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June 17, 2018

The Billion Dollar Bug, Indeed

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“That which the borer has left, the earworm has eaten; and that which the earworm has left, the rootworm has eaten…”
 
The treadmill of planned obsolescence continues. The goal, as proven by the corporate state’s pattern of action, is to cause insect resistance to pesticides to evolve ever faster, to provide a rationale for the ever faster development of ever more complex GMO/pesticide packages. The real purpose of this technological deployment, beyond mundane profit motives, is control, war, and the total destruction of the ecology.
 
All prior anti-rootworm Bt GMOs are admitted failures. Rootworm now resists them all. Monsanto’s “SmartStax Pro” AKA “Corn Rootworm III” (MON 87411), currently in development, is the next GMO “solution” being touted for rootworm control. SS Pro is being developed with the RNA interference mode. RNAi is simply a more aggressive gene driving attack on the ecology than the regular GM contamination already driving its toxic genetics.* As for pest control, this is the exact same product as prior insecticidal GMOs and will fail just as quickly in the exact same way.
 
The piece GMWatch links, a pro-poison outlet, admits that all GMOs are a failure and that farmers have to spray just as much as before, as well as rotate crops and observe insects in the field (what radical ideas, those last two). A neutral observer might think they should admit that the pesticide paradigm is a proven failure. A neutral observer might think they have an ulterior motive for continuing to shill for pesticides even as they admit pesticides don’t work. Rootworm is indeed a “billion dollar bug” for Monsanto, Syngenta, and Dow.
 
Today most Bt GM seed in the US is sold in the form of a “refuge in a bag” (RIB). This means that non-GM seed is scattered in among the bulk of GM seed. RIB abrogates the entire notion of non-Bt “refuges”, which already were a propaganda scam in the first place.** The fact that the EPA lowered the percentage requirement from 20% for discrete “structured” refuges (entomologists originally insisted that at least 50% was necessary, but were bought off at 20%) to 5% for the diffused “RIB” shows their twisted sense of humor. To make the joke complete, they should have lowered the RIB to 0%. It would be just as effective. This is further proof that the pesticide arms race is an intentionally escalating planned failure.
 
 
*All GMOs have unstable genomes riddled with mutations, and almost all are driven by the Cauliflower Mosaic Virus promoter which has a recombination hot-spot. For both of these reasons GMOs are more likely to be vectors of horizontal gene transfer than natural plants and are more aggressive in this transfer, forcing their alien genetics into any available place including the genomes of animals that eat them. Therefore every GMO is inherently a gene drive agent and seeks to force its brutish promoter-amplified alien nucleic acids into every possible organism: Related plants and plant-eating animals. Every GMO is a cancer agent in a precise sense, just as each is a cancer cell from the perspective of the ecosystem as a whole. GMOs are cancer amid the ecosystem, and they seek to sow cancer within individual animals. In this way they work to weaken animal populations from below, while gross ecocide exterminates them from above.
 
**The pesticide treadmill of planned, deliberate obsolescence gives the lie to the whole notion of “refugia”, which are stands of non-Bt corn which the EPA and similar regulators in other countries require poison farmers to set aside. The idea is supposed to be that the non-Bt stand provides a “refuge” for insects without innate resistance to survive and interbreed with the naturally resistant ones who have survived feeding on the Bt crop. Their offspring will be less likely to inherit the resistance trait, and therefore the overall conversion of the pest population to a resistant variety is supposed to be delayed.
 
As we see, the theoretical setting aside of refuges has done little to halt the march of Bt-resistant rootworms and other resistant insects. Refuges were really a political scam in the first place. Neither the EPA nor regulators in other countries enforce them, nor were refuges ever supposed to be enforced. The idea of the refuge, as a way for regulators and corporations to reassure skeptics that the product will work, always had more significance then the real world application.
 
This is proven by the fact that, in the same way that regulators set allowable pesticide levels in water and food, not according to public health or any other scientific measure, but simply according to whatever level will result from the amount of pesticides corporations need to sell and farmers are driven to spray, so the refuge percentages aren’t set according to any scientific measure, but according to the lowest politically justifiable level.
 
Therefore although USDA entomologists recommended 50% refuge planting if the policy was supposed to have any chance of being effective, the EPA originally set the requirement at 20% for single and then double trait Bt poison crops. Needless to say Monsanto originally opposed the refuge concept as such and has always lobbied for the lowest possible level. The EPA was happy to accept the cartel’s argument that stacked varieties, by incorporating multiple poisons, would attack target insects so many ways at once that the 20% refuge was no longer necessary and could be reduced to 5%. This “reduced refuge” requirement was inaugurated with SmartStax corn in 2009, and we have indeed seen rapid results where it’s come to the evolution of rootworm resistance. RIB has further accelerated the arms race.
 
 
 
 
 

December 15, 2017

Fool’s Gold

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Golden rice is only about one kind of gold

 
 
No form of “golden rice” has ever gotten past the test stage. The pro-GMO activists lie when they tout this hoax product. All lies: That the product exists, that it’s ready to go, that it’s only being held up by the likes of Greenpeace. The truth is that golden rice has never worked in reality and has never been anything but a media hoax. The lies are part of the hoax.
 
In its test form the original “golden rice 1” contained only a meager amount of vitamin A. To use it as a vitamin supplement would’ve required eating unthinkable amounts of it every day.
 
These days they’re working on “golden rice 2” which allegedly produces greater amounts of vitamin A so that people could eat it without turning into a big grain of yellow rice. But they’re having all sorts of technical problems back-crossing it from the japonica variety they first engineered to any kind of indica variety which is readily commercial. It’s not only a media hoax but a very expensive technical boondoggle.
 
And let’s say this hypothetical product ever did become ready for release.
 
1. By design it would be the first direct-to-eat Frankenfood which is meant to be consumed on a mass basis. Compare it to other direct-food GMOs: Virus resistant zucchini or papaya, Bt sweet corn, GM salmon, the “non-browning” apple, GM potatoes. As dangerous as these may be, none of them is designed to be a daily dietary staple. But the designers of golden rice want for the first time for a direct-food GMO to be a daily staple.
 
There’s only one place where significant numbers of people have eaten GMOs directly on a large scale, and that’s among the farm workers and rural population of South Africa who eat large amounts of the Bt corn from the farms where they labor. No funding being available, the effects haven’t yet been subjected to a scientific study, but many severe neurological and organ damage effects have been documented on an anecdotal basis.
 
Michael Hansen of Consumers Union has theorized that there could be a severe problem with retinoic acid oversignaling if a product like golden rice were to be eaten in large amounts, which is how the engineers intend for it to be eaten. This would be a pathway to cancer and birth defects. This is just one of the potential dangers of making a GMO the very basis of one’s diet.
 
2. Any deployed golden rice would also be engineered to be herbicide tolerant and/or to express Bt toxins. So this direct food will also be laden with endotoxins and herbicide residue. Not only is the idea of golden rice meant to distract from the fact that the only real-world GMOs are pesticide plants; any real world version of golden rice would itself be such a poison plant.
 
3. Syngenta’s promise to donate its patented golden rice transgene applies only to pilot “humanitarian” programs. It would not apply to any general commercial deployment. That’s why the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), the organization in charge of actual development, has reserved the right to take out patents of its own. Beyond that, Syngenta wouldn’t give away the herbicide tolerance and Bt traits free of charge. So the alleged “humanitarian donation” aspect of the thing is also a scam. (We also don’t know how ChemChina’s imminent purchase of Syngenta will affect the disposition of the patent.)
 
 
The idea of golden rice is part of monoculture ideology. Vitamin A deficiency disease is the deliberate result of how corporate industrial agriculture has driven millions off their land and stripped them of their ability to grow nutritious food for themselves. Therefore both in principle and in practice the deployment of golden rice or any other “biofortified” GMO would be the disaster capitalist treatment of a symptom caused by the same system which deploys the “cure”.
 
This puts in perspective the 2013 direct action of Philippine farmers against the IRRI’s golden rice field trials. The people took action in self-defense against the corporate program to economically liquidate them, drive them off their land, and doom them to the same misery and illness which the “golden rice” slogan mocks with its fake solicitude.
 
So, ultimately, must we the people, everywhere on Earth, take all necessary action to abolish corporate agriculture and undertake the necessary transformation and renaissance of agroecology and food sovereignty. This and only this will solve vitamin A deficiency, and every other problem and crisis afflicting us.
 
 
Propagate the necessary new ideas.
 
 
 
 

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.
 
 
 

February 17, 2017

Golden Rice – A Supreme Hoax, Part of A Supreme Crime

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The corporate world is full of hazards for rice. Genetic engineering adds to them.

The corporate world is full of hazards for rice. Genetic engineering adds to them.

 
 
The program to breed a commercially deployable version of “golden rice” continues its perfect record of failure. In the latest screw-up, an attempt to back-cross a GM rice variety with a conventional Indian variety resulted in a crop with reduced yield, stunted growth, and growth abnormalities.
 
The authors of the new study documenting this result blame the effects on transgenic interference with the plant’s growth hormones. Worse, the transgene is fully active not just in the rice grains as “intended”, but in the leaves as well. This resulted in reduced photosynthetic ability.
 
These visible effects had not manifested in the GM variety. Therefore the engineers assumed the transgenic effect was “stable”, and that this stability of transgenic effect could be taken for granted throughout the process of back-crossing the transgene into the Swarma variety, perfecting this Indian version of golden rice, increasing the seed, and commercially deploying it.
 
This is typical of how GMOs are developed. The entire process, from tissue culture to seed increase, focuses only on whether the crop visibly seems to meet commercial standards. That’s the full extent of the quality control and safety testing. It’s the same as how all alleged safety tests in the lab really have been tests of nothing but whether CAFO inmates can reach their slaughter weight being fed grain from the crop. This and similar industrial parameters comprise the sum total of the “safety tests” performed by corporations, accepted by regulators, and touted by regulators and media. The same paradigm applies to agronomic testing. Therefore it’s no surprise that under new conditions, conditions not as controlled as the laboratory greenhouse, GMOs often break out with completely unexpected deficiencies, sicknesses, and crop failures. This is especially true under real world agronomic conditions.
 
Michael Antoniou commented that this latest GMO failure is probably yet another example of the pathology of the GM insertion process. “The GM transformation process as used in the development of GMO crops selects for the insertion of the GM gene into active regions of the genome (areas where plant host genes are switched on and functioning). This bias in the GM gene insertion into active regions therefore maximises the possibility of disrupting the function of one or more host genes, with potentially adverse effects such as poor crop performance or even toxicity.” In order for the GM process to work the transgene must be inserted into the most active part of the recipient genome, and the gene cassette usually includes an epigenetic component called a “promoter” which keeps the transgene turned on to maximum expression mode at all times. Therefore the entire development and deployment process selects for maximum effects of the transgene, both the advertised effects as well as the unheralded ones.
 
Evolution crafted our genomes in an exquisitely nuanced way, including a complex orchestration of notes, volumes, and rests for all genetic elements. Genetic engineering, being a very stupid, imprecise, blunt-force tool, is incapable of any kind of nuance whatsoever, and engineers have always had a fundamental contempt for complex systems which reflects the limitations of their own minds. Their only tool isn’t even a hammer but a caveman’s club. That’s why they loathe evolution and its works and yearn so fervently to subjugate evolution to the brute force simplifications of their concepts and engineering processes. That’s why they’re congenitally incapable of comprehending the fact that nature works, genetic engineering does not. And that’s why they carry their evolution denial to the extreme of wanting to leap over all the evolutionary tests and safeguards of competition, space, and time, to deploy their shoddy, half-baked, failure prone product as completely across the entire planet as possible, and completely to eradicate as much of non-GM agricultural biodiversity and wild biodiversity as possible. It’s a fundamentalist hatred of evolution, of nature, of life itself.
 
The effects of this have always been well known to all. Contrary to the standard lie, genetic engineering has zero in common with conventional breeding and disavows all principles of sound breeding. Unlike conventional breeding, unlike conventional sexual reproduction, this technological evasion of sex generates an artificially hyper-active section of the genome which can generate severe unpredicted effects at any time. (CRISPR “gene editing” is designed to render this genetic chaos far more severe.)
 
The crisis points especially occur wherever there’s a discrete change in circumstances, as in the case of this golden rice back-crossing project. Such crisis points occur often in the real world, amid the general environment, wherever GMOs are commercially deployed. These real world crisis points will become far more common as the climate chaos driven by corporate industrial agriculture becomes more intense. As Antoniou points out, this breeding blunder goes to show that any golden rice variety, if released so that it can cross with non-GM varieties, may cause general rice crop failures and endanger harvests over vast regions. (Rice has moderate cross-pollination, and GM contamination has been rife in China where Bt rice was widely if illicitly released.) And yet certain smug, racist Westerners, even among “GMO critics”, have seen fit to lecture Philipino farmers about how uncivil it was for them to tear up a golden rice field trial in 2013.
 
We must stress that there is nothing at all “unintended” about these effects. The effects of genetic engineering are grossly unpredictable, but this unpredictability is known and embraced ahead of time. “Unpredictable” has nothing conceptually in common with “unintended.” We can compare the typical operations of poison-based agriculture to spinning a roulette wheel where the various colors and numbers indicate various chaotic effects, many of them to be a surprise. Which number will come up is unpredictable, but one spins the wheel with full malice aforethought, full intent to trigger the chaos.
 
Genetic engineers and breeders involved in developing GM crops for commercial release have full knowledge of their inability to predict anything, therefore they intend chaotic results, just as they do with their broader mandate to drive climate change and pump as much synthetic poison into ecosystems as possible. The pro-GMO activists simply lie about all this when they make any claim to “precision” or predictability. No one who wanted stable, predictable results would still be working with genetic engineering. Where it comes to our food, agriculture, and environment, we’re not just spinning the roulette wheel. We’re playing Russian roulette, as Black Swan author Nassim Taleb put it.
 
Therefore I recommend to anyone interested in conceptual and terminological discipline that we discard the whole false notion of “unintended” effects of GMOs, pesticides, climate change, etc. This is factually wrong and morally far too lenient. Chaos is the predictable effect of genetic engineering, therefore the pro-GM activists intend chaos. That’s one of the purposes of this massive uncontrolled human feeding experiment, to log the unpredictable effects of the globally promiscuous deployment of GMOs in the environment and diet. They premeditate the chaos so they can hope someday to understand it, toward vastly more far-reaching eugenic goals. As a US mayor once said following a police riot, in a profound slip, “The policeman is there to preserve disorder.”
 
 
And what if golden rice ever were to overcome the incompetence of its designers and actually “worked” to the point it could be deployed commercially? Like every other technological dodge, and like every other element of corporate agriculture, it would only increase hunger and aggravate the very malnutrition diseases it’s allegedly being designed to treat.
 
This is because golden rice, like all other forms of “improved seed”, is designed for industrial monoculture commodity agriculture in a globalization framework. Therefore in addition to the special contamination problems golden rice presents, it would make the standard contribution to corporate agriculture’s general destruction of soil, environment, farmers and communities, and the standard contribution to increasing hunger and malnutrition.
 
What’s the real market for a commercialized golden rice, beyond some token food aid shipments paid for by taxpayers? I suppose it could become an ingredient in “biofortified” processed foods, similar to enriched and fortified breakfast cereals. But how could it ever actually do the thing it’s allegedly supposed to do, provide vitamin A to impoverished people suffering from deficiency disease? How are the people who need it supposed to pay for it? The reason they suffer the night blindness symptom is that they can’t afford real foods containing vitamin A like green, yellow, and orange vegetables. The reason they have no money to pay for these is the same reason they can’t grow real food themselves: They were driven off their land by the same corporate agriculture now offering this techno-solution in exchange for the same money these people don’t have.
 
It’s clear that “golden rice” has always been a media hoax. After nearly twenty years of hype the thing doesn’t exist in deployable form and there’s no evidence it ever will be worked into such a form. Nor is there any evidence that there’s any system intent truly to deploy it, since it’s very hard to see what the commercial market is. Unless the plan is for Western taxpayers to pay for the whole production and distribution shebang, 100% corporate welfare for Syngenta and the rice commodifiers. It’s true that each individual corporation contemplates the taxpayers as an infinitely deep trough. But how much longer can they all maximize their gorging?
 
Far worse, golden rice is a core part of the overall “Feed the World” hoax. Corporate agriculture causes hunger, drives hunger, maximizes hunger. It can never do otherwise, nor can any element of it do otherwise. Just like every other product of corporate industrial agriculture, golden rice is designed to cause malnutrition, it’s designed to cause hunger. It’s designed to force ever more people into the trap where they have no money, can get no money, and yet need money to get food.

 
Night blindness resulting from vitamin A deficiency has one and only one cause: Corporate agriculture destroys food production, drives people off their land, requires them to use money it denies them the ability to get, and leaves them to sicken and starve. Golden rice, like every other technological solution, every other alleged “silver bullet”, represents no alternative to this hunger-mongering paradigm. On the contrary golden rice, and GMOs as such, represent nothing but the escalation of this destructive system. GMOs stand for nothing but disease, hunger, starvation, famine. They’re designed to make all of these worse. This design is intentional. And in this case the effect is 100% predictable.
 
 
 
If you like these pieces, propagate them! Like heirloom crop varieties, ideas die if they’re not planted far and wide.
 
 
 

February 1, 2017

The Green Revolution and Corporate Agriculture Drive Hunger and Famine

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Philanthropy, corporate style.

Philanthropy, corporate style.

 
 
 
History is repeating itself as Africa, so many times in the past the target of colonial depredation, is today the target of a new dual campaign of aggression. The first prong of this campaign is the new colonialism based on land-grabbing and export commodity agriculture. The goal is to seize control of the land, destroy all food production and replace it with industrial plantations to produce export commodities, and drive all the people off their land and into shantytowns. The second prong is the already turbulent climate chaos which has been driven most by the same industrial agriculture, and which in recent years has been wreaking havoc on African farming and food harvests. Today, after years of widespread drought and collapsed harvests, large parts of sub-Saharan Africa are on the verge of famine. This famine, like all previous modern famines, is completely artificial, completely man-made, caused by corporate agriculture and now by the climate change of which this agricultural sector is the main driver.
 
This latest food crisis follows upon the purely financial food crisis of 2008-2009 which was triggered by rising commodity prices. This was part of the finance sector’s war of speculation and its intentional crashing of the global economy in 2008. In all these ways – financial crisis, land crisis, climate crisis – we have corporate campaigns designed to cause disaster, destruction, and chaos. The corporations then proceed to use the crises they intentionally generate as further opportunities for aggression and profit. This is called disaster capitalism. All corporate sectors practice it, and corporate agriculture is the most aggressive and destructive practitioner of all.
 
In the classic disaster capitalist manner today’s corporate imperialists are using the crisis and the famine they have systematically caused as the pretext to call for the escalation of their campaigns of finance speculation, land-grabbing, and food destruction. They call their plan a “second green revolution for Africa.” Toward this goal they have set up a propaganda and organizational apparatus funded by American and British taxpayers and administered by a coalition led by USAID and the Gates Foundation. They call the plan the “New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition” (NAFSN), and the Gates cadre which serves as overall coordinator is called the “Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa” (AGRA). The goal of this campaign is to induce and force upon African countries the whole standard globalization package which has already ravaged Latin America and Asia – privatization of tribal land, publicly-funded export and import infrastructure, eradication of all “trade barriers” which are defenses against Western subsidized dumping, corporate-dictated intellectual property policy, tax abatements and removal of all environmental and labor protections, removal of all currency expatriation restrictions, and in general the complete submission of African countries to the domination of Western-based corporations. The NAFSN seeks to impose all this on behalf of Western agribusiness corporations which have signed up with the plan. They pledge pennies to the public dollar of both Western and African taxpayers; they get to extract 100% of the profit and take it back home. The beneficiaries include pesticide and seed sellers Monsanto, Syngenta, and DuPont, traders Cargill and ADM, synthetic fertilizer manufacturer Yara, food manufacturers Unilever and Diageo. These and more will get special deals via the usual “public-private partnerships” which place all the cost and risk on the public and hand all the profit and control to the corporation.
 
The physical goals of the plan, which are always the real goals, are to seize control of all good farmland, wipe out all food production, drive out the people, divide the land into big corporate industrial plantations growing export crops, and use as much GM seed, synthetic fertilizer, and pesticide as possible. The goal is to be as destructive as possible of the soil’s capacity ever to grow food again, of African ecosystems, and of African communities and economies. Beyond a small collaborator faction which can be maintained as an urban middle class, the goal is to wipe out the African people completely. According to the US/Gates/corporate vision, these people have no purpose existing. There’s not even a plan to exploit them, just to drive them out. They call this the Second Green Revolution.
 
Does this description sound exaggerated? Not to anyone familiar with the record of failure, destruction, and corporate crime wrought by the original Green Revolution.
 
The best introduction to the facts about the Green Revolution and world hunger, and Africa’s alleged need for a second revolution, is the fact that contrary to media depictions, by the 1990s most of the hungry people of the world were not in Africa, which had been represented in Western media for much of the 1980s as the ultimate hunger disaster zone, but in the prime land of the Green Revolution, southern Asia. (Unless otherwise indicated, these numbers are compiled from government and UN sources by Food First in its magisterial World Hunger.)
 
In truth all the numbers which have been touted incessantly for the Green Revolution have been false accounting and lies. The figures claiming that hunger declined during the twenty year period from 1970 to 1990, the heyday of the Green Revolution, are based on the inclusion of figures from China, not a Green Revolution recipient. If China is left out of global figures, then during this period the number of hungry people in the world increased 11%, from 536 million to 597 million, even as food production significantly increased.
 
We can be more specific and focus especially on the two regions most intensely subjected to the Green Revolution. In Latin America during this period per capita food supplies went up 8% while the proportion of the hungry increased 19%. This is an 8% increase in per capita food even as the number of those going hungry leapt significantly. This means that population increase had zero to do with rising hunger, contrary to the claims of the corporate media and Malthusian commentators.
 
In the same way, in South Asia food available per person increased 9% while the hungry increased by 9%. This proves that hunger has nothing to do with the gross amount of food produced and everything to do with its distribution. It proves that any production increase attained by Green Revolution methods is irrelevant since the corporate distribution system which is indelibly conjoined with these production methods acts ruthlessly to make all food less available to people. This proves that corporate agriculture and its Green Revolution automatically and inexorably increase hunger and render increasing numbers vulnerable to famine.
 
And so it has gone. Under the corporate agricultural paradigm, by the latter 1990s there were over 800 million hungry in the world. By 2009 the number exceeded one billion, and continues to rise. This is never under any circumstance because there’s physically not enough food. Without exception hunger is caused by the artificial withholding of food from people to whom it would otherwise be available. Only on account of the artificial constraints, inefficiencies, and rituals of capitalism can food which physically exists, effectively cease to exist, because of the purely arbitrary reason that people lack the money to buy it. The historically proven fact is that as a rule hunger is caused only by inequality and poverty.
 
These are the same people who used to be able to produce more than sufficient food for themselves and their communities when they lived holistically on the land. Their way of life was socioecologically integrated with the Earth. They worked, the Earth produced, the people had food. And this productive balance must be restored if any significant number of people intend to eat in the post-fossil fuel age, since industrial agriculture is 100% dependent upon cheap, plentiful fossil fuels. But the cheapness and plenty are nearing their end, and the industrial paradigm inevitably must collapse.
 
But for now the onslaught continues. With some non-perishable and luxury exceptions, food production and distribution is naturally a local/regional physical and economic system. Corporate agriculture seeks to destroy all food production by forcing all production and distribution into a globalized commodity system. The only way to do this is to force economic structures upon the sector which economically destroy the viability of community food production and, through the enclosure of land, render it physically impossible. This then encloses all food production within the monetized framework and renders that food destroyed and nonexistent from the point of view of people. The “food” now exists only as a globalized commodity which is transported to wherever money is already concentrated. The rich get richer and literally fatter, while an ever rising mass of human beings gets poorer and more hungry. This is the indelible mathematical calculus of corporate agriculture and the Green Revolution, as well as the evil intent of its architects and cadres. It will never and can never have any result but to increase poverty, misery, and hunger.
 
The historical record has long been conclusive that increasing food production cannot reduce hunger because it doesn’t improve access to good land or the money to buy food, and therefore it does not increase access to food. On the contrary, it inexorably makes all these worse, and therefore makes hunger worse. In the same way, the introduction of any agricultural technology into an unjust, unequal system, without a prior social revolution to render that system just and egalitarian, inevitably increases the inequality and poverty and from there the hunger. (Indeed, this is a law of technology as such.)
 
And so we have the incontrovertible record of the Green Revolution and corporate control of food and agriculture. It was based on wheat, rice, and maize seeds specially adapted to high-input monoculture production. The goal was to maximize use of fossil fuels in order to industrialize agriculture and bring it under full capitalist control for maximum profit and power. The campaign did drive up “official” production, measured in commodities, while destroying much community food production and driving much of the rest off the official tally. (This is in order to suppress knowledge of how capable the people are of feeding themselves if they’re left alone and unassaulted.)
 
By official measures food available per capita went up everywhere, and hunger went up everywhere. Corporate agriculture and its Green Revolution act systematically to destroy all production of food which would be available for human beings while applying massive resources to drive up production of agricultural commodities to be exported for luxury use, especially for cheap meat and processed goods for Westerners. This, self-evidently, does not exist as food for the people of these places. On the contrary it represents nothing more or less than the destruction of their ability to produce food and their ability to eat.
 
By 1990 at the latest it was clear that the Green Revolution had no goal of decreasing hunger and helping farmers, but on the contrary was dedicated to economically destroying the farmers and driving them and their people off the land and into the terminal poverty of the shantytowns. Corporate agriculture is dedicated to increasing hunger and bringing famine. This is its systematically attained result, therefore this is its strictly proven intent and goal.
 
Today Africa, so many times ravaged by Western predation, is again under the gun. This time nothing less than the control of its very ability to farm and eat, today and for the future, is at stake. The “Second Green Revolution” already underway in parts of Africa is the greatest crime of our age.
 
The people of Africa are opposing this plan to destroy them. The people are organized into a coalition of hundreds of democracy networks, tribal alliances, and groups representing real farmers and pastoralists. These comprise the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa and include the African Center for Biosafety, the African Biodiversity Network (ABN), the National Coordination of Peasant Organizations (CNOP, a member of the worldwide Via Campesina, the Farmer Way), the NGO Federation of Collectives (FECONG), the Coalition for African Genetic Heritage (COPAGEN), the Food Sovereignty Campaign, Comparing and Supporting Endogenous Development (COMPAS) Africa, the Participatory Ecological Land Use Management Association (PELUM), the Eastern and Southern African Small Scale Farmers Forum (ESAFF), People’s Dialogue, Rural Women’s Assembly, Food Sovereignty Ghana, GMO Free Malawi, and many others.
 
In direct contrast to the failure, destruction, and organized crime which is the proven pattern and intention of corporate industrial agriculture, the true way forward is already operating and achieving great things in Africa and around the world. This is the path of Food Sovereignty and agroecology. This is the way human beings produce abundant food for themselves and their communities without massive, expensive, destructive inputs of fossil fuels and poisons, in harmony with the greater ecology, toward the greatest freedom, democracy, security, and happiness.
 
There’s zero problem where it comes to the sheer amount of food produced. We produce far more than enough food for everyone. This is true globally and it’s true in every region of the world. The only problem anywhere is with the corporate distribution system. Anyone who truly wants to feed people has to want people to be able to feed themselves. We have to change the distribution of the food we have, not struggle to produce “more” within a framework which has already proven it won’t distribute that food to humanity. Anyone who truly wants the world to have food must fight to abolish corporate agriculture, abolish the enslavement of food production to the commodity system, rebuild socially and economically natural food systems (food production and distribution is naturally and logically done on a local/regional basis, and only authoritarian systems can ever twist and contort these into a globalized framework), and build the Food Sovereignty movement. This movement must be based upon the great class of small community farmers who have always been the food producers for humanity and always will be, and upon agroecology, a fully demonstrated science and set of practices ready for full global deployment any time humanity wishes to embrace them. Agroecology is already accomplishing great things in Africa.
 
The goal of corporate industrial agriculture, and the ultimate goal of all globalization, is to seize control of the land and drive the people out. This has always been the ultimate goal of all imperial conquest: To render all land terra nullius, empty space to be subjugated, exploited to the hilt, wrung out like an old rag, left for dead. Today is humanity’s last chance to halt this corporate campaign of total destruction of our agriculture and our environment. We have our great chance to halt it and roll it back. This is what is necessary if we hope to have any agriculture and ecology left going forward beyond the fossil fuel age. The land is still there for us if we wish. We must save it and cherish it.
 
 
 
 
 
 

January 1, 2017

How to Read the Corporate Media and What To Do

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There’s a new NYT piece about Syngenta’s control of research on the poisoning of honeybees. This and the paper’s recent articles about Kevin Folta and other paid liars, indicate that the paper believes the controversy over corporate control of “science” has become too alive among the public to continue suppressing discussion of it. Our efforts have accomplished that much.
 
So the NYT, and the corporate media which follow its lead, will now discuss the matter but in such a way as to minimize it, giving personal profiles showing what good people the corporate-funded researchers are, fraudulently claim skeptical scientists are equally compromised by funding from “the organic industry”, and where all else fails depict the most “corrupt” researchers as bad apples not typical of corporate-funded science.
 
In the case of the pesticide-driven mass destruction of bees, the NYT continues to propagate the lie that this is a new phenomenon and that there’s any doubt about the science. The article here is devoted to seconding Syngenta’s campaign to cast false doubt on what’s already known. But in fact the evidence that pesticides kill honeybees has been accumulating since the 1940s, and by the 1970s it was a well-known dirty secret among federal regulators which they collaborated to keep quiet. Read E. Vallianatos’ Poison Spring for a detailed account of the history of the scientific knowledge. Today corporate media like the NYT collude with corporations like Syngenta to suppress this history. In reality there’s no doubt about the fact that pesticides decimate honeybees, and there has been no doubt since the 70s. Of course they would prefer not to talk about it publicly at all, but we have forced them to. So they move on to public lies.
 
What’s the effect of this mass media discussion? The NYT hopes it’ll defuse the controversy. Their message: Corporate funding of science isn’t necessarily a bad thing, the practitioners retain their integrity, it’s a force of nature anyway which can’t be undone, and all that’s happening is a healthy investigation of areas where the science is still unsettled. So, as Neil Degrasse Tyson said, “relax”. Everything’s fine.
 
Anti-poison fighters must fight to make the effect the opposite: Any discussion casting doubt on the integrity of the scientific establishment and reminding people of the corruption of science, whatever this discussion’s immediate effect, will over the longer run continue to erode the legitimacy and authority of the scientific establishment as such. Any high-profile public discussion which acknowledges the controversy automatically puts the idea of “corruption” and “fraud” in the public consciousness. This is why the corporations and media would prefer never to have this discussion in the first place: They know how easily they could lose control of it, and how easily it can backfire on them.
 
So what to do now? We must cease from arguing piecemeal about things we’ve already forced into the mass media discussion. We must broadly assert what the fact of the mass exposure already proves: “See, even the New York Times admits the scientific establishment is corrupted by corporate money, and therefore you can’t trust anything establishment science says about pesticides and GMOs. They admit it’s all a lie on behalf of profit.”
 
And when the pro-poison activists try to dispute this, never let them draw you into nit-picking exchanges, always an infinite rabbit-hole. That’s their way of trying to keep sowing doubt and confusion. We’re reaching the point where we can turn the tables of political communication on them and use the psychology of politics to our advantage. The way to do this is to continue hammering away with the basic clear truths, now implicitly being acknowledged by the NYT itself, that the poison-peddling corporations control everything today’s “science” does and says. Leave the pathetic nit-picking to the enemy, while we keep our eye on the prize: Destroying the credibility of the corporations’ false “science”.
 
Say it again and again: “The New York Times itself admits you’re paid liars.” We’ve evolved, and the political situation has evolved, to the point that we can hone our attack to a few clear standards. This is one of them. Let’s stop muddling through, let’s get organized and disciplined.
 
 
 
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January 22, 2016

GMO News Summary, January 22nd, 2016

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

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

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The year 2015 was a year of concentration in the already uncompetitive poison sector. For many years the pesticide and seed markets have become increasingly dominated by a small handful of corporations – Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow, DuPont, and a few others. The GMO phenomenon has greatly accelerated this trend, as the world’s most powerful governments and corporate sectors have boosted biotech worldwide as capitalism’s last great hope to break the bonds of physics and biology. This has profound religious, economic, and paramilitary implications we’ll discuss in depth as we proceed. For today we’ll stick with the proximate phenomenon of sector concentration.
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First came Monsanto’s bid to buy Syngenta, which Syngenta rejected with some disdain. Most onlookers thought it looked like a good fit – Monsanto’s seeds and traits to complement Syngenta’s more diversified pesticide line. But Syngenta evidently was not as interested in Monsanto’s GMO line as conventional wisdom thought it should be. In August Monsanto gave up for the time being after Syngenta had rejected at least three Monsanto bids. As the year wore on Monsanto announced two major rounds of contraction. In October the company announced it would cut 2600 jobs (12% of its work force), buy back stocks (down 30% since February at that time), and undertake a “restructuring” including cutting research and development spending. (Around the same time Syngenta and DuPont announced more modest contractions.) Later that month the company said it would close three R&D centers which focus on genetic engineering and breeding development, cutting another 90 employees. Both GMO and Roundup sales are down compared to the previous year. The new year looks no less bleak as Monsanto announced a third contraction. The company announced deeply depressed Roundup and GM maize sales, larger than expected losses, and will cut another thousand employees. Monsanto’s fundamentals are not looking good.
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In November the Chinese conglomerate ChemChina made its own bid for Syngenta. The company rejected this first bid, but is now said to be in “advanced talks” with ChemChina. Its chairman now says Syngenta is merger-minded, but continues to disparage a potential Monsanto deal. When the music stops Monsanto’s going to be left without a chair! In December Monsanto also announced it would not proceed with projected construction of a seed factory in Iowa. DuPont also cancelled three Iowa projects. The climax was the announcement that Dow and DuPont will merge and then split into three companies including one dedicated to agrochemicals. The proposed agrochemical spinoff would represent $19 billion in combined sales from the two companies. This would make it the largest GMO/pesticide company in the world. The Dow/DuPont deal evidently spurred Syngenta to enter the final round of negotiations with ChemChina, in part because of the increasing unease of Syngenta’s shareholders. The company’s chairman has hinted that he thinks Syngenta could become China’s primary supplier of GM technology and primary Western partner for China’s long-planned attempt to build its own GMO/pesticide conglomerate and assert itself globally in competition with the US-based cartel.
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According to the business papers, the proximate reason for the woes and tensions disturbing the sector has been the prolonged sagging of agricultural commodity prices. The downturn has caused many farmers to cut back on their high-input, highly expensive commodity crop production, and this in turn has been affecting the profits of Monsanto and others for a few years now. This in turn makes them disreputable on Wall Street. It’s great to see agribusiness hurting under the same vicious circle of high input prices, low harvest prices, and the imperative to “Get Big or Get Out” they help force upon farmers. (Roundup Ready crops, for example, were specifically designed to accelerate Get Big or Get Out. They were never seriously claimed to increase yield by the acre. Rather, they were supposed to make it easier to cultivate a greater acreage. The farmer would allegedly “make it up on volume”. Thus they were intended to accelerate farm consolidation.) And this increasing sector consolidation will just squeeze the oligopolists further and render all the economic pathologies worse. The fundamentals look bad.
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As a rule mergers among oligopolists are the sign of a superannuated, calcifying, decadent sector. It means companies are running out of ideas, losing confidence in the sector and in themselves. It’s the most extreme version of buying your ideas, patents, and products rather than being an innovator and entrepreneur who develops these yourself. Dow and DuPont believe they’re reaching dead ends and each needs to buy what the other has. Dow needs Pioneer germplasm*, DuPont needs Dow’s genetic engineering expertise and patents. Everyone recognized how Monsanto was trying to achieve this with its Syngenta bid. But Syngenta seemed not to want any kind of deal at all with them. Evidently Monsanto has nothing it wants, at least not at the price Monsanto offered. Meanwhile a few years ago BASF’s GMO operation was driven out of Europe completely. Those two may end up having to get together.
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[*Dow’s germplasm situation is interesting. If you look at ISAAA data, it looks like prior to the Enlist system Dow’s only solo commercialized GMO line has been some varieties of Widestrike cotton, while their other projects have involved contributing transgenes to joint products with DuPont and Monsanto. If you look at Dow’s seed company holdings, they’re relatively meager compared to those of DuPont and Monsanto. I’ll suppose that for those joint projects Dow had to rely on the other company to contribute not only transgenes of its own but much or all of the genetic framework.**
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Then there’s the curious fact that for several years running Dow’s been surprisingly willing to sit quietly for regulator-imposed delays. First there was the USDA delay while the agency ran a full Environmental Impact Statement. Then came the EPA’s imposition of various restrictions on Enlist commercial plantings in 2015, and most recently EPA’s temporary revocation of Enlist Duo’s registration. It’s almost as if Dow is nervous about its own product for some reason. It’s not displaying much of the aggressiveness we’re used to from the GMO corporations. Do they doubt some fundamental of the product, like perhaps the quality of their own seed genetics? That would be part of the explanation for why Dow was so ardent for this merger.]
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Another force driving the sector toward trying to diversify through consolidation is fear of the political countermovement against agricultural poisons. Monsanto is especially vulnerable, dependent upon Roundup for about 70% of its revenues. Roundup accounts for half its sales, while GMOs dependent upon it make up much of the rest. This is why Syngenta had little interest even in Monsanto’s GMO business. In 2015 the entire world learned for keeps what campaigners, Monsanto, and regulators have long known, that glyphosate causes cancer. With the WHO’s announcement the clock is now ticking, counting down the rest of glyphosate’s legal life. The people will now slowly but surely force the complete banning of glyphosate-based poisons. The bell is tolling for Roundup, Monsanto knows it, and so they must find new products or die. They’re hyping everything in sight, from slapping new ad slogans on old, pointless, narrow-market products to touting the idea of RNA interference GMOs. But if these ever came to market they’s still be the same kind of shoddy insecticidal GMOs which in Bt form are already a failure with a gradually diminishing market.
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The fact is that the structural reason driving the current consolidation is that GMOs are a shoddy product and don’t have much of a market or a future in themselves. On the contrary, there’s a growing consensus inside and outside the sector, including on Wall Street, that the pesticides remain primary, with the GMOs being secondary to these and dependent upon them. Their fundamentals are bad. In other words the finance sector now agrees with what GMO critics have said from the start, that GMOs in the real world are nothing but pesticide plants, poison plants. (As opposed to GMO hype and hoaxes of the pro-GM activists and the corporate media.) Although Wall Street is poor at acknowledging its own pyramid schemes, it knows how to call them out in other sectors. GMOs are a scam.
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None of this is a surprise and confirms what we critics said all along. These are poison companies, their number one activity and goal is to manufacture and sell poison, therefore the primary proximate goal of GMOs must be to sell more poison. It’s actually astonishing that anyone was ever willing to believe such a self-evident absurdity as that the likes of Monsanto or DuPont would ever market a product which would cause them to sell less of their primary products. Yet that’s what the peddlers of the “GMOs lessen pesticide use” lie would have you believe.
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Sure enough: 1. With the deployment of GMOs, pesticide use always increases.
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2. It has to, since these are poison plants and are designed only to sustain poisons being sprayed upon them (in the case of herbicide tolerant GMOs), or to handle only certain “target” pests (Bt products). The rest must still be met with sprays and seed coatings. Bayer and Syngenta didn’t participate in GMO deployment and support the GMO idea in general because they thought they’d sell less neonics.
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3. Both of these GMO genres, the only ones which exist and the only ones in the pipeline, are failures. They can be called “successful” only according to the Failure is Success form of planned obsolescence and the ever-escalating, ever more expensive stacking-and-pesticide treadmill.
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GMOs have a tenuous future. Everyone knows that herbicide tolerant and insecticidal GMOs are running out of room. Once SmartStax, 2,4-D, and dicamba fail, what then? That’s why there’s such a propaganda campaign touting CRISPR, “gene editing”, RNAi. The sector is trying to convince itself, Wall Street, governments, commodifiers, food manufacturers and retailers, and the world at large that there’s a whole new GMO frontier to be opened up. To be sure, elites everywhere want to believe this, since capitalism as such badly needs it. But so far this is all in the realm of fantasy, and there’s no reason to believe it will ever break free of the land of lies, where the “first generation” of GMOs remains to this day.
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The media claims GMOs mean gene editing for agronomic and product quality traits? I’m afraid not. Today’s GMO reality is the collapse of the Roundup Ready system and the sector’s reactionary, luddite answer: To double down on proven failure by regressing to GMOs tolerant of older, even more destructive herbicides. This is the context in which the evolution-denialist system is promulgating the backward, luddite “solution” of corn and soybeans engineered to tolerate the retrograde herbicide 2,4-D, one of the two primary components of the chemical weapon Agent Orange. This is one of the dark age poisons which Monsanto and the US government originally promised would be permanently relegated to the scrap heap by the Roundup Ready system. Dicamba is another such regressive chemical being poised by Monsanto for a comeback.
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There’s the real GMO future as demonstrated by the actions, rather than the media lies, of the corporations and regulators. And this bears out the fact that, contrary to the moronic techno-hype and fundamentalist cultism of GMOs, the real fundamental of corporate agriculture remains the most regressive, stupid, blunt-instrument, flat-earth technology of all, pesticides. The best irony since the IARC finding has been the spectacle of our intrepid futurists, who always tried to hold aloof from the dinosaur pesticide technology while exalting their idolized space-age GMO technology, having to reduce themselves to the level of Roundup shills. This too proves something we always said about them, that for all their high-flown scientism pretensions, they’re really nothing but gutter Monsanto bootlicks. This is the real character of the GMO sector – antiquated, backward, an economic and innovation bottleneck, shoddy, tawdry. This is borne out by one consistent thread which runs through all the sector consolidation events. Monsanto’s contractions, Monsanto’s proposals to Syngenta, the Dow/DuPont merger (see several of the links above) – all involve cutting research and development spending. In other words the sector has reached the point where it thinks more in terms of stock buybacks and scrounging whatever technology and patents it can buy rather than developing anything on its own. To some extent this is inherent to any big corporation and any oligopoly sector. But it’s especially congenital to the agrochemical sector, which was always based on accelerating planned obsolescence toward its inevitable culmination in the complete exhaustion and obsolescence of the entire paradigm.
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The sector faces another problem – GMOs are reaching market saturation. The cartel won’t be able to force a market for them in Africa unless it can either grab the land to turn it into vast industrial plantations to grow CAFO feed for Asia, and/or convince enough smallholder farmers to fall for the same scam Monsanto used on cotton farmers in India. (But Bt cotton has already been tried and rejected in three African countries, and the word is out.) But can the several African governments play the same carnival-barker role the Indian government did? This is the Monsanto/Gates Foundation “New Alliance” plan, with massive corporate welfare to be financed by the taxpayers of the US, UK, and Africa, geared to the complete subjugation of African agriculture to land-grabbing and monoculture production for commodity export.
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Even if the sector can overcome the stiffening political resistance and inherent agronomic resistance (pests and diseases which flourish) to this scheme, how much and how long can the Asian middle class prop up its demand for this forced supply? The agribusiness sector is the most supply-driven of all and is 100% dependent on forcing artificial markets into being, for example convincing people to whom it never occurred before that they want to eat a lot more factory farm meat. Obviously a sector whose entire existence is based, not on real demand, but on puffed up fictive “demand” which can dry up at any time, and which will dry up as the masses lose the capacity for luxury spending, is built on sand. Here again, everyone recognizes the basic bubble, pyramid scheme character of the whole sector. It’s ironic that GMO jargon uses the term “pyramid” for another of its scams.
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China’s stock and real estate bubbles are cruising for a big fall. With any significant Asian recession, the whole Africa plan collapses for lack of even a theoretical market. Or if by then the sector has already forced full-scale commodity monoculture upon Africa and is generating huge amounts of GM maize and soy there, they’ll have to dump it on the rest of the world and further crash those commodity prices.
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Meanwhile, unless the cartel can seize control of the land in India they’ll soon be run out of the country. Anywhere on earth there’s still a large mass of small farmers, corporate agriculture is in a race to grab the land before their products are worn out and cast out. Although the sector’s propaganda continues to flog the long-debunked lie that GMOs can be good for small farmers, in reality only where the land is concentrated into vast commodity plantations can the sector maintain its GM seed sales. Soon this will be true of pesticides as well.
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Meanwhile, as we discussed earlier, the seeds accelerate the obsolescence of the pesticides, which then also renders the GM seed lines obsolete. This has been a campaign of planned obsolescence; the sector wants to force farmers to buy ever higher stacks and deploy an ever more complex multiple-pesticide choreography. But at the same time this accelerates the discrediting of the whole pesticide plant concept at the same time that it renders GMOs and pesticides less and less affordable. Sector oligopolists are in a race against time and resistance, and they’re not getting ahead as fast as they’d hoped. Monsanto originally expected to have attained near-complete monopoly for the sector by sometime in the first decade of the century. Obviously they’re falling well short and very late of that goal. Thus the oligopolists are reaching the point where they have to consolidate among themselves.
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The fact is that both the GMOs and the pesticides are ill-conceived, ultimately self-destructive product types. It’s not just that many of the products, such as most of the GMOs, shoddily constructed. The basic idea underlying all the products – using poison against agricultural weeds and pests, and synthetic inputs including transgenes to meet other agricultural challenges – is bad in principle. The entire agrochemical sector is built on sand. The fundamentals of all these companies and their sector as a whole are bad.
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What’s going on is more profound than the superficial accounts of the business section, focused as it is on stock prices and quarterly “earnings”. The sector is following its destiny in accord with the Poisoner imperative, a structural economic, political, religious, and biological campaign. Although Wall Street and politics are forcing these companies to make certain accommodations with reality, such as recognizing the primacy of pesticides over GMOs on the most reality-based level, nothing has changed for them ideologically. They are committed to the total domination of their program of eugenics via genetic engineering. They’re just in an ever more pressing race against time, as the ecological resistance, expressed biologically, economically, and politically, is becoming stronger by the year.
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Although the companies of the GMO cartel grudgingly recognized their need for high-quality agricultural germplasm such as could be bought through Pioneer, their original disdainful arrogance was no accident, nor has this fundamental ideology changed. Reality may have forced itself upon Monsanto when the company finally bowed to the need to put its transgenes into good crop varieties (and thus it embarked upon its odyssey of buying seed companies – as always, Monsanto never innovates anything, just steals or buys the work others have done), it did so under duress and to this day doesn’t really believe in it. Deep down any techno-cultist, for example a GMO fanboy, thinks the technology he idolizes is the only meaningful reality and has nothing but contempt for everything else. That’s why pro-GMO activists are so ignorant of every branch of science – genetics, biology, ecology, botany, entomology, agronomy, physiology, medical science, you name it – and have such contempt for knowledge as such. They spew the word “Science” but take great pride in knowing nothing about it, its content or how it works. No one becomes a religious zealot of genetic engineering because he has respect for natural or agroecologically bred genetics. He does it because he has fear and loathing for anything which is not under the control of high-technology engineering. To be precise, their idolatry is for the idea of such technological control. The fact that in practice GMOs are such an imprecise, stupidly executed, shoddily performing product doesn’t matter to the cultists, only their shining idea. Which is good for them since by now they have no choice but to be shills, not only for the mythically “hi-tech” products of genetic engineering, but for what until not long ago they themselves sneered at as dinosaur technology, sprayed and slathered pesticides like Roundup.
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The history of genetic engineering displays a level of combined ignorance and arrogance on the part of its practitioners and controllers which is astonishing. Monsanto started out thinking they’d take their Roundup Ready gene and their Bt gene, stick them into any old public domain maize variety, and then just mass produce it for every farmer the world over. Robb Fraley’s notion, which the company tried to follow at first, was that they’d do exactly what Microsoft had done with software, their transgenes being the Windows-type “software”, with the crop and its genetics being the basically stupid, meaningless “hardware”. This is typical of the delusion that on the one hand things like computer software, patents, corporations, money, are real things, while on the other something like agricultural germplasm is mystical “information”. They simply tuned out anyone who tried to tell them agriculture doesn’t work that way. This delusion is endemic to scientism and corporatism and is connected intimately with the monoculture mentality those cults also share, in agriculture as well as every other realm of thought and action.
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But in fact the ecological reality is the only reality, and agroecological ideas are the only ideas that can truly work for agriculture as well as ecology, and for a healthy economy and polity as well. But nothing about Monsanto, Roundup, or GMOs – corporate control, profits, patents, the idea of precision control and manipulation of physical genomes – touches reality at any point, while the poisons can only destroy, never create or sustain. The fundamentals are bad. From the most hermetic, short-run Wall Street preoccupations to the most profound intellectual and ecological arcs, the fundamentals are bad.
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This is the real reason the poison sector’s confrontation with nature, its attempt to subjugate the ecology by force, only drives itself further into no man’s land. Today the GMO cartel feels insecure enough that it must retrench the only way it knows how. Tomorrow it will perish completely.
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**Charles Benbrook’s “Free Pioneer” idea would be good if there was a way to do it. In spite of Breen’s assurances that the new agricultural spinoff won’t cut productive jobs at Pioneer, just “middlemen”, that’s often not the way it works. Pioneer could still be worth something to agriculture, whereas the rest of DuPont, and all of Dow, is worthless and destructive. That in itself usually means the worthwhile, constructive part gets gutted.
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Pioneer is still part of unsustainable commodity agriculture, but it is an important repository of germplasm and breeder expertise, and in theory it could be refurbished for a mission more in line with agroecology, if it could be liberated from the corporate clutch.
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In the meantime, Benbrook is right, the one thing guaranteed is that this merger will further squeeze farmers and reduce their seed choices. Which will be a further opportunity for we who are exhorting GMO farmers to switch to non-GM, and industrial farmers in general to switch to organic.
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Food and Water Watch has a petition to the Justice Department urging them to block the merger.
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Monsanto really is in some serious trouble with its Roundup vulnerability. With glyphosate on the ropes politically, Monsanto could go down quickly if there were a domino effect of bans. If people wanted to get together to focus on getting glyphosate banned everywhere possible, it could become a permanently crippling blow.
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September 16, 2015

Maize in the Labyrinth

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Today is Mexican Independence Day. On this day in 1810 Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla issued the famous Grito de Dolores (“Cry of Dolores”, named for the small town where the freedom fighters had assembled), setting off the rebellion which led to Mexico winning its independence from Spain eleven years later.
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Today Mexico faces a more formidable threat to its independence in the form of Western corporate domination. This war of aggression has been fought for decades and was significantly escalated with the US imposition of NAFTA in 1994.
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Independence is not the opposite of community, but a precondition of it, where it means the lack of dependency upon distant, unaccountable, alien entities. People who are dependent on centralized hierarchies whose interests and knowledge are alien to the community can never be free or secure within that community, but every day face centrifugal pressures driving them away from one another and into conflict with one another. These forces often physically destroy the community and drive the people literally off their land.
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But there’s another kind of depending, where we depend upon the land and its fruits which sustain us. The stability of this depending relationship is a precondition for the broader independence. Only where we control the land and the food it produces can we enjoy political and economic independence. At the opposite extreme, no dependency could be more productive of absolute helplessness than to lose our ability to control and rely upon the land, instead being forced into thralldom to a centralized agricultural and food system which has no knowledge of agriculture or food and cares nothing about them, which cares for nothing but its own power and profit. To be dependent upon such a system is verily a form of slavery.
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Mexico is reeling from the blows of corporate assaults in many sectors. US agribusiness has not been a laggard in its drive to commodify Mexican agriculture, seize control of the land, and drive the millions of small farmers who depend upon this land off of their land and into a vastly more profound dependency upon the pure whims and chance of a cruel, vicious globalization system.
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The core assault tactic is the forced colonization of GMOs around the world. These are meant to render land-grabbing and commodification quickly profitable. As the most exalted and idolized technology of governments today GMOs are the recipients of complete subsidy and policy protection. This complete subsidization by the taxpayers is the only thing which renders this otherwise unprofitable and worthless product viable at all.
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Mexico, ravaged by NAFTA, has been relatively resistant to GMO proliferation. In spite of the support of several government agencies, citizen campaigns have won public support and court victories which have so far staved off the commercialization of GM maize.
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Maize is a storied crop in Mexico, prominent in mythology and folklore and central to the Mexican national vision. A popular saying goes, “Sin Maiz, No Hay Maiz”: “Without Corn, There is No Country”. Maize is the core food and retail crop for millions of small farmers and their families who depend upon it for their food, livelihood, freedom, and community.
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Because maize is a wind-pollinated crop, it is one of the crops most easily cross-pollinated by other varieties. To maintain the genetic integrity of a landrace or variety requires strict precautions on the part of the farmer and a relative lack of cross-pollinating influences. Even though GM maize has not yet been legally approved in Mexico, transgenic contamination of indigenous varieties began quickly following NAFTA, probably from GM seed which became mixed among the maize shipments the US immediately began dumping in Mexico. This infiltrated seed was probably planted and its pollen then spread with the wind, contaminating ears of other varieties, whose seed was then planted, and so on in a gradually expanding process of contamination.
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If it happened this way (there’s no special evidence I’ve heard of that Monsanto intentionally infiltrated the seed into Mexico the way it did on a vast basis in Brazil; but of course we can’t put it past them), this demonstrates two truths. One, within a commodification framework it’s impossible to keep supply chains segregated. The recent debacle with Syngenta’s Viptera maize contaminating US maize shipments to China, resulting in the loss to US traders and farmers of billions in sales, is a more recent case. Two, once GM varieties of a crop like maize are released into the environment, it’s impossible to prevent their contaminating non-GM varieties. These are two proofs that “co-existence” is physically impossible. It’s also politically impossible, which is demonstrated here by the relentless struggle on the part of the cartel to force this product upon a society which does not want it.
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Ignacio Chapela and David Quist first documented this contamination in 2001. The Mexican government confirmed the contamination shortly afterward. In spite of this documentation, the corporate flacks and their fanboys have never stopped slandering Chapela and telling the direct lie that there’s no GM contamination of maize in Mexico. This is an excellent example of how all pro-GM activism is based on nothing but bald-faced lies, and more profoundly on an absolute contempt for the very idea of truth or falsehood, fact or fiction. This contempt for fact is rampant among engineers and even among scientists ever since the corporate science paradigm, which can be summed up as “science, and truth itself, are nothing but what the corporate marketing department says they are”, has become dominant over organized science and technology development.
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Subsequent studies have traced the spread of transgenic contamination across large swaths of the country (see p. 17 of the link). This gradual genetic corruption and depletion has been ongoing while no GM maize is being legally grown. This is thanks to the citizen campaign organized by Accion Colectiva (Collective Action), an alliance of farmers, scientists, doctors, lawyers, consumers, and civil society advocates, all acting cooperatively as public citizens. Their suit argues that the government allowed field trials and is rushing to approve commercialization without having conducted the safety and contamination tests and environmental reviews required by Mexican law and the constitution, Article 27 of which requires protection of genetic biodiversity as a common good.
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After the people won at trial and then won a series of government and corporate appeals, Monsanto finally found a judge corrupt enough to rule in its favor. As Accion Colectiva has commented, the ruling completely ignores the evidence, the law, and the constitution. The group has filed an appeal.
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Mexico is one of the world centers of maize origin and diversity. The future of the crop depends to a great extent on the genetic integrity of the maize landraces of Mexico and other parts of Latin America, as well as the integrity of teosinte, the wild relative from which maize evolved. The maize independence of humanity is dependent upon this genetic spring, while the corporate stanching of this spring would kill all food independence.
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Transgenic contamination is a major problem and is getting worse. But we must place it in the context of the bigger, longer arc of the genetic depletion of agriculture. The genetic diversity of maize has been steadily suffering constriction and depletion over the last century.
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The more narrow and depleted a crop’s genetic range becomes, the more vulnerable the crop is to pests, weed pressure, disease, drought, flooding, adverse soil conditions, weather, and climate. An early disaster was the 1970 Southern Leaf Corn Blight which wiped out as much as 50-100% of the crop in regions of the US. A subsequent National Research Council investigation pegged the precarity of the maize gene pool as the cause of the wide vulnerability of the crop. Specifically, a gene for male sterility (the T cytoplasm gene) bred extensively into most varieties of the crop (as a “labor-saving”, i.e. job-destroying, feature for the harvest of seed corn) had the collateral effect of rendering plants which carried the gene more vulnerable to the blight. In spite of this early warning shot over the bow, the genetic uniformity and depletion has only gotten worse since then.
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The 1970 episode also provides a stark demonstration of what can happen if a particular crop gene is bred into the bulk of the crop varieties and deployed very quickly over a vast geographic range without any precautionary assessment of possible harmful collateral effects. In fact by the late 1960s many agronomists were becoming uneasy about the ubiquity of the T cytoplasm gene, and some were predicting a pandemic like the one that hit in 1970. Here the gene was conventionally bred. But the same principles apply even more ominously in the case of GMOs, since the transgenic insertion process is far more likely than conventional breeding to generate harmful mutations. GMOs, combining the worst of both worlds – pivotal conditions of genetic uniformity along with uniquely chaotic genetic unpredictability – are recklessly being deployed as fast as possible over unprecedented geographic ranges.
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Like with most other evils of GMOs, transgenic contamination is an escalation of an existing malign trend in corporate agriculture, the depletion of agricultural germplasm. Corporate control of agriculture was endangering the future of humanity in this way prior to GMOs and would be doing so in their absence. GMOs are just making it worse.
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All this is just one refutation of the standard lies that GMOs are supposed to comprise a solution to pests, drought, and other crop afflictions. On the contrary, by accelerating the process of genetic narrowing and depletion GMOs render agriculture ever more vulnerable to every kind of affliction.
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The GMO biological assault on maize is part of a wider economic assault on small farmers and their communities. GMOs accelerate the corporate agricultural process of driving great masses of people off the land. The goal is corporate enclosure and control of the land in order to eradicate regionally based production of food for human beings and replace it with globalized commodity production for profit. GMOs are intended to aggravate and accelerate this great evil of corporate agriculture.
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In Mexico, the process of land-grabbing, dumping, and enclosure of the land in favor of vast commodity plantations is forcing the migration northward of effectively stateless economic refugees. This process too has been ongoing for decades and was escalated by NAFTA. The commercialization of GM maize would escalate it further. I’ve written extensively about how GMOs are an impossible technology for small farmers, which for them can never be anything but an assault and an often deadly trap.
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Whenever you see someone in America complaining about the northward migration of Mexicans, remind them that this is a forced migration driven by US globalization policy. The big corporations profit in two ways: The agribusiness corporations seize control of the land in Mexico, while by forcing this migration all corporate sectors benefit from how it further drives down wages in the US. As always and everywhere, the corporation is the enemy of humanity.
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I briefly traced here a few of the long arcs of the corporate threat to humanity’s future. The biological and genetic threats posed by GMOs and the broader genetic engineering project are among the most dire. Those fighting in Mexico, in the spirit of Mexican Independence Day, are fighting for the independence, freedom, and health of us all. Such grassroots groups, organizing people from every walk of life as public citizens to fight corporate power and thwart the attempt to impose corporate domination, are the only groups fighting today for freedom and community. On Mexican Independence Day, the bell tolling for the assassination attempt on Mexican community independence, via assault on the genetic basis of our food, is tolling for all of us, everywhere, as we face the same assault wherever we are, whatever we eat. We must abolish corporate agriculture.
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February 13, 2015

GMO News Summary February 13, 2015

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*In India, the new state government of Maharashtra will allow field trials of GM cotton, maize, rice, brinjal (eggplant), and chickpea. Maharashtra issued a No Objection Certificate (NOC), allowing the central government to approve the trials. In India the states have the right to refuse to allow field trials within their territory. Most states have refused to issue these NOCs, and so field trials are officially disallowed. Delhi University also received approval to trial GM mustard. The rationales given for these field trials are typical scams – that they’re testing “drought resistant” and “nitrogen efficiency” GMOs. Neither of these exists. This comes even as crashing commodity prices at harvest time this year cost Indian cotton and maize farmers vast revenue (Rs 12000 crore), while state farmer supports continue to be eroded. A recent study found that from 1996 to 2013 the government’s Minimum Support Price for a range of industrial crops including maize, cotton, and soybeans has only covered 45-72% of farmer costs. Farming in India becomes increasingly unviable for any but the richest farmers.
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*Undeterred by the poor agronomic and economic (for the farmers) results of its first season of a demonstration commercial release of four Bt brinjal varieties, the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) plans to release five more varieties this year. This project, developed by Mahyco and funded by BARI and USAID (corporate welfare, all profits to go to Monsanto-Mahyco) is going forward in spite of the fact that it has zero rationale, was an economic disaster for many of the farmers who participated in the first season, that the crops performed poorly, thast Mahyco’s own tests found toxic effects, that BARI has gone ahead with these releases without performing the slightest environmental or health assessments, that there exist over 4000 regionally adapted brinjal varieties in Southeast Asia, that Southeast Asia is the world center of brinjal origin and diversity, and that a corporate monoculture program like this threatens this agricultural biodiversity, as all GMOs do.
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*Polish farmers are using tractors to block roads and picket government offices as they make four demands which they regard as critical to alleviate economic crises in Polish agriculture. The four demands are: Reject foreign land-grabbing of Polish farmland (slated to be legalized in 2016); decriminalize direct retail farm sales (this is one of the surest ways for farmers to get off the commodification treadmill and regain economic self-determination; Poland has draconian rules effectively outlawing it); allow inheritance of lease rights to farmland; ban GMOs.
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*Farmers and companies have filed more than 360 lawsuits against Syngenta for marketing its Viptera maize before getting import approval from China. As a result, starting in November 2013 China began rejecting US maize shipments which tested positive for Viptera. This cost US growers and commodifiers lost $1-3 billion in revenue through the 2014 season. China rejected a total of over 131 million bushels. The suits have been filed in twenty states, and hundreds more may be coming. A federal judge is currently mulling whether to combine them into a class action. China finally approved Viptera in December.
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*GMO labeling bills have been introduced in the legislatures of Indiana and Minnesota. The Indiana bill would also ban the use of the term “natural” on products containing GMOs.
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*A federal judge granted the motion of the Center for Food Safety, Our Family Farms Coalition, and several local farmers to intervene as co-defendants in the industry lawsuit against Jackson County, Oregon. In May 2014 the county voted by a wide margin (66%) to ban GMO cultivation as an economic and contamination assault on the true farmers of the county. They’re now being sued by contract “farmers” who are really cartel proxies.
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This spring Benton County will vote on a combined community rights, food sovereignty, GMO ban initiative.

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