Category Archives: Food Security

Smashing The Heads of Farmers: A Global Struggle Against Tyranny

According to Reuters, more than 500,000 farmers attended a rally in the city of Muzaffarnagar in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh on 5 September. Hundreds of thousands more turned out for other rallies in the state.

Rakesh Tikait, a prominent farmers’ leader, said this would breathe fresh life into the Indian farmers’ protest movement.

He added:

We will intensify our protest by going to every single city and town of Uttar Pradesh to convey the message that Modi’s government is anti-farmer.

Tikait is a leader of the protest movement and a spokesperson of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Indian Farmers’ Union).

Since November 2020, tens of thousands of farmers have been encamped on the outskirts of Delhi in protest against three new farm laws that will effectively hand over the agrifood sector to corporates and place India at the mercy of international commodity and financial markets for its food security.

Aside from the rallies in Uttar Pradesh, thousands more farmers recently gathered in Karnal in the state of Haryana to continue to pressurise the Modi-led government to repeal the laws. This particular protest was also in response to police violence during another demonstration, also in Karnal (200 km north of Delhi), during late August when farmers had been blocking a highway. The police Lathi-charged them and at least 10 people were injured and one person died from a heart attack a day later.

A video that appeared on social media showed Ayush Sinha, a top government official, encouraging officers to “smash the heads of farmers” if they broke through the barricades placed on the highway.

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar criticised the choice of words but said that “strictness had to be maintained to ensure law and order”.

But that is not quite true. “Strictness” – outright brutality – must be imposed to placate the scavengers abroad who are circling overhead with India’s agrifood sector firmly in their sights. As much as the authorities try to distance themselves from such language – ‘smashing heads’ is precisely what India’s rulers and the billionaire owners of foreign agrifood corporations require.

The government has to demonstrate to global agricapital that it is being tough on farmers in order to maintain ‘market confidence’ and attract foreign direct investment in the sector (aka the takeover of the sector).

The farmers’ protest in India represents a struggle for the heart and soul of the country: a conflict between the local and the global. Large-scale international agribusiness, retailers, traders and e-commerce companies are trying to displace small- and medium-size indigenous producers and enterprises and restructure the entire agrifood sector in their own image.

By capitulating to the needs of foreign agrifood conglomerates – which is what the three agriculture laws represent – India will be compelled to eradicate its buffer food stocks. It would then bid for them with borrowed funds on the open market or with its foreign reserves.

This approach is symptomatic of what has been happening since the 1990s, when India was compelled to embrace neoliberal economics. The country has become increasingly dependent on inflows of foreign capital. Policies are being governed by the drive to attract and retain foreign investment and maintain ‘market confidence’ by ceding to the demands of international capital which rides roughshod over democratic principles and the needs of hundreds of millions of ordinary people.

The authorities know they must be seen to be acting tough on farmers, thereby demonstrating a steely resolve to foreign agribusiness and investors in general.

The Indian government’s willingness to cede control of its agrifood sector would appear to represent a victory for US foreign policy.

Economist Prof Michael Hudson stated in 2014:

American foreign policy has almost always been based on agricultural exports… It’s by agriculture and control of the food supply that American diplomacy has been able to control most of the Third World. The World Bank’s geopolitical lending strategy has been to turn countries into food deficit areas by convincing them to grow cash crops – plantation export crops – not to feed themselves with their own food crops.

On the back of India’s foreign exchange crisis in the 1990s, the IMF and World Bank wanted India to shift hundreds of millions out of agriculture. In return for up to more than $120 billion in loans at the time, India was directed to dismantle its state-owned seed supply system, reduce subsidies, run down public agriculture institutions and offer incentives for the growing of cash crops to earn foreign exchange.

The drive is to drastically dilute the role of the public sector in agriculture, reducing it to a facilitator of private capital and leading to the entrenchment of industrial farming and the replacement of small-scale farms.

Smashing protesters’ heads

A December 2020 photograph published by the Press Trust of India defines the Indian government’s approach to protesting farmers. It shows a security official in paramilitary garb raising a lathi. An elder from the Sikh farming community was about to feel its full force.

But “smashing the heads of farmers” is symbolic of how near-totalitarian ‘liberal democracies’ the world over now regard many within their own populations.

The right to protest and gather in public as well as the right of free speech has been suspended in Australia, which currently resembles a giant penal colony as officials pursue a nonsensical ‘zero-COVID’ policy. Across Europe and in the US and Israel, unnecessary and discriminatory ‘COVID passports’ are being rolled out to restrict freedom of movement and access to services. And those who protest against any of this are often confronted by a massive, intimidating police presence (or actual police violence) and media smear campaigns.

Again, governments must demonstrate resolve to their billionaire masters in Big Finance, the Gates and Rockefeller Foundations, the World Economic Forum and the entire gamut of forces in the military-financial industrial complex behind the ‘Great Reset’, ‘4th Industrial Revolution, ‘New Normal’ or whichever other benign-sounding term its political and media lackeys use to disguise the restructuring of capitalism and the brutal impacts on ordinary people.

This too, like the restructuring of Indian agriculture – which will affect India’s entire 1.3-billion-plus population – is also part of a US foreign policy agenda that serves the interests of the Anglo-US elite.

COVID has ensured that trillions of dollars have been handed over to elite interests, while lockdowns and restrictions have been imposed on ordinary people and small businesses. The winners have been the likes of Amazon, Big Pharma and the tech giants. The losers have been small enterprises and the bulk of the population, deprived of their right to work and the entire panoply of civil rights their ancestors struggled and often died for. If a masterplan is required to deliver a knockout blow to small enterprises for the benefit of global players, then this is it.

Professor Michel Cossudovsky of the Centre for Research on Globalization says:

The Global Money financial institutions are the ‘creditors’ of the real economy which is in crisis. The closure of the global economy has triggered a process of global indebtedness. Unprecedented in World history, a multi-trillion bonanza of dollar denominated debts is hitting simultaneously the national economies of 193 countries.

In August 2020, a report by the International Labour Organization (ILO) stated:

The COVID-19 crisis has severely disrupted economies and labour markets in all world regions, with estimated losses of working hours equivalent to nearly 400 million full-time jobs in the second quarter of 2020, most of which are in emerging and developing countries.

Among the most vulnerable are the 1.6 billion informal economy workers, representing half of the global workforce, who are working in sectors experiencing major job losses or have seen their incomes seriously affected by lockdowns. Most of the workers affected (1.25 billion) are in retail, accommodation and food services and manufacturing. And most of these are self-employed and in low-income jobs in the informal sector.

India was especially affected in this respect when the government imposed a lockdown. The policy ended up pushing 230 million into poverty and wrecked the lives and livelihoods of many. A May 2021 report prepared by the Centre for Sustainable Employment at Azim Premji University (APU) has highlighted how employment and income had not recovered to pre-pandemic levels even by late 2020.

The report, ‘State of Working India 2021 – One year of Covid-19’ highlights how almost half of formal salaried workers moved into the informal sector and that 230 million people fell below the national minimum wage poverty line.

Even before COVID, India was experiencing its longest economic slowdown since 1991 with weak employment generation, uneven development and a largely informal economy. A recent article by the Research Unit for Political Economy highlights the structural weaknesses of the economy and the often desperate plight of ordinary people.

To survive Modi’s lockdown, the poorest 25% of households borrowed 3.8 times their median income, as against 1.4 times for the top 25%. The study noted the implications for debt traps.

Six months later, it was also noted that food intake was still at lockdown levels for 20% of vulnerable households.

Meanwhile, the rich were well taken care of. According to Left Voice:

The Modi government has handled the pandemic by prioritising the profits of big business and protecting the fortunes of billionaires over protecting the lives and livelihoods of workers.

Michel Chossudovsky says that governments are now under the control of global creditors and that the post-Covid era will see massive austerity measures, including the cancellation of workers’ benefits and social safety nets. An unpayable multi-trillion dollar public debt is unfolding: the creditors of the state are Big Money, which calls the shots in a process that will lead to the privatisation of the state.

Between April and July 2020, the total wealth held by billionaires around the world has grown from $8 trillion to more than $10 trillion. Chossudovsky says a new generation of billionaire innovators looks set to play a critical role in repairing the damage by using the growing repertoire of emerging technologies. He adds that tomorrow’s innovators will digitise, refresh and revolutionise the economy: but, as he notes, let us be under no illusions these corrupt billionaires are impoverishers.

With this in mind, a recent piece on the US Right To Know website exposes the Gates-led agenda for the future of food based on the programming of biology to produce synthetic and genetically engineered substances. The thinking reflects the programming of computers in the information economy. Of course, Gates and his ilk have patented, or are patenting, the processes and products involved.

For example, Ginkgo Bioworks, a Gates-backed start-up that makes ‘custom organisms’, recently went public in a $17.5 billion deal. It uses ‘cell programming’ technology to genetically engineer flavours and scents into commercial strains of engineered yeast and bacteria to create ‘natural’ ingredients, including vitamins, amino acids, enzymes and flavours for ultra-processed foods.

Ginkgo plans to create up to 20,000 engineered ‘cell programs’ (it now has five) for food products and many other uses. It plans to charge customers to use its ‘biological platform’. Its customers are not consumers or farmers but the world’s largest chemical, food and pharmaceutical companies.

Gates pushes fake food by way of his greenwash agenda. If he really is interested in avoiding ‘climate catastrophe’, helping farmers or producing enough food, instead of cementing the power and the control of corporations over our food, he should be facilitating community-based and lead agroecological approaches.

But he will not because there is no scope for patents, external proprietary inputs, commodification and dependency on global corporations which Gates sees as the answer to all of humanity’s problems in his quest to bypass democratic processes and roll out his agenda.

India should take heed because this is the future of ‘food’. If the farmers fail to get the farm bills repealed, India will again become dependent on food imports or on foreign food manufacturers and lab-made ‘food’. Fake food will displace traditional diets and cultivation methods will be driven by drones, genetically engineered seeds and farms without farmers, devastating the livelihoods (and health) of hundreds of millions.

This is a vision of the future courtesy of Klaus Schwab’s (of the elitist World Economic Forum) dystopic transhumanism and the Rockefellers’ 2010 lockstep scenario: genetically engineered food and genetically engineered people controlled by a technocratic elite whose plans are implemented through tighter top-down government control and more authoritarian leadership.

Since March 2020, we have seen the structural adjustment of the global capitalist system and labour’s relationship to it and an attempted adjustment of people’s thinking via endless government and media propaganda.

Whether it involves India’s farmers or the frequent rallies and marches against restrictions and COVID passports across the world, there is a common enemy. And there is also a common goal: liberty.

The post Smashing The Heads of Farmers: A Global Struggle Against Tyranny first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Complacency Rules: Consumerism and the Environment

The 16 Year Old, middle class, privileged, argues that meat and other animal produce are essential for his health, his ability to play sport, and the development of his adolescent brain; besides, one person becoming vegetarian/vegan, won’t make any difference to the environmental crisis.

The total failure to respond in any meaningful way to the environmental emergency rests firmly within the boundaries of such complacency. It can be found in all areas, from politicians and corporate board rooms to small businesses, NGO’s and community groups, education institutions, homes, and, apparently, some teenagers.

Complacency and the refusal to change individual behavior and collective ways of living are stoking the underlying cause of the crisis Consumerism. Irresponsible Compulsive Consumption, as habitually practiced by populations in the rich nations, principally and excessively by the wealthy, but to a lesser degree throughout all sections of society.

Consumerism is the bedrock of the prevailing socio-economic system and materialistic way of life. Sold duplicitously as the Path to Happiness and Contentment it has poisoned the planet and created unhealthy societies of divided, insecure individuals. Inherent within the Ideology of Division is a methodology and set of values that encourage selfishness, greed and complacency. Sufficiency, cooperation and social responsibility, all essential if the environmental crisis is to be met, whilst routinely spouted by politicians and the like are thin on the ground or, more often than not, totally absent.

The environment cannot wait

Governments and businesses are completely invested in maintaining high levels of consumption; their profitability and continued existence depend on it. Indeed, far from prioritizing the environment and working to change societal behavior and deter individuals from spending, huge resources are expended to persuade and encourage consumption; to expand market share, develop new products and increase profits for shareholders.

It is this poisonous Ideology of Profit, which, in direct contrast to the needs of the environment for simplicity of living, collectivity and sharing, perpetuates, not just rampant consumerism, but widespread apathy and inaction. Governments talk a concerned environmental talk, but policies are determined by economic growth and voters’ concerns rather than CO2 emissions, pollution, or bio-diversity. And most companies, particularly big ones, routinely demonstrate that they don’t give a damn about the environment, unless by doing so sales increase and their annual dividends rise.

The environment cannot wait until governments and business judge that going “green” is more profitable or popular than the destructive status quo, before they act in a responsible manner. It is their insatiable thirst for power and profit, and their deep attachment to the Ideology of Greed – because, while the majority suffer, it has served them very well, that allows collective complacency to persist, and complacency (not money) is the root of all evil.

The final leg in the trinity of environmental neglect is formed by Ignorance or Misinformation. Ignorance of how individual choices impact on the natural environment; Ignorance of the depth and scale of the crisis and Ignorance of the impact of diet on the planet. Such ignorance and lack of awareness exist due to decades of government negligence in countries everywhere (some more, some less). This could be changed with a UN coordinated public awareness campaign; a global project designed to make plain the relationship between consumer-based lifestyles (including animal agriculture) and environmental destruction/climate change.

Unmitigated mess

While it is true that only governments and business can make the needed large scale changes (fossil fuels to renewables, electrification of transportation networks,  green production methods etc), individuals can make a valuable impact, and when individuals act collectively large-scale change can be accomplished.

Ultimately ‘we’ are the problem. It is our obsessive ignorant behavior, our complacency, greed and selfishness that has poisoned the planet. And it is up to all of us to act in the most comprehensive way possible to begin to clean up the unmitigated mess we have caused. We are all only ‘one person’, but every day we have a choice, every time we eat, or shop, or travel: Are our actions, our choices and decisions responsible or harmful, is the way we individually live detrimental to the planet or not?

Diet is one area everyone can look at; reducing the intake of animal produce or, better still, moving to a plant-based diet is the single most important step most individuals can take. In some countries there are encouraging signs that people are waking up to this fact, and the number of vegetarians/vegans, particularly among young people, is growing. And according to the Vegetarian Resource Group (US), providing a varied diet is followed, all their nutritional needs can be adequately met. In fact, various detailed studies show that, vegetarians are at lower risk of a variety of diseases and conditions, including: heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, some forms of cancer, (conversely, The World Health Organization has classified red and processed meats as cancer-causing), and obesity. And according to Walter Willett at Harvard School of Public Health, “There is strong evidence that a plant based diet [vegan] is the optimal diet for living a long and healthy life.”

So, cutting out animal produce is not only good for the environment, it’s good for human health. Despite this, globally only some 8% of people identify as vegan, vegetarian, or something in between. Meaning 92% of the 7.8 billion world population consume meat, fish, poultry and all manner of dairy. The environmental result of this obsession is disastrous and multi-faceted.

Animal agriculture is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), which are the poisons disrupting natural climate rhythms. The  United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization’s (UNFAO) put the figure at 14.5% of total emissions, but estimates vary, some studies suggesting it’s a good deal higher: Greenpeace e.g. say that, “Livestock and animal feed is responsible for approximately 60% of direct global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.”

Whatever the precise number, animal agriculture is clearly a major source, if not the greatest source of emissions (surpassing the transportation industry); it’s also the biggest cause (80%) of deforestation, habitat destruction and species extinction, contributing to soil erosion and water contamination. And it’s driven by the incessant demand for meat, dairy and fish.

A revolution in behavior and values is needed, moving away from excess to sufficiency, from selfishness to group responsibility, from complacency to action. Education and awareness plus a sense of imperative are the keys to igniting such a shift and generating urgent action. Action by government and businesses and action by us, all of us, particularly those of us living in developed nations where the historic burden for the catastrophe rests; action rooted in love, demonstrated as social and environmental responsibility undertaken by each and every one of us.

The post Complacency Rules: Consumerism and the Environment first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Afghan Crisis Must End America’s Empire of War, Corruption and Poverty

Millions of Afghans have been displaced by the war.  Photo: MikrofonNews

Americans have been shocked by videos of thousands of Afghans risking their lives to flee the Taliban’s return to power in their country – and then by an Islamic State suicide bombing and ensuing massacre by U.S. forces that together killed at least 170 people, including 13 U.S. troops.

Even as UN agencies warn of an impending humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, the U.S. Treasury has frozen nearly all of the Afghan Central Bank’s $9.4 billion in foreign currency reserves, depriving the new government of funds that it will desperately need in the coming months to feed its people and provide basic services.

Under pressure from the Biden administration, the International Monetary Fund decided not to release $450 million in funds that were scheduled to be sent to Afghanistan to help the country cope with the coronavirus pandemic.

The U.S. and other Western countries have also halted humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. After chairing a G7 summit on Afghanistan on August 24, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that withholding aid and recognition gave them “very considerable leverage – economic, diplomatic and political” over the Taliban.

Western politicians couch this leverage in terms of human rights, but they are clearly trying to ensure that their Afghan allies retain some power in the new government, and that Western influence and interests in Afghanistan do not end with the Taliban’s return. This leverage is being exercised in dollars, pounds and euros, but it will be paid for in Afghan lives.

To read or listen to Western analysts, one would think that the United States and its allies’ 20-year war was a benign and beneficial effort to modernize the country, liberate Afghan women and provide healthcare, education and good jobs, and that this has all now been swept away by capitulation to the Taliban.

The reality is quite different, and not so hard to understand. The United States spent $2.26 trillion on its war in Afghanistan. Spending that kind of money in any country should have lifted most people out of poverty. But the vast bulk of those funds, about $1.5 trillion, went to absurd, stratospheric military spending to maintain the U.S. military occupation, drop over 80,000 bombs and missiles on Afghans, pay private contractors, and transport troops, weapons and military equipment back and forth around the world for 20 years.

Since the United States fought this war with borrowed money, it has also cost half a trillion dollars in interest payments alone, which will continue far into the future. Medical and disability costs for U.S. soldiers wounded in Afghanistan already amount to over $175 billion, and they will likewise keep mounting as the soldiers age. Medical and disability costs for the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could eventually top a trillion dollars.

So what about “rebuilding Afghanistan”? Congress appropriated $144 billion for reconstruction in Afghanistan since 2001, but $88 billion of that was spent to recruit, arm, train and pay the Afghan “security forces” that have now disintegrated, with soldiers returning to their villages or joining the Taliban. Another $15.5 billion spent between 2008 and 2017 was documented as “waste, fraud and abuse” by the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

The crumbs left over, less than 2% of total U.S. spending on Afghanistan, amount to about $40 billion, which should have provided some benefit to the Afghan people in economic development, healthcare, education, infrastructure and humanitarian aid.

But, as in Iraq, the government the U.S installed in Afghanistan was notoriously corrupt, and its corruption only became more entrenched and systemic over time. Transparency International (TI) has consistently ranked U.S.-occupied Afghanistan as among the most corrupt countries in the world.

Western readers may think that this corruption is a long-standing problem in Afghanistan, as opposed to a particular feature of the U.S. occupation, but this is not the case. TI notes that ”it is widely recognized that the scale of corruption in the post-2001 period has increased over previous levels.” A 2009 report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development warned that “corruption has soared to levels not seen in previous administrations.”

Those administrations would include the Taliban government that U.S. invasion forces removed from power in 2001, and the Soviet-allied socialist governments that were overthrown by the U.S.-deployed precursors of Al Qaeda and the Taliban in the 1980s, destroying the substantial progress they had made in education, healthcare and women’s rights.

A 2010 report by former Reagan Pentagon official Anthony H. Cordesman, entitled “How America Corrupted Afghanistan”, chastised the U.S. government for throwing gobs of money into that country with virtually no accountability.

The New York Times reported in 2013 that every month for a decade, the CIA had been dropping off suitcases, backpacks and even plastic shopping bags stuffed with U.S. dollars for the Afghan president to bribe warlords and politicians.

Corruption also undermined the very areas that Western politicians now hold up as the successes of the occupation, like education and healthcare. The education system has been riddled with schools, teachers, and students that exist only on paper. Afghan pharmacies are stocked with fake, expired or low quality medicines, many smuggled in from neighboring Pakistan. At the personal level, corruption was fueled by civil servants like teachers earning only one-tenth the salaries of better-connected Afghans working for foreign NGOs and contractors.

Rooting out corruption and improving Afghan lives has always been secondary to the primary U.S. goal of fighting the Taliban and maintaining or extending its puppet government’s control. As TI reported, “The U.S. has intentionally paid different armed groups and Afghan civil servants to ensure cooperation and/or information, and cooperated with governors regardless of how corrupt they were… Corruption has undermined the U.S. mission in Afghanistan by fuelling grievances against the Afghan government and channelling material support to the insurgency.”

The endless violence of the U.S. occupation and the corruption of the U.S.-backed government boosted popular support for the Taliban, especially in rural areas where three quarters of Afghans live. The intractable poverty of occupied Afghanistan also contributed to the Taliban victory, as people naturally questioned how their occupation by wealthy countries like the United States and its Western allies could leave them in such abject poverty.

Well before the current crisis, the number of Afghans reporting that they were struggling to live on their current income increased from 60% in 2008 to 90% by 2018. A 2018 Gallup poll found the lowest levels of self-reported “well-being” that Gallup has ever recorded anywhere in the world. Afghans not only reported record levels of misery but also unprecedented hopelessness about their future.

Despite some gains in education for girls, only a third of Afghan girls attended primary school in 2019 and only 37% of adolescent Afghan girls were literate. One reason that so few children go to school in Afghanistan is that more than two million children between the ages of 6 and 14 have to work to support their poverty-stricken families.

Yet instead of atoning for our role in keeping most Afghans mired in poverty, Western leaders are now cutting off desperately needed economic and humanitarian aid that was funding three quarters of Afghanistan’s public sector and made up 40% of its total GDP.

In effect, the United States and its allies are responding to losing the war by threatening the Taliban and the people of Afghanistan with a second, economic war. If the new Afghan government does not give in to their “leverage” and meet their demands, our leaders will starve their people and then blame the Taliban for the ensuing famine and humanitarian crisis, just as they demonize and blame other victims of U.S. economic warfare, from Cuba to Iran.

After pouring trillions of dollars into endless war in Afghanistan, America’s main duty now is to help the 40 million Afghans who have not fled their country, as they try to recover from the terrible wounds and trauma of the war America inflicted on them, as well as a massive drought that devastated 40% of their crops this year and a crippling third wave of covid-19.

The U.S. should release the $9.4 billion in Afghan funds held in U.S. banks. It should shift the $6 billion allocated for the now defunct Afghan armed forces to humanitarian aid, instead of diverting it to other forms of wasteful military spending. It should encourage European allies and the IMF not to withhold funds. Instead, they should fully fund the UN 2021 appeal for $1.3 billion in emergency aid, which as of late August was less than 40% funded.

Once upon a time, the United States helped its British and Soviet allies to defeat Germany and Japan, and then helped to rebuild them as healthy, peaceful and prosperous countries. For all America’s serious faults – its racism, its crimes against humanity in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and its neocolonial relations with poorer countries – America held up a promise of prosperity that people in many countries around the world were ready to follow.

If all the United States has to offer other countries today is the war, corruption and poverty it brought to Afghanistan, then the world is wise to be moving on and looking at new models to follow: new experiments in popular and social democracy; renewed emphasis on national sovereignty and international law; alternatives to the use of military force to resolve international problems; and more equitable ways of organizing internationally to tackle global crises like the Covid pandemic and the climate disaster.

The United States can either stumble on in its fruitless attempt to control the world through militarism and coercion, or it can use this opportunity to rethink its place in the world. Americans should be ready to turn the page on our fading role as global hegemon and see how we can make a meaningful, cooperative contribution to a future that we will never again be able to dominate, but which we must help to build.

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A Message to the EU: Address the Real Public Health Crisis by Banning Glyphosate (Part One)

The herbicide glyphosate – the most widely used herbicide on the planet – is authorised for use in the EU until December 2022. The EU is currently assessing whether its licence should be renewed.

Environmentalist and campaigner Dr Rosemary Mason has just written an open letter to the head of the Pesticides Unit at the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), Jose Tarazona.

Mason wrote to Tarazona  because the Rapporteur Member States (France, Hungary, the Netherlands and Sweden) tasked with risk assessing glyphosate and appointed by the European Commission in 2019, said on 21 June 2021 that there was no problem with glyphosate-based herbicides.

A tireless campaigner against glyphosate, Mason has produced dozens of lengthy reports over the last decade documenting how her former nature reserve in South Wales was destroyed by glyphosate used on adjoining areas and how that substance is a major contributory factor in spiralling rates of disease – a ‘silent’ public health crisis; silent only because the media and officials fail to acknowledge or report on it.

Indeed, to explain away the huge increases in various cancers and neurological disorders, officials cite ‘lifestyle behaviour’, poor diets or lack of exercise to divert attention from the elephant in the room and government collusion with the agrochemical sector.

Drawing on hundreds of peer reviewed papers and official reports over the years, Mason has described in detail the devastating health and environmental impacts of glyphosate as well as the malfeasance and corruption that has led to this state of affairs.

Mason informs Tarazona that the European Commission has colluded with the US Environmental Protection Agency to allow Bayer to keep glyphosate on the market.

To support her claims, she enclosed a 5,900-word report with her letter informing Tarazona of the environmental devastation and severe public health crisis. Her report brings together recent research and analyses into the toxicity of glyphosate and industry dominance over regulatory processes.

What appears below is the first part of a two-part article based on Mason’s report. This first part briefly highlights aspects of the public health crisis resulting from the use of glyphosate-based herbicides. The second part will argue that glyphosate remains in use due to industry influence over regulatory processes.

Toxic Legacy

Dr Stephanie Seneff, a US scientist who works at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has just published the book Toxic Legacy: How the Weedkiller Glyphosate is Destroying Our Health and the Environment.  She has written an article on her family background and why she wrote the book.

Seneff says:

This organic chemical compound, C3H8NO5P, is much more toxic to life forms than we have been led to believe. Glyphosate’s mechanism of toxicity is unique and diabolical. It is a slow killer, slowly robbing you of your good health over time, until you finally succumb to incapacitating or life-threatening disease.

Dr Don Huber, emeritus professor of plant pathophysiology at Purdue University, who has been studying glyphosate for 40 years and genetically modified (GM) Roundup-ready crops for 25 years, said some years ago:

Future historians may well look back upon our time and write, not about how many pounds of pesticide we did or didn’t apply, but how willing we are to sacrifice our children and future generations for this massive genetic engineering experiment that is based on flawed science and failed promises just to benefit the bottom line of commercial enterprise.

When UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was elected in 2019, he stood outside Downing Street and committed himself to:

… liberate the UK’s extraordinary bioscience sector from anti-genetic modification rules.

Mason notes that the Department for Envionment & Rural Affairs authorises farmers to use all forms of Roundup (Monsanto’s – now Bayer – proprietary glyphosate-based herbicide) on crops in the UK. Many farmers in the UK claim they cannot do without it and are keen to start using GM Roundup-ready crops post-Brexit.

There is strong pressure on the European Commission from the Glyphosate Renewal Group, a group of manufacturers of glyphosate, who have asked for the licence for glyphosate to be renewed for 15 years from December 2022.

In June 2021, the Rapporteur Member States from France, Hungary, the Netherlands and Sweden apparently gave the green light. They see no signs that glyphosate can cause cancer or any other issue. But evidence is emerging that they used flawed industry science (to be described in part two of this article).

Devastating health impacts

In August 2018, samples of four oat-based UK cereals were sent to the Health Research Institute Laboratories in the US following a newspaper report about US children eating weedkiller in their oat-based cereals.

Dr John Fagan, the director of the lab, said:

These results are consistently concerning. The levels consumed in a single daily helping of any one of these cereals, even the one with the lowest level of contamination, is sufficient to put the person’s glyphosate levels above the levels that cause fatty liver disease in rats (and likely in people).

Washington State University (WSU) researchers have found a variety of diseases and other health problems in the second- and third-generation offspring of rats exposed to glyphosate. In the first study of its kind, the researchers saw descendants of exposed rats developing prostate, kidney and ovarian diseases, obesity and birth abnormalities.

Michael Skinner, a WSU professor of biological sciences, and his colleagues exposed pregnant rats to the herbicide between their eighth and 14th days of gestation. The dose – half the amount expected to show no adverse effect – produced no apparent ill effects on either the parents or the first generation of offspring.

But, writing in the journal Scientific Reports, the researchers say they saw “dramatic increases” in several pathologies affecting the second and third generations. The second generation had ‘significant increases’ in testis, ovary and mammary gland diseases as well as obesity. In third-generation males, the researchers saw a 30% increase in prostate disease – three times that of a control population. The third generation of females had a 40% increase in kidney disease or four times that of the controls.

More than one-third of the second-generation mothers had unsuccessful pregnancies, with most of those affected dying. Two out of five males and females in the third generation were obese.

Skinner and his colleagues call this phenomenon generational toxicology and they have seen it over the years in fungicides, pesticides, jet fuel, the plastics compound bisphenol A, the insect repellent DEET and the herbicide atrazine. At work are epigenetic changes that turn genes on and off, often because of environmental influences.

Roundup kills bumble bees

Although Mason mainly discusses the health impacts of glyphosate in her report to Tarazona, she did mention at least one disturbing environmental impact. In April 2021, the Journal of Applied Ecology published an article ‘Roundup causes high levels of mortality following contact exposure in bumble bees.’

The article’s abstract stated that pollinators underpin global food production but are suffering significant declines across the world.

It went on to say:

Pesticides are thought to be important drivers of these declines. Herbicides are the most widely applied type of pesticides and are broadly considered ‘bee safe’ by regulatory bodies who explicitly allow their application directly onto foraging bees. We aimed to test the mortality effects of spraying the world’s most popular herbicide brand (Roundup) directly onto bumble bees (Bombus terrestris audax).

The authors argue that Roundup products pose a significant hazard to bees, in both agricultural and urban systems and exposure of bees to them should be limited. They added that surfactants, or other co‐formulants, in herbicides and other pesticides may contribute to global bee declines.

They called for pesticide companies to release the full list of ingredients for each pesticide formulation, as lack of access to this information hampers research to determine safe exposure levels for beneficial insects in agro‐ecosystems.

Bayer’s multi-million-dollar headache

Mason asks Tarazona whether he has been following the trials against Monsanto in the US for concealing that its herbicide Roundup caused non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

She explains to him that three cases have been won against Monsanto/Bayer (Bayer bought Monsanto in 2018) and in 2021 there are thousands more awaiting to have their cases heard in court.

Attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr said in 2018 that Bayer needs more than an aspirin to cure its Monsanto-sized headache.

Kennedy has been involved with some of these cases and has read enough of the scientific literature on glyphosate to conclude that there is cascading scientific evidence linking glyphosate to a constellation of other injuries that have become prevalent since its introduction, including obesity, depression, Alzheimer’s, ADHD, autism, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, kidney and inflammatory bowel disease, brain, breast and prostate cancer, miscarriage, birth defects and declining sperm counts.

He added that strong science suggests glyphosate is the culprit in the exploding epidemics of celiac disease, colitis, gluten sensitivities, diabetes and non-alcoholic liver cancer which, for the first time, is attacking children as young as 10.

As if that is not worrying enough, Kennedy noted that researchers peg glyphosate as a potent endocrine disruptor, which interferes with sexual development in children. It is also a chelator that removes important minerals from the body and disrupts the microbiome, destroying beneficial bacteria in the human gut and triggering brain inflammation and other ill effects.

Although a Monsanto scientist claimed that glyphosate is excreted unchanged from the body, Mason cites a study by Ridley & Mirly (1988) which found bioaccumulation of glyphosate in bone, marrow, blood and glands (including thyroid, testes and ovaries) and major organs (heart, liver, lungs, kidneys, spleen and stomach). The paper was commissioned by Monsanto but was not published.

In a 1990 study conducted by Monsanto between 1987 and 1989 (again unpublished), glyphosate was found to induce a statistically-significant cataractous formation in the eyes of rats. Over the course of the study, cataract lens changes were seen in the low-, mid- and high dose groups in both male and female rats. The pathologist concluded that there was a glyphosate-treated related response for lens changes to the eyes.

Mason notes that the Assessment by the Rapporteur Member States tasked with risk assessing glyphosate have concluded that, based on the available ecotoxicological information glyphosate the current classification “Toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects” should be retained and the current classification as “causes serious eye damage” (H318) should be retained.”

She therefore asks: how can a chemical like glyphosate still be on the market?

Mason states that, according to the UN’s Global Chemicals Outlook II, glyphosate was at the top of the top ten products used on major crops in the United States, by volume, in 2016. Clothianidin (also manufactured by Bayer) is number ten.

She says:

No wonder Bayer doesn’t want to lose its licence for glyphosate or for clothianidin, a long-acting neonicotinoid insecticide that is very persistent in the soil. Both chemicals are on the market illegally thanks to the corrupt EU and US regulatory authorities.

And that is an issue which Mason draws Tarazona’s attention to and will be touched on in the second part of this article.

•  Readers can access Rosemary Mason’s new report, with all relevant references, here.

•  Recommended reading for Jose Tarazona and readers who want to dig deeper into the issues: all of Rosemary Mason’s previous reports can be accessed here.

The post A Message to the EU: Address the Real Public Health Crisis by Banning Glyphosate (Part One) first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Science, Salvation and Heretics: From Monsanto to Pfizer, Same Old Playbook

Why are numerous ‘independent alternative’ media outlets and writers not questioning the COVID-19 vaccine rollout? If anything, they are promoting it without even considering the serious concerns being voiced by top scientists.

When there are experts like cardiologist and epidemiologist Professor Peter McCullough, Dr Robert Malone (credited with inventing mRNA vaccine technology), former vice president of Pfizer Pharmaceuticals Dr Michael Yeadon, vaccine researcher and immunologist Dr Byram Bridle, world-renowned microbiologist Dr Sucharit Bhakti and hundreds of other respected scientists, immunologists and virologists expressing serious concerns or even calling for a halt to the rollout, surely their views must be given space.

However, from the outset, these self-proclaimed ‘anti-establishment’ platforms and journalists threw their hand in with the official COVID-19 narrative. They are now supporting the vaccine rollouts and by implication the entities pushing the vaccines – governments, mainstream media, the Gates and Rockefeller Foundations, Big Pharma and Silicon Valley and its bedfellow, the US military.

In effect, the full weight of the establishment has been brought to bear on pushing the COVID narrative and the vaccines. The very establishment that these ‘independent’ media outlets have previously challenged over the devastating ‘humanitarian’ conflicts in Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan or Syria.

To show such contempt for human life (civilian ‘collateral damage’) via geopolitical and resource-grabbing wars sold under the thin veneer of ‘the war on terror’ or ‘humanitarian intervention’ but then feel a need to save humanity from the ‘deadly’ virus must make some of those supporters of the official line on COVID just a little suspicious of the motives.

As critical care physician Dr Pascal Sacre recently wrote:

If people want trustworthy rulers, honest politicians, they should always judge rulers, financial elites and politicians by their actions rather than by their words.

By not giving space to top scientists in the field of vaccine technology, immunology or virology who express deep concerns, these outlets are, in fact, engaging in censorship as much as the mainstream media, Facebook, Twitter, Google and YouTube.

Science involves open debate and transparency, not censorship.

Same old playbook

There are strong similarities between the issue of genetically modified organisms (GMO) in agriculture and the COVID ‘pandemic’ in terms of the framing of debates in both fields: a type of ‘the science is decided’ mentality and a smearing of critics in an attempt to demonise and close down debate.

Some years ago, Robert T Fraley, Monsanto’s former vice president and chief technology officer, asked on Twitter: “Why do people doubt science?”

Accompanying his question was a link to an article that implied people who are suspicious of vaccines, GMOs, climate change or fluoridated water are confused, adhere to conspiracy theories, are motivated by ideology or are simply misinformed.

But science is not the giver of ‘absolute truth’. That, in itself, should allow us to develop a healthy scepticism towards it. Scientific knowledge is built on shaky stilts that rest on shifting foundations. Science historian Thomas Kuhn wrote about the revolutionary paradigm shifts in scientific thought, whereby established theoretical perspectives can reinforce prevailing paradigms and serve as a barrier to the advancement of knowledge, until the weight of evidence and pressure from proponents of a new theoretical outlook is overwhelming. The old faith then gives way and the new ‘truth’ changes.

The manufacture of scientific knowledge involves a process driven by various sociological, methodological and epistemological conflicts and compromises, both inside the laboratory and beyond.

Why do people doubt science? Not because they are ill-informed or have read Kuhn or some sociology journal, but because they can see how science is used, corrupted and manipulated by powerful corporations and governments to serve their own ends.

Take US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, for instance. He once called for “sound science” to underpin food trade that involves GMOs. Despite what Vilsack would have us believe – that there are no concerns about GMOs – many studies show that they present risks to human health and are having serious environmental, social and economic consequences.

Sound science and the GMO agritech sector are too often perfect strangers. The 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 dangers of its products. It has in the past also engaged in fakery in India, bribery in Indonesia and smears and intimidation against those who challenge its interests as well as the distortion and the censorship of scientific findings that undermine its agenda.

In the US, policy makers released GM food onto the commercial market without proper long-term tests, citing the belief that it is ‘substantially equivalent’ to ordinary food. But foreign genes are being inserted into organisms that studies show make them substantially non-equivalent. Substantial equivalence is a trade strategy on behalf of the GMO sector that neatly serves to bypass science by removing its GMOs from the type of scrutiny usually applied to potentially toxic or harmful substances.

Ultimately, it is not science, itself, that people have doubts about but science that is pressed into the service of immensely powerful private corporations and regulatory bodies that are effectively co-opted and adopt a ‘don’t look, don’t find’ approach’ to studies and products.

There is a tendency to label anyone who opposes GMO as anti-science, not least because they are arguing against a supposed ‘scientific consensus’ in favour of GMOs. But this ‘consensus’ is nothing but a fiction of the collective imagination of the pro-GMO lobby.

The first rule of risk-taking is to not cross the street blindfolded, which is what the GMO and COVID-19 vaccine lobbies would like us all to do, even though there are serious risks associated with these technologies. Furthermore, based on the work of US lawyer Steven Druker, we can see that the processes involved in getting GMO crop technology onto the commercial market were fraudulent and there has not been a single independent long-term epidemiological study on GMOs. With clinical trials still ongoing, similar concerns dog the ‘emergency use authorisation’ experimental COVID-19 vaccines.

The ‘technological salvation’ argument being put forward in favour of the vaccines is also present with GMOs: the technology is needed to ‘feed the hungry’ or ‘save dying children’. When an argument cannot be won using rational debate and science, we usually see the emotional blackmail fallback position and ad hominems against critics.

Whether it is GMO crop technology or COVID vaccines, we are seeing a huge unscientific experiment using people as human guinea pigs to rake in massive profits. In the case of the vaccines, there is also a wider agenda involving a ‘great reset’ of the economy and labour’s relationship to an increasingly authoritarian state whose role is to produce the conditions that will subordinate ordinary people to the ‘new normal’ required by private capital: mass surveillance, worklessness and the eradication of civil and political rights in favour of technocratic rule. In fact, genetically engineered food and crops are an integral part of this reset.

Part of the vaccine rollout involves accusing critics and the unvaccinated of being irresponsible and dangerous fearmongers. There is a huge government-media campaign to marginalise and demonise those who question the vaccines or refuse to take them due to valid concerns.

Instead of indulging in smear campaigns and censorship, what society should be facilitating is open debate and taking very seriously what critics are saying. When people engage in the former and run from the latter, it indicates that their arguments will not and do not withstand scrutiny.

Vaccine billionaires

In finishing, let us return to the world of Robert T Fraley and Monsanto and the type of ‘science’ he pushes. Bayer, which took over Monsanto in 2018, has just lost another appeals court decision in the US regarding its glyphosate-based herbicide, Roundup, often used with GMO ‘roundup ready’ seeds and thus a key component of the GMO agenda. It faces tens of thousands of claims alleging that this herbicide causes cancer.

In a recent decision by a court of appeal in California, it was stated:

Monsanto’s conduct evidenced reckless disregard of the health and safety of the multitude of unsuspecting consumers it kept in the dark. This was not an isolated incident; Monsanto’s conduct involved repeated actions over a period of many years motivated by the desire for sales and profit.

There is a clear lesson here with regard to the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Unlike Monsanto, however, Pfizer and the other vaccine manufacturers have received indemnities against the costs of compensation for adverse effects that might come from their COVID vaccines.

A shrewd business move considering Pfizer’s corporate rap sheet which does nothing to inspire trust in that company. Its track record includes product safety, pricing, advertising and marketing, environment, human rights, labour, worker safety and tax and subsidy crimes and scandals.

It is also claimed by the UK-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism that Pfizer bullied governments to put up federal bank reserves, embassy buildings or military bases as a guarantee against the cost of future legal cases stemming from the adverse effects of its COVID-19 vaccine. This would mean that governments rather than the company would shoulder any legal costs.

Vaccine manufacturers might well face bankruptcy sooner rather than later given the rising numbers of deaths and serious adverse effects being reported. But shielded from liability, the new vaccine billionaires, among them Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel and Ugur Sahin, the CEO of BioNTech, which has produced a vaccine with Pfizer, will be able to hold onto their loot.

Although nothing will bring back those who succumbed to the deadly effects of glyphosate, at least Monsanto (via Bayer) is now in the dock and has already been forced to shell out hundreds of millions of dollars to its victims or their families.

Through these legal cases involving glyphosate, it has been made clear just how powerful corporations can and do corrupt science for their own ends.

Robert F Kennedy Jr, one of the attorney’s fighting Bayer-Monsanto in the US courts, has explained that for four decades Monsanto manoeuvred to conceal Roundup’s carcinogenicity.

He also says that Monsanto faces cascading scientific evidence linking glyphosate to a constellation of other injuries that have become prevalent since its introduction, including obesity, depression, Alzheimer’s, ADHD, autism, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, kidney disease, inflammatory bowel disease, brain, breast and prostate cancer, miscarriage, birth defects and declining sperm counts.

This is what smearing and ignoring critics, malfeasance in public office, the capturing of regulatory agencies and scientific fraud leads to.

It is interesting that governments and public officials sat on their hands and facilitated the rollout of glyphosate and other toxic agrochemicals and watched what is now a major public health crisis spiral out of control. They prioritised the needs of the agrochemical sector ahead of public health and side-lined science that challenged the adverse effects of its products.

But governments are now suddenly expressing great concern for everyone’s well-being by locking them down, waging a fear campaign and cajoling and bribing people to take risky vaccines with dubious efficacy and which are arguably not needed. So, whose needs are they prioritising this time around?

Although we are still in the relative early days of the COVID-19 vaccine rollouts, disturbing evidence is mounting of the actual harm resulting from these poorly tested vaccines and the potential risks (infertility, cognitive, cancer, cardiovascular, etc) that lie in store. Dr J Patrick Whelan, a paediatric rheumatologist, warned the US Food and Drug Administration in late 2020 that mRNA vaccines could cause microvascular injury to the brain, heart, liver and kidneys in ways not assessed in safety trials.

This is deeply concerning.

But not for some. Not least the nine new vaccine billionaires worth a combined $19.3 billion courtesy of COVID-19 vaccines that were largely funded with billions of dollars from the public purse.

The post Science, Salvation and Heretics: From Monsanto to Pfizer, Same Old Playbook first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Toxic Corporations Are Destroying the Planet’s Soil

A newly published analysis in the journal Frontiers in Environmental Science argues that a toxic soup of insecticides, herbicides and fungicides is causing havoc beneath fields covered in corn, soybeans, wheat and other monoculture crops. The research is the most comprehensive review ever conducted on how pesticides affect soil health.

The study is discussed by two of the report’s authors, Nathan Donley and Tari Gunstone, in a recent article appearing on the Scientific American website. The authors state that the findings should bring about immediate changes in how regulatory agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) assess the risks posed by the nearly 850 pesticide ingredients approved for use in the USA.

Conducted by the Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth and the University of Maryland, the research looked at almost 400 published studies that together had carried out more than 2800 experiments on how pesticides affect soil organisms. The review encompassed 275 unique species or types of soil organisms and 284 different pesticides or pesticide mixtures.

Pesticides were found to harm organisms that are critical to maintaining healthy soils in over 70 per cent of cases. But Donley and Gunstone say this type of harm is not considered in the EPA’s safety reviews, which ignore pesticide harm to earthworms, springtails, beetles and thousands of other subterranean species. The EPA uses a single test species to estimate risk to all soil organisms, the European honeybee, which spends its entire life above ground in artificial boxes. But 50-100 per cent of all pesticides end up in soil.

The researchers conclude that the ongoing escalation of pesticide-intensive agriculture and pollution are major driving factors in the decline of soil organisms. By carrying out wholly inadequate reviews, the regulatory system serves to protect the pesticide industry.

The study comes in the wake of other recent findings that indicate high levels of the weedkiller chemical glyphosate and its toxic breakdown product AMPA have been found in topsoil samples from no-till fields in Brazil.

Writing on the GMWatch website, Claire Robinson and Jonathan Matthews note that, despite  this, the agrochemical companies seeking the renewal of the authorisation of glyphosate by the European Union in 2022 are saying that one of the greatest benefits of glyphosate is its ability to foster healthier soils by reducing the need for tillage (or ploughing).

This in itself is misleading because farmers are resorting to ploughing given increasing weed resistance to glyphosate and organic agriculture also incorporates no till methods. At the same time, proponents of glyphosate conveniently ignore or deny its toxicity to soils, water, humans and wildlife. With that in mind, it is noteworthy that GMWatch also refers to another recent study which says that glyphosate is responsible for a five per cent increase in infant mortality in Brazil.

The new study, ‘Pesticides in a case study on no-tillage farming systems and surrounding forest patches in Brazil’ in the journal Scientific Reports, leads the researchers to conclude that glyphosate-contaminated soil can adversely impact food quality and human health and ecological processes for ecosystem services maintenance. They argue that glyphosate and AMPA presence in soil may promote toxicity to key species for biodiversity conservation, which are fundamental for maintaining functioning ecological systems.

These studies reiterate the need to shift away from increasingly discredited ‘green revolution’ ideology and practices. This chemical-intensive model has helped the drive towards greater monocropping and has resulted in less diverse diets and less nutritious foods. Its long-term impact has led to soil degradation and mineral imbalances, which in turn have adversely affected human health.

If we turn to India, for instance, that country is losing 5334 million tonnes of soil every year due to soil erosion and degradation, much of which is attributed to the indiscreet and excessive use of synthetic agrochemicals. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research reports that soil is becoming deficient in nutrients and fertility.

India is not unique in this respect. Maria-Helena Semedo of the Food and Agriculture Organization stated back in 2014 that if current rates of degradation continue all of the world’s topsoil could be gone within 60 years. She noted that about a third of the world’s soil had already been degraded. There is general agreement that chemical-heavy farming techniques are a major cause.

It can take 500 years to generate an inch of soil yet just a few generations to destroy. When you drench soil with proprietary synthetic agrochemicals as part of a model of chemical-dependent farming, you harm essential micro-organisms and end up feeding soil a limited doughnut diet of toxic inputs.

Armed with their multi-billion-dollar money-spinning synthetic biocides, this is what the agrochemical companies have been doing for decades. In their arrogance, these companies claim to have knowledge that they do not possess and then attempt to get the public and co-opted agencies and politicians to bow before the altar of corporate ‘science’ and its bought-and-paid-for scientific priesthood.

The damaging impacts of their products on health and the environment have been widely reported for decades, starting with Rachel Carson’s ground-breaking 1962 book Silent Spring.

These latest studies underscore the need to shift towards organic farming and agroecology and invest in indigenous models of agriculture – as has been consistently advocated by various high-level international agencies, not least the United Nations, and numerous official reports.

The post Toxic Corporations Are Destroying the Planet’s Soil first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Toxic Chemicals Engulf the Planet

Worldwide chemical emissions are six times global warming emissions. This hidden dilemma is fully exposed in a superbly researched new book by science writer Julian Cribb: Earth Detox, How and Why We Must Clean Up Our Planet, Cambridge University Press, scheduled for release August 2021.

The planet has become a toxic soup of tested, untested, and inadequately tested chemicals that includes deadly toxins. Within only a couple of generations, and largely unnoticed, this startling episode is unique to our generation. Far and away, it exceeds global warming emissions. Yet, it’s a pressing issue that’s not publicly recognized as such.

Earth Detox is an eye-opening exposure of unintentional toxic chemical warfare lodged against humanity virtually everywhere, all over the planet. Throughout this challenging subject matter, Cribb’s work is supported by extensive scientific data, for example: “Americans are a walking cocktail of contaminants.” That statement alone is provocative enough to demand more facts, a whole lot more. For example, why and how has American life been reduced to such a degenerative status? More on this to follow.

But most alarming of all: “More than 25,000 human lives are being lost daily to chemical poisoning.” That statistic of 25,000 deaths/day comes from UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) in its 2019 Global Chemicals Outlook II report, which Cribb disparagingly describes:

With unassailable scientific evidence that more than 25,000 human lives are being lost daily to chemical poisoning, and in the face of a mountain of fresh evidence of chemical harm that has accumulated since its 2013 report, the 2019 report betrays a chilling lack of urgency. Its language is softer and less candid, its proposals more soothing to industry than its predecessor. Indeed, it asserts: ‘We cannot live without chemicals’. It is hard to escape an inference that UNEP has been ‘got at’. (p. 216)

It’s a compelling invisible issue. What else in the world accounts for 25,000 daily deaths?

Yet, across the globe there are no signs of concern, no long banners flapping in the breeze on Main Street, no NGOs, no marches, no petitions, no pesky fund-raisers, no signature gatherers at grocery store parking lots, no public demonstrations of concern about this hidden peril found throughout the planet from the top of Mount Everest, where researchers, to their dismay, discovered toxic compounds in-excess of EPA standards, to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, where small crustaceans that live in the pitch-black waters of the trench, captured by a robotic submarine, were contaminated with 50 times more toxic chemicals than crabs that survive in heavily polluted rivers in China.

Still, society fails to address this most pressing issue of the 21st century. According to Cribb: “A worrisome component of the poisoning of the planet is the absurd fact that modern society exists and functions as a result of these poisons. For example, industrialized food production uses five million tonnes of specialized poisons to control weeds, insects, rodents and moulds to feed the world.” Here’s the kicker, the vast majority of the chemicals used to produce food negatively impact “non-target organisms,” like honeybees, farm workers and consumers.

Cribb has produced a landmark study that demands further analysis and investigation at the highest levels. It belongs on reading lists of every educational institution and in the hands of policymakers as well as consumers worldwide. Cribb’s gifted science-oriented prose provides an ideal fundamental resource for: (1) supplemental textbooks (2) advocacy groups (3) policymakers (4) critical information for every householder in the world to better understand what’s at stake in everyday life. For example: “Never eat any food containing a substance you can’t pronounce or you don’t trust.” (p. 67) In other words, read the damn labels!

Earth Detox is truly a masterpiece of deeply researched facts exposing a very, very big story, as big as the survival and condition of Earth’s basic resources that support existence.  An opening statement in Cribb’s own words sums up the extent:

Earth and all life on it are being saturated with chemicals released by humans, in an event unlike anything that has occurred ever before, in all 4 billion years of our Planet’s story… Ours is a poisoned world… this has all happened quite quickly and has burgeoned so rapidly that most people are still unaware of the extent or scale of the peril… crept up on us unseen… in a social climate of trusting acceptance of authority, over barely the span of a single human lifetime… impacts are only now starting to emerge. (pp. 3-4)

Accordingly, a 2020 study by a team of international scientists led by Switzerland’s Institute of Environmental Engineering:

Over 350,000 chemicals and mixtures of chemicals have been registered for production and use, up to three times as many as previously estimated… identities of many chemicals remain publicly unknown because they are claimed as confidential.  (p  7)

The Swiss study is the world’s first-ever compilation of global chemical inventory and surprisingly discovered three times previous estimates, which speaks to the lax governance issue, nobody really knows for sure what’s going on, three times previous estimates is evidence of failure to observe. The study uncovered “widespread secrecy, misidentification and obfuscation,” leading to a question of who effectively monitors this darkened world that ultimately reaches into everyone’s home?

It’s the vastness and fragmentation of worldwide manufacturing that makes regulation so difficult. After all, one thousand (1,000) new chemicals are added to the mix every year. The chemical industry is the second largest manufacturer in the world, totaling 2.5 billion tonnes each year.

Yet, according to Cribb:

Regulation has so far banned fewer than one per cent (1%) of all intentionally made dangerous chemicals – and then only in certain countries… large parts of the world’s most polluting industries are relocating away from countries where high standards of regulation and compliance, and high costs, apply. (pp. 191-92)

All of which conforms to economic dicta following post-Reagan globalization schemes subsequently embraced by neoliberalism’s penchant for weakening regulations and powerfully goosed ahead via massive deregulation under the Trump administration’s “intentional collapse of scientific wherewithal,” one of America’s darkest hours.

Indeed, chemical usage is an ever-present quandary that’s a challenge to navigate if only because so much of it is necessary in today’s world, leading to one of the great paradoxes of all time, a virtual “Catch-22”:

Man-made chemicals are so widespread in the world today because they are very useful, very valuable, very profitable and help to enhance billions of lives. They are central enabling technology in the modern global economy. They are never going to be universally banned – and nor should they be. But neither should they flood the Earth uncontrolled. The magnitude of our chemical – especially toxic chemical – exposure has crept up on the human population unawares. (p. 192)

Cribb has created nomenclature for the chemical epidemic: Anthropogenic Chemical Circulation (“ACC”).

The ACC is just like our carbon emissions – only much bigger and far more noxious… For the first time in the Earth’s history, a single species – ourselves – is poisoning an entire Planet. (pp. 20-21)

ACC aptly defines the risks: Man-made chemicals are always on the move constantly in space and time, all around us, traveling on wind, in the water, attached to soil, within dust and plastic micro particles, in traded goods. Chemicals stay with us forever reforming, recycling, recombining, and reactivating as part of an unending planetary river, the Anthropogenic Chemical Circulation. Nothing escapes toxic pollution: “Even the mud on the sea floor is becoming poisonous.” (pp. 35-37)

Polluted People

It is highly likely that readers of Cribb’s exposé will have been exposed to toxic chemicals without knowing it. You only know, or suspect, after something goes wrong, like cancer or Alzheimer’s but by then forgetfulness masks the original cause/effect.

According to Cribb:

A chilling glimpse of the big picture comes from the USA, among the heaviest chemical users on the Planet. For more than two decades its Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has run a national survey of chemical pollution in the blood, serum and urine of up to 2500 Americans every year. (pg. 53)

The survey reveals:

Americans are a walking cocktail of contaminants. The CDC readily admits that the health effects of many chemicals are not yet clear. WHO says the number of chemicals is ‘very large’ and health risks ‘are not known… Ipso facto, never eat any food containing a substance you can’t pronounce or you don’t trust. (p. 67)

The modern industrial food supply chain, from A to Z, is loaded with chemicals. For starters, pesticides used to grow food and livestock end up in human bodies one way or another, and in high enough concentrations proven to influence cancers, brain, nerve, genetic and hormonal disorders, kidney and liver damage, asthma and allergies. Besides pesticides, some 3,000 chemical food ingredients are permitted by the FDA used to enhance freshness, taste, and texture. Preservatives, for example, which extend shelf life, are chemicals that poison the bacteria and moulds that cause food to rot.

Common chemical preservatives such as sodium nitrate and nitrite, sulphites, sulphur dioxide, sodium benzoate, parabens, formaldehyde and antioxidant preservatives, if over-consumed in the modern processed food diet, may also lead to cancers, heart disease, allergies, digestive, lung, kidney and other diseases and constitute a further reason for avoiding or reducing one’s intake of ‘industrial food’. (p. 70)

By all appearances, based upon Cribb’s extensive research, the Industrial Food Frankenstein, which traverses pesticide-laced farmland-to-artificial (toxic) plastic packaging-to home refrigeration, given enough time, kills or cripples wide-eyed consumers. There’s little middle ground with industrial foodstuff.

It should be noted, aside from Cribb’s book, a major Rand Corporation study shows “sixty percent (60% or almost 200 million) U.S. adults have at least one chronic condition, 42% have more than one, and 12% have five or more,” e.g., high cholesterol, high blood pressure, anxiety, arthritis, heart disease and diabetes. Whereas, European chronic conditions at 30% are one-half the U.S. on the same timeline as the Rand study. Thus, connecting the dots, it brings to mind whether adverse conditions, like excessive exposure to toxic chemicals, cause chronic conditions?

Interestingly, Europe only permits the use of 400 food additives out of 3000 permitted in the US. Essentially, Europe has banned 4/5ths of the chemicals allowed in the US food chain. Europe outlaws any chemicals that do not meet its criteria for “non-harm to humans or the environment.” (p. 73)

“It is important to remember that the universal penetration of man-made chemicals into the food chain has mainly happened in just the last half-century. No previous generations were subjected to such a wholesale chemical exposure.” (page. 76) “There could be anything up to 16,500 different chemicals in the modern food chain today that simply weren’t a part of your grandparents’ diet.” (p. 90) That one sentence says it all in less than 25 words with an underlying message: Avoid industrial food. Eat fresh food.

A major test of a family of five in San Francisco that ate industrial packaged food for a period of time followed by a diet of fresh food for a comparable period of time showed significant reduction of toxic BPA (used to make plastics) and phthalates (used to make household goods) of 67% to 90%, which is extraordinarily meaningful. (Earth Detox) (According to Mayo Clinic, research shows BPA may be directly linked to high blood pressure, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Phthalates makes plastics more durable used in hundreds of household products and can damage the liver, kidneys, lungs, and reproductive system.)

Unfortunately, the full scale of the impact of toxic chemicals to humans is not yet fully understood by science, not by governments, not by industry and not by communities. However, numerous studies show mixtures of chemicals connecting dots to cancers, autism and several other diseases.

We are, every one of us, the ‘laboratory rats’ in a vast worldwide chemistry experiment involving an immense cocktail of substances, over which we have neither say nor freedom of action. It is an uncontrolled global experiment that defies the very ethics which outlaw the scientific testing of mixture toxicity in humans.  (p. 96)

While global chemical use is forecast to intensify, growing by around 3 per cent per year up to 2050, the world’s ability to regulate and restrict it is weakening… The main reason for this is that, in their efforts to evade regulators, chemical corporations are winding back their operations in the developed world and moving to more poorly regulated countries, mainly in Asia. In the first two decades of this century, chemical output in Asian countries grew three to five times faster than in North America and Europe. (p. 196)

Earth Detox offers solutions. Here’s one:

A core finding of this book is that we must build a Global Detox Alliance… Such an alliance would not engage in consumer bans or boycotts, physical confrontation, lawsuits or other direct action against industry or science; to do so will only entrench mutual mistrust and opposition, delay the move to clean production and drive industry into greater secrecy and into unregulated parts of the world. Clean up will do best if founded on principles of co- operation, consensus, openness and equality between society, industry and government. (p. 236)

Above all else, readers of Cribb’s fact-filled gem must read the Postscript: “A Cautionary Tale From Deep Time,” which is an extremely intriguing very thought-provoking detailed description of how life on Earth originated, from day one, with some surprising results along the way. Don’t miss it. After all, who doesn’t wonder about the wonders of life’s creation?

Postscript:

Ours is a poisoned world… this has all happened quite quickly and has burgeoned so rapidly that most people are still unaware of the extent or scale of the peril… crept up on us unseen… over barely the span of a single human lifetime… impacts are only now starting to emerge. (Julian Cribb)

Someday we shall look back on this dark era of agriculture and shake our heads. How could we have ever believed that it was a good idea to grow our food with poisons? (Jane Goodall, Harvest of Hope, 2005.)

Annotation: The quotes with page references in this article come from the publisher’s “Proof” and may not conform to the final book publication.

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The Undervalued Small Farmer and Food Insecurity

The average hourly wage for someone working in farming in the US is less than $13 an hour. Ignore the numbers for the total average income of farm families, because they nearly always include the income of one full-time wage earner. For a couple, it could be either partner, but trust me, one of them works a full day and then returns to work the farm until dark during most of the year. And guaranteed, the work they do when they come home is much harder than what they do at their outside job.

I thought maybe that had changed in the years since we had a small farm, but apparently it hasn’t. I recently spoke with a young farm wife and mother who stopped by to pick up some tomato starts on her way home from her office job. She named several women from neighboring farms who were also in the workforce, even though they’d rather be home weeding vegetables in preparation for the weekend farmers’ markets and being with their kids.

If you farm in the West, where heat and drought are growing worse every year, you may have foregone planting the usual vegetable crops, culled your animals, and stripped your fruit trees. That’s because most of California is under drought emergency, which is not expected to improve.

So where will our food come from if the West Coast farmers are forced to give up? The large corporate farms typically grow one crop, and this lack of diversity also means a lack of food security. We rely most heavily on Western states for the bulk of our US-grown vegetables and fruits. Farms in other regions, including here in New England, are often smaller, more diverse, and run by a couple, one of whom earns that “less than $13 an hour.” Drought and temps are increasing here too.

One of California’s main crops is almonds. We raise and export most of the nuts grown on a million acres in this $10 billion market. One almond requires one gallon of water to grow to maturity. That’s a lot of water. Raising beef requires a lot of water too—for the corn to feed them. We also export beef and other meat products. The companies who make the big bucks benefit from big government subsidies. Remember that small farmer who sells through a CSA or at the farm markets? The only subsidy she gets is maybe a “thank you” from someone who knows the hard work that went into that lovely tomato or beautiful squash, which she probably picked before you even had your first cup of coffee that morning.

If ever there were a subsidy that should be created, it would be one for the small farmers, because they deserve to make a living and because eventually you may have to look to them for much of your family’s food. Part of our trade deficit with China is made up of imported food products that include 90 percent of the vitamin C consumed by Americans, 78 percent of the tilapia, 70 percent of the apple juice, 50 percent of the cod, 43 percent of the processed mushrooms and 23 percent of the garlic. Right, that apple juice you give your kids probably didn’t come from New England or the Northwest, nor did the cod come from coastal Maine. I won’t even go into the health and safety concerns surrounding so many imports, nor will I elaborate on the geo-political risks associated with our food security or lack thereof. And if small farmers decide to switch professions so they can actually “feed” their own families, well . . . Use your imagination.

Why must we use our resources (water) to export more than $4 billion worth of almonds, for example, when we could be helping farmers and orchardists produce safe, locally grown food for us? Why did we import $10 billion worth of vegetables in 2020, equal to a third of the quantity available to US consumers? We rely on California for most of our US-produced produce, with Mexico being the secondary source.

Getting back to climate change, or what it was known as before the term frightened too many media progressives, climate catastrophe. What happens when California can no longer supply our food, if China shuts down exports, if there is political upheaval south of the border, if hackers shut down our transportation systems? So many possibilities. How friendly are you with the lady next door who grows vegetables in her little raised bed garden? Maybe you should get to know her better—and ask her for tips on growing some of your own.

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Economic Collapse Continues Uninterrupted

To conceal the economic and social decline that continues to unfold at home and abroad, major newspapers are working overtime to promote happy economic news. Many headlines are irrational and out of touch. They make no sense. Desperation to convince everyone that all is well or all will soon be great is very high. The assault on economic science and coherence is intense. Working in concert, and contrary to the lived experience of millions of people, many newspapers are declaring miraculous “economic growth rates” for country after country. According to the rich and their media, numerous countries are experiencing or are on the cusp of experiencing very strong “come-backs” or “complete recoveries.” Very high rates of annual economic growth, generally not found in any prior period, are being floated regularly. The numbers defy common sense.

In reality, economic and social problems are getting worse nationally and internationally.

“Getting back to the pre-Covid standard will take time,” said Carmen Reinhart, the World Bank’s chief economist. “The aftermath of Covid isn’t going to reverse for a lot of countries. Far from it.” Even this recent statement is misleading because it implies that pre-Covid economic conditions were somehow good or acceptable when things have actually been going downhill for decades. Most economies never really “recovered” from the economic collapse of 2008. Most countries are still running on gas fumes while poverty, unemployment, under-employment, inequality, debt, food insecurity, generalized anxiety, and other problems keep worsening. And today, with millions of people fully vaccinated and trillions of phantom dollars, euros, and yen printed by the world’s central banks, there is still no real and sustained stability, prosperity, security, or harmony. People everywhere are still anxious about the future. Pious statements from world leaders about “fixing” capitalism have done nothing to reverse the global economic decline that started years ago and was intensified by the “COVID Pandemic.”

In the U.S. alone, in real numbers, about 3-4 million people a month have been laid off for 13 consecutive months. At no other time in U.S. history has such a calamity on this scale happened. This has “improved” slightly recently but the number of people being laid off every month remains extremely high and troubling. In New York State, for example:

the statewide [official] unemployment rate remains the second highest in the country at just under 9%. One year after the start of the pandemic and the recession it caused, most of the jobs New York lost still have not come back. (emphasis added, April 2021).

In addition, nationally the number of long-term unemployed remains high and the labor force participation rate remains low. And most new jobs that are “created” are not high-paying jobs with good benefits and security. The so-called “Gig Economy” has beleaguered millions.

Some groups have been more adversely affected than others. In April 2021, U.S. News & World Report conveyed that:

In February 2020, right before the coronavirus was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, Black women had an employment to population ratio of 60.8%; that now stands at 54.8%, a drop of 6 percentage points.

The obsolete U.S. economic system has discarded more than half a million black women from the labor force in the past year.

In December 2019, around the time the “COVID Pandemic” began to emerge, Brookings reported that:

An estimated 53 million people—44 percent of all U.S. workers ages 18–64—are low-wage workers. That’s more than twice the number of people in the 10 most populous U.S. cities combined. Their median hourly wage is $10.22, and their median annual earnings are $17,950.

The Federal Reserve reports that 37 percent of Americans in 2019 did not have $400 to cover an unanticipated emergency. In Louisiana alone, 1 out of 5 families today are living at the poverty level.  Sadly, “60% of Americans will live below the official poverty line for at least one year of their lives.” While American billionaires became $1.3 trillion richer, about 8 million Americans joined the ranks of the poor during the “COVID Pandemic.”

And more inflation will make things worse for more people. A March 2021 headline from NBC News reads: “The price of food and gas is creeping higher — and will stay that way for a while.”  ABC News goes further in April 2021 and says that “the post-pandemic economy will include higher prices, worse service, longer delays.”

Homelessness in the U.S. is also increasing:

COVID-driven loss of jobs and employment income will cause the number of homeless workers to increase each year through 2023. Without large-scale, government employment programs the Pandemic Recession is projected to cause twice as much homelessness as the 2008 Great Recession. Over the next four years the current Pandemic Recession is projected to cause chronic homelessness to increase 49 percent in the United States, 68 percent in California and 86 percent in Los Angeles County. [The homeless include the] homeless on the streets, shelter residents and couch surfers. (emphasis added, January 11, 2021)

Perhaps ironically, just “Two blocks from the Federal Reserve, a growing encampment of the homeless grips the economy’s most powerful person [Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell].”

Officially, about four million businesses, including more than 110,000 restaurants, have permanently closed in the U.S. over the past 14 months.  In April 2021 Business Insider stated that, “roughly 80,000 stores are doomed to close in the next 5 years as the retail apocalypse continues to rip through America.”  The real figure is likely higher.

Bankruptcies have also risen in some sectors. For example, bankruptcies by North American oil producers “rose to the highest first-quarter level since 2016.”

In March 2021 the Economic Policy Institute reported that “more than 25 million workers are directly harmed by the COVID labor market.” Anecdotal evidence suggests that there are more than 100 applicants for each job opening in some sectors.

Given the depth and breadth of the economic collapse in the U.S., it is no surprise that “1 in 6 Americans went into therapy for the first time in 2020.” The number of people affected by depression, anxiety, addiction, and suicide worldwide as a direct result of the long depression is very high. These harsh facts and realities are also linked to more violence, killings, protests, demonstrations, social unrest, and riots worldwide.

In terms of physical health, “Sixty-one percent of U.S. adults report undesired weight changes since the COVID-19 pandemic began.” This will only exacerbate the diabetes pandemic that has been ravaging more countries every year.

On another front, the Pew Research Center informs us that, as a result of the economic collapse that has unfolded over the past year, “A majority of young adults in the U.S. live with their parents for the first time since the Great Depression.”   And it does not help that student debt now exceeds $1.7 trillion and is still climbing rapidly.

Millions of college faculty have also suffered greatly over the past year. A recent survey by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) found that:

real wages for full-time faculty decreased for the first time since the Great Recession[in 2008], and average wage growth for all ranks of full-time faculty was the lowest since the AAUP began tracking annual wage growth in 1972. After adjusting for inflation, real wages decreased at over two-thirds of colleges and universities. The number of full-time faculty decreased at over half of institutions.

This does not account for the thousands of higher education adjuncts (part-time faculty) and staff that lost their jobs permanently.

In April 2021, the Center on Budget & Policy Priorities stated that, “millions of people are still without their pre-pandemic income sources and are borrowing to get by.” Specifically:

  • 54 million adults said they didn’t use regular income sources like those received before the pandemic to meet their spending needs in the last seven days.
  • 50 million used credit cards or loans to meet spending needs.
  • 20 million borrowed from friends or family. (These three groups overlap.)

Also in April 2021, the Washington Post wrote:

The pandemic’s disruption has created inescapable financial strain for many Americans. Nearly 2 of 5 of adults have postponed major financial decisions, from buying cars or houses to getting married or having children, due to the coronavirus crisis, according to a survey last week from Bankrate.com. Among younger adults, ages 18 to 34, some 59 percent said they had delayed a financial milestone. (emphasis added)

According to Monthly Review:

The U.S. economy has seen a long-term decline in capacity utilization in manufacturing, which has averaged 78 percent from 1972 to 2019—well below levels that stimulate net investment. (emphasis added, January 1, 2021).

Capitalist firms will not invest in new ventures or projects when there is little or no profit to be made, which is why major owners of capital are engaged in even more stock market manipulation than ever before. “Casino capitalism” is intensifying. This, in turn, is giving rise to even larger stock market bubbles that will eventually burst and wreak even more havoc than previous stock market crashes. The inability to make profit through normal investment channels is also why major owners of capital are imposing more public-private “partnerships” (PPPs) on people and society through neoliberal state restructuring. Such pay-the-rich schemes further marginalize workers and exacerbate inequality, debt, and poverty. PPPs solve no problems and must be replaced by human-centered economic arrangements.

The International Labor Organization estimates that the equivalent of 255 million full-time jobs have been lost globally as a result of government actions over the past 13-14 months.

In March of this year, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations reported that, “Acute hunger is set to soar in over 20 countries in the coming months without urgent and scaled-up assistance.” The FAO says, “”The magnitude of suffering is alarming.”

And according to Reuters, “Overall, global FDI [Foreign Direct Investment] had collapsed in 2020, falling by 42% to an estimated $859 billion, from $1.5 trillion in 2019, according to the UNCTAD report.” UNCTAD stands for United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

The international organization Oxfam tells us that:

The coronavirus pandemic has the potential to lead to an increase in inequality in almost every country at once, the first time this has happened since records began…. Billionaire fortunes returned to their pre-pandemic highs in just nine months, while recovery for the world’s poorest people could take over a decade. (emphasis added, January 25, 2021)

According to the World Bank, “The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed about 120 million people into extreme poverty over the last year in mostly low- and middle-income countries.”  And despite the roll-out of vaccines in various countries:

the economic implications of the pandemic are deep and far-reaching. It is ushering in a “new poor” profile that is more urban, better educated, and reliant on informal sector work such as construction, relative to the existing global poor (those living on less than $1.90/day) who are more rural and heavily reliant on agriculture. (emphasis added)

Another source notes that:

Pew Research Center, using World Bank data, has estimated that the number of poor in India (with income of $2 per day or less in purchasing power parity) has more than doubled from 60 million to 134 million in just a year due to the pandemic-induced recession. This means, India is back in a situation to be called a “country of mass poverty” after 45 years. (emphasis added)

In Europe, there is no end in sight to the economic decline that keeps unfolding. The United Kingdom, for example, experienced its worst economy in literally 300 years:

The economy in the U.K. contracted 9.9 percent in 2020, the worst year on record since 1709, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said in a report on Friday (Feb. 12). The overall economic drop in 2020 was more than double in 2009, when U.K. GDP declined 4.1 percent due to the worldwide financial crisis. Britain experienced the biggest annual decline among the G7 economies — France saw its economy decline 8.3 percent, Italy dropped 8.8 percent, Germany declined 5 percent and the U.S. contracted 3.5 percent. (emphasis added)

Another source also notes that, “The Eurozone is being haunted by ‘ghost bankruptcies,’ with more than 200,000 firms across the European Union’s four biggest nations under threat when Covid financial lifelines stop.” In another sign of economic decline, this time in Asia, Argus Media reported in April 2021 that Japan’s 2020-21 crude steel output fell to a 52-year low.

Taken alone, on a country-by-country basis, these are not minor economic downturns, but when viewed as a collective cumulative global phenomenon, the consequences are more serious. It is a big problem when numerous economies decline simultaneously. The world is more interdependent and interconnected than ever. What happens in one region necessarily affects other regions.

One could easily go country by country and region by region and document many tragic economic developments that are still unfolding and worsening. Argentina, Lebanon, Colombia, Turkey, Brazil, Mexico, Jordan, South Africa, Nigeria, and dozens of other countries are all experiencing major economic setbacks and hardships that will take years to overcome and will negatively affect the economies of other countries in an increasingly interdependent world. And privatization schemes around the world are just making conditions worse for the majority of people. Far from solving any problems, neoliberalism has made everything worse for working people and society.

It is too soon for capitalist ideologues to be euphoric about “miraculous economic growth and success.” There is no meaningful evidence to show that there is deep, significant, sustained economic growth on a broad scale. There is tremendous economic carnage and pain out there, and the scarring and consequences are going to linger for some time. No one believes that a big surge of well-paying jobs is right around the corner. Nor does anyone believe that more schemes to pay the rich under the banner of high ideals will improve things either.

Relentless disinformation about the economy won’t solve any problems or convince people that they are not experiencing what they are experiencing. Growing poverty, hunger, homelessness, unemployment, under-employment, debt, inequality, anxiety, and insecurity are real and painful. They require real solutions put forward by working people, not major owners of capital concerned only with maximizing private profit as fast as possible.

The economy cannot improve and serve a pro-social aim and direction so long as those who produce society’s wealth, workers, are disempowered and denied any control of the economy they run. Allowing major decisions to be made by a historically superfluous financial oligarchy is not the way forward. The rich and their representatives are unfit to rule and have no real solutions for the recurring crises caused by their outmoded system. They are focused mainly on depriving people of an outlook that opens the path of progress to society.

There is no way for the massive wealth of society to be used to serve the general interests of society so long as the contradiction between the socialized nature of the economy and its continued domination by competing private interests remain unresolved. All we are left with are recurring economic crises that take a bigger and bigger toll on humanity. To add insult to injury, we are told that there is no alternative to this outdated system, and that the goal is to strive for “inclusive capitalism,” “ethical capitalism,” “responsible capitalism,” or some other oxymoron.

But there is an alternative. Existing conditions do not have to be eternal or tolerated. History shows that conditions that favor the people can be established. The rich must be deprived of their ability to deprive the people of their rights, including the right to govern their own affairs and control the economy. The economy, government, nation-building, and society must be controlled and directed by the people themselves, free of the influence of narrow private interests determined to enrich themselves at the expense of everyone and everything else.

The rich and their political and media representatives are under great pressure to distort social consciousness, undermine the human factor, and block progress. The necessity for change is for humanity to rise up and usher in a modern society that ensures prosperity, stability, and peace for all. It can be done and must be done.

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Gates Unhinged: Dystopian Vision for Agrifood Must Not Succeed

We are currently seeing an acceleration of the corporate consolidation of the entire global agrifood chain. The high-tech/data conglomerates, including Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook and Google, have joined traditional agribusiness giants, such as Corteva, Bayer, Cargill and Syngenta, in a quest to impose a certain type of agriculture and food production on the world.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is also involved (documented in the recent report ‘Gates to a Global Empire‘ by Navdanya International), whether through buying up huge tracts of farmland, promoting a much-heralded (but failed) ‘green revolution’ for Africa, pushing biosynthetic food and new genetic engineering technologies or more generally facilitating the aims of the mega agrifood corporations.

Of course, those involved in this portray what they are doing as some kind of humanitarian endeavour – saving the planet with ‘climate-friendly solutions’, helping farmers or feeding the world. This is how many of them probably do genuinely regard their role inside their corporate echo chamber. But what they are really doing is repackaging the dispossessive strategies of imperialism as ‘feeding the world’.

Failed Green Revolution

Since the Green Revolution, US agribusiness and financial institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have sought to hook farmers and nation states on corporate seeds and proprietary inputs as well as loans to construct the type of agri infrastructure that chemical-intensive farming requires.

Monsanto-Bayer and other agribusiness concerns have since the 1990s been attempting to further consolidate their grip on global agriculture and farmers’ corporate dependency with the rollout of genetically engineered seeds, commonly known as GMOs (genetically modified organisms).

In her latest report, ‘Reclaim the Seed’, Vandana Shiva says:

In the 1980s, the chemical corporations started to look at genetic engineering and patenting of seed as new sources of super profits. They took farmers varieties from the public gene banks, tinkered with the seed through conventional breeding or genetic engineering, and took patents.

Shiva talks about the Green Revolution and seed colonialism and the pirating of farmers seeds and knowledge. She says that 768,576 accessions of seeds were taken from farmers in Mexico alone:

… taking the farmers seeds that embodies their creativity and knowledge of breeding. The ‘civilising mission’ of Seed Colonisation is the declaration that farmers are ‘primitive’ and the varieties they have bred are ‘primitive’, ‘inferior’, ‘low yielding’ and have to be ‘substituted’ and ‘replaced’ with superior seeds from a superior race of breeders, so called ‘modern varieties’ and ‘improved varieties’ bred for chemicals.

It is now clear that the Green Revolution has been a failure in terms of its devastating environmental impacts, the undermining of highly productive traditional low-input agriculture and its sound ecological footing, the displacement of rural populations and the adverse impacts on village communities, nutrition, health and regional food security.

Aside from various studies that have reported on the health impacts of chemical-dependent crops (Dr Rosemary Mason’s many reports on this can be accessed on the academia.edu website), New Histories of the Green Revolution (2019) debunks the claim that the Green Revolution boosted productivity; The Violence of the Green Revolution (1991) details (among other things) the impact on rural communities; Bhaskar Save’s open letter to Indian officials in 2006 discusses the ecological devastation of the Green Revolution and in a 2019 paper in the Journal of Experimental Biology and Agricultural Sciences, Parvez et al note that native wheat varieties in India have higher nutrition content than the Green Revolution varieties (many such crop varieties were side-lined in favour of corporate seeds that were of lower nutritional value).

These are just a brief selection of peer reviewed and ‘grey’ literature which detail the adverse impacts of the Green Revolution.

GMO value capture

As for GM crops, often described as Green Revolution 2.0, these too have failed to deliver on the promises made and, like the 1.0 version, have often had devastating consequences.

The arguments for and against GMOs are well documented, but one paper worth noting appeared in the journal Current Science in 2018. Along with PC Kesavan, MS Swaminathan – regarded as the father of the Green Revolution in India – argued against introducing GM crops to India and cited various studies about the failings of the GMO project.

Regardless, the industry and its well-funded lobbyists and bought career scientists continue to spin the line that GM crops are a marvellous success and that the world needs even more of them to avoid a global food shortage. GM crops are required to feed the world is a well-worn industry slogan trotted out at every available opportunity. Just like the claim of GM crops being a tremendous success, this too is based on a myth.

There is no global shortage of food. Even under any plausible future population scenario, there will be no shortage as evidenced by scientist Dr Jonathan Latham in his recent paper “The Myth of a Food Crisis“.

However, new gene drive and gene editing techniques have now been developed and the industry is seeking the unregulated commercial release of products that are based on these methods.

It does not want plants, animals and micro-organisms created with gene-editing to be subject to safety checks, monitoring or consumer labelling. This is concerning given the real dangers that these techniques pose.

Many peer-reviewed research papers now call into question industry claims about the ‘precision’, safety and benefits of gene-edited organisms and can be accessed on the GMWatch.org website.

It really is a case of old wine in new bottles.

And this is not lost on a coalition of 162 civil society, farmers and business organisations which has called on Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans to ensure that new genetic engineering techniques continue to be regulated in accordance with existing EU GMO standards.

The coalition argues that these new techniques can cause a range of unwanted genetic modifications that can result in the production of novel toxins or allergens or in the transfer of antibiotic resistance genes. The open letter adds that even intended modifications can result in traits which could raise food safety, environmental or animal welfare concerns.

The European Court of Justice ruled in 2018 that organisms obtained with new genetic modification techniques must be regulated under the EU’s existing GMO laws. However, there has been intense lobbying from the agriculture biotech industry to weaken the legislation, aided by the Gates Foundation.

The coalition states that various scientific publications show that new techniques of genetic modification allow developers to make significant genetic changes, which can be very different from those that happen in nature.

In addition to these concerns, a new paper from Chinese scientists, ‘Herbicide Resistance: Another Hot Agronomic Trait for Plant Genome Editing’, says that, in spite of claims from GMO promoters that gene editing will be climate-friendly and reduce pesticide use, what we can expect is just more of the same – GM herbicide-tolerant crops and increased herbicide use.

The industry wants its new techniques to be unregulated, thereby making gene-edited GMOs faster to develop, more profitable and hidden from consumers when purchasing items in stores. At the same time, the costly herbicide treadmill will be reinforced for farmers.

None of this is meant to imply that new technology is bad in itself. The issue is who owns and controls the technology and what are the underlying intentions. By dodging regulation as well as avoiding economic, social, environmental and health impact assessments, it is clear that the industry is first and foremost motivated by value capture and profit and contempt for democratic accountability.

This is patently clear if we look at the rollout of Bt cotton in India which served the bottom line of Monsanto but brought dependency, distress and no durable agronomic benefits for many of India’s small and marginal farmers. Prof A P Gutierrez argues that Bt cotton has effectively placed these farmers in a corporate noose.

Monsanto sucked hundreds of millions of dollars in profit from these cotton farmers, while industry-funded scientists are always keen to push the mantra that rolling out Bt cotton in India uplifted their conditions.

Those who promote this narrative remain wilfully ignorant of the challenges (documented in the 2019 book by Andrew Flachs – Cultivating Knowledge: Biotechnology, Sustainability and the Human Cost of Cotton Capitalism in India) these farmers face in terms of financial distress, increasing pest resistance, dependency on unregulated seed markets, the eradication of environmental learning,  the loss of control over their productive means and the biotech-chemical treadmill they are trapped on (this last point is precisely what the industry intended).

When assessing the possible impacts of GMO agriculture, it was with good reason that, in their 2018 paper, Swaminathan and Kesavan called for:

able economists who are familiar with and will prioritise rural livelihoods and the interests of resource-poor small and marginal farmers rather than serve corporate interests and their profits.

What can be done?

Whether through all aspects of data control (soil quality, consumer preferences, weather, etc), e-commerce monopolies, corporate land ownership, seed biopiracy and patenting, synthetic food or the eradication of the public sector’s role in ensuring food security and national food sovereignty (as we could see in India with new farm legislation), Bill Gates and his corporate cronies seek to gain full control over the global food system.

Smallholder peasant farming is to be eradicated as the big-tech giants and agribusiness impose lab-grown food, GM seeds, genetically engineered soil microbes, data harvesting tools and drones and other ‘disruptive’ technologies.

We could see farmerless industrial-scale farms being manned by driverless machines, monitored by drones and doused with chemicals to produce commodity crops from patented GM seeds for industrial ‘biomatter’ to be processed and constituted into something resembling food.

The displacement of a food-producing peasantry (and the subsequent destruction of rural communities and local food security) was something the Gates Foundation once called for and cynically termed “land mobility”.

Technocratic meddling has already destroyed or undermined agrarian ecosystems that draw on centuries of traditional knowledge and are increasingly recognised as valid approaches to secure food security, as outlined in Food Security and Traditional Knowledge in India in the Journal of South Asian Studies, for instance.

But is all of this inevitable?

Not according to the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems, which has just released a report in collaboration with the ETC Group: ‘A Long Food Movement: Transforming Food Systems by 2045‘.

The report outlines two different futures. If Gates and the global mega-corporations have their way, we will see the entire food system being controlled by data platforms, private equity firms and e-commerce giants, putting the food security (and livelihoods) of billions at the mercy of AI-controlled farming systems.

The other scenario involves civil society and social movements – grassroots organisations, international NGOs, farmers’ and fishers’ groups, cooperatives and unions – collaborating more closely to transform financial flows, governance structures and food systems from the ground up.

The report’s lead author, Pat Mooney, says that agribusiness has a very simple message: the cascading environmental crisis can be resolved by powerful new genomic and information technologies that can only be developed if governments unleash the entrepreneurial genius, deep pockets and risk-taking spirit of the most powerful corporations.

Mooney notes that we have had similar messages based on emerging technology for decades but the technologies either did not show up or fell flat and the only thing that grew were the corporations.

He says:

In return for trillions of dollars in direct and indirect subsidies, the agribusiness model would centralise food production around a handful of untested technologies that would lead to the forced exodus of at least a billion people from hundreds of millions of farms. Agribusiness is gambling on other people’s food security.

Although Mooney argues that new genuinely successful alternatives like agroecology are frequently suppressed by the industries they imperil, he states that civil society has a remarkable track record in fighting back, not least in developing healthy and equitable agroecological production systems, building short (community-based) supply chains and restructuring and democratising governance systems.

As stated in the report, the thrust of any ’Long Food Movement’ strategy is that short-termism is not an option: civil society groups need to place multiple objectives and actions on a 25-year roadmap and not make trade-offs along the way – especially when faced with the neoliberal-totalitarianism of Gates et al who will seek to derail anything or anyone regarded as a threat to their aims.

• The report ‘A Long Food Movement: Transforming Food Systems by 2045’ can be accessed here.

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