We need a Food Revolution

We need a food revolution

By Jeff Kirkpatrick

We need a food revolution; the entire food system must be changed. The efforts to resist GMO labels by corrupt government officials that lasted for decades was systemic of a much greater problem that goes well beyond the right to know. This revolves around the patenting of seeds and the unjust and illogical legal decision1 to patent life; it must be overturned and the only way to do that is through political change. More than ever before our country is being hijacked by corporate interests. Our political system is polluted to the core; it is filled to the brim and overflowing with scum.

We must recognize that the decades’ long battle over GMO labels represented only one small facet of a much greater problem: the world’s food system is in the control of a handful of sociopathic corporations. While fighting for labels was always very important, even if there had been success at requiring truly adequate GMO labels, it would have done nothing to resolve the massive ecological threat that GMOs present. The faulty labeling bill that was passed into law in 2016 does not address the millions of people in this country alone who cannot afford to eat non-GMOs – even if they had been labeled adequately. (See: “GMOs discriminate against the poor,” by Jeff Kirkpatrick, Ban GMOs Now; May 31, 2016). The GMO labeling bill signed by Obama in 2016 does not meet the requirements as a legitimate labeling bill; it is a farce – a joke – a gift to the biotech industry and a spit in the face of American citizens.

We need massive change, and there must be a powerful recognition that GMO labeling was not and can never be the ultimate goal.  At best, it is only a small contributing factor towards achieving a much greater goal. GMOs must be banned. The corporate stranglehold by a handful of corporations on the world’s food system is a threat to food security on a global scale.2 At the root of this expansion is the faulty decision to allow patents on seeds. From this judgment, food injustice has spread worldwide. Even now, farmers in Tanzania, for example, face up to twelve years in prison and/or hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines for simply exchanging or sharing seeds.3 Farmers have done this for over ten thousand years, and it has enabled a great biodiversity4 of food to be available over time. Sadly, that biodiversity has been shrinking at a rapid rate. There are fewer and fewer choices of various types of foods; fewer types of tomatoes, potatoes, corn, etc. The industrialization of agriculture, magnified by the application of genetically modified organisms, depends on and promotes monocultures5 – a serious threat to food security. The use of GM crops exacerbates the use of various pesticides6 (insecticides and herbicides are included in the broad definition of pesticides).

GMOs are built on lies and myths spread by corrupted politicians, failed journalists, shills, trolls, the gullible, those who fail to do any research at all; and of course, all those who have a vested financial interest in the proliferation of GMOs globally. The motivating force is greed and power. As former Secretary of State (and never-charged war criminal) Henry Kissinger stated, “Control oil and you control nations. Control food and you control people.” By contrast, a much more humane observation was made by Willie Nelson, musician and co-founder of Farm-Aid who stated years later, “Our food system belongs in the hands of many family farmers, not under the control of a handful of corporations.”7

We must never give up; the future is at stake, we must fight for our children, their children, and their children and so on. This is not just about us and the Right to Know; this is much more serious than real and potential health and environmental concerns; this is ultimately about food justice, food sovereignty and food security for all. Access to food is the ultimate right of all creatures on Earth and we cannot allow that right to be hijacked by a handful of corporations whose goals are gaining more power and profit – not feeding people. We must also be constantly mindful that the entire basis of food activism is to address not just our needs, or that of the environment, but the needs of those whose voices we do not hear, people all over the globe of every race and nationality, no matter how rich or poor they are and mostly, we must have a food revolution now for future generations.

It is pretty clear that we are in a type of information war. We are involved a war of information, facts, and evidence against a sea of disinformation and spin, junk science and “alternative facts.” As history demonstrates, it’s not enough to have the right information to make the kinds of changes we want. It’s not enough to be right, especially in the context of the power of the biotech spin machine. In the end, those who promote GMOs, those politicians that spread lies and myths about GMOs, those shills and trolls we encounter all the time, don’t give a shit about truth. They could care less about facts. They have a disdain for honest, unbiased evidence. They may pretend to claim their support for GMOs saves lives and is therefore a morally upright stance; but these claims are void of sincerity because they are false. There are no ethical considerations when the full impact of GMOs is examined: from corporate control to farmer suicides, from the patenting of seeds coupled with intellectual property enforcement, to the threat to food sovereignty – ethics and evidence play no role whatsoever in those who promote GMOs. In fact, to such people and politicians, this isn’t a war about information or science or evidence, and it has nothing at all do with ethics.

For them, it is about power and greed. Control of the food system is paramount, and truth is brushed aside like a gnat by giants like Monsanto and Bayer as they manipulate agencies like the EPA, FDA and USDA; and in Europe, the EFSA and so on. They bend reality to meet their desired goals. These are con artists and liars and they don’t play by “the rules.” They peddle alternative facts and junk science and attack anyone who presents factual evidence. It is, ultimately, a type of fascism. It is not political fascism per se, but the power and influence they have results in a type of tyranny. “Decisions by a few on behalf of many, without consideration for the preferences of those affected, are a form of tyranny,” wrote Molly J. Walker Wilson in “Cultural Understandings of Risk and the Tyranny of the Experts,” Oregon Law Review, Vol. 90; 2011 (78 pages).

To combat this force, we must first acknowledge this force for what it truly is. We must understand that this is a global issue, and recognize that if we fight this fight alone, without considering the absolute threat to food sovereignty that is being fought in other countries, we may win tiny battles, but we will all lose unless we unite. We must accept the reality that what happens in Ghana happens to all of us. We must realize that a threat to food sovereignty anywhere, is a threat to food justice everywhere. We must not only truly understand who our enemies are, but we must also redefine what it is we are fighting for. GMOs are just a part of a system that is beyond broken; they are an important and critical part of that food system that needs to undergo a paradigm shift; we need a food revolution. So this is not just a fight against GMOs, but against tyranny and at the same time, it is ultimately a fight for food justice – for everyone.


 

[1] See: “Genetically Modified Plants Are Not ‘Inventions’ and are, therefore, not Patentable,” by Nathan A. Busch, Drake Journal of Agricultural Law, Vol. 10; 2005 (96 pages); Nathan makes a compelling case that “patent laws of the United States and Canada prohibit the issuance of a patent for most, if not all, genetically modified plants, plant cells, and transgenes contained in those cells as well as all other genetically modified organisms.”

For a discussion on the background to the Supreme Court’s decisions on patenting GMO seeds, see: “J.E.M. Ag Supply, Inc. v. Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc. – Its Meaning and Significance for the Agricultural Community,” by Michael T. Roberts, Southern Illinois University Law Journal; 2003 (38 pages)

 

[2] For example, see: “Monsanto’s lobbying practices: an attack on us, our planet and democracy,” by Nina Holland and Benjamin Sourice, Corporate Europe Observatory; October 2016 (20 pages)

Also see: “Intellectual Property and Consolidation in the Seed Industry,” by Philip H. Howard, Crop Science, Vol. 55; November-December 2015 (7 pages)

Also see: “The Unholy Alliance, Five Western Donors Shape a Pro-Corporate Agenda for African Agriculture,” by Alice Martin-Prével with Frédéric Mousseau, Oakland Institute, May 2016 (28 pages)

Also see: “Monsanto – a Corporate Profile,” by Food & Water Watch; April 2013 (28 pages)

Also see: “AGROPOLY – A handful of corporations control world food production,” by Berne Declaration (DB) & EcoNexus; September 2013 (18 pages)

Also see: “Heavy Hands – Monsanto’s Control in South Africa,” by the African Centre for Biosafety (ACB); May 13, 2011 (33 pages)

 

[3] See: “Tanzanian farmers are facing heavy prison sentences if they continue their traditional seed exchange,” by Ebe Daems, MO; December 7, 2016;

Also see: “Farmers’ Seed Sovereignty is under threat – The Example of Tanzania: No Reliable Access For The Farmer-managed Agricultural Sector to Quality Seed,” by Abdallah Ramadhani Mkindi, POLICY PAPER 03-2015, Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung; 2015 (4 pages);

Also see: “Seed Laws that Criminalize Farmers – Resistance and Fightback,” by GRAIN and La Vía Campesina; March 2015 (48 pages);

Also see: “UPOV 91 and other seed laws – a basic primer on how companies intend to control and monopolise seeds,” by GRAIN, October 2015 (20 pages)

This publication is also HERE in a slightly different HTML format where the pdf version can also be downloaded.

Also see: “Seeds of Dispute: Intellectual-Property Rights and Agricultural Biodiversity,” by Keith Aoki, Golden Gate University Environmental Law Journal, Vol. 3, Issue 1; 2009 (83 pages)

Also see: “Seed Laws, Certification and Standardization: Outlawing Informal Seed Systems in the Global South,” by Tamara Wattnem, The Journal of Peasant Studies, Vol. 43, Issue 4; March 17, 2016 (19 pages)

This publication is also HERE in HTML format.

A summary article is here: “Seed laws, certification and standardization,” by Tamara Wattnem, Food First; March 17, 2016

 

[4] See: “Realizing farmers’ rights through community-based agricultural biodiversity management,” by Evelyn Clancy and Ronnie Vernooy, Biodiversity International; 2016 (8 pages)

Also see: “The Encroachment of Intellectual Property Protections on the Rights of Farmers,” by Justin T. Rogers, Drake Journal of Agricultural Law, Vol.15; 2010 (17 pages)

Excerpt: “The enforcement of intellectual property protections for seeds limits access to genetic resources that are necessary for plant breeders to develop new varieties of plants. A lack in genetic diversity of crops within a certain geographic area could result in the crops reacting similarly to drought or disease and, thus, resulting in a large-scale crop failure in the event of a far-reaching environmental disaster.” [Citations omitted]

 

[5] See: “We Are What We Eat: Securing our Food Supply by Amending Intellectual Property Rights for Plant Genetic Resources,” by Meghan Marrinan Feliciano, University of St. Thomas Law Journal, Vol. 8, Issue 3; Spring, 2011 (24 pages)

Excerpt: “Modern industrial agriculture is increasing crop monocultures throughout the globe, which not only limits what we can eat today, but also reduces the choices of future generations … Industrial agriculture is a term which describes a method of food production which depends on massive chemical and biological inputs, huge monocultures, and factory-like farms and that results in huge corporate profits. This industrial culture is quite different from the world’s traditional agrarian way of local, fully integrated food systems. The practices of industrial agriculture have brought a staggering number of negative side effects, many of them unanticipated, including an alarming loss of crop biodiversity. The U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) estimates more than three-quarters of agricultural genetic diversity was lost in this past century.” [Internal quotations & citations omitted]

Also see: “Genetically Modified Organisms and Justice: The International Environmental Justice Implications of Biotechnology,” by Carmen G. Gonzalez, Georgetown International Environmental Law Review, Vol. 19; 2007 (53 pages)

Excerpt: “One of the primary concerns about GM crops is that they reinforce the monocultural production techniques introduced during the colonial era and reinforced by the Green Revolution and by structural adjustment … the displacement of indigenous crop varieties and biodiverse cultivation systems by monocultures increases vulnerability of crops to pests and disease, depletes the fertility of the soil, increases dependence on synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, increases the probability of catastrophic crop failure in the event of blight, and adversely affects human nutrition by reducing the variety of foods consumed. The cultivation of GM crops is thus inherently inconsistent with the biodiversity necessary to promote ecologically sustainable food production. [Citations omitted]

Also see: “The Global Food System, Environmental Protection, and Human Rights,” by Carmen G. Gonzalez, Natural Resources & Environment, Vol. 26; Winter, 2012 (15 pages)

Excerpt: “The widespread industrialization of agricultural production places enormous pressure on the world’s ecosystems, causing soil degradation, deforestation, loss of agrobiodiversity, and the contamination and depletion of freshwater resources. Agriculture, a major source of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, contributes to climate change; and climate change threatens global food production by increasing the frequency and severity of droughts, floods and hurricanes, depressing agricultural yields, and placing yet additional stress on finite water resources … Agriculture is currently the principal driver of biodiversity loss … The genetic diversity of the world’s food supply is also threatened. Seventy-five percent of the world’s food crop diversity was lost in the twentieth century as farmers abandoned traditional food crops in favor of a narrow range of domesticated plant species. Only 12 crops currently supply 80 percent of our dietary energy from plants. Genetic diversity within these crops has been declining as well because high-yielding varieties have supplanted traditional local varieties. This loss of genetic diversity increases the risk of catastrophic crop failure akin to the Irish potato famine, and deprives plant breeders of the germplasm essential for the development of crops capable of thriving in a changing and warming climate.” [Emphasis added, citations omitted]

Also see: “Seed Wars: Biotechnology, Intellectual Property and the Quest for High Yield Seeds,” by Lara E. Ewens, Boston College International and Comparative Law Review, vol. 23, issue 2; 2000 (27 pages)

Excerpt: “In the area of plant genetic resources, intellectual property has established a system that treats plant germplasm as a free good, and that same germplasm which is then inserted into plant varieties as a commodity deserving of property right protection. There are several consequences of this policy: the continuing dependence of developing countries on developed countries; the threat of increasing genetic uniformity among plants and crops and of decreasing global genetic diversity … and the consolidation of private ownership of seeds that form the basis of the global food supply … This policy has serious ramifications, as well as distributive inequities, that affect not only capital and resources, but also genetic diversity and the viability of the world’s plants. At the very least, the formulators of intellectual property law in the field of plant genetic resources must make renewed efforts to protect the public domain. In part, this means protecting the plant genetic diversity that is our common heritage by decreasing the strong intellectual property protections corporations have been granted.” [Emphasis added]

 

[6] See: “Impacts of Genetically Engineered Crops on Pesticide Use in the U.S. – the First Sixteen Years,” by Charles M. Benbrook, Environmental Sciences Europe, Vol. 24, Issue 24; September 28, 2012 (13 pages)

Also see: “Vermont’s GMO Legacy: Pesticides, Polluted Water & Climate Destruction,” by Will Allen, Regeneration Vermont, June, 2016 (24 pages)

Also see: “Large-Scale Deployment of Seed Treatments Has Driven Rapid Increase in Use of Neonicotinoid Insecticides and Preemptive Pest Management in U.S. Field Crops,” by Margaret R. Douglas and John F. Tooker, Environmental Science & Technology, Vol. 49, Issue 8; April 2015 (10 pages)

A related summary article is here: “Claims of reduced pesticide use with GM crops are baseless, new study shows,” by Claire Robinson, GMWatch; April 4 2015

Also see: “Pesticide use on Genetically Engineered Crops,” by Ramon J. Seidler, PhD, AgMag (Environmental Working Group); September 2014 (12 pages)

Also see:  “Trends in Glyphosate Herbicide Use in the United States and Globally,” by Charles M. Benbrook, Environmental Sciences Europe, Vol. 28 Issue 3; February 2, 2016 (15 pages)

 

[7] “Occupy the Food System,” by Willie Nelson, Huffington Post; December 16, 2011


 

Read more about GMOs HEREAlso see: “Genetically Engineered Food: An Overview, 2016 Edition,” by Food & Water Watch; January, 2016 (36 pages)





Re-posting is encouraged, provided the URL of the original is posted with attribution to the original author(s) and all links are preserved.

Copyright © Jeff Kirkpatrick 2017 – Food Revolution Now

 

 

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