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December 16, 2017

Community Food Movement: Maine’s Food Sovereignty Act

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“Certified organic” increasingly becomes a farce as it comes to equal industrial “organic”. The latest degradation: Hydroponics now can be certified “organic”. On its face that’s absurd and Orwellian. What could possibly be called organic about growing vegetables in fortified water? You might as well allow synthetic fertilizer of every sort. The industrial organic sector is industrial first, organic second.
 
The organic certification was never more than a second-best stopgap. The only real solution is the Community Food movement, the relocalization of food production and distribution. As much as possible, buy local from farmers you know. But just buying local as a consumer isn’t enough. Community food is a rising alternative economic sector. We need to continue building and defending this rising economic and agronomic movement.
 
Toward this goal, campaigners in Maine worked for years and finally attained a legislative victory as the state passed its Food Sovereignty Act in 2017. This Act makes Maine the first state in the country to have such an ordinance. The Act frees municipalities to regulate their own local food systems if they choose to pass an ordinance taking on such responsibility. The Act applies only to food produced and sold directly to consumers within the town. Anything produced for wholesale or retail distribution remains subject to state regulation (so Big Ag can’t use this as a loophole to find a corrupt town and set up shop there).
 
Since production and sale must take place within the town, the geographical scope is more narrow than the average farmers’ market. (Although many Maine towns are quite large geographically.) Nevertheless this is an example of the kind of act the Community Food movement must fight to enact in every state, as a way to boost local food production, processing, and distribution.
 
No surprise, the thugs at the USDA insisted that if the state relinquishes authority over meat and poultry to towns, that only means the feds will have direct authority over it. This forced Maine to enact an emergency amendment to the Act stipulating that meat and poultry remain under state regulatory authority. This power play gives a perfect example of what we’re up against.
 
 
It also demonstrates the limits of legislative action.* Campaigning for food sovereignty laws, just like campaigning for GMO labeling and/or GMO/pesticide bans, is at best a supplement to the work of building the affirmative movement. In the case of community food, this includes building the economic and physical infrastructure of relocalized food production and distribution.
 
There’s lots of people already doing good work toward that eventual goal. We need to scale that up, in tandem with escalating the campaign of ideas. As for our personal lives, the Earth’s call to anyone is to commit your life to the cause. That’s a very hard sell in this Mammon theocracy where even among the people who superficially have the right ideas and good intent, most still objectively adhere to Mammon in the way they view the world. Even fellow travelers of the necessary ideas fundamentally don’t understand the concept of subordinating one’s “private” existence and existing fundamentally as a political animal, a public citizen. All we can do for starters is to systematically propagate ideas which are fundamentally against the whole grain of this theocracy and try to find fellow atheists versus the superstitions of Mammon, technocracy, scientism, productionism, who want to work on that propagation project. This is one of the basic building blocks necessary to build a true cultural, spiritual, existential movement dedicated affirmatively to the necessary agroecology/food sovereignty transformation, negatively to the total abolition of poison-based agriculture. This campaign of ideas is the necessary counterpart to the intertwined actions of building agroecological science and food sovereignty practice.
 
That’s the ultimate need. What individuals and small groups can do right now:
 
1. Take on as much of the propagation work as you can.
 
2. Become active building up the community food sector as much as you can. Growing some of your own food in a garden is a good first step, and the actions quickly scale up from there. In my case, in addition to my intermittent market gardening I’ve worked at a farmers’ market, herbal medicine garden, and am director of two community gardens.
 
3. In your personal lifestyle get as independent of the system, as “off-grid” (using that term both literally and metaphorically) as possible.
 
4. To the extent you have to remain enmeshed in the system for the time being, at least be clear in thought and word that this is under duress. I still have to drive a car, but I never think or say anything other than that the car as such has to go. This is contrary to the climate crocodiles who wring their hands and then tout hybrids and electric cars (i.e. fracking cars, nuke cars, coal cars) as some kind of answer. No, that’s just a more pernicious form of climate denialism.
 
5. In general: Do the most good you can and never do evil. I have never once heard of an example of an evil action that was necessary in any way. That’s always a lie.
 
Much of this focuses on ideas and propagating ideas. I’m forced to be a writer since for now I lack any greater scope for action. In Eric Hoffer’s terminology, I’m an activist by nature who’s been forced into the role of the “man of words”. For now there really is no greater scope for action in America, since the necessary movement doesn’t yet exist in any tangible, coherent form. Or, any rudiments which may be cohering are not yet visible to the general culture of dissent.
 
So it follows that the first, prerequisite step toward building this movement is to propagate the necessary ideas for this movement. Not even at first to convince people, but to force the existence of truly alternative and practicable ideas into the public consciousness so that, when the cultural tipping point suddenly comes (history demonstrates that we have no idea when it will come or what proximate cause will trigger it) and lots of people are suddenly looking for a new idea, this set of ideas will be one of the sets laying around ready to be taken up.
 
Toward that great goal, the second necessary preliminary step is to form the skeleton of a future mass movement in the form of coherent organizations, of whatever size attainable, which will undertake whatever wedge actions are possible for the time being but whose primary action will be to propagate the ideas as far and wide as possible.
 
All this must take place in tandem with building up the community food sector. We especially need more local retail producers, and processing infrastructure, and political organization against the state’s repressive campaigns. The community food movement already exists as a vibrant movement with great scope for all the action one could desire. We need for the whole thing, from organic horticulture to market gardening to abolition of pesticides/GMOs to a global agroecology transformation, to evolve into one coherent cultural force.
 
 
Propagate the new and necessary ideas.
 
 
*As a general rule within-the-system action is worthless, especially at the higher levels of government and especially where people seek positive policy, as opposed to resisting bad policy. But there are some wedge issues which cut across the system’s calcified political lines, where especially at lower levels of government dedicated pressure groups can get action. I argue that food is one of these potential wedges, and that organizations dedicated to the right kind and mode of food action can get good results, both directly and in terms of driving a broader cultural wedge. That’s the wager I make with my writing.
 
 
 
 
 
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April 3, 2017

Intuitive and “Counter-intuitive”, According to the Poisoner Paradigm and the Organic Paradigm

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A tale of two paradigms:
 
“Gill admitted it’s “counter-intuitive” that farmers who don’t spray wheat with a fungicide would have lower levels of fusarium and mycotoxins, but that may have been the case in 2016.”
 
Actually this is counter-intuitive only in the bizarro world where one religiously believes that the right way to do things is to destroy natural balances which evolved over millions of years, and then use violence to suppress elements which naturally would be held in balance by their ecological framework.
 
By contrast, anyone using reason and logic would presume that one should proceed in harmony with the well-evolved natural balances.
 
We see again that the preachers and the flock of the church of poison-based agriculture, including virtually the entire scientific establishment and “educated” persons in general, are evolution deniers and are anti-science.
 
Science, as an application of reason, would start with the default theory that since ecological evolution works, agriculture will work best in harmony with ecology, in harmony with evolution. And the evidence is unanimous that this is the truth.
 
Poison-based agriculture, by extreme contrast, has an unbroken record of failure and disaster. Since the great escalation of pesticide use in the mid 20th century crop losses to pests and disease have greatly increased, while like clockwork the pests, weeds, and diseases develop resistance and overcome each poison. It’s been well known since the 1970s and documented by scientific organizations such as Food First that if humanity zeroed out pesticide use this would have only minimal crop loss effects. And that’s assuming the continuation of pest-ridden industrial agriculture. Transformation to agroecology would overcome all pest losses.
 
Since the 1940s quantity and toxicity of pesticides has increased greater than tenfold while crop losses to pests have more than doubled. Less than .1% of poisons applied to crops reaches the target pests, while the rest poisons the soil, water, air, and food. US maize and wheat farmers would suffer only minimal additional losses if they ceased from all pesticide use. Almost all pesticide use has zero to do with food for human beings. Most pesticide use is to maintain certain cosmetic qualities of the crop rather than prevent pests from rendering it inedible. In other words the poisoner system chooses to destroy food safety and render a crop dangerous to eat over providing a safe, edible crop which sometimes falls modestly short of an artificial, perfectionist aesthetic ideal. Around the world, the vast majority of pesticides are used not for staple food crops but for commodity crops.
 
These are just a few of the facts on pesticides documented in Food First’s books. The overall fact is that the global pesticide campaign never had anything to do with producing food for human beings, and it never worked at doing so. On the contrary it has always been a failure, with each pesticide failing and having to be replaced by an even more toxic and expensive one. The entire paradigm of GMO crops is nothing but a radical escalation of this treadmill of failure, this campaign of planned obsolescence and maximal poisoning and destruction.
 
By now the facts are unanimous and incontrovertible. The fact that governments, corporations, universities, and the scientific establishment have chosen to continue with the Poisoner campaign in full knowledge of its unbroken record of agronomic failure, necessary escalation in gross use and expense, detrimental effects on crop breeding and crop biodiversity, destruction of community farm economies, and severe harm to human and environmental health, is proof that all of these are the intended, willful, premeditated effects and goals of poison-based agriculture.
 
We can go further. The industrial agricultural establishment as a whole chooses poison precisely because it destroys the natural ecological balance, including any agroecological balance which naturally keeps pests and disease in check (the superior performance of Saskatchewan’s organic wheat farming documented in the linked piece is just the latest of hundreds of proofs), replacing it with a monocultural dead zone.
 
In this way poison-based industrial agriculture systematically and intentionally generates the most favorable terrain for pests and disease, toward the goal of maximizing their action and destructiveness.
 
This is the core way the corporate-technocratic industrial agriculture system enforces the treadmill of ever-escalating poison use, which this system wants to maximize for economic, religious, ultimately for power-centered reasons.
 
These are the same reasons this system denies evolution, denies all science and reason, and seeks to eradicate all biodiversity including the agricultural biodiversity which is maximized by agroecology.
 
Humanity has a choice: To continue poisoning and exhausting itself, the ecology, the soil, and the very genetic basis of the crops themselves until either this Tower of Babel collapses of its own accord, or the increasing constraints on the physical availability of fossil fuels deals the whole system its death blow, and we all succumb to global famine.
 
Or, we can choose the path of sanity, science, and freedom. As part of our necessary resumption of the current of global evolution, which we must resume whether we choose it or not, the bountiful way or the hard way, since denying evolution is just a piece of stupidity which cuts no ice with long run reality, we can abolish corporate industrial agriculture and embark upon the global transformation to agroecology. This organic paradigm is fully conceived and proven by evolution itself, it is a fully demonstrated science and set of practices, it is ready for full global deployment the moment we choose to deploy it.
 
What’s truly intuitive is that what works is what works, and that what doesn’t work won’t work. What’s counter-intuitive is to flout and destroy what works, go directly against what works, and expect anything but failure. And sure enough, the evidence record of industrial agriculture is a perfect record of qualitative failure. Only pure brute force, powered almost completely by temporarily cheap, plentiful fossil fuels, and the willingness to be extremely wasteful and destructive, has kept it in the field at all. As I wrote in a recent piece, the only real product of this extremely wasteful and destructive system is concentrated power. This is why above all else the corporate system seeks and desires to maximize waste and destruction. That’s the core reason the fossil fuel inheritance, unearned and finite, was used up in such a wasteful and destructive way, when in theory so many alternative arrangements were possible, all of them vastly superior, rationally and morally. So it always has been, most of all with corporate industrial agriculture. Only in the intellectual insane asylum of their paradigm could any other mode of “intuition” seem possible.
 
 
 
 
Help propagate the new and necessary ideas.
 
 
 
 
 

March 1, 2016

Let’s Drink to Abolition

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GMWatch asks: Glyphosate in German beer: What does it mean?, in response to the news that in spite of Germany’s rigorous Reinheitsgebot (Beer Purity Law) all 14 brands tested by the Munich Environmental Institute contained varying levels of glyphosate residue, many quite high. GMW answers in terms of getting opinions from some unnamed scientists, asking them to interpret the health implications in light of the findings of the 2009 Gasnier study which established that “small amounts of glyphosate herbicides had cytotoxic effects, and were genotoxic and endocrine disruptors in human cell lines.” The scientists answered conservatively that it’s hard to tell what the health effects might be from drinking these kinds of beers, although the levels are far above Europe’s “tolerance” levels for drinking water. They did say that for anyone who drinks a lot of beer it could be a significant source of the poison, and that beer produced from ingredients in other countries may be even more toxified.
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When I saw the question I asked first, where does the residue come from? Under the German law these brewers wouldn’t be importing Roundup Ready ingredients. But they could be using barley or hops which have been subject to burn-down spraying. There’s one possible source. Perhaps even more ominous, it could be a result of the increasing omnipresence of glyphosate in our drinking water. Maybe it got into the beer from the water. GMWatch recommends drinking organic beer which can’t legally use pesticide-sprayed crop ingredients (though the USDA does allow a percentage of the EPA’s tendentious “tolerance” levels under the organic certification here in the US). But water quality is often a loophole in organic production. In the US water is assumed to be water for organic purposes and doesn’t have to be tested for poison residues.
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The point today is that our water supply in general is increasingly being poisoned by everything from agricultural and industrial chemicals, to fallout from CAFOs and industrial and transportation sources of air pollution, to fracking and other extraction activities. Glyphosate’s omnipresence in what’s supposed to be legally purified German beer is just the latest measure of how nothing’s sacred any more. Environmental poisons are no respecters of our rule of law, no conformists to our law and order. Until we abolish glyphosate by whatever means necessary, this cancer bringer is going to become an ever more intimate part of our lives, an ever more physical element of our bodies.
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The mainstream reformers continue to sigh that they don’t know, and their constrained horizon has no answer but the mythical “better testing”. In fact we do know glyphosate is an endocrine disruptor at these allegedly low residue levels (low only according to the false “tolerance” level the corporations dictate to the regulators; tolerance levels have zero scientific legitimacy and are pure propaganda memes) and that it causes cancer and birth defects even at such low doses. We know there is no safe level of glyphosate use, and we know there’s no reason for humanity to allow glyphosate to be used at all, since it’s a proven failure at all the things it’s claimed to do. Therefore we need no further testing, and we would be crazy to sit around waiting for “US regulators [who] have just begun to get together a battery of tests, though they are years off completing them.” Indeed, to even contemplate such a wait could only be procrastination on the part of those who are too afraid to draw the necessary conclusions. There’s no moral, rational, or practical alternative to complete abolition as fast as possible. No one can reasonably dispute the need to abolish glyphosate completely with all deliberate speed.

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February 26, 2016

GMO News Summary February 26th, 2016

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*As they try again to pass a version of the DARK Act (Plan A version), let’s look ahead to a possible world where it’s been passed.
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I recommend, and will always myself use, a form of ju jitsu. If the DARK Act passes, let’s try to turn the tables on them by telling everyone far and wide that this proves all industrial food is GMO unless otherwise labeled, but that the alleged need for such a law proves that the manufacturers are desperate to hide this fact. After all, Pompeo’s own flunkeys said so: “Consumers can choose to presume that all foods have GMO contents unless they are labeled or otherwise presented as non-GMO. Meaning that it is knowable and it is known by the public which products have GMO and which don’t.” Exactly right. Monsanto forecast that putting a label on things would be like a skull and crossbones? Let’s turn this into a reverse skull and crossbones. Let’s loudly catcall every manufacturer, in every forum where consumers who might care will see it: Campbell’s is willing to label and confirms that it won’t cost anything extra. WHAT ARE YOU HIDING? Let’s stick that DARK version of the skull and crossbones on everything.
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According to the draft this version of the DARK Act will give the agriculture secretary a formal pro-GMO propaganda mandate. Of course this would just formalize the status quo, and highlights how purely political the government’s version of “science” is. Anyone who knows the slightest bit about science knows it’s a contradiction in terms to order that someone simultaneously be “science-based” and be automatically “for” anything. You can have one or the other, not both. Just as you can have secrecy or science, never both. There we have just two examples of how radically anti-science the pro-GMO activists are. Of course by now the very term “science-based”, in the mouth of anyone from the establishment, is an Orwellism just like the Big Tobacco lobbying term “sound science”. Wherever you see either term you can be assured it means the exact opposite of what it’s supposed to sound like. Wherever anyone from government, corporations, or their media says “science”, it automatically means corporate “science”.
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Ah well, the ag secretary already has the power to shill and does so. To my way of thinking, a law giving him a formal mandate to do so ought to further discredit the government in the eyes of anyone who’s still in any doubt about how committed the government is to corporate imperatives.
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With the endless iterations of the DARK Act we have a war of attrition which, in the end, the corporations are bound to win, if anti-poison types keep fighting primarily on these grounds. Which brings up another point, which is that this mode keeps the anti-GMO movement firmly on the defensive, really just fighting the DARK Act over and over. As for Non-GMO labels or any other kind of labeling, let’s always keep in mind that the corporate plan, no matter what kind of labeling were ever to exist, is that the allowed level of “adventitious presence” below which something could still be called “non-GM” (or not have to be labeled as GM) will keep mechanically being raised as GM contamination proceeds. The corporations expect this to happen in the exact same way regulators mechanically keep raising the allowed pesticide “tolerances”. There’s no doubt about it, any kind of labeling strategy is doomed to fail completely in the end, because co-existence is impossible, physically and politically.
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*For example, transgenic contamination has been afflicting maize in its Mexican center of origin and biodiversity ever since NAFTA was instituted in the 1990s. This is in spite of the fact that GM maize has never legally been cultivated in Mexico. Transgenic pollen also contaminates the wild progenitor of maize, teosinte. Thus this contamination compromises not only the existing genetic diversity of maize, narrow as that has become under corporate monoculture farming; it’s also compromising the genetic wellspring necessary for the future of the crop.
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Today the public is learning something the Spanish government and Monsanto have known at least since 2009, that teosinte has established itself as an “invasive” in Spain. (For some reason they don’t call maize itself an invasive, though; but both reached Spain in much the same deliberate way.) This brings the danger that MON810, the only GM crop grown legally in Europe and widely grown only in Spain, may contaminate this teosinte stock in the same way the contamination has spread to teosinte in Mexico.
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By law GM crops can be authorized for cultivation in Europe only if they pose no cross-contamination threat. Governments and corporations, in this case Monsanto, have an obligation to monitor this potentiality. In practice this kind of requirement is invariably flouted, and there’s never any penalty for flouting it. In fact, this systematic condoning of systematic flouting proves that the law itself is really a propaganda sham which was never intended to be enforced, much like Bt refuges. In this case both Monsanto and the Spanish government have failed for many years to report the presence of teosinte to the EU government, and in 2014 Spanish officials lied about it in response to questions from the European Parliament. See below for more on the EU’s own refusal to meet its legally mandated reporting standards.
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*Among the basic scams of regulators is to pretend there’s no such thing as synergy effects when multiple poisons afflict an organism, or indeed that there’s more than one poison at all. Instead they pretend that whichever chemical is the topic of the moment is the one and only chemical in existence, and they undertake their bogus “assessment” and set the “tolerance” based on this lie. Thus there’s no such thing as a maximum cumulative tolerance, e.g. for all pesticides combined, nor is there any assessment of the combined effect of multiple pesticides even though there’s conclusive evidence that this combined effect is often severe. Indeed, the EPA’s recent temporary revocation of the registration for Dow’s Enlist herbicide was triggered by EPA’s embarrassment during a lawsuit. In the course of telling EPA there was no synergy effect while telling the patent office there is one (this self-contradiction in itself is standard procedure and is no problem for the EPA or for the FDA’s “substantial equivalence” lie), Dow was so assertive in its synergy rhetoric that in the context of the public interest lawsuit this embarrassed the regulator. So there’s Dow itself claiming glyphosate and 2,4-D together have a greatly more severe effect than just adding together the effects of each by itself. (And to repeat, the EPA never even does this basic adding, let alone takes synergy into account.)
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There’s now a new report assembling the evidence for combined effects, as well as the cumulative effects of exposure over time, which is another thing regulators never test. According to their junk science paradigm, the one and only thing to test is short-term acute exposure, and even this is done in bogus ways. Regulators will continue to do all they can to stall, obfuscate and deny, throwing up a fog of obscurantism and lies to go along with the literal poison fogs they help inflict upon us all.
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*”The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) and Iowa Agribusiness Association opposed the liability bills (House Bill 289 and Senate Bill 1190), testifying that commercial applicators wouldn’t be able to qualify for or afford these levels of insurance.” That’s as clear as testimony gets that an industrial activity is unviable according to the mythology of capitalism, which claims that a worthwhile good or service can always pay its own way. But here’s the state of Iowa and its poison-marketing trade group openly admitting it’s not possible for those who profit from the action to pay for its costs, and that those costs have to be borne by others. Of course the damage to other crops caused by pesticide drift is just one part of the destruction wrought by poison manufacturers and users. As we see in this case, if we intend to do anything about this we’re going to need to be rather more severe in return than just advocating laws about regulating and monitoring pesticide drift. For starters, we can resolve to abolish 2,4-D and dicamba completely and focus completely on this and only this goal. As we see in Iowa, the enemy is so totalitarian that it will not tolerate even the most modest restraints, and is willing openly to say that third parties should have to pay for poison harms, not the sellers or users. Is it possible to be more clear about what a zero-sum game this is?
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*CAFOs are among the most hideously filthy places on Earth. The animals are permanently sick and require massive doses of antibiotics, not just to put on weight but to remain alive at all. They are veritable bioweapons labs, incubators of every kind of pathogen, the most perfectly crafted habitat for bacteria-borne disease. Dust from these CAFOs and their manure lagoons then spreads the potential for infection as far as the wind carries the infected particles. According to a new study CAFO drift has greater potential than previously documented to contaminate produce with potentially pathogenic bacteria. This joins with pesticide drift and transgenic contamination via pollen drift to prove that coexistence is impossible. This puts in reality-based perspective the lies about how “precise” and “controlled” industrial agriculture is, and how much of a lie the ideology of scientific control is in the first place. It also demonstrates how all the pretensions of control so pompously touted by engineers, corporate bureaucrats, and their political and media flunkeys are really lies, and how they premeditate the systematic spread of disease and poisoning. They know all this and they persist.

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Persistence Proves Intent.
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.*The EU’s ombudsman finds that the EU systematically abuses its institution of “confirmatory data procedure” for special regulation of poisons where the original submissions are proven to be so fraudulent that even the regulator can’t just cover up. Just like with the EPA’s “conditional registration”, when there’s incontrovertible evidence of a severe problem the EU allows poison sellers to say “the data’s in the mail” while they keep selling. In her ruling on a suit filed by the Pesticide Action Network of Europe the ombudsman also criticized EU regulators for lack of environmental protection assessments, lack of required follow-up monitoring (as I described above in the case of Spain’s teosinte, this scofflawing is so standard that we can call it a systematic lie among all regulators), and the health agency’s blithe approval of poisons which even the EFSA says give “critical areas of concern”. The ruling has no enforcement power and hands down no penalty, it merely demands that the EU submit a report within the next two years. In this report the liars are supposed to tell how the lies they used to tell are no longer being told. Because we know how credible such a report will be.
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Therefore it’s no surprise that the European Commission is responding to the WHO’s finding that glyphosate causes cancer by proposing to extend glyphosate’s official endorsement for the next 15 years and expand the allowed range of uses. The “European Council” of various national ministers is slated to meet in March to vote on the proposal.
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The WHO has summed up the decades of evidence, and the EU responds that it wants to give all Europeans cancer. It would be difficult for a government to more openly, starkly express its conscious, willful, homicidal intent. Certainly no ombudsman’s ruling, however harsh, will ever be sufficient for meeting this crisis.
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*Here’s the FDA temporarily backing down on its planned assault on raw milk cheesemakers. By its own testimony it’s backing off, for the moment, because of strong opposition from the Community Food sector, the producers and customers. But as the communication says, the agency still plans to use the power it was given by the “Food Safety Modernization Act” to carry out the intention of that act: To attack small farms, the cottage food industry, and any other rising rival to the poison-based Big Ag and Big Food system.
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Like the USDA and EPA, the FDA is dedicated to maximizing corporate control of agriculture and food, in particular maximizing the production and use of poison and the presence of this poison in our food. The FDA is also the lead federal organization seeking to strangle the rising Community Food sector which is working to restore rational and healthful agricultural and food economies based naturally on foodsheds and watersheds. This is a civil war, so far being waged mostly through chemical warfare which seeks to destroy our ecosystems, soils, and bodies. The FDA’s assault on community food continues, on behalf of the poison-based agriculture and food sectors. They plan to greatly escalate the assault under the “Food Safety Modernization Act”, a name Orwell would’ve had trouble bettering.
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*Among the lesser known of Israel’s crimes against humanity is its systematic chemical warfare against Palestinian agriculture, conducted under the rubric of a nebulous, ever-changing “security” policy. This is really a typical control measure, arbitrarily deployed and expanded at the will of the military. With only minor modification we can describe poison-based agriculture in general, including its increasing poison drift, in the same terms. Pesticide technology and the poisoner mindset historically have migrated to civilian use from prior military use, and there’s never been any clear dividing line between civilian agricultural use of these poisons, their military and police use vs. crops in Vietnam, Colombia, Palestine, and elsewhere, and their fully weaponized use against human beings in combat and the Nazi death camps. Most formally, the exact same scientific researchers, engineers, and government personnel, and the exact same corporations selling the exact same chemicals, span this entire spectrum.

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October 2, 2015

Europe Standing Tall Against Monsanto

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What’s happening in Europe is interesting. A solid bloc comprising the great majority of Europe’s people and arable land is taking official action to block GMO cultivation under the new EU rules which were designed to be more industry-friendly than the previous ad hoc system. But, evidently contrary to the cartel’s expectations, Europe is reacting with alacrity. If anything, the people and governments of Europe seem even more motivated today to repel the GMO invasion than they previously were, even as the EU relaxes its already farcical assessment and approval procedures.
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From any point of view Europe’s rejection of GMO cultivation is the rational choice. Europe’s non-GM conventional agriculture is more productive than the GM-dominated agriculture of the US and Canada, and the gap is widening. Similarly, Europe’s pesticide use continues to decline while that of the US continues to skyrocket. GMOs yield less and require greatly more pesticide, fertilizer, and irrigation. They’re an inferior yet vastly more expensive product in every way, even before we get to their health and environmental harms. Europe also has a booming organic sector, while the American organic sector is increasingly being polluted by GM contamination, at great cost to already beleaguered farmers. Forcing US organic to assimilate GMOs seems to remain the policy of the USDA, just as it attempted to do in the 1990s when it was first devising the certification program.
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Europe’s campaign may bode well for its resolve to reject the TTIP and CETA globalization pacts, which in the long run would render all this for naught. The goal of these compacts is to eradicate all popular democracy and national sovereignty and impose direct corporate dictatorship.
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There seems to be little hope of stopping the TTIP from this side of the pond, but the nations of Europe are certainly capable of rejecting it. Right now Europe has a great agricultural advantage over the North American Babylon, from the point of view of the great transformation which will soon be necessary as well as from today’s mainstream marketing point of view. Why throw this away? On the European side, the TTIP makes sense only from the point of view of a few big corporate sectors and the Commission bureaucracy. It would be a pure disaster from the point of view of anyone else, an abject submission to US corporate power. Here’s to the prospect that Europe’s broad-based rejection of GMOs is a preliminary to its rejection of corporate globalization’s last, greatest gambit.

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August 2, 2015

The Abdication of Establishment Science

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1. As I wrote in my post on science, science is the action of the people engaged in our democratic work toward our individual and community health and prosperity. The most important science was preceded by the empirical work of the active labor field, usually by regular people without any formal, specifically scientific training. Science has built upon this foundation. Therefore true science, practical science, starts with experimentation which leads to empirical success. Meta-knowledge of empirically established truth can then follow. For science the preliminary induction leads the way, with science as the theory induced and the patterns of deduction then building upon that. All this must be in the service of the people. Even if one disputes the moral character of science, one cannot dispute its need to possess a truth value, and the impossibility of its doing so the moment it diverges from the public good and becomes the tool of capitalism or of any other tyrannical hierarchy.
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Whether one sees science this way or in the more minimal sense of the scientific method, either way establishment science has abdicated. This is because it has fully embraced an ideology and framework which are antithetical to all human values, all truth values, all objectivity, all integrity. This framework is the corporate “science” paradigm. The US and most other governments, the corporate media, a large majority of STEM professionals and professionals in general, even many self-alleged radicals, regard the corporate science framework simply as what science “is”. Wherever we see an official or establishment type talking about science, he’s probably not talking about anything we’ve been told about a quest for truth or a scientific method. He’s talking precisely about “science” as dictated and controlled by corporations. Governments claim to respect science and derive policy from it, the media claims to report upon it, “supporters” claim advocacy of it, but these all are really propagators of corporate scientism, which is first of all a political and economic ideology, and for many a religion.
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2. What is this paradigm? It has fastened its vise grip from above and “below” through two mutually reinforcing processes. Through lobbying for corporate welfare in the form of pro-corporate government funding and strategic deployment of their own money, the corporations have gained control of academic science programs. Their control of agricultural education is especially complete. They’ve imposed their own norms as normative for education as such. They’ve rooted out most ideas of public service careers. Career paths all point to the corporate track. Government service is consciously seen as corporate service. The corporation is explicitly seen as “the client”. The regulator sees himself as a corporate agent. Regulatory agencies and corporations increasingly engage in de jure collaborative projects. Where necessary legislation further encourages or mandates the pro-corporate ideology of the regulator. The executive branch always provides very aggressive pro-corporate impetus. The TTIP and TPP would systematize this entire coordination process in an even more total way. The “revolving door” is barely distinguishable any more, the lines between government and corporation are already so blurred. Classical bribery is still rampant in the form of no-show jobs and speaking junkets for suspiciously high emoluments.
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All this leaves very little room for doubt or even for conceiving an alternative. The vast majority of STEM types never question corporate domination for a moment. Once you completely assimilate the profit motive and its accessories such as patents, and once you see the corporate executives who run this system as embodiments of the Fuhrerprinzip (Leadership Principle), it follows automatically that whatever kind of scientific framework and result these Leaders want is Science as such.
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What follows is that almost all working scientists, and certainly all who aspire to high positions in the hierarchy, envision their entire endeavor in terms of producing the results the corporation wants. They choose their projects and methodologies for these projects accordingly. They interpret their data accordingly. Where they generate unwelcome data they directly censor and suppress it, tendentiously rule it out as irrelevant, or fraudulently claim it really supports their thesis.
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That’s a sketch of the top-down corporate seizure of control of all scientific institutions. From another direction, that of the technician rank and file, we have their historically characteristic mercenary mentality which is always ready to serve existing power. Same for their inherently elitist, misanthropic, anti-democratic bent, including their fierce hatred for any kind of democratic oversight. This contrasts completely with their meek submission to regimented control where this comes from an authoritarian bureaucracy. Thus we see the contradiction between STEM disdain for non-credentialed citizens who comment on matters related or allegedly related to science, vs. their groveling endorsement of commentary and directives dispensed by non-credentialed corporate executives and politicians. It boils down to a mindset which is, prior to all content, authoritarian and anti-democratic. From there the ideology seamlessly ramifies itself as the religion of scientism and the political ideology of technocracy. Technocracy is really just a front for direct corporate dictatorship.
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When I call scientism a religion this is not a metaphor or rhetoric. Historically, scientism and technophilia are rooted in Christian extremism, and often remained overtly so through much of the twentieth century. Even among today’s scienticians who call themselves “atheists”, their intense religiosity is clear to see. Cults like artificial intelligence or “the singularity” are explicitly religious, while cults of eugenic creationism via genetic engineering (along with its companion junk science of genetic determinism) or “getting off the rock”, the scientism version of the Rapture, conceal their religious character only with great difficulty.
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Indeed, the STEM fraternity displays all the classic traits of religious fundamentalism. They’re fanatical and aggressively intolerant in principle, yet in their day to day actions and words they have no sense of truth or consistency at all. Actual living makes no difference because the promised land is “there” somewhere in the future and beyond the clouds. Where it comes to STEM types this psychological and ideological way of being is often called instrumental reason. This term sums it up well: One exalts “Reason” (or “Science”) as a transcendent value, and also tries to use it to get a job done. But where life actually happens, in deciding what is to be done in the first place, reason, truth, evidence, let alone any human value, mean nothing at all. One just follows orders and cashes one’s paycheck. All morality is referred to the divine beyond.
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It’s clear how well the scientism religion/ideology melds with the corporate program of total control, and how these mutually reinforce one another.
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As for the few practicing scientists who dare to question corporate rule in principle, and/or who design experiments in accord with regular notions of the scientific method rather than seeking to reinforce the corporate propaganda line, and who therefore accept corporate-adverse evidence as the real scientific data instead of censoring it, these are viciously assaulted by the attack dogs of the fraternity. Their mafia-type attitude where it comes to their version of Our Thing betrays their lack of self-confidence about their endeavor and exposes their knowledge that unless their framework is constantly enforced with lies and persecution of dissent it’ll be unmasked and destroyed. It also demonstrates the fundamentalist character of their commitment to the paradigm, their religious cult faith that corporate “science” is Science itself, the god to which they’ve dedicated their being.
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And so as if crushed in a vise, institutionalized science (and professionalism in general) have surrendered completely. They’ve completely embraced the corporate science paradigm and function completely within it.
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3. We can briefly survey a few examples of how the corporate science paradigm manifests.
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*Peer review is increasingly turned upside down, with the reviewers now policing not truth-based scientific quality but faithfulness to corporate norms and needs. The more pro-corporate papers one has published, especially those done to order and paid for by the corporations, the more he’s invited to review subsequent papers. In this way corporate science reproduces and reinforces itself as more corporate science cadres become the reviewers and can more enforce the corporate line. In this way the rich get richer, metaphorically and literally. If from the perspective of the corporate science paradigm peer review “fails” in an important case, the practitioners can take more rigorous measures to “correct” the result. In an extremity even a duly peer reviewed study can be scrubbed from the record if subject to enough anti-scientific political pressure. This then puts a chill into researchers and funders, putting them on notice that the “scientific” establishment will not tolerate actual scientific studies on GMOs and other products critical for the corporations, only rigged ones.
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We still see the fetish of “peer review” cropping up often among GMO critics, but this is misguided. Peer review can’t be relied upon any more than any other institution of establishment “science”. In this radically corrupted environment we have to take any alleged piece of science on a case-by-case basis, judging according to its transparency (100% is required), methodology (for example, food safety research must be of a duration which encompasses the full life cycle of the animal subjects*; this rules out the most common fraudulent method), who performed the research, and who paid for it.
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At the same time the practitioners assert protocols for rationalizing corporate secrecy where it comes to adverse data. From any reality-based point of view there’s no such thing as “secret science”, and data which is kept secret is automatically ruled out of science. Those such as corporations and regulators who claim to base policy on secret science are openly proclaiming their contempt for science and truth, and openly broadcasting their character as liars and con men. We the people can reject all they say and assume the worst about what the secret data really indicates. This is a basic part of rational method. But among regulators, the corporate media, and evidently the vast majority of STEM types, the truth value of “secret science” is an article of religious faith. This is tantamount to a direct assertion that science is whatever the corporation says it is.
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The same goes for the practice, institutionalized under the corporate science paradigm, of the regulator letting the corporation police itself and accepting the corporation’s own account as the actual state of “science”. But this is fundamentally irrational in principle, since a rational person would never trust a sociopathic corporation to certify the safety of its own profitable actions. That’s irrational in theory, and then there’s the fact that corporations like Monsanto or Dow are historically proven to be systematic liars. We know as an empirically proven fact that anything a chemical corporation says about its product’s safety is a lie. Again, rational method would never trust an interested party to give its own unevidenced account, would never believe a proven liar, and would automatically reject anything the proven liar claims, where the evidence is not 100% transparent and public. The result of such an irrational, idiotic process can never have anything remotely to do with real science, and in fact comprises the radical rejection of all scientific standards.
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In these ways we can see how radically irrational the corporate science paradigm is in principle. Of course its practice is dictated by its contempt for reason or truth and its total commitment to authoritarian power and greed. Corporate “science” is simply the absolute corruption and abdication of all allegedly scientific institutions and the vast majority of so-called scientific practitioners. Under this framework science has gone completely through and beyond the looking glass, where the corporate Humpty Dumpty intones, “science is whatever I say it is.” The Big Lie = Truth.
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[*An upcoming post will discuss whether it’s worth sacrificing more animals to the quest to get a hearing from establishment “science”.]
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*Related to the doctrine of Secret Science, and also indicative of the scienticians’ disregard of day-to-day truth norms, is their belief that scientific claims can be made, and science-related policy formulated, by anonymous cadres, the “science” equivalent of hooded judges. In public debate as well, anonymous attacks on independent science are standard, whether these come from industry forums such as AgBioForum or from smears published by regulators.
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*Under corporate “science” we see bizarre terminological inversions. For example “skepticism”, which in regular English means not taking things on faith, especially obvious lies, now often is used in an Orwellian way to mean the exact opposite: “Blind faith in whatever the corporate PR office says.” As with other kinds of fundamentalists, the corporate science fundamentalists use words to mean the opposite of what they normally mean, or in ways which have no meaning at all. Perhaps this is why they can so easily keep regurgitating direct lies which were disproven many years ago, such as that GMOs reduce pesticide use or yield better than non-GM crops. It’s also why they consistently can talk about non-existent hoaxes like golden rice or the GM Kenyan sweet potato as if these fairy tales actually exist. Again, to a fundamentalist all “truth” is bound up in the religious idol which is removed to the realm of the ideal, while the actual day-to-day real world is merely the realm of Satan anyway. Therefore there’s no need to care about the difference between fact and fiction, truth and lies. The implication, which the corporate science practitioner vigorously exercises, is that there’s no reason not to lie relentlessly in the day-to-day world, in the service of the idol.
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Therefore it’s especially ironic that many of these pathologically lying religious fundamentalists pride themselves on their “atheism”.
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*Under constant pressure from reality, this cult has improvised the doctrine of “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”, as a further layer of insulation from truth. Now there’s to be regular evidence (that is, pro-corporate “evidence”, especially anything produced by hierarchical establishment “science”), and disenfranchised unevidence (anything which indicates against the corporate party line, especially where this comes from independent science). Now it’s demanded that the latter produce itself in an “extraordinary” quantity in order to get a hearing. Of course the extraordinary amount necessary is never quantified, and as we’ve already seen no amount would ever be enough. Real science has already amassed vastly more than enough actual evidence against agricultural poisons to convince any rational person.
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In truth, real science recognizes only one kind of evidence and judges it according to the methods by which it was gathered, in the same way that real justice would impartially assess the testimony of a homeless person and a billionaire who are in dispute. But as we see with the “extraordinariness” doctrine, the corporate science paradigm with its extreme pro-corporate bias exemplifies the kind of “justice” which has always favored billionaires.
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(Actually, if we take the extraordinariness doctrine at face value, then since there’s zero evidence in favor of GMOs, only dogma and lies, and vast agronomic evidence against them along with substantial evidence of their health dangers, it would follow that by now it must require extraordinary evidence for a pro-GM contention to get a hearing. Here, as with credentialism, I propose we hold the pro-GMO activists to their own proclaimed standard.)
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*Under the corporate science paradigm, this general bifurcation of science based on whether it is being practiced by the corporate establishment or by independent practitioners, by those who accept complete corporate oversight and control of their scientific practice vs. those who resist or reject such oversight, is extended to access to research materials themselves. From the beginning of the genetic engineering era the corporations have allowed access to research material only to those researchers who are willing to accept corporate control over their work. This is one of the main purposes of enclosing the materials by patents. The general acceptance of this intellectual property regime on the part of rank and file scientific practitioners and STEM types is in itself a strong barometer of their faithful adherence to the corporate “science” framework. According to traditional norms of science, such enclosure and prior restraint would have been considered outrageous and automatically non-scientific and anti-scientific. But today’s science establishment accepts and helps enforce this enclosure as an integral part of Science as such.
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*The extraordinariness doctrine is a manifestation of a more general phenomenon of propaganda and policy under corporate rule, where the more obviously malign or insane a policy is, the less it’s held to any kind of reality-based standards whatsoever. Corporate science cultists here exemplify the classical “I believe because it’s absurd.” Poison-based agriculture joins Wall Street and the energy extraction sector as a prime beneficiary of this forbearance.
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By contrast, system cultists demand 100% a priori theoretical perfection from any dissenter or advocate of any alternative to corporate rule.
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In science, this is typical of how rank and file practitioners and propagandists work under the dominant paradigm. Again we see how, for those within the framework, the truth or falsity of anything is irrelevant, only how faithfully it reinforces the corporate party line and assists the corporate prerogative on its way.
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*This is demonstrated by the complete fraudulence of their work where it comes to such harmful and shoddy, but profitable, products as GMOs. No government or corporation has ever performed a legitimate, full-length toxicity or cancer study, or an epidemiological study (in spite of requirements in Europe and elsewhere to do so), upon any GMO. They’ve done only short-term (“subchronic”) trials which measure only industrial parameters like fast weight gain. According to pro-GMO activists, smoking doesn’t cause lung cancer because the cancer rate among 14-year old smokers is negligible. These industry trials generally include fraudulent methodology like the use of “historical control groups” to drown out any toxicity or cancer data which does manifest. The researchers regularly engage in such fraudulent procedures as replacing animal subjects mid-study or obtaining leftover subject material from unrelated studies and pawning it off as new. They directly suppress adverse results or else define these away through such bogus classifications as “biological relevance” or “normal variation”, which are ideological measures meant to render as unevidence anything the corporation doesn’t like.
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Every compendium of so-called “studies” sponsored by the pro-GMO activists – the Snell report, the EU SAFOTEST report, the Nicolia survey, the “Trillion Meal Study”, GENERA, the “GMO Pundit” list, etc. ad nauseum – is nothing but another list of these same bogus industry trials.
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So the positive scientific evidence for the safety of GMOs is zero.
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Meanwhile we have the very strong implicit evidence of the self-evident fact that the only reason governments and corporations refuse to perform real full-length safety studies is that they’re terrified of what the results will be. This is proof that Monsanto and the US government believe the products of genetic engineering are dangerous to health.
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In all these ways we have a classical example of a dominant paradigm “science” regime which ruthlessly polices the day to day actions of its practitioners in order to obtain the result pre-determined according to ideological norms.
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*A particularly vile dereliction of corporate science is its massively criminal violation of the principle that scientific experimentation requires informed consent. Obviously the vast human feeding experiment GMOs are now undergoing never obtained consent from the billions of human beings it has turned into guinea pigs. Worse, the experimenters and their supporters in the professional and academic ranks want to withhold all the information they can by opposing real safety testing, suppressing adverse data from the inadequate tests which industry has done, slandering independent science, and opposing labeling.
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*An effective catch-22 is to render epidemiological study impossible by systematically keeping the presence of GMOs and other poisons in the food supply incalculable, though such suppression of data as refusing to label foods containing them. This anti-science obscurantism then sets up what are pure lies from a scientific as well as political point of view, where the pro-GMO activists claim to know that “people have been eating GMOs and aren’t getting sick”. What’s really happened is that with the system’s suppression of labeling information and subsequent briar-patch refusals to perform epidemiological study, science has been willfully and systematically driven out.
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*In general there’s been a complete ethical collapse among “scientists” in their rejection of the rational and human-oriented precautionary principle (rational in principle and in light of the historical record, as we noted above regarding the lack of trustworthiness and known psychopathy of the corporations, as well as for the purely scientific reasons Nassim Taleb recently discussed), their refusal to demand or exercise objectivity in discourse, or to disclose conflicts of interest. This collapse is simply the process of STEM types completely assimilating the values of their corporate masters. Indeed, from the perspective of the corporate science paradigm, there is no conflict of interest to disclose since the science interest = the corporate interest. The very concept of a “conflict” becomes meaningless, and those who still refer to such a thing are talking in a foreign language.
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*To sum these up as a few basics:
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– The refusal of the corporate “science” paradigm to perform legitimate safety tests is implicit proof that the corporations and governments know or believe that the true scientific evidence would be devastating for them, their system, and their products. The fact that in place of real science they build such a massive structure of fraud and lies confirms this proof. GMOs and other agricultural poisons are known by the government and corporations to have extremely bad effects on human and animal health, the environment, and on agronomy.
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– The corporation always lies, and we can and should reject out of hand anything it says unless it makes complete public disclosure of 100% of the evidence. Again, the fact that it resorts to Secret Science proves the corporation’s malign intent and how bad the evidence against the corporation must be.
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– There’s no such thing as Secret Science. Any appeal to it or claim that it can exist at all is automatic proof that we’ve left any realm of legitimate science and are dealing purely with ideological liars and con men who are perpetrating simple consumer fraud.
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– In their embrace of all these things the practitioners, publicists (including mainstream “journalism”, which adheres to a parallel corporate journalism paradigm; same for academia and the professions), and fanboys demonstrate their opportunistic and/or religious commitment to a purely ideological framework which has zero relationship to any traditional idea of science, and which represents the radical repudiation and destruction of all the things science is supposed to stand for. The lot of them are nothing more or less than corporate propagandists who through their words and other representations and actions are full participants in corporate crimes against humanity.
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4. We can apply our standard corporatism template to the corporate scienticians, as we’ve previously applied it to regulators and system NGOs:
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***1. The corporate prerogative is normative. The corporate project must go forward. Corporate power, corporate control, corporate rule are to be taken for granted as “the way of the world”, the best way or at any rate the only way.
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***2. Scientific institutions and research must be controlled by the corporations or by corporate-oriented regulators or educational institutions. They must be designed to serve corporate propaganda goals, produce corporate-friendly results, practitioners must be willing to practice their profession under corporate supervision and be subject to corporate censorship. Where political pressure forces it, such as in the case of weed and insect pest resistance, the corporations may loosen the reins a little, and in these enclaves the practitioners may have some tiny space to “do real science”, though even then they are subject to persecution from the scientism mob. Everyone must join the mob ranks to condemn bona fide independent science which deviates from the paradigm and produces results which firmly contradict the party line and which, if admitted as the state of science, would harm corporate profits.
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Through all this the “science” establishment must pretend to stand for real science and to be real scientists holding the system accountable. As much as anyone else the corporate scienticians claim that science is objective, rational, fact-based, impartial, and in the service of humanity. Therefore this pose is a systematic fraud which is only pretending to prevent or correct system “abuses”, let alone the depredations of organized crime. In practice a few stray studies don’t change anything. So far the WHO’s IARC finding that glyphosate causes cancer, for all the media noise including the mob howling against it, is having almost zero effect on the ideology or policy of Western governments, universities, or media.
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***3. Then put the imprimatur of “science” on the structure of fraud and lies and tell the people to go back to sleep. Tell them to trust the “experts”. Apply the meaningless but polemically potent “anti-science” epithet to any deviation.
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5. This is the current state of establishment “science”. This means that science as an established intellectual framework and collective endeavor, as something which is trustworthy, legitimate, and possessing any rational authority, has abdicated. All that is left of science, the true science, are some fugitive, persecuted independent scientists, as well as the vastly greater range of empirical practitioners who increasingly infuse their work with agroecological science, albeit with almost no help, and plenty of hindrance and harm, from establishment sources. And yet in spite of all this the evidence is clear and overwhelming: Across the board, in general and at every point of detail, science affirms and supports agroecology and Food Sovereignty and condemns the failures, poison, and destruction wrought by corporate agriculture.
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6. A de jure, self-conscious scientific movement won’t be identifiable until a new framework rises to challenge and overthrow the established dereliction. Likely wellsprings of this movement will be ecology, systems analysis, chaos theory and other disciplines at the vanguard of holistic thinking, most of all the thinkers and practitioners of agroecology, all of these infused with the spirit of science.
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7. My focus upon corporate agriculture is among other things a case study in this general war of ideas. Science and scholarship have been hijacked by corporate power. The ability of GMOs and pesticides to continue their march to world domination in spite of their complete practical failure and proven health detriments is the most extreme example of this modern evil. If we were to sum it all up in a single epitome, we can call it the final conflict of totalitarian eugenics vs. organic philosophy, science, and society. This is the basic status of the war of ideas and the war of actions.
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The abolition of GMOs and pesticides is necessary on health, environmental, biodiversity, and political/economic grounds. The same goes for corporate agriculture as such, and for corporate rule as such. Humanity’s future will depend upon, among other things, our will to take back our science and reason from these ideological criminals. Since the corporate scientific establishment refuses to police itself, we the people shall have to rescind our confidence in it and our tolerance of it, and we are doing so.
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With the rise of intense specialization in science and technical engineering, the only way it could work for society to invest any confidence, repose any faith, in technical personnel like scientists would be if each discipline were to be aggressively self-policing, since beyond some obvious basics we’ll discuss here, there’s no way anyone outside the discipline can police within it.
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We now know this self-policing did not happen, and given the economic authoritarianism of industrialism and its technical knowledge, it was probably impossible. Since we know the technicians cannot be trusted, our only option is to retract our confidence in their whole endeavor. Where it comes to them all we can do is empirically judge prospects and results. If a prospect and result are beneficial we can allow technicians to continue along a path. If prospect looks bad or a result is bad, we must not allow them to continue. In any case, decisions about technical education, provision of social resources for technological actions, and tolerance for any particular action, must be 100% in the hands of the people.
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Since the establishment has abdicated all responsibility and disavowed even the most basic standards of fidelity to scientific truth and simple human decency, where it comes to such dire threats to human health, we the people shall have to take back science from the hands of those who only abuse and repress it. We must expose corporate scientism for what it is and rout it from the earth. We must rebuild science from the soil up, as we, the true scientific practitioners, spent thousands of years doing in the first place.
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Fortunately, the great work of human science is still intact and at our service, as soon as we the people choose to regain control of it. This control, exercised as part of reclaiming our politics and our economies, is the only thing we really need to rebuild here. To do so all we need to do is rescind our confidence in the elitist technical establishment and revoke all political and economic support for it. This is part of fighting for the abolition of GMOs, and this abolitionism in turn is part of driving out the traitors to science and redeeming science as servant of the democratic people.
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Which brings us to our final point on science vs. corporate anti-science. Scientists, however much pride they take in their endeavor, are humble about the limits of this endeavor. The recognize the much greater uncertainty which encompasses whatever seems certain. Most of all, assuming they respect democracy, they recognize that all control belongs in the hands of the people. They see themselves as advisers of the people, helping to make political decisions.
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But where technicians side against the people, telling mercenary lies on behalf of corporate power, they abrogate the role of scientists and cast away any right to that name.
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But we still have real scientists, and we have this statement, as well as the great and ongoing work of independent researchers on GMOs, fracking, and the many other corporate assaults which are bolstered by the lies of junk “science”. We have the work of these scientists counteracting these lies, doing what they can to ensure that in the end science shall live up to its role as a servant of democracy and watchdog of human health and freedom.
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Plenty more fleshing all this out as we go.

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July 30, 2015

The Spirit of Science

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

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July 29, 2015

Food Sovereignty

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I paraphrase the Seven Principles of Food Sovereignty as formulated by the global farmer movement Via Campesina:

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1. Food Sovereignty affirms healthy food as a basic human right. This means we have a pre-political right to work the soil and enjoy the food we produce from it. This is because our creative and productive work is an essential part of our humanity, and any attempt to sunder us from control over our work is an elemental crime. Access to our work and ability to do our work is the essence of freedom. This right to food can also be encoded as a formal constitutional right, wherever the people choose to do so.
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2. Food Sovereignty affirms our human right to productively work the land, which means control of the land by those who productively steward it. Access to our work and ability to do our work is the essence of freedom.
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3. Food Sovereignty recognizes the need for productive stewardship of all natural resources. This include the need, responsibility, and obligation to use our natural resources as sustainably and renewably as possible, in harmony with the nature which provides their foundation.
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4. Food Sovereignty affirms that human economies are naturally demand-based, never supply-based. It rejects all top-down command economy measures. It therefore rejects globalization, commodification, corporate welfare, and corporatism as such. Trade must be of food only, never agricultural commodities.
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5. Within the current globalization of food, Food Sovereignty especially rejects the financialization and commodification of food and other natural resources.
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6. Food Sovereignty seeks modes of production and distribution based on natural human cooperation instead of artificial elite-imposed competition and mutual destruction. Food production and distribution, where done democratically and according to the natural rhythms of the economy, can be forces for freedom, happiness, well-being, and social peace instead of sublimated civil war. Food and agricultural policy must never be a “food weapon”, must never be part of economic warfare or civil war. There must be no use of food as politics by other means, war by other means.
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7. Food Sovereignty affirms that political and economic organization must be democratic. Food producers and consumers must take the lead and exercise full control of everything we create and consume. That means everything which exists within the bounds of polity and economy.
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Food Sovereignty is the political complement to agroecology, the great body of true agronomic science, knowledge, technology, and practice. Agroecology is about growing food in harmony with nature, in a way which provides the most wholesome food with the highest amount of calories and nutritional value, builds the soil, uses less water, cleanses the water and air, breeds the best crops, grows the physically strongest crops, improves the genetic robustness of our crops, most effectively discourages weeds and pests, attracts beneficial insects and companion plants, provides wildlife habitat, enhances ecosystems in general, and provides a spiritually fulfilling human environment.
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The essence of Food Sovereignty is the proposition that agroecology and political and economic freedom are mutually reinforcing.
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Positive democracy dispenses with all forms of coercive hierarchy in favor of the cooperative economies and societies which are natural to human beings. This is the culture which would end all tyranny and minimize violence. It’s the most favorable environment for all forms of autonomous and cooperative production, including the agroecology which already is the most productive of all forms of agriculture, and whose productivity advantage shall increase exponentially post-fossil fuels. Conversely, conditions of artificial scarcity and unemployment arise out of and are conducive to anti-democratic ideas and forms. Corporate Rule = Artificial Scarcity. Food Sovereignty/Agroecology/Community Food = Natural and Economic Abundance.
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The Big Lie that industrial agriculture outproduces organic is based on simple accounting fraud. Corporate propagandists isolate one crop, for example corn, and then compare industrial vs. organic monocultures of that crop. But monoculture is antithetical to the organic framework. On the contrary, the right comparison is between the industrial monoculture and the integrated, diversified polycultural farm. When this correct account is tallied, we find that organic outproduces industrial in terms of calories and macronutrients, and vastly outproduces it in terms of vitamins and minerals.
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But this mode of agroecological production – diversified, geared to local conditions, intensively using skilled labor, producing abundance, providing fulfilling work for all – cannot be concentrated into an assembly line. So it’s naturally resistant to hierarchy. It naturally resists power and wealth concentration.
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Therefore agroecology is in the spirit of the original principle of the American Revolution, that concentrated power naturally assaults liberty, and that the responsibility of a citizen is to be vigilant toward power, or better yet not allow it to concentrate in the first place. Organic food production, by its very nature, presents a great hurdle to concentration, and therefore lessens the burden of vigilance. It also does this by providing local/regional food security. By training for self-reliance, it also affirmatively trains us to be the active citizens we need to be.
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What is needful? If you believe industrial agriculture as such is sustainable, then all you need to do is stay the course with the predominantly non-GM conventional industrial system which produces enough food to feed 10 billion people, far more than will ever exist even by the most prodigious population projections. Even in that scenario GMOs are unnecessary and pointless.
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But the fact is that industrial agriculture is not sustainable and, if left to continue on its current trajectory, shall inevitably fail and collapse, bringing unfathomable famine and disease with its failure. Again, since GMOs do nothing but double down on every trend and pathology of industrial agriculture, they can play no role in any constructive transformation. Their one and only purpose is to impose authoritarian regimentation on agriculture and food.
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The agroecological transformation which is already underway is the only possible way forward for humanity’s future need and abundance. Small polyculture farms have always been far more productive than industrial plantations. Organic practices are already demonstrated to be enable humanity to produce food and fertility sufficient to sustain and exceed the world’s need. When industrial practice is no longer able to function as it runs out of the massive infusions of cheap fuel, aquifer water, and mined phosphorus it daily requires, the productivity margin shall become infinite. We know this is true, the science and history prove it. Across the board real science and rationality support the accomplishments and potential of agroecology and Food Sovereignty and condemn corporate agriculture’s failures, toxicity, and destructiveness.
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Agroecology is the only agronomic way forward. Together with Food Sovereignty we find the great way forward for freedom, democracy, and human prosperity. The basis of a healthy economy, polity, and society is the ability of the productive class to procure everything it needs for a decent life. So given any social premise, including even the premises of modern civilization and the middle-class aspiration, agroecology is the most fruitful and healthful basis of agriculture. As always, where it comes to food issues the answer to any problem is along the same vector regardless of whether one’s a reformist or a revolutionary. Either way one must be an anti-corporatist.
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The history of this movement has provided the right model for all social organization. Agroecological knowledge, the greatest achievement of the modern era and the achievement with by far the greatest potential for the future, was built from a combination of science and regionally adapted practical knowledge. Food production and distribution, more than any other endeavor, emphasize the importance of adaptive knowledge and require the mutual support of scientific theory and locally adapted application. Nowhere is this more true than with agriculture, and if we expand from science theory to philosophy in general, here agriculture also provides a template for all human endeavor. We already know it’s true in politics and political economy. Monoculture is death in general.
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The key: agroecological science plus regionally adapted empirical knowledge and practice, toward food production primarily for the region. This can be applied right now, especially across the global South. It requires primarily the political will to reject Western globalization and its depredations. The Via Campesina principles of Food Sovereignty articulate best what’s necessary. This applies also to our critically endangered agricultural genetics, where our salvation lies in participatory plant breeding for regionally adapted agroecology. Centralized seed vaults like Svalbard represent in principle a crackpot “solution” of decadence, even leaving aside any likely corruption.
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Participatory breeders can receive important assistance from formally trained scientific breeders if these latter commit to agroecology and Food Sovereignty. If they fail to do this (they’ve been increasingly corporatized since the 1980s), we can teach ourselves all that’s necessary. Farmers have already empirically selected and bred for thousands of years.
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We’re already doing all of this. Organizations like Campesino a Campesino and the Asian Farmer Field Schools already exist to propagate the most cutting edge agroecological knowledge and techniques to smallholder farmers. This modern knowledge is really a refinement of and supplement to the age old techniques. But unlike fraudulent technologies like GMOs, these conceptual refinements and enhancements which require little in the way of expensive inputs and really do produce great gains in yield and nutritional quality.
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Helped by this knowledge, which Southern farmers can largely propagate among themselves with perhaps some help from the organic movement in the West (and this help being only in the form of non-proprietary knowledge; and of course we in the West have at least as much to learn from the innovators of the South), Southern farmers can provide for themselves and their communities. Southern communities shall attain prosperity and security through their own resources efforts, if the assaults of the corporate West are stopped.
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So the road to a human future is clear enough. Support and join the efforts of Southern farmer unions like these, and the efforts of the hundreds of farmer and citizen groups who have combined to form the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa, and the efforts of the Landless Workers’ Movement in Brazil and elsewhere across Latin America, and the efforts of La Via Campesina, the Peasant Way, and the efforts of those of us in the West who are trying to build such movements here.
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If humanity is to have a future, this great movement must succeed. We must defend ourselves as farmers and citizens, we must preserve our ability to democratically produce and distribute the true crops and real food, and we must build this effort as a movement to ensure the future of humanity.
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In all these ways, therefore, agroecology helps foster and strengthen democracy, just as democracy provides the most constructive environment for agroecology. Food Sovereignty is an essentially democratic philosophy and practice. It’s the most purely human philosophy, and it’s the practice most tending toward our human fulfillment.

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July 25, 2015

If the DARK Act Passes, What Then?

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

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July 18, 2014

GMO News Summary July 18th 2014

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*A new analysis of 343 studies comparing crops grown organically to crops grown conventionally finds that the organic foods are greatly superior nutritionally. In particular they have much higher levels of cancer-fighting antioxidants.
 
This great difference in nutritional profile is probably on account of the differing ways the crops are grown. Crops grown with massive applications of synthetic fertilizer and pesticides are in effect coddled and have to do little work for themselves. So they put their energy into producing higher levels of sugars and starches. Their way of life makes them fat and bloated, and therefore they’re greatly inferior as food.
 
Organic crops, by contrast, have to make an honest living. They have to work to extract real nutrition from real soil and to defend themselves against pests and disease. Of course the knowledge and skills of organic farmers helps them. The result is that organically grown plants produce higher levels of phenols and polyphenols, including the antioxidants so important for preventing heart disease, stroke, and cancer in humans.
 
Of course these organic crops are also not laden with agricultural poisons the way conventional crops are. Organic crops are only 1/4 as likely as conventional to have any pesticide residues at all, and these residue levels are on the average 10-100 times lower. Presumably these very low residues are the result of the general contamination of the environment, for example from the pesticide drift which the USDA wants to make a vastly worse problem.
 
Conventional crops also contained twice the levels of the toxic heavy metal cadmium. 
 
This study, carried out by a team from Newcastle University, analyzed many more studies using many more parameters than that of the tendentious 2012 Stanford paper which whitewashed the poison problem and claimed that the nutritional superiority of organic crops had little meaning for health. This bogus study was the signal for a slew of high-profile corporate media pieces, in Time, the NYT, and elsewhere smearing the idea of organic food. We’ll see what the response is to this new, vastly superior study.
 
*New science establishes how neonicotinoid insecticides, already heavily implicated in the decimation of honeybee populations and other environmental and soil destruction, are decimating birds as well.
 
Industrial seeds, generally GMOs designed to generate crops suffused with insecticidal and herbicidal poisons, are also coated with many other poisons including neonics, which are increasingly necessary to make up for the failure of endemic Bt insecticide. Neonics also suffuse every cell of the crop. The ways this harms human and animal health are unknown and have never been tested.
 
Neonics, like all the rest of these poisons, are necessary elements of poison-based industrial agriculture, which is based upon agronomically unsound and destructive corn-on-corn and other deranged monoculture planting schedules. This is necessary to prop up agriculture as a commodity sector.
 
Meanwhile an agricultural system based on producing food through rational crop rotation and decentralized agroecology practices would be far more productive and healthy and require none of these destructive and expensive poisons and other extraneous inputs.
 
*Another example of the accelerating failure of GMOs in the field, this one from Brazil where resistant caterpillars are badly damaging Bt corn. The piece includes the usual admonition about how non-GM refuges within Bt plantings are supposed to work. But the fact is that even if such refuge policy were enforced (in Brazil it’s not even mandatory, just recommended; in the US it’s officially mandatory but indifferently enforced and widely flouted), the 5-10% refuge generally suggested is far too small to have any effect even in principle. Refuges would need to be 50% or more to conceivably work for long.
 
But the fact is that refuge policy was never intended to work, and was never anything but propaganda meant to reassure skeptical farmers and citizens that regulators had a rational plan. In fact the only rational plan which has ever existed was how to systematically lie on behalf of this worthless, anti-innovative, luddite product, GMOs. The Bt refuge scam is just one example, but look to literally anything else ever said on behalf of GMOs and you’ll see a similar scam. For example my concluding item.
 
*A similar example from Pakistan, where Bt cotton, including Monsanto’s brand-name Bollgard II and Roundup Ready Flex stacked varieties, is increasingly useless against resistant bollworms. Farmers are having to spray expensive pesticides in addition to paying for the expensive seed. This is the kind of financial destruction of small cotton farmers which has produced a massive suicide wave in India.
 
Bt levels are always chaotic and unpredictable even in the highest quality GM seed. (There’s one measure of what a low-quality product GMOs really are.) But the seed distributed in countries like Pakistan seems especially low quality, often producing little or no Bt toxin at all. This apparently includes not just various knockoffs but the Monsanto name brand.
 
We must always keep in mind that just as in other corporate sectors, with seeds as well the big corporations which control them seldom did any actual innovation or production work, but contract out all the work. The corporation only provides the brand name, does the lobbying, controls the patents, reaps all the profit, and exercises control of the entire process. The one thing it doesn’t do is any actual constructive work. So when we ponder GM seeds, especially in the global South, we should always keep in mind that these are often of much lower quality than even the crappy ones sold in the US. This is just one of the many ways GMOs are a scam and a hoax. Also relevant especially to places like India and Pakistan is how any GMO depends upon large-scale artificial irrigation (in itself a huge conveyance of corporate welfare for the Big Ag corporations) to have any chance of performing the way the advertising brochure claims. But most small farmers in these countries lack access to such irrigation. That too affects, for example, Bt cotton’s actual expression of the pesticide.

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