To “GMO”?.. or No?

September 3, 2014 at 3:20pm

By John H. Browne

On a radio show this week- The Takeaway- I listened with a growing sense of sadness as one of the early opponents of GMO field testing in Britain basically did a 180º and made a case FOR GMO (while also belittling Vandanna Shiva, a former “ally”). Mark Lynas, the guest, has taken a position at Cornell, one of America’s premier agricultural (and ornithological) research universities. I doubt that it could have happened if he had maintained his anti-GMO position. Well… I had to write Something. Here’s a start– but ONLY that– because I have a great deal to say about this issue, including the fact that, in a National Biotech conference where I proposed the idea that Monsanto was GMO-ing crops that also had Federal subsidies and price supports, their business model was simply using farmers as a “pass-through” to get at Federal money, a Monsanto V-P (two seats away) jumped up and threatened to punch me out! Right there! Right NOW! OK… so here’s what I wrote to the Takeaway.

I was REALLY sorry to hear another capitulation by a “scientist” buying into the “all genes are created equal” BS that I recently heard from Neil deGrasse Tyson. To me this represents the fulfillment of the “give them an inch and they’ll take a mile” meme that has infected Western culture in its eternal search for the “god particle”, and that has been heightened and magnified by the field of organic chemistry for at least a century. There are maybe 80,000 “compounds” that are”new” to the world. They are “tested” for “safety to humans” (if AT ALL) as isolated entities. Synergy is ignored, unless/until an obvious “bad” response is discovered somewhere… inside a human being or (of less importance!) in an ecosystem. 

WE- the LIVING- now exist in an environs permeated with ‘our’ creations… the halogenated hydrocarbons, the myriad plastics, the “off-gases” of refineries and factories of all kinds of ‘products’… without a care, apparently, to any result of this ‘soup’ until Someone comes along and points a finger at Something Specific. Then the economic wrangling begins. Capitalism has the final word… which I believe may be the determining factor with the capitulation of “scientists”, generally, on questions like “is GMO a Good thing?.. or NOT?”

Our chief Method of inquiry about the world around us is Deductive Reasoning (the ‘soul’ of Scientific Method). It’s about determining results from observations in a structured way to isolate/eliminate as many factors that may affect the area of Study ‘adversely’ (based upon the conditions present) with regard to the hypothesis under consideration. 
What is generally neglected in this approach are Synergy, and the physical limitations of humans, generally (that we attempt to overcome with tools of many descriptions)… including our individual longevity. 

What is euphemistically known as “the Business Cycle” continues to have a greater and greater effect on ALL our endeavors in Science; and it has the outward appearance of a Very Brief lifespan. So, something like the PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE immediately runs afoul of the “Biz Cycle”… and, in capitalist economies, you can imagine the outcome.

I have attended a National Biotechnology Conference, and have watched this trend develop as the Land Grant colleges have seen their funding for agriculture research go from the Public to the Private sector, with predictable results. I have also witnessed the ruthless attempts by certain corporate sectors (and individuals in those sectors) to discredit, and defame, ANY scientist who challenges THEIR In-house “science”, with regard to the efficacy & safety of their products. Scientists are NOT, generally speaking, “political activists.” But when one ‘strays’ into an area of the nature described above, they are going to be excoriated (to put it mildly)… and their careers threatened. They will have NO defenders, generally, because institutions are ‘malleable’ (as ‘malleable’ as the current Congress) when it comes to “money issues”; and the Truth is simply another ‘variable’ to many people… who generally come down in support of “Truth” that furthers their careers… and avoid proximity to ones that may be damaging. For every Marie Curie there are 10 million scientists who are “glad it wasn’t Me”.

There are TWO issues that I have with GMO, which go to the biological and cultural roots disturbed by this practice. The first is that the meddling with genetics on this “micro-insertion” level, and in particular with genes that have evolved in different “Kingdoms”, is a way of aggrandizing human endeavor and belittling NATURE. Life on earth goes back  over a billion years… as do the EVOLUTIONARY MACHINATIONS of this LIFE. As a life-form, we humans have availed ourselves of the other life-forms to sustain us, and of the petrified and “composted” life-forms to power our industry. Now, we feel it proper to tamper with the internal designs of LIFE, to OUR ‘betterment’ (especially if one is a “corporate person”), and ignore “lessons” from our past endeavors. While “Nature abhors a vacuum”, and an ecosystem will continue as long as Life exists, we have wreaked havoc in the “macro” world (one prominent example being the passenger pigeon, among a myriad others). There’s still an ecosystem without them. Do we know the difference? Do we CARE? Why, no… as long as WE Continue.
The other big issue I take with GMO is this: since the end of feudalism, farmers were free- and Eager- to save their own seed. It’s a natural occurrence, based upon the husbandry and observations of the farmer, as to what seed to save for planting the next crop. The plants have a relationship to the farmer, and the farm, in all its micro-worldness… ie the seed produced from local plants becomes more “location-specific”, with regard to soil qualities, weather, aspect, microorganisms present, etc. This is a Political issue as well as a cultural one. 

The GMO “model” changes all that. They have even gotten the Land-Grant schools to promulgate this “buy new seed- save nothing” meme for them (ie the GMO-seed-producing corporations). Essentially what we are seeing is a return to feudalism… this time, Corporate Feudalism. This ‘trend’ is exacerbated by the practice of corporations buying farmland and orchards, and eventually replacing the farmer with a “manager”… who is beholden to his employer, and has no reason- beyond financial gain- to “care about” the farm or the orchard or the pasture for its own sake. The “farm” simply becomes a “factory”. So, the move from slavery and feudalism to Freedom is being turned around, and headed back into the past. This is a huge social- and Cultural- issue, that isn’t even being questioned in the public sphere, except perhaps by a few “windy old cranks” (whom I humbly honor for their vision). Rather than see a day in which young families can again raise a family in a rural world that now has the benefits of our electronic universe and an improved infrastructure that made life such a trial in the past, we have a depopulated “heartland”, where gigantic machines and banks and corporations- and USDA ‘policies’-  have eliminated “the work force” and are slowly squeezing out the last Real FARMERS, as well!


There will continue to be population growth… which modern farming practices totally ignore, as they pursue an 18th Century ideal of “one man-and his machinery- can do ALL THIS!” With today’s methods and access to markets, a family can thrive on the fraction of the acreage it once took. No one (who’s rational) can deny that the land of a farm Benefits by the caring proximity of the farmer. So will any remaining “wildlife”… since they will be seen as a natural (and aesthetic) “enhancement” to any ‘place’, rather than “a damned nuisance that costs the stockholders earnings”… by existing on ground (or unfilled wetlands) that could produce ‘a crop’. The current Federal “bribes” to leave marginal lands unplowed will have to grow larger, or they will be plowed and converted to some salable “biomass”, to benefit those with a financial interest from a distance. 

I’m not describing some imaginary future. THIS is what’s happening Today… and every day… everywhere in the USA.   ^..^

FoxNews; Corporate Jello

 I’m not an economist, nor a lawmaker. So, perhaps my rudimentary understanding of economic lawmaking amounts to simple Rookie Logic. But I have lived in America my whole life. I have watched Washington’s narrowing interests in corporate lobbying diminish American culture into a footnote; and have witnessed what happens to the people when they are viewed by our politicians as just another program – slash and cut spending. And over the years, most notably, post-Reagan years, in spite of Congress’s attempts to make our government matter to the American people through C-Span and other theatre, truly, we the people are an empty nomenclature, an irrelevant sideshow in the conversation. The only time we can understand what is going on is by looking at the budget ourselves. We aren’t a poor nation, we are a dumb nation. We like to give oil and gas and insurance companies and all those businesses who used to build skyscrapers and occupy our downtowns, and offer people a decent living, pensions for our old age, a free lunch, while our politicians tell us we what a bunch of scum we are; that if only we worked harder, then the rewards might come. There are people who buy into this. Mostly those people are above the poverty line and are enjoying the tax breaks. The burdens are on the people most upper income families never meet, so the inequities are invisible to their eyes. They only learn how to look at the poor, the minorities, through the vision of our corporate giants, as they pay our politicians to paint their story. We elect leaders because they give us a vision. Our leaders are serve another master, its just business. Currently Congress’s intentions are revealed in this latest budget proposal. Is Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget proposal really a vision by anyone’s standards? Because I could cut our country down to nothing and make it so we don’t pay out anything. It’s easy to cut away services. I never thought that was the challenge. As a kid growing up on the base of Queen Anne Hill in Seattle, a typical summer day would begin meeting my best friend on the corner and tramping around down onto the Elliott Avenue Waterfront. It was truly an adventure by anyone’s standards back then. We would start at the humane society, and check out the dogs and cats. Then off to the coca cola bottling plant, where, if we were lucky, an employee would offer us a coke. We’d continue down the street to the apple juice company, then a rope company, where we would sometimes pick up some beautiful ‘scrap’ rope to take to the park later to make a tree swing from the top of Kinnear Park down to the bottom; and our last stop would be the Frito Lay company where we would stand over the mis-crimped Frito bags as they fell off the belt, through an open window, right into a special trash receptacle. Perhaps this was an early version of dumpster diving, but we were just 12, so to us, it was a treat. People were free to interact with us, help us or admonish us as they saw fit. We weren’t tagged as street urchins, or pains in the butt, or society’s ‘vulnerable’. We were greeted by workers in the area, our neighbors, and they were proud to share whatever they were manufacturing. That engagement extended to the hobos along the tracks. That was in 1963. I remember us stopping to listen to the hobos’ stories while they made their lunch on an open fire, along the waterfront – homeless by choice – living town to town always close to the railroad tracks. The scariest things we encountered were the wharf rats. My parents never worried about us. We would hop trains to the downtown area in Seattle to go look at Shamu the whale, or just kick around pioneer square. And then, we were back at home for dinner. That was the kind of America our leaders created for us back then. I could never have anticipated the 80s, 90s and up to now, based on my own childhood experiences. Today the fights in Congress don’t really have anything to do with American lives, or the people. Even the headlines openly talk about what worries our government – the threat of the rich getting taxed; commerce (even though Obama has brought Wall street to another all time high); how the needs of commerce need to be fixed before we do. Not that the corporate industries are making it worth our while, because they’re not. Thus, the need to pump hate and fear into our society. It seems to be working out well for them. Commerce has become America’s welfare baby. And this article can’t possibly cover the state by state losses at the hands of corporate tax breaks; this is just addressing our federal government. It gets worse, the more you scratch. Instead of electing leaders with a vision for our future, with the exception of our President and a few good people, we are met with a general disgust by our politicians. That means Republicans overtly, and the Democrats who sit at their duty stations in see no evil pose. The overt and covert suggestions that we are over-reaching Americans, sponging government positions that have no credence or value, and we lose any battleground in our demand that our “American” companies hire us instead of going to the third world countries to increase their profit margin. Punishable? No, we reward them. Apparently, if we would only conform to our politicians’ vision for us, we should recognize the necessity of our corporate CEO’s and their chosen few to live a lifestyle suited to their corporate accomplishments. We should be grateful that they don’t legislate away our ability to own small business. We don’t hear our lawmakers disgusted about that. They agree. Which opens up the second shift in our culture — Individual wealth. That is where the money is going in this era. I can’t even remember the last time I rose to excitement over a notice in the paper or on the news of a company putting up a new skyscraper. In the 1970s, 80s and 90s, there was a proud relationship to seeing what our hard work for our employers produced in the way of beautiful cityscapes. I went downtown and watched with excitement as the Seafirst Bank (subsequently Bank of America) put up two skyscrapers in Seattle. Our American corporations’ successes used to have direct relevance to us. The large skyscrapers that defined American cities and prosperity, are now all but gone. Detroit’s cityscape looks like a movie set for Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. The Commercial Real estate markets talk now about low occupancy, abandoned businesses in the downtown areas, bad investments in leased spaces throughout America. Instead of REITs, Canadian pension funds are making today’s headlines. Just last year, Canada’s pension funds and institutional investors became active as joint venture partners and owners of American property in major money-center cities, including Manhattan, Washington D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles and Boston. It’s China booming the real estate markets today. China’s investment on real estate from Jan. to Nov. in 2010 reached 4.27 trillion yuan (US$647.3 billion), up 36.5% compared to the same period in 2009, according to statistics from China’s National Development and Reform Commission. Today, we appear leaderless. Those individuals who have grown their personal fortunes on the backs of the American people, the East Indian people, and other third world exploitations have displayed no allegiance to the cities or its people. Commerce is no longer a partnership, but like a bad drug, they have turned on the people who supported their business, and have run away with the ponzi ideologies of fiat capitalism. As an American, I also would like to encourage business and business growth – but to do that, we need regulations for this new breed of the multi-billion personal wealth trend, because they live on a high protein diet of human sacrifice which just isn’t conducive to partnerships. I want the partnership back. It is up to our leaders to discover where the motivation to consider people as capital again. But not when a bank can turn a profit by itself, simply by turning a no-interest government loan into free money by then lending it back it to the government for at a higher interest rate. Many banks are earning huge, risk-free profits borrowing from central banks at ultralow interest rates and lending back to governments at much-higher rates. This money is not used to support new lending – it is going right into the banker’s profits. Due to the collapse of 2008 financial reforms, the big investment banks are able to borrow money from the U.S. government at 0 percent interest. Then they can turn around and buy short-term bonds that pay 2 or 3 percent annual interest. Now they’re making 2 percent on whatever they borrowed. They can use leverage to increase this number, by pledging some of the bonds that they’ve already bought as collateral on additional bonds. Getting the theme here? If the few can make money without us, we are the irrelevant. They are mostly buying Treasuries. Basically, our money is just being shuffled from one Federal bank account to another, with each Wall Street bank skimming off $1 billion per month for itself. Rolling Stone published “Wall Street’s Naked Swindle” a couple of years ago. A nameless person spent $1.7 million on out-of-the-money put options on Bear Stearns on March 11, 2008. The options would become worthless on March 20, just 9 days later, unless Bear Stearns basically went bust. Bear Stearns collapsed the next day and the guy made a $270 million profit. He has never been identified by the SEC. Which brings us to that old news (a reality since 1913), but always news to many Americans, Who owns the Federal Reserve Banks? According to – here’s the answer: It is privately owned. While there are already so many internet sites and other sources for those who want to research the structure and status of the current FED owners, one site using a graph has useful info: simply, there are actually 12 different Federal Reserve Banks around the country, and they are owned by big private banks. But the banks don’t necessarily run the show. (whatever that caveat means. . . .) Nationally, the Federal Reserve System is led by a Board of Governors whose seven members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. The member banks must, by law, invest 3 percent of their capital as stock into the Reserve Banks (FEDS), and they cannot sell or trade their stock or even use that stock as collateral to borrow money. They do receive dividends of 6 percent per year from the Reserve Banks and get to elect each Reserve Bank’s board of directors. This doesn’t to me, anyway, sound like they have little to say — and this 6%? It probably equals more individual wealth and an unfathomable number to any working American. The point of bringing up this subject today is in the interest of balancing the budget. More important or groundbreaking than getting healthcare reform to America, this fight with the Federal Reserve has been ongoing since 1913. Most famously, it was fought by a Republican from Pennsylvania, Rep. Louis T. McFadden (R. Pa.) back in 1930s, who was a vociferous enemy of the Federal Reserve. He believed it was created and operated by European interests who conspired to economically control the United States. On June 10, 1932, McFadden made a 25-minute speech before the House of Representatives, in which he accused the Federal Reserve of deliberately causing the Great Depression. McFadden also claimed that Wall Street bankers funded the Bolshevik Revolution through the Federal Reserve banks and the European central banks with which it cooperated. McFadden moved to impeach President Herbert Hoover in 1932, and also introduced a resolution bringing conspiracy charges against the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve. The impeachment resolution was defeated by a vote of 361 to 8. In 1933, he introduced House Resolution No. 158, articles of impeachment for the Secretary of the Treasury, two assistant Secretaries of the Treasury, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, and the officers and directors of its twelve regional banks. There are some famous quotes from his tirade, my favorite: [re the FED] They are private credit monopolies which prey upon the people of the United States for the benefit of themselves and their foreign customers; foreign and domestic speculators and swindlers; the rich and predatory money lenders. This is an era of economic misery and for the reasons that caused that misery, the Federal Reserve Board and the Federal Reserve banks are fully liable. The depredations and the iniquities of the Federal Reserve Board and the Federal Reserve banks acting together have cost this country ENOUGH MONEY TO PAY THE NATIONAL DEBT SEVERAL TIMES OVER.” In 1992, taxpayers paid the FED banking system $286 billion in interest on debt the FED purchased by printing money virtually cost free. Forty percent of our personal federal income taxes goes to pay this interest. To cite an example, that amount is somewhere in the range of $40 billion. Using 2008, the amount of individual income taxes paid fell substantially in 2008, by $84 billion, and nationally, average income tax rates were at their lowest levels since 2004. The average tax rate for returns with a positive liability went from 12.68 percent in 2007 to 12.24 percent in 2008. The FED’s books are not open to the public. Even Congress has yet to audit it. Suffice to say if Congress was conducting business on behalf of the American people, there are plenty of pockets to go foraging before we get to the Medicare programs. And if we truly had any representation in Washington, we would enforce the laws we have in place to protect ourselves from this illegal debt to the Federal Reserve Board, and get our money printed for free, by Congress, who is the only one empowered by law to do it. Article 1 – The Legislative Branch
Section 8 – Powers of Congress.

Original publication 3/2011; republished 8/2014 as a result of moving to WordPress.

Shannon Bertuch, Author