cover for transgenic trespass while stripping the victims of all legal protection, and threatens non-compliant alfalfa growers with GM contamination and economic extinction. This is because the USDA is suffused with the poisoner mindset and poisoner ideology. The USDA wants to maximize poison deployment. Therefore to the average USDA cadre, alfalfa with maximal roundup is better than with less or none. This is ideological and is prior to any mundane “corruption”, though there’s lots of this as well.
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For a more specific case, the USDA has always wanted GMOs to be part of the official organic certification. The agency included GMOs within its original proposed standards in the 1990s, and only a massive outcry from the farmers and consumers who were forcing the agency to adopt an organic standard in the first place forced it to back down on “GMO organic”. But to this day the USDA has never relinquished this wish. When it tries to define “new” kinds of GMOs such as those which have been “gene edited” as not being GMOs at all, this is primarily to excuse them from all regulatory oversight. (In itself this is a strong manifestation of the poisoner ideology. It’s rare to see a bureaucracy seeking so ardently to lessen its own power.) But it’s also toward the hope that CRISPR and other such GMOs will become certifiable as organic. (And also of exempting them from being subject to labeling if this ever were preemptively centralized under FDA control.)
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In the specific case of alfalfa, organic meat and dairy farmers are dependent upon a reliable supply of non-GM alfalfa for hay. If this supply became too unreliable or were completely eradicated, organic meat and dairy farming as we have it might become impossible. We already know that the USDA would like to force GMOs into the organic certification, and we already know that the USDA is aggressively pushing alfalfa GM contamination policy. It follows that a primary goal of the USDA, in addition to maximizing glyphosate use on alfalfa as such, is to disrupt permanently the supply of non-GM alfalfa in order to render the existing structure of organic meat and dairy impossible. At that point either consumers will have to submit to weakening the standards to allow GM feed for organic meat and dairy, or else we’ll have to give up organic meat and dairy completely. Since the “organic” brand is so important to so many, and since consumers have a history of pliability on such things, the most likely outcome is the submission and adaptation. Let’s recall how industrial agriculture flacks and government supporters used the occasion of the Steve Marsh lawsuit in Australia to argue for the weakening of Australian organic standards to allow more GM DNA presence. In a similar context, the general attitude toward the Syngenta/China flap wasn’t to criticize Syngenta’s lies or the commodity stream’s inefficiency and inflexibility, but rather to condemn the buyer for his preferences and call upon him to abandon those preferences. This is always the attitude of corporate fundamentalism. I haven’t yet seen such specific calls in the US as a result of the alfalfa contamination scandal, but if this call is not being made yet it soon will be.
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This outcome would further three primary components of USDA ideology, to serve the big corporation, to render agriculture more “hi-tech”, and to maximize poison deployment.
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Another basic measure of USDA ideology, intention, and desired goal is its fraudulent “coexistence” policy. The agency knows coexistence is impossible and is consciously lying. Its own Environmental Impact Statement on GM alfalfa (which the agency never wanted to perform in the first place but was forced upon it by a lawsuit) concedes the inevitability of full contamination and therefore the impossibility of coexistence. All the evidence before and since has confirmed the prognostication of the EIS. Also and to say again, the agency recommends that the law place the full legal and financial burden on the victim of transgenic trespass and vandalism. This is contrary to all common sense notions of law and is contrary even to most law as it still exists in the US. It’s a radical doctrine which clearly seeks to encourage and maximize the trespass and contamination and evinces a fundamental contempt for the target. It’s crystal clear that the USDA thinks non-GM alfalfa has no right to exist at all and that it should not exist. No one who didn’t think that way would ever have concocted such a policy, allowing the deployment of GM alfalfa, in the first place. In reality “coexistence” means incremental surrender of all non-GM agriculture to the total domination of GMOs, with the pace of erosion and surrender to be as fast as possible.
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Here again we see that the agency wants only to serve the big corporation, to render agriculture more fraudulently “hi-tech”, and to maximize poison deployment.
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As for Monsanto’s own attitude toward organic agriculture and food, it would probably like to see it cease to exist. But a gradual erosion of standards and expectations with an ever higher regulatory allowance for contamination and eventually formally allowing GMOs under the standard would also be a good outcome. But the existing organic system is odious to all agrochemical companies.

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January 23, 2016

Monsanto Seed Report

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Here’s a Monsanto seed mini-report. I looked at five Monsanto companies: Lewis Hybrids, Kruger Seeds, Specialty Hybrids, Stewart Seeds, Stone Seed. The websites are now completely standardized.
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The results were pretty much the same for all five, and similar to 2014 and 2015. Each has an information page about Roundup Ready Xtend soybeans (glyphosate and dicamba-tolerant) but says those aren’t yet available pending further regulatory approval. But they’re expected to become available for 2016. For maize, SmartStax (eight transgenes, six expressing eight Bt poisons plus Roundup Ready and the pat glufosinate-tolerance trait – that’s ten GMO-affiliated poisons total loading up your corn, plus neonics, atrazine, fungicides, sprayed insecticides, god knows what else) has the most varieties followed by DoublePro (Roundup Ready plus two anti-borer Bt toxins), with four of the five sellers having considerably fewer TriplePro (same as DoublePro plus an anti-rootworm toxin). Makes sense. If you’re going to take on rootworm “insurance”, as farmers often convince themselves to see it, might as well go for SmartStax which has Dow’s Cry34/35AB1, the only rootworm toxin which was still working semi-reliably last I heard. All DroughtGard varieties are DoublePro. The number available ranged from one to five. Each had a handful of Roundup Ready 2 (RR2) corn varieties. Available non-GM conventional ranged from zero to three varieties. All soybeans are Roundup Ready 2 Yield (RR2Y) except for two sellers who carried one conventional variety each.
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January 22, 2016

GMO News Summary, January 22nd, 2016

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*Now here’s fighters, resolute in Argentina against massive strength and great pressure. They’re not only brave, but patient. They’re in it for the long haul. We need to find that spirit in the West.
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These are regular citizens driven to direct action by the poison assault upon themselves and their children and the complicity of “the authorities”. They accept what’s necessary, and then they take whatever action they can to try to accomplish it. And look what’s possible once regular people decide to do that – they’ve held up Monsanto’s poison factory for over two years now.
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The people of the Argentine soy poison zone also have the support of networks of public health-oriented doctors and scientists.
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*Yet another good piece on the “new” kinds of GMOs which emphasizes how, if industry and pro-GM regulators like the EFSA, USDA, and FDA have their way, these GMOs won’t be considered GMOs at all for regulatory purposes. That will include their being exempted from labeling requirements, “mandatory” or otherwise. This is one of several main points ignored by the short-sighted celebrations of the Campbell’s announcement. A big part of the reason Mark Lynas and Campbell’s feel the time is right for a “mandatory” labeling policy is that GMOs are a moving target which, they hope, will already have moved beyond all labeling purview by the time such a policy was enacted. That’s a basic part of the scam being prepared for DARK Act Plan B.
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Here’s another piece making the same point.
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*Great to see some people still care about the state-level movement and want to improve it. Namely, real labeling advocates in Maine want to get rid of the “trigger” provision which renders the laws of Maine and Connecticut to be just for show. As they exist, these labeling laws won’t go into effect until several other states enact similar laws. In Maine’s case, the law specifically requires that New Hampshire also pass such a law. But a few years ago the “live free” types decided they’d rather die.
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But there’s resistance, including from impostors within the movement: “Still others on both sides have said the state should wait to see what federal lawmakers do with the issue, since industry-supported legislation that is pending U.S. Senate approval would pre-empt any state labeling requirements.”
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So-called “both sides”. How could one meaningfully be for labeling but counsel delay until federal preemption supervenes? No, that’s a liar who’s against real labeling. Just like the two kinds of climate change deniers, those who directly deny and those who pay lip service but who at every point are against meaningful action.
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*Yet another study finds that glyphosate causes prenatal brain damage. This is the latest evidence adding to what’s already proven beyond any reasonable doubt, that glyphosate causes birth defects.
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We have vastly more than enough evidence. By now continuing to call for “more testing” is nothing but procrastination and broadcasts a lack of self-confidence. Glyphosate must be banned completely. It must be abolished once and for all. Abolitionists must use the overwhelming evidence more effectively and aggressively. I recommend focusing on cancer and birth defects as the general message, reserving the many other kinds of glyphosate-inflicted violence to health for particular contexts.
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*Just when it looked like Kenya was cracking, the National Biosafety Authority abruptly called off its press conference where it was expected to announce its approval for the Bt maize product MON810. This is an already failed product which would only aggravate Kenya’s food insecurity while opening the door to corporate control of Kenyan agriculture on a commodity export basis. Every step of the way for the global South, GMOs = colonization. The cancellation came amid rumors of internal government disputes.
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*Syngenta continues to obstruct and delay in the big wave of lawsuits over losses to US corn growers and traders when China rejected several corn shipments because they were contaminated with the unapproved GM variety Viptera, aka MIR162. Now it’s challenging the selection of “bellwether” suits for inaugural litigation.
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In a statement about the lawsuits Syngenta claims it “obtained import approval from major corn importing companies” prior to marketing Viptera, which is self-evidently a lie. China is a major corn importer, and the company didn’t procure Viptera approval there until December 2014. (Not 2013 like the piece says.)
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The piece feels the need to throw in a standard lie that Bt toxins are “harmless to humans.” How do these lawyers know that? What evidence convinced them of it? The fact is that, like every other interest group, they know literally zero about the health effects and are simply brain-dead authoritarians regurgitating what government and industry-paid publicists told them. That’s what this society has come to.
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*The EU health commissioner admits in a letter to Testbiotech and UK GeneWatch that by law the EFSA is required to assess the combined effects of multiple pesticides used on agricultural products and has been breaking the law in not doing so. This guy specializes in lame excuses. In this case, “yes, EFSA is required by law to do this, but they don’t know how!” Of course anyone could write down an experimental design in five minutes. Cost should not be an object since the corporate applicant(s) should pay for testing but have no control over it. The corporate state just doesn’t want to do it, which is strict proof in itself that they know the results would be bad for their product. In this case, the products involved are soybeans engineered to be tolerant of glyphosate plus dicamba (Monsanto) or isoxaflutole (Bayer).
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Not that I’m calling for this testing. We already know each herbicide in itself causes cancer, birth defects, and many other health harms, which is more than enough to ban it. The combined effects could only be worse. We have all the evidence we need and more, now it’s time to use it effectively in a disciplined, relentless way in order to propagate the abolition idea and build momentum toward the abolition reality.
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*Chief Minister Nitish Kumar of Bihar state in India objected to attempts by Delhi University to illegally propagate Bt mustard seed within the state. The university has used public money to develop and field test this product on behalf of the industry. Now, even though the GM product has not been approved and its application is under challenge (and even its continued funding is in question), the university is trying to go ahead with the project of increasing the seeds. As Kumar points out, “It appears that when the interested parties have failed to win the confidence of the farmers of the country, they are pushing the technology through public institutions.” As always, GMOs are 100% dependent on government subsidies and monopoly muscle. Bihar is one of the states which have refused to allow field trials, citing the likelihood of bad ecological, economic, and human health effects.
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This is not the kind of mustard seed which, starting out “less than all the seeds that be in the earth”, grows up and becomes great. On the contrary, starting with infinite hubris and arrogance matched only by ignorance, it shall fail to fruit but instead wither and die.
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*Peculiar piece of news from Europe. Monsanto has withdrawn all its EU import registrations containing its “event” MON863. This is the original anti-rootworm type producing the Bt toxin Cry3Bb1, to which rootworms started becoming resistant years ago. (To this day Monsanto still offers only the failing Cry3Bb1 from its own roster, and relies on Dow’s Cry34/35AB1, also facing increasing resistance, for whatever effect SmartStax still has on rootworms. This is probably part of why the TriplePro product, which offers only Cry3Bb1 vs. rootworm, isn’t very popular judging by the relatively meager offerings in the seed catalogs.) MON863 was part of four GMOs which were authorized for import in food and feed. Monsanto says the MON863 seed has not been produced or sold since 2011. But it still turns up contaminating seed and feed, as recently as 2014 and 2015. Most likely this is because of transgenic contamination, though it could be that some unused seed is still floating around. It’s unlikely that anyone’s illicitly saving and replanting it since all such varieties are hybrids unreliable for seed saving.
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It’s unclear why they’re given up on the MON863 “event” as being obsolete. They may not want to bother with any further registration fees and paperwork maintenance. MON863 may soon be up for becoming an “orphan” GMO no one cares to maintain legally any longer, at least not under the current regulatory framework. The first such case was the original Roundup Ready soybeans.
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*Under pressure from No Patents on Seeds and Navdanya, the European Patent Office (EPO) revoked a patent it awarded Monsanto for a virus-resistant melon which the company did not in fact breed, but simply stole from India. Throughout its GMO and seed-selling history Monsanto has done almost no work and made no discoveries, but simply stole or bought everything it has. I’ll soon dedicate a post to this history.
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*A new study further documents the already rampant spread of feral Roundup Ready canola. The Australian study tries to downplay the significance of the trend by claiming that the contamination, while common, doesn’t become severe. Indeed, the record so far seems to be that it easily becomes a tenacious nuisance but doesn’t proliferate explosively. But as usual, they have zero idea what that’ll mean over the long run, and GM canola is the GMO already proven to have contaminated wild relatives in the US, Canada, and elsewhere. This contamination of other canola and wild relatives may bring along whatever mutations are contained in the Roundup Ready genomes. As always the point is they have absolutely no idea what the effects may be. And even if feral GM canola turns out to be a relatively lesser problem (not saying much, given the magnitude of all these poison-driven crises), that means nothing for what effect other kinds of contamination may have. But a piece like this is meant to allay concerns about contamination as such, not just about canola.
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Feral GM canola is most directly a threat to organic canola, which has been rendered largely impossible in Canada. The article on the Australian study omits this matter by design. The there’s the likelihood of contamination of other brassica crops. GM contamination has jumped from Brassica napus (canola) to wild B. rapa, which is the same species as turnips, bok choy, other Asian greens. That means it could contaminate those as well, and probably other brassica species.
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*The GMOs of Iran. Piece from July says rice is grown commercially for direct food, and that the agricultural ministry approves imports of GM maize, soybeans, and canola, in spite of having no clear authority to do so. The report says the government is divided on the subject while the public is largely unaware.
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*Hype about using genetic engineering techniques to help conserve endangered species is typical greenwashing. It’s of the same junk science genre as the fraudulent ideological application of “island biogeography” where it can’t legitimately be applied. That’s a favorite scam of corporate “environmental” front groups like the WWF and TNC. The trouble with the concept is that an island is an island, but a piece of rainforest surrounded by soybean plantations where the rest of the forest used to be is not an island, but a mangled fragment. A chopped off hand does not then act like a starfish. Once again we see reductive, mechanistic junk science in action. The only real environmentalism and conservation is to abolish the entire war-on-nature mentality and practice and replace it with ecological civilization.
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This is also a scam in that they have no intention of really saving endangered species this way. They’re just floating the idea of it, for propaganda and to reap some funding. Longer-term, this is practice for eventual commercial use. It’s toward animal eugenics for the factory farm system and for designer pets for the rich. Just like human genetic experimentation is toward “designer babies” and eventually a more comprehensive eugenics program. More on this to come.
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*Mercola exposes typical corruption. WebMD is doing the infomercial-which-looks-like-article thing. Of course these days corporate media leaders like the New York Times and Washington Post often don’t even bother with that subterfuge, but present the infomercial as a de jure article or news broadcast.
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There’s a legislative move in Oregon to repeal parts of the corporate-dictated “Bill 863” which was passed in 2013 in an anti-democratic “emergency session”, similar to the “fast-track” Obama’s demanding for the TPP and TTIP globalization pacts. Such tyrannical stampedes are necessary for the kinds of legislative proposals which could never survive if subject to democracy’s review. That’s why the enemies of the people tried to use chicanery to pass the DARK Act late in 2015. We can expect something similar for subsequent attempts.
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Bill 863 was pushed by a panicked corporate-controlled state legislature in response to the wave of county-level initiatives banning GMOs and/or some pesticide uses and promoting regional food sovereignty. The bill seeks to crush the democratic anti-poison movement in Oregon through preemption, one of the most vile kinds of anti-democracy legislative procedures. We can expect to see more such vileness as the push for FDA preemption of the true labeling democracy movement gathers support. The new proposal would restore democracy and rationally located food and agriculture policy.
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Preemption is always Monsanto’s game.
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January 19, 2016

Concentration in the Poison Sector (Dow/DuPont; Syngenta; Monsanto)

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The year 2015 was a year of concentration in the already uncompetitive poison sector. For many years the pesticide and seed markets have become increasingly dominated by a small handful of corporations – Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow, DuPont, and a few others. The GMO phenomenon has greatly accelerated this trend, as the world’s most powerful governments and corporate sectors have boosted biotech worldwide as capitalism’s last great hope to break the bonds of physics and biology. This has profound religious, economic, and paramilitary implications we’ll discuss in depth as we proceed. For today we’ll stick with the proximate phenomenon of sector concentration.
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First came Monsanto’s bid to buy Syngenta, which Syngenta rejected with some disdain. Most onlookers thought it looked like a good fit – Monsanto’s seeds and traits to complement Syngenta’s more diversified pesticide line. But Syngenta evidently was not as interested in Monsanto’s GMO line as conventional wisdom thought it should be. In August Monsanto gave up for the time being after Syngenta had rejected at least three Monsanto bids. As the year wore on Monsanto announced two major rounds of contraction. In October the company announced it would cut 2600 jobs (12% of its work force), buy back stocks (down 30% since February at that time), and undertake a “restructuring” including cutting research and development spending. (Around the same time Syngenta and DuPont announced more modest contractions.) Later that month the company said it would close three R&D centers which focus on genetic engineering and breeding development, cutting another 90 employees. Both GMO and Roundup sales are down compared to the previous year. The new year looks no less bleak as Monsanto announced a third contraction. The company announced deeply depressed Roundup and GM maize sales, larger than expected losses, and will cut another thousand employees. Monsanto’s fundamentals are not looking good.
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In November the Chinese conglomerate ChemChina made its own bid for Syngenta. The company rejected this first bid, but is now said to be in “advanced talks” with ChemChina. Its chairman now says Syngenta is merger-minded, but continues to disparage a potential Monsanto deal. When the music stops Monsanto’s going to be left without a chair! In December Monsanto also announced it would not proceed with projected construction of a seed factory in Iowa. DuPont also cancelled three Iowa projects. The climax was the announcement that Dow and DuPont will merge and then split into three companies including one dedicated to agrochemicals. The proposed agrochemical spinoff would represent $19 billion in combined sales from the two companies. This would make it the largest GMO/pesticide company in the world. The Dow/DuPont deal evidently spurred Syngenta to enter the final round of negotiations with ChemChina, in part because of the increasing unease of Syngenta’s shareholders. The company’s chairman has hinted that he thinks Syngenta could become China’s primary supplier of GM technology and primary Western partner for China’s long-planned attempt to build its own GMO/pesticide conglomerate and assert itself globally in competition with the US-based cartel.
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According to the business papers, the proximate reason for the woes and tensions disturbing the sector has been the prolonged sagging of agricultural commodity prices. The downturn has caused many farmers to cut back on their high-input, highly expensive commodity crop production, and this in turn has been affecting the profits of Monsanto and others for a few years now. This in turn makes them disreputable on Wall Street. It’s great to see agribusiness hurting under the same vicious circle of high input prices, low harvest prices, and the imperative to “Get Big or Get Out” they help force upon farmers. (Roundup Ready crops, for example, were specifically designed to accelerate Get Big or Get Out. They were never seriously claimed to increase yield by the acre. Rather, they were supposed to make it easier to cultivate a greater acreage. The farmer would allegedly “make it up on volume”. Thus they were intended to accelerate farm consolidation.) And this increasing sector consolidation will just squeeze the oligopolists further and render all the economic pathologies worse. The fundamentals look bad.
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As a rule mergers among oligopolists are the sign of a superannuated, calcifying, decadent sector. It means companies are running out of ideas, losing confidence in the sector and in themselves. It’s the most extreme version of buying your ideas, patents, and products rather than being an innovator and entrepreneur who develops these yourself. Dow and DuPont believe they’re reaching dead ends and each needs to buy what the other has. Dow needs Pioneer germplasm*, DuPont needs Dow’s genetic engineering expertise and patents. Everyone recognized how Monsanto was trying to achieve this with its Syngenta bid. But Syngenta seemed not to want any kind of deal at all with them. Evidently Monsanto has nothing it wants, at least not at the price Monsanto offered. Meanwhile a few years ago BASF’s GMO operation was driven out of Europe completely. Those two may end up having to get together.
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[*Dow’s germplasm situation is interesting. If you look at ISAAA data, it looks like prior to the Enlist system Dow’s only solo commercialized GMO line has been some varieties of Widestrike cotton, while their other projects have involved contributing transgenes to joint products with DuPont and Monsanto. If you look at Dow’s seed company holdings, they’re relatively meager compared to those of DuPont and Monsanto. I’ll suppose that for those joint projects Dow had to rely on the other company to contribute not only transgenes of its own but much or all of the genetic framework.**
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Then there’s the curious fact that for several years running Dow’s been surprisingly willing to sit quietly for regulator-imposed delays. First there was the USDA delay while the agency ran a full Environmental Impact Statement. Then came the EPA’s imposition of various restrictions on Enlist commercial plantings in 2015, and most recently EPA’s temporary revocation of Enlist Duo’s registration. It’s almost as if Dow is nervous about its own product for some reason. It’s not displaying much of the aggressiveness we’re used to from the GMO corporations. Do they doubt some fundamental of the product, like perhaps the quality of their own seed genetics? That would be part of the explanation for why Dow was so ardent for this merger.]
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Another force driving the sector toward trying to diversify through consolidation is fear of the political countermovement against agricultural poisons. Monsanto is especially vulnerable, dependent upon Roundup for about 70% of its revenues. Roundup accounts for half its sales, while GMOs dependent upon it make up much of the rest. This is why Syngenta had little interest even in Monsanto’s GMO business. In 2015 the entire world learned for keeps what campaigners, Monsanto, and regulators have long known, that glyphosate causes cancer. With the WHO’s announcement the clock is now ticking, counting down the rest of glyphosate’s legal life. The people will now slowly but surely force the complete banning of glyphosate-based poisons. The bell is tolling for Roundup, Monsanto knows it, and so they must find new products or die. They’re hyping everything in sight, from slapping new ad slogans on old, pointless, narrow-market products to touting the idea of RNA interference GMOs. But if these ever came to market they’s still be the same kind of shoddy insecticidal GMOs which in Bt form are already a failure with a gradually diminishing market.
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The fact is that the structural reason driving the current consolidation is that GMOs are a shoddy product and don’t have much of a market or a future in themselves. On the contrary, there’s a growing consensus inside and outside the sector, including on Wall Street, that the pesticides remain primary, with the GMOs being secondary to these and dependent upon them. Their fundamentals are bad. In other words the finance sector now agrees with what GMO critics have said from the start, that GMOs in the real world are nothing but pesticide plants, poison plants. (As opposed to GMO hype and hoaxes of the pro-GM activists and the corporate media.) Although Wall Street is poor at acknowledging its own pyramid schemes, it knows how to call them out in other sectors. GMOs are a scam.
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None of this is a surprise and confirms what we critics said all along. These are poison companies, their number one activity and goal is to manufacture and sell poison, therefore the primary proximate goal of GMOs must be to sell more poison. It’s actually astonishing that anyone was ever willing to believe such a self-evident absurdity as that the likes of Monsanto or DuPont would ever market a product which would cause them to sell less of their primary products. Yet that’s what the peddlers of the “GMOs lessen pesticide use” lie would have you believe.
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Sure enough: 1. With the deployment of GMOs, pesticide use always increases.
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2. It has to, since these are poison plants and are designed only to sustain poisons being sprayed upon them (in the case of herbicide tolerant GMOs), or to handle only certain “target” pests (Bt products). The rest must still be met with sprays and seed coatings. Bayer and Syngenta didn’t participate in GMO deployment and support the GMO idea in general because they thought they’d sell less neonics.
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3. Both of these GMO genres, the only ones which exist and the only ones in the pipeline, are failures. They can be called “successful” only according to the Failure is Success form of planned obsolescence and the ever-escalating, ever more expensive stacking-and-pesticide treadmill.
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GMOs have a tenuous future. Everyone knows that herbicide tolerant and insecticidal GMOs are running out of room. Once SmartStax, 2,4-D, and dicamba fail, what then? That’s why there’s such a propaganda campaign touting CRISPR, “gene editing”, RNAi. The sector is trying to convince itself, Wall Street, governments, commodifiers, food manufacturers and retailers, and the world at large that there’s a whole new GMO frontier to be opened up. To be sure, elites everywhere want to believe this, since capitalism as such badly needs it. But so far this is all in the realm of fantasy, and there’s no reason to believe it will ever break free of the land of lies, where the “first generation” of GMOs remains to this day.
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The media claims GMOs mean gene editing for agronomic and product quality traits? I’m afraid not. Today’s GMO reality is the collapse of the Roundup Ready system and the sector’s reactionary, luddite answer: To double down on proven failure by regressing to GMOs tolerant of older, even more destructive herbicides. This is the context in which the evolution-denialist system is promulgating the backward, luddite “solution” of corn and soybeans engineered to tolerate the retrograde herbicide 2,4-D, one of the two primary components of the chemical weapon Agent Orange. This is one of the dark age poisons which Monsanto and the US government originally promised would be permanently relegated to the scrap heap by the Roundup Ready system. Dicamba is another such regressive chemical being poised by Monsanto for a comeback.
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There’s the real GMO future as demonstrated by the actions, rather than the media lies, of the corporations and regulators. And this bears out the fact that, contrary to the moronic techno-hype and fundamentalist cultism of GMOs, the real fundamental of corporate agriculture remains the most regressive, stupid, blunt-instrument, flat-earth technology of all, pesticides. The best irony since the IARC finding has been the spectacle of our intrepid futurists, who always tried to hold aloof from the dinosaur pesticide technology while exalting their idolized space-age GMO technology, having to reduce themselves to the level of Roundup shills. This too proves something we always said about them, that for all their high-flown scientism pretensions, they’re really nothing but gutter Monsanto bootlicks. This is the real character of the GMO sector – antiquated, backward, an economic and innovation bottleneck, shoddy, tawdry. This is borne out by one consistent thread which runs through all the sector consolidation events. Monsanto’s contractions, Monsanto’s proposals to Syngenta, the Dow/DuPont merger (see several of the links above) – all involve cutting research and development spending. In other words the sector has reached the point where it thinks more in terms of stock buybacks and scrounging whatever technology and patents it can buy rather than developing anything on its own. To some extent this is inherent to any big corporation and any oligopoly sector. But it’s especially congenital to the agrochemical sector, which was always based on accelerating planned obsolescence toward its inevitable culmination in the complete exhaustion and obsolescence of the entire paradigm.
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The sector faces another problem – GMOs are reaching market saturation. The cartel won’t be able to force a market for them in Africa unless it can either grab the land to turn it into vast industrial plantations to grow CAFO feed for Asia, and/or convince enough smallholder farmers to fall for the same scam Monsanto used on cotton farmers in India. (But Bt cotton has already been tried and rejected in three African countries, and the word is out.) But can the several African governments play the same carnival-barker role the Indian government did? This is the Monsanto/Gates Foundation “New Alliance” plan, with massive corporate welfare to be financed by the taxpayers of the US, UK, and Africa, geared to the complete subjugation of African agriculture to land-grabbing and monoculture production for commodity export.
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Even if the sector can overcome the stiffening political resistance and inherent agronomic resistance (pests and diseases which flourish) to this scheme, how much and how long can the Asian middle class prop up its demand for this forced supply? The agribusiness sector is the most supply-driven of all and is 100% dependent on forcing artificial markets into being, for example convincing people to whom it never occurred before that they want to eat a lot more factory farm meat. Obviously a sector whose entire existence is based, not on real demand, but on puffed up fictive “demand” which can dry up at any time, and which will dry up as the masses lose the capacity for luxury spending, is built on sand. Here again, everyone recognizes the basic bubble, pyramid scheme character of the whole sector. It’s ironic that GMO jargon uses the term “pyramid” for another of its scams.
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China’s stock and real estate bubbles are cruising for a big fall. With any significant Asian recession, the whole Africa plan collapses for lack of even a theoretical market. Or if by then the sector has already forced full-scale commodity monoculture upon Africa and is generating huge amounts of GM maize and soy there, they’ll have to dump it on the rest of the world and further crash those commodity prices.
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Meanwhile, unless the cartel can seize control of the land in India they’ll soon be run out of the country. Anywhere on earth there’s still a large mass of small farmers, corporate agriculture is in a race to grab the land before their products are worn out and cast out. Although the sector’s propaganda continues to flog the long-debunked lie that GMOs can be good for small farmers, in reality only where the land is concentrated into vast commodity plantations can the sector maintain its GM seed sales. Soon this will be true of pesticides as well.
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Meanwhile, as we discussed earlier, the seeds accelerate the obsolescence of the pesticides, which then also renders the GM seed lines obsolete. This has been a campaign of planned obsolescence; the sector wants to force farmers to buy ever higher stacks and deploy an ever more complex multiple-pesticide choreography. But at the same time this accelerates the discrediting of the whole pesticide plant concept at the same time that it renders GMOs and pesticides less and less affordable. Sector oligopolists are in a race against time and resistance, and they’re not getting ahead as fast as they’d hoped. Monsanto originally expected to have attained near-complete monopoly for the sector by sometime in the first decade of the century. Obviously they’re falling well short and very late of that goal. Thus the oligopolists are reaching the point where they have to consolidate among themselves.
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The fact is that both the GMOs and the pesticides are ill-conceived, ultimately self-destructive product types. It’s not just that many of the products, such as most of the GMOs, shoddily constructed. The basic idea underlying all the products – using poison against agricultural weeds and pests, and synthetic inputs including transgenes to meet other agricultural challenges – is bad in principle. The entire agrochemical sector is built on sand. The fundamentals of all these companies and their sector as a whole are bad.
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What’s going on is more profound than the superficial accounts of the business section, focused as it is on stock prices and quarterly “earnings”. The sector is following its destiny in accord with the Poisoner imperative, a structural economic, political, religious, and biological campaign. Although Wall Street and politics are forcing these companies to make certain accommodations with reality, such as recognizing the primacy of pesticides over GMOs on the most reality-based level, nothing has changed for them ideologically. They are committed to the total domination of their program of eugenics via genetic engineering. They’re just in an ever more pressing race against time, as the ecological resistance, expressed biologically, economically, and politically, is becoming stronger by the year.
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Although the companies of the GMO cartel grudgingly recognized their need for high-quality agricultural germplasm such as could be bought through Pioneer, their original disdainful arrogance was no accident, nor has this fundamental ideology changed. Reality may have forced itself upon Monsanto when the company finally bowed to the need to put its transgenes into good crop varieties (and thus it embarked upon its odyssey of buying seed companies – as always, Monsanto never innovates anything, just steals or buys the work others have done), it did so under duress and to this day doesn’t really believe in it. Deep down any techno-cultist, for example a GMO fanboy, thinks the technology he idolizes is the only meaningful reality and has nothing but contempt for everything else. That’s why pro-GMO activists are so ignorant of every branch of science – genetics, biology, ecology, botany, entomology, agronomy, physiology, medical science, you name it – and have such contempt for knowledge as such. They spew the word “Science” but take great pride in knowing nothing about it, its content or how it works. No one becomes a religious zealot of genetic engineering because he has respect for natural or agroecologically bred genetics. He does it because he has fear and loathing for anything which is not under the control of high-technology engineering. To be precise, their idolatry is for the idea of such technological control. The fact that in practice GMOs are such an imprecise, stupidly executed, shoddily performing product doesn’t matter to the cultists, only their shining idea. Which is good for them since by now they have no choice but to be shills, not only for the mythically “hi-tech” products of genetic engineering, but for what until not long ago they themselves sneered at as dinosaur technology, sprayed and slathered pesticides like Roundup.
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The history of genetic engineering displays a level of combined ignorance and arrogance on the part of its practitioners and controllers which is astonishing. Monsanto started out thinking they’d take their Roundup Ready gene and their Bt gene, stick them into any old public domain maize variety, and then just mass produce it for every farmer the world over. Robb Fraley’s notion, which the company tried to follow at first, was that they’d do exactly what Microsoft had done with software, their transgenes being the Windows-type “software”, with the crop and its genetics being the basically stupid, meaningless “hardware”. This is typical of the delusion that on the one hand things like computer software, patents, corporations, money, are real things, while on the other something like agricultural germplasm is mystical “information”. They simply tuned out anyone who tried to tell them agriculture doesn’t work that way. This delusion is endemic to scientism and corporatism and is connected intimately with the monoculture mentality those cults also share, in agriculture as well as every other realm of thought and action.
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But in fact the ecological reality is the only reality, and agroecological ideas are the only ideas that can truly work for agriculture as well as ecology, and for a healthy economy and polity as well. But nothing about Monsanto, Roundup, or GMOs – corporate control, profits, patents, the idea of precision control and manipulation of physical genomes – touches reality at any point, while the poisons can only destroy, never create or sustain. The fundamentals are bad. From the most hermetic, short-run Wall Street preoccupations to the most profound intellectual and ecological arcs, the fundamentals are bad.
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This is the real reason the poison sector’s confrontation with nature, its attempt to subjugate the ecology by force, only drives itself further into no man’s land. Today the GMO cartel feels insecure enough that it must retrench the only way it knows how. Tomorrow it will perish completely.
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**Charles Benbrook’s “Free Pioneer” idea would be good if there was a way to do it. In spite of Breen’s assurances that the new agricultural spinoff won’t cut productive jobs at Pioneer, just “middlemen”, that’s often not the way it works. Pioneer could still be worth something to agriculture, whereas the rest of DuPont, and all of Dow, is worthless and destructive. That in itself usually means the worthwhile, constructive part gets gutted.
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Pioneer is still part of unsustainable commodity agriculture, but it is an important repository of germplasm and breeder expertise, and in theory it could be refurbished for a mission more in line with agroecology, if it could be liberated from the corporate clutch.
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In the meantime, Benbrook is right, the one thing guaranteed is that this merger will further squeeze farmers and reduce their seed choices. Which will be a further opportunity for we who are exhorting GMO farmers to switch to non-GM, and industrial farmers in general to switch to organic.
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Food and Water Watch has a petition to the Justice Department urging them to block the merger.
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Monsanto really is in some serious trouble with its Roundup vulnerability. With glyphosate on the ropes politically, Monsanto could go down quickly if there were a domino effect of bans. If people wanted to get together to focus on getting glyphosate banned everywhere possible, it could become a permanently crippling blow.
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January 15, 2016

GMO News Summary January 15th, 2016

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*Soon, maybe next week, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will hold his secret conference of “stakeholders” to hammer out a plan to prevent Vermont’s GMO labeling law from going into effect in July and destroy the labeling democracy movement (the state-level movement) once and for all. Campbell’s timed its public call for FDA “mandatory” labeling in order to coincide with the Vilsack conference and push this proposal as a major subject at the conference. It’s peculiar how many people purport to stick up for Vermont at the same time they’re saying “Go Campbell’s!”
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Meanwhile Mark Lynas says the Campbell’s plan is a great thing. NOW we know it’s anti-GMO!

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Lynas’ position on labeling has been clear for a long time. He thinks Dark Act Plan A won’t work and is bad politics, but that a weak and fraudulent, but “mandatory”, FDA policy which preempts real labeling at the state level (DARK Act Plan B) would not only destroy the labeling movement but destroy the rising trend of advocacy beyond labeling toward outright bans. He thinks this will help normalize and maximize GMOs in our food. Campbell’s is the first big industry “stakeholder” to agree completely with this position in public. There is a perfect consensus among establishment types – politicians, industry, insider NGOs. Wherever else they may sometimes disagree, they’re all firm that the #1 purpose of any federal standard is to preempt the labeling democracy movement and forestall the abolition movement.
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*Word is there’s worry within the EFSA about how they’re squandering what little credibility they have left faster than a Roundup Ready pigweed grows. Meanwhile EC’s health commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis replied to 96 scientists who sent him an Open Letter demolishing the lies of the BfR and EFSA and calling upon him to support the IARC and uphold the science. Andriukaitis begged off in a shame-faced way, claiming he has no legal authority to reject the EFSA dictate. Meanwhile EFSA chief Bernhard Url continues with his exercises in public buffoonery. He keeps admitting that the IARC assessed glyphosate formulations which are actually used in the real world while the EFSA assessed only fantasyland pure glyphosate which is never used. Yet he’s so stupid he continues to think this is a good point for his EFSA, rather than absolutely shattering for its credibility.
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*At a workshop held at the University of Agricultural Sciences at Raichur in India’s Karnataka state, government and university officials joined farmer representatives in condemning the “Green Revolution” and its technology focus for economically ruining vast numbers of farmers and rendering farming the extremely precarious profession it has become in India. Well over 300,000 farmer suicides can attest to that. Destroying farmers and driving millions off the land was always one of the core goals of the Green Revolution and remains so today.
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*The record of Bt cotton remains perfect. Except where bolstered with massively subsidized inputs (and even then often just for a little while), the crop never performs well and quickly fails. Today Pakistan is hitting rock bottom as the world’s fourth largest cotton producer is suffering a 22% yield collapse and having to resort to importation for basic cotton needs. According to the USDA 95% of Pakistan’s cotton crop is GM. The industry’s own International Cotton Advisory Committee tells the story: “…adverse weather [i.e. climate chaos inducing drought], increased pest pressure from whitefly and pink bollworm [both secondary and target pests enjoying the feast], and the high cost of inputs discouraging farmers from better crop management.”
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Yes, with GM cotton especially the costs of inputs are indeed extremely high. But that’s a peculiar variation on farmer scapegoating – high input cost is what’s causing their “poor management”? But if your technology is too expensive for those to whom you make such a hard-sell marketing pitch, isn’t that the fault of yourselves and your technology, not the buyer who’s financially unable to use it? Indeed I’d call that consumer fraud myself. A massive, Nuremburg-level case of it.
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*Armed with an eviction order procured from a corporate-friendly judge, Monsanto is trying to drive off the Malvinas community camp blockading the company’s attempt to build a chemical seed factory. If built this factory would spew vast clouds of toxic fumes and leave regular spills of the neonics, fungicides, and the many other poisons it would be applying as seed coatings. This would add to the already devastating poison burden the people of the soy zone must endure every day. Citizen groups are rallying to the support of the people of Malvinas.
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As the people of Argentina continue their growing fight to take back their country from the tyranny of agribusiness, the poison industry has a friend in the new president: “President Mauricio Macri has also shown his support for big agribusiness in his first month in office. In a move he promoted as a boost to agricultural production, Macri scrapped export taxes on big agricultural corporations producing corn, wheat, and beef, and lowered taxes on soybeans.”
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This contradicts what has always been the number one argument offered in favor of the Argentine “soy republic” and other branches of agribiz, that these commodity export taxes are the basis of Argentina’s allegedly vibrant economy, playing the same role as oil does for Saudi Arabia. I.e., Argentina is the equivalent of a petro-state. Indeed, since industrial agriculture is 100% dependent on cheap fossil fuels, we can call Argentina a meta-petro-state, essentially reselling oil in a rudimentary value-added form. Now they’re admitting that the alleged economic need for all this was always a lie.
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*Here’s a state of the union for Bt toxins, and things are looking quite nullific. In Brazil Cry1AB (MON810) and Cry1F (1507) are both failing against the target armyworm. A new study is unable to conclude whether the longstanding trend of resistance to Cry1F is now becoming cross-resistance to Cry1AB, or whether the resistance to Cry1AB is evolving on its own. Whatever, the researchers who just proved failure recommend more failure: The poisons should simply be stacked ever higher. The cool-sounding term for this is the “pyramid” strategy. They don’t tell you that the pyramid is constructed upside-down, and is just as structurally stable as you’d expect. Doug Gurian-Sherman explains why stacks are already failing and why cross-resistance is likely to become more prevalent. He also explains why RNAi insecticidal GMOs are likely to fail for the same reasons. Just like herbicide tolerant GMOs, insecticidal GMOs are a failed product genre. Reality has completely refuted them. Only cartel monopoly and government power keep them in existence at all.
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*As if Bt cotton doesn’t have enough problems with its inherent shoddiness and great vulnerability to anything less than maximum irrigation (Australian cotton has been a victim of climate chaos drought in recent years), in Australia it’s also being destroyed by 2,4-D drift. 2,4-D and dicamba are among the most highly volatile and drift-prone herbicides, causing massive damage to wild plants and other crops every year. If Dow and Monsanto are able to go through with their plan to commercialize on a mass scale GMOs tolerant of 2,4-D (Dow) and dicamba (Monsanto), the collateral destruction will surge exponentially. This is one of several reasons we must find a way to stop this deployment before it really gets rolling. Of course the EPA and USDA ardently back this great escalation of the Poison War.
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In the piece linked, note the notion “incorrect spraying”. This is false – 2,4-D drifts unpredictably, often for great distances, even when the user adheres to the label directions with the utmost vigilance. That’s part of why drift and superweeds/bugs are allowed to be acknowledged in the mainstream media. The farmer’s alleged “incorrect use” or “overuse” is always scapegoated. (I also noted above the Pakistan industry group’s absurd attempt to blame the farmers.) The other reason is that the proposed answer is always escalated poison technology. Drift is the problem? Dow’s patented formula is non-drift. Roundup Ready superweeds? The answer is Agent Orange crops. Superbugs? As the researchers I mentioned above recommended, stack more Bt toxins, and then it’ll be gene silencing to the rescue.
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*A judge issued a $53.5 million judgement against GM tree company ArborGen and its corporate parents International Paper, MeadWestvaco (now WestRock) and New Zealand-based Rubicon for defrauding ten “employees”. The plaintiffs, judged to have been defrauded out of their equity position, are evidently the genetic engineers themselves:
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While working for ArborGen, Plaintiffs were productive. It is undisputed that, as one
former ArborGen officer testified at trial, Plaintiffs were “good employees” when they worked for
ArborGen. TT 224:1-7 (Mann). ArborGen’s Chief Technology Officer Maud Hinchee testified by
way of her deposition that the secunded employees, particularly the senior scientists including
Plaintiff Shujun Chang, were instrumental in making ArborGen successful by generating
intellectual property and technology when ArborGen was starting out. SeePX 530 (Hinchee Depo.
25:2-11). Indeed, several Plaintiffs made key contributions to the intellectual property of
ArborGen that helped ArborGen’s value grow over time. See, e.g., PX 487 & 489 (relating to
somatic embryogenesis patents generated for ArborGen by Plaintiffs Nehra, Clark and Stout). Dr.
Nehra testified that the number of patents held by ArborGen that had been originated by its
scientists probably numbered in the hundreds. 1-1 471:17-22 (Nehra). Mr. Clark testified he alone
has 10 patent applications from his tenure at ArborGen. TT 1226:14-18 (Clark).

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I’m not sure who I would’ve preferred to see lose the case. That the corporation defrauded the engineers is certainly poetic justice and an occasion for schadenfreude. In researching my TTIP posts I noted that, according to the BIO’s submitted comments, they’re hoping the TTIP will increase “labor mobility”, i.e. drive down engineer salaries. Couldn’t happen to nicer guys.
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*A USDA study confirms the agency’s own original forecast that GM alfalfa would promiscuously the contaminate non-GM crop. This follows upon years of contamination incidents and China’s rejection of many hay shipments from the US. It contradicts the USDA’s own lies about “co-existence” and confirms that one of the goals of Roundup Ready alfalfa is to render organic meat and dairy production, which is heavily dependent upon non-GM hay, impossible.
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*The USDA continues to refuse to monitor glyphosate residues in food. Therefore, as per rational method where dealing with any such cover-up on the part of a derelict regulator, we must assume: 1. The USDA believes many common foods contain very high levels of glyphosate residue. 2. The USDA believes this causes cancer and many other health detriments. 3. That’s why they don’t want to know. “Plausible deniability.” If they were honest and self-confident, they would test. The same is true at every point of the entire system.
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Instead, they play their usual games of regulatory whack-a-mole (“the EPA says it’s safe, and anyway is currently conducting its own reassessment, so let’s wait for that”) and pleading that testing would be too expensive. Well, of course Monsanto, which should have to pay for the testing but NOT conduct it, would say it’s expensive. But why would a regulator allegedly concerned with the “public interest” be parroting Monsanto’s position? Why indeed.
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*When Monsanto hires a PR firm is that tax-deductible? And is that income tax-exempt for the firm? I’d think not. But when the company launders the same operation through a university, it’s tax-exempt and probably tax-deductible. Yet the money was handed over to Kevin Folta to use at his own discretion as a publicist, dirty trickster, and whatever else he felt like doing. This sure looks like what the IRS would call tax fraud if any small fish got caught doing it.
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*A new study in Nature traces the climate change denial propaganda network. It’s organized in the same way as the pro-GMO propaganda machine and overlaps to a large extent. The same professional liars often hired for both purposes, and in general there’s a very strong correlation of climate change deniers with pro-GMO activists and a strong anti-correlation of climate deniers and GMO critics. The new report (behind a paywall, so I couldn’t see the whole thing yet) undoubtedly traces many denier figures who are also GMO propagandists, and zero who are critics.
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Anthropogenic climate change represents a global threat to human well-being and ecosystem functioning. Yet despite its importance for science and policy, our understanding of the causes of widespread uncertainty and doubt found among the general public remains limited.

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I can help them with that. The general public sees lots of politicians and insider NGO types issuing the most dire warnings about climate change, yet without exception these persons continue to advocate economic Business As Usual, as we just saw in Paris. The vast majority of them also live the most gluttonous personal lifestyles and have huge personal carbon footprints. So it makes perfect sense that members of the public would take an attitude, if not denying the actual physical science, still denying the political contention that this is really a crisis. After all, the actions of the likes of Obama, his negotiators at Paris, the Big Green environmental groups, all directly contradict their rhetoric. Clearly they’re liars when they claim to believe climate change is a growing crisis that must be faced honestly, rationally, morally, and without sham.
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Those who do recognize the full magnitude and peril of the crisis know there’s only one path: Greatly reduce GHG emissions, stop destroying carbon sinks, rebuild carbon sinks. All else is vanity and sham.
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BTW, bona fide climate change deniers are proportionally more common among the more highly formally educated, and especially among STEM types, than among the general public. (Just as Christian fundamentalists and evolution deniers are more common among engineers than among the public.) I just wanted to point that out, apropos of the implied elitism of the abstract quoted above.
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*Public health author Pam Killeen eulogizes Joe Cummins: “He didn’t keep his mouth shut, and that made him the renegade scientist, the renegade professor.” Very high praise in the time of the dominion of corporate science. He died of the cancer he spent his life fighting, in forms from PCBs to GMOs.
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*Alaska senator Lisa Murkowski is threatening to block FDA nominee Robert Califf until he pledges that FDA will require that GM salmon be labeled. The Alaska delegation cares so much about this particular GMO only because they want to protect Alaska’s wild salmon industry, and indeed they should be concerned. But just as we suspected, Murkowski is quick to stipulate that she doesn’t want labeling for any other GMOs, offering a completely unscientific and irrational distinction between genetically engineered crops and a genetically engineered animal. Is there any such distinction? No one knows, and there’s zero reason to think that anything unsafe about GM salmon wouldn’t also be unsafe about GM plants.
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*One thing Campbell’s confirms once and for all, though common sense always knew it and studies proved it – GMO labeling will have zero effect on food prices. The piece is better than many. While “thanking” Campbell’s it makes clear that the company is saying these things only under duress from consumer pressure, the state-level movement, and Vermont. That’s the same state-level movement so many “labeling advocates” have suddenly shown such eagerness to throw overboard, the moment a so-called “mandatory” FDA policy is on the table.
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January 11, 2016

The EPA and Glyphosate

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In 2015 the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reviewed the entire scientific record on glyphosate and conservatively decided that the herbicide is a probable human carcinogen.
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This finding contradicts decades of public assurances from the US EPA and Monsanto that glyphosate is safe, and in particular that it does not cause cancer. It calls into question the integrity and the competence of the EPA, which as recently as 2013 reaffirmed its position that “glyphosate does not pose a cancer risk to humans” and licentiously raised the tolerance levels for glyphosate residues* in many foods. This is part of the well-worn regulatory path of mechanically raising tolerance levels for pesticide residues in food in accordance with whatever the manufacturer projects will be the result of a new product or use pattern. For example, let’s go back to the original Roundup Ready approvals in the mid-1990s:
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In final conclusion, Monsanto says that ‘the maximum combined glyphosate and AMPA residue level of approximately 40 ppm in soybean forage resulting from these new uses exceeds the currently established tolerance of 15 ppm. Therefore, an increase in the combined glyphosate and AMPA tolerance for residues in soybean forage will be requested.’ They know very well that adoption of herbicide tolerance crop needs higher safety standards. [Edit: “Higher” meaning allowing higher residues; the safety standard is of course lowered.] In effect, the US tolerance standard of combined glyphosate and AMPA in soybean forage was changed to 100 ppm after they approved the genetically engineered soybean.

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(I highly recommend that entire piece for its details on many kinds of corporate and regulatory “scientific” fraud.)
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[*Suffused pesticide such as glyphosate and its breakdown product AMPA in herbicide tolerant GMOs or neonicotinoid insecticide in pretty much any industrial crop these days, is a premeditated food additive which becomes part of the food by the normal procedures of the agriculture and food systems. Therefore the FDA is required by law to assess and regulate it, including requiring its listing in the ingredients. The fact that the FDA refuses to do so is a typical example of how government regulators systematically break the de jure law in addition to their general gross treachery against the public and environmental health they’re allegedly there to safeguard. Capitalist regulators really have a very different mission. This includes lying about the public health, not defending it. Suffused pesticide is also one of the primary refutations of the FDA’s “substantial equivalence” religious dogma.]
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In the same way that the EPA mechanically raises the allowed poison residue levels at the corporations’ command, so it also has a history of changing its assessments of the carcinogenicity of corporate products in response to changing corporate needs. The most notorious example is glyphosate. EPA knew since at least the early 1980s that glyphosate causes cancer. The evidence was so conclusive that, in spite of EPA’s doing all it could to interpret Monsanto’s own test results in the best possible light, it felt compelled to give the poison Classification C – “Suggestive evidence of carcinogenic potential”.
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In terms of market share glyphosate wasn’t yet a major pesticide at the time of this 1985 classification. But by the early 1990s Monsanto was preparing to bring Roundup Ready crops to market. It was time to whitewash glyphosate’s cancer record more thoroughly. EPA happily complied. Without further ado, with zero new evidence, not even a new round of phony tests, EPA in 1991 changed the classification to Group E, “Not likely to be carcinogenic to humans”. In an example of a common rhetorical ploy, EPA publicists issued an even stronger, more politicized and fraudulent phrasing: “Evidence of non-carcinogenicity to humans.”
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The EPA hasn’t yet issued a position on the IARC report. But based on this history we can expect it will continue to run interference and falsify the evidence on behalf of Monsanto and glyphosate. We’ve already seen act one of the spectacle of fraud in Europe. We can expect the EPA to do the same because it has an intrinsic imperative to maximize poison manufacture and use, what I call the Poisoner imperative. It also joins other agencies in having a mandate to bolster GMOs as an important “growth” (i.e. corporate domination) sector. Then there’s the usual mundane corruption and revolving door motives. And as I mentioned above, EPA’s entire credibility and legitimacy is on the line. It must double down on its lies and stand or fall with Monsanto. To break with the corporation and admit that glyphosate causes cancer would be a tremendous loss of face.
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There is one other possibility. If specially dedicated action groups could effectively propagate the facts about glyphosate directly to the people, evading the propaganda screen of government and mainstream media, and organize pressure groups upon government bodies which have oversight and/or procurement powers with regard to glyphosate to the point that these agencies felt real political pressure, it’s possible that we could not only continue the momentum of municipalities and retailers dropping or refusing to carry various poison products, but that we could even force the EPA to lose confidence in its lies. The EPA has shown a few slight signs of weakness lately. These two first two retrenchments were the direct result of lawsuits, but this latest change of position on neonics and honeybees has been forced by many years of untiring political pressure. Public interest lawsuits as well cannot exist in a technocratic vacuum but depend for their food and oxygen on a broad and committed political consciousness. In the end political action and resolve will decide the battle. In a soon-to-come post I’ll sketch out what kind of action groups I have in mind.
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January 10, 2016

The EPA Fights For 2,4-D and Dioxin

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Since the 1970s the EPA has been an ardent booster of maximal poison spraying and the application of poisons to ever new frontiers. One of the expanded corporate welfare programs was government contracts for herbicide spraying in national forests. Private companies also receive subsidies for massive spraying of 2,4,5-T, and 2,4-D, and glyphosate. This is a direct handout to the timber companies and ultimately a laundered handout to the poison manufacturers.
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By the late 1970s EPA was aware of huge spikes in birth defects and miscarriages in the timber regions where this spraying was most intense. Alsea, Oregon was stricken with a local epidemic of miscarriages and birth defects including babies being born with fatal brain defects or being stillborn without brains. EPA investigators found dioxin in local creek sediments and accumulating in the bodies of local people. By the early 1980s EPA was tracking similar outbreaks in Washington, Oregon, Montana, Wisconsin, and Oklahoma. Internal EPA memos make clear that EPA quickly zeroed in on the dioxins contained in 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D as the likely cause of the outbreaks. A 1981 memo called the dioxin TCDD “the most toxic chemical ever known”, cancer-causing and acutely lethal at “exceedingly low doses”.
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By the late 70s 2,4,5-T had such a bad reputation for its toxicity, and was relatively less important to the Poisoners than other herbicides such as 2,4-D and the triazines, that the US government decided it was expendable and banned it. EPA took the opportunity to blame the epidemics of birth defects and miscarriages on 2,4,5-T while letting 2,4-D off the hook. This was in spite of the fact that at least as early as 1983 EPA was aware that 2,4-D also contains dioxin.
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This information is from a piece by Evaggelos Vallianatos, one of many he’s written presenting information from his recent book Poison Spring. This is a whistle-blowing story based on Vallianatos’s 25 years as an EPA science analyst. Poison Spring describes the EPA’s systematic cover-ups and its lies to the people and Congress on behalf of the corporations that distribute poison. It’s a Nuremburg brief.
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Vallianatos says the information on the birth defect and miscarriage epidemics has been purged from EPA files and databases. This is part of the standard pattern of cover-ups, false science, and lies at EPA. There’s nothing new about the recent exposure of EPA’s manipulation of Dow’s own data in order to whitewash the adverse safety evidence on Enlist Duo. At least since the mid-seventies EPA has sought to cover up the systematic laboratory fraud uncovered by its own auditors.
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It’s always been an insult to common sense that regulators allow the corporations to police themselves and accept the corporation’s own product safety submissions as valid evidence. Simple rationality knows a priori that the fox can’t be allowed to guard the henhouse, and if reason’s not enough for you (ironically, it’s precisely those who exalt a cult of “Reason” who are the most contemptuous of rationality in day to day practice), we have the evidence record of history, which proves that the corporation will always lie about its own products. There are no exceptions to this. It’s as certain as that the sun will rise in the morning.
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Therefore, the fact that regulators like the EPA continue to accept corporate lies at face value and then propagate these lies whitewashed with the agencies’ own stamp of approval is an ongoing scandal and crime against humanity. There is no innocence about any of this. It’s impossible to make an honest mistake about the actions and “studies” of the likes of Monsanto and Dow.
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Then the corporate media takes up the laundered lies and gives them its own embellishment along with its own vote of confidence in the integrity of the regulators, and sometimes of the corporations as well. The goal, always, is to try to prop up “public confidence” in the technology, the poison, the corporation, and in the regulators themselves. That’s why the phrase “public confidence” has such an Orwellian ring these days. It’s a confidence game indeed, played by confidence men.
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As Vallianatos points out, even the rare times the media interrogates a regulator like the EPA, as in the recent Chicago Tribune piece exposing the EPA’s methodological fraud regarding Enlist Duo, the questioning is usually done within the framework of how well policy tallies with the establishment scientific literature. Seldom does anyone question the validity of this literature in the first place. But this literature was compiled largely under corporate direction and, as damning as it often is, still represents only what the corporations were willing to make public. It obscures the even more damning data which the corporations keep secret, and the greater range of scientific research which is never performed in the first place because the corporations and government live in terror of what such research would reveal about the health and environmental destruction wrought by their profitable and ideological products. If Dow’s own tendentious studies of Enlist found such organ toxicity and endocrine disruption, and Monsanto’s own studies (manipulated as they were) proved that glyphosate causes cancer, we can be sure that more rigorous tests would reveal even more horrific results.
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The epidemics of birth defects and miscarriages localized to US regions heavily sprayed with herbicides mirrors the vastly greater epidemics in Vietnam where the US waged vicious chemical warfare, devastating vast landscapes and whole communities with Agent Orange. Agent Orange was a 50-50 mix of 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T. Monsanto and Dow were its main manufacturers. Today Dow expects that “Enlist Duo” herbicide, a combination of 2,4-D and glyphosate, will be shipped and sprayed on a mass basis in 2016. “Enlist” corn and soybeans, first planted on a pilot basis in 2015 but slated for general mass plantings in 2016, are engineered to be resistant to this carcinogenic tandem. So Dow and the EPA are counting on a massive escalation of the spraying and drift of this primary Agent Orange ingredient, 2,4-D, and a massive escalation in the dioxin which will suffuse the environment, including our soil and food.
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2,4-D in its own right causes cancer, birth defects, reproductive problems such as miscarriages, Parkinson’s disease and other afflictions. Just as with glyphosate, 2,4-D is genotoxic, an endocrine disruptor, and causes oxidative stress. All three of these are mechanisms which cause cancer. As an endocrine disruptor it’s carcinogenic at very low doses and therefore has no safe level of application. If we want to significantly lower the cancer rate, we have no option other than to ban glyphosate, 2,4-D, neonicotinoids, and all other endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). 2,4-D is extremely drift prone, commonly destroying other crops. Pro-poison activists often claim that the manufacture of 2,4-D doesn’t automatically produce dioxin as a byproduct the way 2,4,5-T does, but that 2,4-D will be laced with dioxin only if the manufacturer cuts corners. But as Poison Spring documents, at least since the early 1980s EPA has had strong evidence that dioxin is a common byproduct of 2,4-D’s regular manufacture.
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Dow swears up and down its Enlist brand is “clean”, and in 2015 the EPA required that the pilot programs for the Enlist maize and soy varieties use only Dow’s brand of the poison. But if the 2,4-D expansion project goes forward, we can be sure that many farmers will use cheaper, more dangerous mixes. Of course we can’t trust Dow and the EPA either where it comes to the dioxin content of Enlist Duo. 2,4-D as such threatens to turn vast swathes of US arable land into the equivalent of Times Beach.
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And to repeat, even “clean” 2,4-D causes cancer, birth defects, and many other afflictions. Dicamba, the herbicide Monsanto is banking upon for its financial future, has the same severe effects. These herbicides, the same that just yesterday Monsanto and the USDA were calling extremely toxic and fraudulently promising would be rendered obsolete by the allegedly less toxic* Roundup Ready system, must be banned. We must dedicate relentless campaigns to strangling these retrograde, luddite poison crop systems before they become entrenched.
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[*Contrary to the standard lie about glyphosate, it’s impossible to know which is “more” toxic out of glyphosate, 2,4-D, or dicamba, and it’s irrelevant. The fact is that all three are far too toxic to be used. All three must be banned completely.]
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We have the EPA to thank most for allowing 2,4-D based herbicides in the first place. The FDA punts even though 1. it’s legally required to consider these endemic herbicide residues to be food additives, 2. to recognize them as carcinogenic (the EPA also connives on this point), 3. to ban foods which contain suffused glyphosate or 2,4-D, which would mean all food ingredients which came from herbicide tolerant GMOs. The FDA in fact violates the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act with this dereliction, as it has violated the law in many other ways in the course of its rubberstamping and cheerleading for GMOs. The EPA also is used to breaking the de jure law wherever the Poisoner imperative makes it necessary.
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But like I said above about the official “scientific literature”, so it is with “the law”. As the official law has been narrowed and denuded in order to legalize most corporate crimes (and in fact the main purpose of the corporate form itself is to bestow personal legal immunity on criminals by allowing their crimes legally to be laundered through “the corporation”), so the scope of the crimes explodes massively beyond the bounds of the de jure law. As I mentioned at the start of this piece, we’re in the kind of criminal territory where only a Nuremburg-style proceeding would be equal to the character and magnitude of the crimes.
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What to do? The EPA and other regulatory bureaucracies are inherently anti-democratic and inherently secretive. That’s why, even leaving aside mundane corruption motives, all bureaucracies automatically have a close affinity and empathy with Monsanto and its projects, including such notions as the corporation policing itself, “secret science”, and the corporate science paradigm in general.
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We who oppose the poisoning of our food, water, soil, and bodies by dioxin, 2,4-D and glyphosate must not only directly counterattack Monsanto and Dow, but analyze and critique regulatory bureaucracies like the EPA and systematically propagate this analysis and criticism in weaponized form toward the goal of demolishing their credibility and legitimacy. Just as we must do against mercenary establishment “science”.
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