Volatility

May 4, 2016

The EPA Parrots Monsanto

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The EPA posted online, then took back down, its laundered regurgitation of the Monsanto marketing department’s decree against the fact that glyphosate causes cancer. In reality glyphosate causes cancer as confirmed by all the science, this confirmation summed up by the WHO’s IARC in 2015. We now have the EPA’s own parroting of the EU’s earlier rubberstamp of industry lies. The fact is that the WHO’s cancer agency consulted all the science and nothing but the science, while the EPA, the German BfR, and the EU’s EFSA have literally zero science on their side and throw out all the legitimate science. They “assess” nothing but Monsanto’s marketing materials. In fact, among several other EPA documents posted and then taken down at the same time were summaries of three 2015 EPA consultations with Monsanto and a Monsanto slide show for EPA officials.
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Why did EPA post the thing now and then immediately retract it as “not yet final” when every page says “FINAL”? No doubt it was timed to influence the upcoming European vote on the relicensing of glyphosate. But why not post it and leave it up? This seems to indicate a lack of confidence at EPA, or maybe a lack of consensus on how to carry out pro-Monsanto strategy and tactics. Whatever’s going on with these idiots, they seem clumsy. If the idea is to bolster the EFSA’s political credibility with European state ministers by giving the EU’s agency EPA backup, how is this goal attained if the EPA immediately undercuts its own credibility by immediately retracting its own “final” report? According to the EPA’s own account they were incompetent and confused, as they claim they “inadvertently” posted all these documents, including stamping “FINAL” on every page of a report which they now claim is “not yet final”. All that’s been proven here is that the EPA can’t keep its own story straight for even a few hours, and that it lacks confidence in its own ability to sustain its contradiction of the fact that glyphosate causes cancer. It can get hard sometimes, committing crimes against humanity by systematically lying about these crimes.
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April 27, 2016

The Whole False Notion: “Precision”, Genetic Engineering, and GMOs

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Here’s all anyone needs to know about CRISPR etc., the whole false notion of a “second generation” of GMOs based on “gene editing”, RNA interference, and similar tricks: These are the same failed technology, the same failed GMOs, the same failed mode, the same failed agricultural paradigm based on poison, guaranteed to have the same result as all prior pesticides and GMOs. Pests will quickly overcome it, it will function only on the same ever-accelerating pesticide treadmill which already spins endlessly, it will poison people, animals, and the environment, and it will contaminate non-GM crops and wild plants. It’s not possible to be mistaken about any of this. Indeed, these are proven to be intentional primary effects of every technology deployed as part of poison-based agriculture. As its name says, this is the project of maximizing the production and use of poisons in order to maximize the poisoning of people and the Earth. All of this is being done for its own sake, as well as for the sake of profit and power. All of it is disguised with the lie that any of it has anything to do with producing food.
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By now all we have are conscious, willful liars on the one hand, vast amounts of gratuitous, self-willed ignorance on the other, with a few scattered truth-tellers who recognize the clear facts.
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The health dangers of the “new” GMOs are the same as for the old GMOs. Scrambled genomes, insertional and tissue culture mutations, and the effects of these: A gene producing too much or too little of a protein with toxic or other ill effects, producing the wrong protein with toxic effect, producing a misfolded protein with toxic effect (Mad Cow disease is caused by a misfolded protein), toxically excessive or foreign metabolites, gene or cell damage leading to cancer or any number of other health destructions, “silencing” the genes of humans who come into contact (topical, inhaled, ingested) with the RNAi pesticide, and any number of other predictably unpredictable chaotic effects. The new GMOs are the same as the old GMOs.
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In the same way the health dangers are the same as for any other pesticide. The engineers and propagandists have no more idea how genotoxic, hormone disrupting, neurotoxic, organically toxic, and carcinogenic the RNAi pesticides will be than they originally had for the other classes of pesticides, all of which proved to be lethal to humans in all these ways. To put that another way, they know perfectly well that the RNAi pesticides will almost certainly have the same effects that all other pesticides have. The new pesticides are the same as the old pesticides, and will fail against pests and poison people in the same way the old ones always do.
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It’s not possible to be mistaken about any of this. These are all known facts.
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Of course the “new” GMOs are designed to aggravate the socioeconomic and political evils of corporate agriculture and commodity-based production the same way all previous GMOs were designed. Just like all prior GMOs, the goal of the new GMOs is to starve the world in order to feed a handful of gluttons.
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All the hype surrounding the new GMOs is based on the junk science of genetic determinism, same as for the old GMOs. In both cases the facts are:
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1. On the most basic factual level, the engineers and their supporters know vastly less than they claim to know. Jonathan Latham writes,
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[The industry and media’s] exposition is belied by the evidence. If CRISPR were already precise, accurate and specific there would, for example, be no publications in prominent scientific journals titled “Improving CRISPR-Cas nuclease specificity using truncated guide RNAs“. And these would not begin by describing how ordinary CRISPR “can induce mutations at sites that differ by as many as five nucleotides from the intended target”, i.e. CRISPR may act at unknown sites in the genome where it is not wanted (Fu et al., 2014).

Thus CRISPR itself will need tweaking before it can be useful for safe commercial products, and that is the first error of the tweaking argument. So far, it is technically not possible to make a single (and only a single) genetic change to a genome using CRISPR and be sure one has done so (Fichtner et al., 2014). As Fichtner noted “in mammalian systems Cas9 causes a high degree of off-target effects”. And at least until modified versions come into use, this will limit the safety, and hopefully limit the application, of CRISPR and related biotechnologies. There is, furthermore, no guarantee that more precise versions of CRISPR are even biologically possible. Technically therefore, precision is a myth: no form of genome editing can do what is currently being claimed.

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2. They know nothing about the science of genetics or biology. (Not to mention ecology and agronomy.) To believe in genetic determinism requires ignorance of even the most basic elements of the state of the science. Here’s Latham again.
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[A] defined, discrete or simple pathway from gene to trait probably never exists. Most gene function is mediated murkily through highly complex biochemical and other networks that depend on many conditional factors, such as the presence of other genes and their variants, on the environment, on the age of the organism, on chance, and so forth. Geneticists and molecular biologists, however, since the time of Gregor Mendel, have striven to find or create artificial experimental systems in which environmental or any other sources of variation are minimised so as not to distract from the more “important” business of genetic discovery.

But by discarding organisms or traits that do not follow their expectations, geneticists and molecular biologists have built themselves a circular argument in favour of a naive deterministic account of gene function. Their paradigm habitually downplays the enormous complexities by which information passes (in both directions) between organisms and their genomes. It has created an immense and mostly unexamined bias in the default public understanding of genes and DNA.

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Where this isn’t willful lying, it’s the common mode of being seduced by a crackpot version of “scientific method”. They reify these ivory tower experimental conditions of limited usefulness into real conditions which give real knowledge.
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The primary lie making up the marketing campaign for the “new” GMOs is that they’ve been made with extra-special “precision”. The propaganda theme that the new GMOs have been engineered with precision is the exact same lie as the theme that the old GMOs were the result of precision engineering. In reality all genetic engineering is an extremely sloppy, wasteful, scattershot empirical process relying on brute force and massive reiteration to produce an adequate result once in awhile. Genetic engineering and its results is best represented by the proverbial stopped clock which is correct twice a day. So it’s been for all GMOs to date, and so it is for the “new” GMOs.
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In itself, precision is only as intelligent or moronic as allowed by the extent of one’s knowledge. Latham gives a good analogy: “Suppose, as a non-Chinese speaker, I were to precisely remove from a Chinese text one character, one line, or one page. I would have one hundred percent precision, but zero control over the change in meaning. Precision, therefore, is only as useful as the understanding that underlies it.” In reality, even legitimate science knows little about the details of genomes and next to nothing about the chaotic genome effects of genetic engineering. When we add to this ignorance of the details and repercussions the engineers’ junk science of biological determinism and their complete ignorance of the state of genetic and biological science, we see how even if they did have a precision technique they’d still have absolutely no idea what they were doing. They’d be firing with good marksmanship into a soundless, pitch black void. But to say again, they have no precision technique either. They’re really hurling handfuls of gravel into that void.
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The “precision” lie is a core article of the religious faith of scientism, going back centuries to the de jure Christian roots of the engineering ideology. Although engineers and scientists have never had such precision control of anything, they’ve always prayed to themselves and lied to the world that they did possess such precision knowledge and control. Here again, the hype about CRISPR is just the latest incarnation of the most hackneyed lies. Here too it’s not possible to be mistaken. Anyone familiar with the history of science and engineering, especially the history of pesticides and GMOs, knows the lie by heart.
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Technologies based on the reductive, poisonist junk science like genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, synthetic “life”, robotics, nanotech, geoengineering and others share the fantasy of the engineer exercising total control through the precision use of control technologies and engineering techniques. Science has seldom been more than a servant of this cult religion of control. More often than not the process by which these technologies are developed has little to no “precision” involved, but is a very messy process based on profligate, wasteful deployment of brute force empiricism toward whatever approximate result is “close enough” in practice as long as it can be transformed through the fantasy into an idea of precision. In the same way, as a rule these technologies don’t work in the real world. The real world performance of GMOs ranges from temporarily adequate as long as supported by the most lavish, expensive panoply of inputs – bank credit, machinery, fertilizer, irrigation, pesticides – to a complete disaster from the start. Nowhere on Earth have GMOs ever consistently performed as well as the much healthier, much less expensive true crops. But as long as cheap oil, industrial inputs, and corporate welfare can provide enough brute force to keep GMOs in the field at all, this is enough for the scientism cultists and their fanboys to fetishize GMOs into a transcendent religious ideal.
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When we consider the origin and circumstances of the STEM cadre this cultism isn’t surprising. STEM disciplines attract the most hierarchically-oriented, authoritarian, reductive, order-obsessed types who are also the most alienated from physical (ecological) reality and at the same time possessed of the most intense religiosity. In the modern era scientism and “Progress” have presented themselves as secular civil religions, but this pseudo-secularity is just a temporary variation on the Christian millennarian roots of technology worship and science ideology. For over 900 years inventors and practitioners of engineering and science explicitly saw themselves as imitating Adam in the Garden of Eden, creating in the image of the Creator, becoming co-Creators with God, and as preparing the human condition for the Second Coming. To this day these apocalyptic religious themes remain explicit and normative among aerospace and weapons engineers. It’s also standard rhetoric among AI cultists and “transhumanists”.
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The explicit Christian rhetoric is also common among genetic engineers and GMO cultists, and the transcendent tone, evangelical attitude, and warnings/hopes of the imminent apocalypse are exactly the same. It’s the same millennarian Christian religiosity, even where temporarily submerged by civil religious ideology.
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Given this extremist interior, the fact that the engineers usually must function as lower-level cogs in the corporate machine, obeying the dictates of executives and marketers, the whole endeavor just a subdivision of the much more comprehensive Mammon religion, must bother them. To give just one example, Lords of the Harvest describes the initial cultural conflict at Monsanto between the high-flown fantasies and pretensions of the genetic engineering division and the agrochemical division, which the genetic engineers at first disdained as a gang of backward luddites. It was only after the GE division put up a perfect record of failure over years of very expensive confusion that they finally lowered their sights and began working on poison plants. (They failed at this too; one day soon I’ll write a piece documenting Monsanto’s near-perfect record of failure and theft.)
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When we put all this together, it’s no wonder the techno-cultists exalt the fantasy of precision and control and keep telling themselves and the world lies about it. And although they continue to tell these lies about the GMOs which have been deployed so far, at the same time they implicitly admit they were always lying about these when they hype the alleged “new” kinds of GMOs, even going so far as to deny these GMOs are GMOs, which also disparages the existing types. They’re trying first to convince themselves that this time the “precision” really is precise, the “control” real control.
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Most profoundly, we see in these phenomena some of the sources of the indelible culture of the lie among technocrats and scientism cultists. Humanity should have demanded of the very first scientist, “What is Truth?” The idealization of some notion of Truth, which is touted as the ultimate justification of science, originated in Christian theology and to this day remains a religious justification. Scientific “Truth” is therefore Truth as revealed by religious transcendence. As the engineers and scientists constantly say, with their technology they seek to transcend reality – the environment, biology, mortality, the irrationality and emotionality of human beings, the physical Earth. Their will to truth means the will to another world, an otherworld, an afterworld. Their will to truth must go hand in hand with the cult of technology. This means their “Truth” has always been purely instrumental. So from both directions – Truth as a theological article, and Truth as whatever idea of control technology is able to effect, right down to boosting profit margins – the culture of the lie is inherent in the technological version of Truth. As with all fundamentalist cults, the scientism cult recognizes only its transcendent ideal and its day to day empirical work, but displays absolute faithlessness toward any and all day to day measures of fact or truth. As for science itself, for the STEM cult this is nothing but an appendage of instrumental engineering. At best it can sometimes serve as a methodological guide, but is most commonly a propaganda facade. Just as the pseudo-democratic, pseudo-political ideology which has supplanted classical liberalism is called “neoliberalism”, so bona fide science has become a fraudulent “neoscience” completely engulfed within the corporate science paradigm of today’s STEM establishment. Between this mercenary hijacking and the religious basis of science as such, there’s little left of the exalted, alleged rationalistic Enlightenment mythology. It’s the practicing engineers and scientists themselves who present the most extreme manifestation of human irrationalism and human emotionalism, as well as malignity, faithlessness, and absolute practical nihilism. But in their minds they dwell in a cloud city presided over by their own god. They see their task as to wipe out the ecological reality of the real Earth and humanity and replace it with a technology-dominated co-Creation between themselves and this god. If humanity is to survive, we must put a stop to them.
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April 22, 2016

Earth Day: Poisoner News Summary April 22nd, 2016

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*Earth Day. If a god created this world, this ecology, the beauty of it all, the intricacy and logic of it all, it’s inconceivable this god would have wanted humans to trash it, to defile it, to desecrate it. This, I believe, is the incontrovertible a priori for any meaningful theology or philosophy, whatever one’s personal state of faith. The much abused translation “dominion” in Genesis can mean only stewardship, if it has any meaning at all.
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This perception is reinforced by the fail-safe mechanism God created, the way nature imposes a correction wherever, on account of whatever temporary environmental circumstance, a species runs out of control. From any point of view including that of secular biology, Homo sapiens is certainly out of control. The circumstance enabling this has been the temporary availability of cheaply extractable fossil fuels. When we factor in humanity’s moral character, we must also recognize the rogues of the species, those who seek to poison us all, as evil.
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The stewardship model has been proven unanimously, on every level from the religious to the most nuts-and-bolts secular, to create the best life and greatest happiness for all even as it preserves and enhances the ecology at every level from the local to the global.
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This is the only true religion, the only true philosophy, the only true science. This is the one and only Truth. Do we still dream of the Garden of Eden? But this Earth is the one and only Garden of Eden, because it is humanity’s one and only home. Time’s up, and we must choose.
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*Climate scientists admit they’re “censoring their own research”, because the evidence indicates a current status and prognosis far worse than what they’ve generally been willing to report. Even as it is, what’s already been publicized proves that none of the popular “reforms” can have any effect and simply comprise a form of denialism, the form of putting off real action. If scientists told the truth about how bad things really are, even those willing to pay lip service to caring about the climate crisis would tune out the science completely and become de jure deniers.
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This is because even among those who wring their hands over climate change there’s a near-complete unwillingness to face up to the fact that there is one way and only one way to do anything about this crisis: Emit far less GHGs, stop destroying carbon sinks, rebuild carbon sinks.
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That makes the hand-wringers and crocodile-criers climate deniers as well.
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*The Chinese government is about to launch the campaign we’ve been predicting for years, its attempt to propagate its own GMO cartel to compete with that of the West. This will complement its longstanding campaign of land-grabbing in Africa and elsewhere. The goals are to ensure China’s own CAFO feed chain and to open a new front in its challenge to US power. ChemChina’s deal with Syngenta intends to co-opt some top-of-the-line Western technical expertise and start splitting the EU’s interest in this intensifying geopolitical struggle.
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China would be better off bolstering its own agricultural resiliency and that of the allies it’s trying to cultivate by fully deploying agroecology for food production. This would make for far greater food security in times of climate chaos, ecological collapse, and geopolitical conflict. Europe still has the chance to do this if it chooses, but EU elites are dead set on collective suicide, judging by their ardent embrace of the TTIP and CETA and their increasingly aggressive attempts to force GMOs on Europe. Similarly, China’s elites are basically the same as Western elites. They too are incapable of thinking in terms other than globalization and commodity agriculture. Deng Xiaoping said, “Black cat, white cat, as long as it catches mice it’s a good cat.” But any cat operating in the oil-dependent industrial monoculture commodity fields won’t be catching mice much longer, as his nine lives are just about used up. Indeed, even by the conventional economic outlook China looks to be trying to get into the GMO market at its peak, as the product has reached market saturation and stalled out around the world. The Western agrochemical/GMO sector is cannibalizing itself, which is what drove Syngenta into the Chinese orbit in the first place, after the Swiss company at first hoped it could maintain a “neutral” independence. It’s not clear what incentives the Chinese will offer the farmers of the world, and what new lies they’ll tell, in order to continue with the GMO paradigm but get the world to switch from the West to the Orient. One thing we can be sure of, the Chinese product won’t work any better than the Western, nor will it force the use of any less poison.
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*One critical battlefront where Monsanto, and the GMO ideal itself, is facing rejection is among Africans who are rejecting Bt cotton. Africans have seen the havoc wrought in India as well as closer to home in South Africa. They know the product is disastrous for farmers. Burkina Faso’s attempt to flout this fact led quickly to one of the typical outcomes: Even when the GM cotton crop isn’t decimated by pests and yields well on paper, the lint is of subpar length and therefore makes for an inferior product which can be sold only at inferior prices. All this is after paying a premium price for the seed. Therefore the government is now planning to phase out the fraudulent GM seeds and replace them completely with non-GM conventional seeds by 2018. This parallels and goes beyond India’s so far more modest program to encourage the use of native, non-GM cotton seeds.
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*Pakistan has had nothing but travails of its own with Bt cotton, and now must cope with the corrupt politics of GM maize. Here too there’s a scandal driven by the climate change minister’s surreptitious and illegal approval of commercial release of Monsanto’s GM maize without prior field trials. This violates the national biosafety law. Under pressure from farmers and scientists the government is halting the sale of the seeds. Leaving aside its usual, long-debunked lies about GMOs being good for farmers, Monsanto openly says the purpose of GMO commercialization is for commodity globalization, and even more for the propaganda of the commodification idea: “Monsanto official Aamir Mirza said…that the promotion of biotechnology will…send strong signals that the country is welcoming investments in research into cutting-edge technologies. ‘This will improve the agriculture sector’s international competitiveness over the long term,’ he remarked.”
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ALL problems of hunger and malnutrition among the poor have been known at least since the 1970s to be directly caused or greatly aggravated by agricultural commodification. Monsanto and its flunkeys like to tell lies about “feeding the world”, but their conscious, intentional goal and action sums up to GMOs Starve the World
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*Monsanto faces mounting problems collecting its tax in Latin America. Brazil and Argentina don’t have the same draconian intellectual property laws as those of the US. Therefore Monsanto has to rely on the farmer’s contractual agreement to pay the Monsanto Tax. This is readily enough collected at the point of sale when farmers formally purchase Roundup Ready or Intacta soybean seed. But how to force farmers who save and replant GM seed (or are just accused of doing so) to pay the tax, in a place where you can’t so easily sue them? Monsanto’s idea has been to make each farmer produce his tax document when he brings in his soybean harvest to the trader. If the farmer can’t produce proof he paid the tax, Monsanto demands that the trader to collect the tax on Monsanto’s behalf, or else refuse to accept the shipment if the farmer refuses to pay. The shipment is assumed to be GM unless the farmer can prove he used only non-GM seeds, but Monsanto sets the bar for this proof so high as to be near impossible to meet. The tax is then remitted to Monsanto. The trader gets nothing for acting as Monsanto’s collection agency.
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It’s not surprising that most traders have objected to this arrangement (that’s our Monsanto, making friends everywhere it goes), and now the Argentine government, which has already disappointed Monsanto many times in failing to meet the company’s demand to tighten seed patent law, is intervening. The government says it will exercise oversight and must approve of any arrangement where Monsanto or its dragooned agents demand a tax from farmers.
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This unfavorable environment for Monsanto’s patent privilege is a major motivation for the company to commercialize the Terminator gene as quickly as is politically possible.
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*Case study in the corporate science paradigm. Where scientists aren’t sufficiently self-policing, authoritarian regimes will deploy varying levels of coercion to enforce the party line in “science”. We see it with US regulators like the USDA and EPA, and we see it now even more aggressively official with the British government.
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These are all manifestations of the total assault on democracy by the corporations, which are totalitarian organizations recognizing zero right for any value to exist other than their own profit prerogatives. In the case of science, part of the whole mythology as elaborated by Karl Popper is that science is an integral part of the “open society”. This means that science, in order to be socially constructive and true to itself, can be undertaken only under conditions of complete transparency and intellectual freedom. Thus true science and democracy go hand in hand, while any kind of secrecy or censorship of science is automatically an assault on democracy as well. (That’s part of mythology because establishment science has never in fact functioned that way, nor have most of its practitioners ever agreed with democratic values.)
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*Lawsuits are part of a general delaying action. Since as a rule those who file lawsuits would be unwilling to engage in more radical forms of action, it’s good that they at least do this. Lawsuits have the primary effect of delaying the Poisoner progress, as the USDA recently complained about the EPA. They can also be excellent occasions for public education and agitation by abolitionists, and we must use these opportunities far more effectively. But like any other reform action condoned by the establishment, they’re insufficient and are no substitute for the necessary work of building and enacting the abolition movement and the food sovereignty way of life.
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*Perhaps the most astonishing thing about the whole Poisoner campaign is how right out in plain sight governments and corporations are intentionally, systematically destroying antibiotics as an effective medical treatment, and no one cares.
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*Tom Philpott softens under the Bill Nye treatment. No surprise there.
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Monsanto’s record is absolutely perfect throughout its history: It sells as much poison as it can and tells every lie imaginable about it. Philpott knows this perfectly well and yet pretends to find these lies believable. He goes so far as to imply that Monsanto can be an honest broker. Once again the rule is proven, that every system propagandist, including the “reformer” types, has his price for becoming a de jure liar. In the case of Nye, Philpott, and the labeling “leaders” who were willing to endorse the secret Vilsack/GMA conclave, the price may be rhetorical, the “quality” of the lie. But make no mistake, all such persons are, in the final analysis, on the Monsanto side.
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*A new study has found that quinone outside inhibitors, a class of fungicide whose use on vegetables and grains in the US has surged exponentially in recent years, affect mouse neural cells in vitro in ways similar to the neural cell effects found in humans suffering from autism, advanced age, and Alzheimer’s disease.
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Now, it’s important to note, Zylka told me in an interview, that in vitro research like the kind his team conducted for this study is only the first step in determining whether a chemical poses risk to people. The project identified chemicals that can cause harm to brain cells in a lab setting, but it did not establish that they harm human brains as they’re currently used. Nailing that down will involve careful epidemiological studies, Zylka said: Scientists will have to track populations that have been exposed to the chemicals—say, farm workers—to see if they show a heightened propensity for brain disorders, and they’ll have to test people who eat foods with residues of suspect chemicals to see if those chemicals show up in their bodies at significant levels.

That work remains to be done, Zylka said. “What’s most disturbing to me is that we’ve allowed these chemicals to be widely used, widely found on food and in the environment, without knowing more about their potential effects,” he said.

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Contrary to this nonsense, we know for a fact that all agricultural poisons are severely harmful to humans and other animals. In the hundred year history of poison-based agriculture there has never been an exception among the poisons for which evidence has been compiled at all. So by now, for any rational person, the first step is to regard the case as closed and to abolish all agricultural poisons forthwith. The endless whack-a-mole of testing which is mechanically called for by every lukewarm critic of these poisons is nothing but procrastination, at best. That is, where it’s not a willful delaying tactic.
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Our supposition that the call for “more testing” is a scam is reinforced when we consider the fact, known perfectly well by Philpott and Zylka, that the kind of epidemiological studies they call for here are seldom sought or funded, and when they are carried out their results are dismissed out of hand by regulators like the EPA, FDA, and the German BfR and EU’s EFSA as we saw most recently in the case of their whitewash of glyphosate’s proven carcinogenicity. So epidemiological study is, for official regulatory purposes, unscience. Meanwhile testing people who have ingested residues is never done, and the many preliminary studies which would have to be performed, in order to ascertain the presence of pesticide residues in the food supply in the first place, are also evaded by regulators and can be carried out by independent researchers only in the most sporadic, ad hoc way. (Meanwhile the FDA illegally refuses to regulate pesticides as the food additives they self-evidently are.) So this prescription for “more and better testing” describes a scenario which no one within the establishment will ever enact, and no one outside the establishment would ever have the resources to enact.
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Nor should dissidents want to use our scarce resources this way, since as I said we already know that all these poisons cause cancer, birth defects, and neurodisease, along with a host of other harms. We have vastly more than enough evidence already, compiled over the course of a century. We need better use of the sufficient evidence we have, not the insufficient course of procrastination, filling the wasted time with vain calls for “more and better testing”.
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The political dance between “reformers” and the poison manufacturers is made complete with the corporate retort.
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In an emailed statement, a BASF spokeswoman wrote that cell tissue studies like Zylka’s “have not demonstrated relevance compared with results from studies conducted on [live] animals.” She added, “While the study adds to the debate of some scientific questions, it provides no evidence that the chemicals contribute to the development of some diseases of the central nervous system. This publication has no impact on the established safety of pyraclostrobin when used according to label instructions in agricultural settings.” A Bayer spokesman told me that the company’s scientists are looking into the Zylka study and “don’t have any initial feedback to offer right now.” He added that “our products are rigorously tested and their safety and efficacy is our focus.”

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In fact all establishment scientists and commentators on science flip-flop constantly on whether entire classes of research are valid or not. Thus when BASF contemplates this case, they suddenly discover that in vitro research as such is invalid. Yet like the Stalinists who officially rejected quantum mechanics even as they applied it for the Soviet nuclear program, so BASF constantly uses in vitro research itself, especially in the genetic engineering process. Similarly, in vivo lab studies are generally considered the gold standard in science (a notion which has problems of its own, which I’ll leave aside for now), except where these must suddenly be thrown out because they don’t adequately reflect real world conditions or allegedly have faulty methodology even though the methodology is the same as that of prior studies the corporation itself carried out. This suddenly becomes the corporate position when in vivo studies provide evidence adverse to corporate interests. The most infamous example is the scientific establishment’s defamation of the 2012 Seralini study, which was a perfect example of the classic falsificationist scientific method in action. To this day pro-GMO activists will say with a straight face that the Seralini study, nearly identical to prior Monsanto studies in every way except in its longer duration and the parameters it measured, was a bad study while the near-identical Monsanto studies were good.
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Finally, epidemiological studies which actually do measure things under real world conditions are rejected as a class on the opposite grounds, that they’re not well enough controlled, the moment they provide evidence adverse to a corporate campaign. Like we said, this is invariably the case where it comes to agricultural poisons. This is why regulators, on principle, refuse to recognize the existence of epidemiological science.
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As we can see, contrary to its lies about itself “science” has no stable canons of practice or evidence, but is the same game of doing whatever you have to do to get the “evidence” you want and suppress the evidence which is against you as is standard in every other branch of politics. To continue playing the corporate science game is to condemn oneself to a literally endless round of whack-a-mole. The actual science is unequivocal and overwhelming, and confirms what reason and common sense always knew: Poison is poisonous to us, and the campaign of putting it on our food is insane and evil and must be put to an end with all due speed. But as we also see, the lukewarm have a different agenda which is more in line with that of the corporations. Whether it’s that they lack confidence in reason and real science, or whether they actively support corporate capitalism and are willing to tolerate a certain level of intentionally caused cancer (thus the regulatory concept of “tolerances”), or most likely a combination of this cowardice and this evil, they end up in agreement with the corporate poisoners that no level of evidence will ever be enough to convict poisons of being poisons.
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Self-evidently, this is not the way forward.
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April 15, 2016

GMO News Summary April 15th 2016: Glyphosate Special

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1. Because of its extreme toxicity and the magnitude of its use, glyphosate is the worst and most important poison in the world. Namely, it’s the most important sacrament of the cult of Poisonism. Therefore when the people rise to fight this poison, we have war. Poisonism has always been war – the war of humanity against nature, and of human against human. This latter has until recently been only one-way aggression. Only now are the people rising to fight back.
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So far the struggle is proceeding almost exclusively within the confines of consumerism and representative democracy. Given these limitations, the European Parliament has taken a significant step in the counterattack against glyphosate.
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It’s been a year since the WHO gave the most respected establishment validation of what ecological and humanist campaigners have been stressing for many years, that glyphosate causes cancer. Since then the attempts of the German government and the European Commission’s EFSA to whitewash glyphosate have been unavailing politically. Today the Commission faces a tough, glyphosate-resistant weed-infested row to hoe. In March the Commission had to step back from its boorish attempt to get glyphosate re-licensed for 15 years under regulations loosened even further from the extremely loose status quo. When several member states indicated they’d vote against such a scheme, the Commission postponed the vote to the next meeting in May.
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Now the Parliament has voted for what, depending on one’s point of view, is the outline of a compromise renewal of glyphosate, or the placing of a cordon around it with the goal eventually of tightening the cordon to squeeze the political life out of the poison. It’s far from being a ban (though it would place several important partial bans such as on municipal use in parks and playgrounds, consumer use in gardens and yards, and especially on the scourge of burndown use on crops about to be harvested), but would be better than the Commission’s original attempted decree.
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The Parliament’s vote is non-binding, but is meant to put pressure on the binding vote of the member state ministers which will take place in May. As one Green parliamentary member put it, “This is a shot across the bow of the Commission.”
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2. At the same time, European governments are banning glyphosate formulations containing the adjuvant POEA. Governments and corporations have always known that many of the ancillary ingredients which are there to enhance the effect of the primary poison are themselves as toxic or more toxic than the primary. And of course the point of combining them is to make the entire formulation more poisonous. That’s why they first invented the Orwellian scam of calling things the “active” ingredient and the “inert” ingredients. It was supposed to make people assume that only one of the ingredients was a poison.
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In the case of Roundup and other glyphosate formulations, studies have found POEA itself, and formulations containing it, to be even more toxic than glyphosate itself. Anti-poison campaigners have long emphasized that the universal regulatory practice of assessing only the ivory tower “active ingredient” by itself, in the pure form which is never used in real life, is one of the major forms of regulatory fraud. If there were ever going to be a legitimate assessment, it had to assess each poison in itself as well as their combined formulation. Of course that never happened, and we’re long past the point where it would make sense to “go back” to that desire even if such a thing were politically possible.
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While I’m glad the POEA bans are spreading in Europe, I wonder if the sacrifice of particular adjuvants might become a delaying tactic in order to prolong the political viability of glyphosate itself. The BfR and EFSA have already been willing to concede that some formulations might be carcinogenic even as they gave glyphosate itself a clean bill of health. This can dovetail well with how our side has so long been emphasizing the greater relevance of the formulations as opposed to ivory tower glyphosate.
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Are we now going to play whack-a-mole with the ancillary poisons? Let’s get back to the main fact: Glyphosate in itself is cancer juice, and banning one adjuvant after another isn’t going to change this main fact. Today’s POEA bans are a system ploy, being undertaken under duress but a ploy nonetheless. The Germans and the EFSA were already willing to give ground on the adjuvants. Monsanto itself says banning POEA will have “minimal” effect on its Roundup business.
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As long as the basic fact remains unchanged, as long as glyphosate remains in play as the world’s number one agricultural poison and props up the GMO regime, Monsanto will be fine and the cancer will continue.
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While the formulations may be even worse, glyphosate by itself causes cancer as well as birth defects and a vast host of health and environmental assaults. The formulations are worse – but if this fact itself becomes a delaying tactic, then it’s best to reduce the principles of the counterattack to the clear, unequivocal, unornamented.
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Therefore I think the emphasis on formulations may be outliving its usefulness, if the enemy is now willing to go along with it in order to exonerate the core poison. Monsanto itself now shrugs and says the loss of POEA is no problem, as long as glyphosate itself remains on the market. I think by now it’s better to drop the formulation point in most contexts and stick with “Glyphosate causes cancer and has to be banned completely.”
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3. The resolution voted by the Parliament may be combined with a more general POEA ban to constitute the basis of a compromise Commission proposal which will become acceptable to the member states at the binding May vote on glyphosate’s renewal. Result: Glyphosate gets a new lease on life in Europe, albeit under moderate restrictions.
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Is this on the vector toward a complete ban? As long as the poison is basically available to farmers and they still want to buy it, this is still just nibbling at the fringe of the ongoing glyphosate cataclysm. As long as Monsanto can conserve the core of the product, glyphosate will continue to afflict us. The measure of ultimate progress is to restrict and ban agricultural use.
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But we can also recall that the original abolition movement also sought and attained such a cordon, politically and geographically hemming in slavery, as the first big step toward total abolition. Of course the cordon was never sufficient in itself. But it set the stage for the subsequent, more severe and necessary steps.
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If today’s anti-poison campaigners and their supporters are resolved, determined, and relentless about imposing such a cordon as the first big step toward today’s abolition imperative, it may be that history shall unfold the same way. For sure, today’s great crisis calls for the greatness of vision and action sufficient to the challenge. Whatever we do, we must do with total commitment, and it must be toward the sole necessary goal of the abolition of Poisonism.
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March 18, 2016

GMO News Summary March 18th, 2016

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*Imagine if every American who claimed to believe in property rights, and who claimed to believe that trespassers, vandals, and assailants should be punished, would be serious and actually apply that to real cases like poison drift. Imagine if America really believed in this kind of property right and really thought there was no right to trespass and destroy. Just one of many reasons pesticides could never have gotten started in the first place if this was a rational, moral society.
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*Demand for non-GM conventional maize, soy, and other crops has been growing in recent years. Farmers who can deliver non-contaminated shipments are offered premiums by an increasing number of processors and manufacturers. This demand has been driven almost completely by grassroots political and consumer demand as embodied in the labeling movement and the rising abolition movement. Meanwhile farmers are also being driven away from GMOs by the overall poor and deteriorating performance of increasingly expensive GM crops. The political and consumer trend has been bolstered recently by low commodity prices, which are giving farmers an added incentive to make the switch from GM to non-GM cultivation. They look to the non-GM premium to make up for lost revenues. As a result in 2015 GM plantings in the US were stagnant for soybeans and declined for maize. But figures for both have been above 90% for years, and it’s likely that GMO cultivation has reached market saturation in the US as it has almost everywhere else on Earth. The cultural, scientific, and political movement to abolish GMOs therefore can contemplate the prospect that our main action can be to start driving back the monster, if natural and economic structural limits are already imposing a cordon on the GMO advance.
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*The Central Institute for Cotton Research (CICR) is dedicated to industrialized commodity cotton production. By no stretch of the imagination is it anti-GMO. Nevertheless it seems free of the religious cultism which is standard among Western regulators and researchers. It looks soberly at GMO technology, assessing it from a “rational” capitalist point of view. (That is, as rational as one can be within the insane framework of commodity agriculture.) Today the CICR is of the opinion that India will lose nothing and be better off if Monsanto were to become the first ever Galtian crybaby to actually follow through on its threat to quit and go home. In this case the tantrum and threat are because the Indian government has once again cut the tax it will allow Monsanto to exact on its seed sales. It’s quite true that India will lose nothing and be better off. But Monsanto probably won’t do us the favor of following through on its hissyfit.
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*A new industry report confirms what Charles Benbrook has been reporting for years, what Brazil’s National Cancer Institute said a year ago, and what we all know is the case, that GMOs greatly increase pesticide use. The report focuses on how GMOs have driven the great leap in glyphosate use in recent decades. The report is unrealistically optimistic about the future prospects for GMOs and glyphosate, however.
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*Thanks to pressure from labeling advocates, the Senate voted very narrowly to reject cloture on the DARK Act. It’ll be back immediately, indeed this was a procedural vote rather than a “final” vote until a new bill comes along. While I agree that the DARK Act must be opposed, this is obviously not sufficient. I note the changed concepts of what’s the basic trend and what’s a positive development: A few years ago the trend was the gradual but progressive growth of the state level labeling movement, and what was good was any progress on this front. Today the trend is an ever more obsessive focus on the pro-Monsanto central government, and what’s good is endlessly fighting off iterations of the hard version of the DARK Act while increasingly swooning over soft-DARK proposals. Axiom: Any version of FDA preemption is philosophically abhorrent and fraudulent as a practical matter, if the goal is really supposed to be a strong labeling policy as a step toward abolition. But where it comes to many labeling advocates, I increasingly doubt either of those is a real goal. Is this war of attrition, this rut, really now the measure of progress? Am I the only one who’s already extremely sick of it?
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March 11, 2016

GMO News Summary March 11th, 2016

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*The movement to abolish glyphosate once and for all is developing. Over the past week the portents have been especially strong from Europe.
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The magnitude of the crisis becomes ever more apparent as the latest study of glyphosate exposure found that well over 99% of Germans have glyphosate residue in their urine. “The report analysed glyphosate residue in urine and it concluded that 75% of the target group displayed levels that were five times higher than the legal limit of drinking water. A third of the population even showed levels that were between ten and 42 times higher than what is normally permissible.” Children, who are most vulnerable to glyphosate’s genotoxic and endocrine disruption effects, had the highest levels. When we consider that Germany has no cultivation of Roundup Ready crops and therefore significantly less indigenous use of glyphosate than countries like the US, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, or Australia, we can see how the aggressiveness with which this extreme poison is invading our food, water, and bodies has reached an intolerable level. No political prescription which wants to take the extremely circuitous route to an eventual glyphosate ban is sufficient to the crisis. The monarch butterfly won’t wait either.
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This news added force to a rising momentum against at least the most rote re-approval of glyphosate, which the EU government had expected to see the member states wave through earlier this week. The Commission has proposed that the cancerous poison not only be fully re-approved through 2031 but that its use even be expanded. Meanwhile the EFSA is already in the process of almost doubling the allowed “tolerance” level for human ingestion. This is in spite of the fact that the EU has known since the 1980s that glyphosate causes cancer and birth defects, a decades-long cover-up finally and definitively unmasked by the WHO’s Cancer Agency in 2015. There’s no longer the slightest doubt, factually, morally, or legally (in Nuremburg terms) : Those propagating glyphosate, from the manufacturers and technicians to the regulators to the marketers to the users, are willfully causing cancer on a mass scale.
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This realization and culpability isn’t enough to drive most governments to ban glyphosate, and in most cases they concur with the European Commission that glyphosate and cancer need to be maximized. But under rising pressure from the people, several European state governments are at least balking at the most rote fast-track procedure. The environmental ministers of France, the Netherlands, Italy, and Sweden stated that they would vote No if the re-approval is to be based only on the EFSA’s fraudulent assessment, which was nothing but a regulator rubber stamp on the industry’s own propaganda package, issued by Monsanto’s Glyphosate Task Force. The French environment minster stated that her agency concurs with the WHO’s assessment and rejects that of the EFSA. Even the Netherlands agriculture minister said that they need more information: “If there is no possibility to postpone the vote, then we will vote against the proposal.” Sustainable Pulse reported that Bulgaria, Denmark, Austria, and Belgium were also planning to vote No. Germany was said to be planning to abstain.
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Facing this looming revolt, the EU postponed the vote rather than face possible defeat. Reports are that the vote is rescheduled for the next member state meeting in six weeks. They still need a decision before the end of June, at which time glyphosate’s license expires. Officials and the media are saying expiration would lead to a “legal limbo”, which I think means governments would have to scramble to concoct ad hoc “legalizations” which would in fact be illegal by EU law, in order to allow the poison to continue to be sold and used in defiance of the law. The policeman is there to preserve disorder, and no entity is more lawless than today’s governments and legal systems. Still, if they can’t coerce the vote I’d expect them to just put off the expiration date again. The June date is already an illegitimate extension by the EFSA from the original expiration in December 2015. The Commission is now discussing concessions it could make in order to get the vote it needs, such as proposing a shorter re-approval period than 15 years, or banning formulations containing POEA (as Germany has already done). But as the WHO’s IARC recently reiterated, the evidence is that pure glyphosate itself causes cancer, and not just commercial formulations. PAN Europe greeted the news that the EU had postponed the re-approval vote by calling for a ban not only on the POEA co-formulant but on glyphosate itself.
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The increasingly hostile political climate I recently described continues to build and to force at least cosmetic concessions from the regulators. “Public pressure against glyphosate in countries across Europe has been intense, with nearly 1.5 million people petitioning Andriukaitis for a ban on the substance.” Now EU health and food safety commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis is saying his agency DG Sante will start to think about someday requiring scientific evidence for its assessments and rejecting the non-science, secret, ghost studies which make up the bedrock of all regulator assessments today.
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Potentially as momentous, the European Chemicals Agency will reassess the human health effects of glyphosate in light of the WHO’s finding. If the ECHA finds that glyphosate is carcinogenic, harmful to the reproductive system, or an endocrine disruptor, according to EU law the chemical will have to be banned. But this assessment isn’t expected to be completed until late in 2017. Greenpeace calls for any reauthorization of glyphosate to be postponed until after this report is released. Whether or not this becomes a true legal and most of all political deadline for glyphosate or whether it’s another EFSA-style whitewash will depend on the grassroots will of the people. The more the motivated people force the facts into the public consciousness and pressure retailers to stop selling glyphosate, food retailers to stop selling food poisoned by it, and towns to stop buying it, the less tenable it will become for regulators to continue telling lies which will only further discredit themselves and destroy their own legitimacy.
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Here’s a tally of some of the campaign accomplishments in Europe so far. Several retailers have pledged to stop selling glyphosate-based products. These include do-it-yourself shops in Germany (Bauhaus, Baumarkt, Hornbach, Obi and Toom), Switzerland (Coop, Migros), Austria (Bauhaus, Bellaflora) and Luxembourg (Cactus, Profi Zentrum). In the Netherlands, major garden centres and DIY shops have stopped selling glyphosate, including Intratuin, Praxis, Groenrijk, Ranzijn and Hornbach. Several cities including Edinburgh (Scotland), Barcelona (Spain), Hamburg (Germany), Rennes (France), Rovereto and Livorno (Italy) have promised to ban or otherwise end the use of glyphosate in public spaces.
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In Europe there’s enough grassroots and public pressure to drive member governments to sometimes take pro-human positions. We see how glyphosate’s progress is tangibly being hindered, and how it will eventually be banned completely. The exact same thing can be done in America.
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*If GM maize cultivation is legalized in Mexico, this will trigger a radical escalation of the already dire contamination of the world’s center of genetic diversity for this critical crop. Farmers, scientists, and civil society groups are fighting in court the government’s plan to legalize this cultivation. With one exception the court rulings have been in accord with the law and against the government, but in 2015 a corrupt judge removed the injunction against the GM plantings. The people appealed and have just won a restoration of the injunction. The legal struggle will continue toward a final trial, but for now the ban remains in place and no GM maize has legally been planted.
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*Here’s the revolving door at its most frenetically swirling and a strong challenge to anyone who still wants to claim that a regulatory agency like the USDA has some kind of adversarial role vis its affiliated corporations, or indeed that there’s any real organizational demarcation between them at all. The evident fact is that there is no difference between corporations and regulatory agencies – no difference in ideology, no difference in a fundamentally sociopathic view of people and the environment, no difference in careerist commitment, no difference in the literal personnel. Regulators and what they themselves call their clients, the industry sectors, comprise one indivisible whole, the corporate state.
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*It seems that after years of being a US poodle the Indian government may be following the lead of its fellow BRICS and looking to shake free of US/Monsanto agricultural domination. The central government is already threatening to reduce the tax it will allow Monsanto to collect on Bollgard II cotton seed, and now it’s making noises about revoking Monsanto’s patents altogether on the grounds that the technology doesn’t work. Of course regulators don’t usually care about that kind of thing, and the Modi government remains pro-GMO (though there’s factions within the coalition which oppose GMO expansion), so the answer may be that the government thinks India’s ready to start building its own GM crop system the way China’s seeking to do. Monsanto-Mahyco cotton has been a bust, and globalization has done nothing but harm to India’s cotton industry in general. So it would seem that a nationalist government would find it easy to cut Monsanto out, as long as it had the pretext to do so within the WTO system, since it doesn’t want to quit that system completely.
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*Sell! “Weakness in ag markets, which are currently over-supplied, is likely to persist for the foreseeable future.” These markets have always been over-supplied. That’s what productionism and commodification, including the crackpot “yield” statistic, are all about. But the end is in sight. The agrochemical cartel’s last big hope is that a mass Asian middle class will rise and adopt Western-style CAFO consumption patterns in order to provide a use for all that grain overproduction. But that’s not going to happen. The glut, the price depression, and the need to dump like crazy will only get more dire. For any thinking flack or troll, this must generate lots of cognitive dissonance, what with their need to continue touting the “Feed the World” lie and to blow up another tech stock bubble around things like “hi-tech agriculture”. Ironically, those putting Monsanto in the Buy category may be right for the short run, if this bubble gets blowing.
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But as this whole state of things demonstrates, the GMO and poison cartel have nothing left but force, lies and hot air. These won’t be enough to stem the reprisal of reality, they won’t be enough to keep down the people, and they won’t be enough to keep down the Earth. In the end a patent certificate and a spray bottle of Roundup will avail them little against the hurricane.

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March 4, 2016

GMO News Summary March 4th, 2016

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*As we discussed last week the EU government shows what it thinks of the WHO-acknowledged fact that glyphosate causes cancer by calling for the re-approval of glyphosate in Europe for the next 15 years. This isn’t just an ongoing crime at the most monumental human and environmental level, but it even violates EU de jure law. (The latter is more important to most people who care at all.) The 2009 EU pesticides law requires that carcinogenic pesticides be banned.
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Six European NGOs are now suing on the grounds that the German BfR and EU’s EFSA also broke the law in the tendentious way they reassessed glyphosate, in particular the way they whitewashed the WHO’s finding that glyphosate causes cancer.
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Specifically, by its own admission the German BfR did nothing but regurgitate and launder the propaganda put out by the industry’s Glyphosate Task Force. The BfR then used fraudulent, industry-dictated methodologies to disparage the WHO’s procedure and falsely exculpate glyphosate. The EFSA then parroted the BfR’s whitewash, and the EU in turn will try to use this to justify re-authorizing glyphosate. The NGO suit is trying to have the GTF/BfR/EFSA fraud thrown out and force the regulators to start over.
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There’s one element of the regulator strategy to continue literally to force this cancer agent into our bodies.
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*Another element is what GMWatch hails as “a modest breakthrough” in the lies the European Union government is telling about glyphosate and other pesticides. Under stepped up pressure following the WHO’s 2015 finding that glyphosate causes cancer, such as the lawsuit I just mentioned, Germany’s BfR and the EFSA feel the need to go so far as to admit that maybe the commercial glyphosate formulations have some cancer risk. This was the only way they could try to assimilate part of the WHO’s finding while still politically exonerating glyphosate. One of the basic regulator frauds is to assess in ivory tower isolation only the so-called “active ingredient” in a pesticide and not the formulation which is used in the real world. In reality the terms “active” and “inert” have zero scientific meaning but are purely political, meant to facilitate this regulatory scam and fool people into thinking the dictionary definition of “inert” applies and that these ingredients are non-toxic. In reality these supplementary ingredients are there to render the primary ingredient more potent and therefore more toxic, and such supplementary ingredients as POEA (used in Roundup all over the world except in Germany itself, where it’s banned) are often more toxic than the primary ingredient. So a commercial formulation is actually far more poisonous by volume (in Poison Spring E. Vallianatos describes how one of the purposes of the active/inert scam is to greatly reduce the volume of poisons reported sprayed) and in its potency. (Not to mention synergy effects among the multiple poisons.)
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Now, under the spotlight of parliamentary questioning in anticipation of the upcoming vote of member states to reauthorize glyphosate in Europe for the next 15 years, the European Commission says it will start to think about revising its assessment procedure to include some account of the real world product and not the falsely isolated “active ingredient” which is used nowhere in reality. As the bureaucrat put it, “In the context of the regulatory system we are opening a new area of work. This is not something we have done a lot before, looking at the co-formulant, looking at the end product.” Looking at the end product, imagine that! What’ll they think of next? Actually they’re not really thinking of it now either, only about “a lot of concerns we have heard, including from MEPs and civil society.” As always only political pressure can make anyone do anything. As with the FDA’s promise to test for glyphosate residues in some food products, they’ll see how far they can get with just the announcement, how long they can delay actually doing anything, and then what minimal level of action will be sufficient to appease enough erstwhile “concerned” people. Cf. the new GMO labeling proposal below for a similar example.
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This is also meant to evade the Pesticides Law I mentioned above. The law applies to carcinogenic “active” ingredients. So if the EU can get away with blaming all the cancer evidence on tallowamine, it can claim that the continued authorization of glyphosate is legal as well as safe. But in fact regulators have known at least since the early 1980s that glyphosate by itself causes cancer. The fact that commercial glyphosate formulations are even more carcinogenic doesn’t exonerate glyphosate itself.
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*For an example of what these glyphosate co-formulants, these “inert” ingredients, actually do to our health, see the new study which measures the endocrine disruptive effects of the co-formulants of six glyphosate herbicides. The study found that the co-formulants by themselves as well as each of the formulations decreased aromatase activity (essential for balancing production of testosterone and estrogen) at doses far below standard agricultural uses. This is why there’s no safe “tolerance” level for pesticide exposure or ingestion: They’re all endocrine disruptors, and these effects occur at very low doses. Endocrine disruption in turn is a major cause of reproductive problems, birth defects, and cancer.
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*Given the standard operating procedure of regulators, it’s no surprise that the USDA muzzles scientists and persecutes those who adhere to the scientific method instead of the corporate science paradigm. Nor is it a surprise that the USDA concluded a review of this censorship process by congratulating itself and promising to stay the course. PEER, the NGO which has been organizing the pressure on this front, concludes, “Something now unmistakably clear is that no scientist in their right mind should report political manipulation of science inside USDA.” This is true, but the conclusion goes way beyond this. Something now unmistakably clear, if it wasn’t clear before, is that any citizen should recognize there is no science at the USDA, only corporate-dictated “science”.
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*I forgot to include legal immunity as part three of my regulator template. (See here for one of my many descriptions of this heuristic which I’ve found to be broadly applicable to all kinds of political phenomena.) Do you still believe now there’s such a thing as a “rule of law”?
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*BASF announces it’s rolling back the range of its genetic engineering projects. This follows the removal of its GE division from Europe to North Carolina a few years ago, a migration in search of a more favorable political habitat. If GMWatch’s take is right, this latest move sounds like Monsanto and BASF would not be a good match, since Monsanto can’t pretend to offer anything but more of the same genetic engineering hype which BASF may be gradually moving away from. Yet BASF was looking like Monsanto’s last chance to make the kind of diversification deal it needs. Monsanto needs to make a deal with someone who’s more product-diversified since it’s so dependent on Roundup, a product whose time may be running out. As we saw with Syngenta’s spurning of their suit last year, Monsanto may not have much that anyone else wants.
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*In news related to the sector calcification we touched on in the above item, here’s more fraud centering on the hype of genetic engineering. As with patent pumping in general, this is looking more and more like another stock-pumping scam. A few weeks ago I discussed how “hi-tech agriculture” is looking like another dotcom bubble in the making.
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*Purdue University is a liar. Monsanto publicists there have put out a fake “study” which claims to find that GM crops outyield non-GM. In order to obtain this result which runs counter to all prior evidence, they cherry-picked some answers from a USDA questionnaire which the agency itself said was completely unscientific, and then bogusly interpreted these extremely qualitative figures. Namely, they arbitrarily compared production figures for the variable “GMO” vs. “non-GMO” with zero knowledge of all other variables (such as fertilizer use) and fraudulently declared any differences to be caused by this variable. Anyone with a high school level knowledge of scientific method knows you can’t attain a result this way. But clearly Purdue professors never comprehended even this elementary concept. This kind of “science” is the norm under the corporate science paradigm.
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*Clearly nothing is more loathesome than what Republican propaganda consultant Frank Luntz dubbed “the patchwork”. Luntz’s term is now extremely popular among both Republican and Democrat types. Thus we have broad consensus, from Monsanto to Merkley: Monoculture good, diversity (and democracy) bad. They disagree only on some details.
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*Here’s a stark lesson in how the corporate system views the difference between real democracy, including real votes driven by the people, and the corporate-approved kangaroo elections being held this year for “president” and other corporate positions. In Washington the state supreme court is quashing ballot democracy in compliance with corporate demands. As the CELDF’s Mari Margil writes:
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“Let the voters decide.”

While we hear that slogan often – especially in a presidential election year – the truth is that at the local level, Washington voters rarely get to cast a ballot in their own communities on critical issues.

That’s because our authority to place issues directly on the ballot – through the citizens’ initiative – has been under siege by business interests affected by its use and by courts friendly to those interests.

In February, the Washington Supreme Court continued that trend, removing a citizens’ initiative from the Spokane ballot that sought to protect community, environmental and worker rights. In its ruling, the court declared that the people’s local initiative power isn’t really a right at all, but merely a privilege granted by state government to our communities….

More than a century ago, the people of Washington enacted the citizens’ initiative process to secure our rights to directly make law. With its recent ruling, the state Supreme Court effectively eliminated our authority to do so.

With the court’s action, going forward we should expect few, if any, local citizens’ initiatives – in Spokane or other communities across Washington – to be placed on the ballot for a vote. This includes in Tacoma, where opponents of the proposed methanol plant are seeking to place an initiative on the ballot to give residents the authority to decide whether to grant permits to large water users, such as the methanol plant, that seek to use more than one million gallons a day….

State governmental power exercised in this manner, of course, is nothing new. State governments guard their powers jealously, even to the point of forcibly preventing local communities from protecting their own people, workers and the natural environment….

Our state Legislature is not unique in seeking to preempt local governing authority, even when that authority is exercised to protect people’s rights to their own health and safety. Across the country, state governments have now eliminated the power of communities to ban hydro-fracking for natural gas, genetically modified crops, corporate water bottling operations, pipelines and other practices.

It’s precisely when we watch our elected officials restricting our democratic rights that the people need the initiative power more than ever….

It’s time to push back against the power of the state to tell communities what they can and cannot do. It’s time to recognize a right of communities to expand rights at the local level and to insulate the exercise of that right from the power of state governments to override it.

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Hostility toward participatory democracy and the technocratic lust for preemption of democracy is widespread and not limited to the corporations either. For example, this technocratic mindset is one thing upon which Monsanto and many GMO labeling advocates agree. As I mentioned above, nothing’s more abhorrent to monoculture believers of every sort than the “patchwork”, aka diversity, of ecology, democracy, and freedom.

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February 24, 2016

What if They Pass the DARK Act?

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

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February 21, 2016

Under Pressure the FDA Says It Will Test for Glyphosate Residues In Food

Filed under: Dance of Death, GMO Health Hazards, GMO-Based Poison Infliction — Tags: , , , , , — Russ @ 4:59 am

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The FDA is required by law to test and regulate food additives. As part of the product design and intended use of herbicide tolerant GMOs such as the Roundup Ready system, pesticide residues such as those of glyphosate suffuse the cells of the crops including any eventual food products. These are food additives according to any reasonable definition. The same is true of the insecticidal endotoxins in Bt crops. The FDA has directly flouted the law in refusing to regulate these highly toxic additives or even to require their listing among the ingredients of food. One reason why the FDA has refused to test glyphosate residues is to help give it the pretext of ignorance. A surprisingly common excuse among regulators is to say in effect, “We can’t do anything, because we don’t have any information, because we refuse to test for that information (and reject it when others test for it and offer it to us).” Listen to what the likes of the FDA and EPA say and you’ll come across it frequently. So it is with glyphosate levels in food.
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But as the political pressure mounts against regulator dereliction and collaboration where it comes to pesticides, glyphosate especially, we see regulators scrambling to make weak or sham concessions. Wherever direct defiance is looking politically ineffective, the goal becomes delay at all costs. So it is with the FDA’s announcement that it will start testing glyphosate levels in food, forced in part by strong criticism from GAO auditors. The FDA’s lack of willingness is clear, given how it calls the matter “sensitive” and only now admits that such testing won’t break the bank. (Regulators claim glyphosate testing is too expensive, which is obviously a lie. They sure have lots of money available for subsidies and pro-industry advertising. But in any sane system which cared about science and public health the manufacturer would pay for but not control the testing.) Although in theory the FDA and USDA split the duty of testing for pesticide residues in food, with USDA testing meat and dairy, FDA fruits and vegetables, in practice neither tests for glyphosate precisely because it’s likely the most prevalent poison in the food, and is certainly the most commonly used in agriculture.
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Note the role of the EPA’s imprimatur in Monsanto’s PR statement (found at the bottom of the link) : Residue levels found so far have been below EPA tolerances. But EPA “tolerance” levels are set with zero regard for science or public health, but only at the behest of the corporations. EPA and other regulators mechanically raise the allowed levels to keep ahead of the residue levels the corporation expects based on how much of the poison it sells. Here we see part three of the regulator template – the nominally “public” regulator puts its imprimatur on what are essentially directives it received from the corporation. The corporation’s lies are laundered this way by the regulator, and the corporation then regurgitates its own lies but now represents them as coming from “the EPA”. (The very concept of setting “tolerances” in order to “manage” the levels of known carcinogens like glyphosate instead of banning them is also a core element of regulator propaganda.)
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To expose this ongoing propaganda scam and anti-scientific fraud is one of the motivations of the fourteen scientists who have published a report deploring the current pseudo-scientific state of regulatory assessment and calling upon regulators to act in accord with science and public health. The scientists condemn the false paradigm of regulatory assessment (rejection of epidemiological evidence, reliance on corporate laboratory experiments performed according to fraudulent methodologies, the long-debunked “dose-response” ideology, the “active ingredient” scam I discussed above, and other bogosities) and offer many suggestions for an improved testing regime. We abolitionists do not echo the rote call for “more testing” since we know there’s already far more than enough evidence to ban these poisons. But reports like this one are handy to demolish the fraudulent claims of the regulatory agencies that their assessment procedures are anything more or less than cover-ups and whitewashes.
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February 19, 2016

GMO News Summary February 19th, 2016

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*As was clear from the start, the number one pressing goal of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, Campbell’s, Mark Lynas, agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack, and the rest of the pro-Monsanto, anti-labeling brigade has been to prevent the Vermont labeling law from going into effect.
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Today we’re hearing from the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) of a new attempt at “compromise”, i.e. exactly the kind of scam I predicted all along. This is a version of what I call DARK Act Plan B. The idea is that since the original DARK Act which would directly preempt Vermont looks unable to pass in the Senate, the anti-Vermont forces with propaganda help from Gary Hirshberg (and probably the rest of industrial organic) will push for a two year Congress-imposed “delay” to prevent Vermont’s law from going into effect. This two years would then be used to get a more permanent preemption policy enacted, or for new lawsuits to be filed by the GMA, or to cause Vermont to wither and die in some other way. The OCA is right to be upset, although they too have been willing to waffle away from what used to be an uncompromising anti-preemption, pro-democracy position (i.e. for the state-level movement, against FDA preemption). Now we see where such waffling gets one.
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It’s always been clear that preemption is the absolute litmus test. To be uncompromisingly, unequivocally against preemption is a prerequisite for strong labeling, the right to know, and democracy. To be for preemption is to be against all these things, in principle and in practice.
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The history of preemption proves this, in the same way that the FDA’s history (especially where it comes to GMOs) proves its inability and unwillingness to enact or carry out a real labeling policy. These are examples of why pro-corporates hate history so much and do all they can to encourage people’s general anti-historical bent. Because movements which can’t be bothered to know their history set themselves up for assured failure.
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*A scientific panel of the French environmental ministry ANSES endorses the WHO’s finding that glyphosate is cancerous to humans. The environmental minister Segolene Royal publicly supports the panel and says she wants the agency to withdraw approval for glyphosate formulations, especially those containing the surfactant POEA. (There’s no rational or scientific difference between the so-called “active ingredient” in a pesticide or any other chemical product or drug, as opposed to the “inert ingredients”, which contrary to the English definition are often extremely toxic. Those two terms are purely ideological jargon meant to make the product seem less toxic than it is. In reality, commercial formulations are usually far more toxic than the nominally primary ingredient by itself. This is because the additional chemicals are there to render the primary ingredient more potent, and because these additional ingredients are often so poisonous in themselves. Plus any escalated synergy effect among these combined toxins. This is why corporations and regulators insist that only the so-called “active ingredient”, never the real-world formulation, be subject to whatever bogus testing they perform. It’s a scientific fraud and a public health crime. That’s how the BfR and EFSA were able to claim that the IARC was wrong about cancer, even as they admitted the evidence is there. They admitted that perhaps the commercial formulations may be carcinogenic. In other words they admitted that in real life glyphosate causes cancer. Royal and the ANSES panel are now taking what the EFSA said at face value and proceeding accordingly.) In 2015 Royal touted how proactive France allegedly is being, on the occasion of new legal restrictions on the sale of glyphosate at garden centers: “France must be on the offensive with regards to the banning of pesticides…I have asked garden centers to stop putting Monsanto’s Roundup on sale.” France also has bans or restrictions on aerial spraying of pesticides and spraying in parks.
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As I said in last week’s summary, the impetus is spreading gradually. Let’s get the glyphosate abolition campaign going and really intensify and accelerate the natural political momentum already gathering toward this necessary and inevitable goal.
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*More of the same proven-to-fail scams from corporate “environmentalist” front groups like the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), which issued this fluff piece. “Habitat exchange”, that’s their new term for the same old scam? Meanwhile the real goal is always the same for the likes of the EDF, to misdirect focus away from the need to ban glyphosate, period. Because that’s what groups like the EDF are there for, to make sure the corporate project always continues unhindered. Therefore the corporate environmental prescription is always of the same basic form: Allow the corporation to continue destroying, often in what the flacks themselves call a “sacrifice zone”. But make a deal to somehow “make up for” the destruction through something like a “carbon offset” or a “mitigation” where another piece of land is allegedly not destroyed, or is restored, or is “improved”. The scam is often bolstered with a phony application of the “island biogeography” concept, even though even in principle the fragment “conserved” in some mangled state doesn’t even remotely resemble a bona fide natural island habitat. Meanwhile the conservation is always a straight-up scam. Almost all projects endorsed under “offset”-type scams were going to be built anyway, and almost all which are mothballed were going to be mothballed anyway. The conserved fragment often ends up destroyed anyway and is always severely damaged. The greenhouse gas emissions, chemical poisoning, carbon sink destruction and biodiversity destruction continue unabated. The corporate “environmental” front groups give PR cover to it all. “Habitat exchange” joins this Orwellian parade of happy lies.
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The evidence has been piling up which associates the monarch decline more and more strongly with glyphosate, especially as farm subsidies increasingly encourage cultivation of “marginal” land. Studies have assembled this evidence. Of course a corporate group like the EDF is congenitally capable of thinking only in terms of, at best, rejiggering the subsidy system (as this piece advocates). But that’s already proven to be a failure in general, and more often a fraud. (Now if we could all get together to campaign to abolish industrial farm subsidies completely, that would really be something worthwhile) At any rate it’s intentional misdirection in order to diffuse focus and waste time. I bet Monsanto’s hoping the monarch will go extinct ASAP so they can stop having to hear about it and everyone else will forget about it. We can take it to the bank that if we do anything but the opposite of what the likes of the EDF propose, we’ll lose the monarch in no time.
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*The whistleblower controversy at the USDA is blossoming into a bona fide scandal requiring even the attention of the department’s inspector general. Now the inquiry is expanding to take in animal abuse at USDA labs. Gratuitous neglect and abuse of animal subjects will automatically follow when the sociopathic commitment of a system reaches a certain point (today’s corporate regulators are way past that point), just as the scientists empowered by the Nazis to experiment upon human subjects in the concentration camps quickly went beyond the nominal scientific purposes of the research and started gratuitously inflicting pain and death, just for the hell of it, as a form of “pure science”. I think this fact is key for understanding everything that’s happening today, and where the vector is headed.
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*In recent years the agrochemical industry has wearily confessed that it has no ideas for new herbicide “modes of action” to combat the increasingly triumphant superweeds which GMOs are producing. “Growers think there will be something over the horizon that will bail them out, says Larry Steckel, weed management scientist at the University of Tennessee’s West Tennessee Research and Education Center in Jackson. But there isn’t.” But there’s new research contradicting this and playing to the fantasies of those alleged growers. The piece is published at the propaganda front group called the “American Association for the Advancement of Science”, by which they mean corporate “science”.
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According to publicly-funded profit-oriented researchers at Britain’s John Innes Center, they’ve discovered a specimen of Arabadopsis thaliana (a mustard often used in botanical research, the plant equivalent of the fruit flies regularly used in genetic research) which is resistant to the antibiotic ciprofloxacin. This poison kills bacteria and plants by interfering with an enzyme necessary for photosynthesis. The researchers doused 400,000 mutated tissue-cultured specimens to find one which showed resistance to the antibiotic. (The rest were thrown out, typical of the extreme wastefulness and sociopathic attitude toward life inherent in all genetic engineering.) Next they’ll try to figure out how to turn the tolerance mutation into a transgene while they also work on an herbicide based on the antibiotic or a similar compound. The researchers disavow any intention of directly using the antibiotic as an herbicide, but of course this is a lie. We already see their paradigm’s standard attitude toward antibiotics in their attitude toward subtherapeutic antibiotic use in CAFOs and in genetic engineering itself including this experiment. Certainly no one among them would object to an antibiotic-based herbicide. Glyphosate is an antibiotic and was patented as such in the 1960s. Nor do these scientists, engineers, regulators, and corporate cadres care about the fact that existing commercial herbicides help trigger antibiotic resistance among potentially pathogenic bacteria, or that glyphosate selects for pathogenic bacteria in the mammalian digestive tract. No, I think we can rest assured that if the corporations demand such an herbicide and it can be made to work, these researchers will happily deliver it, and the AAAS will be right there cheering them on as it cheers on all these crimes against humanity and the Earth.
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The AAAS is also regurgitating the straight bald-faced Monsanto lie, most commonly told about glyphosate, that if a poison affects only plants and bacteria then it won’t affect humans: “This research also highlights another important benefit for using DNA gyrase as a target for the development of new herbicides. DNA gyrase is only present in plants and bacteria, and does not exist in animals. Therefore any new herbicides that target this DNA gyrase in plants are very unlikely to be any danger to humans.”
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Even if this were true as far as it goes (it’s a lie for glyphosate, which affects the mammalian cytochrome P450 and retinoic acid pathways as well as adversely affecting mineral chelation), it’s a complete lie because science knows humans and other mammals are symbiotic with our bacterial microbiome. What harms our gut bacteria, harms us. The AAAS knows this, they lie about it, they are criminally culpable for any harm which follows from it.
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The piece once again reminds us how by now the pro-GMO activists are perfectly at home simultaneously telling two mutually exclusive and directly contradictory lies, that “GMOs reduce pesticide use” while we also need “Eureka! New pesticides!” It’s also another example of how they’ve had to drop the whole line of bull that “we’re for hi-tech GMOs, not for luddite chemical pesticides” and especially “GMOs don’t equal Monsanto, and we ARE NOT Monsanto shills.” But then the WHO pretty much forced everyone’s hand on that one. Since then Monsanto’s needed all hands on deck to stick up for Roundup, no matter how much of a stupid, luddite, dinosaur technology it is. But then all of GMO agriculture is really only pseudo-advanced. It’s really all retrograde, backward, reactionary. It’s a jalopy on blocks, but with a flashy new paint-job, and those who fall for the hype are the kind of morons who would fall for any scam like that.
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*Looks like another dotcom bubble in the making. This provides some insight into the fundamentally fictive, socially engineered character of agribusiness. It plunges ahead not just in the regular bubble manner [i.e. unrelated to the real, productive economy, like the recent dotcom, tech, and housing bubbles, or today’s fracking bubble and general stock bubble] but in direct defiance of the real fundamentals of the sector. We see the basic lack of connection with reality which has always been evident with agricultural GMOs and genetic engineering in general. When an ideology has such direct contempt for science and reality, although corporate profiteering via government subsidies can prop it up and keep it going for awhile, it’s also bound to collapse quickly like any other bubble. Indeed, it wouldn’t surprise me if the erosion of the fundamentals for the agrochemical sector don’t go hand in hand with a bubble centered on the idea of “hi-tech agriculture”. Along with everything else that’s stupid, shoddy, and harmful about GMOs, I’ve always seen them as an aspiring tech bubble. Maybe someone who had a few extra bucks lying around who was thinking of dabbling in stocks might consider Monsanto along with some of these start-ups. These stocks have been disparaged for awhile now, but they might be ready to temporarily surge. The current mainstream excitement over mergers and further oligopoly consolidation, which ought to tell us how creatively bankrupt and decadent the sector is, can readily be transformed into the typical bubble irrationality. Just don’t be one of the idiots who buys high right before the bubble bursts. And for the divestment movement, if these stocks do start rising, make sure to tell the pension funds that it’s a bubble, hype over an idea which has no basis in reality and no staying power.
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