Volatility

March 24, 2015

Rounding Up Roundup

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The notion that glyphosate is “safer” than other herbicides is a mainstay even among lukewarm critics of GMOs, and of course the US government has long propagated this slogan, although in order for it to do so the EPA had to change its 1985 finding of “possibly carcincogenic to humans” to “evidence of non-carcinogenicity in humans” in 1991. As with all EPA findings since the beginning of the GMO era, this change had zero to do with scientific evidence, but was a purely political decision to accommodate Monsanto. Now lying like this will be a bit more difficult, as the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has upgraded its assessment: Glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans”.
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Actually they’ve known glyphosate is carcinogenic since the 1980s, and as I said even the Reagan EPA felt constrained to call it a “possible human carcinogen”. The EPA then downgraded that to “not a carcinogen”, straight up because Monsanto demanded it. Today we see Monsanto’s hysterical reaction to the previously reliable WHO breaking ranks like this. We’ll see if the WHO sticks by its guns or moves to marginalize its own scientific finding. Of course Monsanto’s already succeeding in getting the corporate media to “report” on “the controversy” rather than on the fact. But at least the fact that the WHO is now admitting this brings Roundup’s cancer-causing nature into the media’s realm of controversy, whereas the cartel, the US government, and the NYT have long collaborated in making glyphosate’s toxicity an un-fact. (Maybe the American Cancer Society will now have to acknowledge the very existence of this cancer agent.) Even many GMO critics have parroted the Monsanto line that glyphosate is “less toxic” than other herbicides. Hopefully this will at least put an end to that self-defeating stupidity.
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Let’s get this point straight: Glyphosate as well as 2,4-D and dicamba are highly toxic. The Big Lie is that glyphosate is not highly toxic, period. That’s what the liars always mean when they call it “less toxic”. So it’s idiotic to even ask “which is worse.” The point is that they’re both well beyond the level of “too toxic to be used at all.”
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As always we must stress that glyphosate is never used in pure form, but is always deployed in commercial forms like Roundup which contain several other toxic ingredients. These real world commercial formulations are far more toxic than ivory tower glyphosate. That’s why it’s a standard scam among regulators to assess only the non-commercial “pure” glyphosate, because they know it’s less toxic. Yet, as the IARC has finally acknowledged, even pure glyphosate is severely toxic and causes cancer.
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Here’s more on Roundup. The latest in the line of studies out of Argentina exposing the health and environmental destruction wrought by Roundup finds a much higher level (44% higher) of genetic damage among children consistently exposed to Roundup and other herbicides. This group also had a high incidence of chronic respiratory, skin, and eye symptoms, while no children from the unexposed group reported any such persistent symptoms.
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I’ve often pointed out how antibiotic abuse on factory farms and in genetic engineering (the widespread use of antibiotic resistance markers in GMO development) is effectively a campaign to eradicate antibiotics as a medically effective treatment, and how this corporate campaign is setting up humanity for lethal pandemics as well as driving the ongoing chronic rise in deaths from illness caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. (I’ve also pointed out the fraudulence and stupidity of those who attack small groups of dissidents for allegedly endangering public health even as the ydo nothing to abolish subtherapeutic antibiotic use.) Now we can add a third industrial driver of antibiotic resistance. New science documents that bacteria exposed to such commercial herbicides as glyphosate, 2,4-D, and dicamba are prone to then have changed responses to application of antibiotics, usually showing resistance. So the wholesale slathering of the agricultural landscape and surrounding environs with Roundup, and starting this year GMOs engineered to be tolerant of 2,4-D or dicamba, is perhaps accelerating the evolution of antibiotic resistant strains and subsequent end game for antibiotics as a whole.
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More fun with glyphosate and Roundup: A new study gives further proof that Roundup, as well as glyphosate even in its pure form is acutely toxic to human cells and is an endocrine disruptor through causing the death of cells which produce progesterone. The study tested in vitro exposure to human cells at concentration levels allowed in Australian drinking water. It found that Roundup is more deadly to human cells than pure glyphosate (thus again proving that the real world formulation is more toxic than the “pure” chemical which is the sole purview of regulators), but that both kill cells and cause endocrine disruption through cell death. The study didn’t probe whether these poisons are endocrine disruptors in other ways, but there’s strong evidence for this as well.
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Among the less heralded US government handouts to Monsanto is the longstanding Roundup fumigation program in Colombia, whose proximate goal is to wipe out coca cultivation. This gives a good insight into the real character of the Drug War and any pretensions it has to being about “public health”. On the contrary, it has nothing to do with human health and everything to do with power and corporate welfare. In a case like this the farcical character of the “health” aspect is especially on display, as the spraying program, a veritable chemical warfare campaign (compare the Agent Orange chemical weapons campaign during the Vietnam War), is well documented as causing severe health effects. The Colombian government has supported US paramilitary campaigns within its country because the US pays it off and because they have a shared enemy in legitimate popular movements among the peasantry. But with this WHO report, even some within the Colombian government are starting to wonder if this wholesale program of poisoning the people’s bodies and destroying their crops isn’t, just maybe, politically and ultimately militarily doing more harm than good.
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The fact is there’s no such thing as a demarcation between purely “civilian” poison spraying and chemical warfare. It’s all on a militaristic spectrum, thus the popularity of violent names for agricultural poisons. Monsanto seems to prefer the Wild West theme. Similarly, the agrochemical corporations and the US government effectively see themselves as waging war upon humanity in general and in particular upon small farmers, subsistence farmers, organic farmers, farmers producing food for communities, all farmers and communities not sufficiently coordinated according to the corporate imperative. The goal is to clear the land for mechanized industrial plantations under corporate control. The goal is to force the people off the land and into slums. The campaign is the same as the post-medieval, pre-modern enclosure campaigns of Europe. The only difference is that in the earlier campaign part of the goal was to forcibly generate an urban proletariat, while today the shantytowns are meant to serve as terminal concentration camps for the permanently liquidated and immiserated. I defy anyone to tell me poison-based agriculture isn’t chemical warfare, against people on a more profound level than against bugs and weeds. Roundup has long been the number one weapon of globalization war. It generated the most perfect agro-state yet, Argentina’s “Soy Republic”.
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That Roundup and glyphosate, along with 2,4-D and dicamba, are also severely toxic and destructive to human and ecosystem health renders the chemical warfare concept physically as well as economically true. There are many things preventing us from living in peace and prosperity. Among the most vicious assaults upon us are agricultural poisons like Roundup and GMOs. We must abolish them completely if humanity is to have a future, physically or in any other meaningful sense.
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Today even the usually pro-GMO World Health Organization itself is saying: Roundup is cancer. This is a physical fact, and it’s a political and spiritual fact. We must do what’s necessary.

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November 18, 2014

GMOs = More Ebola and the Faster Spread of Ebola

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1. For centuries medical science has known that conditions of overcrowding combined with lack of good sanitation incubate epidemics. Densely crowded slums are often the source or proliferation point for epidemics of cholera, typhus, dengue, typhoid, Chagas disease, plague, yellow fever, influenza, and many others. This artificial socioeconomic circumstance provides the right terrain for potentially pathogenic germs to go kinetic. Today this is true of ebola, which is spreading most aggressively in the shantytowns of Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Nigeria.
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2. The main goal and effect of the “Green Revolution” has been to dispossess huge numbers of indigenous tribes as well as small farmers and their families and drive them into vast slums ramifying from the fringes of the cities. These are the infamous shantytowns, corporate neoliberalism’s terminal waste dumps for the ever-growing legions of economically superfluous people. Over the last fifty years the green revolution and the “structural adjustment” assaults of the IMF caused the explosive growth of these immiseration camps.
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The IMF usury campaigns which have indentured whole countries (while those countries’ political leadership uses the money for urban luxuries for the homegrown 1%, or just directly embezzles it and puts it back in Western banks), and the onslaught of globalized commodity agriculture which indentures and destroys millions of farmers and tribesmen, have gone hand in hand. The globalization compacts of the former have always extorted ever greater license for the latter, as New Deal-style public agricultural investment programs have always been among the IMF’s primary targets. The IMF’s hostile takeover of Ukraine is a current example, while the G8’s “New Alliance” plan for Africa intends to expose Africa and its millions of farmers to the full fury of Western banks, agribusiness, and commodity dumping. Such onslaughts across Asia and Africa have been accompanied by the accelerating plague of land-grabbing. One of the conditions of IMF and New Alliance money is always that recipient governments privatize tribal and communal land, driving off the moral owners and replacing them with rich and corporate owners of duly legal “property”. This kind of robbery goes back at least as far as the Big Lie of how the natives allegedly “sold” Manhattan for a handful of beads (my Economics 101 textbook in college was still repeating this, good old Samuelson and Nordhaus), and today Rajiv Shad of USAID openly says it’s a primary goal of the New Alliance.
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The effect of all these crimes – land-grabbing, debt indenture of farmers, the violent transformation of agriculture from thousands of small farmers producing food mostly for their own communities to a handful of gargantuan monoculture plantations producing only export commodities and employing a relative handful of ex-farmers as laborers, the dumping of the West’s heavily subsidized agricultural commodities on the agriculture and food sectors of these same countries – has been to force millions of people off their land and into globalization’s sprawling concentration camps, shantytowns. All shantytowns are created by the enclosure of arable land. This is an intended goal of all such policy. The people are to be driven off their land and, as in the past, turned into low-wage urban workers, or as today, permanently incarcerated in economic misery and political helplessness. That’s what the US government and global corporate agriculture have planned for Africa.
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The main difference between Stalinist collectivization and the neoliberal “green revolution” is that the latter, fully mechanized and dependent upon the input, processing, and transportation infrastructure temporarily afforded by cheap oil, has been able to dispense with the people. Instead of forcing the ex-farmers and tribesmen into slavery, it just drives them off as terminally homeless vagrants. The green revolution and its subsequent land-grabbing epidemic comprise the extension of the enclosure onslaught of earlier centuries.
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3. These shantytowns are the incubators of hunger, misery, and despair. As has been empirically proven since the 1970s, corporate agriculture does not “feed the world”, but on the contrary generates mass hunger and malnutrition. The GMO onslaught shall only aggravate hunger, as it aggravates every other pathology of corporate industrial agriculture – medical, environmental, genetic, economic, political.
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As I wrote above, in addition to the socioeconomic and cultural misery they enforce, shantytowns are the incubators of disease. Today ebola is festering in these ghettos which are intentional byproducts of industrial agriculture. Ebola is festering, spreading, striving to mutate so that it can spread more readily. It’s doing this amid the most favorable terrain for its success. If Big Ag had set out intentionally to generate a lethal pandemic, it could hardly have designed a better scenario than the one it’s imposing today.
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(Since shantytowns are implicitly waste dumps for people who are, from the point of view of the corporate austerity system, surplus, worthless, and potentially dangerous, pandemics among them may indeed be the intended effect, just as corporate-enforced mass hunger certainly is intentional. As I’ve written before, shantytowns make no sense from any point of view – moral, rational, practical. The only way to make sense of them is to theorize that Western governments and corporations view them as putative death camps.)
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The calculus is crystal clear. Shantytowns = the greatly increased probability of lethal pandemics.
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Corporate agriculture and its GMO deployment = the accelerating sprawl of shantytowns and surge in the number of inmates.
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Therefore, advocacy of GMOs and poison-based agriculture = wanting to increase the probability and incidence of lethal pandemics. It’s willful mass murder and intent to commit further mass murder.
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4. The way corporate ag sets up terrain favorable for lethal pandemics is similar to how it strives to make itself vulnerable to terrorism. As Bush’s Agriculture Secretary Tommy Thompson said, “For the life of me, I can’t understand why terrorists haven’t attacked our food supply.” Indeed, terrorism is a major threat to centralized industrial agriculture, while it could only ever be a minor, local threat to decentralized polyculture agroecology. The same goes for pest threats, disease, floods or drought, temperature extremes, anything which can affect crops or food. (Of course in spite of Thompson’s bout of truth-telling, the Bush administration, continued acting to increase the vulnerability of our crops and food, like every other administration before or since.)
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5. The insane abuse of antibiotics in factory farms and with GMO antibiotic resistance markers continues to escalate. This is nothing less than a campaign to destroy the medical miracle of antibiotics once and for all. In a textbook equal and opposite reaction, this calls down upon humanity the corresponding antibiotic-resistant disease-causing germs. This too will bring lethal pandemics.
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6. We must always keep in mind how industrial ag causes society’s total dependence upon an ever more fragile, top-heavy Tower of Babel. Industrial agriculture is unsustainable and sooner or later will collapse from any of a number of possible death blows: The end of cheap fossil fuels, the failure of fossil water (effectively non-renewable aquifers) or industrially mined phosphorus, the collapse of the wrecked and poisoned soil, the failure of the crops which are physiologically weakened by genetic engineering, their endless bombardment by enervating herbicides (genetically engineered herbicide tolerance doesn’t let the crop get off unscathed, but merely enables it to survive in a weakened state and produce a nutritionally denuded harvest), and/or out of their extreme vulnerability to pests and disease on account of their insanely narrowed genetic base.
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The extreme narrowing of agricultural germplasm has been an intentional and necessary aspect of monoculture agriculture. The same is true of crop epidemics like the 1970 Southern corn leaf blight which decimated the US crop and was widely forecast among agronomists right before it happened (cf. Jack Kloppenburg’s First the Seed, 2nd edition p. 122). This was on account of the parlous state of US corn genetics, specifically how the cytoplasmic male sterility gene (to save the labor costs of detasseling during hybrid seed production), deployed in all US hybrid varieties at that time, also rendered the crop more vulnerable to that exact disease.
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This campaign of agricultural biodiversity destruction constitutes the destruction of the genetic basis for all future agriculture. If Big Ag intentionally set out to set up humanity for mass famine from systemic crop failure, it could hardly have done better than it has in setting up the system based on poisons, monoculture, hybridization, and GMOs.
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Speaking generally, globalization renders us all ever more vulnerable to an ever greater array of diseases and disasters.
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7. Then there’s the proven health and environmental devastation of such agricultural poisons as commercial glyphosate, DDT, 2,4-D, atrazine, neonicotinoids, chlorpyrifos, industrialized Bt (in GMO form), and many others. These are known to cause reproductive damage, sterility, miscarriages, stillbirths, birth defects, developmental difficulties, DNA damage, neurological disease, organ toxicity, and cancer. We must keep in mind how Mad Cow Disease, horrific as it was, was a relatively minor example of the diseases which CAFO diets can spread through our meat and dairy. Then there’s how the Showa Denko and X-SCID incidents prove that any genetically engineered product has the potential to cause a lethal outbreak. Meanwhile the exponential surge of chronic diseases such as cancer, gastrointestinal tract diseases, allergies, asthma, Crohn’s disease, and autism has gone in tandem with the radical escalation of pesticides and GMOs in our food.
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8. These are examples of what Black Swan author Nassim Taleb recently wrote about in his paper, “The Precautionary Principle: Fragility and Black Swans from Policy Actions”. Taleb and his co-authors concluded that globalized monocultural GMO deployment comprises a systemic risk of massive destruction, through health, environmental and/or agricultural destruction, and for that reason must be subject to the Precautionary Principle. I’ll add that GMOs comprise two shoddy, badly designed, badly performing, failed product lines (herbicide resistance and insecticide expression; i.e. two kinds of poison plants) and serve no purpose at all according to the Need Principle (do we need it). GMOs have zero benefits for farmers or eaters. Therefore, given the proven harms and the even greater risks, GMOs should never have been deployed and now must be abolished.
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9. GMOs and corporate industrial agriculture also fail the Alternatives Principle – is there a better alternative? The alternative to high-risk, doomed-to-fail, astronomically expensive, horrifically destructive industrial monoculture poison-based agriculture set up to produce export commodities is robust, resilient, inexpensive, healthy, environmentally and socially productive decentralized polyculture agroecological practice, set up to produce food for human communities. Scores of studies and trials have proven that acre for acre agroecology produces more calories and nutrition than industrial ag. This is true right now while we’re still in the time of cheap fossil fuels. Once cheap oil is a thing of the past, as it shall soon become, this difference will become infinite, as industrial ag will become physically impossible. Therefore decentralized polyculture agroecology is the most productive form of agriculture in an absolute sense, and it shall inevitably be the most productive in the future, as it shall be the only form possible.
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10. All such prospects are contingent on humanity making it that far. But the pro-GMO activists are doing their best to wipe out any possible future for humanity, as they’re implicitly working hard to generate the lethal pandemic that’ll wipe us out. If they can’t do it with ebola, they’ll try with something else, whether they can incubate it in the shantytown or in the CAFO. And if the pandemics fail there’s always the mass famines they implicitly have planned.
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Whatever comes, humanity must become conscious of this stark fact. The activists of corporate agriculture and food, and the political and economic elites who give them their marching orders are, out of conscious malice or willful disregard for human life, preparing mass murder. When these pandemics come, or any of the other likely disasters I’ve surveyed here, humanity must treat these as the world-historical crimes they are and deal with these malefactors according to the dictates of justice.
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Or better yet, let’s reattain sanity in time. We can take preemptive self-defense action before it’s too late. We can forestall the worst by abolishing GMOs, ending the reign of corporate agriculture, dissolving globalization. We can restore human economies based on producing goods, and above all food, for human beings. This is the only way forward, the only solution to our crises and problems, the only way we can regain freedom and prosperity, the only way we can save and redeem ourselves.
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