The Stomach-Churning Violence of the Agrochemical Oligopoly

Colin Todhunter

Image source here.

As humans, we have evolved with the natural environment over millennia. We have learned what to eat and what not to eat, what to grow and how to grow it and our diets have developed accordingly. We have hunted, gathered, planted and harvested. Our overall survival as a species has been based on gradual, emerging relationships with the seasons, insects, soil, animals, trees and seeds. And out of these relationships, we have seen the development of communities whose rituals and bonds have a deep connection with food production and the natural environment.

However, over the last couple generations, agriculture and food production has changed more than it had done over previous millennia. These changes have involved massive social upheaval as communities and traditions have been uprooted and have entailed modifying what we eat, how we grow our food and what we apply to it. All of this has been driven by geopolitical concerns and powerful commercial interests with their proprietary chemicals and patented seeds. The process of neoliberal globalisation is accelerating the process as farmers are encouraged to produce for global supply chains dominated by transnational agribusiness.

Certain crops are now genetically engineered, the range of crops we grow has become less diverse, synthetic biocides have been poured on crops and soil and our bodies have been subjected to a chemical bombardment. We have arrived at a point where we have lost touch with our deep-rooted microbiological and social connection with nature and have developed an arrogance that has placed ‘man’ above the environment and all other species. One of the consequences is that we have paid an enormous price in terms of the consequent social, environmental and health-related devastation.

Despite the promise and potential of science, it has too often in modern society become a tool of vested interests, an ideology wrapped in the vestiges of authority and the ‘superstition’ that its corporate-appointed priesthood should not be challenged nor questioned. Instead of liberating humankind, it has now too often become a tool of deception in the hands of agribusiness conglomerates which make up the oligopoly that controls what is an increasingly globalised system of modern food and agriculture.

These corporations have successfully instituted the notion that the mass application of biocides, monocropping and industrial agriculture are necessary and desirable. They are not. However, these companies have used their science and propaganda to project certainty in order to hide the fact that they have no real idea what their products and practices are doing to human health or the environment (and in cases when they do know, they do their best to cover it up or hide behind the notion of ‘commercial confidentiality’).

Based on their limited, tainted studies and co-opted version of science, they say with certainty that, for example, genetically engineered food and glyphosate are ‘safe’. And when inconvenient truths do emerge, they will mobilise their massive lobbying resources to evade regulations, they will seek to hide the dangers of their products or they will set out to destroy scientists whose findings challenge their commercial bottom line.

Soil microbiologists are still trying to fully comprehend soil microbes and how they function as anintegrated network in relation to plants. The agrochemical sector has little idea of how their biocides have affected soils. It merely churns out public relations spin that their inputs are harmless for soil, plants and human health. Such claims are not based on proper, in-depth, long-term studies. They are based on a don’t look, don’t find approach or a manipulation of standards and procedures that ensure their products make it on to the commercial market and stay there.

And what are these biocides doing to us as humans? Numerous studies have linked the increase in pesticide us with spiralling rates of ill health. Kat Carrol of the National Health Federation is concerned about the impacts on human gut bacteria that play a big role in how organs function and our neurological health. The gut microbiome can contain up to six pounds of bacteria and is what Carroll calls ‘human soil’. She says that with their agrochemicals and food additives, powerful companies are attacking this ‘soil’ and with it the sanctity of the human body.

And her concerns seem valid. Many important neurotransmitters are located in the gut. Aside from affecting the functioning of major organs, these transmitters affect our moods and thinking. Feed gut bacteria a cocktail of biocides and is it any surprise that many diseases are increasing?

For instance, findings published in the journal ‘Translational Psychiatry’ provide strong evidence that gut bacteria can have a direct physical impact on the brain. Alterations in the composition of the gut microbiome have been implicated in a wide range of neurological and psychiatric conditions, including autism, chronic pain, depression, and Parkinson’s Disease.

Environmental campaigner Dr Rosemary Mason has written extensively on the impacts of agrochemicals (especially glyphosate) on humans, not least during child and adolescent development. In her numerous documents and papers, she cites a plethora of data and studies that link the use of agrochemicals with various diseases and ailments. She has also noted the impact of these chemicals on the human gut microbiome.

The science writer Mo Costandi discusses the importance of gut bacteria and their balance. In adolescence the brain undergoes a protracted period of heightened neural plasticity, during which large numbers of synapses are eliminated in the prefrontal cortex and a wave of ‘myelination’ sweeps across this part of the brain. These processes refine the circuitry in the prefrontal cortex and increase its connectivity to other brain regions. Myelination is also critical for normal, everyday functioning of the brain. Myelin increases a nerve fibre’s conduction velocity by up to a hundred times, and so when it breaks down, the consequences can be devastating.

Other recent work shows that gut microbes control the maturation and function of microglia, the immune cells that eliminate unwanted synapses in the brain; age-related changes to gut microbe composition might regulate myelination and synaptic pruning in adolescence and could, therefore, contribute to cognitive development. Upset those changes, and, As Mason argues, there are going to be serious implications for children and adolescents. Mason places glyphosate at the core of the ailments and disorders currently affecting young people in Wales and the UK in general.

Yet we are still being subjected to an unregulated cocktail of agrochemicals which end up interacting with each other in the gut. Regulatory agencies and governments appear to work hand in glove with the agrochemical sector.

Carol Van Strum has released documents indicating collusion between the manufacturers of dangerous chemicals and regulatory bodies. Evaggelos Vallianatos has highlighted the massive fraud surrounding the regulation of biocides and the wide scale corruption at laboratories that were supposed to test these chemicals for safety. Many of these substances were not subjected to what was deemed proper testing in the first place yet they remain on the market. The late Shiv Chopra also highlighted how various dangerous products were allowed on the commercial market and into the food chain due to collusion between these companies and public officials.

Powerful transnational corporations are using humanity as their collective guinea pig. But those who question them, or their corporate science, are automatically labelled anti-science and accused of committing crimes against humanity because they are preventing their products from being commercialised ‘to help the poor or hungry’. Such attacks on critics by company mouthpieces who masquerade as public officials, independent scientists or independent journalists are mere spin. They are, moreover, based on the sheer hypocrisy that these companies (owned and controlled by elite interests) have humanity’s and the environment’s best interests at heart.

Many of these companies have historically profited from violence. Unfortunately, that character of persists. They directly profit on the back of militarism, whether as a result of the US-backed ‘regime change’ in Ukraine or the US invasion of Iraq. They also believe they can cajole (poison) nature by means of chemicals and bully governments and attack critics, while rolling out propaganda campaigns for public consumption.

Whether it involves neocolonialism and the destruction of indigenous practices and cultures under the guise of ‘development’, the impoverishment of farmers in India, the twisting and writing of national and international laws, the destruction of rural communities, the globalisation of bad food and illness, the deleterious impacts on health and soil, the hollowing out of public institutions and the range of human rights abuses we saw documented during The Monsanto Tribunal, what we are witnessing is structural violence in many forms.

Pesticides are in fact “a global human rights concern” and are in no way vital to ensuring food security. Ultimately, what we see is ignorance, arrogance and corruption masquerading as certainty and science.

…when we wound the planet grievously by excavating its treasures – the gold, mineral and oil, destroy its ability to breathe by converting forests into urban wastelands, poison its waters with toxic wastes and exterminate other living organisms – we are in fact doing all this to our own bodies… all other species are to be enslaved or driven to extinction if need be in the interests of human ‘progress’… we are part of the same web of life –where every difference we construct artificially between ‘them’ and ‘us’ adds only one more brick to the tombstone of humankind itself.”
from Micobes of the World Unite! by Satya Sager


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Jan 14, 2019 1:09 PM

Robert Sherriff Author of NOBODY’S HOME
This is about sexual abuse of a 7-year-old boy by employees employed by the South Australia Government 1961 (true story) This is about Horror Terror and Murder
Please read this. Don’t run away. This book it is about (“Domestic abuse”) and (‘Sexual Abuse”) Most people don’t want to talk about it? You say taboo you say “NO” too hard subject.
https://www.fishpond.com.au/Books/Nobodys-Home-Robert-Sherriff/9781912639335 … AUST
UK-eBook – https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B07G9M4BQY/
USA-Paperback – http://www.amazon.com.au/dp/1912639270/

Jan 14, 2019 9:32 AM

I feel fearful of the eventual assimilation of synthetic nutrients that will feed these engineered bacteria that replace our natural boita, we can’t survive without this synthetic nutrient and are dependent on who synthesizes it, no running away from this one!

Thomas Prentice
Thomas Prentice
Jan 10, 2019 4:19 AM

Superb essay with excellent links. But I wish Colin would use the terms “capitalism” or “neoliberal capitalism” or “globalized, neoliberal financialized capitalism” more often… Focus. The system is the problem.

Jan 10, 2019 1:28 AM

Why this constant emphasis on India only in these GMO articles here on Off Guardian? Never China, Pakistan, US, Brazil etc. Wasn’t the US GMO HQ?

Jan 10, 2019 9:51 AM
Reply to  Antonym

‘GMO is a Hindi word, from the Proto-Indo-European OMG. You do have a very extensive set of unresolved, disingenuous* opinions, don’t you? (* “dis”+”ingenuous”, from the Proto-Indo-European “n0ÿz€”, “confusion”).

Jan 13, 2019 2:24 AM
Reply to  Robbobbobin

From the fact that you offer no proof that I am wrong others can conclude that I am right: thanks for confirming.

Jan 13, 2019 4:43 AM
Reply to  Antonym

“From the fact that you offer no proof that I am wrong (re paraphrase any random antonym here)”

I stand corrected. Except variations on that one. Thanks for pointing it out. So: care–able– to gainsay Toddhunter’s piece directly, sans diversions into OG editorial habits, or whatever, or whatever-else?

Jan 9, 2019 4:18 PM

I suppose it isn’t so complicated really:

1. A huge business, having used every loophole in the book to get into an all-controlling position in the market, makes a decision.
2. Our governments are obliged to comply. That’s it.

Just look at today’s Brexit news in the Graun, for example:
“Businesses to demand emergency measures if MPs reject Brexit deal”

Yes, demand.

Gigi Woodman
Gigi Woodman
Jan 9, 2019 8:47 PM
Reply to  wardropper

I would add that governments are equslly responsible in that ,for instance us gov. has been complicit in this,allowing and helping to change/make laws ,regulations, creating “loopholes” to support these companies. Mansanto being a very coddled group. Corruption and greed are the head of all of this. There is not in my opinion so much helplessness /or obligation on anypart as much as there is collusion.

Jan 9, 2019 3:41 PM

The Agrochemical Oligopoly also owns Big Pharma. They are one and the same.

The mission of spreading Agrochemicals far and wide is A) to reduce or remove people’s dependence on nature and then B) to make people sick.

Following that, Big Pharma is there ready to collect and receive a steady stream of immense profits from [Agrochemicals] victims. Victims who are by then distracted by long term health conditions and become easier to be controlled and pushed around.

Weird additives are added in processed food for the same purpose. Processed food is usually cheap. Cheap, that is until people get sick and start medicating and paying Bid Pharma; usually paying for medicines for the rest of their life.

Jan 9, 2019 1:22 PM

Glad to see vector of unconsciousness and destruction being illuminated this on OG.
The nature of the Beast is deeper than what we usually mean by political.
My preferred politics is Good Housekeeping – but as a living home.

The destructive at some point alerts us to the nature of what is going on – but can be hidden. So toxicity can be hidden or mistaken for infection because the infection is an immune-response of attempt to clear the toxicity. But toxicity identifies a cause that can be stopped, avoided and adequately protected from or proportionately related to, but infectious ’causes’ , (which can generate their own endotoxin issues btw), are mysterious enemies against which a whole industrial response can be triggered, funded and sustained and mandated so as to be given overriding priority over any other rights or freedoms.

The medical vector is thus directly linked to defence and control in a way and at a level that seems politically neutral – apart from the way it is funded and organised – and scientifically validated or trustworthy and factual.

I think it can be seen now that the corporate distortion on science is effectively capture – as it is with politics, or Media, or education. But it isn’t corporations as such – for the combining of resource into a larger body can be a cooperative endeavour. Rather that the influence of concentrations of revenue streams or cartels and monopolies is such as to distort and corrupt law and regulation and entrap into contractual obligations for the self-survival of the corporate sector in general – (which can act as a canopy denying life to much that is then blocked) – but more insidiously of the personal networks of power that align in self-interest of both greed and fear of loss.

Greed is a lack driven state that can never be fulfilled. As such it is more an addictive possession – or rather dispossession of a true relational appreciation.
Fear of loss is also fear of loss of face, of social standing, and social privileges or acceptance as well as loss of LIFE as perceived, believed or adapted to be.

Hating the greed or fear-driven disintegrity in others is similar to the pathogen idea – except that the body-politic operates the infection-reaction – or would if its ability to function were not so compromised. But we can also die from our defences. The rising tide of auto-immune disease or ‘self-allergic attack” suggests either a self-hatred or a misidentification in hatred.
I feel that the willingness to heal passes through the former to recognize the latter.

For instance uncovering the nature of our deceits – (and I say ours because at some level we have to buy into them or set ourselves up to be taken for a ride) – is ‘stomach churning’ or sickening – and the recoil urge is extreme. Hence most simply don’t want to look or know – because the shock of such dispiriting is itself a vector of ‘dis-ease’ in the unprepared or unready. There are places within us that we hate, fear or feel deep guilt in, such that ‘survival’ is the need to mask over them and make what life we can with what we CAN accept.

Cultural activity is a sharing of value or worth – but social masking in forms that pass off as worthy, mask out and hide what we are personally and collectively unready or unwilling to look on and know or own in our thought, and feeling experience. How much of ‘power struggle’ is actually the attempt to redistribute blame and the charge of penalty by means of masking in feigned ignorance that becomes a mask believed, or feigned knowledge or expertise that likewise possesses its maker?

Our first milk – as mammals is not baby food – but food for the gut biota of the newborn.
The idea of independence is in a sense supported by ‘The Mother’ from which we are born and by which we are sustained – excepting ‘The Mother’ in terms of Earth Life – is that from which life unfolds, embodies and remains one with or part of – even while engaged in such far-out interactions as the human consciousness.

Biota are elemental life embodiment through which Life Happens or unfolds as structure of relational expression, reflection, interaction and shared experience. They are much smaller than cells – and cannot be separated from the energetic nature of atomic and molecular patterning. The patterning is energetic information that cannot be directly interpreted into our concept-mind or persona-structure. Life is already Communication – and the fear of non-existence, death or anti-life is predicated in our seemingly split and separated minds.

This manifests as a define, predict and control mentality that is triggered in different people in different ways under different conditions. Often without the fear coming into direct awareness, but operating subliminally or even from altogether unconscious denials that can only be seen in ‘others’ and attacked there.

The nature of ‘our’ biota is service to life, and the pleomorphic nature of their expression is the bodies means to hold the conditions for life in the body under all kinds of environmental conditions – including the psychic-emotional consciousness of the personality construct – because it is integral to the embodiment regardless our capacity to exclusively fixate in our own image and lose communication with our higher or embracing guidance and support system – and therefore armour up and weaponize in self-protective contraction, so as to manually take on a task which we are neither designed for or capable of.

The redirection of an organism’s mind and behaviour by an indwelling parasite is documented and observable. We generally hate and fear the idea of ‘possession’. But is this OUR thinking or the distortions of an already state of dispossession of our true nature by a false thinking?

Fear distorts in self-protective associations until and unless owned, revisited and revisioned.
Fear possessed thinking is most defended against such exposure because it would be UNDONE – and while we identify in ongoing support and allegiance to such thinking by reacting AS IF it is undeniably and unquestionable true, it is because we want something that it gives us enough to protect against the threat of pain of loss.
This is where the willingness to pause reaction if only an instant, opens the possibility of a point of reference within You upon that which you took to BE you. The integration and alignment with moments of seeing or knowing can be immediate or through the course of a lifetime, but the key is no so much changing the world as changing our mind about our mind – and therefore about our world – as a basis for relationship and communication in life rather than confusion in forms of manipulative evasions and shifting alliances to maintain them.

Using symptom as the revealer of cause so as to correct at the level of cause is altogether different from assigning (false flagging) causation to symptoms as diversionary tactic by which to keep the cause hidden and protected from threat.
But what I wrote here invites a consideration of us already being ‘phished’ by a false cause or mistaken identity, that is reinforced and consolidated by reaction. But NOT to set up a fear condition into which to posit some saviour or crusade – but as a perspective on fear from a desire to know or be at peace in the true of your being – with all that is – rather than set against it.

Fear mounting on fear runs ‘out of control’ – but the true nature of control is an equilibrium within what is actually here and moving, not the coercive imposition of ordering upon the living. In this sense health extends from us as the nature of wholeness of being if we do nothing to block the communication of Life. So noticing where we experience ‘block’ is part of uncovering a willingness that Life uses to shift or realign perception – which is very similar in principle to a reintegrating of our body-mind and emotion to the Life that lives us. But not as an ‘other’ so much as the more of who you are the unfolding and sharing of.

There is an art technique that puts down a layer of colours and then covers with black crayon that can then be scraped or removed to reveal what was hidden in unique ways. It is our current human experience to live the experience of who or what we are NOT – as if we are – and suffer it as real. To steal a kingdom and crown such a self ‘king’, is to become subject to the ‘rules’ or beliefs and definitions that set it and keep it in powerlessness trying to become powerful.

What if we are already alive?
But as Life Itself – rather than as masking over of self-judgements and self-evasions?
What if a recognition and acceptance of the former is the undoing of the stomach churning sickness (dissonance) of the latter?

As I child we used to sometimes say in situations of conflicted discord – ‘I hate your guts!’. Is this an easy example of the projection of our conflict to the one we then un-person or attack or wall out and invalidate?

Could Jordan Peterson’s first base (tidy your room) be extended to heal you gut?
Putting our own house in order is good housekeeping – but it may not be ‘tidy’ so much as an expression of home that truly homes us.

The development of human consciousness has been a progressive un-homing under the carrot and stick of fear based need for survival under threats that include struggle for resources amidst scarcity, and then the artificial inducement of scarcity, limitation or inadequacy as the conditions to gain ‘power’ from. We are our own worst enemy in ignorance and arrogance, but our own best friend in honesty of embrace.

The underlying energetic conditions determine the specific event or symptomology, NOT the ‘pathogen’. The silencing of the canary in the mind is the lack of liveable thought – not the way to protect the power to persist under (hidden) toxic conditions.

We wont actually ‘kill’ our Planet – but we are erasing our own consciousness in a reenactment of ancient Separation trauma. It isn’t humans that are like a ‘pathogenic virus’, but human thinking, accepted, exchanged and be-lived as real. So much so, as to destroy ourselves rather than be wrong about ourselves. That’s how ‘precious’ our thinking is as a sense of self-possession and how deeply defended against exposure, re-evaluation and renewal.

But as a prior right of true possession is the re-cognition and acceptance of truth, the undoing of a misidentification and not an attack from a polarised oppositional mirrored reaction.

‘Truth’ as a lofty concept can be used for war and plunder, but self-honesty is simple, direct and current – and we we notice a disintegrity in ourselves – that is an opportunity of awareness to own and evaluate our thought, feeling and behaviour that is lost to the manipulative imposition of guilt, fear and hiding. The integrity of being is innate to being whether we align in our being or dissociate in guilted and fearful dissociation. It’s never too late to make this appointment – excepting to the thinking that is predicated on delaying the Inevitable. To the war-minded, peace is loss of self or death. But peace always accompanies aligning in integrity – regardless the storm of symptoms. We feel it in our gut – as an owning of life that is not open to that which undermines life. What else would waking up be than the true through you – because everything else is ‘swept from the temple restored?’. Cleaning the Augean stables was unblocking a flow – not a ‘War on Shit’.

Jan 9, 2019 10:58 AM

One of the best articles on this subject i have ever read – comprehensive and to the point. Excellent!

That's yet!
That's yet!
Jan 9, 2019 3:58 PM
Reply to  Eva

Indeed, a stellar piece of writing from Colin Todhunter!

Time well spent reading the article and digesting decent links like this one:

“Monsanto-GMO Propaganda. “Softening-up” the British Public in Favour of GM Food”:

Gezzah Potts
Gezzah Potts
Jan 10, 2019 10:45 AM
Reply to  Eva

Binra: thanks for your indepth comment, appreciated. Regards “greed is a lack driven state that can never be fulfilled”…. Reminds me of the Buddhist concept ‘Hungry Ghosts’ – always grasping for more and more, and at the end of the day, that’s what all this boils down too: $$$$$. Capitalism’s raison d’etre is profit or perish, regardless of the immense damage being done to us, and this Planet.

Michael Cromer
Michael Cromer
Jan 9, 2019 8:23 AM

Bacteriophages have existed in our oceans and soil since time began and act rather like the dandelion leaf growing in close proximity to the nettle plant. – If it’s not broke – don’t fix it.

Jan 10, 2019 11:09 AM
Reply to  Michael Cromer


Exactly. But just to be pedantic I think you meant dock leaf rather than dandelion. As a child of the 60s, visiting my grandmother who lived in rural Ireland and had a very ‘natural’ garden, I recall learning quickly out of necessity about the dock leaf remedy!