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An Environmental and Public Health Disaster Awaits if USDA Gives Organic Label to Hydroponics

Whether food production entails acres of mono-crops, livestock shuttled through assembly lines or orderly tracks of plastic pipelines in factory-scale hydroponics spaces, streamlined production...

In Organic Farming, Rules are Not Made to be Broken

Photo by ilovebutter | CC by 2.0 The first day our milk was sold as certified organic, in 1999, we thought we had it made....

Corporate Power Reality Check: Organic vs Industrial Chemical-Dependent Agriculture – Philosophies and Practices

What follows is a summary of this article, 'A System of Food Production for Human Need, Not Corporate Greed', and is a preamble to...

Global Agribusiness, Dependency and the Marginalisation of Self-Sufficiency, Organic Farming and Agroecology

Is organic-based farming merely a niche model of agriculture that is not capable of feeding the global population? Or does it have a major role...

Always buy local and organic: 75 percent of high-profile honey brands contain NO honey!

Honey, often referred to as "liquid gold," houses a wide range of vitamins and minerals. It is a natural and healthier alternative to sugar...

Organic Agriculture, Capitalism and the Parallel World of the Pro-GMO Evangelist

Consider that India had for generations sustained one of the highest densities of population on earth, without any chemical fertilisers, pesticides, exotic dwarf strains...

Organic Farmers Score New Victory in ‘David and Goliath’ GMO Fight

Jackson County, Oregon wins new protections against cultivation of genetically engineered crops by Nadia Prupis Organic farmers are racking up new victories in the fight against 'franken-food',...

Monsanto secretly gave legal defense money to GMO farmer who contaminated neighbor’s organic farm

Global biotech and agricultural giant Monsanto lent financial support to a West Australian farmer who was being sued by a neighbor over alleged cross-contamination...

Organic Under Attack: Report Exposes Big Food’s Tobacco-Style PR Blitz

Food and chemical companies are spending hundreds of millions to spread false information about the safety of pesticides, GMOs, and antibiotics in food (Common Dreams)...

Organic Food Activists Take Thanksgiving Fight to Monsanto’s Front Lawn

'What better day than Thanksgiving to remind the world that eating local, organic food is one way to stop this profit-mongering, biodiversity-destroying monopoly,' asks...

‘Organic Ready’ Corn to Replace Monsanto’s GMO Corn, Cross-Pollination

CHRISTINA SARICH Here’s some of the best news all year for non-GMO supporters. Frank Kutka is working to save our heirloom corn from cross-breeding with genetically modified...

Food Forests Could Bring Healthy Organic Food To Everyone — For Free

Food forests or Forest gardening have been around for a long time with many of the native cultures practicing this form of sustainable agriculture....

The Truth About Organic Food & GMO’s

We've all heard about the supposed dangers of genetically modified organisms, or GMO’s, but putting the hysteria to one side, and examining just the...

Organic Farming Supports Greater Species Biodiversity

Research from Oxford University has determined that organic farms support at least 50% more species of pollinators and 34% more species in general.

Dear WIC: Why aren’t organics allowed for poor pregnant women and babies?

Despite rampant evidence that GMOs and pesticides are incredibly harmful, particularly for those the WIC program purports to be "nourishing", in most cases organic choices are strictly not allowed.

Organic Milk Contains Significantly Better Fats

Organic milk is not just about fewer pesticides, hormones and antibiotics. New research confirms that organic milk has significantly more and better fats. Organic milk fats are compared with fish.

Can Organic Bananas Prevent the Demise of the Banana from TR4?

Bananas now face a world-wide devastation from the TR4 fungus Fusarium oxysporum. Can organic cultivation practices provide the solution before its too late?

Organic Pantry Cooking For Less Than $5 a Meal

Let's face it, we're all trying to cut corners here and there to make our monthly budgets work for us, without having to sacrifice nutrition or flavor. Purchasing all organic foods can come with a hefty price tag, if you don't know how to do it.

Why Is Gut-Wrecking Carrageenan in So Many Organic Food Products?

Note from Daisy:  Truthstream’s article has appeared on numerous sites across alternative media and it is on-point to the extent that one particular person has taken issue with it on almost every outlet where it appeared.  Interestingly enough, the woman, named Debbie, happens to work for the world’s largest supplierRead the Rest...

Organic Farmers Pay the Price of GMO Contamination

Organic farmer: 'All the big boys care about is their bottom line. They have to be held accountable if their contaminates my crop!' Lauren...

U.S. Cattle Herd Is At A 61 Year Low And Organic Food Shortages Are...

by Michael Snyder Originally published at The Economic Collapse If the extreme drought in the western half of the country keeps going, the food supply problems that we are experiencing right now are only going to be the tip of the iceberg.  As you will see below, the size ofRead the Rest...

Are Pesticide-Drenched Foods Really as Healthy as Organic? The “Experts” Say So…

by Aaron Dykes and Melissa Melton Originally published at Truthstream Media Pesticides are made to kill things. People who don’t want to eat pesticides often choose organic foods to avoid them. But does that really make sense? … Well yeah, it kind of does. Duh. The public has been repeatedlyRead the Rest...

How Does Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Wind Up in Organic Meat?

by Heather Callaghan Originally published at Natural Blaze There is a dizzying and vicious cycle of the overuse of antibiotics in meat production. Animals make up over three quarters of antibiotic use which has helped create a public health crisis. We are now on third-generation drugs that are not combating theRead the Rest...

Vote for The Organic Prepper

Do you enjoy the information provided from this website? If so, please show your support by visiting this link to vote for The Organic Prepper.  No registration is required, and it’s quick and free. As well, when you visit Top Prepper Sites to vote, you can find many other excellent websitesRead the Rest...

Florida couple forced to uproot their 17-year-old organic garden

After 17 years of managing an organic vegetable garden in their front yard, a Miami Shores, Florida couple was forced to remove it due...

Florida Couple Forced to Dig Up 17-Year Old Organic Garden

Elizabeth RenterPrison Planet.comDecember 19, 2013 When we've lost the right to grow our own food, we've...

Top 10 Surprising Health Uses of Organic Lemons

In this video Stephanie Weeks of Our Wellness Revolution describes the top ten surprising uses of lemons for our personal health and well being....

Coexist with Monsanto or destroy it? Follow the organic money.

Coexist with Monsanto or destroy it? Follow the organic money. By Jon Rappoport October 13, 2013 www.nomorefakenews.com Let’s stop screwing around and go to the heart of the matter. Whether the public campaign against Monsanto takes the form of GMO-labeling or putting millions of people in the street protesting against an evil corporation… Depends on […]

Rebelling Against Massive Use of Pesticides, Brazilians Shift To Organic Foods

SANTA MARIA, Brazil – Every Saturday morning, organic food traders from Santa Maria de Jetibá, a Pomeranian settlement on the mountains of Espírito Santo...

The Future is Local, the Future is Organic

The future is local. The future is organic. Well, at least it could be if we base our food production on an increasing body...

The Future Is Local, The Future Is Organic

Deccan Herald 26/9/2013 and Countercurrents 25/9/2013 and Ki Kisan Awaaz Vol 4, No10, October 2013

The future is local. The future is organic. Well, at least it could be if we base our food production on an increasing body of evidence that indicates the harmful effects of petrochemical, corporate-controlled agriculture.


In June, researchers at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand concluded that the GM strategy used in North American staple crop production is limiting yields and increasing pesticide use compared to non-GM farming in Western Europe. Led by Professor Jack Heinemann, the study’s findings were published in the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability.


The study finds that Europe is decreasing chemical herbicide use and achieving even larger declines in insecticide use without sacrificing yield gains, while chemical herbicide use in the US has increased with GM seed.


In effect, Europe has learned to grow more food per hectare and use fewer chemicals in the process. The US choices in biotechnology are causing it to fall behind Europe in productivity and sustainability. The decrease in annual variation in yield in the US suggests that Europe has a superior combination of seed and crop management technology and is better suited to withstand weather variations. This is important because annual variations cause price speculations that can drive hundreds of millions of people into food poverty.


The report also highlights some grave concerns about the impact of modern agriculture per se in terms of the general move towards depleted genetic diversity and the consequently potential catastrophic risk to staple food crops. Of the nearly 10,000 wheat varieties in use in China in 1949, only 1,000 remained in the 1970s. 

In the US, 95% of the cabbage, 91% of the field maize, 94% of the pea and 81% of the tomato varieties cultivated in the last century have been lost. GMOs and the control of seeds through patents have restricted farmer choice and prevented seed saving. This has exacerbated this problem.


The conclusion is that we need a diversity of practices for growing. We also need systems that are useful, not just profit-making biotechnologies, and which provide a resilient supply to feed the world well.


On the heels the Heinemann team’s research comes a September 2013 report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), which states that farming in rich and poor nations alike should shift from monoculture towards greater varieties of crops, reduced use of fertilisers and other inputs, greater support for small-scale farmers and more locally focused production and consumption of food. More than 60 international experts contributed to the report.


The report, ‘Wake up before it is too late: make agriculture truly sustainable now for food security in a changing climate’, states that monoculture and industrial farming methods are not providing sufficient affordable food where it is needed, while causing mounting and unsustainable environmental damage. The system actually causes food poverty, not addresses it.


Over the past few years, there have been numerous high level reports from the UN and development agencies arguing in favour of small farmers and agro-ecology, but this has not been translated into real action on the ground where peasant farmers increasingly face marginalisation and oppression, as we have seen in India. According to Vandana Shiva, the plundering of Indian agriculture by Big Agra is resulting in a forced removal of farmers from the land and the destruction of traditional communities on a scale of which has not been witnessed anywhere before throughout history.


Elizabeth Mpofu, general coordinator of the organization La Vía Campesina says that long before the release of this new report, small farmers around the world were already convinced that we need a diversified agriculture to guarantee a balanced local food production, the protection of people’s livelihoods and the respect of nature. To achieve this goal, she feels the protection of the huge variety of local seeds and farmers’ rights to use them is paramount. Small farmers are struggling to preserve their indigenous seeds and knowledge of farming systems.


Evidence is mounting that the industrial food system is not only failing to feed the world, but also responsible for some of the planet’s most pressing social and environmental crises. Industrial food system is directly responsible for around half of all global greenhouse gas emissions. We cannot solve the climate crisis without confronting the industrial food system and the corporations behind it.


Pat Mooney of the ETC group adds that the corporate food chain uses about 70-80% of the world’s arable land to produce just 30-40% of the food we eat. In the process, peasant farmers, the real food producers, get thrown off their land and tremendous environmental harm is done. This is clearly not the way to feed the world.


There are lessons here for India, as the biotech sector continues to push its second ‘Green Revolution’ - GMOs. The original Green Revolution in India has been a failure, with Indian farmers in debt, paying high costs for seed and pesticides, committing suicide, and resulting in a depleted water table and a poisoned environment.


Punjab was the ‘Green Revolution’s’ original poster boy, but is fast becoming transformed from a food bowl to a cancer epicentre and now reels under an agrarian crisis marked by discontent, debt, water shortages, contaminated water, diseased soils and pest infested cops.


As the new UN report indicates, what is required is a shift from corporate-controlled agriculture towards more biodiverse, organic systems that place emphasis on local economies and food sovereignty. The answer is to return to basics by encouraging biodiverse, organic, local crop systems, which is more than capable of feeding the world – and, unlike chemical intensive agriculture – feeding it healthily.

Prenatal exposure to persistent organic pollutants and rapid weight gain and overweight in infancy.

Abstract Title: Prenatal exposure to persistent organic pollutants and rapid weight gain and overweight in infancy.Abstract Source: Obesity (Silver Spring). 2013 Aug 20....

Texas SWAT team destroys organic farm during raid

A Texas SWAT team raided an organic farm, allegedly searching for marijuana. After conducting a 10-hour raid, destroying many of the plants and vegetables...

Police Destroy Organic Farm in Massive SWAT Team Raid

The police raid of a small organic farm in Arlington, Texas, which lasted for more than 10 hours and included aerial surveillance and a...

Some non-organic foods contain upwards of 180 times the fluoride level of tap water,...

Ethan A. HuffNatural NewsJuly 23, 2013 As a follow-up to our earlier report on fluoridated food...

Urban Homestead Marvel: 6,000 lbs of Organic Food on 1/10th Acre

Lou!Planet InfowarsJuly 8, 2013 Over 6,000 pounds of food per year, on 1/10 acre...

USDA Organic Infant Formula Contains Pesticide Labeled as a “Nutrient”

Sayer Ji.Green Med Info The USDA organic label is supposed to protect the consumer against GMOs...

USDA Organic Infant Formula Contains Pesticide Labeled as a “Nutrient”

Sayer Ji.Green Med Info The USDA organic label is supposed to protect the consumer against GMOs...

Former GMO Engineer Drops Biotech and Goes Organic

Organic Connections June 19, 2013 The “con­ver­sion” of for­mer anti-GMO activist Mark Lynas to GMO pro­moter has gar­nered huge media atten­tion, but Thierry Vrain,...

Monsanto secures victory over organic farmers

An appeals court ruling handed down Monday is being largely viewed as yet another victory for biotech giant Monsanto. ...

Major Loss to Organic Farmers as Court Rules in Favor of Monsanto

In a major blow to organic farmers and food sovereignty advocates, the US Court of Appeals Monday has thrown out a "pre-emptive strike" against...

Organic growers lose decision in suit versus Monsanto over seeds

Carey GillamReutersJune 10, 2013 Monsanto Co. on Monday won another round in a lawsuit brought by...

Organic growers lose decision in suit versus Monsanto over seeds

Carey GillamReutersJune 10, 2013 Monsanto Co. on Monday won another round in a lawsuit brought by...

Expert Questions Legitimacy of Organic Food Certification

The so-called “organic” foods industry may not be as natural as consumers have been led to believe, owing to a lack of serious testing...

Expert Questions Legitimacy of Organic Food Certification

The so-called “organic” foods industry may not be as natural as consumers have been led to believe, owing to a lack of serious testing...

Expert Questions Legitimacy of Organic Food Certification

The so-called “organic” foods industry may not be as natural as consumers have been led to believe, owing to a lack of serious testing...

The Russians Prove Small Scale Organic Farming CAN Feed the World

Christina SarichInfowars.comMay 30, 2013 If you’ve already been through an economic collapse, you might know a...

Bhutan Set to Plough Lone Furrow as World’s First Wholly Organic Country

Bhutan plans to become the first country in the world to turn its agriculture completely organic, banning the sales of pesticides and herbicides and relying on its own animals and farm waste for fertilisers.

Stooping to conquer … Already an overwhelmingly agrarian state, Bhutan is aiming to become the world's first completely organic country. (Photograph: Alamy) But rather than accept that this will mean farmers of the small Himalayan kingdom of 1.2 million people will be able to grow less food, the government expects them to be able to grow more – and to export increasing amounts of high quality niche foods to neighbouring India, China and other countries.

The decision to go organic was both practical and philosophical, said Pema Gyamtsho, Bhutan's minister of agriculture and forests, in Delhi for the annual sustainable development conference last week.

"Ours is a mountainous terrain. When we use chemicals they don't stay where we use them, they impact the water and plants. We say that we need to consider all the environment. Most of our farm practices are traditional farming, so we are largely organic anyway.

"But we are Buddhists, too, and we believe in living in harmony with nature. Animals have the right to live, we like to to see plants happy and insects happy," he said.

Gyamtsho, like most members of the cabinet, is a farmer himself, coming from Bumthang in central Bhutan but studying western farming methods in New Zealand and Switzerland.

"Going organic will take time," he said. "We have set no deadline. We cannot do it tomorrow. Instead we will achieve it region by region and crop by crop."

The overwhelmingly agrarian nation, which really only opened its doors to world influences 30 years ago, is now facing many of the development pangs being felt everywhere in rapidly emerging countries. Young people reluctant to live just by farming are migrating to India and elsewhere, there is a population explosion, and there is inevitable pressure for consumerism and cultural change.

But, says Gyamtsho, Bhutan's future depends largely on how it responds to interlinked development challenges like climate change, and food and energy security. "We would already be self-sufficient in food if we only ate what we produced. But we import rice. Rice eating is now very common, but traditionally it was very hard to get. Only the rich and the elite had it. Rice conferred status. Now the trend is reversing. People are becoming more health-conscious and are eating grains like buckwheat and wheat."

In the west, organic food growing is widely thought to reduce the size of crops because they become more susceptible to pests. But this is being challenged in Bhutan and some regions of Asia, where smallholders are developing new techniques to grow more and are not losing soil quality.

Systems like "sustainable root intensification" (SRI), which carefully regulate the amount of water that crops need and the age at which seedlings are planted out, have shown that organic crop yields can be doubled with no synthetic chemicals.

"We are experimenting with different methods of growing crops like SRI but we are also going to increase the amount of irrigated land and use traditional varieties of crops which do not require inputs and have pest resistance," says Gyamtsho.

However, a run of exceptionally warm years and erratic weather has left many farmers doubtful they can do without chemicals.

In Paro, a largely farming district in south-west Bhutan, farmers are already struggling to grow enough to feed their families and local government officials say they are having to distribute fertiliser and pesticides in larger quantities to help people grow more.

"I have heard of the plan to turn everything organic. But we are facing serious problems just getting people to grow enough", said Rinzen Wangchuk, district farm officer.

"Most people here are smallholder farmers. The last few years we have had problems with the crops. The weather has been very erratic. It's been warmer than normal and all the chilli crops are full of pests. We are having to rely on fertilisers more than we have ever had to in the past and even these are not working as well as they initially did."

Dawa Tshering, who depends on his two acres of rice paddy and a vegetable garden, says that for decades his farming was chemical free.

"But its harder now because all our children are either in the capital or studying. Nobody wants to stay, which means we have to work harder. It's just my wife an myself here. We cannot grow enough to feed ourselves and take crops to the market, so we have to use chemicals for the first time. We would like to go back to farming how we used to, where we just used what nature provided."

But in a world looking for new ideas, Bhutan is already called the poster child of sustainable development. More than 95% of the population has clean water and electricity, 80% of the country is forested and, to the envy of many countries, it is carbon neutral and food secure.

In addition, it is now basing its economic development on the pursuit of collective happiness.

"We have no fossil fuels or nuclear. But we are blessed with rivers which give us the potential of over 30,000megawatts of electricity. So far we only exploit 2,000 megawatts. We exploit enough now to export to India and in the pipeline we have 10,000 megawatts more. The biggest threat we face is cars. The number is increasing every day. Everyone wants to buy cars and that means we must import fuel. That is why we must develop our energy."

Agriculture minister Gyamtsho remains optimistic. "Hopefully we can provide solutions. What is at stake is the future. We need governments who can make bold decisions now rather than later."

© 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited

How Whole Foods and the Biggest Organic Foods Distributor Are Screwing Workers

United Natural Foods Incorporated, the largest wholesale distributor of organic and “natural” foods in the US, is currently under investigation for 45 violations of federal labor law.

This article was published in partnership with GlobalPossibilities.org.

“The union is like having herpes. It doesn't kill you, but it's unpleasant and inconvenient, and it stops a lot of people from becoming your lover." -- John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market

Whole Foods Market (WFM) CEO John Mackey has done a brilliant job of creating the illusion that his empire is all about abundance, bounty and the good life. But there’s nothing bountiful or good about the way the second-largest non-unionized food retailer exploits workers.

United Natural Foods Incorporated (UNFI), the largest multi-billion dollar wholesale distributor of organic and “natural” foods in the U.S., is currently under investigation for 45 violations of federal labor law, including physically threatening immigrant workers in California who were trying to form a union.

The company recently fired its underpaid and overworked unionized workers at its Auburn, Wash., distribution center for going on strike, and illegally hired non-union replacement workers.

What happens when companies like WFM and UNFI, which have carefully cultivated their public progressive images, start acting like Walmart? When union-busting and labor exploitation are accepted as “business-as-usual” in the green economy, it makes us all look bad. It discredits organics and Fair Trade by creating the impression that consumers don’t really care how their healthy organic food was produced. That the entire industry cares only about profits. Ethics and workers be damned.

When flagship organic companies take a Walmart approach to workers’ rights, it sends negative and conflicting signals to core organic consumers, making it look like leaders in the organic community are concerned about the plight of endangered species and Third World coffee growers or cacao producers, but oblivious to the economic pain and stresses of working class Americans or hardworking immigrants who plant and harvest our organic fruits and vegetables and then pack and deliver them to our neighborhood co-ops and natural food markets.

Isn’t it time we ask the same of WFM and UNFI that we demand of ourselves: that they walk their talk, prioritize organic food and products, practice Fair Trade and social justice, and wake up to the fact that "business as usual" is a bitter recipe for injustice?

The demand for organic and fairly traded food, apparel and body care products has grown exponentially over the past two decades. Millions of consumers are demanding products that not only are organic and healthy, but also embody Fair Trade principles, whereby the workers involved in producing these products are treated fairly and paid equitably.

Under the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP), organic products are certified by third-party certifiers and regulated under federal law. But no such federal standards exist for Fair Trade labor practices, including the right of workers, especially in large businesses, to form trade unions and engage in collective bargaining with their employers.  As a consequence many consumers look for the “Fair Trade” label on imported goods, but pay little attention to the domestic supply chain.  Here in the U.S., most consumers naively believe that organics and Fair Trade practices go hand in hand. They are surprised to learn that most family farmers and farm workers, as well as many supply chain workers, struggle to make a living. But the truth is, labor exploitation is rampant in the fields, factories and warehouses where organic products are grown, processed and housed. And this is especially true when small, alternative businesses are bought out by corporate investors.

WFM is one of the biggest offenders in the U.S. The company’s Whole Trade Guarantee, through a third-party verified program, supposedly ensures that producers and laborers in developing countries get an equitable price for their goods in a safe and healthy working environment. But here in the U.S., WFM. the second largest union-free food retailer behind Walmart,  has taken the position that unions are not valid. The company even gives its workers a pamphlet titled "Beyond Unions." In the company’s 27-year history, only one of its stores, in Madison, Wis., successfully unionized. The chain has also fended off unionizing attempts in Berkeley, Calif.; St. Paul, Minn.; and Falls Church, Va.

As for UNFI, the company’s recent record on workers’ rights is abysmal. The National Labor Relations Board investigation includes allegations that UNFI engaged in worker surveillance, intimidation and retaliation; that it refused to bargain in good faith; and that it illegally reassigned bargaining unit work. UNFI workers and drivers at UNFI’s Auburn, Wash., distribution center went on strike for better pay and better working conditions Dec. 10, after rejecting UNFI’s latest contract offer. In retaliation UNFI fired them and illegally hired non-union replacement workers.

WFM and UNFI like to brag about how their workers are part of their “family,” and how well management treats them. But what about the thousands of non-unionized and exploited farm workers in California, Texas, Florida, Mexico, Latin America and Asia who supply many of their premium-priced products? What about the immigrant feedlot workers across the country? What about the truck drivers, food processing workers and warehouse staff who are threatened and intimidated whenever they try to organize themselves for collective bargaining? Are we all one family?

It’s time for WFM and UNFI to publicly acknowledge that Fair Trade principles and practices need to be implemented as part of their entire US/North American/global supply chain for food and organic and natural products, not just for the minority of products produced overseas and certified as Fair Trade. And of course, supporting domestic Fair Trade means that WFM and UNFI must stop their union busting and start recognizing the rights of workers, especially workers in large for-profit corporations, to freely organize themselves into unions for collective bargaining.

Until they do, as conscientious consumers we have to pressure UNFI and its largest customer, WFM. In response to UNFI’s actions in Washington State, the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) has called for a boycott of UNFI’s brand name products, Woodstock Foods and Blue Marble, until the company rehires its fired workers in Auburn, stops harassing and intimidating workers and drivers who want to form a union, and sits down to sign a fair contract.  We’re also asking organic food stores to look for alternative wholesalers to supply their stores, as a number of coops in Seattle and Olympia Washington, have already begun to do.  

In addition to boycotting UNFI’s Woodstock Foods and Blue Marble products, we encourage consumers to:

  • Sign the online petition in support of the striking workers at UNFI.
  • Call UNFI Manager Hank Heatherly at (253) 333-6769. Tell him to rehire the fired workers and return to the bargaining table immediately.
  • If you live in Washington State, and are willing to join in informational leafleting at Whole Foods Markets, sign up here.

Exposed: How Whole Foods and the Biggest Organic Foods Distributor Are Screwing Workers

Whole Foods is under investigation for 45 violations of federal labor law.

January 31, 2013  |  

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This article was published in partnership with  GlobalPossibilities.org.

“The union is like having herpes. It doesn't kill you, but it's unpleasant and inconvenient, and it stops a lot of people from becoming your lover." -- John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market

Whole Foods Market (WFM) CEO John Mackey has done a brilliant job of creating the illusion that his empire is all about abundance, bounty and the good life. But there’s nothing bountiful or good about the way the second-largest non-unionized food retailer exploits workers.

United Natural Foods Incorporated (UNFI), the largest multi-billion dollar wholesale distributor of organic and “natural” foods in the U.S., is currently under investigation for 45 violations of federal labor law, including physically threatening immigrant workers in California who were trying to form a union.

The company recently fired its underpaid and overworked unionized workers at its Auburn, Wash., distribution center for going on strike, and illegally hired non-union replacement workers.

What happens when companies like WFM and UNFI, which have carefully cultivated their public progressive images, start acting like Walmart? When union-busting and labor exploitation are accepted as “business-as-usual” in the green economy, it makes us all look bad. It discredits organics and Fair Trade by creating the impression that consumers don’t really care how their healthy organic food was produced. That the entire industry cares only about profits. Ethics and workers be damned.

When flagship organic companies take a Walmart approach to workers’ rights, it sends negative and conflicting signals to core organic consumers, making it look like leaders in the organic community are concerned about the plight of endangered species and Third World coffee growers or cacao producers, but oblivious to the economic pain and stresses of working class Americans or hardworking immigrants who plant and harvest our organic fruits and vegetables and then pack and deliver them to our neighborhood co-ops and natural food markets.

Isn’t it time we ask the same of WFM and UNFI that we demand of ourselves: that they walk their talk, prioritize organic food and products, practice Fair Trade and social justice, and wake up to the fact that "business as usual" is a bitter recipe for injustice?

The demand for organic and fairly traded food, apparel and body care products has grown exponentially over the past two decades. Millions of consumers are demanding products that not only are organic and healthy, but also embody Fair Trade principles, whereby the workers involved in producing these products are treated fairly and paid equitably.

Under the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP), organic products are certified by third-party certifiers and regulated under federal law. But no such federal standards exist for Fair Trade labor practices, including the right of workers, especially in large businesses, to form trade unions and engage in collective bargaining with their employers.  As a consequence many consumers look for the “Fair Trade” label on imported goods, but pay little attention to the domestic supply chain.  Here in the U.S., most consumers naively believe that organics and Fair Trade practices go hand in hand. They are surprised to learn that most family farmers and farm workers, as well as many supply chain workers, struggle to make a living. But the truth is, labor exploitation is rampant in the fields, factories and warehouses where organic products are grown, processed and housed. And this is especially true when small, alternative businesses are bought out by corporate investors.

WFM is one of the biggest offenders in the U.S. The company’s Whole Trade Guarantee, through a third-party verified program, supposedly ensures that producers and laborers in developing countries get an equitable price for their goods in a safe and healthy working environment. But here in the U.S., WFM. the second largest union-free food retailer behind Walmart,  has taken the position that unions are not valid. The company even gives its workers a pamphlet titled "Beyond Unions." In the company’s 27-year history, only one of its stores, in Madison, Wis., successfully unionized. The chain has also fended off unionizing attempts in Berkeley, Calif.; St. Paul, Minn.; and Falls Church, Va.

Majority of organic companies owned by mega corporations

Carolanne Wright, NaturalNews | One of the most beneficial aspects of the Yes on 37 campaign is the transparency it created regarding seemingly 'natural' and organic brands. Mega...

Is Organic SEO Still Vital For Website Marketing?

by Mark Spenser
When it comes to marketing, new marketing strategies keep evolving to deliver results in short term that may not necessarily adhere to quality parameters. SEO marketing is no exception to that. But why to insist upon website marketing that comes out as a natural result of a site’s enhancement and other organic techniques applied to increase traffic?

Organic SEO – Search Engine Optimization – Organic

When it comes to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) there's really only two options available. Pay Per Click (PPC) or Organic SEO. The first option means...

10 reasons why organic can feed the world

By Ed Hamer & Mark Anslow | 1. Yield Switching to organic farming would have different effects according to where in the world you live...

Does Organic Really Mean Organic?

By David Gutierrez | The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has renewed its approval for 46 non-organically produced substances to be used in foods...

Death by a Thousand Cuts: When the Cures of Big Pharma are Worse than...

The more chemicals, drugs, vaccines, additives, toxins they make, the more difficult it is to escape from big business’ straight-jacket   The vaccine debate and prying...

Oil and Gas Industries’ Toxic Pollutants Are Poisoning African-American Communities, Increasing Risks of Cancer...

WASHINGTON - Clean Air Task Force (CATF) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) have co-authored a landmark report that...

Scratch Cooking – LewRockwell

If you compare the meals served in many of the kitchens today to meals served 100+ years ago, there is one very big difference....

The Texas Church Shooting – LewRockwell

By now, everyone has heard about the horrific shooting yesterday in Sutherland Springs, Texas, in which a man dressed in tactical gear entered the...

Senate demands Twitter disclose WikiLeaks direct messages — RT US News

The top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary committee has asked Twitter for documents that include the...

Thousands to March on Saturday For the 5th Anniversary of Superstorm Sandy | 350.org

NEW YORK - Today, Saturday October 28 at 11:45 AM, a broad coalition of local, state, national and global organizations will gather and march across...

Facebook follows Twitter, unveils political ad ‘transparency’ ahead of Russia testimony — RT US...

Facebook is joining Twitter in bowing to lawmakers demands for more information on political ads on...

The Pneumonic Plague Is Spreading

The Ploy to Shift 9/11 Blame to Iran – Consortiumnews

The U.S. government often plays the game of blaming “enemies” and excusing “friends,” a particularly ugly reality in the push...

Rolling Back the Tide of Pesticide Poison, Corruption and Looming Mass Extinction   

An anthropogenic mass extinction is underway that will affect all life on the planet and humans will struggle to survive the phenomenon. So claims...

Videos Show What It’s Really Like

Stay Healthy in Hard Times

How the elite and greedy corporations are destroying thousands of years of agriculture

The increasingly globalised industrial food system that transnational agribusiness promotes is not feeding the world and is responsible for some of the planet’s most pressing political, social...

Three Years for Eternity: A Prayer for Cimate Action and the Common Good

'Laudato Si’, considered by environmentalists all around the world as the “Green Encyclical, has become a work read by Christians and non-Christians alike in...

Sniper Attack

Trump Administration Pushes Positive PR Campaign as Puerto Rico's Crisis Continues

As President Donald Trump continues firing off tweets that praise the highly criticized U.S. response to a growing humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico following...

Groups: Harvey Recovery Must Serve Vulnerable Victims, Not Corporate Polluters

Prompted in part by the appointment of former Shell CEO Marvin Odum to lead Texas recovery efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, a...

Greenpeace: Has its crusade to save the world descended into hypocrisy & misinformation?

Greenpeace activists have seized a cargo ship at Sheerness Port, Kent, to stop thousands of...

AT&T and Verizon Need to Hang Up On Fossil Fuels

Smartphones are a huge part of our lives. We use them constantly for texts, social media, calls, directions, and finding information online. Even when we’re...

Cultural Imperialism and the Seeds of Catastrophe: Ripping up the Social Fabric of India 

Foreign capital is dictating the prevailing development agenda in India. The aim is to replace current structures with a system of industrial agriculture suited...

Mueller Warns White House of Plans to Interview Six Trump Aides

Citing "people familiar with the request," the Washington Post reported late Friday afternoon that Special Counsel Robert Mueller III has told the White House...

Seventeen Million in US Live Near Active Oil or Gas Wells

More than 17 million people in the United States live within a mile of an active oil or natural gas well, according to a...

Big Oil to Blame for Harvey’s Toxic Legacy

Yesterday, the Governor of Texas warned that the bill for reconstruction after Superstorm Harvey could be as high as $180 billion. To put this...

More fires, explosions expected at flooded chemical plant near Houston

Eight more containers at a chemical plant northeast of Houston, Texas are expected to explode after...

Full threat posed by Arkema plant disaster still unknown

Two explosions were reported Thursday at the Arkema chemical plant in Crosby, Texas with the company...

Fire Erupts Again at Houston-Area Chemical Plant as Public Remains in Dark

Fire and smoke erupted for a second time Friday evening at the Houston-area Arkema chemical plant, but what exactly is going up in flames...

Explosion at Arkema chemical plant in Crosby, Texas causes massive fire

Towering flames and clouds of black smoke have overtaken much of the Arkema chemical plant in...

Hurricane Harvey: Another American Deluge

In just three days, more rain fell on the Texas Gulf Coast than what flows out of the Mississippi River in three full weeks....

Hurricane Harvey: Two explosions at Arkema chemical plant near Houston, injuries reported

Published time: 31 Aug, 2017 09:20 Edited time: 31 Aug, 2017 10:51 Arkema chemical plant in...

‘Farm to Table’ Has Jumped the Shark

Now that Amazon’s taken over Whole Foods, a natural foods grocery known for its high prices, the new owners have pledged to lower prices. I...

Chemicals at plant near Houston degrading, explosion inevitable – CEO

Published time: 30 Aug, 2017 19:23 Edited time: 30 Aug, 2017 20:18 The CEO of the...

The Stomach-churning Violence of Monsanto, Bayer and the Agrochemical Oligopoly

As humans, we have evolved with the natural environment over millennia. We have learned what to eat and what not to eat, what to...
video

Video: ‘Your homeland needs us now’: Smoothie ads in Austria slammed for ‘racist’ overtones

An advertising campaign, launched in Austria by an organic smoothies producing company, has sparked controversy and was slammed for its “racist” overtones. Via Youtube

What Civil War 2.0 Will Look Like

The division in America has become so dramatic over the past year that many people can only foresee it heading one place: Civil War. There’s...

Soil, Monsanto and the Agribusiness Giants: Conning the World with Snake Oil and Doughnuts

In their rush to readily promote neoliberal dogma and corporate-inspired PR, many government officials, scientists and journalists take as given that profit-driven transnational corporations...

You Might Be a Cheapskate

By Daisy Luther The Organic Prepper August 19, 2017 Do you enjoy saving a buck more than most people?  Do you have a black belt in...

Scientists 3D-print ‘high-resolution’ living tissue

Published time: 18 Aug, 2017 16:05 Oxford University scientists have found a ground-breaking way of...

Fracked off? Level of Britain’s shale gas reserves has been ‘hyped,’ says geology professor

Published time: 17 Aug, 2017 11:48 Britain was thought to have potentially “very large” reserves...

Anonymous & more tech companies knocking white supremacy groups offline

In the wake of the Charlottesville protests, hate groups are being suspended or losing their accounts...

Committee to Save America: Globalists Team Up to Thwart Trump's Agenda

A group of globalist White House advisers and generals have apparently teamed up with establishment Republican leaders in Congress to form a...

Bulldozing London’s beloved Latin American market will ‘ethnically cleanse’ area, traders tell RT

The planned demolition of Britain’s largest Latin American market to make way for luxury shops...

Emails Show USDA Staff Told to 'Avoid' Term 'Climate Change' Under Trump

Staffers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) service responsible for helping American farmers with conservation efforts were instructed by top officials to avoid...

You Can Vote Every Day — With Your Dollars

All shopping is not created equal — we all have our preferred soaps and phone brands. I’d rather walk a bit further to my favorite grocery store...

Indian Independence: Forged in Washington?

India commemorates the end of British rule 70 years ago on 15 August. Now might be an apt moment to consider where India might...

Cancer-causing pollutants detected in most tap water across US – study

Tap water from 48,000 public water utilities was found to contain multiple cancer-causing agents from arsenic,...

How Media Spread CIA’s Sectarian, Anti-Iran ‘Mideast Cold War’ Narrative

A new Vox video (7/17/17) is the latest addition to a media onslaught that propagates numerous misleading talking points to demonize Iran—just as the...

Ben & Jerry’s Has No Clothes

Photo by Qfamily | CC BY 2.0 It was twenty years ago last month that Food & Water published our report on Vermont’s atrazine addiction,...

The Best Foods for Your Heart

By Dr. Mercola Your diet is an important, if not crucial, factor for the maintenance of a healthy heart well into old age. Healthy dietary fats top...

Codex Alimentarius and Monsanto’s Toxic Relations

“Our soils are sick from greed-based, irresponsible agricultural practices, pesticides, chemical fertilizers, erosion and mineral depletion, all of which stop or reduce adequate microbial...

1984 at the Grocery Store

Wall Street analysts tell us that Amazon’s $14 billion buyout of Whole Foods isn't only a win-win for both of them, but also for...

Fracking waste contaminates Penn. watershed with radioactive material

Stream sediments in Pennsylvania downstream from two fracking wastewater treatment facilities were found to contain radioactive...

1984 at the Grocery Store

Wall Street analysts tell us that Amazon’s $14 billion buyout of Whole Foods isn’t only a win-win for both of them, but also for...

Our Best Shot at Meeting Paris Goals? Make Energy Public

Mayors across the country have vowed to deliver on the goals of the Paris climate accord in defiance of President Trump’s decision to back...

Monopoly Capitalism in Action: How Amazon's Acquisition of Whole Foods Could Affect Us All

A customer shops for produce at a Whole Foods Market February 22, 2007, in San Francisco, California. (Photo: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images) In today's...

When Will Co-opted Figures and Board Members of Companies like Monsanto and Bayer Be...

The public is being poisoned, disease rates are spiralling, waterways are contaminated, soil is being degraded, insects, birds, invertebrates and plant diversity are in...

Marcus Garvey’s Economic Philosophy has a Capitalism Problem

The controversy surrounding the May 19th unveiling of a bust of Jamaica’s first national hero and Pan-Africanist Marcus Mosiah Garvey on the Mona Campus...

Liberty lost? Americans increasingly unhappy with levels of freedom, survey says

Published time: 28 Jun, 2017 11:07 America is often referred to as the "Land of the...

A Grain of Truth: RCEP and the Corporate Hijack of Indian Agriculture

The plight of farmers in India has been well documented. A combination of debt, economic liberalisation, subsidised imports, rising input costs and a shift...

Concerned Americans Say New GMO Regs Would Make Oversight Worse, Not Better

WASHINGTON - Today marks the close of three U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) public comment periods on...

High Schools Drop Valedictorian Honor

We’ve spent a fair amount of time over the past several years writing about the ‘participation trophy generation’ (a.k.a. “millennials) and, more specifically, how...

Chocolate Fat Bomb Truffles

Chocolate truffles are a popular type of confectionery composed of a chocolate coating and ganache, a filling made by mixing chocolate and cream. The...

Forbes’ ‘Go Bust’ Prescription For Indian Farmers Is A Death Warrant

By Binu Mathew and Colin Todhunter Background Washington’s long-term plan has been to restructure indigenous agriculture across the world and tie it to an international system...

No Green Thumb?

Gardening is a skill and anyone who tells you something different is not being totally honest.  That being said, having a successful gardening experience...

Toxic Relations: Stop Colluding with Monsanto and the Agrochemical Industry!   

By Rosemary Mason and Colin Todhunter Environmental campaigner Dr Rosemary Mason has just written to the UK’s Policy Advisor Nigel Chadwick at the Chemicals Regulation...

‘They stood up to hate & intolerance’: Trump pays tribute to Portland stabbing victims

Published time: 29 May, 2017 19:28 US President Donald Trump has condemned the killings of two...

Want to Get “Back to the Land?” You’re Not Alone

Over the past century, generations of young people have turned their backs on city life to embrace small-scale farming and back-to-the-land ideals. The exact...

White supremacist teen converts to Islam, kills Neo-Nazi roommates for insulting his faith –...

A white supremacist who converted to Islam killed his two Neo-Nazi roommates because they had offended...

The Ultimate Antidepressant

There are a few indulgences that we will never tire of, and chocolate is the best example. An age-old treat that’s exquisite in its...

Eat To Look and Feel Young

Your health is only as good as the food you eat. Following a regular diet based on nutrient-rich, organic food is one of the...

‘Autonomous’ Cars

Within 12 years, only 5 percent of the driving done in this country will be done by “autonomous” drivers – according to a study...

The Public or the Agrochemical Industry: Who Does the European Chemicals Agency Serve?  

By Rosemary Mason and Colin Todhunter Environmentalist Dr Rosemary Mason has just written an open letter to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) Director of Risk...

Prepping for a US Mainland Conflict

Aside from everyone nuking each other into mutually assured obsolescence, the World War 3 worst-case scenario for Americans would be if the conflict reached...

Dems Still Blaming Others for Trump

Failed Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton suggests she would have gone to war in Syria by now, but Democrats still...

Britain Must Break Free from the Agrochemical Cartel: Rosemary Mason Calls on ECP to...

Agrochemical manufacturers are knowingly poisoning people and the environment in the name of profit and greed. Communities, countries, ecosystems and species have become disposable...

Not a Prepper?

By Daisy Luther The Organic Prepper April 27, 2017 Prepping isn’t all about wiling away your hours in a bunker, reloading ammo. It’s about the everyday...

Trump tax plan slashes taxes for ‘some’ businesses and wealthy estates

The White House is proposing comprehensive tax reforms which are said to simplify the federal tax...

The High-Fat, Low-Carb Way to Optimal Health

By Dr. Mercola There’s emerging scientific evidence that a high-fat, low-net carb and moderate protein diet is an ideal diet for most people. However, compliance...

The Risk of Brushing Aside Intelligence

The mainstream U.S. media, which knows President Trump disdains facts, accepted his claims about the April 4 Syrian chemical incident...

‘Congrats, you survived the Boston Marathon!’ Adidas sorry for ‘insensitive’ email

Published time: 19 Apr, 2017 11:37 Adidas has issued an apology after its marketing team sent out...

Banned chemicals contaminate groundwater near US bases on Okinawa

Elevated levels of two banned pollutants used by the US military have been detected in groundwater running under Marine Corps Air Station Futenma on...

Give Your Old Stuff to Others — Not the Landfill

My neighbor moved out this week. I learned that when I found a moving truck blocking my car and I couldn’t get out of...

How Would You Even Begin To Prep for It?

Last week was tense as far as international relations go. We’re standing in a big puddle of gasoline and hoping that no one decides...

Capitalism: Unregulated Disaster…

Radioactive Wrecking ball Crashing into Regulatory edifice: Watchdogs Devoured by Fat-cats-hawks While we skim crude, dilute fracking-fluid, boil, Triple-filter opaque water to drink; Serve sushi, sample saki with Geiger Counters—and Pay Nazis Not to Poison Pears and Apples we call ‘Organic’ Read more

Food Is Your Medicine

By Dr. Mercola Ideally, food is your “medicine.” It’s certainly one of the best preventive strategy I can think of, and getting more raw organic...

The Deep State, Explained

As the daily drip of information about possible links between Trump’s campaign and Russia trickles on, Democrats, commentators and at least some officials in...

Can’t Resist Homegrown Tomatoes?

By Dr. Mercola Tomatoes are the most popular garden vegetable (technically tomatoes are a fruit, but they’re used more like a vegetable) in the U.S.,...

You’re a Gov’t Lab Rat

By Daisy Luther The Organic Prepper March 28, 2017 A new law quietly passed last December contains a waiver of informed consent that eliminates the requirement...

Annihilate Free Radicals

By Dr. Mercola What happens when you begin exercising and cutting back on calories? Some may say “weight loss” and “getting healthier,” which are good...

Your Body Needs These To Thrive

Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals required by your body. Unlike macronutrients, you only need minuscule amounts of micronutrients to maintain good health. Micronutrients...

‘In a trance’: New database to record ‘zombie’ effects of illegal designer drugs

A national database listing the effects of so-called ‘zombie’ drugs has been created for doctors...

MI5 launches inquiry into whether it could have prevented Westminster terrorist attack

Britain’s domestic intelligence agency MI5 has launched an internal inquiry into whether it could have...

Monsanto’s Violence in India: The Sacred and the Profane

From Hinduism and Paganism to Thor, Woden and Monsanto, humans have lost their ancient beliefs, practices and connection with nature. The old practices, so...

Peter Tosh’s Resistance against Racism, Apartheid and Settler-Colonialism

March 21 was the 57th anniversary of the Sharpeville Massacre that was carried out by the South African apartheid regime against protesting Africans in...

Essentials for Effective, Natural Weight Loss

There’s just a few months left before summer hits, so if you’re looking to ensure you have the best summer body, now is the...

Stop Protecting the Criminality of the Global Pesticides Industry

The agrichemicals industry wallows like an overblown hog in a cesspool of corruption. With its snout firmly embedded in the trough of corporate profit...

Enemy of Reason: Behind the Mask of Pro-GMO Neoliberal Ideology

Professor Shanthu Shantharam recently wrote a response to Viva Kermani’s well thought out article about injecting some honesty into the debate about genetically modified (GM) food and...

Sweat Shops, GMOs and Neoliberal Fundamentalism: The Agroecological Alternative to Global Capitalism

Much of the argument in favour of GM agriculture involves little more than misrepresentations and unscrupulous attacks on those who express concerns about the technology and its impacts....

No Ban, No Wall: Native American and Human Rights Groups Join Forces With Environmental...

As Director of Equity, Inclusion and Justice at Sierra Club, I often hear the question: why doesn’t Sierra Club stick to “environmental issues”? Today...

The Kennedy – De Niro $100K Vaccine Challenge

Autism instances have risen significantly over the last 40 years. In 1975, 1 in every 5,000 people developed the disorder, but today it’s 1...

Message to John Beddington and the Oxford Martin Commission: A System of Food and...

Sir John Beddington is Senior Advisor and Professor of Natural Resources Management at the Oxford Martin School in Oxford, UK. He also belongs to...

‘Guess I'm breaking the law’: Utah not enforcing abortion clinic ‘fetal pain’ law

Nine months after Utah passed the nation’s first law requiring abortion providers to administer anesthesia to...

Truly Staggering Health Benefits

Oregano oil is extracted from the oregano plant (Origanum vulgare), a perennial herb from the flowering plant family Lamiaceae. Thanks to its high concentration...

"Extraordinary" Levels of Pollution Found in the Deepest Part of the Sea

Since the Mariana Trench is the deepest part of the ocean, you might guess that it is safe from the impact of humans, but you...

Pro-GMO Scientists Blinded by Technology and Wedded to Ideology

The Oxford Martin School is based at Oxford University in the UK and has set up the ‘Oxford Martin Commission for Future Generations’ (OMC). Bringing together...

Never Trust the Government

After five years of drought, a new disaster faces Northern California. Nearly 200,000 people were evacuated last night from areas below the Oroville Dam due...

Monsanto and GMO Propagandists Softening-up UK Public for GM After Brexit

On the back of Brexit, the UK government is planning what could be a disastrous trade deal with the Trump administration. It would likely...

Want Pearly White Teeth?

Traditional whitening practices have proven to be quite harmful to the longevity of our teeth. Dental specialist Linda Greenwall has thoroughly investigated the harmful use of teeth...

How Trump Can Unite the Left

As millions of Democrats, Greens, liberals, progressives, and lefties across America prepare to resist Trump, it’s time to build greater unity and alliances among...

Trump claims cabinet has ‘highest IQ’ with education levels lower than Obama’s

President-elect Donald Trump attended a luncheon with leaders of Congress and several of his administration picks,...

Development and India: Why GM Mustard Really Matters

The push to commercialise the growing of genetically modified (GM) mustard in India is currently held up in court due to a lawsuit by...

Translating Trump’s Inaugural Speech From the Original German

Donald Trump’s inaugural speech, like the candidate himself, was a chain of falsehoods, saber-rattling and scary Neofascist uber-nationalism. But it could be difficult to...

MLK Day 2017: Mobilizing Against Racism, Capitalism and Militarism in a Neo-Fascist Era

Dawn at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, DC, on January 18, 2016. (Photo: Zach Gibson / The New York Times) Coretta Scott...

A War on Regulations

The incoming Republican government is waging a war against regulations. “For every one new regulation, two old regulations must be eliminated,” Donald Trump promised after...

The Demise of Greece's Agricultural Commons

(Photo: Lezsec Kruk; Edited: LW / TO) When I tell people that I had a challenging time finding organic produce in Greece this past summer,...

Aluminum, Fertilizer, Steel, Nuclear Waste

The resistance against water fluoridation might be a different story if the naturally occurring element of fluoride was added to our water. Fluoride is found...

The Trouble With Multivitamins

Multivitamins present the most practical and economical opportunity for the public to make up for gaps in the high calorie/nutrient insufficient American diet. Despite alleged...

Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly? Celebrating the Corporate Plunder of Agriculture

Colin Todhunter While Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ on 25 December, that date was probably originally chosen due to the winter solstice on...

Where Independence Is Illegal Without a Permit

These days, you need permission from the government to do just about anything, including feeding yourself or others. Do you own a car? Every...

Soil: Keeping Nutrients in Food and Carbon in the Ground

Soil stores nutrients, carbon and micro-organisms. (Credit: Xavi Fernández de Castro / IPS) Healthy soil not only makes food more nutritious it also helps keep...

Stay Warm

Depending on where you live, a winter power outage can quickly become a life-threatening emergency. Winter storms with heavy snowfalls, high winds, and a coating...

Hostile Takeover

Photo by Mike Maguire | CC BY 2.0 “The populace may hiss me, but when I go home and think of my money, I applaud myself.” —Horace, Epistles It’s...

Entrenching Capitalist Agriculture in India Under the Guise of Development

Colin Todhunter Washington's long-term plan has been to restructure indigenous agriculture across the world and tie it to an international system of trade based on...

The Extinction of Life on Earth

Robert J. Burrowes On the day that you read this article, 200 species of life on Earth (plants, birds, animals, fish, amphibians, insects, reptiles) will...

New Archaeological Research Links Syria to Anglo-Saxon England

Analysis of black organic fragments found in the Sutton Hoo boat burial has revealed they are bitumen from Syria. The Suffolk site...

Survival Fuel for Your Body

Being well-nourished during a disaster can mean the difference between powering through the event with strength, stamina, and energy or plodding through the situation...

Trump dressed as himself for ‘Villains and Heroes’ fancy dress bash (PHOTOS)

US President-elect Donald Trump kept it simple at a private ‘Villains and Heroes’ costume party on...

Swedish Researchers Find Submerged Mesolithic Settlement

A team of researchers headed by Lund University’s Professor Dan Hammarlund has uncovered an exceptionally well-preserved Mesolithic site off the Baltic Sea...

Even in the Dead of Winter

It can be hard to think about gardening when it’s below freezing, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Cold weather is the perfect...

Foogle Ready To Kill Alternative Media

This week three media goliaths — Facebook, Google, and Twitter, who collectively act as information gatekeepers for the Internet — announced they would begin implementing...

DARPA funds second prototype of new sea drone (VIDEO)

US weapons researchers are building a second test model of the sea-launched drone they call Tern,...

Why Are Public Officials Protecting the Pesticides Industry? Digging Down into the Cesspool of...

Colin Todhunter It is based on a cesspool of corruption that is most probably responsible for more death and disease than the combined efforts of...

Is Soros Funding the Trump Protests?

Paid instigators are making an already bad situation much much worse. As riots and protests rage through the streets of America, the question has to...

Eat Chocolate Every Day

Heart disease and diabetes risk may be reduced by eating chocolate every day. The key here is to consume a small piece of dark...

Two-thirds of Brits support GM crops, claims Bayer-sponsored survey

A large-scale UK public survey says there has been a sea change in attitudes toward...

Butter Is Better

By Dr. Mercola In your musings about odd things, it may have occurred to you to wonder, if butter is basically made from the skimmings...

Clearing the “Jungle”: The Calais Refugee Operation

We don’t know yet where we are going, but it will obviously be better than the Jungle, which was made for animals, not humans. —...

Exposed: Coca-Cola’s Evil Lobbying Campaign

A treasure trove of emails released by hactivist site DC Leaks reveals that corporate giant Coca-Cola has launched a worldwide campaign to stop the...

Who Wants a Kinder, Gentler Pepe?

It is no secret to anyone who has spent time around the Alt Right that the use of memes has been a prominent means...

The Power Elite’s War

“A populace deprived of the ability to separate lies from truth, is no longer capable of sustaining a free society.” Journalist Chris Hedges As the ruling...

Smaller Engines

Downsizing is no longer the answer, apparently. Of engines, that is. You may have noticed. Even big vehicles come – increasingly – with startlingly small engines. Two-point-oh...

World Wide Fund for Nature: Stop Greenwashing Capitalism, Start Holding Corporations to Account (Dr Rosemary...

Colin Todhunter (RINF) - In the 1970s, the agrochemicals industry was able to evade effective regulation in the UK. Robert van den Bosch, wrote in 1978...

Do You Use Magic Soap?

You’ve undoubtedly used Dr. Bronner’s, the top-selling organic liquid and bar soap brand in North America. But how much do you know about the...

Seeds of Occupation: India’s Stockholm Syndrome

Colin Todhunter Stockholm syndrome, or capture-bonding, is a psychological phenomenon described in 1973 in which hostages express empathy and sympathy and have positive feelings toward their...

More Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

Twelve years ago, John Perkins published his book, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, and it rapidly rose up The New York Times’ best-seller...

Countryside-Dwelling, Environmentally-Friendly Families are Right Wing Extremists, Researchers Warn

Researchers of “extremism” have identified friendly, environmentally-conscious families living in the German countryside as likely dangerous radicals, and warn that rural living...

Toxic Allegiances and Corporate Power: Open Letter to the Oxford Martin Commission

Colin Todhunter The Oxford Martin School is based at Oxford University in the UK. In what seems to be a laudable aim, the school has...

'We interpret every govt request' – Yahoo responds to e-mail scanning revelations

Yahoo called the report that the company scanned its customers’ incoming emails “misleading.” This comes as...

The apple doesn’t fall far from the genetically modified tree: USDA approves GMO fruit

The national nightmare of apples turning slightly brown is coming to an end: The US Department...

CIA Puppet Masters

By Daisy Luther DaisyLuther.com September 30, 2016 It’s really quite embarrassing on a global scale when members of our own government seem to be deliberately trying...

Far-Right Runs With ‘Outside Agitator’ Lie Spread by CNN

When CNN host Erin Burnett (OutFront, 9/22/16) interviewed Todd Walther, a spokesperson for the Charlotte/Mecklenburg Fraternal Order of Police, Walther made the provocative claim...

Election or Revolution? An Open Letter to the People of the United States

Robert J. Burrowes As citizens of the USA with a presidential election approaching you have a wonderful opportunity to ponder whether to participate in this...

A System Of Food Production For Human Need, Not Corporate Greed

Colin Todhunter There has been an adverse trend in the food and agriculture sector in recent times with the control of seeds and chemical inputs...

In OtherWords: September 14, 2016

Following protests led by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, a federal order overruled a district judge’s order, halting construction of the Dakota Access crude...

Aging Doesn’t Mean Losing Your Vision

By Dr. Mercola Aging is inevitable, but are age-related problems such as poor vision absolute givens? Contrary to popular belief, your vision is largely dependent...

“The Dead Cannot Make A Comeback” – Is India About To Make A Catastrophic...

Colin Todhunter Global oilseed, agribusiness and biotech corporations are engaged in a long-term attack on India's local cooking oil producers. In just 20 years, they...

Monsanto and Bayer: Why Food And Agriculture Just Took A Turn For The Worse

Colin Todhunter News broke this week that Monsanto accepted a $66 billion takeover bid from Bayer. The new company would control more than 25 per cent...

Sugar industry blamed fat in fake studies

The sugar industry paid Harvard researchers in the 1960s to bury research linking sugar intake to heart disease and to instead make...

Sweet deal? Sugar industry blamed fat in fake studies – study

The sugar industry paid Harvard researchers in the 1960s to bury research linking sugar intake to...

Darwin Unhinged

This is atrociously long, criminally even, by internet standards but I post it anyway because I get occasional requests.  Few will read it, which...

21 Life Hacks To Help You Through a Disaster

By Daisy Luther The Organic Prepper September 7, 2016 Life hacks are all over the place at the minute (seriously, they’re everywhere) and some are really...

Watch the Pounds Roll Off

By Dr. Mercola There’s emerging scientific evidence that a high-fat, low-net carb, moderate protein diet is an ideal diet for most people. However, compliance tends...

Beware This Health Bomb

By Dr. Mercola Over the course of a lifetime, the average American uses about 20 gallons of toothpaste,1 and even though you don’t swallow it,...

Horrors Ahead

Remember how a couple of days ago the German government advised its citizens to start stockpiling food and water? Well, today they have announced...

Hillary and the Clinton Foundation: Exemplars of America’s Political Rot

Hillary Clinton may be enjoying a comfortable lead in national polls, but she is far from enjoying a comfortable night’s sleep given the ever-widening...

What Triggers a Charley Horse?

By Dr. Mercola A charley horse, or muscle cramp particularly in your calf muscles, is an incredibly common condition that results in your muscles becoming...

25 Must-Have Items for Your Survival Hygiene Kit

By Gaye Levy Backdoor Survival August 24, 2016 The Oxford English Dictionary defines hygiene as: “Conditions or practices conducive to maintaining health and preventing disease, especially through...

Is Civil Unrest Coming to Suburbia?

Many people watching Milwaukee burn on the news from the safety of their homes in the suburbs feel immune. It seems like this only...

‘If You’re So Proud of This Technology, Put It on the Label’ – CounterSpin...

Janine Jackson interviewed Patty Lovera about GMO labeling for the August 12, 2016, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript. Patty Lovera: “If...

James Bond delusion: Britain’s military power an illusion made from myth, says scholar

Britain ignores its dependence on stronger allies and the dilapidated state of its “clapped out”...

New York City set to ban use of fracking waste water

New York City lawmakers have approved a new bill to ban the usage of waste water...

Easy access to online porn is 'damaging' men's health, says NHS therapist

A top psychosexual therapist is warning about a surge in the number of young men suffering sexual health problems because of online...

Remember Blue-Blockers?

By Dr. Mercola You may remember the blue-blocking sunglasses that were popular in the U.S. in the 1980s. The glasses, with their amber-colored lenses, had...

Chinese Dream: Western Imitation or Radical Alternative?

Chinese painting of six Confucian scholars When I arrived in Nanjing to attend a conference recently, I asked the student assigned to show me around...

What’s With Hillary’s Health?

In their usual fingers-in-ears-la-la-la fashion, the mainstream media and Hillary Clinton supporters are all in denial that there is an issue with the Democratic...

‘The Real Battle Is, Who’s Going to Own the Energy Supply?’ – CounterSpin interview...

Janine Jackson interviewed Harvey Wasserman about renewables and nuclear power for the July 29, 2016, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript. Harvey...

Monsanto in India: Meet the New Boss – Same as the Old Boss?

In capitalism, the state’s primary role is to secure the interests of private capital. The institutions of globalised capitalism - from the World Bank,...

GMO labeling law is ‘fake’, would not ‘truly’ expose engineered food – experts to...

A new controversial GMO labeling law signed by President Barack Obama would strip US consumers of their right to learn about genetically engineered products...

Trump’s Bigotry Reminds US Media of Anywhere but Home

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Globalization: Global Agribusiness Hammering Away At The Foundations Of Indian Society


RINF, Countercurrents, Global Research

https://twitter.com/colin_todhunter

According to the World Bank in the nineties, it was expected (and hoped) that some 400 million people in Indian agriculture would be moving out of the sector by 2015. To help them on their way, farming had to be made financially non-viable and policies formulated to facilitate the process.

Food and trade policy analyst Devinder Sharma describes the situation: 

“India is on fast track to bring agriculture under corporate control... Amending the existing laws on land acquisition, water resources, seed, fertilizer, pesticides and food processing, the government is in overdrive to usher in contract farming and encourage organized retail. This is exactly as per the advice of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund as well as the international financial institutes.” 

He notes that in its 2008 World Development Report, the World Bank wanted India to hasten the process by accelerating land acquisitions and launching a network of training institutes to train younger people in rural areas so as to make them eligible for industrial work. This is now happening, especially the highly contentious push to facilitate private corporations' access to land, which has been sparking mass protests across the country. 

Sharma describes how US subsidies and global trade policies work to benefit hugely wealthy agribusiness corporations, while serving to cripple the agricultural sectors of poorer countries. The massive subsidies doled out by the US to its giant agribusiness companies lower global produce prices and buck markets in favour of Washington. The US has also included non-trade barriers (such as various health standards and regulations) to keep agricultural imports out. At the same time, India has opened its markets and support for its own farmers is being cut. Farmers are thus being left to the vagaries of a global market slanted in favour of US interests.

As India's farmers face increasing financial distress and foreign private players try to move in to secure land and the seed, food processing and food retail sectors, what is happening courtesy of compliant politicians is tantamount to cannibalizing the country at the behest of foreign interests. 

Western agribusiness has already gained an influential foothold in India and many of the country’s national public bodies. Along with US food processing giants Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland, agribusiness aims to recast the rural economy (and thus Indian society, given that hundreds of millions depend on it for a living) according to its own needs. This would mean eventually moving over 600 million (never mind the previously mentioned figure of 400 million) who depend on agriculture and local food processing activities into urban areas.

Monsanto already dominates the cotton industry in the country and is increasingly shaping agri-policy and the knowledge paradigm by funding agricultural research in public universities and institutes (see here). Moreover, public regulatory bodies are now severely compromised and riddled with conflicts ofinterest where decision-making over GMOs are concerned. 

But this is the nature of the 'globalization' agenda: the goal is to ‘capture’ and ‘exploit’ foreign markets and their policy/regulatory bodies. The culture of neoliberalism is exemplified by APCO Worldwide, a major ‘global communications, stakeholder engagement and business strategy’ company that Narendra Modi has been associated with in the past. In APCO’s India Brochure, there is the claim that India’s resilience in weathering the global downturn and financial crisis has made governments, policy-makers, economists, corporate houses and fund managers believe that India can play a significant role in the recovery of the global economy in the months and years ahead. APCO describes India as a trillion dollar market.

No mention of ordinary people or poor farmers. The focus is on profit, funds and money because for the readers of such documents all of this constitutes ‘growth’ – a positive sounding notion sold to the masses that in reality means corporate profit. It forms part of an ideology that attempts to disguise the nature of a system that has produced austerity, disempowerment and increasing hardship for the bulk of the population and the concentration of ever more wealth and power in the hands of the few who now dictate policies to nation states.

Take a brief look at what happened in Britain when the neoliberal globalization strategy took hold there. As with Modi, Margaret Thatcher was a handmaiden to rich interests.

During the eighties, the Thatcher government set the wheels in motion to shut down the coal mining industry. The outcome destroyed communities across the country, and they have never recovered. Crime-ridden, drug-ridden and shells of their former selves, these towns and villages and the people in them were thrown onto the scrapheap. The industry was killed because it was deemed ‘uneconomical'. And yet it now costs more to keep a person on the dole than it would to employ them at the minimum wage, the country imports coal at a higher cost than it would to have kept the pits open and Britain has to engage in costly illegal wars to secure its oil and gas energy needs, which coal could largely provide (Britain has over 1,000 years of coal supply in the ground). In fact, before 1970, Britain got all its gas from its own coal.

The economics just do not add up. Former miners’ leader Arthur Scargill fought to save the mining industry and now asks where is the sense in all of this (see thisthis and this).   

The same happened across the manufacturing sector, from steel to engineering to shipbuilding. And a similar process occurred in the fishery and agriculture sectors. In 2010, there were over eight million unemployed (over 21 percent of the workforce), despite what the official figures said.

Britain decided to financialize its economy and move people out of manufacturing to integrate with a neoliberal globalized world order. Ordinary people’s livelihoods were sacrificed and sold to the lowest bidder abroad and the real economy was hollowed out for the benefit of giant corporations who now have near-monopolies in their respective sectors and record massive profits. People were promised a new service-based economy. Not enough jobs materialized or when they did many soon moved to cheap labour economies or they were automated. 

Although it’s a vastly different country, if we look at agriculture in India, a similar trend is seen. Almost 300,000 farmers have taken their lives in India since 1997 and many more are experiencing economic distress or have left farming as a result of debt, a shift to cash crops and economic ‘liberalization’.

In a recent TV interview, Devinder Sharma highlighted the plight of agriculture:

“Agriculture has been systematically killed over the last few decades… the World Bank and big business have given the message that this is the only way to grow economically… Sixty percent of the population lives in the villages or in the rural areas and is involved in agriculture, and less than two percent of the annual budget goes to agriculture… When you are not investing in agriculture, you think it is... not performing. You are not wanting it to perform... Leave it to the vagaries or the tyranny of the markets… agriculture has disappeared from the economic radar screen of the country… 70 percent of the population is being completely ignored…”

As policy makers glorify ‘business entrepreneurship’ and ‘wealth creation’ and acquiesce to hugely wealthy individuals and their corporations, it largely goes unrecognized that farmers have always been imbued with the spirit of entrepreneurship and have been creating food wealth for centuries. They have been innovators, natural resource stewards, seed savers and hybridization experts. But they are now fodder to be sacrificed on the altar of US petro-chemical agribusiness interests.

In his interview, Devinder Sharma went on to state that despite the tax breaks and the raft of policies that favour industry over agriculture, industry has failed to deliver; but despite the gross under-investment in agriculture, it still manages to deliver bumper harvests year after year:

“In the last 10 years, we had 36 lakh crore going to the corporates by way of tax exemptions... They just created 1.5 crore jobs in the last ten years. Where are the exports? … The only sector that has performed very well in this country is agriculture... Why do you want to move the population... Why can’t India have its own thinking? Why do we have to go with Harvard or Oxford economists who tell us this?” (36 lakh crore is 36 trillion; 1.5 crore is 15 million)

It all begs the question: where are the jobs going to come from to cater for hundreds of millions of former agricultural workers or those whose livelihoods will be destroyed as transnational corporations move in and seek to capitalize industries that currently employ tens of millions (if not hundreds of millions)?

The genuine wealth creators, the farmers, are being sold out to corporate interests whose only concern is to how best loot the economy. As they do so, they churn out in unison with their politician puppets the mantra of it all being in the ‘national interest’ and constituting some kind of ‘economic miracle’. And those who protest are attacked and marginalised. In Britain during the eighties, it was a similar situation. Workers' representatives portrayed as the 'enemy within'. 

Through various policies, underinvestment and general neglect, farmers are being set up to financially fail. However, it is corporate-industrial India which has failed to deliver in terms of boosting exports or creating jobs, despite the massive hand outs and tax exemptions given to it (see this and this). The number of jobs created in India between 2005 and 2010 was 2.7 million (the years of high GDP growth). According to International Business Times, 15 million enter the workforce every year (see here).

Again, this too is a global phenomenon.

Corporate-industrial India is the beneficiary of a huge global con-trick: subsidies to the public sector or to the poor are portrayed as a drain on the economy, while the genuinely massive drain of taxpayer-funded corporate dole, tax breaks, bail outs and tax avoidance/evasion are afforded scant attention. Through slick doublespeak, all of this becomes redefined necessary for creating jobs or fueling ‘growth’. The only growth is in massive profits and inequalities, coupled with unemployment, low pay, the erosion of welfare and a further race to the bottom as a result of secretive trade agreements like the TTIP.

India is still a nation of farmers. Around two thirds of the population in some way rely on agriculture for a living. Despite the sector’s woeful neglect in favour of a heavily subsidized and government-supported but poorly performing industrial sector, agriculture remains the backbone of Indian society.

Notwithstanding the threat to food security, livelihoods and well-being, the type of unsustainable corporate-controlled globalized industrial agriculture being pushed through in India leads to bad food, bad soil, bad or no waterbad health, stagnant or falling yields and ultimately an agrarian crisis. It involves the liberal use of cancer-causing pesticides and the possible introduction of health-damaging but highly profitable GMOs.

There was a famous phrase used in the eighties in Britain by the former Prime Minister Harold McMillan. He accused the Thatcher administration of 'selling the family silver' with its privatization policies and the auction of public assets that ordinary people had strived to build over many decades of dedicated labour. 

As Modi presses through with his strident neoliberal agenda and seeks to further privatize India's agricultural heritage, it begs the question: is it not tantamount to turning in on yourself and destroying the home in which you live? 

Globalization – Global Agribusiness Hammering Away At The Foundations Of Indian Society 

According to the World Bank in the nineties, it was expected (and hoped) that some 400 million people in Indian agriculture would be moving...

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US Agribusiness, GMOs And The Plundering Of The Planet

RINF, Counterpunch, Countercurrents, Global Research

Small family/peasant farms produce most of the world’s food. They form the bedrock of global food production. Yet they are being squeezed onto less than a quarter of the planet's farmland. The world is fast losing farms and farmers through the concentration of land into the hands of rich and powerful land speculators and agribusiness corporations.

By definition, peasant agriculture prioritises food production for local and national markets as well as for farmers’ own families. Big agritech corporations on the other hand take over scarce fertile land and prioritise commodities or export crops for profit and foreign markets that tend to cater for the needs of the urban affluent. This process displaces farmers from their land and brings about food insecurity, poverty and hunger.

What big agribusiness with its industrial model of globalised agriculture claims to be doing - addressing global hunger and food shortages - is doing nothing of the sort. There is enough evidence to show that its activities actually lead to hunger and poverty - something that the likes of GMO-agribusiness-neoliberal apoligists might like to consider when they propagandize about choice, democracy and hunger: issues that they seem unable to grasp, at least beyond a self-serving superficial level.

Small farmers are being criminalised, taken to court and even made to disappear when it comes to the struggle for land. They are constantly exposed to systematic expulsion from their land by foreign corporations. The Oakland Institute has stated that now a new generation of institutional investors, including hedge funds, private equity and pension funds, is eager to capitalise on global farmland as a new and highly desirable asset class. Financial returns are what matter to these entities, not ensuring food security.

Consider Ukraine, for example. Small farmers operate 16% of agricultural land, but provide 55% of agricultural output, including: 97% of potatoes, 97% of honey, 88% of vegetables, 83% of fruits and berries and 80% of milk. It is clear that Ukraine’s small farms are delivering impressive outputs.

However, The US-backed toppling of that country’s government seems likely to change this with the installed puppet regime handing over agriculture to US agribusiness. Current ‘aid’ packages are contingent on the plundering of the economy under the guise of ‘austerity’ reforms and will have a devastating impact on Ukrainians’ standard of living and increase poverty in the country.

Reforms mandated by the EU-backed loan include agricultural deregulation that is intended to benefit foreign agribusiness corporations. Natural resource and land policy shifts are intended to facilitate the foreign corporate takeover of enormous tracts of land. (From 2016, foreign private investors will no longer be prohibited from buying land.) Moreover, the EU Association Agreement includes a clause requiring both parties to cooperate to extend the use of biotechnology, including GMOs.

In other words, events in Ukraine are helping (and were designed to help) the likes of Monsanto to gain a firm hold over the country’s agriculture.

Frederic Mousseau, Policy Director of the Oakland Institute last year stated that the World Bank and IMF are intent on opening up foreign markets to Western corporations and that the high stakes around control of Ukraine’s vast agricultural sector, the world’s third largest exporter of corn and fifth largest exporter of wheat, constitute an oft-overlooked critical factor. He added that in recent years, foreign corporations have acquired more than 1.6 million hectares of Ukrainian land.

Western agribusiness had been coveting Ukraine’s agriculture sector for quite some time, long before the coup. It after all contains one third of all arable land in Europe.

An article posted on Oriental Review notes that since the mid-90s the Ukrainian-Americans at the helm of the US-Ukraine Business Council had been instrumental in encouraging the foreign control of Ukrainian agriculture.

In November 2013, the Ukrainian Agrarian Confederation drafted a legal amendment that would benefit global agribusiness producers by allowing the widespread use of genetically modified seeds. Oriental Review notes that when GMO crops were legally introduced onto the Ukrainian market in 2013, they were planted in up to 70% of all soybean fields, 10-20% of cornfields, and over 10% of all sunflower fields, according to various estimates (or 3% of the country’s total farmland).

According to Oriental Review, “within two to three years, as the relevant provisions of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU go into effect, Monsanto’s lobbying efforts will transform the Ukrainian market into an oligopoly consisting of American corporations.”

It amounts to little more than the start of the US colonisation of Ukraine’s seed and agriculture sector. This corporate power grab will be assisted by local banks. Oriental Review says they will only offer favourable credit terms to those farmers who agree to use certified herbicides: those that are manufactured by Monsanto.

Interestingly, the investment fund Siguler Guff & Co has recently acquired a 50% stake in the Ukrainian Port of Illichivsk, which specialises in agricultural exports.

We need look no further than to Ukraine's immediate neighbour Poland to see the devastating impact on farmers that Western agribusiness concerns are having there. Land grabs by foreign capital and the threat to traditional (often organic) agriculture have sparked mass protests as big agribusiness seeks to monopolise the food supply from field to plate. The writing is on the wall for Ukraine.

The situation is not unique to Poland, though; the impact of policies that favour big agribusiness and foreign capital are causing hardship, impacting health and destroying traditional agriculture across the world, from India and Argentina to Brazil and Mexico and beyond.

In an article by Christina Sarich, Hilliary Martin, a farmer from Vermont in the US, encapsulates the situation by saying:
"We are here at the [US-Canadian] border to demonstrate the global solidarity of farmers in the face of globalization. The corporate takeover of agriculture has impoverished farmers, starved communities and force-fed us genetically-engineered crops, only to line the pockets of a handful of multinational corporations like Monsanto at the expense of farmers who are struggling for land and livelihood around the world."
The US has since 1945 used agriculture as a tool with which to control countries. And today what is happening in Ukraine is part of the wider US geopolitical plan to drive a wedge between Ukraine and Russia and to subjugate the country.

While the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is intended to integrate the wider EU region with the US economy (again 'subjugate' may be a more apt word), by introducing GMOs into Ukraine and striving to eventually incorporate the country into the EU the hope is that under the banner of ‘free trade’ Monsanto’s aim of getting this technology into the EU and onto the plates of Europeans will become that much easier.

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The Great GMO Legitimation Crisis

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The Great GMO Legitimation Crisis

RINF, The 4th Media, Global Research, Countercurrents, The Nation (Sri Lankan newspaper), The Ecologist, CounterPunch

Author of ‘Altered Genes, Twisted Truth’ Steven Druker recently talked of how back in the seventies a group of molecular biologists formed part of a scientific elite that sought to allay fears about genetic engineering by putting a positive spin on it. At the same time, critics of this emerging technology were increasingly depicted as being little more than non-scientists who expressed ignorant but well-meaning concerns about science and genetic engineering.

This continues today, but the attacks on critics are becoming more vicious. Former British Environment Minister Owen Paterson recently attacked critics of GMOs with a scathing speech that described them as a self-serving, elitist “green blob” that was condemning “billions” to misery. Professor Anthony Trewavas has continued this theme by stating:

Greenpeace notably decides its opinions must prevail regardless of others, so it arrogates to itself the right to tear up and destroy things it doesn’t like. That is absolutely typical of people who are unable to convince others by debate and discussion and in the last century such attitudes, amplified obviously, ended up killing people that others did not like. But the same personality type the authoritarian, ‘do as I tell you’, was at the root of it all. Such groups therefore sit uneasily with countries that are democracies.”

According to this, critics of GMOs possess authoritarian personality types, are ignorant of science and unable to convince people of their arguments and thus resort to violence. 

Part of the pro-GMO narrative also involves a good deal of glib talk about democracy. In an open letter to me, Anthony Trewavas says:

“It would be nice if you could say you are a democrat and believe that argument is better than destruction but argument that deals with all the facts and does not select out of those to construct a misleading programme. Misleading selection of limited information is causing considerable problems in various parts of the world that leads some into very violent behaviour, particularly in religious belief. I am sure you agree that this is not a good way forward… Whatever their [farmers’] choice is… they must be allowed to make that decision… That is the nature of every democracy that I hope all will finally live under?”

Pro-GMO scientists have every right to speak on psychology, politics and democracy. However, let a non-scientist criticise GMOs and they are accused of self-serving elitism or ignorance. Indeed, let even a scientist produce scientific evidence that runs counter to the industry-led science and he or she is smeared and attacked.

Let a respected academically qualified political scientist, trade policy analyst or social scientist whose views are in some way critical of GMOs and the corporations promoting them express a coherent viewpoint supported by evidence from their specific discipline and they are attacked for being little more than ideologues with an agenda, or their evidence or sources are described as ‘biased’. Any analysis of the role of the IMF, World Bank and WTO and their part in restructuring agriculture in poor nations or devising policies to favour Western agribusiness is suddenly to be side lined in favour of a narrow focus on ‘science’, which the masses and ideologues could not possibly comprehend; by implication, they should therefore defer to (pro-GMO) scientists for the necessary information.

The pro-GMO lobby talks about choice, democracy and the alleged violence of certain environmental groups but says nothing about the structural violence waged on rural communities resulting from IMF/World Bank strings-attached loans, the undermining of global food security as a result of Wall Street commodity and land speculators, the crushing effects of trade rules on poorer regions or the devastating impacts of GMOs in regions likeSouthAmerica. To discuss such things is political and thus 'ideological' and is therefore not up for discussion it seems.

Much easier to try to focus on ‘the science’ and simply mouth platitudes about democracy and freedom of choice while saying nothing about how both been captured or debased by powerful interests, including agribusiness. By attempting not to appear to be ideological or political, such people are attempting to depoliticise and thus disguise the highly political status quo whereby powerful corporations (and some bogus notion of a 'free market') are left unchallenged to shape agriculture as they see fit:

“Anyone who’s seen the recent virally circulated Venn diagrams of the personnel overlap between Monsanto and USDA personnel, or Pfizer and FDA, will immediately know what I’m talking about… A model of capitalism in which the commanding heights of the economy are an interlocking directorate of large corporations and government agencies, a major share of the total operating costs of the dominant firms are socialized (and profits privatized, of course), and “intellectual property” protectionism and other regulatory cartels allow bureaucratic corporate dinosaurs… to operate profitably without fear of competition." Kevin Carson, Center for a Stateless Society. 

If certain politicians or scientists and the companies they support really do want to ‘feed the world’ and are concerned with poverty and hunger, they should forget about GMOs and focus their attention elsewhere: not least on how the ‘free market’ system that they cherish so much causes hunger and poverty, whether for example through food commodity speculation (see earlier link) by powerful banking interests or a US foreign policy that has for decades used agriculture to trap nations into subservience.

Rather than have the public focus on such things, such people try to mislead and divert attention away from these things with puerile notions of authoritarian personality types who reject some illusory notion of open debate, free choice and democracy.  

Failure is us

Even with this power and political influence at its disposal, the GMO agritech industry is far from being a success.  Much of its profits actually derive from failure: for example, Andrew Kimbrell notes that after having chosen to ignore science, the industry’s failing inputs are now to be replaced with more destined-to-fail and ever-stronger poisonous inputs. The legacy of poisoned environments and ecological devastation is for someone else to deal with. In his book, Steven Druker has shown that from very early on the US government has colluded with the GMO agritech sector to set a 'technical fix-failure-technical fix' merry-go-round in motion.

This system is designed to stumble from one crisis to the next, all the while hiding behind the banners of ‘innovation’ or ‘research and development’. But it’s all good business. And that’s all that really matters to the industry. 

There’s always good PR ground to be made from blaming critics for being ‘anti-science’ and money to be made from a continuous state of crisis management (‘innovation’ and bombarding farmers with a never-ending stream of new technologies and inputs).  Part of the great con-trick is that it attempts to pass off its endless crises and failures as brilliant successes.

For many promoters of the GMO cause, it is a case of not even wanting to understand alternative approaches or the devastating impacts of GMOs when their lavish salary or consultancy fees depend on them not wanting to understand any of it.

When it comes to labelling unsafe and untested GM food in the US, the pro-GMO lobby grasps at straws by saying too much information confuses the public or sends out the wrong message

When it says sound science should underpin the GMO issue, it does everything it can to circumvent any science that threatens its interests.

When it says its critics have a political agenda, it side lines debates on how it hijacks international and national policy making bodies and regulatory agencies.

When it talks about elite, affluent environmentalists robbing food from the bellies of the poor, its private companies are owned by people who form part of a privileged class that seek to turn their vested interests into policy proscriptions for the rest of us.

The pro-GMO lobby engages in the fraudulent notion that it knows what is best for humanity. Co-opting public institutions and using science as an ideology, it indulges in an arrogant form of exceptionalism.

The world does not need GMO food or crops, especially those which have not been proven safe or whose benefits are questionable to say the least. There are alternative ways to boost food production if or when there is a need to. There are other (existing) ways to tackle the impacts of volatile climates. 

However, the alternatives are being squeezed out as big agritech and its captured policy/regulatory bodies place emphasis on proprietary products, not least GMOs and chemical inputs. 

The pro-GMO lobby has a crisis of legitimation. No amount of twisted truths or altered genes, expensive PR or attacks on its critics can disguise this.

Science, Democracy and Choice: Responding To A Pro-GMO Scientist

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Science, Democracy And Choice: A Response To Professor Tony Trewavas’s Open Letter

The following is in response to an open letter published on the AgBioWorld Facebook page by Professor Tony Trewavas of Edinburgh University. This response is also posted on the GM Watch, Global Research, Countercurrents and RINF websites. 

Tony Trewavais wrote his letter after reading my article ‘So You Want to Help Africa Mr Paterson? Then Stop Promoting Ideology and Falsehoods to Push GMOs’. The article originally appeared on a number of prominent websites. On Global Research, the piece appeared under a different title ‘The Propaganda Campaign in support of GMOs’ (read here).

Professor Trewavas is a prominent supporter of GMOs in Britain. His original letter is provided in full below my response.

Dear Professor Trewavas

I find your response to my piece disappointing. You failed to address many of the issues I discussed (not least that the world can feed itself without GMOs and that hunger and poverty are due to structural factors and not a lack of food, which GMOs have merely exacerbated) and have decided to indulge in the same type of smear-scare tactics that Owen Paterson employed in his Pretoria speech.

You forward the baseless assertions that GMOs are safe, even though there has not been one long-term epidemiological study conducted to show this.

While condemning Greenpeace and other groups for somehow being authoritarian and anti-choice, you say nothing about agribusiness corporations whose financial clout has brought them political influence that allows them to exert huge control over the WTO and capture regulatory bodies and public research institutions. These corporations have had a key role in driving trade policies from India to Europe, not least in terms of the secretive Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture and the world’s largest secretive, pro-corporate trade deal, the proposed TTIP. 

Where is the choice and democracy here? 

You have nothing to say on that but proceed to lecture me on the virtues of choice and democracy.

In your opening paragraph alone, you make four fallacious assertions.

First of all, I did not say GMOs would be a disaster for "any" farmer. In India’s Punjab state, for example, some farmers have done quite well from the introduction of petrochemical farming (‘green revolution’). But water tables are falling drastically, pesticides have contaminated the water supply, there is a big cancer problem and many farmers are experiencing economic distress. In Punjab, this form of agriculture is unsustainable. There is now an agrarian crisis and it is a health, environmental and social disaster. My point is that GMOs would similarly be bad for agriculture in general and would have a systemic, detrimental impact on the environment and human health.

Second, you claim that I fear GMOs will not be a disaster for African farmers but a success. Not true. You have ignored the fact that a number of GMO projects in Africa to date have indeed been failures and in my article I provided a link to a report to highlight this (which you go on to conveniently dismiss as a ‘biased’ source).  

Third, you say that the word ‘choice’ is conspicuously absent from my article. Any objective reader would appreciate that the concept is central to it, not least where I discuss the ‘choices’ imposed on Ethiopia via the West’s ‘structural adjustment’ of agriculture (which I refer to at the end of the article). That was not a case of farmers ‘choosing’ to restructure their agriculture, but a case of policies being forced on them at a macro policy level. And this is one of the issues that I have with GMOs.

Although you conveniently do not mention that part of my piece, Michel Chossudovsky’s analysis takes account of the way by which agribusiness conglomerates can and do set rules at the WTO, manipulate market forces and restructure agriculture in foreign countries for their own ends. That is very much related to ‘choice’ and its denial. You talk a great deal about ‘democracy’ but fail to address how this situation fits with your ideas of giving choice to farmers and not imposing authoritarian agendas on people.

You say I should buy a farm and exert my choice to farm as I wish. Talk about exercising such a choice to the people in South America who Helena Paul wrote about (described in my piece). They are being driven out as agribusiness and the planting of GMOs (mainly for export) takes hold. She describes this as ecocide and genocide. Tell it to the peasant farmers who are being forced from their lands by speculators and corporations as described by reports by GRAIN and the Oakland Institute last year. These are the people who feed 80 percent of the ‘developing world’, without GM technology, yet are being squeezed out. Where is choice and democracy?

Certain words are used cheaply by some.

The issue of choice not only concerns the options made available to people, but those which have been closed off. Owen Paterson’s claims that “primitive, inefficient” farming techniques would condemn “billions” to hunger, poverty and underdevelopment is ridiculous. He engages in hyperbole in order to denigrate credible alternatives that are forwarded by the groups he is attacking and thus trying to deny those alternatives.

Fourth, nowhere do I say that only agroecological farming should be implemented to feed the world, as you claim I do. However, there are many studies and official reports that demonstrate the efficacy of organic and agroecological approaches that are well publicised. In my article, I referred to some of these studies and reports. But rather than regurgitating references, I would say that no matter what data is presented, certain people seek to marginalise agroecological approaches and prefer to focus on external input intensive ‘solutions' and proprietary technologies, such as GMOs.
I find it strange that supporters of GMOs talk so much about choice when the GMO biotech industry has spent $100 million in the US to deny choice by preventing labelling of GM food.

Where is the choice for the farmer who uses non-GM crops but has his field contaminated by GMOs? Where was the choice when parts of the US wheat crop were contaminated as a result of open-field trials or when contamination took place because of Liberty Link 601? Where is the choice in West Bengal where GMOs from Bangladesh have been found?

Where is the choice for farmers when the only ones that end up on the market are company seeds, or where thousands of varieties have been reduced to a relative handful?

In my piece, Daniel Maingi and Mariam Mayet mentioned the squeezing out of alternatives as a result of the impact of Western agribusiness in Africa. Are they to be dismissed as ‘biased’ sources too?

You say the following: 

“Most objectors in this area have a political programme not a scientific one but they like to bend science to their own political point of view. Science is by its nature not politics or political propaganda or anything like it. It deals with evidence not superstition, or political or social philosophies. If you have a political programme then please stop trying to justify it by claiming it has scientific support; it does not.”

First of all, I provided valid references which referred to peer-reviewed science in the article (and have again below), but all you can say is that my ‘political programme’ has “no scientific support”. I say to you: please stop justifying your own pro-GMO stance by smearing critics and rejecting any evidence because it does not fit your own agenda. Please do not talk about ‘choice’ and ‘democracy’ when your own agenda is to support powerful corporations who via the distortion of science and the capture of strategic national and international bodies deny choice.

Your view of science is either deliberately misleading or simply naïve. And for someone in your position, I find it difficult to believe it could be the latter. From acquiring funding and formulating the questions to be addressed, to conducting research, interpreting findings and peer review, politics are present in science throughout. The manufacture of scientific knowledge involves a process driven by various sociological, methodological and epistemological conflicts and compromises, both inside the laboratory and beyond. Writers in the field of the sociology of science have written much on this. I refer you to the following link, which contests your lofty view of science and scientists: ‘Monsanto wants to know why people doubt science’.

The very fact you have responded to me in a certain manner discredits your view of scientists, not least because it becomes difficult to appreciate where the line between science and lobbying is in your case.

There is an authoritarian, political agenda behind the GMO project – not set by some environmental group (as you say) that you like to use as a whipping boy – but by the agribusiness concerns behind GMOs and petro-chemical industrial agriculture. Focusing on Greenpeace with its supposed agenda serves as a convenient diversion.

It is not NGOs, groups, activists and campaigners that have failed to provide convincing arguments. And, by the way, to conflate such groups with intolerance, authoritarianism and killings by brutal regimes or groups is ludicrous and smacks of desperation on your part. You are a scientist but are using all the cheap smears and tactics of a lobbyist!

When peer-reviewed science is provided by critics to support their claims, the onslaught by the GMO agritech industry and its mouthpieces against those who legitimately and scientifically contest the claims about the efficacy of GMOs is relentless. Just ask Arpad Pusztai, P. M. Bhargava, Judy Carman, Terje Traavik, Andrés Carrasco, Ignacio Chapela, Allison Snow, Marc Lappé, Britt Bailey, Bela Darvas and G. E. Seralini.

These scientists have all either been threatened, smeared or hindered in their work because their research called into question the safety and/or efficacy of GMOs or associated products.

The hypocrisy of those from the pro-GMO lobby who call for sound science to inform the debate on GMOs is glaringly obvious. Those who argue against GMOs are accused of not having science or facts on their side and of engaging in propaganda, while it is clear the pro-GMO lobby that hurls such allegations is itself guilty of all such things. This tactic goes hand in glove with a strident populist agenda whereby the pro-GMO lobby portrays itself as on the side of the people, while its opponents are ‘elitists’ and are ‘stealing food from the bellies of the poor’.

If you really do value democracy as much as you say and wish to call to account those who show contempt for it, you would do better by reading Steven Druker’s new book ‘Altered Genes, Twisted Truth’. Instead of attacking Greenpeace and other groups, you should be more even handed (and employ just a little ‘scientific objectivity’ in your approach) by looking at the fraudulent practices and processes in US government departments that led to the commercialisation of GMOs in that country.

As far as your point on there being a scientific consensus is concerned, it has been well established in recent months by over 300 scientists in a peer reviewed journal that there is no consensus. Furthermore, you bring the issue of climate change into the debate. If I am to accept your claim that there is overwhelming consensus on climate change then I certainly reject your assertion that the same applies to the GMO issue.

What you claim to be ‘biased’ sources have demonstrated that the claims made on the back of many studies on GMOs are not supported by the evidence and that in many instances certain findings are marginalised as not being significant when they actually are (I supply these two links which provide reference to support my claims, the first of which you have already dismissed as being from a biased source, without addressing the issues raised therein:  'An evidence-based examination of the claims made for the safety and efficacy of GM crops and food' and 'Adverse impacts of transgenic crops/food: a compilation of scientific references with abstracts').  

Moreover, climate change is fundamentally different to the GMO issue. Climate change may or may not be anthropogenic, but scientists are deliberately genetically engineering food and adopting a wait and see attitude towards the impact. Wouldn’t it be better to prove safety beforehand?

But let’s get one thing clear, as Druker shows, GMOs were placed on the commercial market due to political arm twisting and official bodies in the US ignoring science that pointed out the dangers of this technology. The decision to commercialise GMOs was not based on scientific evidence; in fact, it ignored such evidence. Yet you are still placing the onus on scientists to prove that GMOs are unsafe – and when they show that they are, these scientists are attacked. It seems science is only called on when it suits.

Releasing GMOs onto the commercial market is not like boarding a plane, as you suggest. The genetic engineering of food affects every member of the population. It presents a widespread, systemic risk to the human population. Most planes are safe and have been tested. Moreover, we have a choice to board a plane. We have no other choice than to eat (unlabelled) food. GMO food has not been proven safe.

The GMO biotech industry carries out inadequate, short-term studies and conceals the data produced by its research under the guise of ‘commercial confidentiality’, while independent research highlights the very serious dangers of its products. It has in the past also engaged in fakery in India, bribery in Indonesia, smears and intimidates those who challenge its interests and distorts and censors science by restricting independent research. If science is held in such high regard by the GMO agritech sector, why engage in such practices and why in the US did policy makers release GM food onto the commercial market without proper long-term tests?

Despite its claims to the contrary, the sector cannot win the scientific debate, so it resorts to co-opting key public bodies or individuals to propagate various falsehoods and deceptions. Part of the deception is based on emotional blackmail: the world needs GMOs to feed the hungry, both now and in the future. This myth has been blown apart. In fact, the organisation GRAIN highlights that GMOs have thus far have actually contributed to food insecurity!

You say:

“If agroecological approaches can currently match yield that can be attained by using modern farming methods then by all means use it.”

Why doesn’t Paterson adopt this attitude? He denigrates such alternatives, and you deem it necessary to jump to his defence by responding this way.

“But if not and my understanding is that currently it cannot, then they should not be the farming method of recommended choice at present.”

Perhaps you need to do some more reading and consult a few more UN and scientific reports.   

You say that:

“No-one with any concern for humanity or the welfare of its population should currently consider any other alternative. The groups that campaign for this kind or that kind of farming method and destroy crops to try and bounce others into their point of view have lost that fundamental concern for their own species.”

What a ridiculous assertion. Why do you persist in attacking those who clearly do have compassion? Environmental groups have not engaged in decades of massive criminality, in decades of cover ups and serious environmental pollution. You would do better by focussing on one particular leading company whose record clearly shows that it has no regard whatsoever for humanity, yet which claims it wants to ‘feed the word’ with altruistic intent.

If you really do believe in dispassionate, objective discourse, then adopt an even-handed approach. You talk so much about democracy and choice yet there is no mention whatsoever of the crimes, cover ups and decades of environmental pollution that a certain company that forms part of the pro-GMO lobby has been involved in.

You talk about choice and democracy but say nothing about how big agribusiness has at international and national levels captured policy making bodies to effectively impose ‘choice’ on US consumers and poorer nations and devastate local economies. Where is your condemnation? Where is your condemnation of ‘big list’ studies and fallacious claims made by the likes of Jon Entine about safety and efficacy on the back of them? Or are your condemnations, attacks, misrepresentations and ridiculous assertions reserved for those who flag up such things?

While powerful corporations have instant access to policy makers who work closely together, ordinary people and groups have to resort to Freedom of Information legislation to ascertain what happens behind closed doors. They have to rely on whisteblowers or leaked documents or must go through the courts to gain access to studies that formed the basis of regulatory bodies’ approvals for commercial agribusiness products. And you talk to me about democracy and of how I or some campaign group have scant regard for it?

Your response is full of warm sounding notions about democracy and choice and some high-minded words about science and scientists (of course, only the science that fits your paradigm). Rhetoric, platitudes and clichés do not constitute a considered response. Projecting the pro-GMO lobby’s deficiencies onto its critics is not valid. It’s disappointing from a scientist.

You indulge in cheap, fallacious attacks on critics, which is symptomatic of a very transparent and predictable propaganda campaign aimed at critics.  

In finishing, I would like to make clear that I do not belong to any environmental or campaign group. I received no payment for the article you responded to. This is why I refer to myself as in ‘independent’ (not freelance) writer.

I wonder how many scientists can claim such a level of independence from for-profit corporate entities.

With kind regards,

Colin Todhunter


Open letter from Professor Trewavas

Dear Mr Todhunter

I read your article against GM crops (So You Want to Help Africa Mr Paterson? Then Stop Promoting Ideology and Falsehoods to Push GMOs; http://rinf.com/alt-news/editorials/want-help-africa-mr-paterson-stop-promoting-ideology-falsehoods-push-gmos/) but I searched in vain for one small word, ‘choice’.  It seems never to enter the commentaries of Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth or WWF or the other odd environmentalist/activist groupings that appear now and again. Your claim is that Africa can do very well just on agroecology. Well, put your money where your mouth is. Buy a farm in Africa and farm it in the way that you want. But allow others to farm as they wish and if they wish to use GM crops that is their right to do so just as it yours, not to. According to you any African farmer using GM crops will be a disaster so in that case they will stop using them. If it’s not a disaster, which I suspect is what you fear most, then they will reap the benefit and perhaps persuade you in due course to farm like them. Do you want to impose your opinions on others without allowing them to make their own minds up and choose how they wish to farm?

It is an unfortunate situation that in our present world many environmentalist groups have become typically authoritarian in attitude. Greenpeace notably decides its opinions must prevail regardless of others, so it arrogates to itself the right to tear up and destroy things it doesn’t like. That is absolutely typical of people who are unable to convince others by debate and discussion and in the last century such attitudes, amplified obviously, ended up killing people that others did not like. But the same personality type the authoritarian, ‘do as I tell you’, was at the root of it all. Such groups therefore sit uneasily with countries that are democracies. It would be nice if you could say you are a democrat and believe that argument is better than destruction but argument that deals with all the facts and does not select out of those to construct a misleading programme. Misleading selection of limited information is causing considerable problems in various parts of the world that leads some into very violent behaviour, particularly in religious belief. I am sure you agree that this is not a good way forward.

There is a consensus amongst scientists, at least those that have made themselves aware of all reasonable scientific facts, that GM is both safe for consumption and with appropriate regulations for the environment too. Do you agree with that consensus or not? There is another scientific consensus over climate change that is impelling governments to take action. The consensus over GM food safety is stronger amongst scientists than that over climate change, according to a current survey. I assume you accept the one over climate change, most do. But science and scientific fact is not a pick and mix situation, if you accept a scientific consensus on one than you have to accept it for the other. I am sure you will be aware that there are minorities of scientists, different in both cases, that object to both. But I have found that those that do object to the consensus on GM crops always fail to provide an acceptable balance of information in their objections. They select out only the very limited data they consider supports their view and neglect everything else that does not. That is not science that can be used to construct policy. It’s like claiming flying is unsafe because several planes a year crash whilst ignoring the hundreds of thousands every day that haven’t. If you want unbiased information on GM crops go to the many university personnel who can provide it for you. But please do not quote the so obviously-biased publication which you have, as though it were scientific fact.

Most objectors in this area have a political programme not a scientific one but they like to bend science to their own political point of view. Science is by its nature not politics or political propaganda or anything like it. It deals with evidence not superstition, or political or social philosophies. If you have a political programme then please stop trying to justify it by claiming it has scientific support; it does not.

All human activities have costs and benefits, that will include agroecological approaches that you apparently favour, but at the start both costs and benefits have to be drawn up to see what is appropriate to the particular circumstance. Given the rapidly increasing African population I would say that currently yield is crucial but that can change just as farming methods are changing in Europe towards increasing environmental concerns. Farming methods that do both such as no-till or integrated farm management currently offer the best compromise. Malawi, I understand, subsidizes minerals for crop growth and has turned the country from a food importer into a food exporter. That seems an excellent approach at present to solve a pressing problem.

If agroecological approaches can currently match yield that can be attained by using modern farming methods then by all means use it. But if not and my understanding is that currently it cannot, then they should not be the farming method of recommended choice at present.

When Africa has got its population increases under control and producing sufficient to feed everybody then alternatives like agroecology may come to the fore. No-one with any concern for humanity or the welfare of its population should currently consider any other alternative. The groups that campaign for this kind or that kind of farming method and destroy crops to try and bounce others into their point of view have lost that fundamental concern for their own species.

I am not dogmatic about the methods that farmers use since I consider that decision is the province of individual farmers themselves. Whatever their choice is their right in the framework of their country but they must be allowed to make that decision in full knowledge of all the scientific information and advice, not the tiny amount available to support alternative points of view. That is the nature of every democracy that I hope all will finally live under.

Good science is not set in stone or concrete, the current view on GM crops is simply based on the wealth of the factual and reproducible evidence that all good scientists recognise. But if the evidence indicates change then scientists change with it. Why not join those whose job it is to provide farmers and the populace with unbiased evidence constructed by independent university personnel? You have nothing to lose but the constraints of closed thinking and everything to gain that comes from reasoned and open scientific debate.

With my best wishes
Professor Tony Trewavas FRS
University of Edinburgh
Professor Anthony Trewavas FRS. FRSE
Institute of Molecular Plant Science
Mayfield Road
Edinburgh EH9 3JH



Feeding The Vultures, While Starving Agriculture: Capitalism’s Great Indian Con-Trick

The 4th Media, Global Research, Countercurrents, RINF

The story goes like this: India is an economic miracle, a powerhouse of growth. It is a nation that increasingly embodies the spirit of entrepreneurship. And the proof? Until recently, India had year on year 9% GDP growth (or thereabouts).

Such logic, statements and figures are the stuff of headlines that pay homage to the supposed wonders of neoliberalism which the corporate media trots out time and again in the belief that if something is repeated often enough then it must be true.

Visit Delhi or Mumbai and you can witness the trappings of this ‘success’. Newly built towns on the outskirts with gleaming apartment blocks and sterile shopping malls. What more could a person want? All well and good for those who have benefited from neoliberal economic reforms that began in 1991 - because indeed it seems that is all they do want.

But these beneficiaries of neoliberalism comprise a minority. They constitute but a section of the urban population, which in turn constitutes a minority within the country. They are the ones the ideologue-economists and corporate-controlled media in the West focus on when celebrating capitalism and its global ‘success’. But what about the bulk of the population, the two thirds that live in villages and rural India?

According to Sudhansu R Das, the Indian village was once enshrined in a performing eco-system and a healthy social life (see this). In fact, the village was the centre of a rural economy, an economic powerhouse of agricultural innovation, artisanship and entrepreneurialism. However, the British Raj almost dismantled this system by introducing mono crop activities and mill-made products. Post-independent India failed to repair the economic fabric and is now actually accelerating the dismantling. As a result, rural India is too often depicted as a ‘basket case’, a drain on the nation's subsidies and resources.

It is not, however, agriculture that is the subsidy-sucking failure it is so often portrayed as in the mainstream media. The spotlight should instead focus on corporate-industrial India, the supposed saviour of the nation, which has failed to deliver in terms of boosting exports or creating jobs, despite the massive hand outs and tax exemptions given to it (see this and this).  As subsidy-sucking failures go, it has much to answer for.

Of course, corporate-industrial India is engaged in a huge con-trick, which forms part of the neoliberal agenda worldwide: subsidies to the public sector or to the poor are portrayed as a drain on the economy, while the genuinely massive drain of taxpayer-funded corporate dole, tax breaks, bail outs, sops, tax avoidance and evasion are afforded scant attention. If anything, through slick doublespeak, all of this becomes redefined as being necessary to create jobs or fuel 'growth'.

But what does the taxpaying public get in return for subsidising the private sector in this way and for paying for its fraudulent practices? What do ordinary people get for being forced to ‘stand on their own two feet’ while subsidising a system of ‘free’ enterprise that is anything but free? Jobs...  'growth'?

No, they see record profits and levels of inequality and experience austerity, the outsourcing of jobs, low pay, the destruction of rights, deregulation, mass unemployment and the erosion pensions and social security (see this  and this).

The machinery of state is pressed into the service of private capital for the benefit of private capital under the guise of 'growth' or the 'national interest' and that is the price the rest of us pay.

This is exemplified by the following quote:
“We don’t think how our farmers on whose toil we feed manage to sustain themselves; we fail to see how the millions of the poor survive. We look at the state-of-the-art airports, IITs, highways and bridges, the inevitable necessities for the corporate world to spread its tentacles everywhere and thrive, depriving the ordinary people of even the basic necessities of life and believe it is development.” – Sukumaran CV
What Sukumaran CV describes above is in India underpinned by unconstitutional land takeovers, the trampling of democratic rights, cronyism, cartels and the manipulation of markets, which to all purposes is what economic ‘neo-liberalism’ has entailed in India over the last two decades. Corporations have run roughshod over ordinary people in their quest for profit.

In the process, there have been untold opportunities for well-placed officials and individuals to make a fast buck from various infrastructure projects and sell offs of public assets, such as airports, seeds, ports and other infrastructure built up with public money or toil.

This neoliberal agenda is based on state-corporate extremism, which has across the world resulted in national states submitting to the tenets of the Wall Street-backed pro-privatisation policies, deregulation, free capital flows, rigged markets and unaccountable cartels. It is the type of extremism that is depicted as being anything but by the corporate-controlled media.

Powerful corporations are shaping the ‘development’ agenda in India and the full military backing of the state is on hand to forcibly evict peoples from their land in order to hand it to mineral extracting and processing industries, real estate interests and industry.

Moreover, the deal that allows the Monsanto/Syngenta/Walmart-driven Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture in return for the US sanctioning and backing the opening up of India’s nuclear sector to foreign interests has shown who is setting the agenda for agriculture, food and energy.

Almost 300,000 farmers have taken their lives since 1997 and many more are experiencing economic distress or have left farming as a result of debt, a shift to (GM) cash crops and economic ‘liberalisation’ (see this). And yet the corporate-controlled type of agriculture being imposed and/or envisaged only leads to bad food, bad soil, bad or no waterbad health, poor or falling yields and an impending agrarian crisis.

It’s not difficult to see where policy makers’ priorities lie. In a recent TV interview (watch here), food policy analyst Devinder Sharma highlighted such priorities:
“Agriculture has been systematically killed over the last few decades. And they are doing deliberately because the World Bank and big business have given the message that this is the only way to grow economically… Sixty percent of the population lives in the villages or in the rural areas and is involved in agriculture, and less than two percent of the annual budget goes to agriculture… When you are not investing in agriculture, you think it is economically backwards, not performing. You are not wanting it to perform. You are ensuring that the price they get today under the MSP (Minimum Support Price) has also being withdrawn. Leave it to the vagaries or the tyranny of the markets… Twenty-five crore people in this country are agricultural landless workers. If we give these people land, these people are also start-ups, these people are also entrepreneurs... But you are only giving these conditions to industry... agriculture has disappeared from the economic radar screen of the country… 70 percent of the population is being completely ignored…”
Farmers have been imbued with the spirit of entrepreneurship for hundreds of years. They have been "scientists, innovators, natural resource stewards, seed savers and hybridisation experts" who have increasingly been reduced to becoming "recipients of technical fixes and consumers of poisonous products of a growing agricultural inputs industry" (see here).

In his interview, Devinder Sharma went on to state that despite the tax breaks and the raft of policies that favour industry over agriculture, industry has failed to deliver; and yet despite the gross under-investment in agriculture, it still manages to deliver bumper harvests year after year. Furthermore, when farmers are prioritised, politicians are accused of populism and playing to a vote bank. Yet when industry receives subsidies, hand outs and tax breaks, it is called 'reform'and portrayed as contributing to 'growth':
“When we talk about budgets, it’s going to be populism or reforms. What is reforms? … if you don’t give anything to industry, they call it ‘policy paralysis’. But if you give them all kinds of dole then they think it is growth, they think it is a dream budget. In the last 10 years, we had 36 lakh crore going to the corporates by way of tax exemptions. Where are the jobs? They just created 1.5 crore jobs in the last ten years. Where are the exports? ... The only sector that has performed very well in this country is agriculture. Year after year we are having a bumper harvest. Why can’t we strengthen that sector and stop the population shift from the villages… Why do you want to move the population just because Western economists told us we should follow them. Why? Why can’t India have its own thinking? Why do we have to go with Harvard or Oxford economists who tell us this?”
With GDP growth slowing and automation replacing human labour the world over in order to decrease labour costs and boost profit, where are the jobs going to come from to cater for hundreds of millions of former agricultural workers or those whose livelihoods will be destroyed as transnational corporations move in and seek to capitalise industries that currently employ tens of millions (if not hundreds of millions)?

Are they to become what Arundhati Roy calls the "ghosts of capitalism," the invisible, shoved-aside victims of neoliberalism who are deemed surplus to requirements?

India’s development is being hijacked by the country’s wealthy ruling class and the multinational vultures who long ago stopped circling and are now swooping. Meanwhile, the genuine wealth creators, the entrepreneurs who work the fields and have been custodians of the land and seeds for centuries, are being sold out to corporate interests whose only concern is to how best loot the economy.

As they do so, they churn out in unison with their politician puppets the mantra of it all being in the ‘national interest’ and constituting some kind of 'economic miracle'.

Feeding The Vultures While Agriculture Starves: Capitalism’s Great Indian Con-Trick

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So You Want To Help Africa Mr Paterson? Then Stop Promoting Ideology And Falsehoods...

Countercurrents and RINF 23/2/2015, Global Research and The 4th Media 24/2/2015, Il Cambiamento 25/2/2015, London Progressive Journal 21/3/2015

According to Mathew Holehouse in the UK’s Telegraph newspaper (here), former UK Environment Minister Owen Paterson will this week accuse the European Union and Greenpeace of condemning people in the developing world to death by refusing to accept genetically modified crops. Speaking in Pretoria, South Africa, on Tuesday, Paterson will warn that a food revolution that could save Africa from hunger is being held back and that the world is on the cusp of a green revolution, of the kind that fed a billion people in the 1960s and 1970s as the world’s population soared.

After talking about a growing global population and the pivotal role of GMOs in feeding it, Paterson will assert:

"This is also a time, however, of great mischief, in which many individuals and even governments are turning their backs on progress. Not since the original Luddites smashed cotton mill machinery in early 19th century England, have we seen such an organised, fanatical antagonism to progress and science. These enemies of the Green Revolution call themselves ‘progressive’, but their agenda could hardly be more backward-looking and regressive… their policies would condemn billions to hunger, poverty and underdevelopment. And their insistence on mandating primitive, inefficient farming techniques would decimate the earth’s remaining wild spaces, devastate species and biodiversity, and leave our natural ecology poorer as a result.”

Instead of parroting the corporate spin of the pro-GMO lobby, Paterson would do better to consider more viable options that he likes to denigrate as 'backward-looking and regressive' by listening to what Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev stated in April of last year: 

“We don’t have a goal of developing GM products here or to import them.  We can feed ourselves with normal, common, not genetically modified products.  If the Americans like to eat such products, let them eat them.  We don’t need to do that; we have enough space and opportunities to produce organic food.” (see here)

Or maybe Paterson would benefit from heeding a Statement signed by 24 delegates from 18 African countries to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization in 1998:

“We strongly object that the image of the poor and hungry from our countries is being used by giant multinational corporations to push a technology that is neither safe, environmentally friendly nor economically beneficial to us. We do not believe that such companies or gene technologies will help our farmers to produce the food that is needed in the 21st century. On the contrary, we think it will destroy the diversity, the local knowledge and the sustainable agricultural systems that our farmers have developed for millennia, and that it will thus undermine our capacity to feed ourselves.”

Perhaps he should also listen to Viva Kermani (here - supported by data) when talking about the situation in India:

“… the statements that they [supporters of GMOs] use such as “thousands die of hunger daily in India” are irresponsible and baseless scare-mongering with a view to projecting GM as the only answer. When our people go hungry, or suffer from malnutrition, it is not for lack of food, it is because their right to safe and nutritious food that is culturally connected has been blocked. That is why it is not a technological fix problem and GM has no place in it.”

Paterson has a history of engaging in the type of emotional blackmail and smearing of critics that comes second nature to the pro-GMO lobby. Anyone (usually portrayed as affluent Westerners – which is not true, given many of the critics are not ‘Western’, affluent or reside in ‘developed’ countries) who opposes GM crops or food is painted as an enemy of the poor because they take food from their bellies (see this). Paterson is using a rhetorical device deliberately designed to mislead and stir up emotion. His tactics are based on spurious claims about the efficacy of GMO technology and are intended to divert attention away from the true nature and causes of hunger and food poverty.

Proponents of GM crops constantly claim that we need such technology to address hunger and to feed a growing global population. We are told by the GMO biotech lobby that GM crops are essential, are better for the environment and will provide the tools that farmers need in a time of climate chaos. They claim that GM crops provide higher yields and higher incomes for farmers around the world. All such claims have been shown to be bogus.

For example, let us take one report from the many that could be cited to show the fallacious nature of these claims. The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) last year released a report that concluded hunger is caused by poverty and inequality and that we already produce enough food to feed the world’s population and did so even at the peak of the world food crisis in 2008. The report went on to say that current global food production provides enough to feed ten billion people and the recent food price crises of 2008 and 2011 both took place in years of record global harvests, clearly showing that these crises were not the result of scarcity.

CBAN also noted that the GM crops that are on the market today are not designed to address hunger. Four GM crops account for almost 100 percent of worldwide GM crop acreage, and all four have been developed for large-scale industrial farming systems and are used as cash crops for export, to produce fuel or for processed food and animal feed.

The report also stated that GM crops have not increased yields and do not increase farmers’ incomes. GM crops lead to an increase in pesticide use and cause further harm to the environment. Pesticide reduction was the primary selling point for Bt cotton adoption in India, but overall pesticide use has not decreased in any state that grows Bt cotton, with the exception of Andhra Pradesh. Read the full report that contains over 100 references in in support of these claims.

Hunger, food security and ‘feeding the world’ is a political, social and economic problem and no amount of gene splicing is capable of surmounting obstacles like poor roads, inadequate rural credit systems and insufficient irrigation.

Paterson's talk about backward, regressive, primitive farming practices that would condemn millions to hunger and decimate the ecology is again playing on fear and emotion. What he says has no basis in reality.

Numerous official reports have argued that to feed the hungry in poorer regions we need to support diverse, sustainable agro-ecological methods of farming and strengthen local food economies: for example, see this UN report, this official report, this report by the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food and this report by 400 experts which was twice peer reviewed. 

See also see this report that indicates GMOs are not necessary to feed the world.

So from where and from who is Paterson getting his information from? I think we know the answer.

It is after all small farms and peasant farmers (more often than not serving local communities) that are more productive than giant industrial (export-oriented) farms and which produce most of the world’s food (see this report from GRAIN). The experience with GM crops shows that the application of GM technology is more likely to actually undermine food security and entrench the social, economic and environmental problems created by industrial agriculture and corporate control (see this other report from GRAIN and this article by Helena Paul documenting ecocide and genocide in South America due to the imposition of GM crops there).

“The problem is that the poor have no money to buy food and increasingly, no access to land on which to grow it… GM is a dangerous distraction from real solutions and claims that GM can help feed the world can be viewed as exploitation of the suffering of the hungry. GM crops do not increase yield. Nor are there any GM crops that are better than non-GM crops at tolerating poor soils or challenging climate conditions. Thus it is difficult to see how GM can contribute to solving world hunger… The two major GM crops, soy and maize, mostly go into animal feed for intensive livestock operations, biofuels to power cars, and processed human food – products for wealthy nations that have nothing to do with meeting the basic food needs of the poor and hungry.”

This above quote is from the Open Earth Source report GMOs Myths and Truths. The report provides specific details about GM crops that have been specifically promoted as helping small-scale and poor farmers in Africa. However, the results were the opposite of what was promised and all these projects failed.

Owen Paterson is a staunch supporter of GM technology, so staunch in fact that fellow Conservative Party MP Zac Goldsmith stated Paterson was little more than an industry puppet (see this in the UK’s Independent newspaper that quotes Goldsmith).

Paterson is ignorant of or at least content to side line the devastating, deleterious health, environmental, social and economic impacts of GMOs, which are outined in the 'GMO Myths and Truths' report. He acts as a mouthpieces for the GMO biotech sector and has made numerous false claims about the benefits and safety of GMOs that fly in the face of research findings.

In the recent past, he was keen to reassure the British public that safety concerns over GMOs are based on "humbug" and that GM food is completely safe to eat. See this article, which outlines Paterson’s stance and critiques his claims. 

When Paterson talks about 'enemies' of the 'green revolution' as being fanatical Luddites, he may also like to consider that the ‘green revolution’ was not the resounding success he likes to portray it as. Raj Patel provides some revealing insight into how the ‘green revolution’ took credit for many gains in Indian agricultural that were due to other influences (see this). And, of course, the ‘green revolution’ was based on, among other things, massive external inputs, violence, severe environmental and human health degradation and debt (see this – the entire text of Vandana Shiva’s book ‘The Violence of the Green Revolution’ - and this and this, which both highlight the current agrarian crisis in Punjab, the original ‘poster boy’ of the ‘green revolution’).   

It comes as no surprise that Paterson would state the things he does. As Environment Minister, his support for GMOs was being carried out in partnership with a number of pro-GMO institutions, including the Agricultural Biotechnology Council (ABC), which is backed by GM companies such as Monsanto, Syngenta and Bayer CropScience. Last year, despite government attempts to throw a veil of secrecy over meetings and conversations it had with the industry, GeneWatch UK uncovered evidence that GMO companies are driving UK government policy in this area (see here). 

So if you were still wondering from where and whom Paterson is getting his information from, it should by now be clear. 

His attacks on Greenpeace and others who advocate a shift away from petrochemical/GM agriculture towards sustainable farming are part of the wider media campaign to demonize scientists and prominent anti-GMO campaigners. A number of hatchet pieces have in recent months branded Vandana Shiva a liar and a charlatan and the GMO lobby has assembled all the ingredients (not least a massive amount of money) of a classic yet predictable propaganda campaign (see this and this). From the UK, to Ghana (see this) and India (see this), there is a concerted campaign by the GMO lobby and its political handmaidens to demonize critics of GMOs. 

Paterson plays his role well.

Such tactics are used because the pro-GMO lobby has a big problem. It cannot provide a convincing case for GMOs. It therefore resorts to populism, intimidation, character assassination, emotional blackmail, falsehoods, panic mongering and unfounded claims (see this to see how its rhetoric about ‘sound science’ and dispassionate reason informing the debate on GMOs contradicts how it acts in reality). In fact, it goes above and beyond such things by tightening its grip on countries on the back of coups, war and conflict (see this to understand how big agritech concerns benefit from and fuel the situation in Ukraine).

Yes, it is a time of great mischief as Paterson says – but not because of what his critics say or do – but because of what he and his backers do by turning their backs on the type of sound science and progress in the way that he falsely he accuses GMO critics of doing. 

Paterson belongs to the pro-big business Conservative Party which champions the type of privatisation, public expenditure reduction, deregulation, tax avoiding and ‘free’ trade policies that have ceded policy decision making to powerful corporate players. This has in turn led to a concentration of wealth (see this) and imposed ‘austerity’ and drives hunger, poverty, land grabs and the disappearance of family/peasant farms (see this analysis of food commodity speculationthis description of the global food system and this report by the Oakland Institute on land grabs) – the very bedrock of global food production (see this).

What Paterson and the agritech cartel offer is more of the same by tearing up traditional agriculture for the benefit of corporate entities. Paterson talks of critics of GMO as being Luddites, fanatics and condemning billions (yes, he does say billions!) to poverty and underdevelopment with regressive policies. He should look closer to home.

He should realise that elite interests in the West have condemned tens of millions to hunger and poverty in Africa by enslaving them and their nations to debt and that agriculture has for many decades been an important means by which US foreign policy creates dependence and subservience (see here). But such things are not to be debates by Paterson. Like all good (or should that be bad?) politicians, he twists the truth and turns deception and hypocrisy into an art.  

The current global system of chemical-industrial agriculture and World Trade Organisation rules that agritech companies helped draw up for their benefit to force their products into countries (see  here) are a major cause of structural hunger, poverty, illness and environmental destruction. By its very design, the system is meant to suck the life from people, nations and the planet for profit and control (see  here). Blaming critics of this system for the problems of the system is highly convenient. And forwarding some bogus technical quick-fix will not put things right. It represents more of the same.

So you want to ‘help’ Africa Mr Paterson?

Daniel Maingi works with small farmers in Kenya and belongs to the organization Growth Partners for Africa. Maingi was born on a farm in eastern Kenya and studied agriculture from a young age. He remembers a time when his family would grow and eat a diversity of crops, such as mung beans, green grams, pigeon peas, and a variety of fruits now considered ‘wild’. Following the Structural Adjustment Programmes of the 1980s and 1990s and a green revolution meant to boost agricultural efficiency, the foods of his childhood have been replaced with maize, maize, and more maize. He says:

 "In the morning, you make porridge from maize and send the kids to school. For lunch, boiled maize and a few green beans. In the evening, ugali, [a staple dough-like maize dish, served with meat]… [today] it’s a monoculture diet, being driven by the food system – it’s an injustice.” (see here  and here for the sources that quote Maingi and other commentators mentioned below).

As much of Africa is so dry, it’s not suited for thirsty crops, and heavy use of fertilizer kills worms and microbes important for soil health. Maingi therefore argues that the model of farming in the West is not appropriate for farming in most of Africa and that the West should invest in indigenous knowledge and agro-ecology.

Growth Partners Africa works with farmers to enrich the soil with manure and other organic material, to use less water and to grow a variety of crops, including some that would be considered weeds on an industrial farm. For Maingi, food sovereignty in Africa means reverting to a way of farming and eating that pre-dates major investment from the West.

Mariam Mayet of the African Centre for Biosafety in South Africa says that many countries are subsidizing farmers to buy fertilizer as part of the chemical-industrial model of  agriculture, but that takes money away from public crop-breeding programmes that provide improved seeds to farmers at low cost:

“It’s a system designed to benefit agribusinesses and not small-scale farmers.”

She adds because so many institutions, from African governments to the World Bank, have ‘embraced’ the ‘green revolution’ so much that alternative farming methods are getting short shrift.

Elizabeth Mpofu, of La Via Campesina, grows a variety of crops in Zimbabwe. During a recent drought, neighbours who relied on chemical fertilizer lost most of their crops. She reaped a bounty of sorghum, corn, and millet using what are called agro-ecological methods: natural pest control, organic fertilizer, and locally adapted crops.

There is also concern about the increased reliance on expensive inputs and the dramatic drop in price of crops. This has resulted in poverty for the small farmer.

Daniel Maingi:

“What the World Bank has done, the International Monetary fund, what AGRA and Bill Gates are doing, it’s actually pretty wrong. The farmer himself should not be starving”.

He added that what the Gates Foundation/big agritech backed Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) (see this) is doing is “out of sync with the natural process” by bringing in imported seeds, which are not adapted to the land and require excessive fertilizer and pesticides. 

In effect, giant agritech corporations with their patented GMO seeds and associated chemical inputs are working to ensure a shift away from diversified agriculture that guarantees balanced local food production, the protection of people’s livelihoods and environmental sustainability. The evidence provided by GRAIN and the Oakland Institute shows that small farmers are being displaced and are struggling to preserve their indigenous seeds and traditional knowledge of farming systems. 

Globally, agritech corporations are being allowed to shape government policy by being granted a strategic role in trade negotiations (see this). They are increasingly setting the policy/knowledge framework by being allowed to fund and determine the nature of research carried out in public universities and institutes (see this). They continue to propagate the myth that they have the answer to global hunger and poverty.

… take capitalism and business out of farming in Africa. The West should invest in indigenous knowledge and agro-ecology, education and infrastructure and stand in solidarity with the food sovereignty movement.” Daniel Maingi, Growth Partners for Africa.

Paterson and his corporate associates believe that the poor must be ‘helped’ by the West and its powerful corporations and billionaire 'philanthropists'. It harks back to colonialism. The West has already done enough damage in Africa as Michel Chossudovsky has described:

“The “economic therapy” imposed under IMF-World Bank jurisdiction is in large part responsible for triggering famine and social devastation in Ethiopia and the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, wreaking the peasant economy and impoverishing millions of people. With the complicity of branches of the US government, it has also opened the door for the appropriation of traditional seeds and landraces by US biotech corporations, which behind the scenes have been peddling the adoption of their own genetically modified seeds under the disguise of emergency aid and famine relief. Moreover, under WTO rules, the agri-biotech conglomerates can manipulate market forces to their advantage as well as exact royalties from farmers. The WTO provides legitimacy to the food giants to dismantle State programmes including emergency grain stocks, seed banks, extension services and agricultural credit, etc.), plunder peasant economies and trigger the outbreak of periodic famines.” See the full article (‘Sowing the Seeds of Famine in Ethiopia’) from which this extract is taken here


When Owen Paterson accuses critics of GMOs of being elitist and regressive, he is merely attempting to shift the focus from his own own elitist, regressive ideology. 

Hasn't the world had enough of the type of Western 'humanitarianism' that Paterson espouses?

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― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Contemporary baptized, corporatized and sanitized man rarely has the occasion to question his identity, and when he does a typical response might be, “I am product manager for a large retail chain, married to Betty, father of Johnny, a Democrat, Steelers fan and a Lutheran.”
His answers imply not only his beliefs but the many responsibilities, rules and restrictions he is subjected to.  Few if any of these were ever negotiated-  they were imposed on him yet he still considers himself free.
But is free the right adjective for him, or would modern domesticated simian be more apt?  He has been told what to do, believe, think and feel since he can remember.  A very clever rancher has bred billions of these creatures around the globe and created the most profitable livestock imaginable.  They work for him, fight for him, die for him, believe his wildest tales, laugh at his jokes and rarely get out of line.  When domesticated man does break one of the rules there are armies, jailers, psychiatrists and bureaucrats prepared to kill, incarcerate, drug or hound the transgressor into submission.

One of the most fascinating aspects of domesticated man’s predicament is that he never looks at the cattle, sheep and pigs who wind up on his plate and make the very simple deduction that he is just a talking version of them, corralled and shepherded through his entire life.  How is this accomplished?  Only animals that live in hierarchical groups can be dominated by man. The trick is to fool the animal into believing that the leader of the pack or herd is the person who is domesticating them.  Once this is accomplished the animal is under full control of its homo sapien master. The domesticated man is no different, originally organized in groups with a clear hierarchy and maximum size of 150-  it was easy to replace the leader of these smaller groups with one overarching figure such as God, King, President, CEO etc.  
The methodology for creating this exceptionally loyal and obedient modern breed, homo domesticus, can be described as having seven pillars from which an immense matrix captures the talking simians and their conscious minds and hooks them into a complex mesh from which few ever escape.  The system is so advanced that those who do untangle themselves and cut their way out of the net are immediately branded as mentally ill, anti-social, or simply losers who can’t accept the ‘complexity of modern life’, i.e. conspiracy nuts.
Plato described this brilliantly in his Allegory of the Cave, where people only see man made shadows of objects, institutions, Gods and ideas:
 “--Behold! human beings living in an underground cave...here they have been from their childhood...necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance...the screen which marionette players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets... and they see only their own shadows, or the shadows of one another, which the fire throws on the opposite wall...”
It began with the word, which forever changed the ability of men to manipulate each other.  Before language, every sensation was directly felt through the senses without the filter of words.  But somewhere around 50,000 years ago language began to replace reality and the first pieces of code were put in place for the creation of the Matrix.  As soon as the words began to flow the world was split, and from that fracturing was born man’s angst and slavery.  The words separated us from who we really were, creating the first screen onto which the images from Plato’s cave were cast.  Gurdjieff said it well, “Identifying is the chief obstacle to self-remembering. A man who identifies with anything is unable to remember himself.”
It’s no accident that in Hesiod’s ages of man the Golden Age knew no agriculture, which appeared in the Silver age, and by the time we reach the Bronze age the dominant theme is toil and strife.  The two key elements to the enslavement of man were clearly language and agriculture.  In the hunter gatherer society, taking out the boss was no more complicated than landing a well placed fastball to the head.  Only since the advent of farming was the possibility of creating full time enforcers and propagandists made possible, and hence enslavement inevitable.
The search for enlightenment rarely if ever bears fruits in those temples of words, our schools and universities.  Almost all traditions point to isolation and silence as the only paths to awakening;  they are the true antidotes to modern slavery.  As Aristotle wrote, “Whosoever is delighted in solitude is either a wild beast or a god.”
So from the institution from which we are mercilessly bombarded with words and enslaved to time, we begin our descent through the seven layers of the Matrix.


Education



There are things we are born able to do like eating, laughing and crying and others we pick up without much of an effort such as walking, speaking and fighting, but without strict institutional education there is no way that we can ever become a functioning member of the Matrix. We must be indoctrinated, sent to Matrix boot camp, which of course is school.  How else could you take a hunter and turn him into a corporate slave, submissive to clocks, countless bosses, monotony and uniformity?

Children naturally know who they are, they have no existential angst, but schools immediately begin driving home the point of schedules, rules, lists and grades which inevitably lead the students to the concept of who they aren't.  We drill the little ones until they learn to count money, tell time, measure progress, stand in line, keep silent and endure submission.  They learn they aren't free and they are separated from everyone else and the world itself by a myriad of divides, names and languages.

It can’t be stressed enough how much education is simply inculcating people with the clock and the idea of a forced identity.  What child when she first goes to school isn't taken back to hear herself referred to by her full name?

It’s not as if language itself isn't sufficiently abstract- nothing must be left without a category.  Suzy can’t just be Suzy-  she is a citizen of a country and a state, a member of a religion and a product of a civilization, many of which have flags, mascots, armies, uniforms, currencies and languages.  Once all the mascots, tag lines and corporate creeds are learned, then history can begin to be taught.  The great epic myths invented and conveniently woven into the archetypes which have come down through the ages cement this matrix into the child’s mind.

Even the language that she speaks without effort must be deconstructed for her.  An apple will never again be just an apple-  it will become a noun, a subject, or an object.  Nothing will be left untouched, all must be ripped apart and explained back to the child in Matrixese.

We are taught almost nothing useful during the twelve or so years that we are institutionalized and conditioned for slavery- not how to cook, farm, hunt, build, gather, laugh or play.  We are only taught how to live by a clock and conform to institutionalized behaviors that make for solid careers as slaveocrats. 

Government


In the countries that claim to be democratic the concept of a government created to serve the people is often espoused.  Government, and the laws they create and enforce are institutionalized social control for the benefit of those who have seized power.  This has always been the case and always will be.  In the pre-democratic era it was much clearer to recognize who had power, but the genius of massive democratic states are the layers upon layers of corporatocracy and special interests which so brilliantly conceal the identify of those who really manage the massive apparatus of control.
The functions of the state are so well ensconced in dogmatic versions of history taught in schools that almost no one questions why we need anything beyond the bare essentials of government to maintain order in the post-industrial age.  The history classes never point the finger at the governments themselves as the propagators and instigators of war, genocide, starvation and corruption.  In Hollywood's version of history, the one most people absorb, 'good' governments are always portrayed as fighting 'bad' ones.  We have yet to see a film where all the people on both sides simply disengage from their governments and ignore the calls to violence.

The state apparatus is based on law, which is a contract between the people and an organism created to administer common necessities- an exchange of sovereignty between the people and the state.  This sounds reasonable, but when one looks at the mass slaughters of the 20th century, almost without exception, the perpetrators are the states themselves.
The loss of human freedom is the only birthright offered to the citizens of the modern nation.   There is never a choice.  It is spun as a freedom and a privilege when it is in fact indentured servitude to the state apparatus and the corporatocracy that controls it.

Patriotism is pure abstraction, a completely artificial mechanism of social control.  People are taught to value their compatriots above and beyond those of their own ethnic background, race or religion.  The organic bonds are to be shed in favor of the great corporate state.  From infancy children are indoctrinated like Pavlov’s dogs to worship the paraphernalia of the state and see it as a mystical demigod.
What is a country?  Using the United States as example, what actually is this entity?  Is it the USPS, the FDA, or the CIA?  Does loving one's country mean one should love the IRS and the NSA?  Should we feel differently about someone if they are from Vancouver instead of Seattle?  Loving a state is the same as loving a corporation, except with the corporations there is still no stigma attached to not showing overt sentimental devotion to their brands and fortunately, at least for the moment, we are not obligated at birth to pay them for a lifetime of services, most of which we neither need nor want.
Flags, the Hollywood version of history and presidential worship are drilled into us to maintain the illusion of the 'other' and force the 'foreigner/terrorist/extremist' to wear the stigma of our projections.  The archaic tribal energy that united small bands and helped them to fend off wild beasts and hungry hoards has been converted into a magic wand for the masters of the matrix.  Flags are waved, and we respond like hungry Labradors jumping at a juicy prime rib swinging before our noses.  Sentimental statist propaganda is simply the mouthguard used to soften the jolt of our collective electroshock therapy. 

Religion



As powerful as the patriotic sects are, there has always been a need for something higher.  Religion comes from the Latin 're-ligare' and it means to reconnect.  But reconnect to what?  The question before all religions is, what have we been disconnected from?  The indoctrination and alienation of becoming a card carrying slave has a cost;  the level of abstraction and the disconnect from any semblance of humanity converts people into nihilistic robots.  No amount of patriotic fervor can replace having a soul.  The flags and history lessons can only give a momentary reprieve to the emptiness of the Matrix and that's why the priests are needed.
The original spiritual connection man had with the universe began to dissolve into duality with the onset of language, and by the time cities and standing armies arrived he was in need of a reconnection, and thus we get our faith based religions.  Faith in the religious experiences of sages, or as William James put it, faith in someone else's ability to connect.  Of course the liturgies of our mainstream religions offer some solace and connection, but in general they simply provide the glue for the Matrix.  A brief perusal of the news will clearly show that their 'God' seems most comfortable amidst the killing fields. 
If we focus on the Abrahamic religions, we have a god much like the state, one who needs to be loved.  He is also jealous of the other supposedly non-existent gods and is as sociopathic as the governments who adore him.  He wipes out his enemies with floods and angels of death just as the governments who pander to him annihilate us with cultural revolutions, atom bombs, television and napalm.  Their anthem is, "Love your country, it’s flag, its history, and the God who created it all"-  an ethos force fed to each new generation. 

Circus

The sad thing about circus is that it's generally not even entertaining.  The slaves are told it's time for some fun and they move in hordes to fill stadiums, clubs, cinemas or simply to stare into their electrical devices believing that they are are being entertained by vulgar propaganda.  
As long as homo domesticus goes into the appropriate corral, jumps when she is told to and agrees wholeheartedly that she is having fun, than she is a good slave worthy of her two days off a week and fifteen days vacation at the designated farm where she is milked of any excess gold she might have accumulated during the year.  Once she is too old to work and put to pasture, holes are strategically placed in her vicinity so she and her husband can spend their last few dollars trying to get a small white ball into them.

On a daily basis, after the caffeinated maximum effort has been squeezed out of her, she is placed in front of a screen, given the Matrix approved beverage (alcohol), and re-indoctrinated for several hours before starting the whole cycle over again. God forbid anyone ever took a hallucinogen and had an original thought.  We are, thankfully, protected from any substances that might actually wake us up and are encouraged stick to the booze.   The matrix loves coffee in the morning, alcohol in the evening and never an authentic thought in between.
On a more primal level we are entranced with the contours of the perfect body and dream of ‘perfect love’, where our days will be filled with soft caresses, sweet words and Hollywood drama.   This is maybe the most sublime of the Matrix’s snares, as Venus’s charms can be so convincing one willingly abandons all for her devious promise.  Romantic love is dangled like bait, selling us down the path of sentimentally coated lies and mindless consumerism. 


Money



Money is their most brilliant accomplishment.  Billions of people spend most of their waking lives either acquiring it or spending it without ever understanding what it actually is.  In this hologram of a world, the only thing one can do without money is breath.  For almost every other human activity they want currency, from eating and drinking to clothing oneself and finding a partner. Religion came from innate spirituality and patriotism from the tribe, but money they invented themselves-  the most fantastic and effective of all their tools of domestication.
They have convinced the slaves that money actually has some intrinsic value, since at some point in the past it actually did.  Once they were finally able to disconnect money completely from anything other than their computers, they finally took complete control, locked the last gate and electrified all the fences.  They ingeniously print it up out of the nothing and loan it with interest in order for 18-year-olds to spend four years drinking and memorizing propaganda as they begin a financial indebtedness that will most likely never end.  
By the time the typical American is thirty the debt is mounted so high that they abandon any hope of ever being free of it and embrace their mortgages, credit cards, student loans and car loans as gifts from a sugar daddy.  What they rarely asks themselves is why they must work to make money while banks can simply create it with a few key strokes.  If they printed out notes on their HP's and loaned them with interest to their neighbors, they would wind up in a penitentiary, but not our friends on Wall Street-  they do just that and wind up pulling the strings in the White House.  The  genius of the money scam is how obvious it is.  When people are told that banks create money out of nothing and are paid interest for it the good folks are left incredulous.  “It can't be that simple!"  And therein lies the rub- no one wants to believe that they have been enslaved so easily .
“Culture is the effort to hold back the mystery, and replace it with a mythology.”
As Terence loved to say, “Culture is not your friend.”  It exists as a buffer to authentic experience.  As they created larger and larger communities, they replaced the direct spiritual experience of the shaman with priestly religion.  Drum beats and sweat were exchanged for digitized, corporatized noise.  Local tales got replaced by Hollywood blockbusters, critical thinking with academic dogma.
If money is the shackles of the matrix, culture is its operating system.  Filtered, centralized, incredibly manipulative, it glues all their myths together into one massive narrative of social control from which only the bravest of souls ever try to escape.  It's relatively simple to see the manipulation when one looks at patriotism, religion or money.  But when taken as a whole, our culture seems as natural and timeless as the air we breathe, so intertwined with our self conception it is often hard to see where we individually finish and our culture begins.

Escaping the Grip of Control

Some might ask why this all-pervasive network of control isn't talked about or discussed by our ‘great minds’.  Pre-Socratic scholar Peter Kingsley explains it well:
“Everything becomes clear once we accept the fact that scholarship as a whole is not concerned with finding, or even looking for, the truth. That’s just a decorative appearance.  It’s simply concerned with protecting us from truths that might endanger our security; and it does so by perpetuating our collective illusions on a much deeper level than individual scholars are aware of.”

Whoever discovered water, it certainly wasn't a fish.  To leave the ‘water’, or Plato's cave takes courage and the knowledge that there is something beyond the web of control.  Over 2,300 hundred years ago Plato described the process of leaving the Matrix in the Allegory of the Cave as a slow, excruciating process akin to walking out onto a sunny beach after spending years in a basement watching Kabuki.

How can this awakening be explained?  How do you describe the feeling of swimming in the ocean at dusk to someone who has never even seen the sea?  You can't, but what you can do is crack open a window for them and if enough windows are opened, the illusion begins to lose its luster. 

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Michael Snyder RINF Alternative News From our fields to our forks, huge corporations have an overwhelming amount of power over our food supply every step of...

Senator Al Franken: Net Neutrality ‘Is the First Amendment Issue of Our Time’

Panel highlights importance of open Internet, now under threat by FCC proposal Andrea Germanos Senator Al Franken has reiterated his call for an open Internet, saying...

The US Military Is Playing The Nuclear Blackmail Card Against UN Occupation Forces

Dave Hodges RINF Alternative News Bravo Sierra is a term which can be best applied to the report that the “organic” United States is going to rise up...

Scientists Threaten to Boycott Brain Mapping Project

by Nicholas West The warp-speed developments in neuroscience have prompted recent warnings from human rights organizations and prominent scientists alike that the pace of development...

Withdraw Your Consent: 25 Ways to Declare Your Independence

This isn't about guns blazing, militias mobilizing, and guerrilla warfare. It's about small personal acts of independence.

Establishment Pushing “Cashless Society” to Control Humanity

Alex Newman The global establishment is increasingly pushing the notion of what it calls a “cashless society” – a world in which all payments and...

Acquiescing to Big Biotech: The Relentless Drive to Force GMOs into Britain

Colin Todhunter A report just published by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee on food security in Britain supports Environment Secretary Owen Paterson's...

The Heat is On: How to Stay Cool without Air Conditioning

All across the country, the mercury is climbing...and staying there, way up at the top of the thermometer. But running an air conditioner at full blast to combat the heat can be very expensive, and for those of us on a budget, the resulting bill can be crippling.

EPA Drops the Ball on 2,4-D for GMO Crops

Statement of Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter “A coalition of organizations including Food & Water Watch, the Center for Food Safety, Pesticide Action...

This Week’s Harvest: Strawberries

Strawberry season is in full swing. Now is the time to stock up on those delicious vivid red berries! Learn how (and why) to grow them, wash them, and preserve them!

What Would Happen If a Thug WITHOUT a Badge Threw a Grenade on Top...

What if you woke up at 3 am to realize that you were the victim of a violent home invasion? What if your baby was screaming in agony but you had a boot on the back of your neck and couldn't help him? What if the invaders were cops?