This image is symbolic of everything that is wrong with modern society.
A gas leak from Union Carbide’s pesticide plant in Bhopal in 1984 resulted in around 560,000 injured (respiratory problems, eye irritation, etc.), 4,000 severely disabled and 20,000 dead.
Not only that, but the pesticides produced at the factory and the model of farming promoted has caused well-documented misery for farmers, harm to soil, water sources and the health of the population and a radical transformation of social relations in rural communities. And these issues apply not only to India but also to other countries.
That old advertising brochure dating from around the early 1960s encapsulates the arrogance of billionaires and their companies that think they are the hand of God, that they are the truth and the science, and that we should all be in awe of the technology they produce.
Facilitated by the likes of the Rockefeller Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, they uproot highly productive traditional agriculture, saying it is deficient. They poison the soil, the food, the waterways and people. But that’s not enough. They pirate, own and genetically engineer the seeds. The chemicals and engineering do not result in more or better food. Quite the opposite. Diets have become narrower, and the nutritional content of many food items has progressively diminished (see McCance and Widdowson’s the Mineral Depletion of Foods). Moreover, food secure regions have become food insecure.
But it goes beyond this.
Consider the amount of killer-chemicals that the likes of Union Carbide’s promised techno-utopian consumer society (Union Carbide produced numerous other similar brochures to the one presented above, promoting the role of science and technology across all sectors) has gifted to humanity in everyday products from shampoos to toys, pans, packaging, sofas and tins.
It is notable that glyphosate, the world’s most used agricultural herbicide, began life as an industrial chelator of minerals in metal pipes to prevent blockages and deterioration. It now ensures mineral depletion/nutrient deficiencies in the human body. Glyphosate affects human soil – the gut microbiome – which directly feeds the major organs. Little wonder we witness a proliferation of illness and disease.
But forget about what has become modernism’s spiralling public health crisis – don’t forget to take that money-spinning experimental booster jab because, remember, they said that they really care about you and your health.
Meanwhile, bioscience parks across the world expand and promise an even more marvellous techno-dystopia than the one already created. They are working on injecting you with nanotechnology to ‘cure’ you of all the diseases that the modernist type of thinking, products and technology created in the first place – or on manipulating your DNA-physiology to hook you up to the internet (of things). The patents are there – this is not speculation.
And as these bioscience parks expand, their success is measured in annual turnover, profits and ‘growth’. They want more and more ‘talent’ to study life sciences and health subjects and to take up positions at the biotech companies. And they call for more public subsidies to facilitate this. More kids to study science so that they can be swept up into the ideology and practices of the self-sustaining paradigm of modern society.
Of course, ‘sustainability’ is the mantra. Sustainability in terms of fake-green, net-zero ideology but, more importantly, sustainable growth and profit.
Meanwhile, across the world, most notably in the Netherlands, these parks demand more land. More land for expansion and more land to house ‘global talent’ to be attracted to work. That means displacing farmers under the notion that they are the major emitters of ‘greenhouse gases’, which, in the Netherlands at least, they are clearly not. Look towards other sectors or even the US military if you require a prime example of a major polluter. But that’s not up for discussion, not least because military-related firms are often intertwined with the much-valued bioscience-business ‘ecosystems’ promoted.
And once the farmers have gone and the farmland is concreted over under the concept (in the Netherlands) of a Tristate City, do not worry – your ‘food’ will be created in a lab courtesy of biosynthetic, nanotechnological, biopharmaceutical, genetically engineered microbes and formulas created at the local bioscience park.
Any carbon-related pollution created by these labs will supposedly be ‘offset’ by a fraudulent carbon credit trading Ponzi scheme – part of which will mean buying up acres in some poor country to plant trees on the land of the newly dispossessed.
This brave new ecomodernism is to be overseen by supranational bodies like the UN and the WHO. National uniparty politicians will not be engaged in policy formation. They will be upholders of the elite-determined status quo – junior ‘stakeholders’ and technocratic overseers of an algorithm/AI-run system, ensuring any necessary tweaks are made.
Of course, not everything that happens under the banner of bioscience should be dismissed out of hand, but science is increasingly the preserve of an increasingly integrated global elite who have created the problems that they now rollout the ‘solutions’ for. It is a highly profitable growth industry – under the banner of ‘innovation’, cleaning up the mess you created.
But the disturbing trend is that the ‘science’ and the technology shall not be questioned. A wealthy financial-digital-corporate elite funds this science, determines what should be studied, how it should be studied and how the findings are disseminated and how the technology produced is to be used.
As we saw with the COVID event, this elite has the power to shut down genuine debate, prevent scrutiny of ‘the science’ and to smear and censor world-renowned scientists and others who even questioned the narrative. And it also pulls the strings of nation states so much so that former New Zealand PM Jacinda Arden said that her government is ‘the truth’. The marriage of science and politics in an Orwellian dystopia.
The prevailing thinking is that the problems of illness, hunger, malnutrition, unemployment, pollution, resource usage and so on are all to be solved down at the bioscience park by what farmer/author Chris Smaje says through technical innovation and further integration into private markets which are structured systematically by centralised power in favour of the wealthy.
The ecomodernist ideology we see embedded within the mindsets of those lobbying for more resources, land and funding have nothing much to say about how humanity got ill, infertile, poor, dispossessed, colonised, depressed, unemployed or marginalised in the first place. Driven by public funding, career progression and profit, they remain blinkered and push ahead with an ideology whose ‘solutions’ only produce more problems that call for more ‘innovation’ and more money.
At the same time, any genuine solutions are too often dismissed as being driven by ideology and ignorance that will lead us all to ruin. A classic case of projection.
As I have written previously, current hegemonic policies prioritise urbanisation, global markets, long supply chains, commodified corporate knowledge, highly processed food and market dependency at the expense of rural communities, independent enterprises and smallholder farms, local markets, short supply chains, indigenous knowledge, diverse agroecological cropping, nutrient-dense diets and food sovereignty.
And this has led us to where we are now.
Trade and agriculture policy specialist Devinder Sharma once said that we need family farms not family doctors. Imagine the reduction in illnesses and all manner of conditions. Imagine thriving local communities centred on smallholder production, nutrient-dense food and healthy people. Instead, we get sprawling bioscience parks centred on economic globalisation, sickness and the manipulation of food and human bodies.
Although a few thousand immensely powerful people are hellbent on marching humanity towards a dystopian ecomodernist future, we can, in finishing, take some inspiration from the words of John Seymour (1912-2004), a pioneer of the self-sufficiency movement.
Seymour was described as a one-man rebellion against modernism by writer and ecologist Herbert Girardet. But as a farmer himself, Seymour regarded himself a ‘crank peasant’ and offered solutions in terms of localism, small-scale economics, a return to the land and organic agriculture.
In a call to action, he stated:
The tiny amount you and I can do is hardly likely to bring the huge worldwide moloch of plundering industry down? Well, if you and I don’t do it, it will not be done, and the Age of Plunder will terminate in the Age of Chaos. We have to do it – just the two of us – just you and me. There is no ‘them’ – there is nobody else. Just you and me. On our infirm shoulders we must take up this heavy burden now… Tomorrow will be too late.”
Colin Todhunter specialises in development, food and agriculture and is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization in Montreal. You can read his “mini e-book”, Food, Dependency and Dispossession: Cultivating Resistance, here.
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