Wednesday, December 31, 2014

GMO's in the USA: Box Food, Science Snacks, and the Monsanto Bots

There's a strain of thought in the food world that GMO's are fine, the science is good, and you have no real education on the matter if you protest their benefits.  Then there's another strain that believes they are questionable at best, dangerous at worst, and are only the baby of corporations like Monsanto.  I fall on the side of avoiding them, but this habit apparently requires an encyclopedic memory and a biology degree.  You basically have to be a granola to not eat GMO's.  If it comes in a box, you probably should not eat it.  Box food is all the rage, if you think about it.  It's a logistical luxury and signifies the successes of man, but also gets to the root of the food problem - the abstract nature of food production and the supply chain.  GMO's are taking us way down the rabbit hole, so that we can tinker our way into heaven instead of being properly let in when the door opens.  Open sesame is what GMO's and box food is all about.  There's a bit of je ne sais quoi when you get into box food - feels good for some odd reason, almost exciting.  Could it be our collective ascent to becoming a race of Monsanto bots, happily saturated with GMO's?  Or is it the joy we experience that the next step in our evolution as humans is arriving with each science snack we experiment?  Whatever's going on, Monsanto sure doesn't want anything to upset their apple cart, and we all know what happens when Monsanto bots don't get a square deal on their apple drink.

Just recently, Nassim Taleb published a paper, "The Precautionary Principle (with Application to the Genetic Modification of Organisms)," in which he advocates avoiding GMO's based on its potential level of harm to crops and human health, which basically entails everything.  GMO's present a systemic risk, the variables of which are still both uncertain and unidentified.  In clear terms, Taleb states, "[a] rational consumer should say: We do not wish to pay—or have our descendants pay—for errors made by executives of Monsanto, who are financially incentivized to focus on quarterly profits rather than long term global impacts."  Makes sense to me, but this sort of common sense is long gone for the hungry masses.  They've been drinking the kool-aid for so long they've gone blind.

Take Proposition 37's defeat in California back in 2012 for example.  You had two sides fervently lobbying against each other, except the side that won hand over fist outspent the granolas.  The granolas just don't have the cash to go up against the gasoline pushers.  Monsanto alone, the largest source of financing against the proposition, contributed $8.1 million to its defeat, which is more than four times the amount of money contributed by the proposition's largest supporter, Mercola Health Resources.  It's no secret Monsanto makes large sums of money off their GMO corn strain and Roundup combo pack.  Labeling products with Monsanto packages in them just offers people the choice to either join in and be part of the gang or just be ho-hum on the sidelines.  What's so bad about that?  Let people make their own friends, right?

Then there are the people who have already consumed enough Monsanto gadgets to be considered owned by them - the ones strolling through grocery stores in pajamas, carts piled high with box food, soda, and other  high-tech science snacks.  Lots of technology goes into these people, yet you rarely see them forming words or emotions other than grunts and gasps.  Saturate yourself with GMO's and you're no longer considered human.  Instead, you're a thoroughbred Monsanto bot, living off the golden nuggets that fall from Mr. Keeblers treehouse and Pillsbury Doughboy's fat rolls.  You're something no one has ever been before, and that comes with a big old badge of courage.  They might be right when they say we're at the dawn of a new age.

If the gasoline pushers and their minions didn't have to run roughshod over everything, maybe the whole GMO thing wouldn't be a big deal.  Maybe it would be something we could work out nicely.  But they have to keep inserting their biotech into everyone's uncle and it's getting stale.  Why are GMO's being gleefully spewed everywhere?  Why are we incentivizing the the establishment of a new race of Monsanto people?  Shouldn't there be a way to stop this?  Oh, that's right, there isn't because Monsanto also owns the FDA.  Nevermind everything.  

We've almost tinkered ourselves to heaven, so let's just savor our wonderful assortment of snacks until we get there.  I leave you with a parting thought:  Ciao.  From the Italian word, schiavo, it means '(I am your) slave.  Bite by bite we are becoming slaves to something invisible, but there we are.  Ciao.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Bernie Sanders: Not Down With T.P.P.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Naughty By Nature have teamed up to revamp the classic "Down With O.P.P." to a slightly different tune:  "Not Down with T.P.P."  Sanders will be emceeing his way to the White House with a brand of in your face, told you so outrage.  Ok, not for real, but the specter of Bernie Sanders manning the mic is something the world could benefit from right about now.  The corporations, with cheerleading from Obama, want to shove the Trans Pacific Partnership down the world's collective throat and maybe the old hairy eyeball from Sanders is what its going to take to nail some shirts to the wall.

Sanders is considering a run for the White House.  He needs to be part of the debates somewhere.  The pols are trying to dish a Clinton/Bush election on the country, and somehow there are still people who think either of these people would be good choices.  Imagine a set of debates with only the inside political class.  What mindwashing madness.  Or how about imagining a Rand Paul/Bernie Sanders election.  Or a Paul/Sanders Republican ticket.  Something to think about.

Sanders recently released a statement on the Trans Pacific Partnership, which he condemns as the worst trade agreement imaginable, unless you are a major MNC carving out your niche in the cadaver of the global economy:  "The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a disastrous trade agreement designed to protect the interests of the largest multi-national corporations at the expense of workers, consumers, the environment and the foundations of American democracy. It will also negatively impact some of the poorest people in the world."

The TPP is being pushed as de facto, going to happen, don't stick your foot in the mud by it's proponents.  A debate is needed, however, about the wisdom of entering into this agreement at all - regardless of the talking points over boosting GDP's and incomes.  These agreements do nothing but subjugate huge numbers of people, transfer jobs abroad, lower protections, and generally disempower people as a whole in the face of corporate dominance and control.  What is at stake is no less than another fundamental change, in a worse direction, to the world economy, one that will like a wrecking ball swing through the current system and be followed with a mafia development in its place.  The truth needs to be addressed, and Bernie Sanders is outspoken enough to get that message across.  Eyes on the Senator from Vermont.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Philip Glass - Metamorphosis

Pushing CHUSTIA: The China US Trade and Investment Agreement

Sean Miner doesn't reveal the name of the trade agreement he's suggesting the U.S. pursues with China, but it's name is CHUSTIA - The Comprehensive Bilateral China-US Trade and Investment Agreement.  You can learn all about it here, straight from the horse's mouth, in a presentation given by C. Fred Bergsten and Gary Clyde Hufbauer, coauthors with Sean Miner of the book, "Bridging the Pacific: Toward Free Trade and Investment Between China and the United States."

Bergsten mentions that job losses would be something like 150,00 per year for ten years in the United States, which he says will then be balanced by job growth in the industries with increased exports to China, most notably those in the services sector.  They refer to the job phenomenon as an "involuntary separation," but offer as a silver lining in their slideshow the fact that, "National economic benefits will reach $1.25 million in 2025 annually for each involuntarily separated worker."

The Peterson Institute for International Economics has a veritable roster of heavy hitting corporations, foundations, governmental types, and titans of finance and industry backing its research.  This is where real policy is created, Congress isn't even around half the time to pass this kind of legislation.  I mean, look at the TransPacific Partnership.  They want to give the Congress twenty hours to read the thing over before signing it.  Major international trade agreement - twenty hours.  And something like no revisions thrown into the deal, too.  Not to mention, there have been something like 800 special clearances granted for corporate and official access to reading the agreement.  But definitely not the Congress.  Why would you ever let the Congress read such an enormous trade deal like that?

Perhaps Bergsten and company envision one way the US might double its exports to China by 2025 is  by ramping up agricultural exports.  James Wolfensohn, ex-head of the World Bank was talking about this years ago, but his version of exports was allowing Chinese companies to start running large-scale agricultural operations in the U.S.

Like any of these broad trade deals, details and specifics are a must to understand what's being pushed and why.  Where are these trade negotiations removing Chinese barriers and why?  What U.S. economic sectors will experience the "involuntary displacement" Bergsten refers to and why?  Who, specifically, has earmarked funds for this research?  I'm sure some of these answers and more can be found here in the book.