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April 4, 2017

“Pesticides’ Lives Matter”, Says the European Government

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“Pesticides are products that matter—to farmers, consumers, and the environment. We need effective competition in this sector so companies are pushed to develop products that are ever safer for people and better for the environment,” says Margrethe Vestager, the EC commissioner in charge of competition policy.

 
That’s the industry’s American Chemical Society quoting the European central government’s competition czar. The European Commission has given its approval to the pending Dow-DuPont merger, contingent on DuPont divesting several holdings including its pesticides R&D division. The reason they give is that they think combining the Dow and DuPont R&D divisions would result in lower quantity and quality of research and development.
 
Pesticides invariably become ever more harmful to people and the environment, but the EC reads from Orwell’s playbook.
 
As we see, the Poisoner ideology and the pesticide mandate of regulators is so normative that antitrust regulators publicly avow that they are motivated by a mandate to ensure maximal research and development of poisons toward maximal usage. Here the regulator is engaging in pro-corporate propaganda, promising the public that agrochemical sector consolidation will result in better, less toxic poisons. This is a premeditated lie, since the inertia of corporate industrial agriculture is exclusively toward ever more toxic poisons in ever greater amounts.
 
This is an example of the corporate-technocratic regulator template in action. As per (1) the corporate project is normative. As per (2) the antitrust regulator makes a show of ordering sham concessions from the corporation. As per (3) the regulator then turns corporate propagandist and assures the public that the government has acted in the public interest, that the corporate project now will proceed in a benevolent way, and that the people therefore should tend to their private concerns and go to sleep.
 
Of course the public rationale here is idiotic. The whole point of consolidation such as the Dow-DuPont combination is that research and development has run out of road and the oligopoly needs to self-cannibalize. As a rule mergers among oligopolists are the sign of a superannuated, calcifying, decadent sector. It means companies are running out of ideas, losing confidence in the sector and in themselves. It’s the most extreme version of buying your ideas, patents, and products rather than being an innovator and entrepreneur who develops these yourself. Dow and DuPont believe they’re reaching dead ends and each needs to buy what the other has. Dow needs Pioneer seed germplasm, DuPont needs Dow’s pesticide lines and genetic engineering expertise and patents. When the antitrust regulator orders DuPont to divest its pesticide R&D and some pesticide lines, this merely is throwing the company into the briar patch.
 
The real character of the pesticide/GMO sector is that it is antiquated, backward, an economic and innovation bottleneck, shoddy, tawdry. This is borne out by one consistent thread which runs through all the sector consolidation events. Monsanto’s contractions, Monsanto’s proposals to Syngenta, the Dow/DuPont merger: All involve cutting research and development spending. In other words the sector has reached the point where it thinks more in terms of stock buybacks and scrounging whatever technology and patents it can buy rather than developing anything on its own. To some extent this is inherent to any big corporation and any oligopoly sector. But it’s especially congenital to the agrochemical sector, which was always based on accelerating planned obsolescence toward its inevitable culmination in the complete exhaustion and obsolescence of the entire paradigm.
 
Therefore research and development always is a target for down-sizing in a case like this. If continued R&D opportunities existed, that would be an incentive against merging in the first place.
 
Of course the industry’s flack who authored the piece has to tout such a merger as a pro-innovative step. But in truth the only innovation in this case is toward preservation of corporate power. For the agrochemical cartel, wracked by such bad fundamentals, where the sector’s inertia is becoming less powerful, more diffuse and centrifugal, preserving power now means consolidation.
 
 
Meanwhile India’s Competition Commission is making a different public sound. It “is of prima facie opinion” that the merger will hurt competition and announces it will seek public comment and demand more public transparency from Dow and DuPont about their plans.
 
India’s regulators in recent years have shown more willingness to hinder Western corporate projects, especially where it comes to seed prices and corporate taxation on seeds. The “nationalist” Modi government looks somewhat less like the US poodle of previous Indian central governments and more like China and Russia in being leery of Western corporate domination of agriculture and food. I remain skeptical that any of these governments are in any way anti-GMO, the way some elements of the Modi coalition claim to be, but at any rate they seem determined to reduce the global dominion of Western corporations like Monsanto.
 
At least in the case of China, this certainly is because they plan to build their own competing GM/pesticide cartel. Indeed the most pivotal of the ongoing mergers may be that of the state’s ChemChina with Syngenta.
 
But as I say in those pieces, China looks to be getting into the GMO/pesticide market at its peak, and would do much better to convert to agroecology. But of course power-driven insanity is no monopoly of the West, and most of the non-Western world also will insist on doing everything the hardest, most destructive, most self-destructive way possible.
 
 
 

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.
 
 
 
 
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