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Haughty Imperialism: Genetically Modifying the Way to Food Security?

Colin Todhunter

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Those familiar with the debate around genetically modified organisms (GMOs) may be forgiven for thinking that science alone can solve the world’s food problems. The industry asserts that GMOs are vital if the world is to increase agricultural productivity and we are going to feed a growing global population. There is also the distinct impression that the GMO issue is all about ‘science’ and little else.

People who question the need for and efficacy of GM have been labelled anti-science elitists who are responsible for crimes against humanity as they supposedly deny GM food to the hungry. Critics stand accused of waging a campaign of fear about the dangers of GM. In doing so, the argument goes that, due to ideology, they are somehow denying a technological innovation to farmers.

Critics have valid concerns about GMOs and have put forward a credible evidence to support their views. But instead of engaging in open and honest debate, we see some scientists hardening their positions, lashing out at critics and forwarding personal opinions (unrelated to their specific discipline) based on their perceived authority as scientists. There’s a fine line between science and industry-inspired lobbying and spin. Unfortunately, a number of scientists have difficulty locating it.

The problem: global food regime or GM technology itself

An accusation sometimes levelled at critics of GM is that they have trouble when it comes to differentiating between the technology and the companies who have come to dominate GM: they are thus overly concerned with waging an assault on big business and capitalism, losing site of the potential benefits of GM.

For sure, GM technology has become associated with large conglomerates that have rolled it out as a tool to further consolidate their dominant market position. These corporations are embedded in a system of capitalism that facilitates corporatisation of the global food regime and all that entails: for instance, a push towards seed monopolies, the roll-out of highly profitable proprietary inputs and chemical/biotech treadmills, leverage over legislation, trade deals and treaties and the general boosting and amalgamation of corporate power (as seen by recent mergers and acquisitions).

However, it is unfair to accuse critics of being unable to differentiate between the food regime and GM itself. Both scientists and non-scientists have concluded that genetic engineering poses unique scientific risks and has political, cultural, ethical and economic ramifications.

There are good reasons why in Europe robust regulatory mechanisms are in place for GM. GM food/crops are not substantially equivalent to their non-GM counterparts. More and more studies are highlighting the flawed premise of substantial equivalence. Given the risks, the precautionary principle is recognised as a sensible approach.

International consensus exists that the products of genetic engineering are not equivalent to their conventional counterparts. Many of the potential hazards are inherent in the GE process itself, and “are not techniques used in traditional breeding and selection” (Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, on page 7 of this document, where the example of GM maize and the amino acid lysine is also discussed; in addition, see references 5-10 at the bottom this page here).

There is sufficient reason to hold back on commercialising GM and subject each GMO to independent, transparent environmental, social and health impact evaluations: there can be no blanket statement that all GMO crops/foods are safe or somehow ‘good’. The claim of substantial equivalence is an industry get-out tactic to avoid the inconvenience of proper assessment and regulation. And any claim that there is consensus on the safety/efficacy of GM within the ‘scientific community’ is based on spin rather than reality. This, along with the claims that ‘the science is decided’ on GM is mere rhetoric designed to close down debate.

There are major uncertainties concerning the technology (not least regarding its precision and health safety aspects), which are brushed aside by claims of ‘the science’ is decided and the ‘facts’ about GM are indisputable. Such claims – alongside the attempt to sideline non-scientists from the debate – are merely political posturing and part of the agenda to tip the policy agenda in favour of GM.

We must consider too that many things that scientists are trying to achieve with GMOs have already been surpassed by means of conventional breeding. We should not accept the premise that only GM can solve problems in agriculture. Non-GMO options and innovations have out-performed GM. So why press ahead with a technology that changes the genetic basis of food with all that entails for human health and the environment?

Despite critics’ concerns, they continue to be attacked for supposedly being anti-science and anti-choice. For instance, the pro-GMO line of blaming people in richer countries for denying the benefits of GM to others elsewhere has become part of industry rhetoric. The case of Golden Rice is often used as an example. UK politician Owen Patterson is on record as saying that wicked activists are denying food to little children.

Glenn Stone and Dominic Glover (Washington University and the University of Sussex) have noted that this claim just does not stack up. Golden Rice has not come to market because ongoing tests show it has failed to deliver as a technology. Meanwhile, Vitamin A deficiency is falling dramatically in the Philippines, while the claims about Golden Rice remain wishful thinking.

It is a convenient and misleading to accuse ‘privileged activists’ in affluent countries of denying choice to poor people by preventing the commercialisation and cultivation of GM crops across the globe. In  South America and Africa, for example, it is not some affluent bunch of activists in rich countries who are against GM. It is local farmers and it is because corporations with US govt help and philanthropic colonialists like Bill Gates are moving in to assert their leverage in agriculture and over indigenous farming.

According to the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (ASFA):

White male European so-called experts are channelling the message of the biotech industry, heavily controlled by US-European seed and chemical giants Monsanto/Bayer, Syngenta and DuPont Pioneer. The message once again is that failure of African farmers to adopt GMO technology is the root cause of hunger and poverty on the continent. It is ironic that GMO foods are banned by law as unsafe in the European home countries of those giving the advice. Meanwhile the African biotech scientists seem more concerned that the strict liability measures will chase away donor funding and investment for their costly and “prestigious” research.

“They blame the anti-GMO activists, rather than their own technological failure, for the impasse. They claim that if only the activists would shut up and go away, the industry backed researchers could fix the food insecurity problem once and for all!  Once again Africa is being compelled to adopt others’ views, others’ technologies, others’ interests. Have we not seen this before? They claim to have ‘sound science’ on their side but what kind of science resolutely ignores the evidence? What has actually happened in those African countries where GMOs have been rolled out? Let’s take a look at the facts.”

ASFA then goes on to highlight the false promises and failures of GM in Africa. Clearly, it is not just the politics of GM that ASFA has concerns about: it is the technology itself.

It is misleading when supporters of GM call people’s attention to apparent public sector funding of GM and the apparent altruism that is claimed to underpin the GM project. Even when not directly pushing GM to boost the bottom line, big business (and US state interests) is certainly present in the not too distant background. As with the current push for GM mustard (also misleadingly portrayed as a public service endeavour) in India, ‘pioneering’ crops have a role in opening the GM floodgates in a region or country (there are sound reasons for rejecting GM mustard as described by Aruna Rodrigues in her submitted court documents).

But is this type of ‘activism’ denying choice to farmers? Not at all, as I have outlined elsewhere. If anything, large corporations do their best to break traditional practices and environmental learning pathways developed over time with the aim of getting farmers on technological treadmills. These same companies also exert their leverage on a wider level via the WTO, Codex and various international agreements.

But you never see supporters of GM campaigning against any of this. Perhaps they are too busy helping the process along via the right-wing neoliberal think tanks they are associated with. Instead, they fixate on Greenpeace or ‘activists’ whose leverage is dwarfed by the power of these corporations.

Pro-GMO activists make great play about ‘potential’ benefits of GM and roll out examples to ‘prove’ the point. Fine, if these benefits really do stack up in reality; but we need to look at this objectively because plenty of evidence indicates that GM is not beneficial and that non-GM alternatives are a better option. Most of all, we need to put commercial interests and the career/funding interests of scientists to one side when determining the need for and the efficacy of GM.

Solution based on food sovereignty

Banning GMOs will not solve the problems associated with lobbying and corruption, the adverse impacts of pesticide use, corporate monopolies, monocultures, food commodity speculation, the denial of peasant’s land rights or any other problems associated with the capitalist food regime. But neither will GM lead to ensuring global food security.

We must look away from the industrial yield-output paradigm and adopt a more integrated, systems approach to food and agriculture that accounts for many different factors, including local food security and sovereignty, local calorific production, cropping patterns and diverse nutrition production per acre, water table stability, climate resilience, good soil structure and the ability to cope with evolving pests and disease pressures. This is precisely why, from Africa to India, locally owned, grass-root agroecology and zero budget farming are gaining traction.

Scaling up agroecology offers potential solutions to many of the world’s most pressing problems, whether, for instance, climate change and carbon storage, soil degradation, water shortages, unemployment or food security. Working with the natural environment (as Bhaskar Save notes) involves a different mindset from that which wants to genetically engineer it and all the risks and unforeseen consequences that it inevitably entails. If readers take time to click on the previous link for Bhaskar Save, it becomes patently clear that undermining or eradicating one system of farming by imposing another has serious ethical, environmental, social and political ramifications. Something that scientific research does not concern itself with.

The consequences of GM do not just relate to unpredictable changes in the DNA, proteins and biochemical composition of the resulting GM crop. Introducing GM can involve disrupting cultures and knowledge systems and farmers’ relationships with their environments. Who is to say that GM is somehow ‘better’ or should take precedence over these traditional systems?

Corporate boardroom executives or well-funded microbiologists each with their own agendas and looking at things from their own blinkered perspectives? Once those systems are disrupted, the knowledge and practices that underpin them become lost forever. For instance, in terms of an integrated pest management strategy, Devinder Sharma talks of women who can identify 110 non-vegetarian insects and 60 vegetarian insects. Can such knowledge survive? To be wiped out for corporate profit and a flawed GM experiment?

As described in this paper, for thousands of years farmers experimented with different plant and animal specimens acquired through migration, trading networks, gift exchanges or accidental diffusion. By learning and doing, trial and error, new knowledge was blended with older, traditional knowledge systems. The farmer therefore possessed acute observation and has traditionally engaged in risk minimising strategies. Farmers took measures to manage drought, grow cereals with long stalks that can be used as fodder, engage in cropping practices that promote biodiversity, ethno-engineer soil and water conservation, use self-provisioning systems on farm recycling and use collective sharing systems such as managing common resource properties.

Farmers know their micro-environment, so they can plant crops that mature at different times, thereby facilitating more rapid crop rotation without exhausting the soil. Today, however, large-scale industrial-based agricultural production erodes biodiversity by depleting the organisms that live in soil and by making adverse changes to the structure of the soil and the kind of plants that can be grown in such artificially-created environments.

Many of the practices of small farmers are now recognised as sophisticated and appropriate. It is no surprise therefore that various high-level reports have called for agroecology and smallholder farmers to be prioritised and invested in to achieve global sustainable food security. Instead, what we see is the marginalisation traditional organic agriculture by corporate interests.

Traditional food production systems depend on using the knowledge and expertise of village communities and cultures in contrast to prioritising imported ‘solutions’. The widespread but artificial conditions created by the latter work against the survival of traditional knowledge, which creates and sustains unique indigenous farming practices and food culture.

None of this is based on a romantic yearning for the past or ‘the peasantry’. It is for good reason that the reports referred to call for investment in this type of agriculture centred on small farms: despite the pressures (including the fact that industrial agriculture grabs 80%of subsidies and 90% of research funds), it continues to feed most of the world.

Cultural, ethical, political and environmental considerations matter just as much – even more – than the science of GM. And that’s even before we consider how the ill thought out introduction (or imposition) of GM can have dire financial impacts for communities, as has been the case with Bt cotton in many areas where it has been adopted.

In acknowledging the type of food regime that exists and the risks, motives and implications of GM, pushing back against the large corporations that hold sway over the global food system, food sovereignty based on localisation and (political) agroecology is necessary. This involves reclaiming the food system and challenging the leverage that private capital has over all our lives.

In the meantime, we are not talking about ‘banning’ anything. Where GMOs, gene editing, synthetic biology or other similar technologies are concerned, we require a responsible approach based on transparent social, health and environmental impact assessments. In the absence of this, there should be a moratorium because the potential for a responsible approach is most definitely lacking: Rosemary, Mason, Carol van Strum, the late Shiv Chopra, Evaggelos Vallianatos and others have described how high-level institutions responsible for food and environmental safety have been subverted and corrupted over the years by commercial interests.

Decades on from Rachel Carson, have we learned nothing? If the people listed above tell us anything, it is that the ‘pesticide revolution’ was based on widespread fraud. We are now trying to deal with the health and environmental impacts of dousing the land with agrotoxins year in, year out.  They also tell us that commercial interests should not determine regulatory regimes. We need transparency, democratic accountability, science untainted by corporate interests and robust public institutions which guard against commercial interests that undermine regulatory decisions.

While the pro-GM lobby rushes to experiment with the genetic core of the world’s food and leave a potentially detrimental legacy for future generations, the question remains:

How is it possible that in the 21st century the world has the capacity to feed every single human being on the planet, yet the majority of people in Africa and the rest of the Global South, who are poor – whilst obesity soars in the West – go rampantly hungry?” Walden Bello

It is because food and agriculture have become wedded to power structures that have created food surplus and food deficit areas and which have restructured indigenous agriculture across the world and tied it to an international system of trade based on export-oriented mono-cropping, commodity production for a manipulated and volatile international market and indebtedness to international financial institutions.

Once you understand how global capitalism and its corporate food regime operates and how private capital shapes and benefits from a food regime based on an exploitative ‘stuffed and starved’ strategy, you realise that genuine political and economic solutions are required if we are to feed the world and ensure equitable food security.

We must not be deterred by the “haughty imperialism” that exists in scientific circles that aggressively pushes for a GMO techno-fix. We must not be distracted from the root causes of poverty, hunger and malnutrition.


50 Comments

  1. Edwige says

    The takeover of Ukrainian agriculture by Western interests following the coup and its transformation into a GMO laboratory is an aspect of that story that rewards some looking into.

  2. Big B says

    If we want to understand the iniquities of food production (and waste): we have to take subsidies. externalities, and energy (in the form of oil equivalent fuel) into account.

    Subsidies: direct and indirect – skew the overproduction of crops in favour of the industrialised North. Overproduction is forced – via free trade agreements – on Less Developed Countries below the cost of production, collapsing indigenous self-sufficiency. Bill Clinton’s 1994 ‘invasion’ of Haiti – to enrich his rice producing buddies (and donors) in Arkansas – is a model case study; as is the poverty caused by NAFTA. No one asks why the Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and Haitians are trying to get across the border …because US farmers stole their food sovereignty and livelihoods.

    [I’m sure Bill’s apology was adequate compensation?]

    Externalities: Environmental and human costs are externalised. Less intensive, more ecological methods of production cannot compete due to subsidies and cheap imports. The health of the planet, and the health of the individual are not allowed to impinge on the ‘bottom line’ of profits. Sick food makes the Planet and its people sick. The costs of healthcare and environmental cleanup (if at all applicable) are peripheral considerations to be borne by the people (via indirect taxation; another form of subsidised social welfare for the TNCs)…that is, if the people can afford it: (ie only in the bourgeois North). In Haiti, Mexico, India, etc they migrate or die.

    Energy: Industrialised agroeconomy is doubly supported by the subsidies on fuel (oil) production. The so called Green Revolution relies on cheap hydrocarbons (especially oil): each food calorie contains ten fuel calories …just to produce. More is added in processing and distribution (fuel miles reliant almost exclusively on dirty diesel). A barrel of oil contains the equivalent of ten years human labour. This double subsidy prioritises ‘cheap’ industrialised biotech production – except where the consumer can afford a premium for artisanal or organic produce: (ie only in the bourgeois North). Elsewhere, they are forced to rely on subsidised imported food aid – migrate, or die (a violent means of control, destabilisation, and market monopolisation).

    Problem: we are subsidising the TNCs to destroy our planet and foreclose our future …for zero marginal return and catastrophic (and permanent) environmental degradation. We are paying, with the future, for sick food and dirty oil now. The lifestyle this affords costs the earth. They take the profits, we (that is, all people everywhere) pay the costs (a cost paid in human lives in most cases).

    Solutions: difficult to see from amidst the current cultural hegemony of consumption orientated growth. 147 of the largest TNCs form a supra-sovereign entity: asking bought governments for them to be socially responsible is a non-starter. ‘Democratising’ supra-sovereign business clubs and their FTAs, RTAs, and PFTAs (with in-built Investor-to-State Dispute Settlements (ISDS)) that favour the globalisation of the TNC business model is a waste of time. Any form of globalisation must be resisted as taking a human future away. Demand led growth for artisanal, organic, non-GMO, or even just edible produce is a lifestyle choice that will not rival the power of the TNCs: though it will ensure that SME producers have a market. Consumer power is limited to the 14% of humanity that consume. Though it is a valid (and under-deployed) tool, it will result in further polarised inequality and two-tier development of the current globalised business model. Turning vegan feeds the corporations: not the world.

    Long term solutions of global redistribution toward local, human scale agroecology, and organisation around (the limitations) of renewable energy are being strangled by the heavily subsidised prioritisation of exponential (carbon) economic growth. Sustainable (post-carbon) solutions are already (per KW Hr) often cheaper than (heavily subsidised) carbon economic solutions: by 2020 this will be universally so …but our leaders are growth orientated fossilised carbon relics themselves. All of them. A gradual redistribution of subsidies could prioritise sustainable development …but not growth. Don’t count on a sustainable post-growth paradigm being legislated as a top down process.

    However, we cannot reproduce the conditions that led to the development of our current economic paradigm(s). We cannot return to past paradigms: any of them. This would entail the emergence of a new ecological (as in, the economics of nature) paradigm. This, in turn, would mean a switch to post-production and local ecological communities of reciprocal ‘growth’ and investment. This would need a shift in our worldview toward mutual aid: sharing and economies of gift and symbolic exchange. The impasse is that we are inculcated into the status quo. Very few see any need for change: it is certainly not an electable platform …nor may it ever be. But nothing is inevitable: the only certainty is change. There is, at least, a realm of possibility that it may be positive, not negative, change. Change it must: ‘Business As Usual’ for the TNCs of the redundant paradigm of the carbon economy (and its evolutionarily redundant consensual worldview) is no longer an option. In fact, it has been long dead (since 2009). Time, (as in the ticking debt time bomb) and nature alone will curtail the power of the TNCs: we may yet get to decide what, if anything, replaces them. At the moment, that is the best I can hope for …for now.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      Capitalism is cancer, neo-liberal capitalism the most highly malignant form and businessmen are its metastases. Prognosis very poor.

      • BigB says

        I see cities as the metastases of capitalism. Urbanization is a symptom of the disease. What is 120 times the size of London? …the ecological footprint of London. Urban centres suck the life from the land and people …not from Redhill or Sutton: from as far afield as Jaipur and Soweto… such is the nature of globalised ‘trade’. Prognosis is poor for those of us who see where the current trajectory is taking us: a simple trick like biochar carbon cascades, wisely implented, could divert our course and avert collapse. Don’t let the possums scare the shit out of you at night …we still have a future. Humanity is going to face some really tough questions in the next decade: be prepared to influence the debate.

        • Mulga Mumblebrain says

          It’s all known. Carbon sequestration combined with serpentine rock, or buried in concrete, or enriching soils in biochar and soils protected from omnicidal poisons like glyphosate, or plunged into submarine abysses as kelp (a fancy of Tim ‘Flannel’ Flannery)or through massive reforestation etc, etc, or preferably all of the above, have all been demonstrated. Yet, with the exception of a few countries like China, there is massive indifference to these possibilities. Instead the fakestream media presstitutes still slaver over some new source of fossil fuels, or signs of greater neoplastic growth in ‘the economy'(ie the piggy-bank for the rich)or hiss and spit rage at the detested ‘Greenies’ and other ‘do-gooders’. We are being frog-marched while still sound asleep, or comatose, to the abyss. The role of the brainwashing scum is crucial, and I hope, and now expect (I’ve probably put the mock on myself there), to live long enough to see them get their just desserts.

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  3. The antidote to Haughty Imperialism of the Western Governing Class (especially haughty towards their own Western Plebs) is the Iranian Basij Organization (similar to the Chinese Communist Party), as proposed by Iranian communist Ramin Mazaheri in the Saker blog:

    “The only book available in the West is, “Basij, Captive Society: The Basij Militia and Social Control in Iran”. It is useful because – the author’s obvious personal bias aside – it is a huge data dump on the Basij.

    What Golkar makes clear, with plenty of statistics and research on the Basij from inside of Iran, is that the Basij mainly come from lower and middle class families, and that the majority do not have a college education.

    “As of the social origins of Basij forces, there is a general view that they come from the poorest and most marginalised groups of society. In fact, Iran’s ‘oppressed’ appear to be the major source of recruits for the Basij.”

    In 2003 more than half of Basij summer camp members came from a family with a minimum of 6 members (including parents and quite possibly grandparents); 76% of their parents did not graduate from high school; many have been recent movers from country to town; these are all likely indicators of a lower economic status.

    Golkar provides no shortage of statistics which prove: the main source of Basij recruits are people who need government welfare programs.

    Indeed, the full Farsi title of the Basij uses the term “oppressed”, which in Iran refers to the exploited and underprivileged classes who suffered under the aristocrats and monarchy. To use a common theme of mine, 1979 was a “Trash Revolution”, or to use an Iranian term which means the same thing: “A Revolution of the Barefooted”. Modern history is clear: Trash Revolutions are the best ones. Many Basiji are Iranian Trash, and Trash everywhere is denigrated by their nation’s rich, technocrats, their so-called “Talented 10th Percent”, and their fake-leftists.”

    The message from Persia and China is clear: Unite, All Ye Western Welfare Trash, in Class Warfare against your Haughty so-called Elite. You have nothing to lose but your debts.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      Antonyl-quoting the utterly discredited renegade Patrick Moore is very odd. Do you support this tripe?

      • We need to give context here, Antonyl and Mulga. Maybe Antonyl was being sarcastic (the link to his tweet) and Mulga, just how has Patrick Moore been ‘discredited’? Statement from Greenpeace https://www.greenpeace.org/usa/news/greenpeace-statement-on-patric/

        Patrick Moore often misrepresents himself in the media as an environmental “expert” or even an “environmentalist,” while offering anti-environmental opinions on a wide range of issues and taking a distinctly anti-environmental stance. He also exploits long-gone ties with Greenpeace to sell himself as a speaker and pro-corporate spokesperson, usually taking positions that Greenpeace opposes.

  4. Kathy says

    The arguments made for G.M always revolve around a growing population and food shortages. Neither of which are really a problem. The population is not growing at any where near the rate that has been forecast. Food is plentiful in the world. Shortages are rare and when they do happen in the modern age are down to war, greed and commerce. Electrical refrigeration generated via clean energy and modern storage methods should mean we could all survive for very long periods of time if drought or bad weather prevented food growing. The fear mongering is always manipulating and playing on human fear. I agree that the Cartesian, Darwinian model of the survival of the fittest. The individual over the collective and the idea of natural selection is only seen as true because people have been conditioned to believe it is so. Most animals including humans do not naturally behave in a selfish way. If left to their own devices they prove to be altruistic. In my observations when food is plentiful and their is no threat all creatures will share space with each other in peace and with out any signs of aggression or the dog eat dog mentality that is supposedly innate in nature. It is social engineering, greed, brutality and capitalism that leads to such behavior. The idea that the larger stronger alpha animals {usually males} dominate and monopolize the gene pool has been so totally debunked by research and observation. Yet it is still used to miss educate and deceive. Why are people starving when their is so much food in the world. Why is water used to provide roses for export instead of irrigation for food locally. This is all about profit. Because in this warped mindset that predominates. Money is more important then life. No argument can possibly be made for the splicing of genes to patent seeds for profit and create the potential threat of infertile plants affecting wild species and threatening extinction of whole varieties of plant life just so a handful of companies can monopolize the production and control of food and in-debt communities and ultimately the whole planet. It is not true that we struggle to feed the world at all. There is no justification for any of this to happen other then to be used against the people for profit and the dominance of the few.

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  5. Big B says

    Excellent article: Colin nails the GMO aspect, and touches on the broader implications of the Cartesian materialist mind behind the science: where science breaches its Method to become politicised and corporate ideology.

    It follows for me, that if we (as the empiricist scientists) view ourselves through the lens of a Cartesian-Newtonian-Darwinian synthesis of the rational mind: then our science will be determined and reflect back to us our own personification of self? Basically, we will view things as we are: not as they are? We will find competitive individualism, separationism, isolationism, incremental evolution, teleological states, social hierarchies, stratified classes, dominant-submissive behaviour, and survival of the fittest …because it undergirds our beliefs of who we are? This is little more than a self-fulfilling and dialectical self-justification based on faith. We ritualistically personify reality by creating a hypostatised symbolic mirror – which we call Real. Not only Real, but scientifically Real; objectively Real; logically empirically Real and methodologically unquestionable. Violently unquestionable.

    The proponents of this bio-genetic totalitarianism are the biggest stakeholders in the status quo. Necessarily, it would follow, they would be the ones with the most to lose if, as is happening, a more cooperative holistic systems thinking emerges as supervenience – over and above their evolutionarily redundant dualistic, mechanistic, and competitively causal superimposition on reality. The corporate GMO rationality and exploitative business model would collapse …in this case by farmers growing heritage seeds organically. A new cooperative model would emerge (as it already is). One that innately and intuitively recognises the concepts of “irreducible minimum, usufruct, and mutual aid” – as Murray Bookchin chose to express it. Colin’s essay is a marvellous case study for this; as it is for the Commons and Commoning (another agenda that is being corporately manipulated).

    If only we could get over dominating each other and extending that domination to nature …wouldn’t it would be so much easier?

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  6. Usually the scientific method is compromised as soon as the market model is applied. GM food stuff is no exception. The altruism is excruciating to behold when advocates of GM talk about feeding the world’s poor.

    As with Big Pharm GM Pharm [or should that be farm?] is all about using the poor of the world to conduct mass marketing experiments and economic subjugation. There is nothing new in this, but the science is definitely suspect as we find repeatedly when profit is a clear objective.

    We can see the same in technology and the development of robotics. Is this an altruistic idea or is the science driven by profit. Who owns the machines, is the same dilemma which faced Edward Ludlam and the Luddites. Look how their movement was portrayed by the one percent of the time and still offers us an example of propagandised semantics.

    I’ll let you decide. It seems pretty clear to me that when the one percent benefit we all get to feed at the table, but not the some one.

    • Big B says

      The whole ‘post-human’ technocratic AI agenda is driven, not by profit, but by mortality. Rather, an elite fear of mortality and inability to psychologically come to terms with the inevitable. So the inevitable is (cryogenically) delayed, and eventually synthetically transcended: a kind of exosomatic immortality cult for the super-rich? Hopefully, their entire genetic caste will load their holographic brains into biocomputational vats – onboard one of Musk’s SpaceX rockets, in search of another planet to destroy (another part of the agenda: the escape trajectory) …hopefully it will explode on ignition! 😀

      • Yes the cryogenic big freeze for the uber-rich is like turkeys voting for Christmas. In the future, when you get there, you may find an appendage or two missing and your head.

        I liked the old Star Trek episode where they found a kind of Musk type cryogenic vessel floating in space. When they revived the passengers, who were all rich elites, one who was an investment banker was so elated at how much, now he was revived, he was worth. One of the crew look at him and said, “What’s a bank…What’s money?”

        • BigB says

          What is the value of even a trillion $$$$ on a thousand year deflationary trend? About sixpence! Capitalists: know the worth of everything, and the value of nothing …especially life: including their own.

    • Mishko says

      It is commonly referred to as Big Aggro, which among others farms gmo corn and soy-beans.
      And is the main funder of GMO studies and research.

  7. I am a bit hesitant to make a comment for fear of being hammered by the vigilant thought police agent, Mulga, but I will venture forth, nonetheless. This idea that we need to feed ‘a growing world population’, is based on what? Just look at the birthrates in almost all industrialized countries, even in the enormous population of China, and you will see that the populations in almost all of these is declining. To have an even population, you need at least 2 new people for every 2 that will expire. But the population growth figure of China is only currently 1.6, down from 5.7 in 1960. Japan is way down as well and the US is at a declining population rate of 1.8 (2 is even population growth). Now, it is true that the population growth is higher in India and Indonesia, both populous countries, but the trend is decidedly downwards, worldwide. So, what is this ‘growing population’, the rational for GM foods, etc.? The introduction of GM products have been disastrous for Indian farmers, for example, and food produced in the declining populationed countries, probably don’t go to these countries anyway.

    Check out this link, and you will see that in almost cases, the population is trending downward, not increasing.

    https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.DYN.TFRT.IN?locations=CN

    • @Will. Agreed. And the same imbalance — starvation in the midst of plenty — existend in the sixties when the population was smaller. The book “Food First” was an eye opener: food being exported to Me First World supermarkets from starving You Last countries; sometimes the same boat which arrived with UN Humanitarian Aid rations left with more stock for the supermarket shelves of the Affluent Society. Our fallen world has been over populated ever since Cain killed Abel for stepping over the fence around Cain’s little field.

      “There ain’t room for the both of us in this here town. Git!”

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      You see, savoury-how can I complain when you make sense rather than peddle pernicious denialist prattle.

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    • rilme says

      Let’s cherry-pick some different data from your link. We change “China” to “Sub-Saharan Africa” and find a 4.5-children-per-woman population explosion.

      https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.DYN.TFRT.IN?locations=ZF

      You mention Japan. The fertility rate has been near or below replacement level since 1965, yet Japan’s population continued to increase until it broke all records in 2010 with 128,000,000 people.

      I’m saying there is a time-lag. World population is definitely increasing.

      • Yes, sub-Saharan Africa has a higher population rate than China, which is a huge percentage of the world’s population but with only 1.6, which, considering the size, is a considerable decrease. Yet, how are the GM manufactured foods going to make money in Sub-Sahara regions, when there is no money there in the first place? I just can’t see those regions as a big market for GM food supplies. The GM companies are using the excuse that we need these technologies because of the ‘huge rise of the population’, sort of Paul Ehlich nonsense from my university years (now you know how old I am!) and his book, ‘The Population Bomb’ which has turned out to be completely, 100%, inaccurate, totally wrong, and yet this Stanford professor still, unbelievably, gives lectures trotting out the same nonsense!

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        • rilme says

          OK, savorywill, you want to focus on China’s “considerable decrease” in population. You are wrong. Admit it.

          Population of China 2016: about 1,360,512,430.

          Population of China (2018): about 1,386,949,790

          Births this year: 35,375,649
          Deaths this year 21,967,137

          https://www.livepopulation.com/country/china.html

          • Well, I may be misunderstanding the data from the site I posted here, that the birth rate in China is 1.6. I am no expert but if China had conintued with the one child policy, then the birth rate would have been 1, right? One new person for every two existing people. When you quote births and death in one year, that doesn’t pertain to this figure, I would guess, as this rate is pertaining to the long term affect on what the population will be like in the future.

      • Jen says

        Rilme is correct. The overall world population is still increasing.

        What you mean to say is that in China now, and also across the Muslim world (particularly in Iran), is that the rate of population growth in these areas is slowing down to the point where population increase is not keeping up with population decrease. This means that in years to come, the population in these areas (but not in Africa just yet, because fertility rates in that continent have not yet descended to replacement level) will start to age, and in China will start to age quite rapidly (probably starting in the year 2030). Once that begins, then the population will start to decrease.

        The time-lag is an important factor to consider if you are a decision-maker in a government and are in charge of planning infrastructure in certain regions, such as schools and hospitals. At what point in the future would you plan to stop building x number of schools and instead drop down to building y number of schools?

        • Nevertheless, Jen, the “increasing world populations” as a yardstick for policy decisions appeals mostly to (not you I’m sure) the Adam Smith economic modellers of the world but fails for the following reasons as it pertains to food production and GMO’s.

          1: The problem isn’t really food production, it’s food distribution since we can produce more than required for future let alone current populations.
          2: Most cash crops (Corn, Soy, Canola) are intended for animal feed, so GMO’s intended purpose to maximise yields are profit based decisions, not, for benefiting humanity.
          3: Similarly, governments everywhere want to build less not more schools and hospitals and so the decision making process leads to methods of reducing populations, not increasing them, which is where the Adam Smithian decision-makers who control this sorry planet introduce ways to curb fertility (chemical sterilizations, war, vaccinations, making abortion easier, environmental degradation etc).

  8. I am no expert but…

    Bt Cotton in India resulted in over 290,000 suicides of poor farmers due to high cost of seed and chemicals and far more water. When India tried to revert back to traditional seed it was all contaminated by Bt.

    Five minutes on Google, you learn that there is no vitamin A deficiency in rice only in the dehusked version kept in long term storage. Once Golden rice is introduced you are finished.

    GM wheat was tested in France. Their Ministry of Health wanted the raw data and had to go to the high court to obtain it and yes there was problem with the gut and the liver and the kidneys but as an after thought they mentioned a 42% increase in body fat of the lab rats. This maybe fine for fattening animals but not so good for humans.

    Why is only 10% of corn production going into feeding humans?

    South Africa is going to end up like Argentina when the 15,000 Boer farmers go to Russia, the land will be taken over by the corporations.

    One could go on.

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    • rilme says

      I’d like to go on a little bit. If we the poor children could just eat half a carrot a day, they wouldn’t need their rice to contain Vitamin A. It’s not a let-them-eat-cake argument: carrots are a basic human right.

      • vexarb says

        @Rilme: “carrots are a basic human right!”

        That’s right, Doc! Now you’re talking.

    • @Schlueter. Your link is mainly to the US Firsters PNAC which is itself is mainly run by Israel Firsters. But the sort of thinking which you call Fascist — using other people as tools or raw material for the benefit of your own group — goes back much further than the Kissinger Report of 1974. It is the same biological urge that makes a male lion kill the cubs of his new lioness’s previous mate.

      “And when ye triumph in battle ye shall kill all the males, even the babes; but the females ye mayst take wherewith to breed slaves, and ye shall be answerable for the behaviour of the slaves as ye are responsible for trespass by thine cattle.” — Old Testament

  9. Trade wars: Tump announced EU will import more GMO Soy, In 2014, Russia banned the importation of biotech crops, the Amazon rain forest is being burned down to plant more Monsanto crops and Chinese consumers revolted against GMO Soy; China also delays safety certificates on shipments imported as pig feed https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-soybeans-gmo/tougher-approval-process-for-soybean-imports-could-hit-chinese-demand-sources-idUSKBN1D91EG

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      GE crops are just a capitalist business, like tobacco, fossil fuels, asbestos, Agrichemicals in general, junk food etc. In other words ALL THAT COUNTS is profit and neoplastic growth, and if millions or billions are killed or sickened by the process, who the eff cares?. The business genocidists are very happy to pay for armies of propaganda liars, scientific fakers, corrupt politicians etc to get their way. One of the very worst, in my opinion at least, Mark Lynas, was here in Austfailure lately, feted by Rightwing media and politicians, and spreading lies about GE and viciously abusing organic agriculture, as is his employ these days-but he is a graduate of the Fraudian sewer after all.

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  10. p ol says

    We make plenty of food, it just ends up in animals to be turned mostly into poop. #VeganLyfe

  11. grafter says

    To let American based lunatics such as Monsanto anywhere near our food chain with their glowing reports about the efficacy of this GM abomination is sheer madness. Their corporate executives along with their greedy investors and prostitute science lobbyists need locked up and fed on their toxic food until their eyes turn green. Yet again in the above we have the phrase “US interests”. This is also the term used to justify their other great export, namely weapons of death which fill their shareholder’s pockets with more money and destroy yet more life on the planet we live on. As consumers we must oppose such vicious corporate greed at every opportunity.

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  12. vexarb says

    The author does a good job of exposing the Fraudulent Philanthropy of GMO Capitalism; and of the “power structures” which GMO Capitalism creates to maintain inequality of income and consumption.

    “The rich willdo anything for th. poor except get off their backs”. — Tolstoy

    As a scientist I am neither for nor against GMO. It is a bit of science that is bound to become a pervasive tool, like the electron.

    “Here’s to the Electron: may it never be of use to anyone!” — JJ Thomson, 1897.

  13. Corporate investment in and capture of emerging technology operates a global power base and not merely a business. So bear that in mind OG.
    Food, medicine and science are effectively captured and used as weapons of war and market (mind) capture, in subjection to being managed by illusions maintained by power. Its all about ‘control’ but for what end!
    Of course many still have awareness of choice in respects but this war on humanity (by some of our own) targets the basis of such a function and is intent on engineering out any genuine dissent.
    I think much of politics works a sideshow while the power grab goes unnoticed. Politicians have to run the narrative or front end the back room fiscal and legal instruments and leverages.

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